Friday, April 13, 2007

The first couple of days at school

School went better than expected with people generally being very nice, paperwork seemingly taken care of and noone apparently yet having caught unto the fact that I´m sooooo very far out of my league. I manage to understand general topics and at times due to my familiarity with the material I catch the gist but actual comprehension is still a loooooong vay off.

The graduate classes are all very personal with senpais (elder students) making a point of introducing all new students before classes begin. An extremely interesting social facet to observe is on the occasions when no san nen seis (third year students) are around the ni nen seis (second year students) quickly step up, assuming an authorative role. Along with the role change there is a definite change in mannerism, authority and self assuredness.

My first sensei felt a tad out of place, it seemed like he would be more at ease in his yukata sitting in front of his rice screen on his patio on a hot summers evening.
Hair thinning, a silk ribbon holding his jacket lapel in place, sharp eagle like eyes, thick lips and a quick smile he had us wait until he finished his green tea and then commenced the class by instructing us that all should bow at both the beginning and the end of each class. From what I could gleam a definite emphasis on the older schools of folklore with numerous referneces to Malinowsky, magical thought and of course Yanaghita Kunio.

My undergraduate classes are far removed from the cultural, if a tad old fashinoned feel of the post grad classes. Classes of over 50 people, a miracle in the world of folklore, a card reader takes attendance and half the class seemes to have shown up either to chat with their friends, send text messages or to sleep. The sleeping ones making me wonder where the director of Ringu got his idea for the wet wench as when they occasionally raise their hads, eyes bewildered and a tad hostile, their faces are covered with hair. The teachers also seem less interested to be there, talking fast (a problem for me) and sans intro seemingly jumping into subjects (might though well be my inherent lack of comprehension)

One post grad class I have, felt interesting, if I got the essence of the class right it was akin to a standard first year literature class in an Icelandic highschool. He was going into how for the research essay a definite change of langaeage is required and then proceeded to, using a text for guidance (hence my comprehension) to illustrate the uses of similies and metaphors going through the text a sentence at a time.

I’ve made it thus far, and I know I’m going to continue floating but it is just so weird as well as fustrating not being even able to express my comprehension of the material or the field and just having to rely upon their graciousness and acceptance that I must have some minor brains in order to have made it so far as I bumble my way though, “my name is.., I am an Icelandic research student auditing here at Kokugakuin, how do you do”

p.s. Halldor has now duly trown silk covered rice balls at me for being too self depreceating..



At 6:38 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SO you got the brains,huh?
Does that make me the pretty one? ;)
You are in flabbergasting mindspaces, my dear... you can do it!
P.s. 'wet wenches' ? -
to the english cogitant, that could be misunderstood... are the wenches really wet all the time?
yer brother...

At 7:31 am, Blogger Gunnella said...

I meant the wet wench in the Ringu (the movie) the one that always has her hairin front of her faceand moves funnylike ;-)

At 10:52 am, Anonymous Auður said...

This is the stuff sitcoms should be made of... keep up the good work, you adventurous scholar you;)
Sjáumst svo þann 21sta:D

At 11:16 am, Blogger Rose said...

What an amazing undertaking, Gunnella! I imagine your comprehension will grow by leaps and bounds in this environment--it will be far more interesting than studying grammar :-) Thanks for sharing this experience with all of us--especially those of us who will probably never make it to Japan ourselves!

At 12:09 pm, Blogger Nina K. said...

Hey lady!! Happy late birthday!!! You know I can "comprehend" what you're goin thru!! Isn't this ridiculous, what we're doing... =) but exhilarating. I will update my blog too. Lots o love.

At 7:24 am, Blogger Gordon said...

So glad to see you are doing well over there, I do pop in now and then to check up on you!! Crackin' photos too.

We're having another blogmeet in May, but I guess it's a LITTLE far for a weekend jaunt! You will be missed.


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