February 5

HAPPY BIRTHDAY YOSHI (one of the two people who read my blog)

AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAITLIN (my sister)

On Thursday February 1st, I was able to attend a family owned eikaiwa school through a connection of Jackie. It was so interesting to see how the instructor interacted with his students and taught them through the TPRS method (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling). We sat in through a children’s class, a junior high school class, and an adult’s class, and his methods were tailor made for each one. When we got there I liked what he said about how although he uses this method, it’s always about the students first. He also, refuses to use the words hard or difficult, which I messed up and used them 3-4 times. Finally, I got to hear his opinions on English education in Japan, how native English speaking teachers are treated, and various other things, so it was a great way to reach an understanding of at least one person’s teaching strategies and experiences.

Since then, I have been inspired. I have officially emailed 20 英会話-English Conversation- schools in the Osaka area (after finding a list of more than 40 different companies). For research on Japan’s English education market, as well as trying to get second-hand experience through observations in their schools. Most of the big companies have refused due to “company policies”. Two of the smaller ones have been more welcoming, one of which I will go observe at on Thursday! And I have received two part time job interview offers from it, so all in all emails are still a good strategy to reach out it appears.

But all this is just to give some unnecessary, but fun background information to what I want to talk about.

Today I went shopping in Yao for some business-casual clothes, as I mentioned just right on up above, I will have some interview opportunities and observation chances, so I want to make sure I make a good impression. I won’t be dressing in Japanese style interview clothes (if you don’t know what I’m talking about click here). I am interviewing for part-time job positions, and observing at mostly foreigner run English conversation schools, so my more American style business-casual should be fine, but if I were to be applying for full-time positions, I would want to dress more in the Japanese style because most big English conversation schools are actually run by Japanese, so different expectations, I presume.

So, yes, I found my outfit! It’s just a nice white blouse with a grey cardigan, to wear with my jacket, which I hope Jackie can stitch up for me by Thursday (it is falling apart at the seams, da-dun-cha!), and some nice subtly patterned slacks, and dress shoes. Not all of it I bought in Yao, but a good part of it I did buy. I’ll probably throw on my scarf and hat on my way there as it is very cold for me lately.

While I was in a store though, I saw this Japanese kid playing with her Barbie doll. She looked about to be 4, but no mom, or family member was in sight. She didn’t seem to be worried about it though. As I continued to look at things, I would casually glance over to see if she was okay. [It’s probably the American in me, hearing about kidnappings and shootings almost everyday in the news], she was fine until she heard another mom’s voice and who she thought was her mom. She chased after her (out the door of the mall), but came back in when she realized it was not her mom. I was already paying attention to her when she ran out because the woman that left the mall did not even glance at the girl. However, when she came back in the little girl was wiping her eyes. I knew she was scared and started to cry.

My horrible Japanese, foreigner appearance, and maybe my concern– made her cry more, but I slowly walked into the store that I imagined her mother must be shopping in, and made my way to the stores counter with her in tow, rehearsing what I may say to the cashiers, who actually looked completely non-phased by the whole crying child standing next to a foreigner. Like– yeah, I wasn’t a creepy person who looked like they’d steal here, but still… I don’t know how I would have handled the situation either, working in retail, but… Hmm… Japan is a confusing country that sends young kids to school by themselves, and kids play at the park nearly by themselves, Japan is safe, people look out for each other, for the most part. However, I don’t know… Maybe it’s my experience working with kids as a babysitter, nanny, and after school volunteer. Maybe it’s my childhood experience, but in general I just felt something should have been done before me, the scary foreign looking person approached this crying kid. I mean foreigners scare adults in Japan, let alone the poor kid. I’m over here just saying : 大丈夫ですか。お母さんはどこですか。店員に聞きたいですか。聞きたい?Like shit, I can hardly form a sentence in Japanese when I’m just casually talking with friends. Put on the panic mode and I forget any proper Japanese.

Also– let it be known, I’ve never had to approach a lost kid in America. I’ve read articles about how to handle that kind of situation (since I’m a nerd). But, it is completely different in real life. You forget everything and you just want the kid to not cry, because crying is heartbreaking, but you also don’t want anyone to think that you were trying to kidnap the kid and you don’t want the kid to run away, yeah… so many things run through your mind.

If the kid hadn’t started to cry, I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of it though honestly. Which is kind of scary [again, from my American point of view]. She would just be there wiping away tears, trying to be brave, until her mom maybe found her?

No idea what the situation was. Did she run from her mom and think she was being sneaky by hiding–like I did to my mom? Or did she lose her mom in the store? Did she just want to play with her Barbie doll? Did she follow someone she thought was her mom, but wasn’t? So many different things could have happened.

Anyhow, that’s one experience I can check of the list of experiences I do not want to experience again. And yes, I am very aware that I used experience three times in that sentence, it was to make sure you experience my overuse of the word experience. Quite a good experience, right?

Okay, there we have it. My eventful day.

M.

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January 24 : Thoughts

This blog is just me rambling basically about my plans for the future. No pictures, no videos, nothing exciting. Just about me, for me.

