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Week 1 of classes is officially in the books, and I'll be very busy this weekend getting all of my homework done. It's not the best situation, but I keep reminding myself that it was my idea to transfer up to this class. Some shifting between classes is still going on, but everyone should be settled in by next week.
My class has two teachers who teach two hours each. One of them, a male teacher, is very outgoing and involves the class in fun activities. The other, a female teacher, means well but teaches boring, repetitive lessons that bore the class to tears. Even when I have my morning coffee, it's hard to stay focused when we're reciting the same passage that we've been studying all week.
After classes ended on Friday, I went with a group of 30 students to nearby Osawadai Elementary School. We observed two classes: one on ethics and one on calligraphy. The ethics class consisted of students hearing passages about social interactions, and then analyzing why people did what they did. I don't remember studying this sort of thing in my elementary school back in the U.S., but it's possible that we did do it. Calligraphy class proceeded more or less like a typical art class, except that the students were simply expected to duplicate the characters given to them on a sheet of paper. It was pretty repetitive, but some of the students were getting into it.
After watching the students at work, we split off into groups to talk to them individually. This was the part I was most looking forward to, but the students quickly ran out of things to talk about. They started asking me and another American student about what kinds of sports people we like, what kind of cars and tires are available in the U.S., and other such things. Since the World Cup, soccer has become very popular in Japan; the 5th-graders we spoke to knew more about the American soccer players than we did. Only one question cracked us up: one of the kids asked us if we knew any kogyaru. Literally "little gals," kogyaru are the gold-digging women who wear pancake makeup and extremely expensive clothes in Shibuya, searching for older (often married) men who will buy them gifts and take them to expensive restaurants. This practice, called enjo kousai, bears a negative social stigma, but it's not going away any time soon. When asked if we knew any kogyaru, both of us Americans just cracked up and didn't really answer.
After class got out, I went for lunch at a little Japanese place called "Kentucky Fried Chicken" with some of the dorm students, checked my e-mail in the library, then headed for home.
Because I ate lunch at close to 4:00 PM, I told my host mother that I was not hungry for dinner at 7:00. At around 7:00 PM, I went to bed for what I thought was going to be a little nap, but ended up awakening at 2:30 in the morning. That's the second time that I've slept clear through dinner, and awakened early the next morning. It's a little annoying, too, since I need to do laundry on Saturday night for sure.
I have my assignments, I have plenty of rest, and I'm making a second trip to Akihabara -- this time, with one of my fellow students. It should be interesting. Time to get going.