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December 23rd, 2007


12:10 pm - Possibly the best week EVER (and longest entry ever)

 So, as I'm sure a bunch of you already know the past couple weeks have been pretty busy for you.  Running around doing visits to elementary schools to give 20 minute speeches, the national proficiency test, tests everyday in my regular classes along with practice tests for the afore mentioned prof. test...  I could go on, but I'll leave that for another time.

What I really want to blog about today is how AWESOME this past week has been.  Actually... it's a bit more like the past week and a half because the awesomeness really started on Thursday the 13th.  So starting with Thursday then,

December 13
I had classes like any other Thursday, but because we've finally finished our culture classes this was the first week that I wouldn't have classes the next day (hurray for no Friday classess!  something I have yet to experience in Athens...).  After class, I met with Reiko to plan what we were going to do over the winter break.  She invited me to her house for New Years.  I'm still not sure of all the details, but I'm really looking forward to it.  After having lunch with her, I had a bit of time to lounge around the room before going out with some friends of Jen and Sandra.  The plan was to go out to a sushi bar (where they have that little revolving track set up and you pick the sushi plates you want when they come back), but we had a bit of time so we decided to go to karaoke first.  I don't actually like karaoke that much, but I really like hanging out with everyone, so as long as we go somewhere that isn't too expensive I don't mind paying just to sit and listen.  I did force myself to sing a few songs, but the far more interesting thing in our room was the random massage chair.  Sandra loved it, but if you ask Jen or I, it's a bit more like torture than a massage...  Perhaps we chose the wrong settings?  Before too long, time was up and we decided to head out to the sushi bar.  Unfortunately, something came up with one of the Japanese girls we were with, and she couldn't go get sushi with us.  I hope she's ok... she was crying and didn't tell us exactly what had made her so sad (she had stepped out of the karaoke room for a bit to answer a call).  I haven't seen her around since that day, but her one friend didn't seem very worried about it, so I think it's something she could deal with.  I hope it was anyway...  But yes, back to happier things.

We headed off the the sushi place.  By this time, Jen, Sandra, and I were all pretty tired because of how hectic the week had been.  But we gaman-ed (bucked up) through it and managed to stay awake through the car ride until we arrived at the sushi place.  When we got there, we were guided to a booth by a "waiter" and then proceeded to watch the sushi pass, waiting for the right time to strike and secure ourselves some delicious sushi.  Jen made the mistake of taking someone else's food (even the Japanese girl we were with didn't know that someone's specific ordered food would appear on the tarp with the "free for all" sushi.)  But in the end it was ok.  I think the "waiters" fixed the problem.  So... after enjoying the sushi, we headed back.  And no, the night didn't end there.  In fact, it was far from over.

Instead of heading back to campus, Saori dropped us off at the Kachigawa station.  From there Jen, Sandra, and I headed over to...  Oh gosh... I can't even remember what station it was we were meeting at.  Maybe Chikusa???  Anyway... the reason we were going there was to meet some fellow study abroad students (4 Ohio girls, 3 Australian girls) and go out to this little bar/restaurant and get pizza.  It was one of the the Australian girl's (Bec) birthdays, so we decided to dedicate the evening to that.  The three of us arrived at the station a bit early so we contacted Nalini and tried to figure out which gate we should meet at.  In the end, in our search for the right gate, we just ended up running into each other, so it all worked out in the end.  So, from the station, we walked to the pizza place.  It wasn't too far.  Maybe a 10-15 minute walk.  And we passed lots of cute little bar restaurants.  My favorite one by far was a little bar called: Bobee's.  And yes, we stopped to take pictures of the sign.  lol

When we got the the bar, we all decided on what pizza's we wanted.  Sandra and I decided to split one since we weren't very hungry after eating all that sushi.  And... because they had a good beer selection we also decided to split a beer.  It was a bit expensive and we didn't know if we'd like the brand or not so we didn't feel like wasting the money.  It was some Czech beer.  God... what was the name?  (pauses to ask Sandra)  Hm... well she didn't remember the name either, but I googled czech beer and remembered a "P" being in the name so I think I've narrowed it down to a Pilsner Urquell.  Anyway, we enjoyed it and actually drank all of it before we even got our pizza.  Turns out the place wasn't made to make more than one pizza at once, and with 7 of wanting 6 pizzas... well it took a while to get everyone their pizza.  And naturally, since Jen, Sandra and I had eaten not too long ago, we took ours last.  But~ we still had an awesome time hanging out with everyone.  The waiter was cute, in a somewhat girl fashionable kind of way.  Plus I really like hanging out with Nalini, and haven't gotten much of a chance to do so.  Gao Hui and Bec are a lot of fun too and I'm glad we got to go out and do something on Bec's B-day.  We also had a lot of fun talking about some of the girls' men-crushes.  I could go into more detail... but no.  *wink*

On the way back, we bought some ice cream at a conbini (convenient store) and ate outside while waiting for the train to arrive.  It was cold, but we kind of wanted to tease the random Japanese people and freak them out by eating ice cream outside in winter.  I ate one where the outside was some kind of waffle cone material, shaped as a fish.  Inside was vanilla ice cream, and between the cone part and ice cream there was some sweet red bean.  It was DELICIOUS.  ^_^   Then, on  the train, we got watch the drunk/tipsy salarymen coming back from work.  So basically, a day of sweetness and good food with only a little bit of awkwardness.

December 14
The next day, I went shopping with Minami (one of the Ohio study abroad students) and Rachel in Nagoya.  We were supposed to go in this huge group, but one by one people decided at the last minute not to come.  Nonetheless, we had a pretty good time (though I've decided not to go shopping there again since they don't let you try on half the clothes and only have mediums that fit tiny Japanese girls).  When we got back, Minami set about making her bf a picnic dinner and I went back to the room to relax for a bit.  I'm pretty sure I either worked on hw, took a nap, or attempted to clean the room.  At about nine, Sandra and I decided we were going to go out and try and catch a viewing of the meteor shower (seiryuugun).  Unfortunately, it was cloudy so when we finally headed out (Sandra, Rachel, and I) we couldn't see anything.  So, instead we wandered around campus, deciding the way by Jan Ken Po (rock paper scissors).  We also followed some mysterious youths wearing red jumpsuits (Chubu's colors are blue), but they managed to escape our clutches at the end by going into a building.  At some point they had realized we were purposely crossing their path and when they went into the building and realized they had finally given us the slip, they burst out laughing.  After parting ways with them, we wandered on the sports fields (at one point, we even skipped through on of the fields, just to be able to say we did).  When we approached the baseball fields, there were some guys practicing.  Rachel wanted to watch, but they noticed us and I didn't think they looked too happy (the pitcher was throwing the ball from hand to glove repeatedly and in a pissy kind of way).  He stopped practicing and stared at us as we went by.  I was a little annoyed by the idea that he was annoyed at us just because we were by the fields (there's no rule saying we can't go sit in the stadium area), so I gave him a little wave that he did not return.  After the baseball field, we passed the tennis courts.  The people practicing there seemed surprised by us passing by, but not mad.  

Not quite ready to return to the dorms (even though there was no chance of seeing the meteor shower through the clouds), we decided to walk to the nearby Circle K and get us some cake.   ~side story~
Sandra and I had decided on Sunday to treat ourselves to cake because we spent several hours digging through trash trying to find my mouth guard that we believed the cleaning lady had thrown out.  Losing something in the trash (even supposedly losing something in the trash) can really show you who your friends are.  Sandra didn't even pause at the idea of helping me dig through the trash.  Sadly, after a long search, we headed back up to the room, hands empty.  Luckily, we some moving of large furniture, we finally found it and turned in for the night.  Thoroughly entertained by the night, we have now dubbed December 9th: Gomi Day (Trash Day)~end side story~
Thinking that we just going out to look at stars, none of us had brought our wallets with us.  But somehow, we found enough random change on us to get two cakes and a pudding thing for Rachel.  On the walk back, Sandra and I split the first cake and defiantly ate it while walking (cultural note: it's actually rude to eat and walk unless it's ice cream and sometimes veggies are ok too).  After returning, I finally finished watching Full House (a Korean drama) and then turned in for the night.

December 15
The next day, we woke up early to go to the aquarium with some friends of Jen's roommate (Wu Hung).  Turned out all the study abroad people going were girls and all the friends were boys.  So we all laughed a little bit when we met up at the train station.  After buying our tickets we headed up to the platform and waited for the train to arrive.  When it finally did, it was a bit full, but not too bad.  But before long the train got so packed that if someone sneezed, the 5 closest people to them could do nothing to avoid it.  Thank god no one sneezed.