Recently, I made my decision about what I will do after I study abroad in August at Osaka Kyoiku University for many reasons. I am not completely happy about my decision, but I am working on making the most of any situation thrown my way. In this blog post, I will explain my decision, why I had to make/made this decision which shows both the positive and negative sides of my decision, and other plans…

Background: Right now I am studying abroad in Osaka, Japan which has a 14 hour time difference from my state in the US (NC). This can make communications with the staff at the school difficult at times as the time difference normally means when their offices are open, I am asleep, unless I make an effort to stay awake. Also, the semester at Osaka Kyoiku University is completely different from that of Western Carolina’s. In America the Fall semester is August-December and Spring semester is January-May, here it is October-February and Spring is April-lateJuly/earlyAugust. I love this school’s atmosphere, I love Japan (most of the time), I love studying abroad and meeting new people, and I really love my friends in Japan.

Decision: Despite all of that, I have decided to leave OKU and return to Western Carolina University for the Fall 2018 semester. Originally I was considering studying abroad at another university in Japan or going to South Korea or even Spain, or just taking a semester off of school. However, that is not happening and I will be getting on a plane sometime in August to return to America. I am going to “take it easy” (aka not taking above 18 credit hours like I have done since enrolling at WCU) for the two semesters after I return to Western Carolina and focus on maintaining my Japanese and Korean, regaining my Spanish, working at getting TEFL certification (while finishing my TESOL minor), and applying for jobs with JET, EPIK, TaLK, Interac, etc (other English teaching companies).

Why I made these decisions:

  1. How the study abroad system works at my home university in America (Western Carolina University) regarding transcripts, academic standing, and the Honors College. I basically could lose my Honors College scholarship at any minute because I have not gotten my transcripts back to Western. The problem? I probably won’t get my transcript until April and that is almost the end of the Spring semester of Western Carolina. So, many unexpected emails have been received from the Registrars Office, and from other working offices of WCU that just added too much stress on top of study abroad stress, job hunting stress, and relationship stress– I do not feel that I could stay vigilant enough about it for another semester to make sure all these things stay in an order that is more beneficial than detrimental to me.
  2. When applying for jobs, some have interviews that are only offered within the United States. Studying abroad that third semester when I should be applying for jobs, or graduate school, is feasible, but to ensure that I have the same opportunity as other candidates, I think it is best for me to return to Western Carolina.
  3. My majors are Dual Language Studies (Spanish and Japanese), and International Studies. I still have quite a few classes to take for my International Studies degree, assuming none of the classes I take over here will transfer over. At first, I thought that it would be possible for me to cram all of these classes into one semester, and although not impossible, it would not be ideal with all the other things that I will be doing during my time back at Western Carolina. Also, I have almost forgotten all of my Spanish and think that I will need a lot of support getting back into speaking it when I return to the US.
  4. I intend to live abroad, ideally in Japan or South Korea. After studying abroad, I have affirmed not only that I would be able to handle living in either of these countries, but that I truly want that for my future. That being said, I no longer feel that I have to rush to improve my Japanese. When I first got here, I think part of me expected to learn Japanese very fast, but now that is not my worry. I want to learn Japanese/Korean enough to be able to help my future students acquire knowledge of English in the easiest way possible, and as well as to create a bond with the students. However, that I do not think that I need to rush.
  5. Teaching Practicum. I am a TESOL minor as I mentioned before. I will do my practicum for my minor, in the Spring of 2019, before I graduate. However, during the Fall 2018 semester I will be getting a TEFL certificate online, and if I can get a practicum experience for that as well, that would be ideal. For that, I would need two semesters in the United States, so I will return in the Fall.

Other things that make me excited to go back to WCU:

  1. I can play intramural sports [soccer, volleyball, indoor soccer~]!
  2. I have friends that I miss in the US [Nelle, Anna]
  3. I can be with my family for Thanksgiving [after this, who know’s the next time]
  4. I am looking forward to the classes that I take when I get back
  5. I get to finally graduate and think about my future!
  6. I miss the availability of good Hispanic food in the US

Reasons I am not looking forward to returning:

  1. Less opportunities to practice Japanese [possibly lose my Japanese ability]
  2. The time difference can make communicating with friends that live in Japan hard
  3. I will miss Japanese food
  4. I will have to drive in the US [I love being able to take the train almost anywhere]
  5. I have to graduate and finally think about my future~
  6. I will miss the availability of “Asian” food when I am at WCU

Other plans:

I already talked about this a bit, about why I made my decision, but I plan to apply for various teaching abroad programs in Japan and South Korea. The JET application for example is due in November, with interviews in January and February, and in April-July I would find out if I am accepted or not. EPIK and TaLK applications open up in February, and other contracting organizations in Japan are open pretty much year-round. I will hold off on applying for Graduate school, because I want time to figure out what I want to study for my masters, and what I need to study to be a better teacher.

This is following pretty close after my new Years post, so I hate to bore anyone with all this talk about my future, but lately that’s what has been on my mind and I want to hash it out with those that read my blog.

If you have any suggestions about applying for teaching jobs in Asia (preferably Japan-Korea), please tell me! I will continue this blog through these experiences even after returning to the US, as this has become a rewarding activity for me.

M.

January 19: Nagoya

I have really been working hard on staying on top of these posts. Writing them pretty far ahead of time and then setting them to automatically post helps.

However, the whole translating thing has become more of a hindrance for my language development and measurement than helpful, so I will not do that as often anymore. Probably only when I have another reason for writing it in Japanese, i.e an assignment, or to practice vocabulary and kanji that I am learning. Instead I will blog at least once a week. Translating just ceased to be fun, so I was not giving it all my energy as I should have. For that I apologize, but regardless, I will still be continuing this blog.

