New class and old friends.

The Monday after my weekend trip came too early, and I hadn’t slept much the whole weekend. This didn’t do much for my concentration, which made things difficult in my new class.

See, after two weeks in SC class, I took the “skip test” to try to get into SE (intermediate). I somehow passed, meaning I’m at the top of SILAC. (This is far less impressive than it sounds, by the way.) This means the information comes a lot faster, and with less review, so you have to keep up. I can grasp the new grammar, but because of the vocab-weak program at WVU, I find myself hard-pressed to follow conversations about politics, economics, and business (which seem to crop up a lot). I’m not saying I’d have a lot to contribute, but even if I did, I lack the key vocabulary to understand what’s being said.

Anyway, I managed to make it through the day, then took the first of my optional classes. See, if you make it to SE, you can sit in on three of the AIJP (regular-term program) classes as a guest, presumably to show you what they’re like so you’ll sign up later. Unfortunately, the term ends this week, so I have to fit them all in this week or lose the option. The class I took first was kanji. This particular lesson dealt with kanji compounds for borrowed words (籠球 instead of バスケットボール、for example) and related topics, such as using kanji to write foreign names. I tried my hand at picking characters for my own name, and found that 不等奴 reads as “burado,” but roughly means “the guy who isn’t the same,” which — in a bizarre coincidence — coincides pretty well with my internet handle. I also took the Yamasa kanji test for rank 10 (the lowest), which was a solid reminder of how my own university’s program is largely insufficient, since there were a handful of easy characters I knew of, but had never been taught. (If you’re curious, I barely passed it, so I now register on the kanji scale.)

My original plan was to come back to the dorm after class and get a nap to clear my head, but I came back to find an online message from my friend Yumi, asking if I wanted to hang out, which I did. Yumi had come to WVU for a very short time last year, and we’d kept in touch. She’s not only friendly, but beautiful. Anyway, we planned to meet at the McDonald’s down the highway, where she’d pick me up in the family car (Okazaki, remember?) and we’d go to the Aeon mall.

It had been a long time, and I was glad to see her (and vice versa). We headed down to the mall, parked underneath, and went to the game center (which I hadn’t known was there) to do purikura. I’ve done purikura in the past, but the camera in this one was set low or something, because I had to lean in or slouch to fit into the shot. It didn’t dampen the fun, though, and we posed and mugged until the photos were done, then went around to the side to mess with them, and finally printed them out. With only two of us, the photos came out much bigger than last year, when we’d split a sheet between four to six people.

It’s like yakiniku, only with a pot of broth.

Next was dinner, and the Aeon mall has a lot of choices for food: Italian-style, Korean-style, ramen, 回転寿司、McDonald’s… but we ultimately settled on Shabu-Shabu. I’d heard of Shabu-Shabu, but never tried it. Your table has a heated center, and they bring you a nabe pot with a divider, allowing you two flavors of broth. (We got sweet and spicy.) You then take super-thin cuts of sliced raw beef and swish it through the broth, cooking it in the process; the motion of swishing the meat in the broth is the shabu-shabu. You also have access to a soy-sauce container for dipping, as well as some sort of gravy (which I tried and wasn’t fond of). In addition, there’s a cooked vegetable bar with things like broccoli, sliced carrot, cabbage, leeks… and raw ground beef. That struck me as odd, but after a few seconds in the broth, it comes out cooked and flavored. This place was also 食べ放題、so once we finished our meat, they brought us more. We also got the drink bar, which allows for free refills (and makes one appreciate American restaurants more). Shabu-Shabu isn’t something you wolf down, due to the way it’s set up, so when I tell you we ate until we were well and truly full, you’ll understand that we ate a lot. During dinner, I realized that, of all the people I’d told I would be studying at ASU next semester, I’d forgotten to tell Yumi! I could have sworn I’d said something.

After dinner, Yumi and I headed back down to her car and she drove me back to the dorm (okay, the Mini Stop, but that’s close enough). We decided to try to hang out again at least once more before I go back. Getting to see friends for three days straight was something I really needed. Oh, and I finally solved my bank issue, so I’m no longer poor here. Hard to believe that, as of this writing, my time here is about halfway done.

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