Sunday, June 30, 2013

Asakusa

Sorry it's late! This blog post is still in progress! Check back soon!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Not Lost in Translation

So. I wasn't the best student yesterday. Why? Yesterday, spent two hours watching a movie instead of studying. Terrible, right? Anyways, as the title suggests, I watched Lost in Translation for the first time. I honestly have to say that I guess I didn't quite get it. There are definitely days where I could probably relate to it, but being as I speak English natively and my Japanese is good enough that i understood 90% of the Japanese being thrown about and not to mention know a good portion of the areas they went to I guess that's only natural, right? Guess I'm too used to being in Japan. Maybe I'll appreciate it more when I go back home.

I also realized I never told you guys about seeing Les Miserables live at the Imperial Theater in Tokyo. Long story short, it was FANTASTIC. I was completely blown away. If I could have, I'd have gone back to see it. Over and over again. Yes, it was in Japanese, but I know the songs and story so well, that it didn't matter that I couldn't understand half of what they said.

Next up. What's next? Um... There was ikebana again.


I started playing piano again. I only ever studied it for about 6 months back stateside over two years ago so it's slow going. Briana, though supportive, despises me "butchering" her favorite Adele song. Her room is just above the piano room, so she hears me every time I mangle playing the piano. Sorry Briana. I'll get there.


I hung out in Iidabashi with Chelsea and Naomi (You remember her right? If not -> Naomi's Guest Post - Study Abroad Tips ). Not really much to do in Iidabashi, but Chelsea bought a yukata and we meandered around the area. Also. We had taiyaki. I have no description for this, but awesome.


I went bowling with the first years from archery followed by an Italian 食べ放題 at a place called La Pausa in Takadanobaba. I don't recommend it for large groups though. Mostly because it takes a lot of time between dishes arriving and the portions left us still hungry at the end of our all you can eat.

Some of the first years I went bowling with.

 Yes, I know. I'm skipping over a ton. But mostly it's homework, school and practice you're missing out on. Also, scored a copy of The Last Lecture for 250円. So glad i finally got to read it.

Then today. Today was a mix of


and


So. Yeah. What happens is last night I set my alarm. Those in Japan with me know that this is the beginning of a bad day. I mean come on. Who sets alarms, right? Okay. Anyways, I set my alarm, go to bed after studying. Sleeping all nice and peaceful like, my phone wakes me up and I'm thinking how awesome it is that I feel so rested on so little sleep even though I'm up before my alarm.

Uh-oh.


It was 9:15. I was supposed to be meeting my teacher and classmates at Mejiro station at 9:30 to go to the kimono wearing event. Not only was I still in Pajamas, I had 15 minutes to throw something on, make my hair lie down by shoving a brush through it and catch the bus to run to the station. 15 minutes. To get from the dorms to Mejiro station. This walk usually takes me 25 minutes on a good day, but it shortened to 5 if I can catch the bus.


So yeah. Off to a bad start. I threw on clothes, which miraculously matched and ran to catch the bus. Not only did the bus not show up for another 6 minutes, it didn't leave for another 5 and then got stopped at the gate because some stupid night bus was blocking the gate. As I got on the bus I realized I hadn't put my contacts on and I would have had ample time to do so. Hindsight kind of sucks that way.

Anyways. So I FINALLY get to the station and I wait for the teacher who comes back to get me and take me to the place. Before she arrives though, I've realized I left my umbrella on the bus. The same umbrella that LAST weekend I forgot at an Izakaya and had just gotten back on Sunday. I felt like a dunce and got some strange looks from passerby when I started crying. But anyways, my teacher came back for me and she even paid for a cab. Best. Teacher. Ever. I felt terrible for being late, but I ended up having a lot of fun.

A couple more pictures at the end.
We ate snacks and our host gave us おみやげ and we made to leave. Dun-dun-duh! Rain. Of all the bloody times for it to rain. I'm an Oregonian. I thought I'd be fine without an umbrella. But Tanabe shared one she had borrowed from our host for half the trip, then we waited and our host bought an umbrella for each of us from the conbini.

Like this, only white.

I won't say who, but I had eyes rolled at me. I started crying again. This person I had just met, whose event I showed up late to, bought me an umbrella because I had forgotten mine. Seriously. It might sound like the stupidest thing ever, but being as how my day had been it was really, really nice and I couldn't help myself. It definitely turned into an I love Japan day. Though I'd like to hope anyone in the world might do something similar for someone in my situation.

