In Japanese Class





先生:そう?![runs across room, points, yells] 学生はだめな学生です!だめ!


Japanese Professor: Right, go on, then.

Japanese Student: “Teacher is a good teacher.”

Professor: Oh, is that so? Thank—

Student: Teacher is a bad teacher. (Heh heh~)

Teacher: Really?! [runs across room, points, yells] Student is a bad student! Bad!!

Class: [loud laughter]

If you speak fluent Japanese, please don’t kill me… 私は日本語102の学生です。

An Overwhelming Sort of Contentment

The weather is nice. It’s cool but sunny, and a lot of cheerful freshmen and easygoing sophomores are casually playing sports on the Green. There’s a pair of guys darting around on a tandem bike, grinning widely at the weird looks they’re getting in the process.

Classes are fun. Yes, all of them. My classmates are conversational and my partners conspiratorial, making even the most inane subjects amusing.

More and more often, Sapphire, who is taking Spanish, joins me in my insistent use of foreign  language in conversation, so that our conversations take on the form of, “¿Tienes hambre?” “Hai—WoW ni ikimashou!”

Group meals are extremely common, and relatively frequently, Fritz or Finn will cook something for all of us to share, and Sapphire and I will sit in their dorm until late at night, eating rice and drinking Cheerwine or Mountain Dew and talking with their roommates about video games or languages until we get too delirious to carry on a proper conversation.

Things can be stressful and sometimes dramatic here, but overall, life is good. All in all, I’ve got nothing to complain about. ^^

Mock Exam Puns

Supplemental Instruction Leader: Dr. Organic Professor is more likely to give you an A in a “89.44” situation if you come to SI.

Me: Hey hey hey Sapphire

Sapphire: Oh no.

Me: Guess what?

Sapphire: What…?

Me: If Dr. Organic Professor gives you an A in an 89.44 situation because you came to SI, that’s getting an A for effort!

Sapphire: >:/

Things Irritated-Sapphire Says

Sapphire: Boys are dumb and deserve…

Me: Oh, haha, I thought you said, “Boys are dumb as dessert,” since I’m used to Finn saying “X is dumb as rocks.”

Sapphire: Boys are dumb as rocks. Boys are dumber than rocks! At least rocks know when to be quiet!

College: A Photo Summary, Year 2

A lot seems to have changed in the year since we began our stint here at UNP. Campus isn’t as intimidating. Sapphire and I are not strangers. Nothing seems as big (or as scary), and in general everything seems a lot less exciting than it did as starry-eyed freshmen reveling in our first tastes of freedom. Of course, that doesn’t mean that amusing things haven’t happened since the college quartet was reunited. Quite the contrary. Some thing, I suppose, never change.


One of my first breakfasts in the dorm. That’s right, you’re seeing that correctly: those are plant phyla and marshmallows. I can’t think of a better combination*. (*This is a lie.)


A tired joke, but I couldn’t help myself while studying functional groups.


The night Sapphire returned, we all gathered in her room to watch a movie. I tried to get a picture of Finn’s satisfied smirk at having stolen Sapphire’s spot, but pictures make him make weird faces.


Fritz, after proving that he cannot behave properly sitting on a bed (“Why are your feet on my pillow?”) or in a char (“If they fine us for the Sheetrock damage, we’re charging you for it.”), was exiled to Sapphire’s desk for the evening, which remains his designated seat to this day.


Finn did this absentmindedly—yes, with his teeth. Sapphire and I persistently attempt to train him out of this.


The Student Secular Alliance has resorted to… interesting tactics.


Conspicuously pasted up in the elevator. Fritz: “Oh myyyyy…”


Finn strikes again.

IMG_0980 IMG_0981

Fritz left his room unlocked one weekend, and the Alliance of Students Against Commonplace Stupidity (Finn and I) decided to teach him a lesson. If you look closely, you may see Dankey Kang with a note penned by Sapphire, who claims she wasn’t otherwise involved. If you look closer, you may see the noxious Lysol fumes rising from every surface.


I still haven’t found my berries!


I attended an Auburn football game with my family one weekend. Natalia and I are the hottest ever.


An attempt Finn, Fritz and I made at baking Sapphire a birthday cake. Yes, it does say, “it 4 U.”


So, campus dining thinks this is necessary…


Finn transforms Sapphire’s fiancé, Beau. Finn’s words exactly: “Smashing!”


At one in the morning, Sapphire and I decided to get mozzarella sticks and Finn came along. While there, Finn taught Sapphire how to use chopsticks. This was the result. And yes, that is Sapphire feeding Finn sweet potato fries with straw-chopsticks while strategically avoiding being captured on camera.

Anyway, these are only a few interesting moments of many that have occurred at UNP, coming from the lucky times I had the foresight to whip out my phone and demand a photo. There are many interesting stories to be told, and many more to be written. After all, my friends live on antics and shenanigans, and, although they don’t understand why I write about such things, I do. You know why?

