Posted tagged ‘classes’

As Long As I Know Icelandic…

January 26, 2010

From now on I’m going to make this my stream-of-consciousness zone for my Tokyo life! I think I was trying to plan out my entries too much… hence the lack of updates. But from now on I will try to post more!!

So, I am currently going through final exams right now. It’s not really any fun. But actually the only thing I am really stressed out about is that little class called Iceland, Language & Culture that I am taking. My final is in TWO DAYS. Last week I was freaking out because, honestly, I didn’t even know how to say “hello” in Icelandic after a whole semester. But now, you will be proud of me, I’ve buckled down and studied studied studied!! I think right now I might be able to get a 40% on the exam. So I am still in “failing mode.” But give me one more day and you will see that I can totally pass this test. Sure, I still don’t know how to say “hello”… But that’s besides the point… possessives, definite articles, verb conjugations, declensions for all masculine, neuter and feminine nouns?? I know them!!

The second thing that has been occupying my time lately is of course Ancient Egyptian. I am going to my favorite museum in Tokyo (it’s the tiniest cutest thing!! I wrote about it in 2008) next week with one of my friends from the Egyptology department at Waseda. We’re going to see the current Egypt exhibit and eat Mexican food at my favorite mall in Tokyo =) Oh, but really what’s going to take up WAY MORE TIME than studying hieroglyphs or going on random excursions is a little project my professor has recently given me. It involves 700 pages and lots and lots of Tutankhamun-related jargon. Yes, I’m going to be a copy-editor for my prof’s dissertation. We’ll see how that goes…

Number three is work at the marketing company I have a part time job at. After finals I have a whopping 2 month break before the next semester begins – so basically all of February I am planning to work in Shibuya every day, 10-6, a real day job! I’m really hoping that I will be able to get more involved by being there full-time. Lately I’ve been so busy and we’ve had some changes in who’s working there, so I need to focus on finding a way to keep track of all the Japan marketing news, latest releases, campaigns, etc. in a more efficient fashion. Other than that, it will be the usual writing reports on all that news for our clients. And going around Shibuya looking for interesting new things in Tokyo. Fun ;)

I’ve worked full-time at this company before (summer of 2008), but back then I hardly new anyone in Tokyo and my life really completely centered around my internship there. This time it will be different because I have lots of things to plan outside of that job – excursions with friends, nomikai of course, a visit to my good friend in Kyoto, etc! So now it looks like it will be more like my summer last year in Washington DC, where I interned at National Geographic but really the fun stuff centered around Georgetown, campus, friends and M Street.

OK, so let’s hope I survive the next 3 days of finals week… then I get two (maybe three) nomikai, one musical, and a chance to finally sleep in!


Ancient Egypt in Japan. Not An Oxymoron.

December 21, 2009

So, while Waseda is indeed one of the best universities in Japan, Japanese uni students have mastered the art of BS-ing admirably well. It’s very inspiring. In general, they are much, much more interested in school club activities and preparing for the Real World than actually learning anything. They show up 45 minutes late (and still get attendance marks), sleep in class, beg for deadline extensions, skip classes for weeks at a time, and so on.

Anyway, this is great for the classes I don’t care about, but there was no way I was going to go through a WHOLE YEAR doing absolutely nothing in class.

For people who are interested in digging further, Waseda is a wonderful, very large university with tons of resources. One thing I’ve always been interested in is Ancient Egypt.

Incidentally, I interned for National Geographic in Washington DC last summer

So, I asked the Waseda professor of my English-taught class “Ancient Egyptian Civilization” if he could help me get involved in Egyptology here.

It turns out that this professor has completely taken me under his wing. I am not even kidding. Within the first hour I met him he was offering to write me a recommendation for grad school. He introduced me to the whole department here,¬† first of all. Then he got me attending his Ancient Egyptian history class (taught in Japanese) every Tuesday. I’ve become good friends with two future Egyptologists (students my age), been proofreading English in archaeological reports, and the department has got me learning how to trace reliefs and wall carvings for publication. I also helped out at the Cairo Forum 2009 at Waseda – definitely an interesting experience to be behind-the-scenes at one of those crazy formal functions in Japan.

Basically, I am VERY involved at the Institute of Egyptology here at Waseda, much more so than anything I’ve ever been involved in back at Georgetown.

Oh, and I’m actually learning Ancient Egyptian properly this time. I had taken a semester-long tutorial in it before and a few weeks of it in high school, but this time I am hardcore doing the homework and memorizing things like no other. Apparently my prof started teaching this class in the first place because I showed interest in it last summer. So… because of me… the whole department of Egyptology at Waseda is learning Ancient Egyptian. Pretty awesome.