On the way there, we got to practice our Japanese a bit and took a few pictures together.  We also bought a pass that gave us unlimited rides on the subway and gave us a little discount on our tickets into the aquarium.  Before entering the Aquarium, we stopped in the cafeteria to get some lunch.  I tried some takoyaki for the first time, and though I like octopus, I didn't like the fried outside.  None of us ate that much, but we took a TON of pictures and exchanged phone numbers and phone emails addresses for future times.  From there, we decided to get perikura (print club-picture booth) together.  We had a bit of trouble smashing all 10 of us into the booth, but we did it and got some pretty interesting pictures from it.  If you ask any of us, most of the awesomeness of that trip happened before we actually got into the aquarium.  But, the aquarium was also a lot of fun.  I've never been to (just) an aquarium before so I had a lot of fun looking at all the sea creatures and learning their names in Japanese and teaching our new friends their names in English.  Two of the guys in the group were big flirts which Jen, Sandra and I found hilarious.  It was actually really nice since most Japanese guys are too shy to even really approach us.  After 3 months of guy withdrawl, a little bit of flirtatious attention was more than welcome.

And... it's possible that when we left the suizokukan (aquarium), one of them developed a bit of a crush on me.  He was stealing my glove and wearing it all proudly and the one Japanese girl we were with told me that he thought I was cute when we both made a stop at the bathroom.  We've been emailing back and forth a bit which is cool because I've been learning new kanji and he corrects my grammar mistakes when I mess up.  I'm not interested in anything past friendship and I'm pretty sure he's just really excited about having a foreign friend, so we've both been enjoying the new friendship.  Jen and Sandra like to tease me about it every once in awhile, but it's all just in good fun.  He, and his friends, want to hang out again sometime, but we've all been busy at different times so haven't successfully set anything up yet.  Maybe sometime during or after winter break?

We would have hung out with the Aquarium group longer, but we had to make our way over to Kachigawa station to make it in time for J.T.'s b-day party.  (Actually, we decided to go to J.T.'s party late so we could see the entire dolphin show and got to the correct station about an hour late.  But, because J.T.'s party was in a bar a ways away from the station his Japanese friends were providing rides from the station to the bar for the study abroad students.  When we arrived, we were planning on calling a taxi, but there was still a group of people waiting for rides so we lucked out.) The ever charismatic J.T., with his lack of Japanese skills, had still somehow managed to make friends with a bunch of Japanese people, many of which were parts of bands.  So, for his birthday, they rented out a bar and put on a mini concert.  It was 2000yen (about 17 bucks), but for that amount you got to listen to a bunch of bands, drink as much alcohol as you wanted, and there were a lot of snacks.  It was pretty awesome.  It felt like being back at OU actually.  The party had a definite American feel to it even though there were more Japanese people than foreigners (of course, most of them are studying English or have been to an english speaking country before).  Exchanged numbers with a few more people there, but the highlight of the night was creating a new drink.  Gao, one of the Australian girls (originally from china) hardly ever drinks but wanted to have something at the party.  She doesn't like anything really alcoholly tasting, so after a few minutes of staring at the drinks behind the bar, Jen and I decided to try Calpis and Apricot brandy together.  And ta-tah~!  They made an awesome pair and Gao loved it so much that she plans on keeping that combination in her house when she goes home.  A lot of other people feel in love with the drink too.  So it's safe to say it was quite a hit.

I realized when I was leaving the party that a lot of the girls kept asking me to get their drinks for them.  At the time I didn't think anything of it.  But when I was leaving, it occurred to me that they were just asking me to so they could stand up by the front and not wait by the bar.  I couldn't be annoyed about this since I was hanging out with people right by the bar anyway.  But, on the way home I brought it up to Sandra and she told me that (at least for her) she kept asking me because when I went to get a drink, I would get it right away.  When she tried, she would wait 10 or so minutes before getting served (lots of people, one bartender).   Another girl overheard me and said the same thing.  So, either I had really good timing, or the bartender enjoyed giving me drinks.  Either way a win.  (^_^)  And, if it took other people a lot of time, there must have been some kind of preference, because I never had to wait more than a minute to be attended to.  Quite an interesting turn of events from one of my past entries where I talked about how much I (and the other girls) were being ignored or stared at unabashedly by the Japanese.   So while at the party: created a new drink, moshed, got two kisses (on the cheek), made new friends, learned some new gossip, and basically just had a good fucking time.

Heading home from the bar was also a good time.  Leaving the bar, took note of how trashed everyone was.  In an effort to make sure that all "a little more than tipsy" people had at least one "alright" person with them, I headed off with Rachel (a bit more than tipsy), Tomo (drunk), and Yoshi (status unknown) to walk back to the station.  We were pretty sure people would be providing rides back, but with so many people, we would be waiting forever.  Tomo claimed he knew how to get back.  Rachel and I weren't too sure, but Rachel was already walking off with them so I decided I better tag along incase they got lost.  Better one sober person than none, even if they can't speak the native language very well.  If all else failed, we could always call a taxi.  Luckily, Yoshi is a tank and was perfectly fine.  And he knew the way back to the station.  With that knowledge, I set about keeping Tomo walking in a straightish direction.  Before too long, Youtaro caught up and joined the group.  He's a pretty quiet guy so I had no idea if he was drunk or not, but after watching him for a bit I decided that it was likely he only had one drink if any at all.  So, the 5 us headed along talking about random things and, before too long, we were at the station.   By the time we got to the station, Tomo was just tipsy, Rachel was fine as well as the rest of us.  We met up with Jen, Brandon, Frank, and some of the others who got rides to the station and waited for the train together.

From the train... we went to Jinryo and then had to walk back to campus.  The group of us walking were: Jen, Brandon, Rachel, Sandra, Gao, Akira, Ian, Frank, and Yoshi.  Jen and I hadn't had that much to eat so we wanted to stop somewhere for food.  (the party was supposed to be an all you can eat thing, but it wasn't food it was just snacks, so we didn't get to eat that much).  Jen hadn't been to Moss Burger before and Akira was kinda out of it, so we decided to stop there (didn't hurt that it was the only restaurant open nearby).  Rachel had been watching over Akira (Japanese guy who studied in Australia for 3 years) and decided he better eat something.  I think he can hold his liquor, but he was a bit loud and obnoxious, so giving him some food helped quite him down a bit, though it didn't do much to shut him up for the rest of the walk back.  He actually called some random lady on a bike a fucking bitch.  For which point Rachel and I started smacking him (making the night feel even more like one from back home.  yes, guys friends I have "hit" before  *cough cough* Tim *cough*).  I also gained a nickname from Sh-Akira.  One I have been called before: Wazouski.  Makes me want to watch Monsters Inc. again.  I wonder what it would be like in Japanese...

Well, finally we got everyone home.  Though, Brandon doubled back to sneakily follow Akira back and make sure he got home alright.  The bum wouldn't let us go with him to his apartment.  I'm pretty sure we all argued about it for like... a half hour before "giving up".  Rachel and I held onto his hat as punishment, promising to give it back the next day (which we did).  Having walked around for almost all of the day, Sandra and I were pretty tired so it wasn't too long before we turned in for the night.

December 16
I slept in a bit (until 10am) but then forced myself to get out of bed to I could shower and get ready in time for meeting Deguchi-sensei's daughter.  ~sidenote~ Deguchi-sensei is my Japanese teacher from OU.  Her daughter teaches here in Japan and was putting on a Christmas party for her students.  Deguchi-sensei had asked some of us if we could help out so Jen and some others volunteered.  After the party, several of the people who originally volunteered backed out, so I stepped up and took one of the required 2 spots.  I wasn't quite sure what we would be doing but, her daughter can speak very good English so we didn't have to worry about misunderstanding instructions. ~end sidenote~  The party was originally supposed to be at 1, but the meeting time got moved up to 11:30.

So, she picked us up at the school gate, made us lunch (we got to meet her husband, whom Jen and I fondly refer to as Ice Man, and we got to visit with Mr. Deguchi ~Deguchi sensei's husband), and heard about what we would be doing at the party.  After lunch, we headed over to the room she rented for the party.  It was a small room where there kids could do activities and what not.  Jen and my job was to help the children practice english.  They had to do several Christmas games involving english vocab or asking Jen and I english questions.  The hardest part was not speaking any Japanese.  If we let the kids know we could speak Japanese before the end, they probably wouldn't speak any English at all.  We did two sets of children (6-8 and 9-11).  It was a lot of fun even though the kids were so shy that they didn't speak to us too much outside of the activites.

