OCTOBER


Hey, I am staring at my Facebook, trying to remember what happened this month.

Let's seeeee....

Well, not long after I changed families, we had a the Japanese equivilent of midterms- chuukan tesuto. They're a bit like finals at my US highschool- the week before tests start, all the normal work grinds to a halt, preparations begin. The testing lasts one week, and we have half days!

I could only officially take the English and Spanish tests at this time, although many of the other teachers prepared me extra things or had me write mini essays in Japanese for them. I managed to pleasantly surprise a couple of my Japanese teachers with that. I always toil quietly at my desk during classes I can't participate in, flipping through and making kanji flashcards, hitting the grammar books, so I was able to write it relatively well- plus Japanese people tend to be impressed by any foreigner who can do ANYTHING with Kanji at all. Wuahaha. I guess the squiggles were just memorizing....

Anyway, club also stops during those two weeks. After I changed, I couldn't get home by myself, so I ended up taking an extra few days off. By the time I figured out the bike route home, testing had started and I was off. It was damn surreal, let me tell you, to have those two weeks off, vaguely aware that BADMINTON was like a crouching beast on the horizon, soon to completely annihilate any free time or whatever spirit I had left...

Okay, so at the time, I didn't think of it like that, but it was a little weird. I could vaguely sense what a huge thing Badminton was about to become for me, but it just wasn't there yet.

Anyway, during this time, I did a whole lot of... nothing it looks like. A little bit of this.. little bit of that... seriously, what did I do during that time?? I have completely forgotten.

I vaguely remember trying to avoid my host family - I'm pretty sure the solution at the time was to first hang around school as long as I could, then when that failed to waste time, bike ride. Posted this on facebook around the time;

I look forward to going on more bike adventures with my affectionately named bike, Deathtrap. Nowhere within 10 miles of my school and home is safe. [For me I mean- it's a given I'm going to get lost. Plus, Japanese streets are crazy.]


I was pretty psyched about my 2 wheeled hunk of junk. Or atleast, about my two wheeled excuse not to be at my host parent's house. I actually managed to cover a decent chunk of Wakayama during this time. I vowed to see it all, but my life later got eaten.
WHALE ATTACK

OH AND I MARATHONED PHEONIX WRIGHT, A DS GAME ... aka 逆転裁判 if you want to be Japanese about it! My host sis lent me them, had english and Japanese settings har har guess which one I played on...


OBJECTION!! Is somehow less awesome in Japanese. Nonetheless, IGIARI!!!

Anyway, tests eventually quit. I was pretty happy- I don't mind days off now and then my classmates are too fun to do that forever. However; this brought on my official start to BADMINTON CLUB...!!!!

Armed with my shiny new racket and special badminton shoes, I marched on to my adventure in sports...

Anyway, it was really hard at first, a little awkward as everyone had to take me aside and teach separately. I didn't bond immediately with any of my new team mates' Did I mention I was OUT OF SHAPE Actually, I have been OUT OF SHAPE FOR

6 YEARS.

I died.
I diiiiied.
Seriously, for a few weeks there, I would literally just come home hurting every day. I idly remarked to myself about 3ooo times how I had basically forgot what not being sore felt like.

There is nothing like leaving home feeling especially homesick and coming back 7 hours later, having forgot you ever had feelings. Especially in your legs.


Oct. 23rd, My comments after Weekend Afternoon Practice.

Weekly practice schedule;
Normal Weekday practice days; ~3 per week, 3 hours, not including setup/cleanup. I get home around 8 these days.
Running day; Everyone runs 8km! That's around 4 miles.
Weekend morning practice; 4 hours, starts at 9am.
Weekend afternoon practice; 5 hours, starts at 1
Day off; ~1 per week.
The bikewracks right before school is about to end

This is my bike after a typical badminton practice. Notice how it is the ONLY bike left in my section.

Lets add this up- in a typical week thats ~18 hours of official practice time PLUS 8km running. However, add in all the extra time devoted to cleaning/setting up and transit on weekends and you'll have ONE. GIANT. TIME SUCK.

Ok, and my teammates are badass, having been at this schedule for around 20 and 7 months, respctively between 1st and 2nd years. It was so awful at first. To be honest, it was really, really hard, always being the one that couldn't do it, and couldn't understand, and couldn't fit in.

バドミントンばかりね

In conclusion
BADMINTON BADMINTON BADMINTON BADMINTON ATE MY LIFE

Alright moving on,
Host family!
This was not a good month. As might have been evident by my last dying post. But I wish, wish I hadn't had that as the last thing I wrote-

My first two weeks were just miserable. I was so, so not ready to change. Still shaky with the whole Japan thing, I hadn't made really close friends because of language barrier, couldn't really speak Japanese overly well, ect- furthermore, the only person that had ever really listened to me with an invested interest at that point was my first host mom and I was definately attached. To be honest, one and a half months in is probably the WORST time I can think of to change. I did cry a fair bit. I probably didn't really learn to relax around my host family for the entire month of October, but learn to relax I did. I learned to deal with their constant accommodation, their idea of hospitality, the new personalities, ect.

It probably helped when I started picking up the more commonly used vocab from my host mother, and she stopped just being an incessant stream of almost gibberish and more like something that I could understand. She too, began to learn more of what I could understand, although she never really learned to slow down. This was so tough at first, if you would remember my last post- but my Japanese is better because of it.

Anyway, I'll sum this all up with one short story-
During this month, I managed to have 3, count them 3, bike incidents. Now, I don't mean accidents. With this family, I acquired a bike with a built in lock- that uses a key.
WORK
IN
PROGRESS

PALPABLE AWKWARD



Ahh, this weekend is winding to a close, but let me tell you about last week’s, shall I?
Saturday and Sun, Rotary weekend! I spoke more English in a time span of about 24 hours than I had my entire stay in Japan, I kid you now. I spoke it quickly, guiltlessly, and relentlessly. It was great. I even developed a pseudo British accent, despite there being no exchangers from Britain. Let’s not question.

It started with Host mom dropping me off at Ninna’s host parent’s house, from which we drove to Hajime together. Took about 2 hours. Ninna is an exchange student from Denmark who speaks pretty fluent English, complete with sexy accent. I hadn’t seen her since Orientation, which I now regret a bit. She lived so close! Argh! Anyway, we hit it off just fine, hopefully I’ll see her again pretty soon after school sometime.

Anyway, we arrived at a foot of a mountain and were shortly followed by a gaggle of Exchange students and Japanese Rotary.. Alumnis? [Rotex!] We smashed into this giant gondola thing and ended up going up the side of the mountain and making a short trek to this Buddhist temple, where we were exposed to a large, clear, tatami-mat lined room- proceeded to act like 5 year olds for a good 30 minutes.
I can’t really speak for my other Exchangees, but atleast for me, it was less the piggy back ride race and more of

ENGLISH EUPHORIAAAA

After not speaking to a native English speaker [besides my parents on skype twice] in one month, I finally got a chance to exercise my native tongue. I’m not going to go too into our other Exchangee shenanigans, but let it be known that the Polish kid has the best English accent in the history of every. I want it. Imagine an extremely choppily said, “Hello kitty on rollarskates swinging a pair of lollipops” and you will have a good idea of what it was like.


