Monday, 28 June 2010

Unofficial degree classification

I'm heading down to London for the JET pre-departure orientation on Wednesday, and as I need to hand in proof of my degree to JET I get to find out my degree classification earlier than my classmates. I just phoned up the school office today, and although it's still unofficial at the moment, I did in fact pass with a 2:1. This is no surprise, as my results have been mainly 2:1s with the odd first and 2:2 here and there. Now the final hurdle is out of the way, and I can truly look forward to heading out to Japan next month.

This bit of good news is in contrast to the abysmal performance of England against Germany yesterday. England were shocking throughout the tournament though, and didn't deserve to go through to be honest. But on the bright side, I should be getting a few more shifts at work now - there are always less customers when England matches are on. We're having lovely weather at the moment as well. Better soak it up before heading out to Japan with its poor attempt at summer weather. I'm gonna be in Tokyo for the first few days and I'm pretty sure it's gonna be well hot and humid like it was when I was there last August. But Aomori should be a lot better as it's much further north.

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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Dissertation result

Yesterday I went to pick up the feedback sheet for my dissertation from the East Asian Studies office, and I ended up with a mark of 65%, smack bang in the middle of a 2:1. That seems to be the only mark they ever award for dissertations, with my mates all getting the same. There was a bit of discrepancy between the two different markers though, one giving me 61% and the other 69%. In the end 65% is about what I expected, and now I'm just waiting til Monday to hear the results of my final exam.

I'm also preparing to travel down to London on the 30th to attend a pre-departure orientation for the job I start in August. The conference runs for two days and will be attended by the hundreds of British people heading out to Japan with JET as ALTs or CIRs, and although it actually starts on the 1st, it starts at 9 in the morning, meaning I'll have to stay over in London the night before. I've booked a room at the same place I'll be staying on the night of the 1st though, which should make things simple.

Today's been a great day for sport. There was the longest ever tennis match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon, Isner finally winning the last set 70-68 after a total of 11 hours and 5 minutes. There was also a shock in the World Cup, with debutants Slovakia beating current holders, Italy 3-1 to send them out at the group stages. Luckily there was no upset for England yesterday, whose 1-0 victory over Slovenia put them to through to the second round to face Germany on Sunday. My shift on Sunday at Pizza Hut starts just after that match finishes so I'll be able to watch the whole thing.

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Friday, 18 June 2010

Last of Last of the Summer Wine

The BBC announced recently that Last of the Summer Wine will run one more series before ending later this year.

The show is actually the longest running sitcom in the world, having been on air for 37 years, and even when it started in 1973 the cast and crew can't have been spring chickens, so it's pretty amazing that people like Peter Sallis, now 89, still appear on the show. Some actors, such as Sallis, no longer appear in outdoor scenes though, because it's apparently too expensive to get insurance for actors over the age of 80.

The era of Last of the Summer Wine which I remember most fondly was the one with Foggy, Compo and Clegg, as seen in the video above and which ran through much of show's life. I think these three characters together held the perfect balance, and the other groups of actors that passed through the show haven't quite had the same chemistry as these guys. Still, part of the show's charm was its sedentary pace and predictability, so the storylines or sentiment never really changed throughout the years.

The program isn't something I've watched lately, but I remember watching it every Sunday evening with my family when I was a kid. Despite the age of the actors - the whole town seems to be inhabited by pensioners - it was a show that people of all years could enjoy, as it felt like these old men were acting like kids most of the time. Our family appreciated it especially because of it's Yorkshire setting as well.

I remember the very first time I watched it I was puzzled over the name, asking my dad why it was called Last of the Summer Wine if it wasn't the last ever episode. Well, now that time is here, but to be fair the show has had a good run, and I'm sure there'll be countless repeats on the BBC and Sky for years to come. Also, check out this 8-bit remix of the theme tune I came across on YouTube.

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Thursday, 17 June 2010

Japanese and the World Cup

These last few days I've been mostly watching the World Cup and studying Japanese.

