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Yet another blog about Japan

はじめて

JAPAN | Saturday, 20 February 2016 | Views [575]

はじめて (hajimete): for the first time


I've been in Japan now for almost 6 months, and still, this week was full of はじめて:

- This is the first blog entry in february. Hooray!

- According to my supervisor, on Sunday we had a summer day, defined by a temperature higher than 25°C. This was followed by the first snow [that I actually saw falling in Japan] on Monday. Is it April already? Anyway, now it's as usual, mostly sunny and (estimatedly) around 10°C.

- The weather says it's maybe summer, maybe winter - the calendar says, it's spring. To mark this occasion, my backpack decided it's time for spring-cleaning and opened the refill bag of shower gel all by itself - which I only noticed in the next morning, when I actually wanted to leave for work. Now my backpack is spick and span again and fortunately nothing was destroyed (also the Kindle survived!) by my disaster...

- Everyone knows the Japanese working hours. Early morning until late evening, right? For me, as an intern, these don't really apply. Actually nobody ever told me exactly, when I have to be here, and so I usually start at about 9am* (as most others in my working group do - so much for early morning), and leave between 5pm and 7pm, dependent on work load, motivation and other plans for the evening. This week happened, what I thought to be impossible - I stayed longer than my supervisor! And not only once, but even three times this week. Am I working to much or he too little?

- And while we are already taling about work: I was introduced to another measurement technique: XRD¹. Furthermore, after characterizing a whole bunch of different samples with different techniques, I finally could use every method I learned** my supervisor showed me so far on ONE sample. And yeah - the measurements are coherent. Even with literature. YAY!

- Yesterday I managed to attend the Japanese class for the first time. Huh? Ok, more precisely: I managed to attend the FREE Japanese class for the first time. It's a service from Japanese, who once a week teach Gaijins from all over the world - at no charge. While it's not on Naganuma level (not like I expected that), it's still a good opportunity to speak Japanese. I'm definitely going there as often as possible now. Together with the private classes I'm taking now once a week I might be able to at least keep my current level (上手ではありません!).

- On the way back from this Japanese class, we took a train. If you read my previous post, you might have noticed, that I already used Japanese trains on rare occasions during the language course. But this time, it was a red train. And to top it all off, it was a local train bound for Hakone. I didn't even know that existed...

- And to save the best for last *drum roll* I went swimming in a gym - which is less then 5 min by foot from the dormitory... It's a bit expensive, but that only means, that I have to go now as often as possible. Because I already paid the 6 months membership. Because I'm (half) Swabian. And because I love it.
The staff are super patient and friendly (or should I say: Japanese) and tried their best to understand my broken Japanese and even to answer in English, if I didn't understand their Japanese. It's probably needless to say, that everything is perfectly tidy and clean (because I'm in Japan). The 25m pool is not extremely, but sufficiently deep, with a convenient temperature and - most important - not crowded***. A bathing cap is compulsory in the pool, but it can be borrowed free of charge. After swimming, a sauna, a steam bath and a whirlpool are already waiting... Perfect. The only downside is my current shape - but I'm going to tackle this for sure :)

- And here is the chance for your own はじめて: Be the first one to answer my quiz (https://journals.worldnomads.com/monika/story/139961/Japan/The-Naganuma-School) to win your personal postcard (languages available: English, deutsch, 日本語)!
Hint: The answer for question a) can be found within this blog.



---

* Or later, if my backpack competes for attention
** For example, I wouldn't consider myself an expert in PL². On the other hand, I'm still waiting for the SEM³, which I've worked with a lot at various places.
*** Even if it was, I'm sure they'd swim in a very civilised way - always on the right side, giving space for faster swimmers, using a lane with appropriate speed, ... - because they are Japanese.

¹ X-ray diffraction
² Photoluminescence spectroscopy
³ Scanning electron microscope

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