HEY OMG guess what I’m writing a blog post…. Whoa that’s nuts.

 

I have been here for what seems like forever, and everything else I knew seems like a past life. My Japanese is still bad, but I think I could probably convince people otherwise. Maybe even some Japanese people for a few sentences, until they start speaking too fast and too informal! Haha. I’ve been dating a girl for about a month now, her name is Ayaka, and she’s pretty amazing.

So recently, I have been doing a few great amazing things mixed in with a bunch of daily life. I feel like I am on one long vacation, even though I should change that mindset, and study like I am in school. It just makes me think kids who can go to school without having a job honestly are living the life.  I finally bought a commuter pass to Kyoto, so now I can go out there whenever I want, and I don’t need to go for long periods of time for the trip to be worthwhile. So basically 4-5 nights a week I just head out there, and meet Ayaka for a bit.

This past weekend we had a long weekend and although I didn’t end up going to Hiroshima this weekend I intend to go very soon on a normal weekend. From everyone who went it sounds like a life changing experience and one that makes everything we know about it so off. Anyways, I did end up going to Kobe, which is about 2 hours away from where I am living on a train. It was absolutely beautiful, and it was just Ayaka, and I so it was one of those trips I am sure I will remember for a long time. There was great shopping and great restaurants, and a beautiful port to look out at. I think I might try to go back when it is the more nightlife experience; there are still a few more things there that I want to experience and see.  I can honestly say that right now I am more happy than I can ever remember being, often times I just find myself just full of energy, and anytime I go for a walk and just look at the world around me I get excited. Haha It’s so stupid, but hey, I’m not fighting it.

The other night I went with a few friends, and I found a Mexican restaurant because I can’t tell you the things I would do for an extra Barbacoa, extra cheese, with the hottest hot sauce burrito from Chipotle…. Anyways we found a place in Kyoto, and although it was close enough to tie off the craving for a night, I want more and I wasn’t completely satisfied. I hear there are a few more restaurants in the Osaka area, and I will have to see if they live up to the amazingness of chipotle. Now on the food list of things I need to eat when I get back; Chipotle, Pizza, and Im sure there are other things but they might remind most people of what a pregnant womens cravings, hahaha.

I can also say that, I am happy that there is something back home to look forward to other than the obvious ability to see my family again, and that is my apartment and living with my best friend! That thought is definitely keeping me okay about going back to the states. I never thought I would go somewhere that would make me question everything I thought, but Japan managed to do it rather quickly.

Everything else here is just good friends and good times that are full of random stories that arent coming to me I guess at the moment. But if I think of them I will try to write them down.

 

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Stranded

It has been so long since I have wrote in this blog, and a lot has happened. I guess the main reason for not writing has been I’m not sure what I want and don’t want to publish and what not.  So I’ll take some time to try to update and recap what has been going on.

Yesterday marked the 4-week mark, and it’s unbelievable to really think about. I know there are some moments I have where I stop and think… “I live in Japan” and then there are other moments where I think,” Man I just want to go to my home (apartment) and just sit in my chair.” Those latter moments happen, but not as often as they used to, I love being here, and in honesty it would be so easy to live here forever.  My Japanese may, or may not be getting better, it is way too hard to tell, mainly due to the fact that it is still not where I’d like it to be. By the end of this trip I am hoping that my Japanese is noticeably better, so I suppose we will just have to find out.

My Japanese classes and other classes for that matter, are really working out, and although it’s 5 days a week its still okay. The language classes are fairly intense; we have done over half a semester, maybe 3/4 ‘s worth of Eastern Michigan University Japanese in 3 weeks of class. I think it is almost manageable, and I know I am learning things, so hopefully I can keep up with everything. Other than my Japanese courses I am taking an International Economics class, which has so far been strictly review of Macro, so I’m a bit bored. On top of the economics course, I am also taking this amazingly interesting intro to Criminal Law/justice course. My teacher is extremely experienced and a bit theatrical, so it’s almost an always-interesting lesson. The side focus of this entire trip is that I need to stay in the 3.7 GPA range, otherwise I will get home with a bitter taste in my mouth I think.