After the kid's Christmas parties, we headed back to Ritsuko's (the daughter) apartment, had some tea, and visited.  They gave us a present (a decoration for new years and some goodies from Deguchi-sensei  ~~who is aparently in Egypt.  WTF?~) and wanted to take us out to dinner.  But, sadly we already had plans with friends so we had to head back.  We got back to the dorm just in time to run in, change and grab some warm clothes before meeting Taka (Japanese boy who studied abroad at OU last year) outside of the dorm.  From there Jen, Rachel, Sandra and I followed Taka to an Okinawa restaurant he was taking us to.  Along the way (as planned) we met up with Ayako, Miki, and Takuya then continued the rest of the way  to the restaurant.  It wasn't too far away, and I got to speak a little with Miki one on one which I'd never actually gotten the chance to do before.

When we got the the restaurant, Taka asked us what we wanted to drink.  But I, having no idea what Okinawan food would taste like wasn't sure what to order, so I started with water.  After that, Taka just ordered food for the table and we all had little bits of everything.  It's quite possible I ate pig brain that night, though I was pretty sure it was the nose...  And I also might have eaten some pig heart...  I know I ate pig ear.  And Taco Rice (very delicious), and shureimon, tonsoku, umibudou, and drank some awamori.  It was a pretty awesome night just sitting and talking with OU-Chubu study abroad students of the past.

December 17
And with Monday, the weekend of awesomeness ended and it was back to class with me.  I haphazardly studied for my vocab test that morning, and bucked up enough courage to interview one of the boys in the dorm cafeteria for my keigo (using polite form of speech) interview sheet.  Being ironically shy, it took me a bit to finally approach the guy, but after I did I was happy to find out he was very nice and actually very helpful (he didn't just answer my questions but would correct me when I made a mistake or tell me how to say something more naturally).  So hurray for Keisuke!  Now if only I could find some excuse to talk to him again, I could finally accomplish my goal of making friends with one of the sports guys in the dorm.  

After breakfast, I headed over to my class building early to get the last person for my keigo interview before turning in my WS.  Not finding Ueda sensei, I asked Suzuki sensei instead.  She's so adorable, and we share a love of cake and kittens, so she was more than happy to help me out.  I managed to stay awake for all my classes.  I met with my conversation partners for the last time this year (with Jen and Gao in tow).  After class, I believe I might have taken a nap to make up for the lack of sleep from the night before.  I could have run some errands... I'm not sure.  Wait, wait!  I went to the Village Vanguard... or was that Wednesday?  O.o  Wait that was Tuesday.  Then... yeah nap, hw, procrastination; take your pick.  Ah, wait... before that I went down to the bottom of my class building and talked/hung out with Aya, Yukina, Nao, and Rachel for a little bit.  We made some origami and just chit-chatted.  It was pretty nice since I don't normally get the chance to talk with them.  From there... I either took a short nap or I attempted to get some of my large pile of hw done that was still sitting around from my the time I went the Elementary schools.  Later that night, several of us made a run to the Circle K with the intention of buying snacks and then watching a movie.  When we got back, we weren't too sure what to watch but after narrowing it down to Disney movies, we finally decided on Robin Hood.  It's not my favorite Disney movie, so I decided to be productive and do my kanji hw during the movie.  This decision ended up being a very convenient one because after the movie was over Brandon and I got to talking.  We traded stories back and forth for... I'm not quite sure how long, but I didn't get back upstairs until around 2:30.  From then, I translated my kanji, talked to Shizuko for a bit then finally went to bed.   

December 18
How I got up the next morning, I still don't understand.  But, I did decently on my kanji quiz so it was all good in the end.  After class, Nalini and I decided to make a trip to the Village Vanguard to try and find me a beanie so I could return hers to her.  On the way there, I told her about going to the Okinawan restaurant and she asked if I remembered how to get there.  I remembered it not being too far from the Village Vanguard, so even though I didn't remember quite where it was, I attempted to find it for her before stopping at VV.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find it before we ran out of time (she needed to get back to the dorm before 4 to do hw with Rachel) so we backtracted to VV, looked at beanies for awhile, decided they were far too expensive for how unsure I was about what one I liked best, headed out, made a stop at the grocery and 100-en shop then headed back.  Jen and Sandra were supposed to have gone out to karaoke, but I guess it got cancelled, so when I returned to the dorm, Sandra was in the room.  I, exhausted, decided to take a nap before dinner.  Nothing much happened for the rest of that day.  Perhaps we talked a bit about how JT decided to skip this last week of classes and go to Saipen (an USA owned island by Australia), but not much more than that.  I think Tuesday might have been the day that I finally got caught up on hw.  Maybe...

December 19
Now Wednesday, there's an awesome day for you.  I only have one class on Wednesdays now that there's no more culture class.  So I got to sleep in a bit, then head in to Grammar class with Ueda sensei.  From there, Jen and I got ourselves lunch (pausing to hear from Tomo about a Nabe party  happening later that night), went over to Greg King's office to pick up our weekly stipend, turn in our travel plans for winter break, and ask about what we were expected to do for an event on Friday (more on that later).  From there, we went back to the dorm to get our dorm parents to stamp our notifications of travel forms, dropped them off at the CIP then rushed over to building 25 to meet Sandra, Yudai, and whoever else was coming for some karaoke.  The group ended up just being Jen, Sandra, Yudai, his friend and me, but it was still a lot of fun.  I'm kicking myself for it, but I can't remember his friend's name.  He was really nice though and his English was really good.  Too bad they're both going to Australia next year instead of OU.  We got back to the dorm from karaoke around 4:30 (it's cheaper to go to karaoke during the day than at night).  Seeing as we agreed to go to the Tomo's nabe party, we decided to skip dinner and hang out in the room until it was time to go.  Jen and I decided to head over a bit early (which oddly enough got us to building 20 right on time).  It was a good thing we got there when we did because no one else had shown and the party was taking place somewhere else; building 20 was simply the meeting place.  After calling around to see who all was on their way and waiting for them to arrive, we followed Yoshi to the place where the nabe party would take place.  Turned out it was just in a club room close to the gym.  When we got there, we discovered we needed to pay 800 yen to help pay for all the food and drinks involved.  Luckily I had my wallet with me so I could pay for myself and lend money to a few others.  Turns out this Nabe party was in fact a bounenkai (end of the year party, lit. forget the year party).  There were a ton of people seeing as this party was apparently being put on by the ESS (English Speaking Society club).  The Nabe was delicious, the drinks were alright (they got a lot of stuff by not really anything to mix anything with), and the company was AWESOME.  The party started at 6 and I didn't leave until about... 12:30am.  Poor Tomo got completely smashed... the OU girls got a bit more than tipsy, and well, ok most people got a bit more than tipsy.  Heck, we even taught them how to play kings.

I can't say enough times how awesome that Nabe party was, but unfortunatley, this is the best I can do with text.  Be sure to ask me in person when I get back and I'll inform you of its awesomeness, with the accompaniment of sound effects, gestures, etc.  (I did manage to go home with 3 cans of beer and the rest of the Disaronno  *wink*)

December 20
And now for Thursday.  Classes like usual, but this time it was the last class before break.  Only Bunpo (Grammar) with Ueda-sensei and Dokkai (Reading) with Suzuki-sensei~~both awesome teachers.  For lunch we had a meeting with the CIP (can't remember what that stands for... but they are the office that deals with study abroad students who come to Chubu and Chubu students that go study abroad.  Every once in awhile ~on a Thursday~ we have a meeting with them).  None of us were excited about meeting with them because: 1.) We're not allowed to eat in their room but they insist on meeting during lunch time, 2.) JT had taken off for Saipen by this time and they were all a bit ticked off about this so they kept drowning us all with emails about how we shouldn't do the same thing.  3.) We were all exhausted and just wanted class stuff to be over with.  So... we all sat through that.  Then I reminded Brandon and Ali that they needed to pay me back for last night's Nabe party.

Then, because I was a little sick, I stopped at the clinic on Campus.   After that I headed back to the dorm until it was time to meet Machi over by building 20.

