#rant

all tags: japanese[51] education[24] travel[23] kanji[21] programming[15] MYJ15[13] NII17[10] research[10] website[8] linux[7] hardware[7] libertine[5] food[4] misc[4] time[2] games[2] movies[2] parkour[2] rant[2] self-reflection[2] manga[1] speedcubing[1] anime[1] books[1] translation[1] lego[1] i18n/l10n[1]

松山大学〔一〕

One month since I've arrived in Japan; short review:

Fun with power plug adapters
AC plugs and sockets used in Germany are IEC types F (“Schuko“) and C (“Europlug“), Japan uses types A and B — but actually almost excusively A. Now, if you own a device with a type F plug (let's say, a laptop) and want to get an adapter for type A sockets, don't even bother looking. F→B and C→A adapters are readily available, and because A plugs also work with B sockets, C→B is unnecessary. But since F plugs are earthed and A plugs are not ... no F→A adapters. And for the same reason you also can not find F→C adapters to build a funny F→C→A adapter parade.
The only option you're left with (to my best knowledge) for plugging in a laptop from Germany to a power socket in Japan, is to find a C→A adapter with unnecessarily large pin holes (type C plugs have 4 mm pins whereas type F plugs have 4.8 mm pins), remove anything put into place to stop people from forcing F plugs into the adapter and then do exactly that. Here's my take, on the unavailability of F→A and F→C adapters.

University
- Classes are interesting. I take 4 Japanese classes (essay writing[1], reading skills[2][3][4], mixed[5][6], oral communication) as well as 3 grad school classes (linguistics[7], sociolinguistics[8], intercultural communication: the Japanese experience[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]).
- The dorm is nice. Rooms are spacious, everything you'd need in terms of appliances and so on is present, people are nice — I'm the only European; actually I'm the only one that is not from either China, Taiwan or South Korea. :D
- I'm also happy with the canteen. Food tastes good and thus far a meal cost me ¥ 465 (3.45 €) on average.
- Staff and people in general are super helpful and friendly.
- Clubs (部活) are still kind of on my todo list. Visited two, but was too busy until now to look at more and/or join in on regular activities.
A difference to my previous experience with German universities, and actually a thing I'm not super happy with (though that's just a matter of taste), is the fact that the intended way of getting something done that may not be everyday business seems to be to go to a person in charge of that thing and ask them to take care of it. What I'm used to is informing myself and doing stuff on my own. Where I'm used to finding a guide for how to do something on a university's website I'm now finding a telephone number or description to which office I need to go. Same goes for information I would have expected to be readily available online (like e-mail addresses of professors). I'm curious whether or not I will, over time, get used to this default way of doing things. Or if I just misjudge the situation right now and all the university related exchange student setup procedures just were really out of the ordinary requiring an unusual amount of “office hopping“.

Life
In the first weeks I've been exploring the city on my “mamachari“ quite a bit. Initially I was focussing on traditional stuff like shrines, temples and onsen. At the moment I'm more likely to look for either something recreational like public parks and sports facilities or utility oriented places like supermarkets.
What I've yet to find is a few cheap and healthy “base foods“ for the evening and especially morning. In Germany that used to be muesli, bananas, whole-grain bread with cheese ... most of which is pretty much non-existent here.
I'm okay with rice+ふりかけ and a small side dish, but cooking rice takes time. I've tried working with tofu, but haven't found an easy and quick way to make it tasty yet. What I'm pretty happy with are instant noodles. :D But I'd prefer something healthier.

All in all, I'm happy with my current situation. :) As mentioned in my previous post I was curious how much different it would be ... never having lived more than 100 km away from where I grew up, suddenly living over 9,000 (not even intended, it's 9,358) km away ... turns out if you're used to living in a student dorm in a city in Germany and move to a student dorm in a city in Japan, it's really no big difference. (I guess if I'm honest with myself I wish it were a bit more different. ^^)

In any case, I'm in a position where I can experience a foreign country by as little as stepping outside the front door and I've got plenty of opportunity to use and improve my Japanese. That's awesome! On to the next month!


 [1] 大学・大学院留学生の日本語(4)論文作成編 (アルク)
 [2] 中・上級者のための速読の日本語 (The Japan Times)
 [3] 大学・大学院留学生の日本語(1)読解編 (アルク)
 [4] 中上級学習者のための日本語読解ワークブック (アルク)
 [5] 読む力 中級 (くろしお出版)
 [6] 留学生のためのここが大切文章表現のルール (スリーエーネットワーク)
 [7] An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics (Routledge)
 [8] An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (Longman)
 [9] The Japanese Mind (Tuttle Publishing)
[10] With Respect to the Japanese: Going to Work in Japan (Intercultural Press)
[11] Japanese Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity (Routledge)
[12] The Other Japan: Voices Beyond the Mainstream (Fulcrum Publishing)
[13] Diversity in Japanese Culture and Language (Routledge)
[14] Multi-Ethnic Japan (Harvard University Press)
[15] Japanese Culture and Communication: Critical Cultural Analysis (University Press of America)

Facebook, three stages of infantilizing

Stage 1

The "News Feed" is divided into "Top news" and "Most recent".
The so called "Top News" are a filtered version of all the news that come up. What is presented to you is, among other things I guess, based on the amount of likes and replies a status update or other news item gets.
If you don't want facebook to decide what news you get to see: only view "Most recent"

Stage 2

The news feed section "Most recent" has the option "Show posts from:" which can be set to "Friends and pages you interact with the most" or "All of your friends and pages".
Again ... Facebook filters. This time according to the amout of interaction you had with the persons in your contact list via Facebook.

Stage 3

For every person in your contact list you lately have a so called subscription. The default setting for such a subsbsription is "Most Updates". (Options are "All updates", "Most Updates" and "Only Important").
And again: why should the user care about all updates and decide for himself, what is important to him and what is not? Let's change the news feed and again cut out stuff that we — Facebook — think is unimportant. Argh, I hate it!


Personalized filtering is an interesting thing and, in my humble opinion, even necessary in our days of information oversupply. But I really can not stand it when service providers by default hold back information, filter your input, infantilize their users.

To be fair: it's nice that Facebook at least let's you change the filtering — I don't want to know how much filtering is done without us knowing about it. But neither have I stumbled across an option to set the default for all subscriptions to "All updates" yet, nor am I inclined to change this for all my Facebook contacts manually.

Update:

What the ...?! Less than two hours after I blogged this:

Fuck your goddamn preselection! I want fucking ALL my news in fucking chronological order. *facebookrage*

tags: rant

2011-09-21