Has anyone seen Pacific Rim?

I went to the cinema last weekend for the first time in months and saw Pacific Rim. I like action films so I was looking forward to some glorious CGI battles, explosions etc. I wasn't entirely sure of the film's plot beyond 'giant monsters attacking Earth', so I didn't have any huge expectations but I found some parts of the film left me feeling a bit awkward.

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Anyway, has anyone else seen it?

Preparing for Semester 2

So I've finished my exams and we all get a week off before Semster 2 starts. My timetable has an extra 3 hours per week compared to last semester as I now have a Tools and Technology in Translation module and a series of 'mini-conferences'. 

The mini-conferences are down with the other language streams in the interpreting and translation programme.  Around 4-6 people are chosen to be a delegate from a country and they have to represent that country's views on a particular topic.  The rest of us are interpreters and we work in groups of three.  So the Japanese delegate speaks and one member of the group will interpret Japanese to English.  The interpreters from the other languages will be listening to our English intepretation and be interpreting back into their own language for their country's delegate.  Then the next country's delegate will speak and the process repeats. 

The whole thing sounds a bit stressful to me.  We're meant to be aiming to interpret up to 15 minutes at a time but in our simultaneous interpreting lessons we've never done more than 7 minutes so I don't know how that's going to work out :s  Oh well!  Our first topic is climate change which we've done a lot on so it shouldn't be too bad I hope.

It's weird looking back to when I first started the course.  I'm sure I have progressed but it's very hard to tell.  The problem is that whilst my interpreting skills may have improved, if I'm faced with a speech where there's a lot of unknown vocabulary there's not very much I can do.

We had a couple of talks, one from the Institute of Interpreting and Translating (IoIT) and another from JAC Recruitment, neither of which were very helpful.  The IoIT sounds good but they only really can support you with the UK.  If you're abroad you can get the magazine but of course you can't attend any of the workshops, networking events etc.  The talk from JAC was aimed at the Japanese students and was basically about how the difficulty in getting a visa varies from country to country, mainly focussing on the UK (pretty much impossible now it seems) and Europe (not too bad but ideally you should speak English, Japanese + another European language).  So that talk was a bit of a waste of time really.  I don't have any visa problems with working in the EU and I want to work in Japan.  It would have been nice if our teachers had explained a bit about the talk the beforehand. 

It's the Year of the Seahorse!

I had an amusing 'argument' with my mother a few days ago.  We have a rabbit figurine that a friend sent us last year because it was the year of the Rabbit. I noticed it when my mother and I were tidying away Christmas decorations and the following conversation ensued:

Me: Oh, we should put this away as it's the year of the Dragon now.

Mother:  Dragon?  What are you talking about?  It's seahorse!

Me:  Haha! There's no year of the seahorse!

Mother: It's not 'ryuu', it's 'tatsu'.  It's a seahorse.

Then my mother looked up some calendars online which she was sure would be covered in seahorse pictures to celebrate the new year.  Of course, there were no seahorses - only dragons.  Sorry mother!

It's holiday time!

It's the holidays!  Hooray! 

I have exams in January though so I still have to study.  I have a Japanese -> English translation exam and an E->J translation exam.  No dictionaries allowed and they're handwritten...  I think the opinion of most students is 'Handwritten and no dictionaries?  What is the point!"  It feels more like a language test than a translation test...  The main thing I need to practise is timing.  For our translation assignments we have 4 days but in the exams we'll have 2 hours and 2 texts to translate. 

Yesterday I did some Christmas shopping with my mum; we were looking for some more decorations.  We ended up getting some window gel/sticker decorations of snowmen. 
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As well as studying and celebrating, I've decided I'm going to take advantage of being at home again by playing the piano.  I'm going to start with learning to play this piece - Sunlit Earth from Shadow of the Colossus (original here).  When I first looked at the sheet music I thought it would be quite difficult as it's full of triplets and the pages look very dense with notes.  However, once I'd actually started practising it, I discovered it's much easier than I thought.  It's just like playing many, many arpeggios so it shouldn't take too long to learn :)


Adverts on tv are usually annoying but every now and then an AMAZING advert comes along.   Yeo Valley who make dairy products have created two such adverts.  The ones on tv are quite short but you can see the full versions on youtube.

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Must focus on studying!

Maybe it should have been obvious but interpreting and translating are skills and therefore to improve you need to put in a lot of practice, especially for interpreting.  What I've realised that I actually enjoy gaining new knowledge which is not really what this course is about.  So I'm a bit unsure about my future plans at the moment.

My initials plans were to get a job that used Japanese and science and also allowed me to spend time in both the UK and Japan.  However I think now that I'd also like to be learning and doing new things.  In interpreting and translating you do learn some new things when you have to do background research on a topic but that's more to familiarise yourself with concepts and technical terms.  So I've been considering applying for another masters after this in Nanomedicine and then maybe going into research.  I found a course called "Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine" where you can look at nanotechnology applications in medicine and tissue engineering.  It sounds pretty amazing!  I saw a programme on TV last year where they had a heart and they flushed it all its cells to leave what they called the heart scaffold and they then introduced cells from a different pig (I think it was a pig heart) and the cells multiplied and grew over the scaffold.  They theory was that the shape of the scaffold itself that helped instruct cells how they should grow and what function they should perform. 

BUT, I think I'll have to wait and see if this is just a passing phase and maybe when I'm more used to interpreting I'll enjoy it more.

Flat rental nightmare!

I'm renting a flat to live in whilst I'm at uni and I sent an email to the agency before I went to Japan to ask how I should be paying rent etc.  I didn't hear from them so when I got back to England I phoned up the agency and asked what was happening.  Then conversation was a bit like this:

Me: Hello, I'm calling about renting flat [address].
Man: Who was handling the rental?
Me: Ally.
Man: She doesn't work here anymore.
Me: Oh.

The conversation went downhill from there.  It seems the agency have no idea what Ally was doing so I had to give them all my details again and they emailed me today asking if I'd paid a deposit/ arranged rent payments and that I could pick up the key on the 30th September.  Er...my contract is from 27th September... 

I've emailed back and hopefully they'll reply today and sorty everything out.  The key pick up date is the main worry - I need somewhere to live!!!

Part 2 (I just got an email from the agency)
In two emails from the agency I've got more info about the flat than I ever did from 2 months of emailing Ally.  Maybe she was sacked for being inefficient?  Anyway the important thing is I will be moving in on the 27th.  Hooray!  A place to live!

Back from Japan!

I'm back and not too jet-lagged!  Hooray!

I didn't get that much shopping done in the end as I didn't have time.  I got some reading books, senior high school entry exam kanji flashcards and university entry exam kanji practice books.  My most prized buy was Tales of Xillia with a charm of the main female character (Milla?  Millia?). 

When I got back there was an envelope from SOAS propped against the door with my JLPT N1 results.  It was an A4 envelope with 'Do Not Bend' written on it meaning there was a certificate inside so I knew I'd passed.  Hooray!  I'm glad I don't have to take it again.  It's not exactly cheap and it's long and boring.  My lowest score was for vocabulary but I'm always learning new words so I'm not too bothered by that.

Anyway, having spent all morning unpacking I'll probably spend tomorrow packing again for uni and then buying bus passes and stuff.  Then I'll follow that with a drama marathon to catch-up on the umpteen episodes I've missed.  Yay!