First day of class!
Woke up at 8, made myself some breakfast as well as prepared a little bento box.
10 a.m. and I was gone on my bike. It wasn’t too humid outside and I was just strolling on the sound of the Rolling Stones onto a new day. I arrived and found my way to the tallest building of the campus, a 13-flour structure.
Stepped into one of my fellow Dutch student and we had class together. We entered the room and we gently sat down among the 10 other Asian students. The teacher arrived and seemed surprise to see us. The course is « Japanese-English Contrastive Linguistic » (and yes, it is as amazing as it sounds, so much fun) and it is supposed to be in English. The professor mutters some words and looking at us, ask us if we can speak some Japanese. We shake our heads and he then repeats: do you want the class to be in English?
Well, you know, it’s written it’s supposed to be in English. So I’d say, yes? Pretty please?
It’s in a broken English that he gave us the syllabus, all in Japanese. Then he went on to talk about English grammar, translating the sentences into Japanese. I was lost from the beginning to the end. Ditransitive verbs, compound structures and their equivalent in Japanese. The differences between ‘will be’ and ‘will be going to’ translated in Japanese (I tried to guess and I got almost all of them wrong ). We were given papers to translate and after a long stare, the teacher told us to just talk about it. We did it seriously, even though I wasn’t in my element at all. It felt like going back to Junior High School with grammar structures I am unaware of. But not in French, this time it’s in English and Japanese ahah.
The class ends and we leave. We sit outside to eat a bit and we’re joined by a Hong Kong exchange student (Kiki!) but unfortunately, I realized that we weren’t really inclusive and spent most of our time talking about how we were screwed if the courses supposed to be in English were already in Japanese…
While we had lunch, the cats of the neighbourhood all got very interested in Kiki’s onigiri and she was a bit startled by them.
We went to check out the gym afterwards because after that we were told that there was no gym in this university, we wanted to see for ourselves. And guess what, there is one! It is legit from the 50s though because the equipment is very old and there are like 3 machines (one of them is broken). I went over each one with my Dutch mate to try to understand what does what. Even though we are going to some stone age period, I’ll give it a try. I wanna get strong a bit and train a bit my upper body (I’m good with the legs, I need to be able to carry something with my arms now!)
So we’ll see how that goes, but I’d be very curious to start and try. We discovered some more stone age work out tools outside and I couldn’t resist to immortalize it.
We went back to the AC building to wait for our next class. This time, this one was crazily full: Peace and Conflicts. A class that really seemed promising. I even found back my German friend Betsy!
The only problem was that the teacher was speaking REALLY slowly and he spent 20 minutes warning the Japanese students that the course was in English in case someone made any mistakes and that they should change if they have any difficulty. Damn, it starts well when a teacher goes like « you can still change uh ». (we were also tempted to play a game and take a shot every time he pronounced the word English. We would have been dead drunk on the 3rd minute)
Followed 90 minutes of rumbling about three-dimensional relationships, cooperative, aggressive and business (hello randomness). The class ended with a dozen of people asleep and international students joking about many things (I am shamefully included in that)(there’s like 30 seconds break between each word of the lecturer, so I wasn’t missing anything)
After the class, I quickly ran home with my bike to put my stuff away and I went out again, with my loyal headphones and a fiery sky.
I was invited to a dinner to celebrate a Dutch celebration that happens every 3 October in Leiden, and we were kind of celebrating from afar with all the Dutch of Nagasaki (and me). On the way, I couldn’t help but stop to take some pictures. Damn, it was pretty.
At the Izakaya, I met back with Evelien (the Dutch girl I left with), Jim (he’s doing Japanese studies in Leiden and he’s on exchange), Yamashita (Dutch professor) as well as a couple (Jessica and Ron) installed in Nagasaki since May and another professor and his wife who I haven’t caught the name.
I arrived a bit late because I had to run to the station to withdraw some money, and found my seat on the opposite of the other students. I was then next to Jessica, Ron and this professor’s wife, and it was pretty nice!
Jessica and Ron were the kindest people and damn, I found so much helpfulness tonight! I got a lot of recommendations of nice places to go with my mom, or by myself (real coffee place!), great career advice in general and some inspiring thoughts in general. We also had some great food, Izakaya style, with many dishes arriving on the table through the evening. Chicken on stick, kara-age, sashimi, salads, sake, ume-shu (I’m in love with it now) etc… I left the evening with a smile, happy to hop back on my bike for a 30mn ride in a cool night with great soundtrack to accompany me.
I’m a bit sad it took me to be 10 000km away to appreciate a bit Dutch culture. But it feels like in such a different country, it’s the closest you can get to home and you just go with the flow more easily. Maybe the Netherlands is also so close to France that the comparison happens very fast and critics can be harsh. But it was nice to talk about how we missed bread and cheese, even though we do not have the same conception of it, we all cannot find the things we want here.
I think I don’t really miss French food anymore. Of course, I’d love some raclette at any time but I have learnt to go with what’s around and in the worst of case, I have been blessed with two hands and I can cook for myself. Won’t be as good and I’ll mess it up sometimes, but it’s a good way to avoid homesickness and get busy by recreating the tastes you miss. A funny thing is that no matter what I cook, my roommates ask me if it’s French. For my 4th year abroad, the only way I can describe my cooking is ‘it’s international’. I mix soy sauce with curry powder, add some garlic powder and nutmeg in there. No heavy cream or butter (I’m not too into that anymore) but some olive oil to recreate the Mediterranean diet and I’m looking forward discovering some more culinary tools from other countries of Asia. I want to taste kimchi, I want to taste the Taiwanese gyoza and all that. I have many more flavours to discover!
Thus conclude the day, on a sweet breeze of the wind at night, feeling powerful and carefree as ever.
With the advice I was given, I want to invest into a camera that I can take video with. Recently, I was asked to give permission to use a part of a timelapse I’ve done to German TV and I want to get more serious with it. I want to experiment and make good use of the money I received. I am still thinking about what to get and where to get used cameras that fit into my budget so it is a process but it is really occupying my mind. I want to get better and do more!
Motivation kicked back and I am so happy. The stress is still looming back there but it’s not on the spotlight anymore and I’ll try to make it last 😉