Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Break

Well, today is the first day of winter break! I'm going to spend all day tomorrow packing probably because on Saturday I'm going to see a movie and find flowers for my host family and then I move on Sunday. I'm going to put up new pictures probably later today or tomorrow as well. =) Last week our class went to the airport as a sorta field trip. We got to tour the kitchens and see all the food supplies and stuff! It was actually more interesting than I thought going to the airport was going to be. Then afterwards we ate lunch that consisted of airplane food. Oh, when we went into the food area we had to wear these funny outfits (which I have pictures of) and they even air blowed us.

Last Saturday was our music teacher's party thing. Basically, every year he has to entertain some elementary kids (but they were in our equivalent of 6th grage, which is a horrible age I might add) and he invites his high school students too. We were in the school's kitchen classroom and we made tacos. =) Then he got the little kids to make antler hats and played with a pinata. I don't think the little kids liked us much. (Us as in the foreigners, but oh well.) I have pictures from that too!

Then on Sunday I went with my host sister, Nori, and another lady that goes every year to my host mom's choir at the library's music hall. And the concert room is really nice! (and new) Though, that library is very nice all around I think. The first half was this dad and his daughter singing opera stuff.....I had to try and not laugh at first cause she just sounded so silly! She was good and all and would probably sound nice singing normal stuff, but I just don't enjoy that style. Then the symphony played and then the chorus sang with the symphony. Oh, this was all Beethoven stuff I think. I enjoyed the symphony! String music is so pretty. After that my host family and I went to dinner at an expensive Chinese restraunt. I knew we were going to eat Chinese food, but not nice Chinese food! I mean, how often back home do you see classy Chinese places? Well, I guess there are a few, but not most for sure. The food was very good too! I could tell that American Chinese resembled it a little but American wonton soup is laughable compared to what it's supposed to be like I think.

Wednesday was really sad! It was a half day and was just for the closing stuff and all, but our class had a good-bye party for the other exchange girls cause they're all leaving soon. They made photo books and stuff for them and my friends went to say bye to all the teachers and it all just sad. Then after that a lot of my class went to Tennoji to take purikura, which was fun. There we ran into Bianca's exchange friend from the same company from Canada and another girl at her school from Thailand. Then Angie and I left early cause everyone kept taking purikura and we wanted to go home already and in the train station another German friend of Bianca's from the same company tapped me on the shoulder and I was like "whoa!" and all. She had an exchange friend from the same school with her from Oregon and she looked so much like Jenny Redmond that I was startled at first glance! I was glad for the distraction cause I had to say bye for good to Angie yesterday there. =(
And mom might like to know that as I type this I have to keep on checking on the cake she sent. Nori bought canned cherries that we put in it and she said we could use the jam mom sent on the top. It's going to be really yum! =)

I wish I could go home for Christmas break, really. Oh well though, time's going by really fast I think. I don't think the first 4 months of school have ever gone by this fast.

edit: here's the picture link! http://hs.facebook.com/album.php?aid=78086&l=740fb&id=869310556

I still miss everyone!
Love,
Lisa

Saturday, December 1, 2007

December

Aw, time is starting to go fast! This will be an eventful month. There will be a few Christmas parties I think, I change host families on the 23rd, I'll go to my host mom's chorus concert, see the new Bleach movie with some friends on the 22nd, and Angie will go back to Australia on the 23rd too. Then winter break! Ah, I have no idea what I'll be doing during that.

So my next host family consists of a host mom and a 16 year old daughter. =) And they have a white dog and 2 cats! I'm excited about that. The grandparents also live in the house next door and I think the houses share the big garden. I wish I knew more about the host daughter; I'm nervous we won't get along.

So tomorrow I'm singing and playing Autmn's Monologue in my music class. They have to sing by themselves or in a small group one of the songs they've been learning in class so of course I'm not content with just doing that. haha, I need to go practice after this. I also need to write what I thought about either Walk the Line or Dream Girls in Japanese for music....I'll do that after dinner. Then from Wednesday to the following Tuesday, we have tests, not that it matters for me though.

Aw, my knee is starting to heal up, though it's going to leave a scar I'm sure. Jeez, I hate scars. Oh well. And yesterday I finally mailed a package home and they required that I list everything in the package, the estimated weight of each item, and the value. Japanese people are sooo detalied. I think back home we just list what inside right?

I'm also studying more! =) I've been in a "learn Japanese" mode, so that's good.

I miss everyone!

