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.

Reunion a long time in the making

Back in high school, I knew a fair amount of people. With a graduating class of 700+ (!!), there were a lot of people to know. I feel I was pretty lucky in that I was able to float between groups without too much trouble. I was friends with people in athletics, band/orchestra, art, theatre (I was in there), and others.

It meant I knew people, but I wasn’t close with a ton of people. Thanks to facebook though, regardless of my prior relationship with someone, I’ve been able to keep in touch with many. One of those people is Jim. Continue reading Reunion a long time in the making

Increasing my reading speed

A few posts back, I mentioned a site I came across a month or two ago called Spreed! Using the site helped me to read faster when I use the site itself, but reading anything else was still my normal rate of around 300 words per minute.

Based on some other things I read recently, the site works because it cuts down on the time needed for your eyes to move and focus on new words. That is, the effect is really just temporary. I decided I’d find a different way to improve.

Reading reviews of different products and books, I found a book titled “Breakthrough Rapid Reading.” I threw down about $15  to get it from Amazon. The book is a course meant to be done in about 4 – 6 weeks.

The book starts with a test to get an estimation of your reading speed. I was around 250 wpm After a few days, I’m past 400 wpm. It seems that at the moment, the book is focusing first on increasing my speed, while later chapters will have me focus on improving my comprehension.

How fast I will get after the recommended 6-week time, I do not know. But I will say I’m enjoying it so far.

A day in the life of a Japanese language school student

This was meant to get posted back on Nov. 17, 2012… but, uh, I forgot to post it. >_<

Here’s what my typical weekday consists of:

  • Wake up 8:30 – 9 a.m.
  • Have breakfast
  • Shower
  • Check internet for e-mail, news, get stuff ready for school
  • Leave around 11:30 a.m.
  • Arrive in Shibuya 12:30 – 12:50 p.m.
  • Class from 1:30 – 4:45 p.m.
  • Return home around 6 – 6:30 p.m.
  • Dinner
  • Little bit of TV/internet
  • Study until 11 p.m. – 12 a.m.
  • Sleep

It’s really not THAT busy, I suppose, but it feels like it to me. As I’ve told people in the past, I’m treating school as my job.

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