Of course you do. It’s because I do what I want.

A Japanese Learner’s Dream

There is a certain type of person with which you are probably acquainted. If you know me, you certainly are. If you’re getting your toes wet with a popular show that you may not even realize is an anime (this was Pokémon, in my day), you may be converting soon without even realizing it.

That’s right, I’m talking about the otaku.

“Otaku” is the term used (in Western culture) to refer to those annoying geeks who basically do nothing but watch and read anime and manga. I’m talking about those nerds with all of the buttons and plushies, the ones that randomly insert Japanese words into conversation (Sugooooiii~! Kawaiii!). In Japan, the term apparently carries a much more negative meaning (apparently arising from the honorific form of “house,” implying that people of this type are “reluctant to leave their houses“), but that, of course, doesn’t dissuade the Westerners who adopt it, declare it, literally live it.

Why do I bring this up? Because often otaku become Japanese learners and, less rarely, vice versa. I am one of the few in which this mutation occurred backwardly—I began as a simple student of many languages and, as I honed in on Japanese, mutated into the kind of person who screams “kawaii” at pictures of anime couples.

(You think I’m kidding. 90% of my “abnormal” Japanese vocabulary comes from anime—I can tell you how to say “Hey, hey, Papa, can I have some wine?” [ねえねえPAPA、ワインをちょうだい?] and “Equivalent Exchange” [等価交換], but not something simple, like, for example, “Chemistry is magic.”)

My friends will readily tell you that I easily fall within the category of “otaku.” I have entire playlists dedicated to Japanese music (in fact, I used to go to sleep with the Fullmetal Alchemist soundtrack playing in the background); I’ve planned multiple cosplays and actually staffed a convention, and fangirl simply being in the same room as a person from Japan. Since returning to campus, I have been to multiple events that have brought tears to my little otaku eyes.

The first was a Japanese movie night hosted by our Japanese department. My professor and his wife (also a professor) screened 「ダーリンは外国人」(My Darling Is a Foreigner) in a lecture hall. All sorts of people showed up, with all levels of Japanese skill—several 101 students, some 201 students, and even native speakers gathered round to drink sweet tea, eat matcha ice cream, and watch a romantic comedy together. We laughed at Saori’s long, shrieking cries of “Toniii!!” together. We cringed at Tony’s friends’ complete cultural incompetence together. There was something enchanting about the experience, the experience of all of these aspiring language learners and speakers gathered together to giggle over bad jokes, that reminded me what my goal is in the long run.

The second was a visit to the Japanese table, a group of people that meets every Friday in our cafeteria to casually converse over lunch. A good number of native Japanese speakers show up for this, including exchange students and my professors, as well as a lot of undergraduate (and even some graduate, I believe?) Japanese learners. I visited the table last semester briefly, as a humble 101 student with little but “hello” and “goodbye” under my belt, and was turned away by the feeling of oppressive incompetence. However, I decided to give it another go, and I was not disappointed.

I took my seat by my professor from last year, who smiled warmly at me and greeted me and then promptly began speaking to a 201 student beside her in Japanese. I picked at my food and attempted to interject myself whenever I was able, agreeing to statements such as “Kanji are hard” and “I understand more than I speak.” At one point the man sitting beside me, a fluent speaker, asked me why I decided to learn Japanese, and I responded brokenly (or at least I hope I did) with an overenthusiastic, “Because I love it!”

I sat for a good hour, absorbing, laughing occasionally at jokes that I understood (no, sensei is not a vegetable, teehee), before I gathered my dishes and slipped out the door with a “Sayounara!” tossed at me and a “Ja, mata!” tossed back in return. I felt positively ecstatic, having sat between two native speakers (the other was a girl who had said, “Keep practicing your Japanese! I’m still learning, too” and who had earned a round of laughter from my professors before she corrected it to, “English, I mean!”) and actually understood some conversation. Everyone had been so pleasant, and everyone seemed to be friends, and it didn’t matter how terrible you actually were, because, hey, at least you were trying.

I had gotten so engrossed that, when I ran into Clara (who speaks fluent Mandarin and Japanese) in Starbucks, I responded to her, “Just come back from lunch, June?” with a fervent, “Hai!”

Right, I went through all of this effort, all of this setup and defining, to tell you that I really love getting tastes of my greater goal of fluency. What’s the big deal?

I don’t know, maybe nothing, for most people. Still, for me, a person exceptionally determined to speak Japanese (it will happen, it’s just a matter of when), it was inspiring and encouraging.

Moral of the story? Learn a language. Learn a language you love. Then go out and use it, darn it, no matter how American you sound, because people are great and communication is beautiful and the language barrier is something that can be torn down.

[ahem] Anyway.

I think I’ll go mess with Textfugu now.

A bad idea, considering I have a bio test Thursday?

You’re probably right.

(I guess, right now, I shouldn’t do what I want.)