Japanese Language Updates (Early August 2022) and Summers as an ALT

It looks like the last time I was active on here was in February, which also happens to be the last time I wrote one of these language updates. So, am I fluent yet? Am I able to speak with my coworkers or at least understand them? No. I am a BAD student.

Honestly, I haven’t really been studying. At least not between February and most of July. That’s almost half a year wasted! THE HORROR. But as they say, better late than never.

I started up my studying again this month. Why? Because I’m technically on summer vacation, except I still have to go to work. This means I don’t have classes but I do still have to go to the office. I’m actually not that upset about this because wow, I knew Japanese summers would be humid but this is kind of crazy. Even with my AC on, and this might be because it’s old, my house still feels hot on some days. Especially on days when it’s hot and sunny. So yes, I am glad I have to be at a full-blast refrigerator from 8:30 until 4:30.

I kid you not. I take my sweater to the office.

i went to fukuoka in July, i should write about this. maybe i will

But I also technically don’t have to be at the office. I have almost all of my vacation days unspent. I could be like “hey, I’d like to take the rest of the month off” and then just disappear into the horizon. Except I’ve decided not to unless I have to. I went out last month and I’ve never sweat so much in my life. I’m very happy inside an air-conditioned place, thank you very much

As for what I actually do at the office…I mean. I sit there and kill time.

Most of the time I listen to audiobooks. One time I watched Netflix but watching TV is just not my thing. I also sleep. And doze. A lot. I haven’t been told not to do this, not even a passing comment, which I heard is the Japanese equivalent to “stop doing that”, so I plan to continue because my sleep schedule is wrecked. I don’t even know what day it is anymore and sometimes I fall asleep only three hours before I need to get to the office. I haven’t not been on a routine that requires me to know the days, dates, and time in such a long time that I forgot this is what summers were like back when I was a jobless student (aka HS)

I also study. I have been stuck on the first-year level kanji for months now, which are about 80 characters. But I’ve already learned more than 60 kanji in just a week in a half, and how to read them in context. Am I maybe a genius? Haha.

How am I doing this? Well, I’ve given up (slightly) on the book that I picked up earlier this year. I still hope to use it but perhaps more for when I’m not at the office. For the month of August though, I am asking my office mates. I started by asking a coworker who likes to talk with me and asks me questions about my adventures, and before I knew it, I’d asked about 5 different people. I’ve been picking up a few kanji from each of them but especially one person who is especially enthusiastic about helping me out

I’m so glad because I feel like half the time I might be bothering everyone. I try to time it right, when I see that they’re not running around or on the phone, and they haven’t been like “sorry, I can’t now” so I think I’m safe for now

The nice thing about this is that I also get the kanji explanation in English and how to say/read them in context. For example, the little kanji book I carry around has more than 1,000 kanji and all (most? idk) of the ways that the characters can be read, but I don’t know what the English equivalent would be and I don’t know it in context/ how people would normally use it

Meanwhile, when I ask the people around me for help, I learn that 涼 isn’t a standalone that means cool, but that it’s generally used as 涼しい. And so instead of trying to a) figure out which of the many ways it can be pronounced to learn or b) try to learn all of them and honestly get nowhere (すず · うす· ひや · まことに · リョウ), I can focus on すず and move on. Before, I wouldn’t even know how to read a character. I would just see it and think “oh that means cool”. Now, if I ever see 涼 I’ll think “ok this means something is cool” and すず, and if I ever see 涼しい, I will know it’s all one word (instead of thinking that 涼 is one word and しい is another).

I know kanji are not this clearcut, but we have to start somewhere and keep moving on.

I also don’t really have a direction for my studying. Like I said before, I like kanji hunting and keeping things fun. I’ve learned that there is a kanji that translated to sand that isn’t really used and I think most people would therefore not learn it, but I thought, why not? It’s a fun-looking kanji, it’s simple, and it doesn’t hurt to know it. I mean, I’ve already managed to find it in a few other places even though it isn’t usually used. Also, it’s always interesting what type of words my office mates will teach me on the spot. I’ve gotten things like seasons, family members, animals, and recently (I will be studying these this week) seasoning, fruits and vegetables, and school terms.

What worries me now is that I won’t be in the office much after August. Will I keep up my studies? Let’s see!

– G

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