Ohio Gozaiymas! Watashi wa Kyudai no daigaku de des. Watashi wa peko-peko des.
- Good morning! I am at Kyudai Campus. I am hungry.
Hello from Japan! So, like many of my generation, I decided to start an online blog to keep people posted on life in Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan, Asia (though some would debate this), the World.
Here is a quick recap on my first month in Japan:
1) Orientation in the mountains of Aso - meeting new people, seeing beautiful countryside, learning about the year to come, and doing crazy things like Onsen
2) Getting adjusted to life in Japan-
a) A lot of the ways people do things in Japan make a lot more sense. For example, when you go to a grocery store, you bag your own groceries. They give you a seperate table to do it. In addition to crosswalks, they also have mini-bridges that you can use to cross busy streets. In coffee shops, of which there are a wonderful amount, they give you an actually mug to drink from. Take that starbucks!
b) Meeting people from different cultures- I have gotten to know people from Japan, Korea, China, Germany, France, Sweden, Morrocco, Taiwan, Belgium, Guatemala, and people from diverse states such as Georgia, Washington State, and Michigan. This has resulted in some awkward moments, but for the most part it has been great catching glimpses of different cultural perspectives. For example, the students tend to eat together a lot, and everyone will bring something to share. In this way, I have sampled Kiimichi, Pig Intestines (surprisingly tasty), Udon (noodles with various items), and more items than I can count. Another fun aspect is the different things that get lost in translation. Sarcasm is most definitely one of them. One of my friends text messaged a guy that she needed him to carry her home from Karate Practice. He texted her to ask if she was serious. When she said that she was (of course still being sarcastic), she got a phone call 20 minutes later from the guy saying that he was on the bus to help her. This is one of the possibly cutest stories I have heard yet.
c) Immersing myself in a different language. I am learning so much more quickly here than I would back in the United States. Every day gives me an opportunity to practice my Japanese, and I am very proud of myself when I can read the street signs (for example- I could understand a sign that said Yakkatori, which is cooked chicken). I am trying to study three hours every day, although this does not always work out. Still, its a good goal, and its exciting to be able to say things like 'I am going to karate practice tommorow. There is a cute guy at Karate practice.'
d) Exploring- every day is an adventure. In that way, my illiteracy helps the exociticism. Every store is exciting because I will go in and really not know what I am going to find. Japan is a wonderful mix of old and new, ultra modern and ancient- sometimes with beautiful and sometimes with hideous results. Thus, I will walk past ugly concrete buildings, beautiful tiled homes, abandoned fields and shrines, and coy rivers that also have abandoned bicycles inhabiting their murky depths. I have also discovered many things about myself. For example, I've discovered that I really do love Texas. It took me going halfway across the world to realize how much I miss burritos, Keep Houston Ugly jokes, listening to 'She thinks my tractor's Sexy', Thai food everywhere, and of course, Taco Cabana.
a) Homesickness- I miss all my friends and family, and I am sad when I think about all the extended family I won't get a chance to see for so long. I miss Rice life (Jones!, the Commons, study breaks, working in Student Activities, science jokes, the shuttle, TC) and literature classes. I also just miss walking into people and being like 'hey, I know you from that class two years ago!'
b) Sickness- All exchange students get ill at some point. Food here gives me weird allergic reactions. I currently have these bumps. I don't know how I got them...
c) Being a Gaijun- being obviously foriegn has its disadvantages. On the one hand, if you stand around looking confused, people will generally help you. On the other hand, its hard getting mail that I can't understand. I think some of it is important, but I can't say.
b) There is no good cheese here. NONE.
3) Have gone to see different shrines- including a shrine dedicated entirely to WWII (awkward).
4) Been downtown to Tenjin- lots of different stores, interesting buildings, getting lost going around the block.
5) Went on a four hour walk through my neighborhood- beautiful old roofs, strange signs (hairport, boa fun, Freak hair among others), hills, wildflowers, concrete.
6) Went to the battlements that the Japanese built to keep out the mongols.
7) and so much more...
On Next Week's Episode: Going to a buddhist temple, Sumo stable, and adventures with bicycles...
Keep in touch, and have a great week! Much love to all!