Last weekend I went to Nagoya with my friends that studied abroad at Western Carolina University last year. It was SOOO much fun, and very nostalgic. I really missed hanging out with everyone.

I just remembered sitting in the cafeteria playing Shadow Verse with Kiichi, Ken, and Yoshi. Or studying in the library for one of our classes. Or just chatting about various, sometimes stupid, things. Or working on group projects together… I have so many happy memories with these three guys, and I was really glad to make more memories with them here in Japan. Yoshi reads my blogs, so it’s a little weird to say this, but really thanks to them I am enjoying my time in Japan.

Here are some of my memories from Nagoya~

Technically before we got to Nagoya, but I thought the bridge looked cool, so yeee. *ft. Yoshi’s driving and my awkward giggle*

We did it~We survived. Thanks Yoshi’s great driving and my one save~ ho-ho-ho~

We tried to do the whole titanic thing… It didn’t work out perfectly, I am too short compared to Yoshi, but y’know it was a pretty good try (and actually maybe the height ratio is about right, now that I am looking at DiCaprio). Really, though, at least Troi’s editing skills were on point, we look like the real deal!

Kiichi tried on women’s heels after finding women’s LL size.

He finally became as tall (taller?) than me!

Also, Kiichi’s wonderful performance in the Okinawa-store.
What an Okinawa specific store is doing in Nagoya, I have 0-idea, but it was cool!

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Also, Courtney found her husband~~

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And made friends with the Haribo bear~

And of course, it would not be a visit with Courtney without Purikura  (プリクラ)

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Looking good everyone~!

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The only photos of myself I post on here are very embarrassing, but it’s all good. Kiichi looks like a good CHICK, in the mean time… I am…?

Of course, since we were in Nagoya we had to eat Nagoya food. This one above is Misonikomi Udon — I did not eat it “correctly” according to the website I attached a link to, but it was still very delicious. Troi also ordered a potato salad– which again, was great!

My god, that last picture of me is horrifying, however, it was so fun to catch up with everyone. Try so many Japanese snacks (thanks Yoshi), and eat another Nagoya specialty miso kushi-katsu and we also ate tebasaki, but I guess everyone devoured those before we could snap a picture. We stayed at Kiichi’s house, and you’ll see Kiichi’s sister in the background of the picture where Yoshi stole my hat… She was so cool, wish I could’ve talked to her… I enjoyed the way she spoke, so unlike most Japanese girls. It was definitely refreshing!

One more Nagoya-food that we ate was:

Ankake Spaghetti— I do not think this is a very well-known food because I tried to tell my Japanese teacher about it and she asked if we went to an Italian restaurant… However, I LOVED this. It was spicy and oh boy, oh boy, I have been craving spicy food since coming to Japan. Definitely 10/10 recommend.

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That was essentially our trip to Nagoya, so with that I leave you with the last couple clips :

*Note*We do not condone breaking rules, even for your Starbucks and beautiful view, so, when you come visit do not bring your delicious matcha latte up to the roof even if you really want to see the water ceiling with your friends who do not have a drink (aka, Yoshi and I because we went to the bathroom instead of battling the Starbucks line).

My stutter– ru-rule breakers. There you have it folks! Nagoya!

But honestly the water on the roof is pretty cool~ Apparently it looks even better at night. I guess the next time I am over in Nagoya, I have to check it out!

Thanks to everyone for making it so enjoyable!

100% M.

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P.S. Every time I have to write the word ceiling, I think of my manager at my movie theatre who corrected my spelling (after I wrote it about 7 times incorrectly), thanks Mr. G. Definitely made me become the best I can be.

January 12

Last weekend was a 3-day weekend and Troi, Jackie and I were able to go to Tokyo!

We spent a lot of time planning:::

Flights from Osaka to Tokyo are generally the cheapest way, but due to the New Year, flights were unusually expensive. So, we took the night bus. Honestly, that’s my preferred way of travel. I like buses, I guess.

Anyway, I wanted to share some pictures from Tokyo! Next week I will talk about this weekends trip to Nagoya–we have friends that study at Chukyo University, so we are going there to visit them!

Oh~ This is what the bus was like on the way there:

The first day we got to Tokyo though, I had a date~ Of course, I let Troi and Jackie meet him too. Funny story, we were supposed to meet him outside of the Sensoji temple, but somehow we ended up inside of it without knowing it, which in turn caused confusion, and giving him a hard time of finding us. We sent many pictures declaring our location:

After that, we went our separate ways. Troi and Jackie went to get their hair done, and I was able to hang out with him alone.

We first went back to Sensoji to explore some more (by the time he found us, Troi and Jackie basically already had to go).

Then we went to a famous Matcha Ice Cream shop! When we arrived there they told us to go to another building to wait. We waited at that building for about 15 minutes, then we were able to return to the main building, and we waited in line for another fifteen minutes. It was worth the wait, maybe not the price as it was quite expensive… However, the Matcha was very rich and delicious! If you have time check it out!

Ignore me as I say “Video” with a mouth stuffed of melting matcha ice cream. By the way, this ice cream stains your teeth, lips, and anything it touches, but definitely worth the awkward few minutes of looking like Shrek.

Next, he was hungry so we stopped for some food~ I didn’t eat because I had eaten lunch at 13:00, but this guy can eat a lot! When they brought out the first plate of noodles, I thought there was no way that he could finish them, but he did.  And then got another one (it was all you can eat~).