~Lisa

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Small Update

Things keep looking more and more like Christmas, but I'm just going to talk about the past few days. So, on Thursday I was a little late as usual to school and I tripped while running (on nothing) and busted up my knee enough to have blood running and knicked my hands. God it was so embarrassing! haha, It's still being a pain and I thought I'd share.

Yesterday was a national holiday and I finally went to visit my host mom's ailing mom in a group home. (I declined the first time she offered, also, it was her 87th? birthday yesterday.) She has that disease where you don't remember stuff....altzheimers? I think she's pretty far gone...sad really. I also met my host mom's sister and husband. I'm glad I went, it was different. They had everyone on the floor out at the dinning room table and we sang happy birthday and ate cake. I tried so hard not to laugh when the grandma took one of the flower heads off and used to to wipe her bday card....then later tried eating a flower...I'm so mean, gosh. Then at the end the most lively old lady was seeing us out and she talked to me and I just smiled and nodded, haaaa. I think they all thought I was part of their family. But yeah, it was interesting.

Tomorrow I'm buying an electronic dictionary! =) yay! I love those things.

Random Japanese observation: nobody owns mutts over here! o-O

Also, all my friends are going to be going back to their own countries within the next month-month and a half. =/ I suspect my Japanese will get a lot better after that though...I am improving though, I'm much farther along than the other girls were 3 months in, so that's comforting.

Ooo, there's a Bleach moving coming out around Christmas, hehe, I want to see it. =) Maybe I'll ask Gusan if I can go with her and whoever she's going to go with. (If you go in a group of 3 or more it's about 9 dollars instead of 18ish?) o-o Very expensive.

Oh yeah! I change host families around Christmas too. I'm actually excited b/c I'll have a 16 yr old host sister. =) And I think it's just her and her mom too. Which I'm glad for cause I don't really feel that comfortable around most old Japanese men.

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

the past month

So, I haven't updated in the past month...where to start....I'll start at the house. I haven't been anywhere new with my host family, and everything is basically everyday living, so nothing to mention there. Though, I really enjoy dinner here! Most of the time it's really healthy but still so yum. <3

School moves along as school does, but we just got through with our culture festival which was last Saturday. We spent time the whole week before preparing our display, which was a collage of pictures from our class. One banner had baby pictures, one had school pictures, and the last had recent pictures from the students lives. I think the whole point was for them to write in Japanese and English on the papers. Inside the school the classrooms had displays from some classes and other classes did food and such. So outside there was a lot of food and the music and dance clubs performed throughout the day. The kareoke was fun to watch! A few of the people were really good, and after that the dancing groups were awesome. School really isn't that bad now since I have people to talk to, so I'm not complaining. Oh! We got new school lunch boxes, haha, I need to take a picture of them, they're cute. Also, today we got a new gym teacher from Canada. He's a big black guy and he's teaching us basic martial art stuff, and I'm pretty excited about it. He's seems funny so far too. =)

I'm starting to see more of Osaka now since I've gone around a bit with friends. I finally went to Namba last weekend! It looks so cool there, but we didn't get to look around much cause we went there for a movie, but we're going back this weekend b/c we missed the movie we wanted to see b/c we didn't see it on the sign but it was there....so we're going to leave earlier this time to look around. Also, young people like to dress up there so it's really fun to people watch. Hehe, so yesterday I felt my first earthquake! It was very short, probably 2 seconds, and by the time it registered in my head that it was an earthquake, it was over. =( But still, it had a roaring sound and it was interesting to feel the whole room shake. Bianca was really funny, she basically dropped like a paniced hot potato and hid under her desk; she's a precautious person. I just sat there and looked around thinking "awesome!".

oh! also, yesterday I saw an albino asian! I saw her from the back at first waiting for the train and thought she was a foreigner. There was no way her hair was dyed, it was a very pale natural looking blonde with no roots, and she was very very white. When we got in the train I realized she was asian, but I went the opposite direction in the train as her so I didn't see her face well. =( But I thought that was really interesting! I shouldn't be talking about random people, but I just found that so cool, aha.