In other news, I’m still meeting great people, and it is extremely easy to do so, I’m just able to be whoever I want to be, even if it is slightly different than I am at home, I enjoy it. I go out quite regularly, and thus the lack of posts, due to lack of interesting adventures and vacation like trips. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of Karaoke, bars, izakaya, trips to Kyoto, and repeat! I have some pictures I’ll be uploading from the last week or so, but in reality it has just been like hanging out with people in the states…But in Japanese. I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out in Kyoto this past week, and I’ve loved every minute of it! It’s so cool to think about, I’ve always wanted to go to Kyoto every since I was a kid, and now…It’s not even a big deal to be there! I’ve gone three times in the past week, which leads me to my next point: I need a commuter pass. Although it is not expensive for a one time trip necessarily, but three times in one week has landed me a 3,000 Yen bill.  That’s somewhere in the ballpark of 35 dollars for transportation alone, so maybe Friday I will by a pass. I’ve heard the passes are maybe 4000 a month, but that is way cheaper than what I will end up paying if I don’t buy it. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Ayaka, who is showing me all sorts of fun places to hang out at, and helping me find a less touristy Japan.

I’ve been losing weight like crazy, and I suppose that’s okay, although I think I’d rather be bulking up. For now though I’m okay, I’ve dropped to 66kg, and in pounds I am at 145, down 15 pounds.  I’ve been running a whole lot, sometimes I run 8 miles, I walk at least 5 miles everyday if I do almost nothing at all, and I go to the gym regularly. I’ve been messing around with boxing and I’m actually really enjoying it. Maybe if I get big enough, or good enough, I’ll find a gym back at home to continue working with it.

So that’s the roundabout recap of what has been going on, and now to the fun adventure of which was last night.

Last night I headed out to Kyoto to meet Ayaka around 8:30 to go chat and head to a bar, like we usually do. It was a great night, she had to go job hunting, so she was in a Business suit and asked me to dress up so she wasn’t over dressed.  So I headed out in shirt and tie, and we had a great conversation. It’s so fun to talk to her, our language barrier is very thin, and honestly I know it is mostly English, but I sometimes wonder if other people can understand what we say. I know that it is mixed, but I don’t know if it is so little that someone could work around the little Japanese spoken. Sometimes I actually speak Japanese, but usually it takes a drink or two for me to feel comfortable enough.

So after we left the bar we went for a walk down to the Kamogawa River, and just talked. I think if the language barrier is correct, we could see Venus, I’m not quite sure if that is right. She told me you cannot see Mars from Japan, but you can see Venus, so who knows. Overall the night was nice, and I was supposed to catch the last train out at 12:40. TURNS out the last train was at 12:24, and so I missed the train, and I had already said goodnight. Well the night before Ayaka had to pull an all nighter, and so when she got home, which coincidentally was around the same time I realized I missed the train, she had passed out. I never got a hold of her, and so stuck in Kyoto alone I was.

When it first happened I was…perhaps a bit defeated? I’m not sure what the right word is, but I suppose that’s not that important. Nevertheless, it turned around, and in retrospect it may be one of the best things that has happened to me. It’s hard to try to find reality while you’re here, it’s so surreal, and EVERYTHING is different. Yet, four hours, in a big famous city, all alone, in the middle of night, next to a beautiful river, and famous bridge will eventually slow you down. I realized that I love it here, and I love everything that got me here, which has been slowly starting for a very long time. Even if you look at the most basic start of why and how I got here, it goes back to at least 2006/2008. I don’t believe things happen for a reason, unless the reason is myself, or what I want. Everything you do, whether, it is the smallest decision or major decisions that most people think are the life changing ones. Everything you do will change the experiences you have which effect how you decide to move on from there, and what you do with those major choices. I was thinking last night, that at this current moment, life has given me some many different paths that I chose to live with. I can go home, I can study my ass off, I can go to law school, maybe I’ll make it into a big firm, maybe I’ll make a lot of money, and I think…I will be happy. I could also go home, study Japanese more seriously and live here. It would be easy, it would be fun, and it is completely possible, but I’m not sure, and I never had the intention that this is what I wanted. I suppose that’s not really the point though.

The point is that I’ve realized how easy it is to change everything, to make a change, to do whatever you want, whenever you want. Nothing stops you from what you want. Of course there will be things that affect that decision like family, and friends, previous plans, but the truth is, anyone can do anything. It is unbelievable what the feeling of such power is like, and maybe it took a beautiful river or a quite night, or just the slow pace of Japan. Nevertheless, I am happy to have found some reality.

