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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sapporo...Chocolate...Japanese Business World...here I come. Watch Out!

So I know that it has been quite some time since I have updated this blog. A lot has happened since my return from Osaka, and by "a lot", I mostly mean "nothing really". I graduated from high school,
moved out,
started working a lot,
thought about college (then couldn't afford it), got fat, and contemplated the meaning of life...except for not really on that last part because what 20 year old cares about that(although I did dye my hair rainbow).
The moral of the story is that I have not been slacking off in my duties to you, my dear readers, I just haven't done anything cool enough to write about. Well, now I am going back to Japan (FINALLY!) and I believe this is cause for Gaijinzilla to get up and going again. This time around I will be living in Sapporo for 3 months and be working with a company called Royce Chocolates. Now, I don't know if any of you have heard of Royce but that chocolate changed my life...
My uncle is the one who first introduced me to Nama Chocolate (and set me up with this sweet deal that is sending me back to Japan) and it was love at first taste. Royce uses only the best ingredients in their chocolate and they create these heavenly confections with the most meticulous care. Nama Chocolate practically melts on your tongue with a symphony of tastes that can only be described as pure joy... But I'm getting distracted (and a little drooly)...what I mean to say, is that I am going to be working for this company and helping them to the best of my capacity as an English speaker and Japanese attempter. I may have been to Japan before but that was high school. This is going to be a completely new (and somewhat terrifying) experience for me. I am determined, however, to finally acheive Japanese fluency (or at least proficiency) and I am going to make sure I tell you all about it along the way. I am going to make sure these blog posts become much more frequent this time around and that they include lots of pictures (because who doesn't like pictures?!). In fact, here's a picture of a unicorn for you! How pretty!
So hopefully you all will join me as of November 19, 2013, for an all American romp around Japan. I think we will have a grand time together playing in Onsens, eating sushi, learning Japanese the hard way (and hoping we didn't offend the person who taught us the difference between "let's meet" and "let's love"), and lots of other adventures along the way!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

For all you girls out there who want to Gaijin it up!

Good news for all you girls out there who want to go to Japan like I did!

During my stay in Japan, I visited a small private girls school for just a day. Although I didn't attend this particular school, I was able to meet the English teacher (Mr. Paul Alexy) and chat with him about the exchange program they offer to high school age girls who want to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.

This exchange program is something I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience life in japan. You have my word as a gaijin, this school is great

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tadaima!

Well, I made it home. After approximately 35 hours (according to my mom) in planes and airports I arrived home safely yesterday night, or well, I guess midnight means it was this morning.
Being at home seems so very, familiar. I thought when I returned everything would seem different but rather, it is Japan itself that seems different to me now. Being home, I feel almost like my 3 months in the land of the rising sun was just a dream. A marvelous, difficult, beautiful dream. One thing makes this dream different though...memories. This trip will not fade away into something that is barely tangible as I continue through my life. It may seem far away now that I am sleeping in my own bed and well, talking in English again, but this experience is something that has been such a big part of my life that it will continue to structure the rest of my life which is yet to come.
I referred to this trip in a previous entry as a "chapter of my life". This chapter may have come to a close but it has been such an integral part of the story of my life that I know I will never forget it.
One day I will travel back to the Land Of The Rising Sun but for now all I can do is thank all of you who made that trip as amazing as it was. I love traveling, I love Japan, and I love all of you. ほんとうに ありがとうございます!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Farewells








You know, some of my friends thought I was crazy for wishing to attend school when I should be enjoying summer vacation and who knows, maybe I am. That wouldn't surprise me. Anyway, last day of school has finally come for me. After 3 months in Japan and 2 at this school it felt weird to think of that being the last time I would see those halls or trek up that impossibly long staircase to my homeroom class which has been on the top floor both times.

The imposing feeling of the last day did not get in the way of my usual joking around with my friends in my homeroom class. We laughed and joked as if nothing were happening. As if I had been there for years and I would be there for years.

The farewell ceremony which the teachers put together was lovely. My host family couldn't come since it was at noon but practically my whole homeroom class came. The principal, my friend Juri, and I all gave speeches. The principal gave his speech in English for the Australian exchange students but for me he used simple and slow Japanese almost as if to say that he had noticed how much I had learned in my stay here. Juri started crying halfway through hers which of course forced me too wipe away some tears of my own. The students laughed out loud when I said "classes were fun" since they had caught me sleeping through them multiple times but I wasn't lying when I said how much I loved their school. It has been an amazing experience at both Mishima and Takii. Japanese school is so very different from American school that it takes a little getting used to but I loved every minute of it! People ask me why I decided to by Takii's uniform even though it is quite expensive and I always reply "because lots of people go to Japan. Few people go to Japanese high school." My uniform is my absolute most treasured souvenir and I think it will continue to be so.
Thank you Mishima, Thank you Takii! I love Japan!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dinnertime! gaijin-style ^^