After that we went to the Sky Tree, it is expensive to go to the top, but it was worth it for me. I have it as a goal to go to all the towers in Japan, so, I was glad for that opportunity!

He likes saying that I am mean… 笑〜I had tried to take pictures before, and they turned out really bad, but it’s such a pretty view!

After that, we just hung out and then said our goodbyes. I got back to the Troi, Jackie and my Airbnb at around 12:30am– trains and subways and whatever run longer in Tokyo I think than in Osaka, or at least I wasn’t worried about getting lost here, surprisingly.

When we got back we tried a souvenir that he gave us from his trip a couple days before from Nagano.

Okay, you don’t get the opportunity to see us actually trying them, but this is better anyway. It was such a struggle to get the box open.

This is from the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum on our second day in Tokyo. After learning about the different kinds of Ramen, we went ahead and enjoyed some tasty miso-ramen (Jackie’s favorite):

They always tease me about taking pictures of my food, so it’s great when I catch them in the act. This museum took you back to old-Tokyo, it was really cool to imagine myself living in such a time.

After the Ramen museum we headed down to Harajuku and explored the shops, I didn’t take too many pictures because it was so crowded and honestly, I was not too impressed. Most tourist places are just places to spend money… And, I was not in the mood to spend a lot of money, but looking at clothes was cool… I was like, oh I can buy this is Osaka, oh I see this at every store in Japan, oh… Like that…

However, we did find the giant rainbow cotton candy that had taken over my Facebook newsfeed for the past couple days. Honestly, I just bought it for the picture, though I really did want some sugar (even though we just ate crepes).

Ok, I made it sound like I did not like Harajuku… I did not, but… I probably won’t go back unless someone tells me one mind boggling place to go. Just so overwhelming.

Then we got back that night and enjoyed chatting until 4 am. Which is not the best idea when you have to be out of the airbnb by 10am, but it was nice to have this time to chat with my friends without worrying about annoying other exchange students living next door to us.

The next day after checking out of the airbnb we headed to … Shibuya. It was cool, except that it was rainy and we had no plans about what to do here other than eat Ice Monster, walk around, and then go to Taco Bell, which we decided to eat at 4am. Not a particularly Tokyo-ish meal, but when you get those Taco cravings…

This is what we got at Ice Monster, it is a giant Mango flavored Taiwanese-style shaved ice, so good. We also had to order 2 boba-tea drinks because for ever person that came in, at least one thing had to be ordered.

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Then , finally before returning home, or preparing to head to Osaka, we went to a Comedy show that I found on Airbnb. It was actually so much fun! The host was funny and introduced somethings about Japan that I did not know about yet, so that was cool.

Then we got back on the night bus and headed back to OKU. I slept for about 8 hours the day we got back, not good for my sleep cycle at all, but what can you do~.

Anyway, that was our trip to Tokyo in a nutshell. Hopefully this post at least makes my mom happy with all the pictures I threw in here.

M.

Happy New Year! (January 5)

The Holidays caught me by surprise, and left just as fast…

Busy times, busy times. Though honestly nothing really eventful happened over the New Years break. We were supposed to go to USJ–still have not gone, we went to Nara (again), and I went on a date for the New Years holiday, which was nice~!

Yesterday I had a doctor’s appointment… I was extremely nervous, so I started writing a blog post to get my anxiousness out, but I ran out of time and could not finish.

Even in America I hated to go see my rheumatologist. Worrying about the things that she would tell me. Worrying that maybe she would know my arthritis had not been good (sometimes I didn’t want to tell her and worry her about the little things). Worrying that she would suggest changing medicine. Just useless worrying.

However, in Japan, even though I have long since realized that this kind of worrying is useless, I worried, I am worrying– often. This time I went to the doctor without an interpreter. It was terrifying before I got there. I kept thinking, I am not going to understand what they tell me. I am not going to go to the right place. And so on… Useless worrying about something that I cannot change.

However, the doctor’s appointment went well.

No, I did not miraculously understand everything the hospital staff said to me. Nor did I not get lost. And no–people who spoke English were not everywhere.

In fact a lot of things confused me, and I probably still made a few mistakes, but I survived, it is over, and done.

Good things came out of the visit too.

While waiting to pay (I have to talk about this paying system in my next blog post about the hospital, probably after my visit in March– it is a little confusing and lots of waiting, but completely doable), I met two very cute Japanese kids, Kenta-kun (2) and Airi-chan (6). We played shiritori together (you can try to play it by yourself on this website: http://www.shiritori.org/), and listed off all the fruits that we knew, and just made silly faces at each other. Honestly, kids are the best. I do not worry about making mistakes because they do too, they may not always understand me, but sometimes they can figure out what I am trying to say better than their parents.

Also, my doctor kindly gave me more “souvenirs” as he likes to call them, which is just information brochures in Japanese. He is trying to get me to know all these Arthritis terms in Japanese, I think.

Can I just say, doctor’s in Japan seem to rush me so much less than my doctor in the US. Maybe it is because I am a new patient for him, but I feel like we could chat about anything together. On a sad note, he is going to Baltimore in August, so I do not know what that means for me entirely, but I will make sure everything works out at my next visit!