Now obviously I’m not intending to live here, but I know I could. I do love it here, but it’s just a notion.

All this being said hopefully I’ve recapped enough for me to look back on and for those I haven’t talked to know what is going on.

Update and weekend

So for anyone who usually reads my blog, I am sorry I haven’t wrote anything in quite some time. I haven’t really been doing anything note worthy this week, for the most part it has been a lot of studying just trying to jump a level in my writing class. The only thing that happened this week, probably in a result to being very dedicated to studying was that part of me has realized that this is my temporary home. I know that when I go out and say I want to go home, I mean the place where I am sitting now, and when I think about tomorrow I know it will be in a land I don’t quite understand. I guess, quite, doesn’t really cut it, its more of a place where I will be consecutively confused, but that’s okay. For the most part I am used to the fact that when I see a sign, 9 times out of 10 it is in kanji. I also get that anything I can possibly try to relate to America here is ass backwards. It took sometime to be used to something that is so different than anything I have experienced, but I suppose it never really got to me in a negative way, just a lot to take in. I would be lying if I said I don’t miss everything about America, my family, friends, places, food, and everything that makes it home. Yet now I would also be lying if I said I didn’t love it here, and that the things that make me want to go back have nothing to do with this country but just what I have to give up to be here. This morning was when I had this all kind of come together, a little serious but I’m glad I did. On a happier note…THE WEEKEND So yesterday we were sitting at the University in something that they call the Gaijin Fishbowl. This is essentially a big common lounge in the Center For International Education building (CIE) where there is huge glass windows looking into the main hall for walls. Naturally because it is in the CIE, there are mostly Gaijin, or foreigners there, and the windows thus make it a fish bowl, gaijin fishbowl was thus created. I usually head there in between classes or just to meet up with people because the lounge is always full, and it’s a pretty cool place. So I was sitting there yesterday, and I was hanging out with a fairly big group of people, when we meet a couple more people, for simplicity I will just say they’re names where all Ayaka (which is only slightly not true). I was supposed to go to Kayo’s house, a friend who went to EMU last year but is a Kansai student, for a party that night. I ended up only going over to hang out with that group for only a few hours before heading back to the seminar houses to go clubbing with Ayaka, Ayaka, and Andrew. So after I went out to eat with Kayo and a lot of Eastern friends, I took off with Andrew to the train station, and Kyoto nightlife was our destination. Like previously we caught the last train out, and meet with Ayaka on the train and met the other Ayaka in Kyoto at the station. When we got there, we went to the riverside, which was quite awesome at night! The river was quite wide, maybe something you would see in a picture if you saw one of Kyoto, I know it’s a famous river, but I have to honest and say I forgot the name…ha-ha. Regardless we went to the convenience store and grabbed a few drinks, headed to the riverside with everyone else, and threw back a few drinks. In Japan this is usually a huge taboo, but from what I gathered, there are a few choice locations in big cities where outside almost becomes like a bar. Best times going out have involved some key locations for programming before heading to the clubs. Ayaka, who lives right near the station, seemed to know a LOT of people, so we chatted up and hung out for a short while. One of the coolest parts was that last night I almost strictly spoke Japanese, which happens when I drink. I was told it was crazy from Andrew, but I’m not sure how good my Japanese was, I could just understand it and had no fear in being completely wrong when I spoke. Either way, afterwards we headed to the club, danced for a bit, enjoyed the nightlife and luckily Ayaka let the three of us crash at her apartment so we didn’t have to stay up and wait for the first train! Overall it was a great night, and a great reward for studying all week. THUS I am just getting up now at 7:15 at night. Anyway Ill try to write more often, but that’s in hopes of finding some more good things to do, which may have to wait a bit longer before I finish studying for tests.

Osaka

Once again, I found myself in no state to write an entry last night; then again, I didn’t leave until 10:30 at night. It was my friend Lilly’s birthday and so we headed to the club in Osaka, which I had been at earlier for sightseeing. I’m not going to go into excessive detail about the club, but I’ll start by saying that Japanese clubs blow US clubs out of the water. We were about to get to this park where all the locals were “pre-gaming” and drinking while just having a good time, and not even enter the club until around 1:30. The clubs here stay open until 5 in the morning! We danced; I drank, had a good time, and even made it into the VIP there. I’ll leave my club experience at that, but note that if you have the opportunity to hit a club in Japan, do it! Catch the last train out at 10 and catch the first one in around 5 in the morning.

