Here’s a bunch of random things that are too small to get their own posts.
Inkan–I wanted my personal seal to say ベガ (my last name), but since ALTs at this school have always been called by their first name, and I didn’t want to rock the boat on this point, I asked them to call me “Eli.” Which in Japanese becomes “Eri,” a common name. Of two kanji versions of “eri” that I liked, I asked my predecessor which one was better, and to put that on the inkan. Once I got here, I saw that they’d gone with 絵理 (“picture” + “reason”). Get it? Because I’m an artist? *rimshot* (The other version I liked was 永吏, mostly for the kanji for “eternal,” but the second kanji is “officer/official” and I didn’t want to be an eternal official, lol!)
Name Woes–On forms, the space for one’s name in kanji is where a foreigner writes their name the way they would in their own country, and the furigana space is where they write it in katakana. The problem is, since there’s no place to put your name in katakana on the JET application, my name was initially katakana-ized the way Americans would think to pronounce it: all shades of wrong.
<Spanish katakanization rant> Instead of the ridiculously simple transliteration possible due to the similar sounds of Spanish and Japanese, until my predecessor brought up the matter of what to put on my inkan, the school had been writing my name as “erizaberu vega aruguetta”. Why?! Why, when “erisaberu bega arugeta” is so simple, and 10 times closer to the correct pronunciation? Why must they say “mekishiko” instead of “mehico”?!?!? </Spanish katakanization rant>
Anyway, the problem now is that since I filled out my Foreigner Card and bank account applications myself, some of the documents the school had prepared for me don’t match. For example, I want to have the gas bill automatically paid from my bank account, but the gas company has my name written with a “za” rather than a “sa.” Although, strangely, the rest is correct. Which is the main reason I’d rather get it consistenly right on all forms, rather than deal with inconsistently wrong transliterations.
Stuff I like to watch on the tele–I don’t have cable, but since I don’t watch that much TV anyway the 5 analog channels I get are plenty. Here’s some interesting things I watch every week.
Buzzer Beat A drama about a college student who plays basketball. He’s got a problem with his leg though. His ex-girlfriend is being suuuper trifling, torturing the girl he is currently with by talking about how (smooth?) the boy’s hands were and such. Then, she neglected to take her umbrella on a rainy day, preying on his kindness and making him miss his date with his girlfriend. She’s so evil! >_<
Tenchijin（天地人） Okay, I don’t exactly watch this one. It’s the current NHK Taiga drama. It doesn’t hold a candle to Fuurin Kazan. It looks like people from this age pretending to be in the 1500s. In other words, it’s not convincing. I think it’s because everyone is so clean-shaven, and the music is rather uninspired. I watch a little bit of it for the handsome protagonist.
…what? There’s no Days of Our Lives here…
Shin 9 Gakari （新９係）I’m not sure if “shin kyuu gakari” is the correct reading for the title. It’s a cop drama. So far, I’ve only seen murder cases on this show, don’t know if they ever have episodes about other types of crime. It’s not like Law & Order where they have both the police and lawyers. Actually, when I first arrived, the first ever jury trial in Japan was going on (in real life, I mean).
Haken no Osukaru ~ “Shoujo Manga” ni Ai wo Komete （派遣のオスカル〜「少女漫画」に愛をこめて）The title means something like “Temp Worker Oscar – putting love into girls’ manga.” The main character is a temp worker in love with the manga The Rose of Versailles, in which a girl dresses like a man, goes by Oscar, and saves France (or something like that). The Rose of Versailles was (partly) the inspiration for Revolutionary Girl Utena, which is why this drama is interesting for me. The heroine imagines that the people around her are characters from the manga, and when she needed to get up strength to face her bosses, she imagined that she was Oscar. It’s pretty funny (not sure if it’s meant to be).
Like the flow of a river–that’s what many students are like in class. I was warned beforehand that talking in class was tolerated in Japanese schools to a much greater extent than it is in American schools. Now, I don’t know if the students are as verbose in their other classes. I think they are, given that most of the teachers don’t get on them for talking in class. And I mean blatant talking. Today, I got to know the back of one girl’s head pretty well. I walked up to her and asked her questions specifically (the ALT isn’t supposed to be the disciplinarian, so I didn’t directly tell her, you’re being rude!) but she just acted bashful while I was around and went right back to talking and playing with her hair the moment I left her side.
So far, I’d say there are three types of students: those who are really loud and participate (even if they’re just shouting out random things), those who are silent as the grave, and the chatterboxes. I like the loud, random kids, because even if they’re a ways off, I can tell they’re paying attention. The quiet ones need to be bribed with rewards. The chatterboxes annoy the crap out of me. It’s not too bad right now, but I can feel the annoyance building. I can talk to people about it all I want, but I know that I will inevitably bust out on some kid who won’t be quiet.
I’m trying to be a good cultural relativist, but I really, really don’t understood why a kid got completely, loudly, humiliatingly chewed out for making a paper plane, yet constant talking in class is tolerated. I’m hoarse after just two classes from trying to talk over the chatter! Maybe teachers are stricter at other schools.
Metric — My co-ALT, although an American, has been here for a while so he talks in metric. I still have to do a conversion (thank Apple for the conversion widget!) before really understanding what’s being said. Ironically, what little Japanese I know, I don’t have to translate into English for myself. But say something about kilos or centimeters and I’m like, uh…so what’s that in pounds/inches??? LOL!
Capoeira — This past weekend, a previous JET with great Japanese ability helped myself and other n00bs with various set-up tasks (in my case, getting internet set up at home). Then, one of that former JET’s friends got invited to dinner. In turn, the friend invited all of us n00bs. His friends were a group of Japanese, American, and French people who practiced capoeira. I didn’t get to see them practicing, but they had their berimbaus. They were very nice, and the yakitori place we went to had excellent food! (Poor chickens and cows and pigs…why must you be so tasty? TT_TT)
Vocabulary — Eventually I’ll get around to making a vocabulary page, because I really don’t feel like explaining what things are each time they come up.
Okay, that’s my Random Life Stuff for today.