Any who~~~

Just because it is kind of related my New Year’s Goals:

  1. Stop slacking on the blog posting!!!!! (I have so many drafts saved on my computer, but they are all unfinished– Procrastinator power)
  2. Stop worrying about things that you can’t help. I’ve decided to use しょうがない〜as my motto for 2018.
  3. Let’s not let my arthritis flare up, but continue to play soccer, when the next semester starts, join a club.
  4. Don’t die
  5. Stay on top of the little tasks– AKA stop procrastinating on things just because they’re annoying
  6. See more places in Japan
  7. Study Korean for 30 minutes everyday, Japanese at least an hour of JLPT N3 study, and Spanish for 30 minutes. (Lately I have been forgetting everything that I had studied previously in all the languages, I really need to freshen up on everything and get in good study habits)

Not goals but things I need to do soon/in 2018:

  1. Decide if I am studying abroad in Japan or South Korea Fall 2018, or not at all.
  2. While I am studying abroad, I need to find a part time job teaching English or something in Japan
  3. Apply for CLS in August, for 2019
  4. Think about and apply for jobs
  5. Think about and maybe apply for graduate school
  6. Figure out how to get TESOL certification and get it
  7. Take Liberal Studies class online for P4 Upper Level credit in May(?)
  8. Take the JLPT N3 (try to pass!)

After writing that, I’m starting to realize how soon I have to enter in to the real worldaka, the world where adults cut zero slack for you, where the dog ate my homework excuse really fails, where I have to worry about problems more complicated than rent, food, and sleep…

I am definitely not ready.

M.

December 24|12月24日

Last night I went to my friend’s friend’s friend’s party at a Hostel in Namba, it was a lot of fun, and a lot of things happened (from making sushi and friends, to losing my cellphone inside of my bag, dropping my wifi box in the toilet, and getting very lost).

However, I wanted to write a short post about just one experience from the night!

At this party there was a deaf Japanese woman. She was good at lip reading, even with my horrible pronunciation of Japanese. Later that evening though, she ended up teaching me Japanese Sign Language! I was so excited!

Anyone that looked at me could see my excitement. I was jumping up and down when I learned something new. Now I can do a really short introduction in Japanese Sign Language, and I know just a few words, but to me, I think that is always the first step in learning a new language. Due to my interaction with her, I really want to learn!

So, write now I am looking at YouTube videos about Japanese Sign Language.

I forgot how to sign my name for a second, but this is it… I think! It is is not very smooth, but I think it is correct, but if you know JSL, and see that I messed up please tell me– I may not have understood what she was teaching me, or forgot something. Basically, this reads as “Nice to meet you (for the first time). My name is Megan. Thanks (?).”// 初めまして。私の名前は目ーガンです。よろしくお願いします。

Right now that’s about all I can do, but I also can do “Good morning, breakfast, Good afternoon, lunch, good evening, dinner, mother, father, grandfather, grandmother”!

I think that’s pretty good amount to remember from a 30 minute lesson after all the fun that occurred last night.

This is the chanel I am looking at on YouTube, if anyone is curious:

Ok, that’s my update for now~

M.

P.S It is Christmas Eve! What?! I did not realize it until right now…

 

姫路城

私はたくさん良い思い出作れましたから、よかったです。あまりグループの旅行好きじゃないですから、心配してました。グループの旅行の中で、時間は短いです。私の考えはとてもアメリカらしいと思います。グループの考え心配したくないから、一人で旅行したいです。一人で、友達と写真をとれませんですが、もっと勉強できるし、他の人の興味に心配しないし、行きたい場所に行けるし。自分で知識を広めたいから、一人でか小さいグループは方がいいと思います。しかし、いい経験でした。

この旅行の中で、初めてびくりしたことはバスの中でシートベルトを使わなくてはいけませんてはいけませんでした。アメリカで車に乗るとき、シートベルトを使わなくてはいけませんけど、バスに乗るとき使わない。面白い違いと思います。

I am glad that I was able to make many memories on this trip to Himeji-Jo. Most of the time I do not like traveling in large groups, so I was worried. When traveling with groups, time is more limited. I think that I have very American thoughts when it comes to this. When traveling by oneself, you do not have to worry about other group member’s thoughts. Although I cannot take as many pictures with friends, I can study what I want to study, I do not have to worry about others interests, and I can go to the places that I want to go. I want to expand my knowledge of the subject area seriously, so in that case, solo travel is better for me. However, this was a great opportunity.

The first thing that surprised me while on this trip, was that we had to wear seatbelts on the bus. In America, most buses like that one, do not even have seatbelts. In America when riding in a car, one must wear seatbelts, but on most buses, it is not mandatory and even impossible to do so. I thought that this was an interesting difference, especially considering that at least in my host family’s car, they did not encourage or require passengers sitting in the back to wear seatbelts, but for a bus it is required.

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建築の勉強が好きです が、端に興味がありませんでした。多分、他の人は楽しましたから、よかったです。でも私はちょっと好きじゃないと思いました。 今、ちょっとインタネットで垂教を調べています。前に、知っていましたら、多分、もっと興味がありました。だから、明石海峡大橋はちょっとつまらないでした。明石海峡のイルミネーションは多分面白いです。

I enjoy studying architecture a lot, but at the time, I did not have much interest in the bridge. Other students definitely enjoyed it, so I was glad. Just now, I started to look for information about the bridge, if I had done that before, I think I would be more interested. As a result, it was a little boring. However, it seems that the bridge’s illuminations would be very beautiful!

