You may recall that, at the start of this year, I didn’t say much about my classmates. That’s because I didn’t know much about them, nor did I want to know. During my first year in Leeds I didn’t make a huge effort to get to know people in any of my classes, and although I wound up with some good friends from my language classes and seminar groups, it wasn’t because I tried desperately hard. Leeds being the biggest university in the country, it’s very easy to become a face in the crowd, and I preferred to stick with the people I’d met in my flat and through various societies. [NB. I am studying for a degree in English and Japanese, and yet had to look up “preferred” on dictionary.com to see how it’s spelt. Make of that what you will.]
This unfortunate habit has stuck with me into Gaidai. I didn’t really bother talking to people in my classes until quite recently, and that was cause I talked to them outside the classroom. Which is why it took me quite a while to notice that my Japanese language class has developed a kind of esprit de corps, a grumbling camaraderie that sustains them through the high-intensity whirl of Gaidai’s Level 3 Japanese language program. (Our teacher, Saigo-sensei, is very enthusiastic, but that sometimes leads us into bizarre places, as we listen to Queen medleys translated into Japanese or dream up example sentences that rival The O.C. for frequency of heartbreak, betrayal and shagging.) Or at least, they think they have. I myself couldn’t care less what they think. That was my view until very recently, when the only fellow classmate I had any contact with was Nick, an insufferably smug American who would incessantly poke fun at my problems with timekeeping and organisation. Slowly, though, I’ve started to address the odd comment to them, crack a joke from time to time, y’know, generally be a bit less aloof. I thought I owed it to them.
I was at lunch today when I grabbed a table next to a guy from my class. I hadn’t really talked to him before, but we got chatting and had a fun conversation. I learned that he was missing home, and that his host family were alright. We didn’t borrow each other’s sweaters, but it’s a start, I guess. And if I find I only have the ability to talk to them outside the classroom, then that’s what I’ll do.
Aside from that, the last few weeks have been pretty good. I somehow feel it all falling into place. My Japanese, both in and out of lessons, friends, being organised, and generally enjoying my time here. Tonight I should be going to a beer festival in Osaka with Scarlett and her friends. Hey, it’s not like I don’t deserve it, and while I don’t think it’ll be much like the Histon Beer Festival, it will at least make up for missing it this year. (Plus, I don’t think I’ve been invited to a beer festival by an astoundingly beautiful girl before.)