Countries represented were: America, [6], Denmark [1], Poland [1], Finland[1] Sweden, [2] France[2] Brazil [1] and Mexico [1]

Our activities included listening to Japanese speeches, using public baths, doing a whole lot of not sleeping, achieving Nirvana, [Okay, so most of us were actually thinking about how much we hurt in that funny pretzel meditation pose….] and being beaten up by a monk. [I kid thee not.] All this in an authentic, zillion year old temple. 1000 year old? I sort of forgot. Actually, a Tom Cruise movie was filmed there! The last Samurai! Yeah! Let’s pretend I’m actually familiar with American Pop Culture and this fact holds significance!







On Monday, I visited the badminton club. I’d gone Friday, but ended up getting a chair pushed at me and watching for about 2 hours, instead of actually doing anything. It was fun. Captain tried to teach me swings. It did not go over well. He tried for about 25 minutes. Then Arai-Sensei (The badminton couch) walks in, grabs my wrist, puts me through the movements and has me doing it in about 3. Ahahaha.
The first years think it’s hilarious when Captain and Arai-Sensei give me the English treatment. I’m inclined to agree. They’re so awful.

Either way, after, Arai-Sensei told me to visit me in his office the next day, and asked me if I wanted to join or not. To which I absolutely said the smart thing – “clubs are a big part of school life here and I need some time to decide.’

Oh wait, no it was more like ‘OKAY SURE SOUNDS GOOD.’

I’m so rash. I kind of randomly decided to visit and just… jump in with both feet, you know? It’s not something I ever really did in the US, this badminton thing. Heck, this sport thing. I chose this club over the art because, well… I adore art, but somehow, spending my exchange year sitting alone doing art projects every day after school isn’t how I want to do it!

So I compromised. On Monday, I also went and talked to the International teacher and got myself transferred to a first grade art class twice a week- something to break the studying alone monotony.

Tuesday and Wendsday I had off from club, and ended up going out and buying an electric dictionary on Wednesday after school with my bank card. It’s my new best friend, by the way. SO. FLIPPING. MAJICAL. Not only can I write and read kanji with it, the touch screen can function as a mini tablet so I can draw in class while looking like I’m studying HUR HUR HUR

Thursday I had club, although I ended up going early since it was the last full day with my first host family. I ended up on the bus at the same time as another of my classmates and talking all the way down. Mostly we talked about the school system, and the English curriculum. She actually came out and spoke a bit of English with a little encouragement; I’m willing to bet my classmates hesitancy is greatly contributed to be the presence of other classmates.
When I got home, host mom was gone, Kouyo was playing PSP on the couch and ignoring me anyway, and I ended up just getting more depressed than I already was, ahaaha.

Friday was my last day with HMom, Yuri, and Kouyo, the first of 4 switches I will make in Japan. Yes. 4. If one eyebrow isn’t slightly higher than the other, it should be. That’s ridiculous. How will I ever settle down? I won’t.

Did I mention that 1 and a half months in is an awful time to change? I mean, I’m not completely used to everything yet, can’t truly connect with people still because of the language barrier, and got extremely attached to my first family though all the ups and downs of the first month and a half- and you want me to SWITCH!?! BAD. TIME. Awful time, in fact!

Anyway, that Friday was completely the same as any other, right up to the point where I started packing my clothes. I even came home and had a long drawn out conversation with my host mom about the possibility of getting texting on my phone, like we’d be going to the phone store in three hours, not dropping me off for good at a new family.
Packing was quick. I don’t have that much clothing or things, anyway. I’d managed to acquire about 3 bags of school clothing and a yukata, though, so when I went out the door I was fully loaded.


Said goodbye to Yuri and Kouyo [and that little snot actually gave me a present, the second volume in a random kid’s boxing manga series, haha!] and drove to the next hosts with one of the Rotarians. Ughh, I was truly trying not to, but during the final part of the switch I just started crying so hard which is… probably not the best way to make a good impression.
GONNA MISS THESE GUYS.

Got my suitcases upstairs, went over family rules [Which
was muuuch easier now that I can sort of speak Japanese, let me tell you] and collapsed into bed.

Didn’t get a whole lot of respite- Saturday, about 600 middle schoolers and 200 parents visited Seirin, and I had been asked to give a little speech and participate in the presentation. To get there, I had to put on my Rotary Jacket and uniform, then bike around 40 minute with my new host brother to school. I could not figure out the whole ‘Ride a bike in a long, flappy skirt’ thing. I’m sure I flashed many an unsuspecting Japanese…

but no, seriously, how?? !! (;__;)

Anyway, speech went smoothly… sort of. I kind of messed up… in English. Yes, my speech was mostly Japanese, but the first part was in English. My mind totally supplied the wrong order of words, although I don’t think anyone really spoke good enough English to notice.
I did the Japanese part perfectly though! I didn’t even need to look at my sheet. Thank you Debate, glad you have added one sort of useful skill to my incredibly limited set!

At the end of that day, we went out to eat. I ended up having cheesy rice gruel and water. Delicious, I know. My host dad also got tipsy, maybe even drunk, enough that he didn’t drive back, which I cannot say contributed to my feelings of comfort in this house.

Anyway, here goes Host Fam intro!

Mother- Piano teacher. She likes to talk. Really fast. It does not matter how many times I do not understand and ask her to speak slowly when explaining things, she will always eventually end up reverting to ridiculous speed. If I don’t understand, she gets frustrated and thinks the best way to make me understand is to say more things in rapid fire Japanese. Is also very, very, very uncomfortably accommodating to the point where I do not ever want to talk to her because she’ll find some way to inconvenience herself unnecessarily for my sake, usually when I don’t need anything. Take a chill pill.

Father; Gradeschool teacher. Drinks and smokes. Doesn’t know how to talk to me. Seems to compensate for this by filling the silence with little grunting noises. Likes to practice his English on me, and translate very basic Japanese for me. Which are, incidentally, not the things I need translated.

Sister; Incredibly shy, talented 14 year old violinist who is always carrying around a pair of tamogochi. She’s fairly nice, but has no idea how to talk to my level either. However, she seems to really want to get to know me. Her idea of a good method is to hang around and not say much to me, but smile kind of nervously a lot.

Brother; 18, reminds me of my American bro a lot, except he’s ever so slightly more outgoing. Likes anime a lot, reeks of awkward. He doesn’t know how to talk to me either, and ends up switching back and forth from formal Japanese, like talking to me informally makes him really uncomfortable. I ignore this and talk to him informally. = )

Judging from the negative spin I put on that report, you can probably guess my current level of contentment with this family.
I want out. Really bad. It's now to the point where after school, I really don't want to go home anymore, although I spend most of my day at school so this isn't too bad. [by the way, writing this october 9th- I've been here over a week already, feels like sooo long. 11 more of this? = ( ]

This family is not so bad, I guess. But I really don’t find any of them overly likeable- and not a single one of them understands yet how to communicate with me, something my last 10 year old host bro picked up from the very beginning. I just feel so isolated all of a sudden, despite living in an even smaller house with more people.

OOKAY, REALLY, WEEK 7 OVER AND OUT!

BOOM BOOM POW



So today, I slowly woke up from a pleasan-

Hooooly crap the power just went off

Okay, sorry, that’s not helping my intro at all.

So today, I managed to slowly wake up from a dream. It was slow, it was gradual. There was this noise that I couldn’t quite figure out. My-

And there it goes again. Like a lightning bug. Bzt bzt.

Annnnyway, so this mysterious sound, my mind somehow justified it as my hostmom being in the lower part of the bedroom [I sleep in a loft like arrangement] running around with a wheelbarrow full of rocks or something. I did not find this odd or questionable, somehow. I ascended slowly from my slumber.

