Last Friday, the Chemical Engineering Department held a party for the women in the department. I rode the bus and subway with the other girls in my lab, to a buffet-style restaurant called Fucci. The food was really nice, and I met a lot of new people. For being a generally petite race, Japanese people can EAT. I have never seen such small girls eat so much... I know if I did the same I would probably gain 5 lbs. after one meal. I took a lot of pictures of food, and of the fellow female members of my lab.
I even made some new friends with the only two Korean exchange students in the department. One is a Master student named Kayoung, and the other is a Post-Doc researcher named Haechoo. I had no idea that so many people worked so close to where I did. I think I just never see them because everyone is so busy with their research, and I'm still in a trainee-mode. Both were so nice, and we agreed to meet once a week for coffee at the nearby cafe! It's nice to have someone to talk to in English, though they are helping me with my Japanese when they can. Kayoung got me this costella spongecake from Nagasaki. It was delicious!
Haechoo was also so kind as to invite out to eat lunch with her the following Saturday. I wasn't expecting her to do so much, but she invited me over to her house where she cooked an amazing lunch of anko-nabe. Anko is angler fish, and nabe is the equivalent of a vegetable rich soup. It was really delicious, and I got a chance to meet her husband who works for Coca-Cola. They said they were glad they could have me over, because they never have the ability to practice their English. I, of course, was much more appreciative of their hospitality, as they helped me find good places to food, dishes, utensils, and cleaning goods for my dorm room. Before I left their house, they even gave me a special box of somen, or very thin noodles. Haechoo told me it's what is traditionally is given to guests of Korean weddings, and that the different colors of noodles are different flavors. I really owe Haechoo and her husband a great deal of gratitude for their kindness! Maybe once I am back into my baking-mode I'll make them a nice cake or batch of cookies.
This past Monday, my Japanese language classes started. They're first period classes so they start from around 8:40-10:10 a.m. While this has been making me get up a little earlier than what I normally would, it's actually fairly nice that classes do not start any earlier than this. Back at Berea College I always seemed to have an 8:00 a.m. class, or I had to be at work at 8:00 a.m. While this class is sort of a review for me (I've studied Japanese two semesters in college), I feel like I have an unfair advantage over the other international students. The textbook we are using is meant for English-speaking individuals to learn Japanese, and I am the only native English speaker there. That means, everyone else other than me and the teacher are trying to learn a third language off of secondary language. That has to be really difficult for the students whose native languages are not similar to Japanese at all. I hope I can help some of the other students out, but it's difficult to talk to people outside of class since many of them have other classes to go to.
Speaking of helping other students, I have been tutoring my friend Taku Tuesday nights. It's been really nice to be able to see an old friend, and we have dinner together in the cafeteria. He's a fellow foodie, so we usually end up talking about where I can buy donuts in Fukuoka. This week, I asked him if he could help me find an oven/microwave, and he said that you can actually get free delivery on the Japanese Amazon.com for such appliances. I would totally do that, but sadly I cannot read any of the reviews or oven descriptions... I'll have to ask someone to translate. I really want to have some more cooking supplies in my dorm room. While Japan makes buying meals (bento) really easy, it gets expensive and it's a little unhealthy to eat those all the time.
This coming weekend, I don't have too many plans, but I may go searching for some Halloween-related goods. I am trying to throw a Halloween Party for my friends and lab-members. Halloween is novel holiday here, and while it's popular among very small children, most people around my age don't even know what day it's on. I thought it would be nice to have some American-style treats and to play a few simply party games with the people in my laboratory. While everyone is nice, I would really like to get to know them a little better since I don't like to bother them at work when most of them are busy doing experiments or homework. I'm hoping a more casual setting like a party will help them to be a little more willing to try to communicate with me. They're often shy because of their bad English skills, but I think they forget I'm equally as embarrassed by my poor Japanese... it's about even for everyone I think.
Next weekend some other family members are coming to visit me! I hope to have more to post then. Until then, please know that I am well and well fed!