明石焼きは本当に美味しかったです。味はおオムレットようにです。その経験は素晴らしかったでっす。自分で作ったから、喜びました。でも、店員はちょっと怖いと思いました。私は2回たこ焼きを作ったから、今、プロです。でも、明石焼作り方は違うと言いました。店員は三回 教えてくれましたが、 まだたこ焼き作り方の方がいいです。

Akashiyaki was delicious! The flavor, and texture, reminded me of an omelet, except with octopus inside. I was very excited for the opportunity to learn to cook it ourselves. However, the women working were a little bit scary. I had made takoyaki twice before and due to my host family’s instructions I became quite good at making it. I thought akashiyaki was made in a similar manner, but apparently I was wrong. They kept telling me to make it differently, but I did not understand well, so I continued as I was doing before. However, it was still fun to make, and delicious!

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それから、姫路城に行きました。

姫路城は播磨灘にいる城です。この城をできた人は坂使いました。だから、この場所のために、あだは入れません。近く自然のために、姫路城は飛んで初める鳥みたいです。春の時、とても綺麗と思います。また行こうと思っています。

この城は少しだけ変わりました。四百年前、できましたが、今状態がいいです。強よくて、保存する使い方がいいです。日本では少しだけ見えますが、アメリカで歴史のことはあまり保存しました。そしてまた、日本のより、アメリカの方が新しいです。だから、アメリカで、あまり古い建物とか見えません。

Next, we went to Himeji castle. Himeji is a castle located on the Harima plain. The person who made this castle (utilized the surrounding area, such as the hills to build its defense. Due to this, the castle had both natural and man made defenses, rendering it nearly impenetrable for its enemies—even though this was never tested in battle. Due to the surrounding nature, it also appears like a bird, as its alternative name, Shirasagijo, suggests. I think it must look even more beautiful in the spring with the sakura blooming. When I go again, I am going to take the time to look at the other areas of the castle, rather than just the main structure.

Due to the impenetrable defense, mentioned previously, the castle has only been altered slightly in order to preserve its original state. 400 years ago the castle was built, but its condition is still good. This is due to the castle’s strength, and the vigilant efforts of the Japanese people to preserve it even today.

Although in Japan, it is rare to see such a pure form of a castle/fortress, in America it is impossible. Almost everything that was from the colonizing time, or before has disappeared. Even then, most of the remaining architecture is only 400 to 500 years old. In Japan, older architecture, or at least, older architecture styles, are preserved. America as a nation, is also a lot younger than Japan, so it is really cool to be here and able to actually feel where one’s ancestors came from—I think that could be one reason why many Japanese have such a strong national, and group oriented mentality.

Biggest Struggles in Japan

Recently, over a beer, or two, I had a conversation with some other exchange students in Japan about things that we are struggling with. I have been debating with myself, whether or not I should publish this, but ultimately, I want to get this off of my chest.

For most of us, our daily lives are not the struggle, it’s just the little things that keep piling up that tug on us. Japan is very different from most of our countries, but because we all have an interest in Japanese culture and language it is fine. We are willing to accept most things, but also because the people I was talking with want to be, or are already teachers as well, there are of course things that we wish would be different, for ourselves and for our future students.

There are always people that are different, even in a society that says being different is not okay… However, this is about the population as a whole in Japan in general.

1. So freaking reserved, shy

Outside of the tutor group that interacts with international students, a grand total of ONE person has initiated a conversation with us. Anything else, outside of class are people connected to the International Office in some way, mostly tutors. This makes forming friendships very difficult, and no one responds to emails about being interested in clubs/circles…so joining clubs is difficult as well– probably will just wait until next semester at this point. We have conversations with people in our classes, but none of them express interest in hanging out with us outside of class (even though we see them all the time @Yuuki –who does not read this, but still).

2. Afraid to be different?

Not really sure if this is 100% accurate for everyone. I have definitely seen some people break away from the mold. Also, guys like to show off their skills like anywhere (talking about all the guys in my soccer class).

However, when I visited a high school two weeks ago we had conversations with the students. One of the questions I asked all of them was what kind of music do you like? All the guys in the group had the same answer. That’s just weird to me. How do all of them like Justin Bieber and One Direction…? Also, when asked what food I should try… “Udon” or “Sushi” was everyone’s answer. Which could do more with them being famous Japanese food, but just trying to get an authentic answer out of them was so difficult.

3. Sexist related things

Of course sexism goes both ways. However, being a girl, I can really only speak on the sexism that I have experienced since arriving.

Mostly regarding my sports class:

~It’s hot. No one wears tank tops here in sports class. So, okay, I should follow those cultural norms… So I try to do so. However, one day I came straight from the train to class, not having time to stop by my room to grab a workout shirt. The only thing I had from the day before was a tank top and a cardigan, so while we were warming up I wore the cardigan, but then we got to playing soccer seriously, it was hot and of course a cardigan is not ideal clothing to play in, so I took it off. Immediately the girls start making comments, like “you’re not cold?” “It’s cold.” “You’ll get sick…” “Sexy.” The guys on my team asked me one time if I was hot (because you know we were playing soccer and running), I said yes, and we moved on. However, the girls would just keep making comments, which really rubbed me the wrong way. I understand this is a cultural difference, but it is just something I have such a hard time accepting, that some how showing my shoulder’s skin is a sexual thing… It is definitely not, yet it has been ingrained into Japanese girls brains that it is inappropriate. If you are hot, do not continue to wear your jacket. If someone else is hot, allow them to dress as they wish. I will forever make an effort to try to wear a T-shirt, but on the occasions that I do not want to, or forget, I just wish that I could be allowed to in peace.