I got home this morning around 8am and had to be up at 10 for a bit to officially check into my seminar house. It was a right old good time have to get up after that. It was literally awful, and I had a slight hangover when I first woke up. I didn’t stay up for long though; I went back to bed until I had to be up at 2 to meet with my friend Arisa. who graciously moved our meeting time away from 12 to 3! When I woke up, I was shinning and no remnant from the night prior, and I was excited to hit the town yet again and enjoy Japan. Arisa took me to a mall about 30 minutes away from where I am staying, I am fairly sure it was technically still Hirakata, but it was so different than any mall we have in the states. Here the malls are not long, they are tall, this mall was 5 stories high, and maybe a third of what the width of what American ones are. Definitely a cool experience, and I had a good time going out with a good friend that I have made. Afterwards, we headed back to the Seminar house, and relaxed for a bit.

Later I met up with Andrew and Hassan while I was still hanging out with Arisa, and we headed to this amazing ramen joint called Shisen ramen! It costs 300 Yen or approximately 3.50 in dollars for a huge bowl of amazing food without a ridiculous sticker price. It is one of those authentic places that you might think of when you think of a little ramen shop, not quite completely outside, but still pretty sweet. It was my second time there in two days. In fact I forgot to eat so it was two consecutive meals in a row, dinner both nights. No regrets there at all, I’m sure I’ll find myself there at least once a week. No hassle of cooking and a super cheap price for food that destroys any ramen I could make.

I ended up walking my friend Arisa back home after ramen, she lives super close to the train station, which is about 20-45 minutes away depending on speed. After we waked back I decided to attempt to take some night pictures, and just enjoy walking around a familiar path and just let my mind wander. I’ve realized that the culture shock that I have gotten isn’t very intense or I suppose maybe what I was expecting? I just feel like everything here is about as different as it possibly could be from America, and maybe its exhausting to just break down so many preconceived notions that I have developed over the years. Or perhaps I am just missing the simple comforts of having my own place at the end of the night, or the ability to truly be picky about who I finish my days off with to relax. I don’t feel as if I am lost in this huge world, or that I myself have changed. I know that everything around me has changed, but I feel the same, perhaps nothing more than a new perspective on things that always seem to occupy my mind. Regardless, the walk was relaxing, and I suppose to a certain extent profound in a few ways. For starters, I’m in another country, on the other side of the world, and maybe, just maybe, that sank in even more tonight. I reckon that every deals with this, and it is just part of the experience, no? I really am enjoying it here, and it seems like everyday is a new adventure, with new and exciting friends. Everyday seems to be filled with this energy, this lingering though that anything could really happen. Honestly though, it would be incredibly easy to get lost and instead of a simple day of shopping in a nearby town, I could end up trying to read some sign in kanji I have never seen before. It’s refreshing to think about breaking from the norm and everyday routine.

For the most part life is extremely good, it is just at moments, when things slow down, as they do when I begin to write or walk, that I begin to feel as if things are a bit more complicated than the surface shows. Either way tomorrow should be fairly uneventful, which honestly is exciting in it! I need a break from the 10 miles of walking in 90-100 degree weather, and just a mental break from the mind-boggling language barriers.

Until next time.

update!

It’s been a while since I have written anything in here, or at least it seems like it has been. Hopefully I can remember enough to be descriptive to my usual standards…suppose I’ll find out, no?

I’ll start with yesterday, it was the first time since being here that I was able to dress up in some nice clothes. Despite the heat, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to look nice. I’m weird, and I wonder if I’ll always be this way, but for now I will enjoy it! Regardless it was a lot of fun, they day started off well, we headed to some mandatory informative orientation stuff that was rather boring. After we finished the intensely boring stuff however, we got to go to the opening ceremony, which was the whole reason we dressed formally. There were a lot of important people that they had show up to this ceremony, which of course made us feel part of something rather big. It was as if, just being accepted and arriving in the country was a feat already, maybe I had forgotten that…I’m living in Japan. Ha, that’s crazy to really think about, but maybe it really is a feat. We heard an ambassador from the United States, as well as one from Australia, and as a side note here, I will mention that the Australia ambassador may have been one of the most profound and well spoken people I have heard in my life. After numerous other important people spoke fro roughly an hour, we headed to an amazing luncheon after, full of Japanese cuisine that was mind blowing! Some amazing, some…well definitely different. For those of you who know how picky I am, you mind would explode at some of the things that I have eaten since being in this country. Fried Octopus (takoyaki…I think that’s the name) I’ve had fish eggs, crazy sushi, radish, spicy food, onions (which I like in food now) and those are just what I can think of off the top of my head.