Even though I've only just finished my degree in Japanese Studies, this last year I haven't had much chance to study the language itself, or at least in the way that I like to. I was pretty busy with a dissertation that took up a lot of my time, and then my language study was mainly concerned with homeworks and assignments for specific classes. That meant that my overall language ability, and my kanji especially, really suffered. These last few days I've just been going over a vocabulary list which I've been compiling throughout the year and re-learning a lot of kanji and vocab. I'm also going to get back on track with my goal of learning all the jouyou kanji (a list of 1945 commonly used kanji) using Anki. I'm about halfway there at the moment, and it's said that if you know all the jouyou kanji you can read basically any Japanese newspaper article without needing a dictionary.

Just spending two or three days immersing myself in Japanese vocabulary, kanji and newspaper articles has seen a real improvement in my ability, and I'm sure my kanji powers will soon reach their previous levels. Obviously, the main motivation to be at the peak of my abilities is because I'm starting work in a Japanese office in under two months. I remember a similar situation two years ago when I studied hard for weeks before heading off to Japan for my study year abroad and really saw an improvement then. When university and exams are out of the way you can study the things you want and in the way you want, and I think that's when you really see results.

I have been avidly watching the World Cup as well though, managing to catch parts of every match. Whereas in previous years there would often be matches played at the same time, it's great how this year there are basically three matches one after another throughout the day, so you can watch footy from noon 'til night. It's been a funny tournament so far, with complaints about the ball and the vuvuzelas, and an abundance of goalkeeping errors and red cards. It's also a shame to see that South Africa probably won't be progressing to the next round - the first time that will have ever happened to a host nation.

But the World Cup is always an amazing spectacle because of the melting pot of nations and cultures it creates. It's a reminder that there are all these different peoples and languages throughout the world, but that we're all the same in that we love football. The first World Cup I remember watching was the 1994 tournament in the USA, which England didn't qualify for, but I remember my dad buying me a souvenir magazine which had all this information and stats about the various countries involved. I was only 6 at the time, but I think that World Cup, and then subsequent World Cups, really sparked my interest in other countries and international relations.

Obviously, this year England are involved, and I think they've got a decent chance of winning. Each year the support for England's football team throughout the country grows, and even my mum and sister watched our game against the US on Saturday. It'd be great for us to win this year before I head off for Japan.

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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

2010 World Cup

I've been living back at my parents' house for a few days now and I'm enjoying it so far. And it's not long 'til the World Cup starts, two days' time in fact, with England's game against the US on Saturday. It'd be good to have a barbecue that evening if the weather holds out. At the moment it seems to be alternating between hot/sunny and cold/wet. I was actually scheduled to work on Saturday evening, but there was no way I was missing the match and I managed to find someone to cover my shift.

It's great to see some rare national unity as the whole country starts to go football crazy, and you notice it especially round here with England flags flying all over the place. I'm also looking forward to James Corden's World Cup Live which I've been seeing adverts for recently. It's gonna be on ITV and looks like it'll be a lot like Baddiel and Skinner's Fantasy World Cup which ran during the 1998 World Cup, and I remember that being a laugh.

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Tuesday, 1 June 2010


So I'm about to move out of my house in Crookesmoor and back to my parents' house in Intake. I packed up all my stuff in boxes and my mum came and took it all back to their place today. I'm left here with just an empty room, which hasn't looked this neat in ages, and my PC, which I'll take with me when I leave for good tomorrow. I just have to get my room checked over by the landlord tomorrow, hand my keys in, and then I'm off. I enjoy sleeping in an empty room you're about to move out of. It's exciting because change is happening. Even though I am only moving to the other side of Sheffield for the moment, I'm really moving because uni has finished and in under two months I'll be starting my job in Japan.

Being a student and having studied abroad recently I've moved about quite a bit, so I'm used to the process. Every time I move my pile of belongings gets smaller and smaller, and this time I made a real conscious effort to keep as little as possible, ending up filling about 6 black bin liners with stuff I don't need. The stuff I have left is mostly books, DVDs and CDs, along with my drum kit, and that'll all go up in my parents' attic. But having learnt what I need and don't need in Japan, the belongings I'll take with me this time are very few.

This house I've lived in during fourth year hasn't been that great, but the surrounding area of Crookesmoor is; I've lived here for two years in total, my house from second year being just around the corner. The area's perfect for students because it's close to uni and there's loads of parks and shops nearby. I imagine my apartment and its surroundings in Aomori City are gonna be pretty different, but I'm looking forward to living in my own place and getting to know the local area out there.

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