Tag Archives: food

It is, isn’t it?

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This is the rough translation of the infamous Japanese filler-phrase, “so desu ne?”; it has the amazingly ability of making whoever you are talking to think you actually understand them! As much as we like to think so, things aren’t so different elsewhere – simply agreeing with people can get you pretty far; in many circumstances it is the best approach! I have been getting quite a lot of mileage out of it today with good results, in conjunction with the nods. Good variations include “so… so…” and “ah, hai!”. Perhaps Japanese will be easier than I thought! Today we had the opening ceremony and we were all required to give a quick introduction of ourselves in Japanese, in front of about 50 [Japanese] people. Luckily, we had two hours of class beforehand to prepare and we all managed to memorise a short speech. We were even given advice on the correct angle at which we should bow! I am pleased to report that my “speech” went smoothly and I was able to use what I learnt several times throughout the day as I met other Japanese people!

The classroom in which we are taught Japanese. The tables were later re-arranged into a circle so we could face each other!

We were also taught the first 15 hiragana characters, and have a test to look forward to tomorrow. I already had a passing familiarity with them from my own attempts at learning so with this refresh, I think the test will go smoothly. The teacher for the Japanese class was very enthusiastic and definitely what we need when learning a new subject. We played a game to practice the introductions which involved clapping to a rhythm and making hand signals – it felt like being in primary school again! Attending lectures in Cambridge is almost an entirely passive experience; it has made me forget how effective class participation and engagement can be! I have also watched some lectures from the MIT OCW and they seem head and shoulders above that of Cambridge [supervisions/tutorials should NOT be the answer to bad lectures!].

This evening, Phoebe cooked an oishii meal for me and Kaisa. I donated my pans to her since I wasn’t planning on doing significant amounts of cooking [I can happily live off onigiri!], while she seemed more enthusiastic about it. Most of the raw ingredients in the supermarket are only labelled in Kanji and so trial-and-error is required to find things you actually want. We purchased some mystery meat which later turned out to be beef, and cooked it with some fresh udon noodles [ridiculously cheap in Japan!]. In contrast, fresh fruit such as apples cost about 3x as much as it does in the UK! I’m not sure which fruits are popular in Japan but I am sure they would be more reasonably priced.

For some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to go for a run after dinner [possibly my idea] and we so donned appropriate running attire and set off from our apartment. We ran across town and tried to take a circular track so that we would eventually return home. We received quite a few stares but put a good effort in and must’ve completed about 2-3 miles. Not bad for a first attempt! Kaisa somehow still had energy left so she ran around some more whilst Phoebe and I just flopped on the floor in our apartment. I think I will sleep well tonight!