Going back to school is a challenging enough experience in itself, but doing so to learn an entirely new language with several new alphabets and a very different way of forming words is particularly tough. It’s like being 5 years old again – reading words by analysing every letter, then putting them together and trying to figure out how to pronounce the words correctly. That’s without even trying to work out what the hell they could mean. I spent an hour over the weekend reading books belonging to the 4 and 5 year old kids I live with, who frequently laugh at my pitiful attempts to read and then run around reciting the alphabet just to spite me.
Also, my posh hippy drawl makes pronouncing the short, clipped Japanese sounds really bloody hard. There are no dipthongs here, instead the “letters” are made up of a consonant and vowel that need to be said short and sharp – ka, ki, ku, ke, ko. No dragging it out like we do in English. Nightmare.
The college itself is pretty good, albeit a tad on the shabby side. We have two different teachers, both female, and both seem decent enough (time will tell on that count!). Classes start at 9.10am, with a ten minute break at 10am and 11am. The third and final class of the day is the worst, starting at 11.10am and not finishing until 12.40am. Clock-watch-o-rama. They are loosely divided into (in chronological order) writing practice (for the time being only hiragana), words, phrases, numbers and grammar, and then conversation practice for the last hour and a half.
My collegues I have touched on before… They are a mixed bunch, with the girls on the whole being keen, interested and good learners (and also really nice), and the boys being a bit of a waste of space. Today one of them asked me if we had “yellow fever” in England. I said no – we’re a developed country. Turns out what he meant was whether English people go crazy for Asians. I said yeah, some guys do. I guess our theory was right. I didn’t dare share my opinion on why guys get the yellow fever so bad, but suffice to say it goes along the lines of small screws requiring a smaller hole.