Tag Archives: cambridge

It is, isn’t it?

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!