Yes, kids, this is how my mind justifies strange events. I hope I never kill someone. If I do, the justification behind it would probably be something like, ‘I was half asleep but I knew the taco he gave me in magical garden land made me forget memories of my long dead mother who died traversing the gap between existence and chocolate. It made sense at the time, really.’

No kids, it wasn’t my Host mom crashing around with a wheelbarrow of rocks.
That thought can [sort of…] be explained completely by my next fully coherent thought. [There was a few more in between, but those were mostly filled with expletives and, dear reader, I would not want to subject you to those.]

“Is cannon fire louder than thunder?”

Yes kids, it does take artillery worthy thunder to wake me out of a dead sleep. Crashing all around me, from all my windows, flash. Flash. 3 am, pitch black, my world a strobe light with subsequent symbols-drum-gong arrangement. I did connect the dots.

I then proceeded to run around my house, looking for a window on the upper floor that I could actually see the lightening from. Turns out no such window exists.

My second attempt had me standing on the toilet, looking out the tiny little window at the very top. It then occurred to me that I had to use to toilet. So I did. Halfway through my business, I swear to god the loudest crash of thunder I have ever heard sweeps over the house. And the foundations rocked. Or at least, I did. I nearly jumped off the seat. I haven’t felt the need to get out of the bathroom at such a speed since I watched that one horror movie aged 7.

Anyway, I eventually decided on the tiny window up in my loft, and tuned in for the end of the lights display. Which wasn’t restricted to just thunder. Nope, like a string of blinking Christmas lights, my house and this power grid shut down in a series of sputters. A few minutes later, I watched it blink on again, slowly, from house to house like a chain reaction. Magical.

I am completely exhausted. .
-- fin 5 am writeup

Well, the next morning, I awoke to a strange sound again. It was the rain pounding down as if there was no tomorrow. This continued for about 40 minutes, with more thunder. I went downstairs to watch the rain, which ended up being a bad idea as host mom turned on the tv when all I wanted to do was listen to the rain. Ah…

Anyway, I feel the need to tell you that now you will experience a TIME SKIP.
This was the events of Thursday morning. Setting the clock back to last Sunday…

Sunday was … really… busy. Trip to Osaka, which I was under the impression was a trip to Universal studios Japan. However, first stop?

Cosco. Ha. That. Was weird. At first I’m all WHOAHHH COSTCO yeah.
It had a strange parking garage like arrangement, with giant escalator-like paths[sort of like the moving floor in the airport] for you to simply set your huge cart upon and enjoy your ride. Sci-fi cosco, much? My mouth was just wide open the entire time. Why so amazing, cosco?

However, the…inside was. Creepy. It. It was as if. You let in 2000 Asians into Spokane cosco and sharpied on some kanji to a few of the products to make it seem authentic. Seriously. The layout, the feel, the signs, the crowd it was EXACTLY like the one in Spokane, with a few minor differences in the food court and checkout placement. It was incredibly weird. I’ve only gone with other people to cosco a few times, usually it’s my own family. It felt like those times as a little kid when you accidentally follow the wrong cart by mistake.

After that, UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN BBY. For those of you out of the loop, it’s a character/movie themed amusement park, like Disney land, except with Hello kitty, Sesame Street, Spiderman, and Peanuts themed rides instead. It was… interesting. At first, it was friggen packed like whoah. Waiting was… a few years.



Lets establish this; The Japanese adore swag of just about everything that American kids liked when they were about 6. The word ‘cute’ is definitely the most commonly said word here in Japanland, and I wouldn’t be half surprised if, should a super secret Japanese ninja assassin squad exist, it had a cute cartoon mascot. I kid you not.

I say this completely neutrally. Sometimes my girl side squeals silently to a pitch so high it only exists in my imagination. At other times, my fingers twitch with the urge to tie Kitty-chan and Elmo to the local train tracks.

But anyway, I’ve never seen so much… character themed frivolous stuff in my life. Ridiculous.
Despite this, it was fun! My favorite ride was probably.. the roller coaster, big surprise. It entwined itself with many of the buildings and snaked over walkways and by crowds, and at the end of the night when I finally rode this, it was definitely magical. On top of the world, rocketing around swirl of frivolous entertainment, humanity city and all I could think was ‘JAPAN oh god I’m in JAPAN wow look at this look at this holy crap I love this place.’
It was truly pretty.

There was other rides, such as Jurassic Park [The end freaked me out, this giant T-rex lunges for you and you DROP.] Spider man [This was COOL- it was a 3d arrangement, and it certainly made you feel like you were admist a battle, rising up then dropping dropping stories and BAM caught in spidey’s net, although really it was a just a genius design of the usage of a relatively small space with 2 large 3d capable screens and props] Space Fantasy [So hard to describe, but so cool. Think of it as a trippy indoor rollercoaster.]



We ate at a replica of the Jerassic park’s center, haha. Complete with T-rex skeleton and everything…

We stayed until it closed. Fell asleep on the way home. Whew.

Next day was a day of autumn! No school! I don’t get it either, but whatever, who’s complaining. Papa took Kouyo and me to the local Shrines- about a square half mile with various shrines and temples. Walking around the peaceful setting reminded me of part of the reason I decided to come here in the first place. That such an anachronism can stand so peacefully, with a place so firmly set aside among the hustle of Japanese life, is amazing. Oh Japan.
Feeling the reverent awe of the old structures, my camera promptly died. I got a few before, though.




After that, I had a green tea ice cream cone [strange stuff, mate] and we went to [水を取り] which means to take water. An endeavor that consists of driving 1 and a half hours to an obscure mountain to get water out of a plastic pipe fed by a mountain spring two kilometers up the road. Uh. Yeah. So. It was pretty, atleast? Most of the driving was through lushly forested Japanese mountains. The sky was threatening rain and it was a really peaceful ride up there. : ) Something that can not be said about the ride back. Ohhh no. Not at all.

I was attempting to ask a grammar question to host dad. His English seems to the level where he could answer, but I guess there’s a difference between conversational and discussing grammar. Either way, he was concentrating really hard and… got… lost.
CUE BLANKET OF DARKNESS.
Yeah, that was creepy enough.
CUE GASOLINE TANK IS ALMOST EMPTY DING.
…..
….
Did I mention the fact were an about 40 minutes into nowhere? How about the fact we were lost?
Talk about a tense time. Luckily, 10 minutes later he found the main road, and most of it was downhill from there. I do swear that I spent the next 40 minutes expecting us to sputter and out and go to a sickening halt on the side of the far too narrow Japanese road. However, we did reach a little town and saw a gasoline sign…! Kouyo and I shouted AHHH 助かった!! 助かった!! 助かった!! [Tatsukatta! SAVED!!] Just over and over, Haha. Exciting…

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty normal days of school. I had a revelation on Wednesday that I had OFFICIALLY LEVELED UP IN JAPANESE. That I could put together a Japanese sentence together without actually really… thinking too terribly overly hard about it. Not just sporadically, but becoming increasingly more often!

I feel your scorn.
However, Japanese is a language that is neither easy, nor encourages it’s beginners to string together large sentences.

Simply, it operates by using words and attaching particles to them to demonstrate the grammatical use.