So we went back to class, full on snacks from the event. We were all sad we'd had to take our kimono off though. After class, I managed to get ahold of the number for the bus company and made a call with no problems. This is a big step. I'm terrified of phone usage in Japan because it's hard to understand Japanese over the phone, but there were no major problems. Turns out, my umbrella had been turned in so I hoped on the bus and rode it all the way to the end, got my umbrella and came home. 1 1/2 hours round trip.

So yeah. Now your caught up. But I... I do have a speech to give tomorrow on Education Problems in America. No idea in front of how many people. Being as it's about 9 pm, I should really get busy.

Also, tomorrow I'm heading to pick up my bow which has finally arrived! Thursday I have this thing and I'm meeting up with my friend and we're heading to Asakusa! Then this weekend I'm heading to Hiroshima. Wow. I didn't realize how busy this week is until I looked at this paragraph again. がんばる!

As promised.

The boss.
I like to think of these two as our leaders. Don't go home Katie!
Melissa.
Most of the gang.
Top (left-right): Briana, Verena, Sabrina, Katie, Illaura
Bottom: Chelsea, Melissa

6 months in Japan

Hey gang. Here we are. 6 months in. And you're still reading my (rather sporadic) updates. Yay! Or at least I hope you're still reading them. Hmmm... If you're reading this, give me a shout out in the comments down below! It would be nice to figure out how much of my stats are my mom and how much are spam!

Anyways. Six months. I really honestly can't believe I've been here that long. Feels like just two or three weeks ago that I felt like I had all the time in the world do do what I want to do in Japan and now it feels like my time is almost up! Yes, six months to go, I know, but it's going so FAST!

Before I move on to my updates, I just want to say that I'm really, REALLY glad I chose a year long program. Yes, there have been times I wish I had chosen a different program, but overall I am very happy with where I have ended up. (Being honest, sometimes the Waseda University kids make me うらやましい. Seriously, why do I have to pay club fees and you don't!?! That's just crazy!) Seriously though, I feel like now, at six months, I've finally settled into how everything works here. Yeah, I don't get it all the time, but, for example, taking a bus somewhere I've never been without making extensive maps and directions ahead of time isn't a panic inducing nightmare. It's more of a day-to-day thing. Besides, if I get lost, which happens frequently, I can ask for directions.



I have also in the last couple of weeks become amazed at my Japanese skills. I'm not ubberly fantastic at Japanese, but I know enough to get by in my daily conversations. I can write out responses to people without having to look up every word or kanji that comes up. I'm not constantly triple checking my Japanese (which may or may not be a good thing. Jury is still out.) because I have become more confident in my ability to speak to it. Not to mention, I feel like my friendships are starting to solidify. Not because of time, but because I am confident in putting the time and effort into them. I'm no longer terrified of screwing up my Japanese majorly or having anyone decide I'm like an extra suitcase because I understand so little. It has really helped me start taking steps forward in realizing the confidence I have and that I am not just at this basic basic level like I thought I was back in the united states.


My recommendation for anyone planning to study abroad is to do it. I've said that. If you have the opportunity and the resources, always go for the longer option. Not only does it give you time to reach that "Wow. I'm decent at this" and gain your friends and confidence, but it also allows you to move on past that. I'm excited for what comes next. I'm not saying you can't do it in less, but really, at six months I'm feeling like I'm just now really getting things.


I do get questions from friends from time to time, so I'm going to address those quickly. Yes. I do miss home. I miss it terribly and there are still some days where I would sell my soul for a steak (6ヶ月ぶり *drools* ) or to be able to take the hour and a half drive to my best friends house or to hang out with my family and my, I don't think I've quite mentioned this, SUPER adorable beyond belief 3 year old sister and the rest of my family (Even you butt nugget. You know who you are.) or to be able to see my other friends who live in my home town. There have even been days where, given the resources, I would have uprooted and gone home. But you know what? The days that I love being here, even if it means spending the entire day in my room studying (Seriously 先生, why so much 宿題?) far outweigh the bad ones.

Homesickness. It doesn't go away. Here is how the homesickness roller coaster worked for me.

Month 1: JAPPPPPPPPPPAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!! It's SOOOO much like home! But Funner! With FUN stuff! And it's JAPPPPPPPPPAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNN!



Month 2: I hate Japan. Everything's different. You're doing it WRONG. In America, we do it the RIGHT way.


Month 3: Hey. Okay. Japan isn't all the bad. Come on. Look. Some things are the same. Some things are different. Just work with it girl. You're okay. (Wow, felt like I was channeling Briana there. Sorry Briana.

