Update on my life in Japan..3 months in!

17 Dec

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, life has been super busy! I’m actually getting ready to head home for Christmas break. I know, I know why spend about $1000 to fly home but I had to do it for my sanity (homesickness). I’m starting to fall back in love with Japan. I joined the badminton team and I’ve had so much fun with them. They make an effort to speak English and I make an effort to speak Japanese so it all works out. I still attend gymnastics but it’s slightly boring.

This weekend I attended a MMA (mixed martial arts) match in this small crowded gym but it was really interesting and violent. I also ate the best Jamaican food of my life in Shibuya. I also received an opportunity to become a prostitute (declined!). Not sure if I mentioned this but I got a job babysitting for a Japanese-Canadian family. It’s really easy and the kids are great. I almost accepted a job working for a Japanese woman but her parenting style would have driven me up a wall. The toddler controlled her to the extreme! I also climbed Mount Takao and needless to say it wasn’t that bad!857140_10202848017027641_1043322068_o

Home bound on Friday but it’s not much of a 3 week break. I have a Kanji project, an interview in Japanese, study for grammar, prepare a 30 minute presentation about culture, and finally review for Spanish and Japanese society classes. Guess my college didn’t get the hint about no homework over break. When I return I have two weeks of finals for my 8 classes. Ick! But unlike in America I have something like a 10 week spring break where I plan on taking Japanese classes and/or working a bunch of hours to pay off student loans.

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No one warned me about waxing in Japan

1 Dec

Things are finally looking up for Japan. I have to admit I had a bad case of culture shock that probably went on for a few weeks. It is possible during that time that I may have warned everyone never to come to Japan but I promise it’s not an awful place. It does take some getting used to. I’ll recap a few things that have happened over the past few weeks.

Waxing in Japan

Over the past few weeks I had been searching for a wax salon here in Tokyo. My first choice was in Shibuya but had no available appointments and cost $63 and the other salon never returned my calls. I ended up settling for the Waxing Bee salon in Ginza. I decided to get a brazilian while I was there which I shouldn’t have done. The salon lady was meticulous. She waxed my eyebrows maybe 5 times each and did not have to use a tweezer or razor. It was less painful and I’m sure it will last longer. The brazilian. Oh the brazilian (hair waxed from front to back). When she asked  should she remove all the hair I of course answered yes (no landing strip for me lol). Wrong answer. She waxed with strips and then tweezed every single hair she missed EVERYWHERE (butt too!). Talk about a near death experience! In atlanta I got to Andreia’s and they pour warm wax and then rip the wax off. It is done in 5 batches compared to the 20 I experiences at the salon here. It also takes about half the time but let’s just say I learned my lesson. Long live the hair!!

I met a few new friends outside of campus from Jamaica and the Caribbean and I have to say my life is improving because of it. No more staying in the house watching reruns of SVU. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to a birthday party, spoken word, Jamaican style party with a group known as Cornbread and various dinners and so on. It has been great and I was shocked to find out there are so many Blacks living in Japan doing big things!1460197_10153486099275526_1050541796_n1398523_10151816951247602_1415659373_ocheck out Dave’s blog about being Jamaican living in Japan at http://davecollyjap.blogspot.com/

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Birthday in Japan

26 Nov

1441278_494855723954835_1061080365_n (1)603998_494855827288158_608406096_n (1)I know I’m late!

Last week was my birthday and I got to celebrate here in Japan in my dorm. While in America I might have gone to a lounge or maybe even a party but here in Japan at my college it is a nice quiet event celebrated at midnight. My “big sister”, someone assigned to look over us, invited me to her room at midnight where her and her friends sung happy birthday to me! Afterwards we made plans to go to a maid cafe and a butler cafe next week so stay tuned for photos from there!

I thought college in Japan was supposed to be easy?

24 Oct

Well let me tell you now that that is a myth, well at least it is here at Tsuda. I am drowning in homework. Kanji test with 25 new Kanji and 80 vocab each week, 2 work sheets, 1 essay, reading 5 pages and meeting with a tutor once a week for 1.5 hours. The benefit is that my Japanese should be amazing when I leave next year.