~If a girl can pass the soccer ball, the guys will be thoroughly impressed, amazed even. When playing a game “Volleyball soccer” (the actual name, I do not know), but the girls move closer to serve. The size of the soccer field is different between the guys and girls too. The girls will play shorter games.

~Coach will say “Because you are playing with the girls (females), play easier/more gently” to the male students.

I hate that so much. Maybe it is from playing Co-Rec soccer growing up, but I do not believe that is a good attitude to have for either gender. Playing “gentle” will not allow the girls to improve their skills, also it just perpetuates the idea that girls are “weak” and need guys to help them. I experienced this kind of attitude before of course, but in the US it is not accepted by women and we can speak up about this kind of attitude.

However, in Japan, if I were to say something to the coach about that, I am sure it would not go down right, which has to do with my next thing:

4. Inherent belief in authority/older people (not sure how to word this one)

My music teacher made me realize that this is still something that Japanese students do naturally without thinking. He said something that to me was obviously incorrect. However, the Japanese students absorb this information and do not question it. Which is why I think it is so harmful when someone in that position teaches things that may create negative stereotypes or images about people. Due to the fact he is actually an American, I feel that I can address this with him. However, in other situations I cannot do such a thing.

For example, a linguistics professor from Arizona State University came to Osaka Kyoiku University came to speak. Her talk about linguistics was great, actually allowed me to learn new things as well as remember things that I previously studied in my other linguistics class, and I think what she spoke about was accurate. However, she was quick to become defensive when a question was asked– in a completely non-aggressive way–regarding linguistics. Then, she was asked some questions about differences between American and Iranian universities. In that talk, she showed her privilege and her lack of experience understanding other walks of life. Basically saying that in the United States, if you do not speak English that you cannot get a job. Her definition of a job was probably different from mine and my friend, but for her to imply that if you cannot speak English, you cannot succeed in America is not true. It is more difficult so I agree to a point with her, but just in general her attitude seemed to be, rather negative. Also, she bashed universities that were not “premium quality”. Of course, there are many differences between the quality of education you can receive at different universities, but I think she needed to word what she said a bit more carefully.

5. Weight

This is something I just need to get over. I will never be as skinny as Japanese girls, or guys for that matter, but it seriously bothers me of their view of skinny. Someone that is my height, “ideally”, should be less than 110 pounds– from videos I’ve watched and conversations I’ve had. I am probably a good 50 pounds more than that.

Since arriving in Japan, I have been more active than I was in the United States, playing soccer at least twice a week, trying to go running three times a week (not always succeeding). Also, just beginning to eat healthier foods. I do not really have snacks in my room, so that is already an improvement. So what I eat for snacks tends to be healthier than what I would eat in the US, especially over the summer taking care of two kids, my diet was quick, pretty unhealthy foods, but now I have time to cook, and the ability to obtain these foods– fruits, nuts, yogurt. So, I definitely do think that I am becoming a better me. When I look at other girls, I see that I do not look like them. I do not like myself. In America, I dealt with such self-esteem issues from 4th grade on. However, I thought I improved. I thought I reached a point where I could love my body no matter what it looked like, but I was wrong. Being in Japan made these feelings come back. I have to be more conscious about what I wear… There are days where I just don’t care. Those are the days I allow myself to just be myself. Hopefully, I will reach a point where I can be conscientious about Japanese cultural dressing while still being myself, but right now it’s an either or for me. Either I am me, or I am fitting the mold that I feel that I should be.

________________

最近、飲んでいる時、他の留学生と日本の違うのことを話し合いました。例えば、私たちの日本の生活の問題ー

このポーストすることは大丈夫かな、まだわかりません、でも、実はこの気持ちを将来日本に行く人に言いたいですから、します。

日本と私たちの国はとても違いますが、興味がありますから、大丈夫です。私たちはあたらしいことを勉強したいです。日本語、日本の文化、日本の生活。全部分かれたいです。

でも、好きじゃない日本のことがありますから、時々イライラになります。

December 3|12月3日

今日、ちょっと短いブログをします。今日、大阪城に行こうと思っていますから。

最近、私の将来を考えます。休みの予定のことや、日本で留学した後や、大学院生のことや、仕事のことを考えています。

1。休みのと予定、

このクリスマス休み、友達とUSJに行きます。2月前に、ハロウィンの時、行きたかったですが、ちょっと予定変わりました。でも、今、クリスマスのことあるから、行ってみたいです!

春休み:多分この春休み、私は他の国に行くつもりです。例えば、韓国とタイとラオスに行きたいです。後で、沖縄に行きます。まだ考えています、まだ決めていませんが、すぐ決めます。

2。日本で留学した後

もちろん、アメリカに帰ります。でも、前に、他の学級、留学したいです。でも、日本か韓国かスペインで、まだ決めていません。今朝、韓国と日本のこと考えました。今、韓国の授業を撮りますから、もちろん韓国に行きたいです。でも、休み?留学?住んでいる?もっと考えます。

3。大学院生

私は友達と話しました。私たちは同じ夢がありますから、いつも一緒にいりたいです。でも、多分できません。違う人から、夢だけはダメです。しかし、日本で大学院生とアパートと日本で働くのことを話し合いました。

それに、私の両親は変な人です。ノースカロライナで多分、すぐ他の家を買います。妹は大学生ですが、妹に家をくれるつもりです。何??本当にクレジー。両親は「あなたはUNC-Wの大学院生になったら、あなたもその家使えます」と言いました。でも、多分できません。アメリカに住みたくないですよ。とても複雑な気持ちがあります。

4。仕事

教師になりたいです。でも、

すぐ?大学院生の後?大学院生の前?いつの方がいい?