December 21

December 22

still 3 days to write about~


Current Location: Fuyu Yasumi!
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: The Pillows

 

November 19th, 2007


08:35 pm - Rewind and Restart---Halloween and the Daigakusai

**don't miss the entry before this one.  They were done in the same day.  Thanks!

So... Halloween.  Not a popular holiday in Japan, which is a bit surprising with how much they seem to like dressing up.  But, I suppose if you dress up for all these other ocassions, Halloween really isn't that exciting of a thing, is it?  Anyway... my Halloween here wasn't much different than Halloween back home.  I've never really been good at putting together a costume, so I usually pass on dressing up or just go with whatever I can find.  C.U.P.S., a student organization here that works with the study abroad students, threw a party for us all.  It was interesting seeing them all in their costumes and talking with a few of them.  The party wasn't all that exciting.  Just music, food, and standing around.  Though there was a magic show, and it had fire in it--always a win.  Some of the OU students costumes were interesting.  J.T. dressed up as Hard Gay and spent the whole day (even before the party) walking around and dry humping people.  Awkward, but funny.  And, it helped that Hard Gay is/was popular in Japan so the Japanese teachers and students knew he was immitating a character and not just being a creeper.

My costume was a sari (sp?)--a formal indian dress-- that one of the girls in the hall lent and dressed me up in.  I've got some picutures of the party somewhere... I'll have to find them and put them in a gallery on here at some point...  After the party, we headed back to the dorm and a few of us just hung out in the 2nd floor lounge.  But yeah... that was pretty much it for my Halloween.  Nothing special, but not boring either.

The much more exciting event was the Daigakusai.  This was a school festival that went on for three days (Friday-Sunday, Nov. 2nd-4th).  There was no class on Friday and the booths started setting up on Thursday evening.  Most of the stands were just students and clubs selling food, but there were some with games, and there were a lot of clubs putting on presentations in classrooms or outside in an open space.  The food was delicious and the people were awesome.  Everyone wanted you to come to their stand so they were very welcoming.  Jen and I went out Friday afternoon for the first time and it wasn't long before we were encircled by a group of Japanese boys with signs begging us to come to their stand.  They were so cute, we couldn't turn them down and I have to admit, their stand's food was one of my favorites.  It was fried ice-cream (dough on the outside, some kind of custardy cream and then the ice-cream in the middle).  Not long after that, we came across a guy holding a sign reading "Free Hugs" in english.  Thinking this was hilarious, Jen decided to take a picture.  They guy thought it was hilarious that she wanted his picture, but quickly agreed.  I stoof off the the side and a guy passing through asked me if I knew what the sign meant.  I'm still not sure what he meant... being that I can obviously understand english.  But whatever.  *laugh*  I think it's something that weird people do at popular trainstations, but no one ever takes them seriously.  Jen and I thought it was funny because we've seen this done at conventions before.  After taking the picture, we set about leaving, but a group of Japanese guys had noticed Jen taking the picture and started chanting for her to hug him.  "Hugu, hugu, hugu, hugu!"  After she hugged him they teasingly chanted for he to kiss him, "kisu, kisu, kisu, kisu!", but laughing we quickly left to explore the rest of the festival.

One of my favorite things about the festival, after that first encounter, was all the college student bands that we got to see.  There was a stage with bands and dancers performing, a live-house club that set up a room to look like a livehouse (actually really convincingly), and the english club even put on a live following the movie they made.  I think that english club was my favorite part of the festival.  The movie the made was hilarious.  It was about a girl that ran into a boy on a bike and instantly fell in love and then went about stalking him.  It was a little hard to understand the english because the movie's background music was so loud, but what we could hear was pretty good and always entertaining.  The girl did fun things like dress up in costumes to disguise herself, and they even pretended like she could warp into places (one of those places being the boys bathroom by mistake).  Anyway... as the story continued, you learned that the boy she bumped into wasn't interested because he was actually gay.  She, not knowing this joined his singing club and did a performance with the club.  After the club's performance, they went to a nomihodai (bar-restaurant), where she finally became aware of him being gay.  This part of the movie was the most hilarious I think.  The boy she liked became aware of her affections and expressed his uncomfortableness to his boyfriend.  After expressing this the boyfriend said:  "You can cry on my muscles", after which, the two boys clung to each other and the girl got the point.  After this, the movie suddenly ended.  The actors of the movie had been sitting behind us OU students during the show.  After everyone stopped clapping, they headed up to the front of the room to do their thank you speeches (all of them being entirely in Japanese).  The only one to say anything in English was the male main character's supposed boyfriend.  The first words to come out of his mouth were: "I'm not gay.  This boy and I are JUST good friends.  I like girls".  I hope he wasn't sincerely worried that we actually thought he was gay, but either way, it was hilarious for him to so directly tell us.

Then... there were all the boys dressed up as girls.  There were maids, school girls, sexy(?) ladies, and more.  Some of the guys looked horrible in dresses, but a lot of them looked absolutely adorable.  I think there might have been a few that looked better in a dress than me.  lol There were also a lot of people dressed up as disney characters.  I took a few pictures, but none of them came out that well. 

Friday's main event was the 8 hour bike race.  That's right, 8 hours.  Don't worry, it's a team of people on one bike, not just one person going the whole time.  On top of the 8 hours, the bike race is also a showcase of how interesting the student teams can make their bikes.  There was a Black Pearl from The Pirates of the Carribbean, a golden dragon fish like the ones found on top of Nagoya castle (and inside was a boy in a Chinese girls dress), a plane, a ramen shop, a black blob, a racecar, and many more.  There were also some more serious riders in actual racing gear.  It's possible that they may have ridden the whole time, I'm not sure...  Anyway, I and the other ryuugakusei had fun wandering around and then dropping by every once in awhile to watch the race for awhile.  Around 8, we went back to the dorm for a rest, but came back at 11:00 to catch the end of the race (it ended at 12:00).  I'm not sure who won, but we got to see the teams cheer on their members and celebrate at the end.

The only bad thing to happen during the daigakusai was that right after the bike race, during the celebration, one of the racers was dropped after being thrown up in the air in celebration.  An ambulance had to come, but he was conscious the whole time, so I'd like to think that it worked out for him alright in the end.  Tai Wei also hurt her foot during the festival.  She had to wear a brace for a week or so, but I think she's all healed now.

After that... I'm not quite sure what I did with the day.  Most likely the hw I had been putting off all weekend.  I wish it could have lasted forever though.  Everyone was so friendly, and it's a nice contrast to the usually silent campus.


Current Location: Procrasti Nation
Current Music: The Babys

 

11:48 am - Rewind and Restart---Kyoto

On October 26 myself and the other ryuugakusei got up early on a Friday morning and trudged down to breakfast.  After sleepily eating what we had time to, we headed over to the front gate of the school to meet some of our sensei's.  Waiting there behind them was the bus designated to take us all the way to Kyoto and back.  I rolled the luggage back filled with Sandra and my stuff to the side and the driver loaded into the side compartment.  After seeing Hercules (the name labeled on my luggage) off safely, I climbed into the bus a secured myself a window seat.  It wasn't long before I had settled myself in and set about starting my nap.  Unfortunately, this plan was put on hold when Ueda-sensei took attendance and then started her speech about our commencing trip.  Being exhausted from a hard week's work and not getting much sleep the night before, I only understood half of her (entirely) Japanese speech, but I made sure I caught the jist of it and then went back to sleep.

Yo-yoing in and out of sleep, it wasn't long before we arrived at our destination: the Kiyomizu Temple.  This first stop on the trip, we explored as a group.  Lead by our ever reliable tourguide, Shimba and his female counterpart, we headed out to the temple.  There, we tried our hands at lifting metal staffs carried by old monks, looked at old artwork, drank from one(or two) of the three springs of water-- love, long life, and knowledge --, wandered up to the love temple, saw the lover's stones (if you can walk from one to the other with you eyes closed, you will have luck in love.  if someone helps you, you will need help finding your love, etc), and basically just looked the place over.  When we were done with that, we set about wandering from one end of the city to the other.  A few weeks earlier, our culture teacher had provided us all with a map of the city and our job was to navigate the city in twos or threes and meet up at a certain famous gate from which we would make our way to the old emperor's palace.  Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we were to walk through the city.  Not all the streets were that wide and there were lots of people with umbrellas, so it was pretty difficult to make our way around all the shops and people and not get lost.  But!  In the end, Jen and I successfully made our way to the large gate.  Along the way, we ate at a pizza shop, stopped at a Japanese-pop idol shop (bought some posters), stopped in a few shops and people watched.  Thinking that it would take longer than it did, we rushed the last part and got to the gate early.  Luckily, we weren't the only ones so we had some classmates to compare experiances with before the rest of our group arrived.  Once everyone had arrived, we headed up the neverending stairway to the old emperor's palace.  There we walked through the a walk-way constructed in such a way that when walked across it made the sound of a nightengale.  By doing this, the castle guard was better equipped to protect itself from attackers (ninja).  We also stepped inside a place of worship and oogled the intricately designed treasures inside of it.