I met some more friends, Miho, who I talked to before I came, and her friend Arisa. They are both super cool and a bunch of fun to hang out with, and I have been now for the past two nights and days. Recently I have been spending a lot of time with a fairly big group of people: Dana, Tim, Jess, Andrew, Chiharu, Shizuka, Megumi, Arisa, Miho, Joe, Jake, Dave, Hassan, Dennis, and some more, sorry if I forgot you. It is so awesome to have a huge group of people to hang out with, and it seems like there is always something to do. The fact that I was an RA makes it extremely easy, I think to meet people. I feel like I know everyone in my building, or at least very close to. So anyway with the group that I just mentioned, we ended up at Karaoke Room, just outside the Hirakata train station, and spent about 10 dollars for 5 hours for a private karaoke room! It was awesome, and a lot of fun, not to mention beer here is fairly reasonable! For 17 dollars, I got 3 beers and 5 hours of singing in! Seriously a good time, I can’t wait to go again.

Today I woke up, dragged myself out of bed, which is awesome and sucky that I can sleep normally now. Speaking of which I have to be up soon, but I feel like there is so much that has happened in the last few days that I need to post about it. We had a hilarious sexual health discussion for part of our mandatory orientation, and the professor who spoke on it reminded me of Napoleon Dynamites older brother! Ha-ha seriously priceless.

After that boring orientation stuff, I met up with some friends that I listed above and we headed to the most exciting part of my trip thus far, Kyoto. Honestly, if you have been to Disney, and have seen Japan Epcot, imagine that but for miles and miles! The atmosphere was extraordinarily peaceful, and stunning, one of the most beautiful sights I have seen. There was a certain feeling in the air, even with the abundant people walking through, that was almost tangible, a feeling that in another day when the temples were actually used, it may have been an extremely tranquil location. Walking through an ancient city such as Kyoto was something that cannot truly be explained by merely saying that the views were breathtaking, and the architecture being out of this world, but rather something that needs to be experienced. I took something like 300 pictures or so, and I am going to be putting them on Mobile me, which you can find on my Facebook. I didn’t go through them yet, so a bunch are bad, but there, I think, some gems mixed in.

After we walked through the Buddhist and Shinto temples and shrines, we went back to Hirakata, truly a short trip honestly. When we got back we went to this amazing little bar/restaurant, whose name is escaping me. Nevertheless, I found some food that I am going to learn how to make while I am here from probably Arisa! I can’t wait to make it back at home, and I’ll probably even buy some spices to bring with me! I love Japanese food, even if it is like Bertie Botts every flavor beans! We had a few drinks, and a good time with most of our group, Dana, Tim, and Jess left to get their bikes from the university before the gates closed. I had a great time and am making some great friends.

Well it is extremely late, and I need to get some sleep! But I had to get this on paper before I forgot it all.

I miss so much back at home, but I’ve decided to let it be okay during the day, and enjoy contacting everyone when they email, and telling my story through these blogs. Night everyone

Until next time…

Day off of everything

Last night was the first night that I actually stayed up rather late. unfortunately the first motivation was studying. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing, but perhaps a rather boring one instead. The motivation was, I feel justified though, we had our placement exams today, and only being here for a semester it is imperative that I am placed in the right level. I am hoping to go into level 3, which is the next level closest to where I left off at Eastern. I suppose the studying was justified; however in hindsight it was slightly unnecessary. Not due to the fact that it wasn’t difficult, because it was designed to test from extremely little background, all the way to practically fluent. I felt like the things I knew, I knew, and those things I have yet to study were out of my reach regardless. Although the listening was rather brutal, even with all the constant practice I have been getting. By the end of today though I felt like I have regressed slightly. It may have a lot to do with the fact that I am just extremely exhausted and my brain just need a break. Lets hope so!