I can read this... with a dictionary

The big question mark at this point is probably, “WHY, Natalie??” Why am I putting in so much time and effort, until 10 PM some nights, 4 classes a week, volunteering on top of that?

Well, I don’t think it’s for grad school. I don’t think I want to be an Egyptologist. I am also very interested in international marketing and that seems like a better career choice, plus I would hate to have to teach anything, be a professor, or dig in any sand. I am no academic. But ancient Egypt has always been something I’ve been interested in, and this is the perfect opportunity to really learn about it…. Believe it or not, it’s 100 times easier for me to study Egyptology in Japan than in America.

Plus, it’s amazing Japanese practice. Learning hieroglyphs, being exposed to and part of an authentic Japanese work environment, meeting so many professors and researchers – all in Japanese – is probably going to end up being one of the best experiences I’ve had in Tokyo.

Well, right now, they’re all in Luxor, Egypt doing their job, i.e., archaeology… but don’t worry, I’ll be working way too much again next month.

Ancient Egyptian-inspired soda released this fall. Marketing, Japan and ancient Egypt. All my interests together!

No Really, I Can Speak Icelandic

October 1, 2009

So after an epic 5 month summer vacation classes have finally begun.

It’s really quite ironic because when I came here I had thought the academic side of Waseda was going to be REALLY, REALLY easy… but it hasn’t ended up that way at all.

The reason? I am taking 2 classes taught in Japanese, auditing another, and of course some language classes as well. So in the end, while I had sort of come here resigned that I wasn’t going to be working that hard (OK, I was pretty excited about it), it seems that I’m going to have my hands full.

OK, do you guys want to hear a joke?

It’s actually very serious for me. But I’m sure it’ll be funny to you.

I signed up for a class called “Iceland, Language and Culture” taught in Japanese. It’s more like a language class. I knew that when I signed up for it. I figured it’s probably easy to learn a new language with my level of Japanese, and I’m interested in Icelandic too since I did a linguistics project on it once. Anyway, I know there’s probably no other time I’m going to be able to learn some Icelandic (Georgetown definitely does not offer it), so I signed up for this course.

But guess what??

It’s the CONTINUATION of last semester.

As in, the people in this course have already been learning Icelandic for 1 semester.

Add to this the fact that I don’t exactly know the vocabulary for conjugations and declensions in Japanese, and you can see why I may have screwed myself over JUST a little bit.

Well I was basically freaking out through that whole class this afternoon and was GREATLY relieved when at least half a dozen other students came up with me at the end to tell the professor they hadn’t taken last semester, either, we’re screwed over, can you help us?

So yes, I am taking PART TWO of basic Icelandic language. In Japanese. I’m really going to have to catch up somehow. And here I was thinking it’d be easy after Russian… hahaha.

I am going to the international club BBQ this Sunday and meeting another club that I might join on Saturday at a global festival thing. Also I have my first day back at work tomorrow. Should be interesting!!

Japanese CLASSES!?

September 18, 2009

So I took my placement test on Wednesday and got the result yesterday…

It turns out I am level SIX, which is pretty awesome, because it means that I won’t have to take any intensive Japanese language classes – in fact, I don’t have to take any at all! Anyone from level 6-8 can take 6 credits of regular SILS classes, which are taught in English (ew), random Japanese electives (like kanji, newspaper reading, etc.,) or… drum roll please…


Classes taught IN Japanese !!!!!

This makes me SUPER DUPER excited because this is exactly the type of program I had been looking for when signing up for study abroad – but unfortunately, unlike Spanish and French study abroad programs, there aren’t really any Japanese ones that let you take classes taught in Japanese (presumably because no one really gets to that level, since Japanese isn’t as popular as Spanish or French). And in the end I guess I got sucked into the belief that Japanese is soooo difficult that taking classes in it would be absolutely impossible for me…

I guess Waseda doesn’t think so!

That’s crazy! But really there is no better way to learn than to take classes in it, I think… so I might be thrown to the wolves but it should end up being a good thing.

The only catch?

I can’t drop a course once I sign up for it. I MUST take it. Which has me pretty freaked out…

But I’ve decided to try to take 1 or 2 classes in Japanese. Someone I met at the nomikai the other night offered to show me the book of classes at Waseda – basically a Japanese RateMyProfessor – so my goal? Choose the easiest classes possible!

I am so pumped!