Thursday, October 7, 2010

Japanese Class

I have signed up for a Japanese class once a week through an organization called KIFA. It’s an acronym of some kind and I know the K stands for Kamagaya, my town, but that’s about all I know.

Every Wednesday I go for two hours and ask and answer questions in Japanese with two other ladies. The class is taught only in Japanese, as not all of us are fluent English speakers. One lady is from China and one is from Russia. I’m endlessly jealous of the Chinese lady as she can read most of the Kanji, or Chinese symbols, making her two hour class significantly easier than mine. The other lady is from Russia and is married to a Japanese man. She has told me she doesn’t work which was apparent as she was quite eager to make friends. When I walked in for the first time, she excitedly asked me if I was also there because I too was married to a Japanese man…ummm no. I was so taken aback, I chuckled right out loud. Though did my best to stifle it so I wouldn’t laugh right in her face. Being married is just so far from where I am in my life right now I couldn’t help but laugh. Then we took a group picture and she ran over and stood next to me and linked my arm, she asked me how her make up looked and I could smell the alcohol on her breath. Again I tried to hide the laughter behind my smile for the photo. Later she asked for my cell phone number which I was non existent at the time...bummer. Should be interesting! 

I have been to three classes so far and am really enjoying it. I really needed some sort of consistent class to keep me focused. What kills me is when the teacher spits out a whole paragraph of information that ends with a question, and I understand and know the answer to the question, but she would like me to answer in a complete sentence. I HATE those complete sentence answers. Though, what is especially cool is watching the three of us take notes in our native languages. As cheesy as it is I want to try and get a picture of our notebooks all lined up with English, Mandarin and Russian as an explanation to this code known as Japanese that we’re all trying to crack.

Story for ya: So during one of my classes, I think it may have been the first one actually, I was trying to answer a question about ‘whose bag was over there’ which was taking all of my concentration, but to my left I could hear people talking about me. They weren’t speaking English but they didn’t need to be, and despite how polite the Japanese people are, they fail when it comes to being discrete about talking about others in the room. This has happened a few times before and it makes me smile every time. I want to tell them, “Guys! If you would just talk normally, I would have NO idea what you would be saying, but the whispering and glancing over is really giving you away.” Finally, a lady came up to me and asked if she could talk to me after class, I said of course. For a split second, I thought I was in trouble, and then I was like, Kate you’ve been in this class 20 min what could you have possibly done, and Kate you’re 23 does that even happen anymore?

After class I dutifully stayed after to talk to a lady I had never met. Long story short they were asking if I would be a guest speaker at a KIFA English event. This organization has many older members who are decent at English and have joined KIFA to help keep up their English. I was asked to write a 5 minute max speech on anything, preferably USA related. I told them that would be no problem, and they were SOOOOOO excited that for a split second I wondered what I had just agreed to. I went over it with them one more time, the lady who I was originally talking to had now turned in to a crowd of 5 ladies, all talking simultaneously. I managed to also learn that I was getting paid 60 bucks! Not to shabby. Though, all their excitement made me kind of nervous and I was eager to get home and call Ian to have him further explain what I had just signed up for.

Ian aka Big Bro
Ian, from the UK, is going on his 5th year in the JET program, and I have nicknamed him Big Bro. He is my go to guy for clarifications all things Kamagaya, JET and Japan related. Ian where is the post office? Ian my bike tire popped how/where do I fix it? Ian how do I pay for school lunch? Ian what did we just eat for lunch? Ian where do I get my haircut? Ian what is this bill for? Ian how do I pay rent? Ian why are these ladies so flippin excited?! He explained to me that he thinks they just have trouble getting people to agree to speak and they were excited that I had. That was probably the best answer I could have gotten. 

Since that class, I am reminded every class that I am to give a speech on Oct 17, yup got it ladies, I’ll be there at 1 pm don’t you worry. I met with one of the ladies last Tuesday night who took me to dinner, and was so excited that I was “so easy to talk to”, that she invited me to her house to cook and gave me pretty much everything in her purse. I left with origami, chocolate, skittles, Toblerone bars, a map of Hokkido, and these feet warmer things. She took them out to show me how cheep she bought them for and I simply said, “Oh, wow!” and the next thing I know she was forcing them into my hand. I also had already written my short speech, entitled “The Move” where I discuss my move to Japan and how impossible it is to find a job in education in California. I handed her a copy and she was so very impressed, which I think also added fuel to the gift giving.

She actually just emailed me earlier to tell me that the speech was great and she was eager to hear me say it.

I will most definitely let you know how it goes!

Mata ne!

1 comment:

  1. KB I laughed out loud at the thought of your visit with the lady you accepted to give a talk at her club & giving frenzie cute & touching. your blogs are great fun!!!!love ya Mata na



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