I feel like being here is rather mentally exhausting, and only sometimes slightly discouraging. I find that it is important to remind myself that we are all at different levels and if I work hard I can learn more! People are really nice here, which definitely helps a bunch. In all honesty I am probably going to feel much better tomorrow because I am making it to bed at a very reasonable/early time tonight! It was one of those nice days where I just really didn’t get up to too much, and lounged around. I must say it is much more enjoyable to do so with texting capabilities, which I currently don’t possess. Nevertheless it was needed, so I wont gripe too much.

I’ve been invited to do quite a bit, but this financial situation that I am in right now is putting a damper on things to go out and do. People are heading out this and next weekend and I am just hoping that things are figured out in enough time for me to enjoy things before class becomes too intense! If that all pans out I feel that I will be much happier here and with everything going on!

Well hopefully I start doing some more interesting things, before my blog becomes fairly mundane to read. Whether its for me in 5 years or anyone who is deciding to read these. Haha

 

Well Im off to a good night of sleep. BTW thanks again for the emails.

Keiten Sushi!

Keiten Sushi Night

So today I started my orientation at Kansai Gaidai, which from now on Im just gonna call it KGU. It was rather boring in general but I must say I am excited to start my classes. I kind of wish I would have taken a few more pictures today, but I was kinda lazy..

In general today was very low-key, I talked with a couple a new friends that I meet in my Seminar house, and I really like that it is super easy to meet new people here. Im getting to a point where it doesn’t phase me at all to go from a complete English conversation to a Japanese conversation, not that I understand all the Japanese, but still. Im having fun when I let my mind focus on the present and what I am doing, it is only when I think about everything that I feel a little down or homesick, which is a definite improvement. Out of the few friends I met, a few were extension students from Australia, and they got a big group together to go get Keiten sushi, or revolving sushi. I post a few pictures I took at the bottom of the blog. It was essentially sushi that came around on a conveyor belt, and not only was it cool, but super cheap. It was 100 yen ( close to one dollar) for two pieces of sushi. I had five plates and green tea and only paid 550 yen! Totally sweet

Other than that I really just studied, and I forgot to write this, so I kind of ran out of time. So this will be an extremely small post, and hopefully I will set more time aside for tomorrow

Hirakata Festival

Today was a fairly laid back day, so much that I sorta got to sleep in. If you count 9:30 sleeping in, which I definitely do now! I got up without an alarm, and just enjoyed my new ‘bed’ or futon. It’s on the floor rolled up, but surprisingly, I enjoyed it. The pillow they gave us is probably the best pillow I have ever used, soft, but firm, and wonderful! I think I may need to buy one when I get home!

I think that life is soon going to fall into a routine, or I imagine as routine as it can get around here. I feel a bit more at ease, and my new friends here are beginning to help me improve and feel slightly more comfortable with my speaking abilities. Not only that but other than the Japanese students I am meeting, I am also meeting people from all around the world, which is also cool.

Today, Dana and me studied for about an hour in my seminar house common room and tried to brush up on what we have learned…that didn’t last long. Haha We heard about a Festival or matsuri and so our studying was hard to concentrate on. A guy named Dave was in the common room with us and we have talked a few times now, he stayed in the same hostel we did in Fukushima, and he had just gotten back with his lunch. He had bought Takoyaki (Fried Octopus Dumplings) from a stand a bit down the road, and he convinced me to try one. I think if it hadn’t been for the fact that I knew what I was eating due to Dana (=P) I would have maybe liked it. However, knowing what I was eating kinda made me gag a bit! Anyway after we procrastinated studying a bit more, we decided to give up for a while and catch a bus down to the train station where the festival was going on. If you want to see what it looked like I have a link of a bunch of the pictures on my facebook. If your not my friend and still wanna see them, just add me. We met up with Kayo, Jess, Tim, Samara, Matt, and John, so altogether there were 9 of us walking around in the downtown area. It was a nice time, even with the heat. We were welcomed to the festivities by a band playing an American song, which made me laugh, but it only got better. When we got to the little square where they were playing a jiisan or old man was dancing to the music, it was rather fun and funny to watch. People in Japan are much healthier at an older age, I see elderly people running after busses, and walking all over town, kind of crazy, really. We just sort of walked around and went into a couple shops to avoid the heat of the day, but I felt good knowing that I wasn’t sitting around all day!

