All posts by Chris Valdez

Starting with video games, Chris' interests have led him to write game reviews, study Japanese and move to Japan to continue his studies. Of course, he has other interests, like cooking and baking, travel, and occasionally updating his blog.

We had a little snow

I never really grew up with any worthwhile amount of snow. In Central Texas we would, every 8 to 10 years, get 1 or 2 centimeters of snow. Of course, our area not being used to it, we would pretty much shut down the city for that amount. Even a week or two ago in the area, some schools were canceled due to cold. Yes… there was no snow or ice, just cold weather.

Outside my apartment. 7:10 p.m.

So when the weather forecast here predicted a day of snow on Saturday, Feb. 8, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course, it ended up being a record amount of snow. Close to 9 inches in a day. The most snow the greater Tokyo area has received in 13+ years. I was pretty excited to be here for it. ^_^ Continue reading We had a little snow

Immigration deserves its reputation

Online, I see many people I know complain about the immigration offices (入国管理局) in Japan. Not immigration in the airport, but the offices residents go to for visa changes and renewal. Most of the time it’s people complaining about immigration in Tokyo.

Long lines, unhelpfulness, etc., were among the complaints I saw. Every time I’ve had to go since 2012 has been at the Kanagawa office. Dunno if I was always lucky, or if it’s just the office, but wait times typically have been between 5 minutes to 45 minutes. Then again, I’ve gone from 9 a.m. (opening time) to 10:45 a.m.

But recently, I learned to understand people’s frustrations. Why? Follow my tale of woe below.

When I came to Japan on Sept. 26, 2012, I had a student visa, or 留学 visa. It was set to expire on Dec. 26, 2013 (1 year and 3 months). Around Dec. 20 I received a job offer. I immediately began the visa change process. Continue reading Immigration deserves its reputation

Tables are turned

Updated Feb. 7, 11:50 p.m.
Turns out I forgot to link my friend Allie, aka, Tokyo Tako. ごめん!

You may or may not know that in college my major was journalism. Before that, I was incredibly shy and had a tough time talking to people I had never met before. Well, when you’re a journalist and interviewing people, you have to talk. And I learned how to, with everyday people to international celebrities, both American (Hoobastank, Bruce Campbell, and more) and Japanese (Koda Kumi).

I’m still a shy person, but I can “turn on” that mode and talk to people. Unless it’s a big group. But I’m glad I learned how to.

Junko, Grace and me. I swear I’m not as fat as I look in this pic! The shirt just looks baggy =/

Sunday, I met up with someone I’ve only interacted with before via Twitter and Facebook–Junko! In a fun twist, she wanted to interview me! A video of it will be posted at some point on her company’s YouTube channel in the future. I’ll make sure to post a link to it on here when it happens. ^^ Also, someone she had talked to for the first time ever that morning, Grace.

Anyway, learning to overcome fears is a great thing that more people try to do. It’s allowed me to meet some awesome people, some I now consider to be friends. =)

Learning to read faster

I’ve heard of speed reading and things like that, but I’ve never really given it thought before. I just assumed it’d be tricks like skipping over simple words, like prepositions. But in fact, there’s more to it, as I’ve recently learned.

A few weeks ago I came across a link for Spreeder, a free site sponsored by the makers of 7 Speed Reading. Basically, you copy/paste text into a window. Then site runs some fancy javascript and jQuery scripting magic to adjust the rate at which is shows the words to you.

The premise, and what kind of opened my eyes to speed reading, is that most people, myself included, tend to read only as fast as you can say the words. That is, when you read, you often have a voice in your head. If you can silence the voice, you can read faster. So, the site will parse the text you pasted, and show you one word at a time on the screen, in rapid succession. It starts you off with 300 wpm, but you can adjust it up or down in 25 wpm intervals. Mine is set to show me two words at a time at 950 wpm.

It’s an interesting concept, and I will say that when I use Spreeder I read much faster. 7 Speed Reading claims there are many more methods, and it’s something I may invest in later this year. After I’ve received a few more paychecks.

Back with a passion

I finished Japanese language school on Sept. 20, 2013. I spent time job hunting (after squandering a month doing nothing really), had lots of interviews, met with various recruiters, and took a job in Chiba. I moved on Jan. 7, 2014. 2013年9月20日に日本語学校から卒業しました。1ヶ月あとは就職が始まりました。面接が多くて、リクルーターに会って、千葉県で仕事を見つけました。2014年1月7日に引っ越しました。

I then bought some furniture, a TV, and spent about three weeks getting used to my new home and job. 家具とテレビを買って、周辺に馴染んで仕事になれました。

It’s just about the end of January, which marks about four months of not studying Japanese. Sure, I’ve been reviewing various things, but I haven’t been actively trying to learn anything new. I need to do that now. 1月はほとんど終わりますね。4ヶ月ぐらい新しい日本語のことを勉強していません。やばい!すぐに続かなければなりません!

My goals this year: Pay off my student loan debt, newly acquired (see above) credit card debt, pass JLPT N2, and improve my reading speed (in both English and Japanese). 今年の目的は:奨学金を払い戻すし、クレジットカードを払い戻すし、日本語能力試験2級に合格するし、速く読めるように練習します。

Let’s see how it goes! 頑張りましょう!