So, in order to make complex sentences, you have to string many, many of these word particles together. The Japanese equivalent of ‘If you ride to school with mike’s bike at 12pm, please take the lunch I made yesterday’ would go like this: [12:00 at] [Afternoon] [School Towards] [Micheal’s personal] [Bicycle by] [Quickly] [Go if], [Yesterday At] [Made] [Lunch that] [Take] [Please]
12時午後学校へマイクさんの自転車で早く行ったら、昨日作ったお弁当を持って行って下さい。

It is difficult because you have to think about how all these particles and words will interact- whenever you add something to the sentence, you have to figure out how to make it work with the rest of the sentence, and as you can see, it bears zero resemblance to English. And my example isn’t even talking about all the tenses and conjugations you have to think about. [first verb is past tense tara form, second is past plain, third is te, fourth is te with request additive]

Trying to string these sentences together at conversation speed is hard! At first, I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t bother. English isn’t the same. If you say something like ‘quickly went’, you get looked at funny. You have to string it all together. But you can totally say ‘quickly went’ here and it’s grammatically correct…. So motivation to always form long complete sentences doesn’t exist. You can make a zillion short ones if you wanted. However, now, I’ve picked up a form of pacing that, with a tiny bit of forethought, I can string together sentences. It’s a little like music, where you have a beat and that beat falls on the particle. It’s so much fun, I love Japanese <3

Thursday was a day off, which was good with that rain. In the evening, my class had uchiage-「打ち上げ」- a party to celebrate the completion of our bunkasai play. It went from 7:00 to 9:00 downtown which means… CITY ADVENTURE…!!!
First, I took a bus and a train to my usual stop. Had about an hour to burn, so I went city exploring again. [Did I mention that if I have time, such as waiting for the train or such, I walk around?] My travels took me around a huge deserted pool area, and through this little road into the woods. Forgot my camera, though.
After, I phoned Rinako and she and Haruna-chan appeared, gallantly peddling their bicycles. I actually didn’t recognize them instantly out of uniforma haha;; So prettily dressed and made up. Japanese know how to dress!

We then walked back to Rinako’s house. After waiting a while inside, her, Haruna-chan and I all jumped on bicycles and pedaled about 20 minutesthrough falling dusk to a department store. Bicycling in Japan is crazy stuff. You dodge and weave lurch and bump and pray for divine protection from car bumpers. There, we took purika. I will explain this cultural phenomenon next week when I get the photos emailed to me…

After that, we biked another 10 to the restaurant. We were late… haha… I ended up sitting at the end of the table, by Rynako and across from my host sister to be. I’ll whine more on that next week, though. It was a grill type restaurant- in the middle of the tables, there was 3 coal powered grills. We were given plates of raw meat and tongs to cook it on the grills. I would have been delicious if not for how completely squeamish of fat I am- Japanese have nooo problem. They kind of got a kick watching me try to cut the fat off with a pair of blunt, wooden chopsticks….

I didn’t really understand whose food was whose and ended up eating practically nothing, secluded at the end of a table across from my next-next host sister who is neither friendly nor interested. Then I paid 20 bucks for the privilege. It sucked. Completely. I forgot my camera, and everyone went photo crazy and I was a table away from all my friends and just baaww.

Still, aftwerword, talking with friends and biking through Japanese downtown with the wind in my hair and between my toes[Hey, high heels and pedals don’t work well with me.] was good. I went home with Haruna chan, since we travel the same way. On the train we found Yutaro, previously mentioned only Japanese boy who speaks to me LOL. This was a mega surprise, since I’ve never seen him on my train before? Or bus? Or anything other than the classroom? We ended up sitting together and making fun of my Americanness. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while… For some reason, he also had a skillfully photoshopped picture of… obama jedi on his phone. He randomly showed this to me. What!

This one! Anyway, when I got off the train, Mama and Kouyo were waiting for me, and we went home. So exhausted. It was 10:45 or so by the time I stepped off the train. Anyway, that’s about all I have to say for this week. Sorry it’s long! A lot happened! Now, I’m packing for the Rotary weekend, should be fun. ENGLISH. Although I’m getting to the point where I really enjoy Japanese.

Competetive as I am, I want to see how fast (how slow, probably…) I’m improving compared to my classmates. Maybe I should have studied more hmmm…. Anyway, Ciao! Hope Amerika is going well. WEEK 5, OVER AND OUT.

OCTO AWFUL


Guess which color team I was on?!

Sooo I should probably write this in segments of 2-3 days instead of 1 week because I have a habit of … forgetting things.

Oookay, this week started off with Monday. Bet you didn’t see that coming. It was practice for sports festival. Which entailed doing a whole lot of… nothing. We got all dressed up in our sports gear and went out to the field, sat in rows, sat in a different sort of row, ran back and forth a few times, sat in another row, ate lunch, ran out and did the wave, and sat in in a row again. Sit down stand up sit down stand up. Like church!

All this for about… 5 hours? Yeah. It was scintillating. I must have brushed my bum off for dirt more times Monday than I have my entire life put together.

Tuesday was the real deal. The school was divided into 4 teams, I and I was on the yellow team. My… favorite color. Thankfully, we spent lest time sitting in rows and more time… watching sports happen. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of some of these Japan only sports, so you will hear my beautiful words instead.

Relay, Obstacle course, you know the drill

Taifunome- Eye of the hurricane. 5 girls would all grab a pole and run to a series of cones, at which the girl on the inside parked at and the other 4 ran around her to the next cone. Actually pretty funny to watch. Especially when girls would miss the pole handoff and have to scuttle after it while the rest of their teammates would be dashing for the pole.

Kago thingy derp forgot the name; They suspend a basket about 12 feet above the ground and scatter beanbags around. The team that gets the most in within 1.5 minutes wins. I did this. This was all I did, since I had no idea what was going on at signups. I think I got three beanbags in. We won!

Piggy back fights; Three boys would hoist another wearing a colored hat, and run around with him. The boy on top would attempt to snatch the hat of the other boys. This was especially amusing since there’d be 12 of these 4 boy teams at all times and it was a total free for all sdfk haha. Slappy fights commenced, like the kind little kids tend to do and what you imagine Neo and Mr.Smith should be doing in the epic midear rain battle of the 3rd matrix movie.

Tug a war; Made more interesting in that maybe 150 people would participate at a time … or more.

Hoard the stick thing; Players would line up on the outskirts of the field, and a bunch of poles would be lined up in the center. The object is to get the poles to your team’s endzone. Proves hilarious when theres only 5 or so poles left and all ~80 players are on just those.

Wish I’d signed up for some different things! It was till interesting. My team won! Yess.

Playing field from the window of my classroom. Note Bike corrals filled to brim.

Wednesday was more normal. I cannot remember a single overly interesting thing happen. I choose not to correct this grammer on a reread to show you that my English is dying.

Thursday was my first Japanese rain. On the way out the door, I shunned an umbrella from host mom. Ended up getting completely soaked in the last segment of my travel. The girl that walks with us thought it was funny how I had the biggest smile on my face all RAIN RAIN RAIN and snapping pictures of the herds of cyclists all hoisting umbrellas.

Thursday was also my first real Japanese lesson with Shimo-Sensei. It was a lot of fun, actually, she kind of opened my eyes to a few things. That, unlike in English, if a person is saying ‘un un un un’ [yes yes yes] it’s actually because they want to you stop talking, and less of a ‘YEA I GET WHAT YOUR SAYING’ thing. Oh. Woops… sorry host mom.

After, I went to the Illustration [manga drawing] club with one of my classmates. [Who was giggling over something madly with someone else the next day about me, artclub, and the word Minami, which I was under the impression was her name, so I’m not going to make the claim that… it was her. CURSE YOU, JAPANESE NAMES. But I digress.