When I got back I ended up showering, I’m not sure why though, I’ve kind of gotten used to constantly sweating and knowing there is no way to avoid it.  Nevertheless, it was nice to rinse off, and get cleaned up. Then I tried to be productive and looked at my orientation stuff, and studied a bit. I was told that this first test is really just almost a joke, and that the real test isn’t until a week of class is over to make sure they have placed you in the right class. So I figure I will study a bit more tomorrow, get back to some basics, and then study very hard throughout the whole week.

More importantly though, is that Financial Aid is giving me a hard time, and I have only received a fraction of the money I am supposed to, a very tiny fraction actually. The real issue with this is that I owe money for fees and what not, and I still need to eat, I’m genuinely concerned. I should be getting an email very soon though; it is almost Monday morning in the states, which is when I expect an email resolving the issue. If I don’t, I may need to suck it up and make an expensive phone call… From the very beginning I knew the biggest concern here was going to be money, and this is honestly a potential nightmare. Here’s to hoping they fix this to the best of their capabilities!

After awhile, I decided I needed some caffeine, so I headed to some vending machines, in transit of course I got distracted from the friends I had met yesterday. (Side not, Coke in Japan is 20X better than Coke in America, the carbonation is way crisper? Ha-ha) So hesitantly I brought my books down there to study and although I didn’t review much, I got a lot of listening practice instead. I learned a couple new silly games to kill the time with, and had a good laugh. Everything and everyone here seems way more into group time and having fun and being involved than at Eastern, and although there I might not like it, it is quite awesome while I’m abroad.

I got wind that I might get to go out a week from Saturday, which is exciting, of course it is pending me getting my money situated, but still a nice thought to focus on! Not that I am overly negative, but when things slow down, it isn’t hard to realize what I miss back at home. Although, I have had an email or two, plus a facebook message to respond to every morning, and that always starts my day off well! SO thank you very much!!! I know things are what they are, but man as much as it is awesome here, at the end of my days I want to go back to my ‘home’ in Ann Arbor and grab a beer and unwind with Michelle and company! Well I know fall will fly by, and I’m going to enjoy this trip of a lifetime! Homesickness is part of it!

Orientation starts tomorrow, so I’m off to bed!

Also after I write these things, I don’t have the energy to proof read or anything, so please bear with what I am sure are hundreds of grammar mistakes and typos!

Move in!

Move in day!

Today was Dana, Jess and my last day at the Hostel in Fukushima, and although it is going to change the amount of time we spend together I am glad to leave the tiny room. If only it was as easy as just magically ending up at the seminar houses, but in fact, it was quite the opposite! Between carrying around 150 pounds down 5 flights of stairs, and then back up a couple more flights of them at the trains station in the hottest temperature we have experienced so far, it made for a challenge. Part of me, happy to finally get something close to a workout, the other part of me was just dehydrated and worn out.  Getting on the actual trains was a piece of cake; I feel like I understand how the trains are working extremely well, than again we haven’t had to do many transfers. When we finally got on the last train it was like we had won a game I swear! Ha-ha, and I also decided that I had looked as if I jumped into a pool with my clothes on, jeans were a bad idea. After we arrived, we just had to jump into a taxi and get to the dorms or seminar houses as they call them here, and check in. Not very hard, but I think the cab was a bit pricey, oh well!

When I got to my seminar house (for the record, Jess, Dana, and me are all in different houses) it was like a wave of relief had rushed though me. For one, it is a beautiful building, much more so than I thought it would be, it blows Eastern’s dorms out of the water! See my facebook for a video if you want to check it out. I haven’t slept just yet; I suppose Ill update to remind myself if it is as comfortable as it looks. Secondly, when I got here I remembered that back at home when international students came to Eastern how I treated them and how I knew they would be okay there. Thus I felt that the students here would treat me the same, and to my pleasant surprise, it is much that way so far! Everyone wants to speak with you, and the Japanese students want to speak English, but often speak Japanese out of habit anyway, so it is super helpful! I already seem to have made some new friends, which is always fun, and I cant wait to hang out and improve my Japanese everyday. Things definitely seem to be getting better, and I think I am going to thoroughly enjoy the university!

