Up and Down
Well, I’m not sure where to start with this blog entry. There is some good from this weekend – yesterday (Sunday) was quite fun. I’ll get to that later. But today… well, I’ve had better days.
The good news is I’ve passed all modules in the course. That really isn’t new news because I found that out last week. And I was expecting to pass all my courses. But I learned the result of the last assignment of the first semester, and well… it was mediocre, at best. I won’t bore you with the details but at first, I would’ve been happy if I had done mediocre. Hmmm… after seeing that I had a mediocre (at best) paper, I’m bummed out. I should be above being satisfied with a mediocre mark. Granted that assignment felt super difficult for me so in a sense, I’m happy I survived. But even mediocre marks can seem terrible.
Normally, on Mondays this semester, I usually don’t have any lessons. But today, I went with my coursemates to a small town north of Leeds named Ilkley as part of an assignment. Important stakeholders in the tourism industry in Ilkley invited us to help provided us because they’re looking for advice and expertise in trying to encourage tourists to spend more time and money in Ilkley.
Ilkley is famous for its spa and the Ilkley Moor. The Tour de France will actually come to Ilkley next July, so obviously that’s exciting for the locals. Anyway, our assignment was to walk around the town and make note about what could be improved from a tourism standpoint. To make a long story short, some of the signs directing tourists were a bit illegible and upon arriving at the train station, there was no motion of what was there to see and do in Ilkley.
After exploring the town on our own (which doesn’t last that long), we all headed to the Town Hall, where we addressed four prominent stakeholders and expressed our thoughts and observations about the town. I would feel much better about the question-and-answer session if I had prepared better for it and also, I weren’t so tired during the meeting. I kind of dozed off. I don’t know why since I felt like I got good sleep. Totally not fun. Anyway, our work with Ilkley is not done. We’ll return there in May (I think) and throughout the semester, we’ll work in groups on how to improve the tourism industry in Ilkley.
As evidenced by the first picture in this blog entry, I did manage to have fun this weekend. Genba, a Brit that I met during my JET Program stint, came up from Birmingham yesterday to hang with me. He actually wanted to come up the previous Sunday but wasn’t able to (It might have been better if he could’ve up, but that’s another story). He had never visited Leeds before, so it was a perfect opportunity to show him the city. We explored a couple of shops and we randomly ran into an American in a shop who’s been living in Leeds for quite awhile. In that same shop, we saw some Japanese artwork.
Leeds doesn’t have any seemingly must see sights, but the city centre is a pleasant place to walk around. So we did a lot of that while chatting and looking for a place to eat that would suit my dietary desires (mainly something vegetarian). Fortunately, we found a Japanese restaurant – actually, there’s a chain of Japanese restaurants in the UK named Wagamama. While chatting over some delicious food, Genba mentioned some Japanese rappers he likes. The awesome thing is that (a) he can identify several Japanese rappers and (b) he can actually understand some Japanese rap lyrics. I have enough difficulty as it is understanding rap lyrics in English. But it was great being introduced to several Japanese hip-hop musicians. Now, I just have to find time to listen to their music on YouTube. I wish I had gotten more into Japanese music during the time I was over there. But of course, it’s never too late.
We actually spent a lot of time in the Leeds Art Gallery. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of art museums, but the awesome thing about the Leeds Art Gallery is that it’s free. So I figured it was the perfect sight to show Genba. Of course, there’s the normal set of paintings and sculptures. But the cool thing about the Art Gallery is there’s a library were you can borrow books about art, architecture, etc. There was even a book on the history of anime. The place seems… if not huge, big. I’ll probably go there again because if nothing else, it’s free.