It was kind of… awkward. Uh. I do not function well in groups yet . There were some fairly skilled people there. Lo and behold, the classmate who took me was also skilled, and showed me some of her art on her phone. Who knew? [This lead to my giving her my DA, which led to her finding and google translating this blog, so I think that I’ll be watching what I say more here. Or maybe I’ll just throw in more confusing things to translate and talk in complete slange. I ‘LREADY FANCY Y’ALL MAI HOMEDAWGS PLEASE DON'T CONSIDER ME SKETCHY]

It only took me a 5000 miles to find people who share my interests. Great.

I don’t know if I’ll go back, though. There’s a few other clubs I’m interested in too.


Rain!

Friday, I visited the art club. Whenever I’d brought up the subject at school, I would always get EMIRI BE CAREFUL THE ART CLUB TEACHER IS REALLY WEIRD.
He ended up being yes, a little strange, but also nice. It was pretty funny, actually. This school is used to having exchange students, so it was a little weird when people actually were interested in me at the club. I managed to make the first impression that I didn’t understand Nihongo at all, and ended up getting the English treatment from the Teacher and 2 girls. Which. Was. Hilarious. We just kept looking at each other like all ‘YEAH. WHAT?’

I met two girls there, one of which’s art I had intensely admired at the art exhibit during culture fest. I was all ‘oh so what do you like to draw!’ and she whipped out her phone and showed me… dang! I had one of those ‘tt- t- t-that was you! Amazing!’ Reactions and she just laughed kind of embarrassed like. She was really nice, and it was pretty funny when she was trying to express the order in which I should be drawing this bottle and peach.

I ended up drawing a flower for most of the time, which I promptly took home with me and gave to my host Mama like a 6th grader finishing her first crayon drawing and giving it up to the refrigerator, haha. I’m going to miss her a lot when I change families. : (

Saturday has been shopping day. Me, Hmom, Hsis, and Hbro piled into the car and ran into town to go to this huge shopping mall. Ow. My feet hurt by the end of that. Japanese clothes are ridiculously expensive. I went with 4,500 yen [Approx 50 $] and left with a hat, 100 yen, and two plain, flimsy shirts. Seriously.

Lunch time, Host sis enthusiastically said to me, "SO EM YOU KNOW WHAT TAKO IS IT’S REALLY GOOD."
I was all! Tako! Oh, like Taco? Mexican food? Yeah, I love tacos! .
So she rushes off and gets us tako. Which are actually not Mexican food, by the way. They are these fried balls. I didn’t comprehend. I smiled and nodded.

I got about halfway through one and… found a tentacle. In my fried ball. A purple one.
Cue freakout

Imagine. You are eating this thing fried thing. You have no idea. You eat half of it. You hover your chopsticks over the rest of it expectantly, look down, and catch a glimpse of the tip of a curled up purple tentacle nestled in the creamy white sauce. It looks like something out of a horror film.

Goodbye, appetite.

Hello, Octopus.

Bubble tea made things better later. Strawberry milk with tapioca balls. Delish.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we are apparently going to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka! Should be fun.

Monday is no school. Yay!

Tuesday or Wednesday, I plan to visit badminton club and finish up my visitation rounds for clubs. Then decision time.


Week 4, OVER AND OUT.
[One month already? No way.]

JELLYFISH HUGS


Some of my school friends

Good week! Monday was a pretty normal day of school. We spent most of it practicing for the culture fest play. ( :

Culture fest was a lot of fun! I was initially nervous, since I didn’t know how my classmates would group out and who I’d end up with. But I ended up getting adopted with 7 other girls and running around doing everything.

The closest thing I can compare Culture fest would be… well, in terms of my school system, the big basketball game everyone goes crazy over. Stinky Sneaker anyone? But o nly in terms of school spirit. This was more like one of those ‘valley days in the park’ thing- The first years all made booths to entertain, that were open constantly. There were 2 haunted houses, a dance thing, a horror movie, and a classroom where you could learn to make pinwheels and do various things.

The third years make food booths and sell food- crepes, icecream, pancakes, bubble tea ect.

The second years all put on little skits. I only saw one other one than ours, but it was basically hilarious. Not that I could understand it, it’s just… it was so awfully overdone. And the main characters were both boys in… floofly, ill-fitting princess outfits.

Ours was Alice in Wonderland. I did not manage to get a video, sadly, although you can imagine me doing this dance.

Also my classmates can be really scary…. This short, quiet, adorable kid ended up being the white rabbit, and they made him wear a little skirt, fleecy vest, and bunny ears. I swear to god, the screams of MECHA KAWAIIIIII were earsplitting.

Class play poster. It's maybe about 1.5 times my height? There was about 20 of these hanging from the school in a row. Colorful!

My class’ few boys have half the school’s musical talent, I swear. Two of them are great singers, and went up in front of the entire school with their bands. Another two are guitarists and drummers, respectively. You know you I’m impressed when I think, ‘hey, I’d put that on my Mp3 player!’ Skillz.

Afterschool on Tuesday, I went home alone without Yuri. Everything went seamlessly, and I didn’t feel the need to hide my MP3 player as I watched creepy American television. [Dexter season four OH MY GOD] Then on Thursday, Yuri had 7th hour and was all ‘OH. OK GO HOME ALONE HAI’

Heh. Heh. I was all ‘OK no purobelem Yuri! I got this down.’

Or so I thought.

To make a long story short, I missed my train stop, ended up a few stops down. The station format was different, and I really had no idea where I was at first. This led to me freaking out, rummaging through my bag and… finding out I had left my cell at home! AND my money.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I turned around from searching to watch the next train going in the opposite direction…. [towards home] pulling…out of the station.

This was fun. The realization that you are several miles from home, can’t read the train schedule, don’t know your Hostie’s phone numbers, have no money, and actually can’t speak Japanese is certainly an interesting one. I’m sure everyone reacts differently to such situation but I… couldn’t stop laughing. Seriously. Funniest thing all week. It was mostly…‘Really Emily? Really? How’d you manage this…?’

Anyway, since it was only 5:15, everywhere was pretty deserted. I check the train board and made an educated guess on when the next train would come [around 40 minutes] and decided that rather than sit there, I might as well walk around town for a while. It was kind of interesting, but I kinda stood out due to a) foreigner b) different uniform c) only person really walking around aimlessly at that time… so it wasn’t really the most comfortable thing. Oh well, saw more of the city.

At the end of my walk, from about 50 meters away, I saw the train pull in. It’d been a while since I had ran that fast…

I was smiling like an idiot the entire walk home. Wooh, relief. You can watch my bemused, slightly panicked commentary that I made here.

Met the Art sensei at last! He was a tad strange, as I have been told everytime I brought art up in a conversation. Actually, it was hilarious. Over the past 2 weeks and a half, every time I asked about visiting art club I was told to wait till next week. Finally, I said to the foreign department teacher COME ON IT IS ALWAYS NEXT WEEK and he admitted that yes, it always was going to be AHAHA. Persistence won over, though, and he introduced me.

I plan to visit the club Monday, see if it interests me. There’s also a Illustration club, basically manga drawing, which I want to visit too. And possibly the badminton club, although I’m not overly stellar, just sounds like fun… maybe Kendo? We’ll see.

Gymnasium air conditioning in Japan. In other words, fail.

