Autumn Semester at ICU: First Impressions
I try my best to avoid posting “walls of text and feelings” because I know no one really wants to read those…but I keep writing all this stuff whenever people ask, “How’s school?” or “How’re classes?” so I figured I might as well just get it over with and post a blog entry.
I will try to include many pictures and gifs to keep your attention.
SO…after a week of school at International Christian University:
It’s about a 50-minute (6-mile) bike ride from home to school (the fastest I’ve gotten it down to is 38 minutes…but at a leisurely pace/with a lot of hold ups at stoplights or train crossings, it’s 50 minutes)…so I get to class kinda sweaty in the morning, usually with a rather conspicuous sweat stain on my butt from having sat on a bike seat for a long period of time (my host mom keeps telling me that Tokyo will cool down in a week or two…I sure hope it does >___<). But at least i’m kinda tired when I get home, so I can’t/don’t really stay up late…
You might be asking, “Why not just take the train?”
From my train station to the train station nearest to my school, it’s 280 yen. For the bus that goes directly to my school from the train station nearest to my school, it’s 210 yen. So, if I take the train and the bus (i.e., don’t walk at all), it’s 490 yen one way. And it also takes about 50 minutes. In one day, to school and back, it’s 980 yen. That’s about $12.50.
If I eschew the bus and just take the train and then walk for 30 minutes to school, it’s “only” 560 yen to school and back. That’s about $7.
Either way…it seems pretty expensive to me. $35 a week if I don’t take the bus, $60 a week if I do take the bus. So, unless there’s a typhoon or something…looks like I’m biking. Time to get buff.
Japanese class is good, but really really slow (at least, compared to the summer course). We also have a “pleasure reading” thing, where the teacher has a bunch of little short stories (in Japanese) of various lengths and difficulty levels, and we can pick from them to read throughout the week (and we have one period dedicated to it on Thursdays). I am reading Dracula right now. The grammar and vocabulary are really simple (although, I had to look up the word for “crucifix”…but I could guess the words for “vampire” and “coffin” based on the kanji and context, so that was rather exciting), so I will try a more difficult book once I am finished. However, I am really enjoying it…it’s just like when I was 4, and I first picked up a book to read…and couldn’t stop. So magical…
My linguistics class is “Pragmatics”, so we’re talking about how the meanings of words change based on the scenario (e.g. “us”, “here”, “today”)…the teacher is a Japanese lady, and she’s supposed to teach it in English, so she speaks really slowly and repeats a lot of stuff. It’s pretty easy, and being a native English speaker seems to be a pretty big advantage…at least, I’m not shy about answering the teacher’s questions in class, and most of the stuff seems intuitive.
My “Logic Programming” class’s professor is this German dude who lives in Wisconsin. He’s really chill and funny. He said, “If you have to get your answers from the internet…I don’t really care. Just get it done and tell me you used the internet.”
We’re using Prolog, which I had some experience with about a year and a half ago back at Mudd in CS60…so it shouldn’t be too bad. Although, some of the logic stuff seems a little new to me, so hopefully I’ll be learning a lot of new stuff as well.
My “Seminar on Quantum Computing” professor is this Czech guy who speaks in an almost inaudible monotone, and he kinda just infodumps stuff (because it’s a seminar, I guess…). He said he was a physicist before he got into Computer Science, so during class, he got sidetracked by the math of quantum physics and ended up practically teaching a quantum physics course for 2 hours. Which was interesting, but still…he just whipped out the Schrödinger equation and started solving stuff, and we were like, “…uh, what?”
Two of the guys in the class left after the first period, so there are only 4 of us in the class. Apparently, our grades will be based solely on attendance and the 50-minute final presentation that each of us is supposed to give…but he said our grades will pretty much just be A’s or B’s, so I’m not too worried about it. I suppose it’ll supplement the Quantum Physics course I’m trying to audit…
My “Translation at Work” class is pretty laid back, but it looks like it’ll require some good time management on my part. It’s all about how to properly translate from Japanese to English (i.e., not just being grammatically correct, but how to convey feelings well and use proper translation conventions). It’s about 3.5 hours, so that’s rough…but it’s only once a week (as are my two computer science courses, but those two are only 2.5 hours each). The main thing is that we’ll be translating a 1500 character text of our choosing for the next 12 weeks, and we’ll do smaller translations that she gives us in class and work with other students on the small translations. Maybe someday, I’ll be half as good as Dong-hyeon…
As mentioned earlier, I am also auditing Quantum Physics, which is taught entirely in Japanese…so I don’t quite understand what’s going on (except for most of the math). However, the textbook is in English, so I’m going to try to read a lot of it before class so I can at least have an idea of what the teacher is saying.
And yes, as I said on Facebook…there are no girls in any of my science classes (i.e., the 2 computer science courses and the physics course). I suppose being at Mudd for 2 years made me forget about the lack of females in science fields…
My class schedule is weird (night classes 3 times a week, class from 8:50 AM to 7 PM on Thursdays…Quantum Physics is 1st and 2nd period on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I have Japanese 2nd period, so I only go to Quantum for 1st period), and I live far away, so I can’t really do any of the clubs that I wanted to do (orchestra, tennis, and dance)…I can go to tennis on Tuesday afternoons, but that’s about it.
Here is the period schedule at ICU:
…And here is my class schedule:
So partly due to that, and just me being…me, I guess I haven’t really been able to make friends (that is, outside of people I met during the summer course), which is kinda sad .___.
The students seem pretty nice. They can all understand English, although quite a few are really shy about speaking in English…but outside of the club orientation/fair, when all the sports clubs tried to get me to join them, most people don’t really try to talk to me, despite the many looks I get (especially on the days when I came to school with a violin on my back…whilst wearing a wifebeater). I guess I’ll have to be proactive or something if I’m going to make any friends.
On the bright side, my host mom makes fantastic food…so it’s great to return every night to a feast.
Here’s an example of one of my smaller dinners: gyouza, steak, broccoli, potato soup, rice, green tea, pickles, cucumbers, tomatoes……
I brought my violin to school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week, and practiced for about 2 or 3 hours each time. It feels really good to actually seriously practice (to the point that my right forearm is sore). I might bring it on Tuesdays as well if I decide that I don’t like the tennis club.
Hooray for college life in Japan.