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国立情報学研究所〔五〕

Month five of six nine!

Anki was not bad; sport very much insufficient; most importantly though my stay got extended by 3 months. :) Time to take a step back, shake off the oh no I'm leaving in a few weeks mindset and take a deep breath. :3

Anyway, here's the listy thing:

  • general
    • went to a meetup for people interested in i18n/l10n innovations and found myself walking up to a nice reception lady in front of a room with classic music playing and not a single person not wearing a suit in it — until I entered, that is. After reassurance of the event's host that this is a casual get-together, an immensely butchered self introduction to the group from my side, free Dr. Pepper and some interesting presentations, the following 懇親会 was great though. Exchanged a lot of 名刺 and had good conversations with the folks there
    • had my frist proper VR experience (as in not just a headset) in the form of a planetarium / VR attraction using a Japanese VR system called ABAL
    • watched Stranger Things, ちはやふる -結び- and way too much AoE2 videos on YouTube
    • finally did some geocaching in the area where I'm living currently
  • at the institute
    • diving deep into linked data stuff lately (if someone knows how to configure a few arbitrary* inference rules for data stored and accessed through a Fuseki 3.6 instance PLEASE tell me)
      *meaning not just RDFS or OWL statements
    • arranged my workspace as a standing desk (very improvised but it works)

On to the not last month!

国立情報学研究所〔四〕

Month four — one thrid left; review:

Anki ok. Sport insufficient. Here's the interesting stuff:

  • general
    • 餃子 and stuff from オリジン found their way into my food routine
    • helped a crying little boy out in the street find his mum
    • witnessed the following manifestation of cuteness:
      3 small kids, two of them in bear costumes, waiting for the train with their mum
      announcement for the next train to come in a few minutes: 「...。この電車は10両です。」
      kids: 「10秒?10!9!8!...」
      but there was no train when they reached 0. :'D
    • was stopped by police for riding my bike at night without a light (mount is loose, I support it w/ rubber bands, that day the bands ripped on my way to work so I put they light in my bag); they were extremely nice — had a good chat
    • got the Dogen approved verification that my Japanese it about as good as that of a native first grader — was asked 「長いんですか?日本は」 by abovementioned policemen and the next day when getting my hair cut :3
    • saw a performance of the 東京都立青梅総合高等学校 和太鼓部 which was awesome
    • spent almost a week in Kyōto and two nights in Nagoya
    • the local sentō had a "chocolate bath" (cacao butter mixed into the water) around valentine's day which was geat ^_^
    • saw a few people from Matsuyama again while they were in Tōkyō
    • a bug I found* in Pokemon GO got some coverage by blogs/YouTube channels
      following how the story spread from a dedicated subreddit to more and more general sites was quite interesting — especially low effort "news posts" that got things wrong were amusing
      (*to be precise I found something that works on some devices and a fellow redditor found a variation that works on all devices)
  • at the institute
    • the conceptual stuff I mentioned last time is finally done and got some good feedback
    • was able to integrate learning a few neat new Flask related things into my work
    • stumbled upon a PhD thesis titled The Presentation of Self on a Decentralised Web — can I please take a week off from life and explore this?
    • got into and am getting back out of eating dinner somewhere close to work to then head back and work some more
    • the elevators say 「おはようございます」 at 8:26 a.m. — so maybe the interval is from 8 to 9?

Good times. More.

On to the next month!

国立情報学研究所〔三〕

Month three — halfway through; another review:

Anki wasn't that great (stats) but at least still better than in the first month — and I finally got around doing some badly needed maintenance on my deck. Apart from Japanese study, slow but steady progress across the board. Nothing to complain. :)

Again, an attempt to convince myself that I'm actually making good use of my time here:

  • general
    • was at a sentō on christmas eve; on the way back I heard a girl's voice from a near high-rise building 「サンタ様ー!来てくださーい!」 :3
    • was shocked to learn that Japan introduced compulsory wearing of seat belts for rear passangers in 2008 and there's no penalty for non expressway roads °_°
    • rode my bycicle to work, passed a ママチャリ and thought I heard a 「ウゥウゥウイッ!地震です!」 — but there was a kid on the back of the ママチャリ gaming away on some handheld console so I could've misheard some game sounds. Stopped anyway to see what happens — nothing happened so I concluded it was some game. Turned out it actually was an earthquake alarm.
    • saw the last Jedi
    • was in Niigata
    • had a very Japanese New Year with 紅白, 年越しそば, 雑煮, 初詣 and 駅伝 — sneaked in a German tradition with Dinner for One
    • watched the entire かるた名人・クイーン戦 live on ニコ動
    • visited the Tokyo Saitama flood prevention underground thingy
    • I'm finally getting back into sports after a 5 month break due to an injury
  • at the institute
    • had a bit of fun with face recognition and line detection (OCR)
    • doing a lot of very conceptual work at the moment
    • the elevetors sometimes say 「お待たせしました」 and 「どうぞお乗りください」

All in all, satisfactory. Oh and the constant feeling that I could/should do more is gone. (:

On to the next month!

