I have some good news on this trip. On Monday (tomorrow), I am supposed to be moving in with a family in a homestay arrangement. This will be a great opportunity for me to learn more of the language and about Japanese life. It starts as a temporary arrangement (1 week at first), but if it works out for both of us I may be able to stay the whole time I am here. Family consists of mother and father (both maybe a few years older than I), plus an 11 year old daughter and 7 year old son.
It seems I was very lucky with this. I've heard many times that Japanese families prefer women for homestays, so finding one at all for me was good luck. Double lucky in that the homestay is very close to school - many homestays have long commutes to school, often involving taking the train. Mine will be a 5 minute walk. The distance isn't that big a deal, but if I did have to take the train, it would limit some socializing opportunities outside of the homestay, as the trains stop running at midnight, so you have to leave wherever you are at by 11 to make sure you catch the last train.
It is very interesting to see how well another student has done. He started at the same time and class as me when I first arrived. He has had 6 weeks more Japanese study while I was away, so his level now is about where I could be at the end of this 6 week stay. I would definitely call his skill level conversational, and I hope I can get there also.
I bought a bicycle. It's a commuter type bike, similar to what I had when I was here before. 3 speeds (though it doesn't shift well, so I generally use it as a single speed). Basket on the front. Generator powered headlight. Full fenders. Paid as much for it as I would pay for one tire for my mountain bike - if the tire was on closeout sale! Very cheap. Have already used it a few times to get around, including a 2 hour ride yesterday to see if the hanami (cherry blossoms) were still blooming (they weren't - I missed it).
Lovely color, eh?
Ah, something that many of you are probably wondering about - my response to the job offer! Sorry about the delay in letting everyone know, but I have turned it down. Working as a Japanese employee seemed like a bit too much culture shock for me. For example, my title would have been Asssitant Manager, which is a few steps below what I was in the States (but was the appropriate level in Japan for someone of my age). And the pay was lower than what I was before, and would grow slower, so I would be leaving a lot of money on the table as compared to a job with an American company.
My break in the States was quite nice. I guess it is hard for people to feel sorry for unemplyed me when I spend my time biking in the Bay Area, skiing in Colorado, or travelling the world...
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