Saturday was a little weird… uh, went to the art store and bought pens with host dad. Went to the book store as well. My reaction was totally kid in a candy store, host mom was laughing. There were so many. Comics. I don’t mean the flimsy 25 page American style, I mean the 200 page, stellar inking style ones..! They were all so pretty. And cheap. 80 yen Deathnote? Yes please. Oh my god, I’m going to lose all my clothes and just pack my suitcases with this stuff when I go back…

Now before anyone goes OH EMILY WHY SO NERDY… first of all, I can’t read kanji [Chinese characters used in Japanese writing system], so I can’t read books at this time. Comic books, however, have the pronunciation of kanji printed next to the kanji, so I’m able to read them. Furthermore, because of the visual cues, I’m able to figure out what’s going on much easier. The series I bought, I read in English before, and with my dictionary in hand, I can actually read the Japanese version slowly. Talk about SELF ESTEEM BOOST. Chaching! Actually, you probably could not find a better way for me to practice at this time than reading things.

New art pens!

Anyway, that made me really happy. Sunday was less satisfactory overall, we went to the beach. Oh tropical Japan! It was as warm as the warmest lake in Washington, with a nice soft sand. There was one downside, however.

Jelly fish. WAAAAAAAHHHHH. It hurts!! I was the only one that got stung, and I got stung 3 times. WHYYYYY weeps. It has seriously swollen up, and hasn’t stopped hurting since I got it. It’s a little interesting though, since you can see where the jellyfish's tentacles stuck to me! It almost looks like scar tissue. Ever seen those pictures of the Humpback whales with giant squid scars? It’s a bit like that.

Ow.

Anyway, school tomorrow. Next week we have sports festival. I’m looking forward to it. Sayonara, minna-chan.

Week 3, over and out!

CHOPSTICKS CAN BE DIFFICULT

First rotary meeting and + uniform!

I could have cried in my bedroom at night over culture shock and homesickness and stress like every other exchanges student. But noooo…

I made it nearly two weeks [and this counts travel] without any tears and THEN of course at the most inopportune time…!
Yeah so at my first rotary meeting…. Um….

Okay, so, let’s begin with last Wednesday. I was told I would be making a 20 minute speech. In Japanese. To my rotary club. Plus powerpoint. First of all, what? I mean, one and a half weeks in. I know they’ve every right to ask me to do things but honestly, if you took ever Japanese word I know and had me say them twice over, it probably STILL wouldn’t be 20 minutes. Far too early for such a request.

However, I’m good with rising to challenges. They motivate me. 20 minutes? Okay. Fine. Ganbarimasu. I’ll put you to sleep, but by God will it be 20 minutes

Then, a few days later I was told… 10 minutes. O-okay? More reasonable. Yay. Ok.

Then a few days later I was told… 5 to 10?

Then the day of, I was told to do my name and basic intro and I could even do it in English!

WAAAAHHHHH AS IF I ALREADY WASN’T CONFUSED ENOUGH BY THE NOT UNDERSTANDING JAPANESE THINGGG….

Anyway, I’m the type that like… when I get frustrated I start crying reflexively, and I kind of had a freak out on the way there in the car ahaha… and again in the middle of the meeting. It was baaad. And it was worse because I couldn’t explain that it wasn’t that the speech it was just EVERYTHING all together and I was fine and I really wanted to fulfill my club’s expectations. [You would too if your club spent like, literally, a ridiculous amount of money on you and threw you welcome parties and made speeches at you and gave you ridiculously expensive pieces of clothing]

But I ended up recovering and stumbling through the speech I prepared the days before just fine, thanking them and introducing Spokane, myself, and my school. I thought I did horrible, but apparently it went over really well and everyone was impressed with how my Japanese had progressed in such a short time. My host mom was really pleased and started crying too at the end arharhar….

Anyway I was so exhausted by the end of that… uwahhh.

This was Monday.. I wrote it out when I got home as a bit of a vent.



Sunday, I went grape bunch choosing with Hmom and sis. Supposedly, picking, but it was more like choosing. The grapes were kept in white bags and you peeked in and decided if you wanted it or not. The type is budou, and unlike American grapes, have very tough skin and pulpier insides. They're really sweet, but a pain to eat since you have to peel them first. Still mmmm.


At least the scenery was pretty.

I basically didn’t do anything overly exciting until Friday, well actually I probably did but I forgot about it.
Wow, I love how ‘going to a Japanese highschool’ no longer registers on my list of exciting.

Here’s a little bit about my school routine.

I get up whenever I wake up, usually around 5:30. Breakfast is at 6:00, and usually consists of yogurt/bananas, cereal, bread, rice(onigiri), and egg sandwiches. They don’t drink milk here except with cereal.

At 6:50, I go downstairs and get my hair braided by host mom. [My American mother is the BEST BRAIDER IN THE WORLD and I hadn’t actually realized this before…but now, no one can braid hair very well and it bugs me..]

Anyway, then I throw on the uniform, hop in the car with Yuri and her friend next door. We drive to the train station and jump on the train. [usually with only a minute or two to spare.] It’s extremely loud and jampacked at that time in the morning. We don’t even get little handles, let alone seats. As the train jumps and turns, all the people sway together with it, like one living breathing organism. It’s less romantic when we all kinda fall over at once….

The ride takes about… 25 minutes? After getting off the train, we walk a few minutes to jump in line for the bus. Thankfully, we usually get there early enough to snag seats, which is good because the bus ride is at least 30 minutes.

To be honest, I keep saying ‘bus ride’ and ‘train ride’ but the Japanese don’t really distinguish these words from ‘nap time.’ At our stop, I check yuri to make sure she’s awake, and we walk 10 minutes to school. It’s pretty scenic, but then again, I still haven’t gotten over how cool I think Japanese cities and architecture is yet.
Yay, commute!

At school, I arrive early and sleep at my desk. I’m usually pretty … um [wow, thanks Japanese 24/7, all I can think of is ‘lactose’ although I know this isn’t right] uh… LETHARGIC there’s the word. It actually takes until around 2nd period to start really talking to anyone.

There are 6 periods a day here. Between each is a 10 minute break. You stay in one room all day, but the teachers change. When Sensei enter the room, he or she says something like ‘sukitsu’ [although I’m not entirely sure]. On cue, the entire class stands up and bows.
This sounds stuffy and respectful and all, but kids actually tal
k or sleep in class pretty much constantly, so somehow I think American teachers get more respect.

Not that I’m complaining. I LOVE this system. I’ve gone from getting a 5 minute break three times a week with a 25 minute lunch to getting a 10 minute break 5 times a day and a 45 minute lunch. Furthermore, you basically get complete freedom during these breaks to do whatever you please. The teachers don’t seem to pay attention to what the students are doing, unlike the American system where you couldn’t really have less freedom if they leashed you.

School is so scintillating that I’ve decided to memorize my Japanese dictionary at the rate of one page a day. Of the 167 Japanese-english pages I am through 4. Akubi is the word for yawn and your birthmark in Japanese is ‘aza’. Furthermore, that sketchy person down the road is totally an ayashiihito. This may sound slightly futile, but I’ve used and heard many of the words already! Woo! It’s kind of a wimpy dictionary so only more common words are included…

I’ve made a few friends in class and I’m friendly with probably 70% of all the girls, but the language barrier is really preventing me from being more than that. Luckily, there’s a Japanese exchange student who went to Sweden in my class and, although she doesn’t speak English, understands my position and patiently explains things to me ehe;;;

There's about 6 or 7 guys in a class of 40. Only one guy really talks to me and just occasionally, which isn’t unusual since the boys and girls don’t tend to mix here? It’s okay, I content with admire them from afar while the Japanese develops. [Oh Japanese boys, I don’t think they make them better anywhere on earth. I think it’s the hair. Mmm.]

