Tuesday, June 4, 2013

May Flowers... May Tsuyu

Sorry, for not posting about May during May, but it was not the most exciting month. I spent most of the month doing experiments and applying scholarship applications, so I can't say too much out of the ordinary happened. One would think being in Japan would somehow make school life more exotic and exciting, but in all honesty, lab work is lab work, and paperwork is paperwork (and Japan sure likes lots of paperwork).

However here are a few nice things that happened to me during this May:

Itoshima coffee hour started again for this semester! It's a nice community gathering held every Friday where students and a few older women from the community get together and talk. Every so often we have a potluck, so there is always a lot of tasty homemade food to eat. I really enjoy going to this meeting, but unfortunately during this month, my part-time job falls onto the time of the Coffee Hour, so I am unable to go. They are all very nice people, and it surprises me more students don't come to these kinds of events.

 Also, my good friend Haejoo's husband is a very good piano player. He has played almost his entire life, and after graduating school was unable to play (most Japanese apartment buildings won't let you have keyboards even due to the worry about noise complaints... and yet brass instruments are okay). Because of this, he has been taking lessons in a studio in which a piano is available for practicing. He had his first mini-concert this month, so I was invited along to Tenjin to see his performance. Of course, before going to Tenjin, my friends and I went to a really cool  restaurant for lunch. It has a fixed menu, but you have HUGE amounts of food to choose from, and the fish are kept in tanks right next to the tables. Talk about fresh fish! :

 While the concert was being prepared, my friend and I looked around Tenjin in the various stores. The places all seem very hip and trendy, and I can understand why it is so popular among young people to go visit these kind of places. However, unless you have a lot of disposable cash, it seems like there is only shopping. The only pictures I have of the stores, was of one of the displays inside the mall, where people had designed wooden bridges.

Not much happened after that, except the Chemical Engineering Department party. While I am not technically in that major, my laboratory is considered part of that Department, so all the lab members should go. To be honest, at first I thought this would be a very formal event, but I was mistaken. If there is anything to expect from the Japanese in such party situations, it is that A LOT of people will get drunk...

This became quite clear when it was time for the different laboratories to introduce themselves to the department. It is traditional that the newest members of each lab go up and explain a little about what their laboratory does, but I certainly not expecting what happened. A few labs had skits, jokes, and even costumes for their lab intros:

And if you will notice... these are all men being goofy on stage. I am happy to say none of the scientific women in this department took part in the madness (unless you count the one guy in the dress).

 So after this party, I am afraid not much else happened for the month of May. I think people are already starting to get a little tired from classes and experiments, and now the weather is making that atmosphere worse. Japan, like many countries in South-East Asia has a rainy season. Here they call that season 'tsuyu'. So, for roughly six weeks or so, it is expected to be nothing but cloudy, warm, humid, and rainy... luckily since I lived in Florida at one point in my life, humidity is not a problem, but I am guessing for a lot of foreigners the humidity in Japan is quite overwhelming.

Now it's already June! I have two scientific conferences coming up, so I will be very busy the next couple of weeks. However, if I manage to do anything interesting, I will make sure to keep note of it.

To all my friends and family, please know I love and miss you!