From there, we headed to the ryokan (Japanese style inn) that we would spend the night at.  After getting split up into our rooms we were given the option of going into the public ofuro.  Being tired and a bit nervous about the idea of public bathing, I passed and relaxed with friends until dinner.  Dinner itself was AMAZING!  We all sat on cushions and got a real ryokan meal (there was so much food, we had no hope of eating it all.  There were things I loved and thing I thought were ok, and then there were things I sureptitiously hid under decorative garnishes.  While eating dinner, the members of our group took turns doing karaoke.  It was quite interesting when Jina's (one of the Korean girls) yukata started coming undone in front of everyone and Honma sensei rushed over to help.  But, being a bit tipsy, instead of standing still for sensei she started grinding on her.  I laughed so hard it felt like my stomach was closing in on itself.  After dinner, I and some of the girls gathered our courage and went to try out the ofuro.  With some of the chinese girls in tow to show us what to do, we entered the changing room.  But, to our dismay and amusement, they ditched us and let us to figure it out ourselves.  We did alright figuring out where we had to go, but when we entered the bath room, we were met with some older Japanese women who were very interested in talking to us and wanted to make us feel more at ease about being in the ofuro for the first time.  Unfortunately... they came off a bit more as being creepy, but it was an entertaining creepy none the less.  "ii proportions''  *making the hourglass shape with their hands*  They told us we all had good proportions and the one lady kissed everyone on the hand (but me, we had been talking for awhile so maybe she thought she didn't need to for me.  not that I'm complaining...  lol).  

After the ofuro, I hung out in Laura, Fei, Wu Hang, Ti, and Jen's room.  When I was too tired to stay up any longer, I headed back to my room and prepared for bed.  After brushing my teeth, I crawled into my futon and eventually feel asleep.  The next morning, I woke up at 7 and headed off to breakfast.  We ate in the same large room as dinner, but at staggered paces this time.  After finishing my breakfast, I went back to the room and made sure I had all my things packed up then headed out to the bus.  I left the bag in the room so Sandra could pack her things (and it was her turn to lug it around) but through a misunderstanding, I still had to get off the bus and load it myself.  Once everyone was on the bus, we set about starting the second half of our sightseeing trip.

We stopped at several places.  Unfortunately, I don't remember all the names... but the I do remember one of them.  The Rukuonji Temple.  Here, you can view a tea house coated with gold plating.  It's surrounded by a beautiful lake and on a good day, it reflects perfectly in the water.  We were lucky enough to go on a clear day with little wind.  So, I managed to get a picuture of the building with part of it reflecting in the water.  From there, we headed off to shrine.  This one was red themed like the one in Miyajima though it wasn't by the ocean.  Some of the people in my group saw a Miko, but I just missed seeing her.  I did get a lot of cool pictures though.  The last stop of the day was a famous sweets shop.  Here, we got to walk around and try free samples of everything.  The most famous food item there were the yatsuhashi.  These are triangle shaped dough crepes flavored with cinnamon with red bean in them.  There were uncooked and cooked versions.  Both of them delcious.  There was also some konpeito (like rock candy) and these cinnamon gingersnap like things that were ABSOLUTELY delicious.  If I ever go back there, I am totally getting more of them.

On the ride back to campus, a lot more people slept, but a few of us stayed up and talked about all the thing we had done.  There was also a lot of food sharing and showing of purchased omiyage (gifts).  We arrived back at campus a little before dinner, unpacked and then worked on making ourselves dinner.  The next day (Sunday) I slept in late and worked hard on finishing what homework I could before heading over to my friend Reiko's house that night for dinner.  At about 5, I met Reiko by building 20 and we headed to the parking lot to her car.  From there, she drove us to her house (still within the city... maybe 10-15 minutes away by car), and then I helped prepare some of the food that would go in the nabe we would be eating later.  I met her grandmother, father, and grandfather.  I was pretty nervous, but they were all really nice.  Reiko's dad even called me Lisa-chan (~yes! "living in japan" dream number one: fufilled!).  The nabe was delicious.  Nabe is... well you can put water foods you want in it, usually beef/pork/chicken, bean sprouts, tofu, lettuce, cabbage, onion, mushroom, etc.  After dinner, we ate some persimmon, watched TV and talked.  Around 8, I had to leave because I still had a lot of hw to do.  Before I could leave the house they gave me a ton of gifts to take back to the dorm with me.  Two cute little owl charms, a strawberry charm, and a collection of little bags made by Reiko's grandmother (good for bento boxes or other things).  They also invited me back again.  I love hanging out with Reiko, so I totally plan on doing that.  But... I'll need to take them some kind of cool gift this next time... What to bring what to bring?


Current Location: the past
Current Music: shuffle

 

November 10th, 2007


06:20 pm - mini rant

 Lately, I've really been missing people from back home.  I miss being at OU and there actually being life outside after classes end for the day (Chubu is a commuter school like most colleges in Japan; only freshman boys and sports boys have the option to live in dorms).  I miss having more variety in what I eat.  I'm not sick of rice, but I am sick of ramen/udon.  I miss veggies and fruit the most I think.  With the weather getting colder, I especially miss going out to coffee with friends and family.

Making friends here is... difficult.  Like I mentioned above, Chubu is a commuter college.  So, it's actually a lot harder and costly to hang out with friends after school hours.  I haven't really had an opportunity to master the subway/train system so I am limited yet again by this factor.  Then, there's the fact that only a small portion of Japanese people actually seem interested in making friends with "the gaijin".  Many enjoy the thrill of interacting with us, but past that point they don't have much interest in getting to know us.  Unfortunately, it's not all that often that we're thrown into the company these more outgoing Nihonjin (japanese people).  

Then, there is the experience of being stared at.  

  • It's a 50/50 chance whether or not a small child will be interested in your existance or terrified by it.  Being someone who's always been good with kids, it's an awkward feeling to suddenly be feared by small children.  
  • Japanese youth openly stare at us as we walk by, and I've "shiro" (white) whispered in my direction more than a few times.  Whether this "white" carries a good or bad connotation, I have no idea.  The bank here also accidentally circled "male" on one of my papers (this was corrected), but since then I have been afraid that Japanese people can't tell whether I'm male or female.
  • I swear... Japanese boys are afraid of girls.  They seem to "almost" flirt with other boys more than they do with girls and it's rare to see girls and guys hanging out unless it's in a really big group or they're dating.  In America, guys would be all over making friends with the study abroad girls.  Here, they avoid us like the plague.   A lot of times it seems like the only ones that are brave enough to interact with us foreigner girls are of the "creeper" variety.  Luckily, this seems to be changing a little.  In the beginning the Japanese guys in the dorm wouldn't even sit on the same side of the cafeteria as us.  Now, slowly but surely they are becoming more comfortable with eating by us.  Also, I can't tell you how happy it makes me to be greeted in the hallway by the random Japanese boy (Japanese girls too if there were any in the dorm) .  It's a simple thing, but when people avoid eye contact with you enough it's really refreshing to be looked in the face and greeted.
  • Many of the elderly Japanese try simply to ignore our existance.  I know that Ian had an instance where he tried to ask an older lady about directions and she insistantly ignored him even though it was obvious he was asking for her help (and in Japanese too).

    The only place I haven't had issues interacting with Japanese has been in deparment stores, shops, etc.  They are very patient with my Japanese and try their best to convey what they mean and make sure that they understand what I'm saying. 

When I pause to think about it, my interactions with people here are generally really good experiences.  It's just getting into situations where I actually get to interact with Japanese people that I have trouble getting ahold of.  Oh well, I'll just have to gambaru (try my best) and create those situations.  ^_^


Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: The Pillows

 

October 21st, 2007


01:22 pm - Another week, Another story

So, I left you last time right before Laura's 21st B-Day party.  

