Monday, October 15, 2012

Flying Back

So a number of you have been clamoring for me to provide updates to this tired old blog.  Just this once, I will humour you all with the tale of my transit to Japan for what will be my last three months here.

I woke up at 5:45 on Sunday, Oct. 14th in Montréal and went to the airport with family in order to catch my 8:47 flight to Chicago.  I was only scheduled for a 50 minute layover, which made me worry about making my connection to Tokyo.  There were so many Japanese tourists going through security and such with me, though, that I thought I would be safe.  There was no way they would let the plane in Chicago leave with if we arrived late.

At US Customs (which I cleared in Montréal), I had a pleasant little chat with the border guard that went something like this:

"Where are you going?"
"Tokyo, Japan."
"Why are you going to Japan?"
"I'm a student at a language school - I'm studying Japanese."
"Well, because..."

I always feel like I'm asked pertinent questions by border guards...

The flight to Chicago was fairly painless, until we got to Chicago.  After landing, I looked at my watch: about 45 minutes "I should be able to do this," I thought.  However, all the Japanese tourists had left Montréal by different means - no safety net.

Unfortunately, we spent about 20 minutes driving around before we even got close to the airport.  "They decided to make us land at the furthest runway from our gate, for some reason," said the pilot.  Then came the bad news.  "There seems to be some congestion on our way to the gate, we'll just sit tight here, I don't expect this will take more than five or 10 minutes," he reassured us.  Looking out the window, I could see a collection of fire trucks, police cars and ambulances surrounding another plane on the tarmac - it looked like pretty serious business.

My 10:50 connection came and left and we were still not off the plane.  I actually watched as we drove away from the ANA flight I was supposed to take to Japan, on a roundabout route to our gate.  We deplaned on some rather rickety steps and I rushed inside, only to have my fears confirmed - my connection was long gone.

I walked my way over to the nearest "Customer Service Center", only to find a few touchscreen computers and telephones.  The wonders of modern technology, I guess.

A little ways further into the airport I met Mike, who rebooked me on a later flight departing at 12:36.  I lost my aisle seat, but he moved me into "Economy Plus" for free - which was nice for the legroom.

I grabbed a Philly steak panini at one of the restaurants and inhaled it as I walked to my gate.  Boarding went fine, but then the messages started.

"Uh, ladies and gentlemen, we're all cleared to leave up here, but I've just been informed that the ground crew's had some trouble with the front cargo door, seems one of the electric motors has malfunctioned.  We've got a maintenance crew down there looking at it, I'm told it shouldn't take more than 20 minutes."

"Seems they're still working on this motor, shouldn't be too long now..."

"So the maintenance crew have decided to simply bolt the door shut because they're having trouble fixing this motor.  Shouldn't be too long now..."

"So it seems that it didn't occur to the ground crew to load the luggage onto the plane while they were working on the electric motor problem.  We're just waiting on them to finish loading us up and we can leave right after that."

"Uh, ladies and gentlemen, we've finished loading the luggage but one of the passengers has decided to leave the plane, and as a security precaution we're going to have to find his luggage and remove it.  As I'm sure you understand, this will take a little bit of time, so please just sit tight and we'll have this all cleared out soon enough."

"There's a bit of a thunderstorm developing over Chicago now and we've been instructed to stay put until the storm clears.  There are a number of planes that have been grounded until the visibility improves, so I don't know who will get to leave first once everything clears up, but I'll keep you posted."

"Somehow it seems we were put at the bottom of the list for departures.  There are another... five or six planes in front of us on the list, and then we'll be on our way to Tokyo.  Thank you again for your patience..."

All told, we sat in the plane for close to four hours before we finally took off.

Naturally, once I arrived in Tokyo I learned that my luggage was still in Chicago - at least I get free delivery service from the airport. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

More Roommate Lulz

Roommate, standing about 5 steps from the bathroom:
"Man, I really need to go to the bathroom, but I don't want to go that far..."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

End of Semester!

Hey Everyone!

So I've been really busy of late, and haven't updated in ages.  Here are just a few of the things that have happened of late.

The semester ended on Thursday.  The final was mostly very easy, except maybe for the kanji section.  I blanked on a few too many words...

