A japán egyetemeken holnap, elsején kezdődik az őszi félév. Nekem viszont el kellett küldeni a nyilatkozatom, hogy végleg megszakítom a tanulmányaimat a Kobe Egyetemen. Eddig lehetet passziválni, várni. Most már hivatalosan is fölöslegesen jártam oda négy évig, 8 kredit híján nem lett japán diplomám. Fiaskó.
“There’s a diffrence between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is merely the absence of success. Any fool can achieve failure. But a fiasco, a fiasco is a disaster of epic propotions. A fiasco is a folk tale told to others to make other people feel more alive because it didn’t happen to them.”
This weekend it’s Summer Sonic in Osaka. I wanted to go, but it is way too expensive. So instead I’m sitting at home.
The exams are over, I was told I should be happy about that, but it’s really not much of a relief. We don’t get the results until late September, thanks to the great Japanese system. Before you ask, no, there is no way they’d make an exception for me. No exceptions.
I can’t plan ahead without knowing for sure that I hadn’t in fact managed to scrape a degree. It will be cruel after two years of university at home followed by a year of Japanese studies and five and a half in Kobe to go home empty handed. Realistically though that is what’s going to happen.
I find it quite ironic how I was thought to be smart and set for success. Even I believed that. Going to competitions in primary school hardly seem anything to be proud of now but at the time they looked impressive. I also know grades don’t matter but still I passed the final exams in high school with straight ‘A’s. Who would have thought back then that among all those high school graduates I’ll be the one that ends up without no degree. It’d make quite a funny story I tell at a pub if it wasn’t about me.
Anyway, like I said, I’m vegetating since the end of the exams, not doing much. Playing Warcraft lost its appeal as well, everyone I liked playing with stopped already. Besides I shouldn’t have been playing anything in the first place. Decent people work and study.
It’s all very ambivalent: I want to just be done with this Japan experience, degree or not, and at the same time going home in shame isn’t how I imagined it either. Writing a blog post is one thing, looking people in the eye and reluctantly tell how I stumbled and fell is quite different. Especially people who have jobs, careers, girlfriends.
As the Operative put it: There’s nothing left to see.
Breaking: due to confirmed cases of Influenza A (H1N1) in Kobe City we get to stay at home for a week instead of boring classes! The letter quoted [sic].
(English follows after Japanese)
奨学金などに関する問合せは留学生課へ電話してください(Japanese:078-803-5263/5264, English: 5262/5259)。
対応時間 平日 9:00-17:00
To All Kobe University Students,
This is important information from Kobe University International Student Center.
As you may already aware of by media, there had been confirmed cases of Influenza A (H1N1) (“Swine flu”) in Kobe City on May 16th. Kobe University now takes precaution measure according to our guideline, and also requested by Hyogo prefecture and Kobe city, including the cancellation of classes, prohibition of implementation and participation in group activities such as club activities, lectures, and conferences, etc.
Detail information on this precaution measure and coming new information will be posted on Kobe University Homepage so please check our website frequently. (English site is under preparation at the moment) (http://www.kobe-u.ac.jp/en/international-students/urgent/index.htm)
For enquires on classes, contact your faculty/graduate school student affairs section.
For enquires on scholarship and others, contact International Student Center (English: 078-803-5262/5259, Japanese: 078-803-5263/5264)
Please do not return to this message as we are afraid that we would not be able to respond to all messages.
As for your information, the following is the information/ services provided by Center for Multicultural Information and Assistance.
・Telephone help line in multi-language
Operating Hours: 9:00-17:00 weekdays
Languages: English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Vietnamese
・ Influenza related information in multi-language
Kobe University International Student Center
It’s been a bit hard writing to this journal lately, because I wasn’t sure about sharing what really was on my mind. After all once something is out there is bits and bytes there will always be a way to retrieve it. There’s no going back, and eventually too much honesty will surely just blow up in my face.
Anyway, readers with a keen eye to details should already have asked themselves: if the first posts from Japan are dated from April 2004 and the scholarship is for 5 years then what the hell is he still doing over there?
Well, the reason is that I have failed. At the end of my eighth semester I didn’t have the required number of credits to graduate.
Just writing this down is hard, because I wasn’t thinking of myself as a person who couldn’t finish university on time. When it came to studies I was considered smart, successful. Well that’s the past, so now I feel very angry – mostly at myself – and terribly awfully ashamed. Not wanting to look people in the eye ashamed. (Good thing there’s this site and I don’t actually have to talk to anyone.)
After all many have overcame this obstacle before. And not even with substantial hardships at that. I can visualise their gloating faces and the I told you sos quite well. I shudder at the thought of becoming the anecdotical example reminding the future generations who come here to study what to avoid.
But really, how did it come to this?
