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.