I finally met the Japanese girl in my suite**, and she seems nice. The other two girls I haven't seen, which is kind of disconcerting. Maybe they never leave their rooms? Or maybe they're always out? I don't know. We're supposed to have a meeting tonight to divide up responsibilities.
This evening I went to a Japanese class my advisor recommended, and MY GOODNESS, it was great. It's a class that mixes both foreigners learning Japanese and Japanese students learning how to teach Japanese. But to call it a "class" would not be true the spirit of what went on in there. Basically, I walked into the room, and was immediately swarmed by a bunch of girls who thrust omiyage upon me (one of them had just come back from a trip to Okinawa). Then the teacher showed up, and, because there were two new students (me and a Japanese girl), he made everyone introduce each other and then made the two new students introduce themselves. It might have been the strangest set of introductions I have ever heard in Japanese. One of the girls was introduced as "knowing karaoke" and another was introduced as "high quality." Also, when I said I was from America the entire room freaked out for some reason. (Apparently they've never had an English-speaking foreign student in the class before. The two foreign students who were there tonight were Chinese and Taiwanese, and there are two other students who are Polish and German.) And when I said I was studying Shinto, the teacher said he'd take us on a field trip to a shrine? Anyway, after we were done with introductions, we spent the rest of the class playing word games. That may sound simple, but the game was that each of us were given a word and we had to come up with a definition of the word that the other students could guess. I was given "rock" and my definition was "It's a strong, hard thing that makes mountains. It also makes buildings and roads." (Not exactly eloquent, but at least people guessed it.) The hardest one was "regret." ("Painful?" "No, no, that's not it!" "Sour about losing?" "No, no, try again!") It was a lot of fun, and I actually learned a bunch of new words (I had no idea what the word for abdominal muscles was before today), and it was really low pressure, which was excellent. As the teacher said, "This is nothing like your other classes. Forget them for right now. This is like a Japanese salon." Also, one of the girls speaks Kyoto-ben!***
So that class meets three days a week, and if it continues to be as awesome as the first class was, I'll definitely keep going.
*Remember how I said that omiyage are souvenirs for people left at home? Well, they're also gifts you give when you first meet someone you're going to have a relationship with.
**The girl who I THOUGHT was the Japanese girl is actually the Taiwanese girl. She just has a Japanese name and speaks beautiful Japanese. I WAS REALLY CONFUSED FOR A WHILE THERE.
***If I haven't ranted at you about Kyoto-ben before, simply put, it's the greatest Japanese dialect EVER. I would marry Kyoto-ben, not even kidding. It also sounds pretty much nothing like standard Japanese, so if you're more used to it than standard Japanese (case in point: me) you're going to have so much trouble in life. To give you an idea of how different it is, imagine you want to say, "I really don't know. This is useless."
Hontou ni wakaranai. Dame da yo.
Honma ni wakarahen. Akan ya.