国立情報学研究所〔二〕

Month two of only six this time; another review:

I did better with Anki this month (stats); even managed to stoll through 神保町, grab a second hand book (日本語雑記帳) and read from time to time. Still ... my deck needs some maintenance, I want to add more new vocab, read more, etc. I took part in events, explored new places and worked a bit on personal projects. Still ... I feel I could do more. Maybe being aware that there's soo much going on around me constantly, resutls in a fear of missing out on great chances. But it's not just that. Regardless of the specifics of what's going on around me, I'd like to do more — more than I currently can do with the limited amount of productive time per day. On the bright side, that's a least better than not knowing what to do with myself.

Again, a collection of noteworthy and/or random things:

  • general
    • the 漢字ミュージアム in Kyōto is nice — you can do mini 漢検 samples
      (I seem to be able to pass 6級 and 5級, but 4級 and 3級 were so so)
    • ゲームマーケット2017秋 had a real life Catan trading and in general was super fun
    • Agricola seems to be popular among board game enthusiasts here
      (a local meetup I attended was almost exclusively Agricola, played one round)
    • at ポタフェス2017 I was able to experience the Sennheiser HE 1
      (kind of ... didn't have the time to really choose music, was in a noisy environment, etc.)
    • Open Space 2017 at the NTT ICC was good fun
    • CJK Unicode shenanigans
  • at the institute
    • wrote a small flask web application that is now used in production, hosted by the NII
    • the elevators don't say 「本日はご苦労様でした」 when you get out way after 5 p.m.
    • the elevators say 「おはようございます」 at 8:50 a.m. — need further data to estimate a time frame for that
    • attended NTCIR 13 sporadically; chatted with some Yahoo! guys

All in all, a lot of good stuff. But MOAR WANT. TOO MUCH WANT.

On to the next month!

国立情報学研究所〔一〕

> On to the ... oh wait. :(
NEXT MONTH!

I'm back to Japan. First month passed. Assembling the bits and pieces of a functioning everyday life. :)
Register as a resident, set up a bank account, get a bicycle, find a supermarket to frequent, get a feeling for monthly costs and how much you can spend on what, connect with new people, ... I have the feeling I'm almost set up. One of the few things I have yet to manage is get into a stable Anki routine. I've been powering through over 300 cards today to finally get back to 0 after a meager 14/30 days studied since I arrived.

A collection of noteworthy and/or random things:

  • general
  • at the institute
    • the day after my arrival I got my scholarship for several months in cash. Having the equivalent of about 4.5k € in cash lying around made me kind of paranoid and sped up the process of me getting a bank account.
    • Mac and Windows users are required to install Sophos Anti Virus. Linux users are left in peace :3
    • overhearing other grad students talk about and plan their "first time in Japan" adventures is entertaining
    • the elevators say 「本日はご苦労様でした」 when you get out on the first floor after 5 p.m.
    • cafeteria lunch is tasty

All in all, I'm quite satisfied. The only thing that kind of bothers me is the lack of any easily quantifiable progress with my Japanese. I pick up and write down new words and phrases, but constantly being behind with my Anki studies prevented me from integrating them into my deck. Oh and also ... my Kindle app won't let me log into my German account so I can't access the Japanese book I was reading back in Germany. -.-

Anyway, the few things to complain about are mostly harmless, soo ...

On to the next month!

Six months at the 国立情報学研究所

About a year ago I came back to Germany after spending one year in Japan. Now I'm going again — for six months. :)

Last time I went as an exchange student. This time I got into an internship program for Ph.D. and Master students at the National Institute of Informatics. — i.e. this time I'm actually doing something related to my studies (my exchange university last time had no computer science courses).

Another major difference is that this time I had to organize accommodation by myself. Find a place to live in Tokyo — what a nice ex ante adventure, yay ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ. What I knew from the beginning is that I would search for a room in a share house. I had previously made good experiences with share houses in Japan, knew that it would be cheaper, save me the hassle of having to buy a gazillion every day life items for just half a year and get rid of them afterwards, and knowing that I might end up speaking primarily English at work, a share house with Japanese people would up my chances of having extended conversations in Japanese on a daily basis.
So, I started searching on roomshare.jp and roommate.jp, took a brief glimpse at non-shared flats on グッドマンスリー only to be scared away by the prices, and finally found something at ひつじ不動産. Given what I wanted — something not too far from work, not too expensive, where I could let someone stay at my place for a night or two, where thery're okay with someone who's guaranteed to leave after 6 months and on top of all that where a foreigner is able to sign a contract without a Japanese guarantor — I'm super happy with the place I found. :)
Additionally the countless mails back and forth until I found the place, the deal was sealed and all the details were discussed were quite the 敬語 boot camp. orz

Anyway, preparations are as good as done. Journey starts Oct 17th. Updates will be tagged #NII17. :)