Living in Japan for almost 6 years

I find it hard to believe that I’ve been in Japan for this long. It’s also hard to say exactly how I feel. If I asked myself I were happy, I would probably say yes. There are so many things I feel I’ve yet to do or accomplish, though.

もうすぐ6年に日本に住んでるなんて信じられない。今の気持ちははっきり言えないけど...「嬉しいですか」聞かれたら「はい、嬉しいよ。」で答えると思う。でも日本でいろいろなことはまだやらなければならない。

When I arrived in Japan in 2010, I had almost no knowledge of the Japanese language. But to be honest I had initially thought that I had enough to get by…I was wrong. I knew this when I took a placement exam for Japanese classes, that I couldn’t communicate what I wanted to say at all. Daily tasks were a challenge too, finding things at the supermarket, going to the bank, sending mail, getting a phone, and making Japanese friends. Even now, there are still things I have difficulty in, like making a phone call in Japanese, finding the right words to explain something, reading kanji (writing is even worse), and keigo (polite Japanese).

Other than language, hurdles I had to face were

  • renewing my visa, so that I could continue to stay in Japan. There were no major problems, just the time and effort it took to get all documents needed
  • countless rejections from girls and friends
  • missed job opportunities
  • finding an affordable apartment

On the bright side, I do know I’ve become a better person.

  • I have confidence in getting around in Japan, using the train, buses and biking.
  • I have more confidence in speaking Japanese
  • I can understand most Japanese TV programs
  • I have passed the N2 JLPT (before coming to Japan I had failed N4)
  • I am more decisive now
  • I can do many things independently, without help from others
  • Interestingly, my skill with computers has increased too. I have a way better PC now, too
  • I feel more comfortable with a Japanese (JIS) keyboard
  • I can navigate most Japanese websites
  • I am more organized now: my room, the money I spend and save, my work area, etc.
  • I am responsible in sorting and taking out trash, this was something I had always cared about though since arriving. So much better than other countries I’ve lived in.
  • I know most Japanese culture, rules and holidays
  • I am more up-to-date with news now
  • I have a lovely wife that gets my jokes most of the time or at least puts up with them. I also get along well with her family too

Things I hope to get done are:

  • Pass the N1 test this July
  • Find a stable job for 2017
  • Save more money
  • Improve my confidence in speaking Japanese even more
  • Learn and improve Japanese-English translation skill
  • Keep my wife happy
  • Get into practicing the guitar again
  • Finishing the video games in my queue
  • Getting better sleep and thus waking up earlier in the morning
  • Keeping fit
  • Get work done faster and more efficiently
  • Learn about teaching English grammar

OK this post is getting long. I’ll end it here for now.

Steamy week

valvesale

Other than the title sorta resembling the weather, with it being humid and all. It’s actually about the sales happening on Steam. Steam is a place where you can download PC games that are tied to an account meaning that if you change PCs you can still access your games as long as you have that account. I personally think it’s a great system and that’s why I chose to buy some games to add to my library.

So right now, it’s the Steam Summer Sale, where a bunch of games are discounted but you have to be on the lookout for the best price since the prices fluctuate throughout the week. This sorta reminds me of the days I waited for the Black Friday sales on Amazon.

I’ve gotten quite a few games, but my current setup doesn’t give me the capability to play them. I’m still working on my new rig and it’s been taking time trying to find the best parts. Anyway, once I build it, I’ll be able to enjoy the games I’ve gotten. Looking forward to finally playing BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider.

White Day

So today’s supposed to be White Day, which is a holiday only celebrated in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. This would be my 3rd White Day since I’ve been in Japan for around 3 years. Having said that I’ve only given out chocolates the 1st time. I gave some to my teachers while I was studying in Japan. This year I plan on giving chocolate to just 1 person, since I only received giri choco (義理チョコ) from 1 person this year. It got me thinking, should I be happy or sad? At first, I felt sad that I have never received honmei chocolate (本命チョコ)  since I got here, which kinda sucks. On the bright side, I won’t worry about giving chocolate/gifts in return, saving me some money. But yeah, there’s still that part of me that wants to receive something.

First post of 2013

I honestly don’t know what I should be writing about anymore. But there have been many updates to my life since my last post.
Some of which include:

1. I’m currently into KPOP right now, been listening to a lot of SNSD and Big Bang. Also, been listening to the recent Linkin Park albums Thousand Suns and Living Things, and although I prefer the latter, in my opinion it does not compare to Hybrid Theory amd Meteora

2. My Guitar and Bass skill still leave a lot to be desired, I haven’t been able to practice consistently due in part to having broken studio headphones. I haven’t decided what to replace them with yet.

3. I have recently had a rising interest in bartending and mixing drinks which I feel isthe result of visiting different bars. Bartending is something I’d like to give a shot if given an opportunity. Although I definitely cannot do so at my current status.

4. I have been teaching English to kids for more than a year and a half, but still feel like I have things that I can improve on. English teaching was never something I wanted to do at first but after doing it for a while now, it’s something I want to get better at.

5. I’ve recently gotten an iPod classic to replace my first Generation Zune that I’ve had since 2005. It actually still works, it’s just the battery doesn’t last that long.

6. Since the beginning of 2013, I haven’t been going to many social events and just staying at home usually. I hope to go out a bit eventually.

7. Speaking of going out, I am planning to go to Australia this March, it’ll be the first time I leave the country since December 2011.

Hope to make a few more meaningful posts in the future.

Tokyo again

I honestly don’t like Tokyo but I find myself coming back. I was initially going to just stay in Chiba but I felt like I wouldn’t be able to do much there.