After I unpacked (Yes I got to unpack!) Dana and me went for a walk in the park nearby. Nothing special, but it was nice to go out and see the neighborhood and enjoy the nighttime, which was slightly cooler. It was also nice to have time to talk to a close friend and unwind a bit from the hecticness that has been our trip so far!

Just a few mental notes before I head to bed… One I love the 百円 or the hyaku en store, or also the equivalent of the dollar store! Secondly for everyone who has been writing me emails, thank you! It is helping me feel connected to everything back home that I miss!

Well my new roommate is trying to sleep and I will end with saying that I am lucky to have a great atmosphere to learn in, and that I like how things are turning out so far!

Ill update again soon!

Day 3

Day 3. Trip to Hirakata-shi for the first time

Our day today, once again, started off way too early… I swear I am not a morning person, but you’d never know with the times I have been voluntarily been waking up at. Today just so happened to start off around 7am, maybe a bit earlier even, but that’s when I looked at the clock. It has to be something with the sun, it is bright and burning up the sky at 5am, and so people are up and about so early around here. It’s crazy cool, and a burden I think all at the same time. Well nonetheless, we got up and got ready for a long day full of plans. Today, we did some breakfast at Mister Donut! It was totemo oishii! Or very delicious =) I had a safe custard and a little risky Mango cream flavor. Hahaha. Well either way that didn’t take much time, but it felt very American, and maybe that was a little nice. Even if we did order and pay in Japanese =P

With the constant jet lagged feeling, it was definitely a long day today due to all our travels. Our friends had planned to get us and help us travel to where we will be staying for the remainder of the time here in Japan, a city called Hirakata. It is roughly about 40 minutes to an hour depending on the trains you are lucky enough to catch.  On the way there we took directions from our friend Tim, which were actually dead on and it was fairly easy to get from Fukushima (that is the station that we are right next to) to Kyoubashi. From there we meet up with Tim and he guided us from there to our destination in Hirakata.

This is where the trip truly got interesting; the heat here is much different than our summer in Michigan has been, VERY HOT! Today I believe it was in the high 90s plus heavy humidity that made the air feel like you could swim instead of walk though. Regardless of the constant sweating though, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk around the city, and the train rides through the country. I think today we might have walked between 5 and 10 miles; it was kind of hard to get an accurate judge on the distance. But I haven’t been to the gym in way to long, and so it was nice to feel like I was getting a work out, would have been fun to run, although I was definitely the only one who would have wanted to do so! The city is probably the cleanest I have ever been in, it was definitely a city, but it seemed fairly clean through the entire area, minus this random sewer smell.  So there were four of us walking around, Dana, Jess, Tim, and myself for about 45 minutes from the train station to Kayo’s apartment that was only about 5 minutes away from the university. It was so nice to finally get to her place and into some air conditioning, because we were all, with the exception of Tim who is used to the weather by now, dripping in sweat.

Kayo’s place was super cool, even if it is way smaller than what a traditional American apartment would look like, I think it was cool. Her room was tatami and she had a small kitchen and bathroom for her place. We sat down for a while and cooled off, before we headed out to check out the campus grounds and shop a little for food and other various things.

The campus, although not HUGE, fairly big to scale compared to the other buildings and areas that I have seen so far here. Everything seems to be very cramped and not spacious at all. Somehow at the same time still enjoyable. Well Kansai is big, and there are a few big areas to fully enjoy and the buildings were beautiful. I am excited that tomorrow morning I get to move in to my dorm, and cease living out of a suitcase!!!

After we left, I mentioned that I really wanted a wallet, mainly because most of the money you use here is coins. And I have a money clip and a card holder X_X. Needing a wallet caused another problem though, they are much to big for pockets and so I needed a bag to carry it around in. So we headed to a store that was full of clothes and fun stuff to buy, I’m forgetting the name something like Avail…oh well. I bought both a bag and wallet for 30,000 yen or about 30 bucks, not bad at all! And as we were in the store, it began to colossally downpour and store, so I caved and bought an umbrella as well.

After what seemed like another few miles of walking, we headed back to Kayo’s place and she made us spaghetti, which was amazing =D. We left shortly after and returned back to Fukushima just outside Osaka.

When we got back to our street we were welcomed to a huge block party, and it was awesome full of free beer and cheap food and a bunch of locals. I post a few pics to hopefully give you a feel for it.

But anyway, I have been up for way to long to even proof read this. Off to bed

Until next time…

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