どこ?日本?韓国?タイ?色々な国?

英語だけは大丈夫?歴史も?科学?

多分たくさん暇な時ありますから、このことを考えれます。

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Today I am going to write a short blog post because I am planning to go to Osaka Castle.

Recently, I have been thinking about my future… Such as my plans for different breaks from school, what I will do after studying abroad, graduate school plans, and what my future job will be.

1。Break/Holiday plans

My friends and I will go to USJ around Christmas time. We were supposed to go two months ago, but our plans changed. Now, USJ has Christmas decorations and Christmas shows and such things, so I really want to try to go.

“spring break”: If I am able to, I plan to go to other countries during this time. For example, South Korea, Thailand, and Laos (don’t ask me how that one got in the mix). After that I would like to also visit Okinawa. However, I haven’t quite decided yet, but I have to decide soon.

2. After studying abroad

Of course, I will return to America (even if just temporarily). But, before I return, maybe I will study abroad for another semester. I still want to study abroad. Should I study in Japan, South Korea, Spain? I have also not yet decided. This morning, I was thinking a lot between South Korea and Japan. Currently, I am taking Korean classes, so of course I want to go to South Korea. But, is a vacation enough? Do I need to study abroad? Maybe I will live there… I need to think about this more.

3. Graduate School

I talked to my friend who has the same goal and dream as me to teach English. We always talk about wanting to live together, to teach near each other, study with each other. Yet, I know that we are different people, even if we have the same dream, it’s not enough… However, we cannot help, but to discuss things like living together in an apartment in Japan, pursuing graduate school here and working here.

Another issue, my parents are strange people. They intend to buy another home in North Carolina soon. My sister is a university student, but they plan to buy her a house. WHAT? That’s crazy I thought. My parents said though, if you also plan to study at UNCW (grad school), then you can also use the house. So now, I have very complicated feelings…

4. Work

I want to be a teacher. But…

Soon? After graduate school? Before? When is the best time?

Where? Japan? Korea? Thailand? Different countries?

Is English only enough? History too? Science?

 

Recently, I have had a lot of free time, so this is probably why I am having such thoughts…

Study Habits/Strategies/Failing

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I miss WCU’s library (and falling asleep on the couch)

Since joining Western Carolina University August 2015, I have learned a lot about the best ways to acquire a new language. Through books, TESOL classes, and interacting with language learners. I will often ask people how they learn kanji, or how they are able to remember vocabulary, how they practice grammar.

However, do I do what other people suggest to me? No! I am a bad language learner. Honestly. Grammar connects fairly easily in my head, but of course I make lots of mistakes. However, that point is that I learn a new grammar point in class, and then I am able to try to use it, whether I succeed or fail, I use them… But vocabulary and kanji are a bit different.

I am going to be 100% honest, I hate studying. I love learning a language, I love being able to talk to people, I love finding linguistic patterns, I love analyzing sentences and trying to figure out the meaning (on TV shows, in books, in songs, etc.). However, just sitting down with flashcards, or just staring at the words on a page is so boring for me, and I think many other people out there.

For example, recently, we had a Kanji test that covered Kanji from the first lesson until lesson 30. I don’t know how many kanji it was, but my flashcards that I had been collecting since the first kanji quiz were too many to get through. We started studying at 7:00, and by 12:30 I still had not gone through all of them. That’s not to say I studied straight through the night, I definitely got distracted, but regardless, that is clearly not a good method for truly learning. That is only cramming, and honestly the studying probably only reinforced the kanji that I did know, but did nothing for the kanji that has yet to be ingrained into my brain. The kanji that I easily remember are the ones I see daily, or at least often. Such as illness ones because when you’re in a new country I guess you’re more susceptible to getting sick (I’ve caught a cold 3 times now)!

So, I have figured out what I need to try to do~

Contextualize everything. Writing sentences with the kanji in them and trying to associate their “picture” to something that means something to me. I have read about that in books about learning vocabulary as well, but did I ever listen and try to do that as I studied? Nope~ Anyhow, you all will be finding that I am planning to do a post once a week when I am studying new Vocabulary and Kanji and I will just create sentences. Hopefully, I can find a way to relate them all together, but we will see how that turns out.

One thing that I’ve noticed that Troi does when learning vocabulary, is that she will record herself reading all of the vocabulary words and then play them back to herself. This is a great way to associate the words with their pronunciation, listening practice as well as acquiring vocabulary. That cannot be the only thing that I do to learn vocabulary, but it is a very smart idea, I think, as long as I can pronounce things properly!

Now as for watching TV shows, my advice for other Japanese language learners!
Try to watch them without English subtitles, but go ahead and turn on the Japanese subtitles, this makes taking notes easier about unfamiliar things they say. The best shows I think are comedies (like comedians), and reality TV shows, for me these are easier to follow and use “real” Japanese, more authentic and less scripted, but of course not 100% non-scripted. Also with songs.. I cannot memorize the words for the life of me, but that is definitely one way to do that.

M.