The party was a lot of fun.  We managed to keep it a secret from her right up until a hoard of us came down the stairs together and headed outside right before her eyes.  Still, she had no idea that the party was going to happen that night, so we were pretty proud of ourselves.  Laura doesn't drink, so instead of going to a bar for the night, we headed over to the koi pond on campus.  We set up bowls of candles on the tables, Jonathan (Laura's bf/fiance)  and the boys got snacks, and Jonathan brought two ice cream cakes for the celebration.  After we were done with cake, we decided to move the party back to the dorm because some of the girls were cold.

The walk back was fun in itself.  At the beginning of it, Jen swung me around (kinda like crack the whip) and almost hammer threw me into the pond (which I found HILARIOUS)  Then, we all walked back in a mini hoard until Rachel, Kazuya, and I split from the group to go around to the dorm in a different way.  Ian, being silly and playing into an earlier joke, pretended to be a creeper and chased us all the back the the dorm.  I'm surprised none of us fell.  It's not easy running with three people all holding hands.  (<----another thing we've all been having fun with; the Japanese more commonly holding hands between friends).

Back at the dorm, we settled ourselves into the cafeteria.  The lounge had been our aim, but since someone was in there watching TV, we thought it would be odd for us to all head on in.  Instead, we continued to eat the snack from the party (supplemented by extra drinks from Ryan).  We had a lot of fun just talking.  Mrs. Gotou (the lunch lady, not the dorm parent) gave Laura a little charm in honor of her b-day.  Eventually, Sandra and I got tired enough that we headed upstairs.

Then... for the rest of the week:
Classes like normal.  I finally got my bunpo test back (turns out I did a lot better than I thought), though I have yet to get my bunka test back.  And... I have reason to believe this one didn't go as well.  Though, to what degree I'm not sure.  The only really different thing this week has been the repairmen working on the girl's floor.  They've pretty much taken this whole week to work on the pipes, and the air conditioners themselves.  In fact, I suspect that they might still come back a few more days.  The annoying thing about them working is that they block the halls and a lot of the time I can't actually get to my room.  The hallways are pretty narrow and when we come back from class, they always seem to be very occupied with ladders, tarp, and foam.  I could ask them to move, but I always have to go back and forth so much that I feel bad making them move so often.

I have found one of the workers somewhat entertaining though.  He's a younger guy, with the typical Japanese big hairstyle.  He also seems to be very aware of his hair and has acquired a bit of a strut carefully constructed to make his hair move in the air.  Plus... guys aren't typically allowed on the girls floor and we're all foreigners, so he has to be somewhat interested in us.  He reminds me a bit of a younger rooster strutting himself around the floor unsure of whether we notice him or not.  I'm not sure why I found him so entertaining, but I did.

Another thing we did this week was start watching the J-drama Hana Kimi.  It is EXCELLENT!  And, if any of you have ever watched a J-drama with me, you have seen how into it I get.  In fact, you may even have been victim of sudden glompage, excited light beating of the arm, etc.  Several of these episodes were watched while the workers were here.  Being, that I wasn't the only one excited about the show, I think the workers we pretty entertained by our unrestrained cheering and interacting with the show.  ^_^  I know I was.

This weekend, I went to Ena.  This is a resort thing that Chubu owns.  It's actually pretty awesome.  I slept on tatami for the first time and had fun learning what to do with the futons.  I didn't take a community bath yet, but I'm sure I'll work up the courage at some part of my trip.  The whole purpose of this trip was for us to help the Japanese students practice their english.  We didn't actually speak a lot to them, but after the planned activities were over, we got to have free time with them.  I managed to teach some of them Egyptian Rat Screw (which I won both games of), Kings in the Corner, and Annoy your Neighbor.  We also learned a hand game from them.  It seemed kind of familiar... I wonder if we played something like it in elementary school.  If we did, it didn't catch on in popularity.  But, it was actually really fun.  On the bus ride home, we also did a word game.  We play one like it at home, but in Japanese it actually makes a good vocab practice exercise.

The night before, I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning talking to one of the girls in my room.  She's actually from China and wants to be a Japanese teacher back home.  She gave me some advice for practicing my Japanese and invited me to a festival in Kasugai today.  Unfortunately, I had too much hw and was too tired to go, so I had to turn her down.  Magically, I managed to get up at 6:52am with just enough time to get ready for the early morning hike.  It wasn't mandatory, but I really like hiking and didn't want to miss it.

Since the resort was in the mountains, there was a lot of up and down.  One one of the first hills down, I actually spotted a fox.  I wish I had my camera...  But I pointed it out to Ali and she managed to get a picture of it before it ran away.  The rest of the hike was spent with Ali and I running up the log steps and walking inbetween (we couldn't run many of the places because it had rained the day before).  It was a really nice work out and I felt pumped for the rest of the morning.  Breakfast was... ok.  Not something I'd make myself, but interesting to try.  After breakfast, we did another english activity and then spent time on our own with the students.  I went with the group that headed outside and finally somewhat mastered the art of throwing a frisbee.  Next, we headed back inside, played a card game, then had curry for lunch.  After lunch, we talked a bit more with the Chubs and then headed back to school.  I had a scare when I couldn't find my umbrella, but eventually we found it buried beneath some taller ones.  The bus ride home was nice and seemed shorter than the bus ride over.  But isn't that always the way?

Hm... other than that...  We finished up to episode 10 in Hana Kimi when we got back (we had got to ep 8 before we left).  There are only 2 more to watch, but we'll have to watching them online because the show is already over here in Japan.  Then... I went to bed at 7, slept to 3:30, talked with Jen, Shizuko, and Sandra for a bit, at breakfast at 7, then went back to bed at 8, then got up at 11:39 and have been lounging ever since.

Sadly, I've got 3 papers to write (luckily one of them is a revision) and some other work to do.  So... until next time!


Current Location: Hunger city
Current Mood: bouncybouncy
Current Music: Flogging Molly

 

October 12th, 2007


06:06 pm

Alright!  Finally, some time to hash out a decent journal entry!  I've been trying all week, but to no avail.  (;_ ;) *tear*  A lot has happened since I last wrote, so  I may have to do this in installments.  Wow... speaking of distractions, Ali just came by summoning (inviting ^_^) me to dinner.  But!  I am determined to at least get something down.  That way, I can't back out of writing more later tonight.

 Life in the dorm has pretty much gone in the same way it has been.  Wake up, eat breakfast, shower/brush teeth, go to class, come back from class, sometimes nap, homework, dinner, more homework mixed with friendly distraction.  You know, same old same old.  I did get to meet with Machi and Yuka this week, but that happens a little later in my timeline so you'll have to wait to hear more about that.  : ) 

Ack!  Distracted again, and my 5 minute waiting period for Ali is long past.  I'll write more when I'm done with dinner~

Phew~  I'm stuffed, but hopefully not too stuffed.  There will be festivities (someone's birthday) tonight and I don't want to miss out on the goodies.  Let's see... Well, on Friday the 6th, I spent a good amount of time napping.  I still had that stubborn cold, but a good day's rest seemed to finish it off.  Then Saturday I woke up for breakfast and then spent a lazy morning cleaning out my email, showering, and finishing a book.  Then, around 12:30 Jen and I headed down to the bus-stop.  We had meant to leave earlier but Jen got a late start on the day and her clothes were still in the dryer.  What was it we were heading to the bus-stop for you ask?  Chubu's girl lacrosse team of course!  I mean, what else could we possibly be doing with our Saturday?  lol  What makes it even more fitting is that this 3-day weekend was in honor of Sports Day.  So going to see a sports game was probably the best thing we could have done with our weekend.