Luckily I can escape on weekends but with curfew even that is hard. I spend my weekends eating crepes in Harajuku, shopping in Shibuya and karaoke in Kokubunji. I went to see the movie Hafu which is an excellent document about Biracial Japanese people. Check it out if you get a chance. It’s being released in cities around the world in the upcoming weeks. I also got to meet with a professional sumo wrestler this past week! Winter festival is coming up and I have a gymnastics meet that same weekend. Life is busy but better than the last time I blogged. I’m erasing people that cause me stress and focusing on enjoying my time abroad.Image

What’s the Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation?

18 Oct

Unsettling America

Courtesy of Elephant Journal(Related: “Cultural Appreciation or Cultural Appropriation?” and “Wanting To Be Indian“)

Jarune Uwujaren explains that there needs to be some element of mutual understanding, equality, and respect for it to be a true exchange.

From The Good Men Project

Cultural appropriation is a term that isn’t often heard in daily conversation, which means it’s inevitably misunderstood by those who feel attacked by feminists, sociologically-informed bloggers, and others who use the term.

Many a white person sporting dreadlocks or a bindi online has taken cultural appropriation to mean the policing of what white people can or can’t wear and enjoy.

Having considered their fashion choices a form of personal expression, some may feel unfairly targeted for simply dressing and acting in a way that feels comfortable for them.

The same can be said for those who find criticisms of the Harlem Shake meme and whatever it is Miley Cyrus did…

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Life in Japan 6 week check in

12 Oct

Life has been very hectic here in Japan. I think I have already went through the 2 phases of culture shock (honeymoom phase and the debbie downer phase) so now I’ve reached the acceptance phase. This means that I accept Japan for what it has and doesn’t have. I recognize that I will never find Welch’s fruit snacks, colby jack cheese, pepperoni or lawry salt seasoning. I’ve come to an understanding that carbs will make up 80% of my daily diet and that having 9 classes is normal here.

I’ve been filling up my days to stay busy. Trying not to thing about him (not so happy breakup before I left to Japan). I’ve been quite successful I must say. Gymnastics 3x a week and badminton 2x a week and maybe a boxing class here or there. Nothing beats throwing yourself into fitness regardless of the underlying reasons. Plus I have homework in 5-6 of my classes usually. I learn about 25 kanji a week and that is very stressful. Weekends I shop in Shibuya, sing karaoke for hours on end or go out to eat. All in all that equals a large chunk of money but it offers me piece of mind if that makes any sense. 

I’ve attached a few pics of my new cell phone, boxing class and from the welcome party at Tsuda. I have no idea why one of my friends covered herself with that thing lolImageImageImage

Classes have begun!

1 Oct

I started my first semester of classes of what will be a year long exchange here at Tsuda College for the semester. I must say that it is very intense compared to the 3-5 classes and average student in the US might have. I have 9 classes! I’m currently taking Kanji, Grammar, Reading, Conversation, Japanese Society, Japanese Modern History, Japanese seminar, Australian studies and Spanish 3 (random I know). They are all very interesting classes although my Spanish class is review of things I learned in in 201. They meet once a week.

I also joined the gymnastics club which is very intensive a most Japanese clubs are. Clubs in Japan meet 5-10 hours a week while circles are more social and may meet 1-2 hours a week. I practice on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 4-7pm. No one speaks much english and I am definitely the awkward girl at practice but maybe that’ll change over the course of the next year. The have legit competitions and are even ordering a uniform for me. I may join the boxing club or samba club which practices twice a week at 7pm. Weight loss is on the horizon! It is the best way to form friendships with people my age so far.

My cooking has not improved and I mainly eat rice made with my lovely rice maker and curry packets. I supplement this with the occasional pancakes, cereal or eggs with green peppers. I attempted to make a hamburger and with only salt and pepper it turned into a giant breakfast sausage. I added syrup to make up for no ketchup. I’ve brought some vegetables and meat to make stew so I’ll let you know how that all goes. Fruit is very expensive in Japan due to the importation taxes so unfortunately I don’t eat many vegetables. I have found a new vegan restaurant in Tokyo that I plan to try out in the next couple of weeks. I need a cell phone to get around and use these train lines!

No pictures today but I promise to be more proactive in documenting my experience through photos 🙂