Month 4: Perfectly fine about 68% of the time. Why 68%? I liked the number. That's why. And it was more than half the time.

Month 5: Fine about 75-80% of the time until my breakup. At which point I reverted to Month 2.

Month 6: Happy 90% of the time. Sorry to those of you I constantly bug the other 10% of the time.

My advice to anyone going abroad? Well I asked my friend if she would guest post for me since she's totally boss when it comes to everything. She's yet to agree. Maybe I'll buy her cake. Hey. If I buy you cake will you blog for me? Pretty please? I'm even asking in my blog!!! But something she said to me the other day is "don't settle." I didn't realize how much of my problems were because I had done just that. Up until I moved to the dorms I was moving every week at first and then knew I had another move coming in two weeks. I never really unpacked and besides, there was too much to do. I was always off on an adventure.

Once I moved into the dorms though, I settled into a normal pattern. School, clubs and unpacked. Now, I'm not saying don't go to class and don't join clubs. Some of my best times have been with my clubs! I'm not saying don't unpack either. Just remember. You are here only for a limited time. Don't get stuck sitting around in your room every day. Like Katie, my other friend, said, you're here for an experience. So don't forget to experience it. You don't want to be kicking yourself when you go home because you didn't go out and do things when you had the chance.

Next rule, also kind of from Briana. You didn't REALLY want to go there, right? But wait, that doesn't sound like a rule. Well, it's more of a statement that you aren't always going to end up where you want to be. Here's where I quote Doctor Who. Doctor: "You didn't always take me where I wanted to go." Tardis: "No, but I always took you where you needed to go." It's kind of just how things work out. Sometimes you get lost, sometimes the place has shut down long before you've arrived or you're there on a day when the place is closed. Things happen. Don't let it get you down. You'll find another adventure. Just look around, go of your itinerary and have fun. I need to take this advice more often.

If you don't know what it is, eat it. Even if you know what it is, and you really, really, REALLY don't want to eat it, try it anyways. You never know what you might like. While I might despise nato to the core of my being, namatamago (raw egg) is actually okay with some things. Like mom used to say. How do you know you like it if you haven't even tried it? Erm.. Maybe that was from Brave. Anways, I'm sure my mom said it at some point.


I apparently can go on about this for days. And yikes! This is longer than I planned! I'll have to include my updates in another post it looks like. I promise to try not to take too long about it, but I have a speech presentation tomorrow! Speaking of which, I finally pick up my bow tomorrow! So! Excited!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New rule appears

So, yeah. Apparently hats aren't allowed when you're eating the the dorm cafeteria. Said no one ever. So yeah, we get to learn rules by breaking them apparently now.

That was awkward.

It was followed by a magical adventure (with a not-so-magical traipse through a graveyard) and then, when I was totally and hopelessly lost, Briana showed me the way home. Quite literally.

So. Yeah. Those are my updates for tonight. I promise to get to the previous uncovered time soon.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The war on Bugs

My fellow humans. The assault on our kind has begun. I implore you. Do not take kindly to these invaders. Even one of them can cause any number of casualties. For the sake of humanity, we have declared war on 虫 (むし - Mushi - Bug) kind. Take heed and know that there is hope. Here are some of the weapons and cures at your disposal.

Even the smallest of these invaders can inflict serious injuries.

Injuries inflicted on the first day of our conflict. By day 3 they had grown to nearly twice this size.

Air based arsenal.

Within two hours of dispatching this weapon we have already seen signs of enemy casualties. There may yet be hope.  
Anti-虫 shielding.

Use this to protect yourself, making yourself less vulnerable to our enemy 虫. 

Use in case of injury.

Should the enemy succeed in landing a blow, use this to help mend the wound. This liquid based agent seems to work the best for this operative, but similar products with the same ムヒ brand are reported to work just as well by my fellow operatives.

Edit: Day 4 - 20 hours after medicine first applied injuries are visibly smaller and all around less frightening. Arm yourself with this knowledge and go forth.

Our cleverly disguised arsenal at work.
As one operative has said, the 虫 hate the smell so much, they drop dead. They'll never know what hit them.

Good luck! Fight brave! Fight proud! Humanity must live to fight another day!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sports and Technology

Hello! From the land of the FUTURE! Okay, so, I'm not REALLY in the future, but I AM a day ahead of those of you back home. So it counts. I'm like a time traveler. If only I could get my hands on a Doctor, or a Tardis, or both, I'd be set.

