Well things didn’t go exactly as planned (do they ever?) and now I’m back stateside for the 6 weeks. After my last post in Dubai I returned to the US for what was supposed to be a week long trip but family problems and finances kept me here. Since I never planned on staying here all my stuff is still in Japan! Luckily I found an awesome deal for $600 r/t from vancouver to Tokyo and I will get to go back, say my goodbyes and get all my things.
This summer I will be at Beloit College’s Center for Language Studies Program-Japanese. Starts in 3 weeks and is basically a super intensive 8 week long language camp. Middlebury was too expensive at the Monterey Institute cancelled their Japanese program so here I am. Luckily I get to take an extended break in Japan over the fourth of July (5 days!) to put my hopefully improved language skills to test. They also gave me a $1,000 scholarship even though I applied late so check their program out here at http://www.beloit.edu/cls/apply/
Next up on my travel list is Jamaica around the end of August. It will be a 4 day weekend type trip before I delve into applying for a bajillion things senior year. I need to narrow down my list to one country fora potential Fullbright opportunity. Right now its between
~Teaching in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Colombia or Bulgaria ~A masters degree in Mexico ~Research and Language studies in Japan
Basically teaching in either country would be extremely different than all that I’ve ever experienced, a masters degree would be useful and probably improve my Spanish 10 fold although I’d have to come back and get another degree in the States so more for experience and the program in Japan would hone in on my language skills and develop some research skills. What do you all think I should do? There is still is Princeton in Africa, MEXT scholarship, Pickering Fellowship and the Carnegie Fellowship that are definitely on the radar since nothing is promised to me!
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.
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 lol
Yesterday was my last day of the two day orientation and I also finally got the chance to pick my classes. I’m taking 4 Japanese classes (Kanji, reading, grammar and conversation), Spanish 3, Japanese society, seminar on Japanese studies, European History and Australian History. Hopefully next semester I will be able to enroll in some classes taught completely in Japanese. Each class is once a week for 1.5 hours a day which is why I’m in so many classes for those who are wondering.
I’m adjusting very well to life here at Tsuda College and there are definitely some differences when comparing it to my home school, Spelman College. There are public showers with no privacy so it is still quite awkward for me sitting on a container near the ground showering with 10 other girls. Also, there’s no mall nearby and all the shops are at least a 20 minute walk. Luckily I rented a bike with a nice little basket and bell so hopefully I can get around a little smoother. And lastly, transportation in Japan is so expensive and all my favorite shops are 40 minutes away by train in Shibuya, Tokyo so I will be one broke college student!
After an agonizing 24 hours of travel, some delicious meals on ANA and wondering around Tokyo airport and an hour bus ride from Nagoya airport, I finally made it to Okazaki. It is very quiet and the weather is hot and humid. I’m studying in Okazaki at the Yamasa Institute for 3 weeks before heading to Tsuda College right outside of Tokyo (Kodaira-shi).
Some things I’ve observed about Japan in my first 24 hours: People are very polite, I never know when to bow because it seems people bow all the time, the toilets are pretty high tech, my Japanese is awful and I have this sudden urge to communicate in Spanish and everything seems to start on time.
This past year of studying Japanese seems to have done nothing for me. When people talk to me, I generally nod yes of say “hai”. Hopefully this will improve over the course of the next year and my being forced to actually speak Japanese. There are many people here from China, France and South Korea thus forcing me to communicated in the only language we all remotely know.
I babysit for an amazing Japanese family that introduces me to their culture and is also teaching me how to cook. Anyone that knows me knows that I can burn water so I’m pleasantly surprised with my skills.
I finally finished up some of my Boren scholarship requirements including booking a flight for convocation! The only sad part is that I will be missing the first 2 days of class. Luckily it’s beginning Japanese at the university of Minnesota and I’ve already taken a little bit of Japanese so I shouldn’t be too far behind. I definitely have the best friend because I couldn’t have finished any of these things without him. He had to scan and email all the forms due to the fact that I couldn’t find a public printer in my school building in Spain.
I also sent in my request to Boren asking for an additional $10,000 so hopefully that goes well. I hear back from Gilman and the Bridging scholarship this month! I’m super excited and I could really use that additional money. I have to buy my plane ticket to Japan in 2 months. Part
of the Boren requirements are that it must be a US airline. Well guess who’s really got some great deals? Everyone but the US airlines. I plan to go to California by greyhound and fly from there but I know it won’t be cheap.
A few questions for some of you world
travelers. Has anyone traveled abroad for more than six months and if so what did you pack? I will be in Japan for all of its seasons and I can only bring two suitcases 😓. Did you get your phone unlocked? And finally has anyone studied at Tsuda College in Tokyo? How is it for foreigners/exchange students?