Here are a few random things I've learned about Japan and Japanese people: Japanese girls shave their eyebrows....I think it's really weird. I'd honestly guess that at least a 1/4 of Japanese girls don't like Japanese guys at all (I think it's pretty sad really). People were eyepatches here a lot (mainly girls) when their eyes "hurt", but really, there's no way people's eyes hurt that often so it puzzles me. It's probably when they mess up their make-up or something. Japanese boys are way too feminine on the whole, like, they'll go to the bathroom together and fix each others hair and stuff (according to another guy in my company) and they even wear hairclips sometimes. They also wear really feminine sandals, which I found strange. Ironically, one of the main reasons a lot of the Japanese girls don't like Japanese guys is because they're so feminine and spend too much time on their appearance. American girls that wear a lot of make-up and do stuff to their hair have nothing on their Japanese counter parts. The lengths these girls go to are insane! It's quite fascinating. Oh, I've seen a lot of blind people since I've been here, I don't know if that's a city thing, or a Japan thing, but I thought that was a bit odd. Right now, Jamaican themed stuff is popular. Well, that was more about my observations about Japanese teenagers, but oh well! I'll try to think of more important things to mention next time. Here are my pictures from the last month, enjoy! http://hs.facebook.com/album.php?aid=67314&l=41d5c&id=869310556

~Lisa

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Moving Along

So, yeah, time goes by fast I guess! I'll start with school. Until last week I really wasn't liking it but I'm talking to more people now from the 3rd year international class. Strangely, after I did that people in my class warmed up to me more. Funny how that works. Overall though there's not much interesting enough to tell. We had sports day the other week and I did the 3-legged race with another girl. Haha, we didn't do that well and I had a sore ankle after that. It was a fun to watch day though.

A few weekends ago I went with the Takahashi's to clean her mother's grave in Kyoto. People here seem to get buried in really nice places that are very expensive. All of the tombstones and displays are really pretty. Ater that we went to the Kinkaku-jin, which is that gold temple in Kyoto. I actually really liked seeing that. It was so pretty! There were many foreigners there too. There are a lot in Osaka too actually. Anyway, I still haven't put up pictures from that day. I need to.

I also went to the Kishiwada Matsuri, which most of you have probably already seen my photos from that. I think the highlight for me was that fish for a chick with food on a string game. I think I was too entertained by that, aha.

I've had so much different food here it's amazing. Eel is really tastey, but it has lots of little bones throughout the meat and I just have such a hard time making myself eat them. Japanese people eat a lot of bones in fish and stuff.....eee. I've also had many types of fish (I really don't care for sadines), raw fish (it's not that bad with sushi), squid (I think I only like it dried), chinese food, mochi, more vegetables than I knew existed (I really like some root I forgot the name of), and even different fruit (nashi are really good!). Ooo, also, I really like green tea ice cream!

Other than that I've spent my past 2 weekends looking around the Fujiidera area and going to a large mall next to a main train station in Osaka. Clothes in Japan are prettier I think. It's really different being in such an urban area, but it makes exploring more interesting. Especially since I don't have to worry about parking, haha. Also, it's funny how movies I saw this summer are coming out now.

As for Japanese, I don't think I'm learning that fast, but I have learned some. It just takes so much to carry decent conversations with people. *sighs* I've been studying more the past week. Oh yeah! I've also been keeping up with playing the guitar I fixed up. I'm excited about that still. =)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Getting there

So, where to start... I'm now with my real host family, the Takahashi's and i like it here. The parents are nice and the daughter and I get along well. (She's friendly, and she's 30 but people over here stay younger for much longer I swear.) Oh! and she's getting married next year and is trying on her pre-wedding kimono tomorrow. =) The house is nice too! And they had an old guitar which i cleaned and bought new strings for so I'm excited about that. They also have a nice piano. I'm in a new area now (Habikigaoka) and it's really hilly here and we're closer to the mountains, which is cool. I'm also crazy and decided to walk an hour each way to and from the train station instead of taking the bus. I'm enjoying it though! I've been listening to a lot of Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace, haha.

Oh right, I had my birthday with the Yamadas and they got me a cake and I got to blow out candles and all, so that was nice.

School is going along I guess. It's pretty boring most of the time...and i fall asleep too often. It's so hard to pay attention when you don't even know what the teacher's are saying, aha. I started listening to my language thing on the train now and I need to study more at home too. I don't have any definite friends yet, but it is so hard to be yourself when you can't say what you want to. It'll be better when I speak more Japanese. I don't really fit in with the other foreign girls, I mean, they already have a group and all and I'm the outsider so yeah. I get along with the German girl alright though. We're already preparing for the culture festival, which is in November. Not much else going on at school for now.

