The days here pass in a curious succession, alternating between incredibly long (like yesterday) and ridiculously fast (like today). It's hard to believe I have only 14 days left here, although I will admit I am rather ready to come home. Everyone on our program is feeling the same way at this point. I don't think any of us were prepared for just how intense and exhausting it would be to take a full year of advanced Japanese in a mere two months. All that to say, we are very much looking forward to being in Narita Airport on July 25.
There have been sad days, but there have been good ones, too. Wednesday was a sad day, and the sticky gray fog only compounded my gloomy mood. As soon as I got to class I was already on the brink of tears, but managed to suppress them all day long... until dinner. (Dinner is my one part of the day where I get to have genuine conversations with my host mom. It's probably my favorite part of my week, and also the space in which I think my Japanese improves the most.) During a pause at dinner, holding my little rice bowl with a slightly shaking hand, I tried to eke out an apology of sorts: "Watashi wa... warui hosuto-musume ga itte moushi wake de wa arimasen... mainichi, benkyoushiteiru bakari... jikan ga nai kara, isshoni hanashimasen..." and the tears came, silently, without much fanfare, and dripped onto my plate of somen. (Translation, in quite broken Japanese: I am sorry that I've been such a bad host daughter. Every day, I'm always studying, and since I don't have any time, we don't get to talk together.) I think I totally alarmed her, for she looked up with a startled face and then launched into a fifteen-minute homily in Japanese about how I was absolutely fine, how they loved having me, how I shouldn't worry about anything, &c. Really, I just needed to cry, and so it felt good just to do that.
Still, today has been exciting and tear-free. This afternoon, we mixed our class with a class of Japanese students who are taking English to do presentations on our cultures. The Japanese students presented in English and we presented in Japanese. I teamed up with Rebecca and we attempted to tackle a survey of religion in America in a mere five minutes. Despite our limited amount of time and preparation, I think we did a fairly good job. The students who heard our presentation seemed especially surprised to find out the real meaning behind Christmas and Easter, which Rebecca did a fabulous job explaining. Finally getting the chance to interact with Japanese students--to have to use what you know of the language in real time, instead of in a stifled classroom environment--is always energizing to me.
Next weekend Diane and I are taking day-trip to Nikko to see the lavish shrine, famous waterfalls, and monkeys! Very excited. Hope that our hostel won't be as sketchy as it looks and that our trip will be the rest that we have earned.