Also, I just had an energy drink after my third night in a row of 4 or less hours of sleep. So I'm a little spastic. Yes that was important for you to know going into this. Why? I'm not really sure. Something to do with if I start rambling or going off on random tangents, you'll understand why. See. There was one there. And there. Okay Illaura. Seriously. Stop it now. Moving onto my point.

Welcome to the land of June. In Tokyo the hydrangeas are in full bloom everywhere and there are some varieties I don't know. How do I know this? I'm a bit of a plant nerd. Plus, I've never seen one bloom in quite this fashion before.


Next note because my sister randomly reminded me, the Bieber is also famous and liked in Japan. This is a negative mark on your record Japan. Just a heads up.

Also, there are what I believe to be 梅 - Japanese plums both growing and plummeting from trees. I haven't confirmed this, but they certainly smell like plums.






Hello kitty 花火 (firework) stamps are also a thing. You bet I bought them. Half of them are currently en route to the U.S. by way of postcards.



On the second I had 飲み会 (drinking party) with my Archery club. It turned out to be more of an eating party. Still fun, but not what I expected. We have a competition this weekend, I'll try to take a couple more pictures for you guys.


On the topic of Archery, I finally have a picture of me doing archery. I already released the arrow, and I'm using a practice bow (mine hasn't arrived yet), but yeah.


And this is Kyoka! She's like my bestest friend!


She is also a die hard Resident Evil (and Pokemon) fan. We went with the two German girls, Verena and Sabrina, to the Resident Evil cafe two weeks ago.

Probably my favorite Japan picture yet.




This was our desert.


 Also, I got sick last week. It seems like part of living in a foreign country entails getting sick a bit more frequently than is normal. Also, Japan's cold and flu season seems to happen around now, or at least a second round of it does, because my teachers keep talking about how so many people have colds. But yeah, I got sick (again) and I got better.

そして。。。 Oh yeah! Chelsea and I had a late Easter party! By party, I mean we dyed eggs. And by dyed eggs, I mean we used 3 of the 6 colors so we can do it again when we have more than 10 eggs (of which only 8 ended up dyed). And by more than 10 eggs, I mean, we'll probably only have 10 eggs, but we get to do it again. I loved boiled eggs, so my end game was something like this.

I'll fight you.

Also, Mame and Haruko ended up joining us and dying their first ever eggs.

Mame

Haruko wrote 4F on hers.
We're getting to the part of the blog post where you finally understand the title. Yesterday 潜心寮 (My dorm) and Senzan寮's (I don't know their kanji) first years (and exchange students since we're always grouped with first years) had a sports festival! Naturally, I overslept and showed up late after the adviser came to my room and woke me up with a knock at the door. Now is the time to mention that I'm a terrible human being, I saw this butterfly on the way and said "You should meet Nemo! He has a small fin!" I felt awful afterwards.


There are lots of pictures, I'm only adding a handful (which for sanity's sake I'll tack on the end instead of now), but here is what you need to know.

The dormitory advisers. Plus two teachers I believe.

4F won at the three legged race where you have to take the sweets off the line by using only your mouth. Not sure what that says about us, but hey! We won something!


3F was the most 元気 (energetic) and boss group of the day. Again, see the majority of their pictures below.


I couldn't participate in any of the events because of my shin splints (no exercise for two more weeks) so I did what any ex-yearbooker (though you never really become an ex-yearbooker) would do. I took plenty of photos and videos. They're in the process of making their rounds through the dorms via USB and CD now. Here is the video.




Which brings me to my next point. Japanese people are technologically retarded. Japanese people are technologically challenged. Japanese people have problems with technology. Seriously, for what is perceived as one of the most technologically advanced places that puts out all the cool and awesome technology, it's really rather underwhelming how outdated and technologically illiterate a lot of people are. Example number one. "How do I burn the CD to my computer so I can see the pictures." There are too many ways I could pick this one apart. Example number two. "Wait. You can edit photos on a computer?" Example number three. "Can you fax that to me?" What is a fax machine is a perfectly acceptable answer considering I'm pretty these things got tossed out the window by the mid-90's stateside. Those are my examples. Please don't flame me about this. I'm just pointing out an observation I have made.

As promised. Pictures. But a quick note, you've probably noticed my format is a little different thanks to the spastic after effects of my energy drink. But if you like this version better (with little text and lots of pictures) as opposed to lots of text and a handful of pictures, let me know please!






Copying 3F

The One Piece pose.



Shoko (sp?) and お母さん (I guess her real name sounds very similar  to the Japanese word for mother)