Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Week 1 Report

I've really enjoyed your letters. Dearelder.com is definitely the way to go, because then I have unlimited time to read them instead of trying to race through them during my email time. They get delivered either the same day or the next.

Today is Tuesday, my first prep day. This week has been crazy. When I imagined the MTC I kind of thought I'd be sitting in a classroom all day, but we are constantly on the move. It's great because even though I study and read all day, I've never once felt bored. I don't really have time to be bored, honestly. There never seems to be enough time in the day.

Japanese is extremely hard. I guess I knew it would be, but I still wasn't prepared for feeling completely incompetent. My companion and I are the only two girls in our whole district with no Japanese experience or heritage, and we've been feeling way behind everyone else (side note- if you study any Japanese at all, even one term, you WILL go to Japan on your mission. So I guess if Ben really wants to leave this continent, this is one way to ensure that'll happen). I feel like I need to prove to the other people in my class that I'm actually not an idiot. For the first three days of class, my sensei spoke no English whatsoever. Not a single word. I guess it was helpful, but I've never been so overwhelmed. The beds here are extremely uncomfortable but I'm so mentally exhausted at the end of every day that I have no problem falling asleep.

Other than the fact that they all know too much, my district is great. There are four elders and eight sisters! I definitely see more boys than girls around the MTC, but for some reason our zone is very girl-heavy. We've gotten really close just in this first week, and it's really starting to feel like a family. My companion, Dunn Shimai (I'm called MacArthur Shimai) is great. We get along super well, and I can't imagine myself with anyone else. And... she's from San Diego! That city has definitely treated me right. I think I'm destined to move there; it's where my people are.

Speaking of San Diego, I met Drew Toolsen (Toolson? I forget) this week. I introduced myself in the airport, like "Oh hi, do you know the Crickmores? They talk about you a lot, I'm their friend from school..." whatever. I think I kind of freaked him out, but he says hi to me now so I guess he's over it. I also overheard a girl say she was from Pasadena, so I asked if she knew the Bradfords, and she said yes! I think her name was Sister Bevan. Apparently they'd told her to look for me! It's crazy how small the world is through Mormon connections. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody. I've seen tons of people I know from school, too.

I share a room with three other Shimaitachi from my district: Dunn, Yamaouchi and Smith. We've been getting along really well too. So far there are only four of us in a room with six beds, but I really hope no one else moves in because there are only four desks and closets. Space is limited as is. Also, even though I was the first one to the room and got to choose my bed, for some reason I picked a top bunk. Rookie mistake. I guess the little kid in me got excited and went for it, but the ladder is the most unstable thing ever and I'm probably going to fall off it someday and break my neck. I don't have many regrets about my time here, but one of them is definitely picking this stupid bed. The showers here are also pretty disgusting, but I guess it prevents me from wasting too much time in there. Dad would be proud of how little watter I'm using.

My daily schedule varies, but for the most part, we wake up every morning ten minutes before six to go to the exercise classes at 6am. They're just for girls, and a little wimpy sometimes, but light exercise is better than no exercise, right? We also get four gym hours a week, during which we can either run, lift weights, play volleyball or basketball in the gym, or play sports outside. I've only been outside once for gym because it's so hot here. We played bocce ball in the shade and even that was pushing it. After coming back from exercise and showering, we eat breakfast and usually have an hour to read or study. Throughout the day we have six hours of class instruction that's broken up by other personal study times, meals, and computer-assisted language study. The days are long, but we're always go-go-go! Sundays are different though, and this past Sunday was my favorite day by far. We don't have any classroom time, just listening to speakers, and music, and other church-y things. It's nice to take a break from Japanese (even though half of church is in Japanese - but at least I don't have to speak it!) and just focus on listening to the speakers.

This Sunday I went to a "new sisters" meeting for all the girls who had just come in that week, and it was basically finishing school. We were taught how to sit, bend over, etc. The lady speaking also said that technically we didn't HAVE to wear makeup, but that she personally didn't recommend leaving the house without lipstick. She even showed us her personal favorite products! It was hard not to roll my eyes.

Most days part of our classroom instruction includes teaching a fake investigator, "Shuma." Our first lesson was on day 3, and it has to be in all Japanese! They are definitely a struggle. We aren't supposed to write down sentences to read from, so our communication is seriously limited. I try to just talk fast and not leave him time to ask too many questions that I won't understand. At one point, he asked what our interests were and I said "ice cream" because I literally could not think of any other Japanese word. It's rough. Also, my French keeps coming out in class. I'd heard people talk about that happening to them before, but it really is real. I'll try to string the few Japanese words I know together with French particles, and I keep trying to ask my sensei "Comment dit-on..." before realizing he doesn't understand me. There's a boy from Canada in my district who speaks some French so he kind of understands what I'm going through, but not really because he's apparently a Japanese genius and seems to have no trouble picking up a third language.

Update on my gradual shift towards becoming an omnivore again: It's going pretty well, but slowly. I've been trying to eat things with small amounts of meat mixed in with pasta or other things so I can't taste it as much. I ate some kind of chicken-parm noodle thing the other day and was actually enjoying it until I bit into a piece of chicken fat and got freaked out. I haven't felt sick at all though, so I think it'll all work out.

Fun fact about Japanese: the word for scriptures, "seiten," has a very similar pronunciation to the word "satan," for the devil. I foresee some potential problems.

Overheard at the MTC this week:
"You don't need a degree if you get a ring" - a boy
"Wait, it snows in Provo?"

I love you lots, can't wait to tell you about next week!

P.S. I've been getting lots of compliments on my outfits. I know shopping for a missionary wardrobe was tedious for Mom and hellish for Dad, but it's all worth it!

Arigato gozaimasu.

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