Oh right! I finally had music class this week and I think I'm going to like that class, though we only have it twice a week. =( And this week we watched Annie....yeah. But the teacher is a black guy from New York who's lived in Japan for 14 years. He seems really cool and we get to mess with guitars every now and then. I'm looking forward to that.

Lastly, today I went to the City Hall with my host dad and sister to get my foreigner card. =) It's only a piece of paper right now, but I'll have it next month. yay.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

i forgot!

Oh, about school. I'm in the international program and since it's for people learning English, I have a few easy classes and even gym is in English. Gym is fun actually, we're learning dance stuff from an Argentine lady. Apparently our grades (the exchange students) don't count for anything and all of them (except the Korean who has good Japanese) fail most of the stuff in the non-English classes. As long as we try though, it's fine. So school isn't going to be a problem for me...I just have to learn the language. I'm learning some stuff...eh, it's still early. Oh, and ironically my class (we stay with the same group of people all day) has 3 "Risa's" now. heh. There's one "Juri" too.

week one down, many more to go

Hi everyone, I've finished my first week of school! Gosh, 10 months seems so long now. Last week i was at Ouichda-san's house and she spoke some English (which I'm so grateful for) and helped me get to and from school the first day and went with me to the train station in the mornings. My way to and from school consists of a (now, at the new host family) 20 minute walk to the station, a 20 minute train ride, switch trains, then another 20 minute ride, and finally a 10 minute walk to school. Actually, the trains rides must be longer than that cause it takes more than an hour and ten minutes. Oh well. I still don't have all of my uniform but i've been wearing a skirt i brought and i just got my shirts on Friday. I wear my vans to and from school now because the shoes they gave me gave me huge blisters on my toes the first day i wore them! So i change into them right before i get to the school in the morning, but I'm never wearing those for a long period of time again.

Ouchida-san was a really nice lady and i miss staying there. She lives alone in a small apartment (her husband died and her daughter is out of the house) so it was a very low tension atmosphere i guess. She also liked sweets too, aha.

So on Friday i moved to the Yamada's house. (All of my temp host families are in the same area.) They're a bit older than the other two (in their late 60's) and the host mom is quite a character. I'm not quite sure what to think of her...I think she likes me enough though. I'm only here for a week too. This time I'm sleeping on a futon in a tatami matt room. It's a very Japanese style room with a very Japanese style staircase leading up to it. Really, that staircase freaks me out. It's almost straight up! and the stairs are so thin! Half of my foot hangs off of it on the way down and I already almost fell at the bottom, heh. (I didn't see the last step.) I took a picture and will get it up soon.

When i got here their English speaking daughter and 3 kids were at the house and spent the night. She came to help with everything since this family doesn't speak English. Oh! and she (the daughter) has green eyes! It's so cool! And my host dad has hazlish one. Her oldest kid is so cute! (He's 10.) And i had fun playing with the 5 yr old girl. =) She was cute too. The middle kid was the odd one i think, he avoided me more than the other 2 and he kept sneezing and blowing his nose, aha, poor kid. They live in Nara and we went to Nara Park (with all the deer) the next day and stayed for dinner at their house. Japanese pizza is interesting. Back to the park though. It was a lot of fun; there were deer everywhere and they would come to you and they'd just let you pet them. I took a lot of pictures. We got some crackers and it's so scary! They nearly attack to get the food and in mass numbers. Yamada-san got pictures of me feeding them. (I'll get those up soon too.) Oh, and it didn't stink nearly as much as mom said it did. Actually, it rarely stunk. We also went to a huge old giant budda shrine too and there were lots of foreigners there, haha. It was pretty neat.

I didn't do anything worth mentioning today, so I'll wrap it up. Tomorrow I have to give a short introduction in front of the entire school. oi. It won't be that bad though. I hope everyone is doing well!

~Lisa

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

a week already

So yeah, just today i figured out how to change my blogger back to English. I'm so smart. I don't feel like typing what's happened in the last week since i've been commenting and emailing everyone instead, sooo, i'll start from now on. In short, i want to go back to Tokyo when i'm older, Osaka is very hot and humid, too many people around me speak English which is probably going to hurt my language skills, my high school is very laid back and isn't very academic oriented b/c it's more of a vocational school, i'm in a class with 4 other foreigners, and i don't have my uniform yet. We also have block schedules....ummm....my temp host families are very nice people. Oh, and Osaka aquarium is the best i've ever been to, so many neat animals. =) but i didn't have my camera on me cause i didn't know we were going! =(