9:00
Woke up and checked out

10:00
Felt hungry so looked for a place to eat. Decided to get カツ丼。

11:00
Couldn’t decide what to do, but I remembered there being a park in Ueno called, you guessed it, Ueno Park.

12:00
Looking at nature is nice and calming, but at this point I was getting bored and tired of walking. I decided to head to a place I’ve been to before…Akihabara.

13:00
I wasn’t excited as I was before, when I got here. Mainly because of my decreased interest in anime. I still did do a little window shopping.

14:00
It was windy outside so I picked up a donut at Doughnut Plant, and headed to a nearby cafe to relax.

Flight delays and…uh my pursuit of happyness

So I decided to head back to the Philippines to celebrate New Year’s with my family there. I honestly had second thoughts on whether I should go or not. Firstly, because of money issues, I’ve been trying to save money and buying a plane ticket would take a large chunk out of my savings. Second, if I go there I really don’t know what I’d do there other than eat, and talk with family and friends and probably sort my stuff there.

Ok, so my flight was supposed to leave on the 28th, but due to overbooking, which totally doesn’t make sense to me since I thought I was assigned a seat already, my flight was moved to the 29th. Well, at least I was given compensation by being given a place to stay, free meals and some credit I could use for another flight which was totally ok with me. What does kinda suck though is, that my new flight has a connecting flight which means I won’t be getting to the Philippines in the usual 4 hours.

So before boarding my flight to Narita, I decided to stop by the travel store shop to buy a new passport and travel case. I did so because my old passport case was falling apart. So I like my new one but one thing I don’t like is that it is bigger than my old one meaning I can’t put it in my back pocket.

When I got to Narita, I stopped by the souvenir shop to get some stuff for my family, I’m not a fan of buying stuff that people can’t use, so hopefully the ones I got will be used.

While on the plane, I decided to watch the movie “Pursuit of Happyness”. I’ve always wanted to watch this movie but I never really felt inclined to until now. I actually felt it was the perfect time while watching it because I was able to relate to Will Smith’s character. Actually, I feel that many people who watch it will too. Since, it talks about struggles with life, which I’m sure everyone has had their share.

Xmas in Japan 2011

As I got older, I started to wonder what Christmas was really all about. As a kid, I always thought that it was a day where you got what you wanted from Santa Claus, until you find out who he really is. I won’t spoil it for those who don’t know.

Then, when I was in High School, I realized it was about giving and sorta realized that you don’t always receive something in return.

Well, when I came to Japan, I learned that it’s actually something really different. It’s apparently a dating holiday. I’ve actually yet to experience it this way, to be honest although I kinda want to. This year, I celebrated a little different. I celebrated at a bar, with a fellow English teacher. I can’t really find the exact words to explain how I felt about this way of celebrating but if I were to try, I would say “different, but quite merry” if that makes any sense.

First blackout experience in Japan

Ok, not really, but for almost two days I thought that’s what I was experiencing. So what actually happened was the circuit breaker was switched off which boggled me because I don’t remember ever switching it. So I called my boss (he helped me move into this apartment) and found out that it automatically switches off if it overloads, which in this case has something to do with my stove because it doesn’t seem to turn on anymore. I was told it may have shorted. Anyway, now I have to wait for some help in the following days. So for now, I won’t be cooking anything.

So the lesson for today is, if you think you’re experiencing a blackout, check your circuit breaker first. Also learn what a circuit breaker looks like, which I had to find out by first humiliating myself.

Update as of 2011/10/21:
My stove has just been fixed by the repairman. He warned me to avoid getting water in it, which is what most likely caused it to break.

Everything’s so blurry…

I’ve finally decided to get contacts again. I honestly wasn’t looking forward to it but, my eyesight has gotten progressively worse since the past year. I had PRK surgery (kind of like LASIK) in December 2008 but ever since I left America in March 2009, I’ve been noticing my eyesight get blurrier and blurrier. Apparently, this can happen in some cases after surgery and it’s called regression. I’ve been trying to live with it for a while now and its been ok since I don’t drive in Japan but it sucks not being able to read things from afar and sometimes I have a hard time recognizing people’s faces.

For my contact lenses, I decided to get them in Heart-up, which is located at ESCA near Nagoya station. So first, I had to get my eyes checked to find out what grade my eyes are.  I was given -1.25 for my right eye and -1.50 for my left. I kinda figured it would be that range. My first pair of glasses that I got when I was around 10 years old were in the -2.75 range and right before surgery they were around -4.00 so I guess it didn’t regress too far, still notice the difference though.

After finding out my eye grade, I was checked again by an optometrist to see if it was ok for me to be wearing contact lenses again, which she said it was ok. I asked if it would be possible for me to get corrective surgery again and she advised to ask my surgeon which makes sense.

When choosing my contact lenses, I decided to go for the one day ones because I don’t intend on using them everyday and I feel its more sanitary and less of a hassle too, maintenance-wise since all you do is throw them away afterward. As for the brand, I let the optician choose. They recommended these ones, as pictured below.

Two boxes of contacts since I have different grades for my eyes. Also pictured is some liquid that you put on the contacts to help it stick to your eye.

It was funny because I was taught how to use them again, but it didn’t take as long as the first time I tried to wear contacts. So before leaving, she asked me if I had any questions and I asked about eyeglasses and she said I get a discount if I buy them with the contacts, so I did. I chose a frame and will pick it up the following week.

So this was another experience for me to speak Japanese, which was nice since I was able to communicate and understand most of the things the optician said. Of course, there was still stuff I couldn’t understand and times where I didn’t know how to say something but I still feel good I made it through without making myself look too much like an idiot.

As for wearing glasses and contacts again, they’re really just for emergencies or maybe when I travel. I honestly don’t want to depend on them. Well, that’s all for this post.