One of Jen's conversation partners is on the team and had invited a lot of us to go.  My conversation partners were also going and encouraged me to go too.  We planned to meet Akemi and Chica (Jen's convo partner's friends) at 1.  To get to the station, we first had to take a bus, and unfortunately we had no idea what the bus times were.  By shear luck and coincidence, a bus arrived not a minute after we got to the stop.  It was magic I tell you, Magic!  We got to the train station a bit early, but had fun people watching until Chica and Akemi arrived.  Then we bought our train tickets and rode over a couple stops arriving at the lacrosse field.  I think it must have been an away game... because Chubu has sports fields.  But who knows?  Maybe those are just practice fields...
~~Anyways, back to the train ride.  But first...
 Imagine a pickle.  Now picture in your mind's eye, an automated machine was putting this pickle into a jar of vinegar with other pickles.  There's a good amount in there, but still plenty of room to slosh around in.  Then, something goes horribly wrong with the conveyor belt.  The jar fails to move over and the machine, not knowing it is dealing with an already full jar, starts to load another batch of pickles.  Now imagine I am this pickle.
Yes, that's pretty much what my experience was on the train.  It started out fairly full (no where to sit anyway) but with each stop we kept getting more and more people; and no one seemed to be getting off.  Just when I thought we could fit no more, we somehow managed to cram in another 10-15 people.  Needless to say, it was an interesting ride.   
The game itself was, somehow, even better.  We didn't have to pay at all to get in, and they gave us team pamphlets, a canned tea, and noisemakers (two empty drink bottles decorated with tape in the team's colors; one of them containing 10-15 popcorn kernels--to beat together).  I've never seen a lacrosse game, but it wasn't too hard to follow along.  It reminded me a bit of hockey actually with some soccer mixed in.
But the fun doesn't stop there!  For those of you who follow anime, you may have come across series where they show the girl's or boy's team of the same sport going to cheer on the other's team.  Well that's exactly what happened on Saturday.  The ENTIRE guys team stood along the sidelines and cheered the girls on the whole time.  One of the guy lacrosse players lead the crowd in cheers and there was even a halftime-cheerleader show.   At one point of the game, my  conversation partners invited Jen and I to the sidelines and we cheered with them.  It felt a little awkward standing there with a bunch of Japanese youths we didn't know, but I think it was a fun experience for both parties.  (one of the pamphlets I got actually has some of the cheers we shouted.  Some of the cheers were in English, but I didn't actually realize this until I read the booklet).   We won 10-7, took pictures, and then talked with some of the players after the game. 
Next, Chika and Akemi accompanied us back to the train station (the one in the same area as the field), made sure we got to the right waiting area, then bid us adieu.  Jen and I successfully got ourselves back to Jinryo in more than enough time to catch the last bus back to campus.  At this point, we were both pretty hungry (not having had lunch and a small breakfast) so we wandered a bit until we came across a mini-conbini (mini-convenience store).  On our way back to the bus stop, we saw some guys riding on motorbikes (two bike, two guys per bike).  What was hilarious was how the guys were sitting.  In an effort to remain manly, the guys siting in back refused to put their arms around the guy in front of them.  Instead, one crossed his arms in front of him and the other resolutely held onto the back of his seat.  It was pretty cute to see.  (somehow... Japanese men acting manly is still adorable.)

Now, for the rest of Saturday:

  We had Thompson sensei's Sayonara party.  He was returning to the states and so that night we meet at an izekaiya for food and drinks.  It cost more, but Thompson and King got the cost down to 2500 yen a person (like 23 dollars).  Not knowing how to get there, the girls all headed over early.  It was easy enough to find, so we stopped at a nearby cake store and got Thompson a going away present.  We returned to the restaurant 5 minutes before we needed to be there, but headed inside right away in an attempt to not be eaten alive by mosquitos.  The guys must have arrived right after we all got inside because they also claimed to have gotten there 5 minutes before "game time" and stood outside for 5 minutes before calling one of us to find out where we were.  Why no one came in to check the reserved table, I don't know.  
Thompson had to arrive late, so we were given the ok by King-sensei to start without him.  The place was a nomihodai (all you can drink in a certain amount of time) and had pre-ordered a bunch of food.  I'm still not sure what all I ate, but it was fun nonetheless.  It wasn't long before Thompson-sensei arrived.  We gave him the gift, the boys scowled at our thoughtfulness, and Thompson thanked us for the gift.  The food didn't come all at once, but instead came one dish at a time.  The only downside was how slow they were about bringing you a new drink.  Luckily, only a few of the foods were a bit spicy.  While we ate, Thompson wanderd around and talked to everyone.  He even showed me a picture of the family that I may be living with when we go to Iwate for our two week homestay.  I think this particular family puts on a musical festival, so I may get to take part in that.  Nothing's written in stone though, so I might still get placed with another family.  But, after hearing about a few of the other families, I doubt I'll be disappointed whichever house he put me in.

After the izekaiya, we actually convinced Thompson to go to karaoke with us.  So... about 20 of us got a big room at and sang our lungs out.  I'm not going to lie, it was pretty awesome watching King-sensei Japanese-song-duel with a past OU student and seeing Thompson doing air-guitar along to Eye of the Tiger.  *shakes head smiling at the memory*  Yup, that had to be one of the best parts of the night.  Also, when we were in the izekaiya, there was a group of 4 Japanese youths who we ended up inviting to come with us to karaoke.  I didn't get to talk with them much, but some of the other kids did.

Sunday... I woke up around 7:15 without prompting and decided that was far too early, so I forced myself back asleep.  I got up the second and final time around 10:30, did some homework, laundry, shopping, etc.  If I am remembering correctly, we really didn't do much on Sunday.  I think I worked hard to get most of my (mass amount of) homework done so I wouldn't have to cram it in on Monday.  Later in the night, Laura, Sandra, Jen, and I walked to the Circle K, bought some yummies for dinner and made it back in time to watch The Princess Bride (because Becca, the australian, had never seen it before) with everyone.  After that movie, we sat around a bit, talked and then decided to watch Labyrinth.  I had never seen it before, and was intrigued to learn that it was a Jim Henson movie.  Sadly, I didn't much care for the movie, but I was happy to have seen it at least one.

The next morning at about 7:51, Goto-san's voice came on over the PA system announcing that even though it was a holiday (the actual sports day) there would still be breakfast.  However, my plan was to go to breakfast at 8, so I figured I could sleep for a few more minutes.  BIG mistake!  I woke up a second time, this time with only 5 minutes of breakfast time left.  I figured the lunch ladies would have started cleaning things up already, so I didn't make an effort to go down there.  They're so nice that they would have started pulling out all the food again, and I was too tired to have the energy to consider doing that to them.  Unfortunately for me, I was so hungry that I couldn't fall back asleep, despite how tired I was.  Sandra, however had no problem going back to sleep.  Despite my hunger, I didn't end up eating anything until about...3.  Dinner was delicious curry (perhaps made even more delectable by my abused appetite).

The rest of the night was dedicated to homework.  I finished fairly early, but ended up getting into a conversation with Laura (who looked sad)--and later Sandra and Jen were added to the mix.  We ended up talking until about 3 something in the morning, leaving us all exhausted the next day in class.  Luckily, I had just enough energy to get through class.  We had a kanji quiz, and I think I managed at least an 8.5/10.

The rest of the week was mostly spent going to class and attempting to catch up on sleep.  On Tuesday and Wednesday I went to English Table.  On Wednesday, I took my first real test.  I studied like crazy the night before... and I think it went ok, but I haven't gotten the test back, so I'm not sure.  Thursday, I met with Machi and Yuka for lunch.  I was a bit late because Ueda-sensei kept us late.  Eating with both of them was really fun.  I can't wait until I get to hang out with them outside of campus.

Today, the only class we had was culture class.  This week, we all went to seto.  This means, we all went to an earthenware museum and then tried out talent out on making our own pottery.   My bowl looks pretty... bleh.  But it resembles a bowl and I believe it will make a decent container for soup and cereal, so I'm pretty happy with it.  To my great dismay, they gave us another homework paper for this weekend.  I now have 4 papers to write, two quizzes to study for, and two worksheets to do.  (@_@)  My head is spinning.  After we got back from the trip, I made a quick, but needed trip to the grocery store.  I spent about 43 dollars on food alone... but at least I won't go hungry this weekend.  Other than the party tonight, I don't really have much planned.  In fact, I've decided that tonight will be a night of relaxation.  After all, the weekend hasn't really started and it won't do me any good to tire myself out too early.

Well, that was my week.  Hopefully, I'll find some time this weekend to upload my Miyajima pictures (and maybe even some of the lacrosse game).  Don't get your hopes up though... there's a good chance I might O.D. on sakubun (composition) homework alone.

 

October 4th, 2007


07:19 pm

Yesterday, a dream held by countless women around the world, was fufilled.  I met:  Mr. Delicious.

No seriously, his last name is oishii which means delicious in Japanese.  How awesome is that?  And what's better is he was wearing a shirt with a badge stiched on that read "try deliciousness* (in english) and seemed completely unaware of it.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~contented sigh~  Ah, the glories of Japan.  The other amusing thing I came across awhile ago happened during lunch-time.  I went to the convenient store (con-bini for short) and got a sandwich.  Upon my return to my lunch table I discovered the sandwich package was advertising it as "Home Made Sand".  Other happy intances of engrish have sprinkled themselves through my stay here so far.   I'm seriously thinking of starting a gallery on here dedicated soley to Engrish and Nihonglish.  What do you think?