I could put the blame on external causes. In general, Japan as a country and its inhabitants as individuals have never really warmed up to the non-Japanese. I have always been viewed as the unwanted problematic foreigner in classes and never received much help or encouragement from the professors. Rather some had me failed just on the account of being a nuisance. In addition to that the credit system is one of the strictest here in Kobe, with not much room for mistakes, at least compared to other Japanese universities. I couldn’t just take a lot of classes in hopes of passing at least a good number of them because there is a limit on how many credits a student can take per year. This limit – while more than enough for the Japanese – can be problematic if we take into account the fact that I am not quite fluent in the language just yet. Of course this has never been seen as an issue by the administration, not even when I asked if I could try and take a few extra credits’ worth of classes in my last semester. Rules are rules and they won’t be bent for some filthy gaijin.
At the end of the day however none of these matter and I can only blame myself. I applied for the scholarship. No one forced me. I knew it was not going to be a walk in the park. I knew that I shouldn’t have been lazy about certain classes, that I should have just forced myself to sit down and study all night if I had to. I should have taken the first year of language studies a lot more seriously. I shouldn’t have lost credits to absolutely stupid things like mistaking the day of the exam. I probably should have made more friends, especially with locals. Because now everyone else I knew finished and went home and I am here pretty much alone. I was even told I should have had a Japanese girlfriend: if anything that would have had a great effect on my language skills.
I didn’t do any of the above and now I’ll have to stay in Kobe for another semester. To make matters worse naturally the scholarship is over, I won’t receive a penny anymore. I’ll have to pay tuition and living expenses. And by ‘I’ I mean my parents of course. Ironically the recent changes in exchange ratios just doubled these costs. More reason to feel contrite.
But there isn’t anything else I could do. I am not about to just drop out and fill shelves in a supermarket. Even though when I finish, if I finish, prospects won’t be much better. At the age of 26 a simple BA degree is hardly impressive. Of course with no agreement between Hungary and Japan this degree will worth exactly nothing at home, as if I didn’t have one.
Well, least I have seen a part of the world most people will never, I guess.
The things I have been dreaming about lately are quite unsettling. I blame the exams, and everything else that has been happening. Of course I haven’t been this stressed out before, when tests and exams meant a lot less, when I started off from a strong base and I had confidence. Nowadays the stakes are a lot higher and everything matters considerably more and I find myself doing worse and worse.
I don’t sleep too well either. I wake up at completely off times, then I get sleepy in the middle of the day. Also the little I know about dreams is that you’re not supposed to remember them: only if you wake up in the middle of your sleep can you remember what they were about.
A few nights ago I was parking expensive cars and we were contemplating with my family – who weren’t my real family but more like the Cullens from Twilight – how to fit the cars best in the very small place available. At least this one had a Japanese connotation: parking here usually means squeezing cars into the smallest gaps imaginable.
But then just recently I walked into a white building in my dream where the noted blogger Angelday sat at a table with the prominent Hungarian TV show host Friderikusz. I started talking to them when I realised they were doing a webcast reporting a tennis match. Then the dream shifted and they were in my home in my father’s study. I thought then that it can’t be any worse than dreaming about people from the freaking internet…
Finally today I was a seal. And I gave birth to a baby seal. Then we were discussing with my seal friends that this is a very bad season to have your first baby seal, because the weather’s been so cold and we were lucky if we survived. I woke up realising I kicked my blanket off and my shoulder hurt. (I had my left arm squeezed under me one night and it’s been hurting ever since.)
Now, can it get any weirder?
Our presentation on the Holocaust went interesting… Of course most of our audience either slept, did homework or stared absently. When we finished and the professor asked if anyone had questions: no-one did. Again, no surprise here. She was adamant though and started to call people to ask something anyway and then a girl asked if there are any Jews living today.
I couldn’t help saying まだ残ってます。(There are still some left.)
So yeah, it’s good we worked on the presentation, it clearly had educational value.
Then we watched a part of Shoah. It’s an unusual documentary in the sense that it doesn’t use any archive material. All of it was shot at present day and it only contains experiences recounted by Holocaust survivors, guards, etc.
I was expecting a movie even I could enjoy, but it turned out to be in French. Additionally most of the interviewees spoke in their mother tongue, overdubbed in French, with Japanese subs applied. However much it bothers me for example that they silence the original English when dubbing the F1 interviews in Hungarian the lack of silencing here was very annoying. Try listening to someone speaking in German with French lagging behind half a minute…
For that matter, I actually have proper classes, where we’re supposedly learning professional material, not just goofing around and playing film aesthete. But those classes are lectures: a hundred students flock together, the professor gives a 90 minute speech, then we’re dismissed. No interactivity, no midterm papers, no nothing.
I find it absurd that we have to work for nonsense classes and where it could actually prove useful to do something outside of class we just have to mindlessly attend.
Education at its best. Hiding behind the door I took a snap of the whiteboard after an English lesson at Kobe-U. Summerize!
I suppose what might comfort the Japanese is the thought that it’s really hard to get unemployed here:
Would you sit in a street holding a sign for a living?