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.

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


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.


In conclusion

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.