These kids have a pretty amazing English reading com
prehension ability, but NO ONE talks to me in English. I’m not complaining and I don’t initiate it, but I think it’s pretty amusing that here I am, native English speaker in a class of people with an English focus, and no one tries at all. [Well, except for previously mentioned boy who occasionally gets out a sentence, but then again his hobby is studying languages so surprise surprise]

After school my English is usually horrible and with a Japanese ring to it. [Harro, mai naimu iz emiri, pureezd tu meechew..’waawt iz yaour naim? Oh waaaiiit pghhhsfhg Hello...]

After school, we’ve been doing bunkasai practice, although I hope to join art club soon. Bunkasai is cultural fest, and for it were doing a little skit called Alice? Although the lead is dressed as Alice from Alice in Wonderland, the plot has zippo to do with it. I’ll try to get a video of it. Cross dressing is done, bad Japanese boyband songs are sung, and children’s anime dance videos are danced. It is quite fatabulous.

Oh! Friday I met Stanpu chan! She’s the thai exchange student. She’s not too skilled at Japanese yet, and I’ll be taking Japanese beginner lessons with her 2 times a week. She’s in host sis’ class, and apparently doesn’t talk too much. Which kind of lined up with how she acted upon meeting me. So much for exchange student buddies. Oh well.

Saturday was pretty quiet. Got up late, spent a while drawing, went to lunch to host grandparents. They laughed at my Japanese attemps a few time, pffft.
Went to the video store, it was HUGE. I’m pretty sure that the anime kids at my school would have just walked in and died of joy. There was like 7 aisles of anime, I was really surprised.. and the manga section was like a third of barnes and noble
I’m like
Going back to that sometime. Gotta get my comic fix…

Sunday, Kouyo and Mama were gone again. I went to the international center with papa and wandered around. It was fairly big, and had a little library of foreign books. I kinda want to go back, but it’s not like I want to… stay there like was the original intention of going today? Odd. There's only about 2-300 foreigners in this city. Of 300,000. Kinda makes me feel special.
View from international room
Anyway, not a lot else to report. Jaa, later mates.

Week 2 over and OUT.

YOROSHIKU ONEGAISHIMASU

Hana-chan. She really likes tummy rubs.

Dad, you’d be proud. I’ve caught more fish in Japan than I have in a 2 years of the US!
Granted, they were about 2 inches long, and were caught with a net, but it’s the thought that counts am I right?
Saturday, Kouyo and I walked outside and noticed that the water feed to the rice fields had been cut off, and we ran to the feeding pond to go see if it was still full of water. There was about two feet, and a lot of fish trapped because of the cut off flow!

They were feisty little beggers, and kept jumping out of the container. Kouyo would shout OH NOO OH NOOO in this Japanese accent and it was hilarious.
He also fell in.
AHAHA-I mean DAIJOUBU KOUYO??? [Are you okay??]
Let me follow up with
SUSHI ADVENTURE

OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
AKSDLFJASDJ ASKDJ FAS DISGUSSSTTIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGG
KSLFDJKASDJKF GRROOOOSSSSSSSSS

EWWWWWWWW

Okay I’m done.

Sunday was very guuud!

ORIENTATION WAS SO AWFUL.  2 hours of speeches from Japanese Exchange stud
ents who just returned. And the only parts I really understood well were when they were speaking in French FML. [Although it was kind of cool because I kinda zoned out and suddenly was all WAIT WHEN DID I START UNDERSTANDING THIS]

Anyway so introduction time… all the other exchanges students knew we had to make a speech but me! And I had to go second! It was sooo bad. After my awe-inspiring 30 second speech, I scurried off the podium and my host mom was just laughing so hard. I was all mouthing SORRY SORRY SORRY and she just laughed harder. No problem, Mama, I’m happy to be a source of amusement. Later, in thecar, she said EMIRI WA ICHIBAN KAWAII NE [Emily is the cutest no?!] which brought on a bit of a case of warm fuzzies.
After Orientation, we went to hanabi, which any self respecting weeaboo knows are Fireworks. Kouyo dragged me into this Carnival game thing where you get 10 minutes to sort through a large pit of rocks covered in water for a diamond. I cannot say it was overly exciting, but there you go. Cul-ture.

Japanese bus!

Monday, I went to school and went over my schedule with the head of the foreign department. He spoke okay English but was kind of… um… well, let me say that Japanese seem to really like to threaten corporal punishment. At that point, I hadn’t been made to feel bad about my inability to speak great Japanese yet but he managed to do it somehow;;
Although later, he left and came back while I was talking to my hosties about how the American school system was different. He looked kind of and was all ‘Oh! Wait to what extent can you speak Japanese?.’ and seemed to be nicer after tha
t. Odd.


Breakfast for one morning! Onigiri.
Uh, I completely forget what I did on Tuesday.

Wednesday was the first day of school.
You know how in movies, characters who undergo traumatic events experience amnesia?
Then you know why I can’t remember anything about this day…



J-JUST KIDDING… sort of.

Got up in the morning, got help with my new sailor fuku uniform… pictures next week, I promise. Drove to train station, took train into town, took bus from there to school.
Do you know how expensive transportation is here? Definitely a thriving commerce. My bus/train pass for one month is… around 155 dollars. SFKJDSF SOIDJ AHHHH
Fortunately, my club is paying for it.

Yuri and Misaki [Her friend] On the way to school

Anyway, first I had to introduce myself to all the teachers in Japanese. Kinda scary. Then I got lead to my class, and had to introduce myself to the 40 other students there. Kinda scary. They all clamored at once and I heard the words ‘Kawaiii!” like a zillion times [Cute, basically, it’s so overused here.] They didn’t crowd around or ask any questions, but they were receptive to questions and very helpful.

This all sort of pales in comparison to what they just casually sprung on me next.

YO EMIRI… YOU’LL HAVE TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF… IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL…. ON STAGE…. RIGHT NOW … HAVE FUN. Oh, stop looking so scared, it’s just 900 students sitting expectantly in long, impeccable rows, [military style] staring up at you on stage while you try to speak in a language you are mostly unfamiliar with. Please don’t worry about the oft severely hard to spoken understand manners code that I won’t bother to instruct you on for this case! Sheesh, it’s a wonder Americans get
anything done with such wussy youth.

I totally skittered off stage after getting out my short intro, probably did it completely wrong. I try not to think about it. Anyway, now, the entire school knows who I am and I keep getting “HI EMIRI!!” in the halls. It’s all HUH HUH.. um do I know you…?

Anyway, I don’t actually remember this day too well. I did my best to kind of try to talk, and I sort of did, like I feel like I did okay. I could only remember one person’s name by the end of the day, though. Japanese names are wicked hard to remember. And they all kinda looked the same. Literally, half the girls in my class have the same haircut. Or is it three fourths?


Wakayama Trainstaition~ Second stop on the way to school

Anyway, was pretty glad to be done, even though it was only a half day. All day, I’d been so highstrung, one overly enthusiastic twang could have snapped me in half. These people in my class, I will literally spend 7 hours a day, 5 days a week with for 11 months. Messing up the first impression would be like shooting myself in the foot, only more painful.