After the final, the school's principal announced some very sad news: one of the Chinese students at our school passed away earlier this week.  I didn't know him, and the circumstances are not very clear to me either.  All I know is that a lot of my Chinese friends were very shaken up over the news.  That's one thing they don't teach you in language class: how to show sympathy to those who have lost a loved one.

On a happier note, I now have not one but two part-time jobs.  Number one, taking over an English-language teaching position that my friend Marlowe left for me when he went back to Canada.  I teach two groups of kids for an hour a week.  It's a pretty cool job, if somewhat trying at times...  Number two, which I was only offered this week, is working at a school called Bilingual FM.  I have yet to start my training, so once I have worked a few more hours, I'll update again.

As for future updates...  I take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) on July 1st.  I am aiming to pass the N2 level, which is probably comparable to the amount of Japanese a middle-school graduate would understand.  I hope to be busy studying that, so don't expect updates until after that.

That being said, if anyone wants to drop me an email or something, I'll gladly respond!

I'll be back soon!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Roommate lulz

Roommate, to me: "I feel like, every time I do laundry, I lose another pair of underwear... Where did they all go?"

P.S.: Real posts incoming soon, I promise.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Truly International Experience

Hey everyone,

Not a picture entry today - just wanted to share a quick thought about a few things that happened to me today.  We were in class studying some kanji when some confusion arose about the meaning of this word: 立候補する (りっこうほする、rikkouho suru), which translates roughly to "announcing one's candidacy" or "proposing one's self as a candidate" in the context of an election or something.  The teacher was looking for a student to explain the meaning of this in Japanese, and called on a Chinese student.

This poor student proceeded to explain 立候補する as being asked by some authority to fulfill a position in government or something.  When corrected by the teacher, the student claimed that this was what her dictionary told her was the proper definition.  The class suddenly realized that, because of the way Chinese government functions, this particular student got the wrong idea about the meaning of this word.

During this discussion, I kept hearing a clicking sound coming from my left.  I looked out the open window to see if it was coming from outside, but it was in fact coming from one of the Chinese students who was trimming his nails in class.

Today was truly full of international experiences.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Break Catching Up - Various February Pictures

Another post to catch up on last semester - here are a collection of random pictures from February.

One of my favourite shops in Japan is a place called Book-Off - I'm sure I've mentioned this before.  They sell second-hand manga, anime DVDs/Bluray, CDs, video games, trading cards...  You name it, they have it.  Still, I was surprised to find these in the Ikebukuro Sunshine City Book-Off...

Spice Girls?
Backstreet Boys?
And then, this...
One of the stranger experiences I had in the dorm was noticing strange 8-bit music being played late at night.  One night I went out to investigate and found this:

Terrible picture quality, I know

Seems that, in Ikebukuro, there's a company that runs a service whereby a truck will deliver gasoline to your house.  And plays nursery rhyme tunes to attract customers.

Next, here's something that was sold at the local McDonalds for a while.

Was not nearly as good as the name suggested.
One day, Jay too Matt and I to a ramen shop in Akihabara.

This stuff was delicious~~~
Also, self-serve FRESH GARLIC?  YES PLEASE!
Now for some random Engrish!

Mmmmm, cake sand...
Definitely a good way to sell tissues, I think
Then, there was one day when the trains were really, really late - found this sign kinda funny:

30 minutes late...
One last picture - there's a holiday in Japan called Hinamatsuri, which can be translated as Doll Festival, but is also sometimes referred to as Girls' Day.  The centrepiece is this arrangements of dolls:

It's an interesting holiday - typically, rich grandparents will buy a set of dolls when their children have their first daughter.  The dolls are to be up the day of the festival, every year, and must be taken down before the day is over, else the daughter suffer the curse of a late marriage.  Yup, that's Japan.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sakura in Shinjuku Gyoen

Hi guys!

I'm going to preface this post by saying that a lot of my pictures get uploaded to my Google+ page.  I don't like Facebook nearly as much as I do Google+, so this is my way of trying to get you all to join G+...

So I'm going to just dump a bunch of pictures from our school trip to the Shinjuku imperial garden, also called the Shinjuku Gyoen.

Look at all those KCP students

This is me pretending to be a photographer - with my cell phone x___x

Saw this guy painting - really looked like he was enjoying his retirement

Picnicking is a big deal when the sakura are blooming

Hope you enjoyed this picture dump!