Since coming to live in Japan I have been plagued by the feeling that I am really not contributing to anything at all. This normally wouldn't bother me. At home I certainly don't have a problem lounging around on the couch while indifferently observing my mom breaking her back over some chore or another. Yet for some reason, it is really troubling when it is a different family I am living with.
Anyway, I decided to remedy this by offering to cook dinner for my family. It was simple yet difficult to decide what to make. My repertoire of dishes which I know how to cook is limited to scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, and anything out of a can that just needs to be reheated. This made choosing simple yet frustrating as I realized my own failure as a girl (no offense if any of you, my readers, are in fact some psycho feminist). I hate making decisions more than I hate failing as a female though so I had no problem with this. I made mashed potatoes, baked chicken (thanks for the recipe mom! It actually turned out fairly edible!), and corn (and yes, it was frozen packaged corn).
My host sister and I went grocery shopping on our way home from our...well...shopping trip to get the ingredients. I had hoped to make home made macaroni and cheese too but I was easily convinced otherwise when I saw that cheddar cheese was approximately $6 for a tiny brick so small I would probably need two or three for the dish.
My American side was shocked when there were no baggers to do all our work for us after our purchase. Merely a little table with the plastic bags on it for the customers to place their groceries in.
Dinner itself turned out okay I guess. I am not a gourmet chef but it was edible. The chicken and the potatoes needed a lot of added salt and pepper but the corn was actually quite tasty. Maybe that is just because of the liberal amount of butter I added to it before sticking it in the weird Japanese microwave-oven thingy.
The potatoes couldn't have been all bad though since my host mom asked for the recipe and hey, I got the opportunity to not feel like a worthless couch potato which would be worth it even if I had made packaged Ramen and burned it. I am such a good person :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mountain Adventures

On Saturday I went hiking with a bunch of friends from church. The plan was, hike up to the Onsen which was apparently pretty famous. Play around and soak our tired muscles in the naturally heated water and then hike back down. Pretty standard right?
Well, it would have been standard if things had actually gone according to said plan. *sigh*
By taking a couple wrong turns and following a couple wrong paths we managed to not only miss the Onsen altogether but we ended up just making a big loop and ending up basically where we started, adding many miles and quite a few hours to our hike. We started out at approximately 9 and made our way out at about 4:30. How is that for a killer hike? For the beginning parts of this trip "hike" is quite an understatement. It was more like a "climb". We weren't walking uphill. We were literally climbing up the mountain through a "rock garden".









Now, I am not a big fan of really hard hikes but I love nature and I am inclined to look on the bright side of that adventure. The scenery was quite breathtaking and I actually got to see my first real wildlife when we stumbled across a family of wild boar!




























To top the day off, when we stopped at McDonald's afterward I forgot all about the adorable baby pigs when I met some adorable Japanese boys. ;) These are the first boys to be brave enough to talk to me and I definitely appreciated it. We exchanged emails and hopefully we can keep in touch.











So all in all I had a fairly bitter sweet day. There were mistakes, sore muscles, and no onsen, but there was also beautiful nature, cute animals, and cute boys. I guess it all kind of evens out.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Saying Goodbyes: The Beginning of the End







Tuesday was my last day to see my old homeroom class before they went to Canada, today was Mel and Kiera's last day at school. Now I have said my goodbyes to them and it will probably be a while before I see them again.
I loved all my friends from 2-1. They were all so amazing and friendly and cute. My nervousness at transferring schools was quickly set aside as I realized just how great these girls are. Within the first week of transferring to Takii I had almost 2 whole weeks filled up with various play-dates with various people. We soon developed a communication understanding between us, everyone had a feel for how much Japanese I knew and I had a feel for what level of English they are at. We were all able to help each other because of this. I cannot even count all the things the people in this class taught me and not just Japanese either. They taught me how to loosen up around people I just met, how to enjoy lunchtime to it's fullest, my playdate experiences taught me not only that Kyobashi station really DOES have a "big escalator" and that when you plan to hang out in Japan you better not wear heels. I made so many friends in that class, I know everyone's name and most of their email addresses. I consider all 17 of them to be my good friends and I will miss my new "good friends" very much.

Seems funny that I was just barely writing a post the other day about going to classes with the other exchange students and now I am writing one about saying goodbye to them. Our day today seemed kind of unreal. It didn't really hit me that that was goodbye until after it was over. I just can't really imagine them not being there.
They too helped me greatly with my Japanese but in a different way. They say when you teach something you are much more likely to remember it. Well it must be true, helping them with their Japanese in turn improved my Japanese greatly. Although we enjoyed teasing each other about how "my country is better", being with them has inspired me with a desire to visit Australia as well as a need to one day see my new Australian friends again.

One of my favorite quotes is "Goodbyes are only painful if you know you will never say hello again". No matter how sad saying goodbye is now, it is not the end of the world because I know I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. Friendships that, against all obstacles, won't be kept apart. I will see my new friends again. This is not "goodbye" this is "See you later".