How much? As much as a hooker loves money. Glad to sort that question out.
I got my mobile (keitai in Japan-parlance) about two days ago, with the help of my host family. Any reservations about their willingness to help me went out of the window as they drove me round to a couple of stores in order to find a phone. Result: the first colour screen phone I’ve owned, the first camera phone I’ve owned, the first phone I’ve owned that can send pictures via email (I’ve tried it, and it rocks. The picture of Gaidai campus to the left was taken on my keitai and sent to my Gmail address. Expect to see some mobile additions to this blog soon enough).
I had my first meeting today with my speaking partner, Sanae-san. She’s very nice, and we chatted away for two hours pretty easily. One thing I was surprised by was her spoken English. It’s terrible. Normally I wouldn’t be so uncharitable, but she’s in her second year of studying English at Kansai Gaidai. Any student speaking a foreign language like that wouldn’t be accepted into a British university. End of. In Japan, however, the emphasis is on rote-learning grammatical formations and such. Conversation doesn’t really get a look-in. So she’s anxious to practice her English with me.
We spent most of our first meeting talking in Japanese, though. I realised again what I’d been thinking on and off for almost a year; that for me, language comes alive when it’s outside the classroom, when you’re using it in the real world. I can’t imagine being taught a language in the way Sanae described her English lessons, and doubt that they’d play such a big part in my life if that had been the case. It’s also the reason why I’m getting such a kick out of this year abroad, even if at times it becomes dull and frustrating. Nothing back in the UK comes close to the learning I’m doing here, everyday. I mean, emailing from my phone in Japanese with Kanji conversion??? That’s so cool it shouldn’t be allowed.