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Posts Tagged ‘halls’

I have a new flatmate! Or, to be more correct, a fabulous new flatmate!

Some of the new exchange students have only temporarily moved in until their homestay family are ready for them, but luckily Bekka is a permanent resident. I don’t believe in Karma myself, but I am wonderfully relieved to have got a noral flatmate for this term. She is from Australia and is the complete opposite of my last flatmate – extroverted, tall, blonde and most importantly, slightly bananas which means we instantly clicked!

After living in a dingy, filthy flat for 4 months it is really refreshing to have someone else other than myself want to make it homely. All of last term I spent my free time anywhere but my own flat because it was not somewhere I wanted to be, but now I feel like I have a reason to hang out here and make it my home rather than the place I sleep.  Today we spent over 2 hours cleaning the fridge alone, removing all the food that was out of date and cleaning 4 years of encrusted food off the inside! We also rearranged things a bit and cleaned out all the cupboards – something I should have done when I first moved in!

I took her to get her registered as an Alien, showing her the very over-complicated rubbish disposal methods* and helping her get settled in, so we’ve been hanging out a fair bit. Actually most of the new exchange students are pretty cool, so its nice to be able to help them get sorted before term kicks in.

*I can’t remeber if I wrote about recycling/rubbish disposal but we have a collection on four days of the week; twice for combusitible rubbish, once for recyclable materials such as paper, plastic wrap/assorted plastics, PET bottles, and incombustibles, cans and glass bottles (all seperated out by type, washed and PET bottles have to have their labels and caps removed), and there is another collection for reusable or recyclable stuff which doesnt fit into any other category! They all have various different places where you have to leave them out for the dustmen as well so its a little bit effortsome to get accustomed to! Showing the newbies all this kind of stuff reminds me how weird it actually is… Its all just second nature now!

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The last couple of weeks has been a mixed bag of emotions. I’ve had some real highs  – like seeing my Cousin Hazel in Kyoto with Toddles in tow; great fun now he is running around everywhere! And he has grown SO big since I saw him last! – but its brought about a lot of low points too. Saying good bye to a lot of people on my course I’ve made friends with over the last few months was sad enough, but a couple of my really good friends were leaving too which is a bit of a blow. Luckily we are living in the age of Skype! The other thing was that this year was my first ever Christmas away from home and while I was expecting it to be hard, it was even harder than I imagined. I kept myself as busy as possible to keep my mind off the fact that I wasn’t with family, firstly on Christmas eve by going to one of my good Japanese friends’ house.

Since I live in halls, I really appreciate getting this kind of home-stay experience! After paying respects to the family shrine we entered Haruna’s grandparents house – enormous and incredibly Japanese in every single way with tatami flooring, sliding doors, with an outer corridor surrounding the inner rooms. We had a real feast for lunch and although I though I had tried almost everything before they still found things to surprise me! Remarkably, they have a small amount of land and grow all their own rice, vegetables and fruit, as well as making their own plum-wine liqueur, pickles and other things! Naturally it was all delicious – there’s nothing like home cooked food!! I enjoyed talking to them – even if they spoke with a really thick dialect accent that made it hard to understand! Her grandma is an inspiration – at 70 she still does Japanese archery and competes at a national level – I saw the trophies! They were so kind and very generously gave me a whole bag of goodies to take home with me – home grown clementines, pickles, sweet potatoes and dried persimmons.

Afterwards we went on to her family home and I got to meet her mum and dad. We made nabe which is kind of like clear soup with meat and vegetables or whatever you have lying around – for that very reason its becoming a favourite of mine! I got to try out her koto which I suppose is a cross between a guitar and a piano – very strange – and heard all about her dad entering the famously hardcore Iron Man competition for a second time!

We then had drinks at My Bar and after a long long walk from Sakae all the way to Don Quixote in Kanayama/Nagoya Eki decided to crash out at a Manga Cafe till the first train home. Christmas day itself was also very very different to what I’m used to; replace the roast with raw octopus, soy beans and radish salad, the wine with beer, and instead of carols at church think of carols at karaoke and you’ve got a pretty good approximation! I actually had a pretty fun day in the end but I’m really glad its over now so I can enjoy the rest of my holiday.

Here are some pics…

I’m going off to Tokyo for New Years Eve and to see a bit more what I missed last time, like Akihabara, a bit more Harajuku and maybe we will try and catch a glimpse of the first sunrise of the new year from the vantage point of the Roppongi Hills Hotel…

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Soon my slightly strange flatmate from America-land will be leaving… right after next weeks final exam. If it were anyone else in the dorm, I would be sad, but the unfortunate thing is that she is the one person I am not sorry to see the back of. I wouldn’t want to write anything nasty about her as she is not THAT bad and she cannot defend herself in cyber-space, but she is certainly a funny character. In a bad way.

This is a girl so paranoid about security (in an incredibly safe dorm where everyone knows everyone and strangers are not allowed past the common room) that she locks her bedroom not only when she leaves her room, but when she is inside, or even when she goes 2 metres away to use the toilet or shower. Her bedtime routine involves going to sleep at 10pm on the dot every night, and her hearing is so good that she complains about me listening to music with my headphones on after 10pm. Yes really. The fact that NO other flats have a problem with noise indicates that it is not just me being noisy, she is just being selfish. Of course you can hear a murmuring through the wall when people talk next door, but she complains that earphones don’t block out the noise enough for her to sleep which I personally find ridiculous. She wont share any of her cooking equipment to the extent that friends have to bring their own crockery when they come over to eat, and has on occasion told people in the community room below to turn down the music at 9.30 on a Saturday night because she was trying to sleep – I could hardly hear a thing! The most funny thing however is that she doesn’t eat white bread or mayonnaise because her mum (who is black) brought her up on the principle that they are “white peoples food” – her exact words, not mine. A bizarre twist of irony considering that she is only half black and half white, and has skin that is whiter than mine…

It’s not quite up there with the now infamous blog Things I hate about my flatmate, but she has been a real bore; not letting my friends come over to my flat after 10pm, or talking on skype after 10pm because SHE has to sleep; a ridiculous expectation in an international dorm, where social interaction and noise occurs!

Hopefully I will get a good replacement… one who has an interest in Japan beyond manga (comics) and anime (cartoons), and who lets me borrow her cutlery when the only knife we have in the flat goes AWOL….

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I spent what seemed like a large proportion of yesterday morning running around London gathering bits and pieces for my Visa. A quick trip to SOAS, followed by a hurried scavenge around Mayfair looking for a photocopy machine and somewhere to have passport photos done. Unfortunatly I look like I am giving a horrific death stare in my photos, but I didn’t have the time/money to get new ones done! Hopefully the visa should be ready in a couple of days from now; just in time!

I’ve just found out that I am going to be living in an International Hall of Residence called Nanzan Nagoya Koryu Kaikan 【名古屋交流会館】. If you want to send me English chocolate/PG tips/interesting things/letters then that would be lovely! Apparently it is “located a few metres from the university gates” which I hope isn’t an exaggeration – allowing me to get as much beauty sleep in as possible! I’ll be in one of the Halls’ apartments, sharing with 3 other international students and one Japanese student. Luckily MJ (fellow SOAS exchange student) is also going to be in the same building, but I think the whole concept of this hall is to encourage people of all different nationalities to “culture-exchange”, and so I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people.

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