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.

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

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. =)