Now, up till this point, I’d been coasting on the LOOK I’M FINALLY HERE high. But somehow, even though the second day of school went pretty damn fantabulous, and I managed to get friendly with many of my classmates and get myself involved in stuff, my mood just crashed when I’d got home. It’d started veering a little after school, but after my host brother starting throwing a fit it took, a complete nosedive. I think it hit me then how very long I’d be here for and just how far away from everything I was.

This mood persisted into Friday. Students were taking tests and I was trying not to sleep in the international room, keeping myself awake by contemplating how much I didn’t want to be there and just how hard I was going to fail at this exchange thing.
After Math and Japanese exam, I returned to participate in English and things started to look up.
I conversed [By conversed, I mean I spoke haltingly, played charades, and motioned at the dictionary a lot. Much hilarity ensues.] with many of my classmates. I remembered some names and recognized some faces, practiced the dance for culture festival [I am HORRIBLE. Everyone kinda knew it already, add this to my lack of coordination and inability to understand] and giggled madly over the this bag with the Jamaican flag and a marijuana leaf that some girl in my class has. [She didn’t know…]

Anyway, after school was done I came back home and, after dinner, we did these sparkler things. They were very pretty, but it was way too hot and I got more bugbites that are swelling as we speak. On one hand, it’s incredibly itchy, but on the other, it’s kind of cool how my arm and right leg look broken in 2 places haha!


Koyou doing Hanabi


Mama and Kouyo on porch, Yuri walking from inside
.
Anyway, today I’m home all day, some of it home alone! Soon. HMom and Hbro are at a Kendo thing, HSister will be going to Juku [it’s like MORE school only outside of school;;] I plan on playing my little brother’s wii games and turning the music up. I am looking forward to it.

In anycase, I should really start writing my 10-20 minute rotary speech I have to give Monday, so sayonara, everyone.

Week one, over and out!

Herro! Mai Naimu iz Kiooyo


ALIVE!

And guess where I am.

If you answered:

Sitting at this badass, 8 ft. desk kindly provided to me by my fantabulous host fami
ly, listening to my awesome new little brosski take out his massive reserves of energy on a friend of his downstairs while wishing I had gotten more sleep, you’d be right.

But let’s talk about my journey, shall we.

Woke up at around 2:45 am on the 18th, threw stuff into my suitcase before flying out the door in typical Emily fashion, 6 minutes after the proposed ‘leave no later than’ time. At the airport I said a final, rushed goodbye to the parents and headed through security. It was very relaxed at 4 am. It would have been fun to dreamily watch the sunset with my dull, sleep deprived mind. Except it was.. overcast.
Uneventful ride over, had a similarly uneventful four hour layover in Sanfran. Met up with Exchange student Ken from Illinois and
jumped on an airplane destined for Osaka. It was frigging jinormous- 9 seats wide. The little personal light things were so far above our heads that when you turned them on it was like having your own mini spotlight. I ended up mowing through 4 episodes of Dexter, 4 pages in my sketchbook, and my entire mp3 battery. I thought my butt would turn to mush, seriously, 11 hours.
After getting off, Ken and I stumbled upon another rotary exchange student, Kat from Missouri. The line to customs was longer than the queue to a popular Disneyland Rollercoaster, and took about an hour to get through. I’d gotten off the plane pretty chipper, but by the end of that, ugh. Looked, felt like a complete mess.

Anyway, at the exit, I met Mama! ....and practically the entire rotary club
too, with a big ‘WELCOME MS. EMILY’ sign. Practically gave me a heart attack.
6000 pictures and a truckload of Japanese gibberish later, we piled o
nto a bus and went to a restaurant in a hotel. I talked to Yukimi-san [THERE. I REMEMBERED. Weeps why are Japanese names so hard] and…. Someone else who’s going to Canada and… Hi—Hiiii- Hi something. Who’ll be my host brother in October! I’ll have to figure it out his name before then.

Anyway, it’s kind of a blur. I said arigatou a lot. It was… really kind of formal and there was all these respectable business men and I had ABSOLUTELY NO FREAKIN CLUE WHAT I WAS DOING OR WHAT WAS GOING ON AHAHA omg I probably broke like

。。。2039483904234 social taboos
They kept making speeches at me and I was all… TRIES TO UNDERSTAND FAILS Says arigatou goziamasu again instead of anything useful….

But it turned out okay ! I think…….. sobb.
I’ve read a lot of horror stories about bad host families and terrible host clubs, and let’s just say any fears I had are mostly assuaged. I met my next few families and they seem like really g- HOLY‐A STORK JUST FLEW BY MY WINDOWーAnyway, they seem really great and look forward to having me!!  Despite the fact I'm sort of getting thrown around like a hot potatoe. [I’m to have 5 families! Oh lord!]

Went home with current Hosties after. Went over some rules with Papa who speaks English and crashed.
Alright. As great as this all was, I have discovered the first thing about Japan that I detest. It is. The humidity. And heat. That does not. Go. Away. Ever. Sheer exhaustion took me out for 3 hours- then I woke up and it was all OH MY LORD I AM SO HOT WHY IS IT SO HOT OH LORRD IT IS 5 AM…. Clothes just stick to you here. I have yet to feel clean. Once. Despite shower.

I am feeling pretty good for now Though! Last night, very confusing and I felt kind of weird, but today was nice! I hung out with my 10 year old host bro Kouyo. Yuri, my 15 year old host sis, is very quiet, so I haven’t talked to her like
, at all. I’ll work on that.

But their house! It is in the coolest place! Japanese country is GORGEOUS. It borders … fields of… stuff. I’ve yet to get a straight answer on what. I asked and Kouyo just told me they were growing snails. But anyway, there’s a waterway that runs through it with goldfish and…koi? And…leeches. Hiiru. Surrounding it are these wooded mountains, and the river of sweat running down your face makes it feel like the rainforest! Hm…
I’m not sure why I like this area so much. It’s a mix of plants and powerlines, wich modest little houses spattered haphazardly around tiny little lanes for bicycles and mopeds. I never did like the cut and paste American formula of neighborhoods with their cute trimmed lawns and carefully arranged flowers. Especially those blocks upon blocks of eerily similar white houses with cookie cutter lawns. American white picket fence stereotype, much?

This neighborhood is so much more appealing. Everything is smaller, and the houses are crammed together, but it feels more natural and relaxed. I’m no poet, but I’m sure you’ll see what I mean when I get a video up.

Mama keeps trying to use a translator on me, and the engrish that pops out is hilarious. She points at it and sounds it out carefully. “DO…YOU…ADVANCE WILL?” Not as if I have any right to speak, as I’ve already reduced my host bro to a fit of tearful laughter over my bad Japanese. I think it had something to do with calling the fridge family.

Anyway, I crashed again about 6 o’clock, pulling an Emily and conking out straight on the floor. Mama woke me up for dinner at 7, which was… pizza. Sort of. There with sausage, chicken, shrimp and other such toppings, served with a side of… rice…? It was strange. We watched really weird television while eating. [The only channel that is normal is baseball! It’s so bizarre! Oh, Japan.] but I couldn’t stay awake, so I re-crashed. Woke up at 3 am. Tossed and turned till 4, gave up about 4:30 and
here I am
watching the
Japanese sun
go up.
How surreal.

Anyway, ciao! Enjoy your Midday, my morning is great. [Albeit slightly sticky.] Orientation tomorrow in Osaka, woo!

じゃ、また、みんなさん!