For those of you wondering, I'm still sick but am looking forward to the 3-day weekend to get some R&R.    Tomorrow shouldn't be bad at all.  I just have one class (if you'd call it that): Bunka or culture class.  This week we're learning about tea ceremony, or chado.  Supposedly, the Chubu tea house, or chashitsu, is very beautiful.  I kinda wish I could take pictures for you all, but I don't think that idea would sit too well with the university.  The last thing I need is some adorable old Japanese lady whiping out a katana, screaming "There can be only one!" and cutting my camera in two.  --disclaimer: I make this generalization in jest

I got a letter from my Grandma today.  She put an envelope inside the envelope, so now all I need is some stamps.   Hm... postal procrastination is not good on my part.  I promise, I will get my postcards and letters out soon!  I just have to figure out where I can get some stamps (...and what side of the postcard I can write on).  Until next time!


 

October 2nd, 2007


10:31 pm - Internet Purgatory
INTERNETS!!!!  Why do you fail me so?!

You'd think that Japan, being as technologically advanced as it is, would have wireless everywhere let-alone stable internet.  But nooooOooo, not Chubu.  Here, the internet seems selective about when and to whom it grants its wavering bounty.  In a 10 minute period alone, I was signed in and out of the internet at least 10 times (probably more).  Poor Tim, all he got from me was "fuck the internets!" in various forms.  Eventually, I gave up and moved onto online journaling.  At least here I can write what I want and then submit it when I actually have internet access.

Classes were better today- understanding-wise -.  However... my love for opening umbrellas inside seems to have caught up with me---> I forgot my listening book and my cellphone went off in class.  Then yakisoba, the one Japanese meal I have discovered I do NOT like, invaded both my lunch and dinner.  A food so diabolical, I suspect it being responsible for my miso katsu (deliciousness that also came in the bento) sticking to the top of the container.  In an attempt to unstick my miso katsu, I ended up dumping half of it on the ground  :( leaving me with cabbage, lots of yakisoba noodles, and two pieces of katsu to eat.  Luckily, it seems the maker of the bento ninja'd some rice under my cabbage.  -^_^-  I'm still amazed that I have yet to grow sick of rice.  

*pauses to appreciate the Spice Girls: Spice Up Your Life which just came up on my shuffle*

Phew!!!!  Someone just annihilated a pot of potatoes in the kitchen.  Guhhhhh!!!  The smell!

On that note, Oyasumi!
Current Location: Internet Limbo- connected, yet not
Current Music: Dr, Evil by They Might Be Giants

 

October 1st, 2007


11:28 pm - bleh....
Today was... long.  

Woke up early (double-checking that my neighbor was awake in the case of early morning alarm clock defiance), ate breakfast (putting leftovers into a tupperware for later), toke a shower, rushed to turn in my homework for the day, then headed to class.  So far, the day had been much like any other.  However, today I took two new classes for the first time so I was a little bit excited.  Much to my dismay these two classes seem to be the hardest to understand and made me feel like I really didn't belong in Japan at all.  But let's stay positive!  Maybe it'll get better in the future...   If not, I can always perfect the Japanese ability of saying yes when I really mean no.  "Wakarimashita?"  *nods nods*  "Hai Hai."  ~inner dialogue:  I have no idea what you are saying you frustrating but incredibly adorable Japanese lady!~

Other things that happened today...  *thinks back*  
I met with my two conversation partners for our weekly meeting.  Both of them are named Miki, which has me in the habit of referring to them as "My Miki-s".  Like 3/4's of the Japanese population, they are adorable and pretty much speak only Japanese with a spattering of english words.  But once again, universal hand gestures have managed to save the day!  

After classes (about 3), I was feeling pretty lousy (sore throat from this morning, slight fever, and exhaustion) so I decided to take a nap.  When I woke up, it didn't feel like it helped much, but I think overall it was better than not taking a nap at all.

After dinner, some of the girls and I got together to go over kanji for our quiz tomorrow.  At one point, we even ended up playing kanji twister which was pretty damn sweet~.  Still feeling a bit out of it, I headed back to the room before too long where Sandra was nice enough to give me some medicine.  She had been suffering from a sore throat when we arrived here and had been instructed to given this powdered medicine.  It seems to be helping but oddly enough, I'm still aware that my throat hurts.  No matter, as long as I don't feel feverish I'm happy.   ^_^

There's today in a nutshell, now back to pretending I know what all these kanji mean.
Current Location: kanji hell
Current Mood: sicksick
Current Music: Nightmare Before Christmas

 

September 30th, 2007


01:57 am - Catch-up!
Alright!  So in my last entry, I let you know how my trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima went (make sure to check the Hiroshima pictures out again, I added some more.  And, I decided to make a seperate gallery for Miyajima~but have not yet posted this one).  This time, I'd like to talk about my dorm, everyday life, and maybe even a little bit about my classes.

The dorm is 4 stories high.  The first floor is for the male study abroad students.  The second and third are for some of Chubu's freshmen males and sports players.  The forth floor is for the female study abroad students.  We have a glass door blocking not qualified people from the floor.  Our room keys work both for this door and our own room.  The keys themselves look really different.  (see corresponding gallery--not yet made).  The 4th floor has 5 common rooms: the showers, sinks/laundry room, toilets, common lounge, common storage/lounge.  There are about... 4 different fridges so that all the girls can keep stuff.  The common lounge and other lounge both have a TV, but the main one has several couches and 3 computers too.  The laundry room/sink room has 3 sets of machines, an ironing board and utility sink. 

When you enter my room, it's about 10 feet wide and 18 feet long.  Now imagine that space with a bunk bed, a wall of closets, desks, etc.  That leaves you like...3 feet wide of walking space.  And then the closet door opens into that space.  But, the ceiling is high, so you can comfortably sit on the top bunk with no worries of hitting your head.  What's a little annoying about the beds is they have a siding (even on the bottom bunk) so you have to climb over it to get into bed.  I think I'm finally getting used to climbing up on my narrow ladder and swinging myself up into bed.  lol  But I've still got a few bruises to prove how awkward it is.

On the second floor, we have a common lounge that all the people in the building can use.  It's also the only common room for both guys and girls and is attached to the building's cafeteria.  Now the cafeteria is pretty simple.  There's about four long tables with chairs on either side, and at the one end of the room there is a rolling divider seperating us from the (rest of) the sports guys.  The cafeteria itself is like a common room for two conjoining buildings, and the rolling divider gives us a little privacy from the other building should either building's occupants want it.  

We get two meals a day Monday-Friday (breakfast and dinner) and only breakfast on Saturday.  All other meals, we have to make or purchase ourselves.  Many, almost all of Chubu's students commute to school.  So, there are other cafeterias on campus open during lunch time for everyone's use where you can purchase meals.  Now, back to the cafeteria in my dorm:  For breakfast (8-9), on MWF we have a choice between Western (hardboiled egg, cabbage salad, banana, toast and marmalade, and coffee and/or water) and Japanese (miso soup, rice with choice of seasoning, eggs and sausage, and tea/water).  For dinner(6-8), we get a set meal that varies daily.  The tricky part about meals is they come as a set, you are expected to take all parts of it and eat all of it.  The lunch-ladies start fussing over you like worried hens if you don't eat it all.  Oh!  and interesting fact: it is rude to eat and walk.  So all of you late-starters like me, you have no hope of getting breakfast on the go.

Chubu is not based in a city, but there are lots of little restaurants and convenience stores once you get off campus.  My biggest adjustment is going to the grocery store frequently.  It seems like I'm always heading over to Valor.  Luckily, the Goto-sans have a couple bikes we can borrow.  Sadly, nothing seems to come in bulk and many foods you could easily get in America can't be found or are found in small expensive amounts.

Classes are interesting.  Everyday, I have to turn in my hw that is due that day on the second floor of my class building before 9:30 or I get docked points.  Then, I head up to the 9th floor to room C where all of my classes take place.  My teachers are the ones that come to me, instead of me going to and from rooms.  It's actually pretty nice.  The only downside to days with class is that everyone eats lunch at the same time, so it's really REALLY busy.  But, it is something that I'll get used to I suppose.  

Classes just started, so I don't have much to say about them just yet.  (other than the fact that they're completely in Japanese and promise to be infuriating and taxing at some points) 
Current Location: dorm room
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Current Music: anime mix

 

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