Wednesday, January 29, 2014

America

Hey everyone. As you all know I've been back stateside for a couple of weeks now. I've been dealing with re-entry shock (which actually is a thing), but it's not nearly as bad as the homesickness I experienced in Japan.

A lot of what has been hitting me as been to do with A) Food B) Waste and C) Manners/Customs. With food I have had a lot of exciting "I'd forgotten that existed!" and I've had a lot of "Why on earth would anyone BUY that?" moments. I've also been delighted at the cheap price of fruits and meats. However, I'm a bit... sick of meat already. Actually, I've been working on learning to cook more Japanese food and I still try to eat rice at least once daily. Honestly, American food makes me feel.... not so great about myself.

As for waste, I've been entirely disgusted with it. Half of dinner that nobody ate? Why eat it tomorrow when we could throw it away? That type of mentality. Also just the amount of garbage and lack of recycling in general has had me already yell exasperatedly a few times "What do you mean you don't have a place for your cans? I can't just throw them away!!" On the other hand, I'm LOVING the abundance of garbage cans.

As for manners and customs I'm talking about things like wearing shoes indoors instead of slippers (yes, I got used to that. Yes, I'm wearing slippers right now. Yes. I love my slippers and everyone makes fun of me.). Classes too for that matter. I've gotten used to half of the class not caring or falling asleep and the other half barely feigning attention and now I'm back to classes that are all go, all the time and if you aren't why did you even come to class today? So that's interesting.

Also. People are rude. Seriously. Sometimes I just want to *urgh*. 

But, maybe more on that boring stuff later.

In more exciting news, I'm glad to inform you all that I passed the N3 level of the JLPT. Lots of squealing ensued.

I am also happy to announce that I have passed the application process of the JET program and have an interview on February 14th. Yup. Valentines day. So time to buy a suit. Chelsea also has proceeded to the interview rounds, so help cheer her on as well!!

That said, so long as all goes according to plan, I'll be back in Japan come August. I look forward to keeping you all up to date on the JET program and hopefully my time abroad once more. :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Final thoughts from Japan

First off, あけましておめでとうございます。(Basically, happy new year.)
Second off, the "from" in the title is important. I still plan on adding more notes about things I've forgotten to write about, cultural notes, re-entry notes, etc.

Anyways. I'm sitting here at just past midnight on my last night in Japan. That's right. I take off from Narita airport tomorrow evening at 6pm, but I need to head out by 11:30 am or so in order to make my flight with plenty of wiggle room. I like wiggle room when it comes to flying.

The question I'm asking myself now is "What is there/what should I talk about?" I guess I should start with New Year's. I spent this past new year's in a town near Nagoya called Ichinomiya with my friend Rika and her family. We watched a Japanese new year's count down show, listened to bells tolling from local temples at midnight. At midnight we also ate soba. The idea behind that is that the noodles are long and thin, representing long life and thin (or healthy) size.

Around 3 am Rika, her friends and I headed to a beach (whose name I do not know) and waited for the sun to rise. This is apparently a pretty common thing. The place was fairly crowded with onlookers waiting to greet the new year's sun.


After returning home and sleeping for a few hours we ate Japanese osechi, which is traditional new year's food.

The next day we went to a local temple to do new year's prayers. These were essentially the same as normal prayers, but instead of the normal 5 yen piece people threw in various larger denominations. My friend's family did about 200 yen in odd coin each collected throughout the year.

2014 is year of the horse. In case you were wondering. Incidentally, I'm also year of the horse.
On the 3rd Rika and I visited Nagoya castle. In the evening I made "American" spaghetti (my family recipe. Trust me, it's different than just about any sauce you've ever had), garlic bread, a salad and an apple pie from scratch. Overall it was a success.



On my last full day Rika, her friends and I went bowling. My muscles still haven't forgiven me.


After returning to Tokyo I've run a fair number of last minute errands and went and saw Hunger Games 2 with the majority of my gaming group.


A note to those departing from JWU (or anywhere in the country really). We were told by our coordinators that we merely had to turn in our health insurance card at the ward office. When I went and asked where to do this I was sent to the health insurance section. After waiting 2 hours I was redirected to the 1st floor where I put in my change of address form months back. Another hour or so of waiting and I finally got everything taken care of. So. Note to the wise, go to where you turn in that residency form to get your ID stamped. They'll put it into their systems and collect your insurance card there. They'll also issue a refund or bill as the case may be to settle your remaining balance.

So where does this leave me? Well. I'm not ready to go home. I'm ready insofar as my things are sent and I'm down to my last suitcases. I start classes week 2 of winter term back home.

Honestly I've spent a lot of time this week wondering when exactly Tokyo went from this awesome place I was in for a year to a place I consider home. And honestly, I do consider it to be home now. I don't want to leave yet and I'm looking forward to coming back. I miss my family and while I want to be near to them, I feel this is home now.

We'll see how things pan out. I'll keep you all informed as to the progress of my JET application and, if all goes according to plan, I'll be back in Japan starting in August.

Thank you all for listening to my rambling throughout 2013. I'm glad to have been able to help some of you. I hope I amused others, if nothing else. I look forward to continuing this blog.

So for now, happy 2014! Don't forget. Chase your dreams. You won't regret it.