Thursday, February 12, 2009
Everything in Eight Months
It is February 2009 aka my 8th month here studying abroad in Japan, but 5 more months to go! I'll kick this off by posting a photo or two from each month highlighting significant events.
All the UC students studying through the EAP program in Japan for a year were bundled into this Tokyo-Kameido, Weekly Mansion for 2 months and a bit. While our summer stay here, we were assigned to take a Japanese intensive course. We easily got to know each other by just looking up/down our floors as you can see, and it was most definetly a blessing...Fast Forward-->Many of us still hang out with each other, no matter how much we get to know other people in our Japanese university inernational dorms. : P That's just how Californians roll.
I made a friend. A friend that I ended up having 30 mutual friends with, according to Facebook. Me and Jess (De la Merced? I still don't know how to spell her last name correctly) decided to go to one of many Japanese summer night festivals where we ate Japanese sweets and other authentic food. Of course we decided to take sticker pictures/プリクラ, because we look G. Fast Forward-->I love her, I love her. I'm so thankful that I met her early in the program. We still hang out with each other now...plus we make the best of both worlds later in September.
This is me, Brian, Mike, and Anna probably during level 9 of climbing Mount Fuji. About 10 of us decided to hike an all nighter climb to Mount Fuji. It took us 8 hours to climb up, and 4-5 hours to come back down. Long story short, I was the last/slowest for the trip down (downhill is major killer on the knees) and I still have a recurring backache from the backpack I carried throughout the climb (1 liter and a half of water, hella chocolate, hi chew candies, airbreathalizer can, etc.). Fast Forward-->This climb is still my most memorable and proudest thing I've done since I've been here studying abroad in Japan.
Anna invited me, Brian, and Mike to her relative's house in the country side. We went to Yamagata with an 8 hour bus ride (I haven't gotten that carsick in a longASS while which made me act like a 100% drama queen during the drive, sorry.) This trip was what we all needed at the time. Some time out completely far far away from the city, and just appreciate the country we're studying abroad in all over again. BTW, Anna's family prepared bomb.com feasts for every meal. It was more than what we needed, but at the same time we were so thankful and satisfied with it. *Thanks Anna for your folks, plus you too : )
And then...Jess decided to enter a video contest that our school back at home (hollaback UC Irvine) was holding. 2 full days of walking around and filming Tokyo was unexpectedly exhausting...but it was worth it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgUJIz51BFs&feature=channel_page Enjoy!
So I've known this kid Joshua Mou-Jay Shiau since 2nd grade, and luckily he also decided to study abroad for the fall semester in Japan. This is one of our all nighter days after hanging out with MY UC friends. We stopped by for some Japanese style late night grub that Marj suggested near her apartment (baller-ass)...this is also probably around 4 am--right before trains start again at 5 am. Fast Forward--> It helped A LOT to whine and vent to a homie when I honestly hit rock bottom during my study abroad time later.
OKAY! NOVEMBER (rock bottom):
Phase 2 was slowly creeping in by November (the period of time when study abroad students are ridiculously homesick and hates their new residence), but because my birthday(20 yrs) is also in November...things spiked up a bit. A bunch of us gathered first at an izakaya, then went karaoking. I tried a cigarette for the first time in my life...and there are better things in life, 'nuff said.
This is me with Yuki-chan, backstage at one of our 4 dance performances during our Keio University fall festivals. Uhh, long story short...I joined a hip hop dance circle (160 ppl) at my Japanese University, and things were good in the beginning but I felt really distant and HELLA fake vibes during our rehearsal week for the festival. At the same time, my old dance crew back at UCI (hollaback CADC) was prepping for Prelude and placed 2nd place (1st obviously), and it made me realize how much love and care people naturally had back at home. I eventually broke down in public during intermission at one of my performances...and Fast Forward--> It still feels kinda the same right now with our dance practices. I guess some things won't change even if we put ALL our efforts into it. I admit it was an experience I needed to snap out of my spoiled bubble of friends, but this...this was pretty f*ckin painful. *on the other hand, the girl in the picture with me is a really really sweet and nice girl who luckily used to live in the States.
I escaped to my Japanese side of the family, right after the performances ended. This is me and the love of my life (my Grandma), at her house. Being out of Tokyo, away from college students, fellow hormones, PMS, was what I needed...I also needed homemade meals, fresh fruit, vegetables...and spacious rooms. : P
LOVE. A bunch of EAP kids needed this, especially around this time of the year. For some of us, we found this by walking to the LOVE sign near Shinjuku lol...nah nah, we also had a secret santa party. For me, I came back to Love when I went back home to L.A. for the holidays. After being abroad for so long, you kinda HAVE to be at home for the holidays. I have cried at airports at the departure wing, but this was the first time I cried at the arrival wing. Seeing my parents was the best Christmas/late birthday present I could ask for at the moment. You see, the holiday season for Japan is even more commercialized than the States and it is soooo difficult to even feel love in this country. I still remember when a business man cussed me out under his mutterings when I accidentally walked in front of him at the suica ticket gate. Yea, sucks to be you, you Age, you walk Slower, cussing at me won't make you younger. Ass. Fast Forward--> You witness so much sin in Japanese train stations. Heartbreak, crime, foul behavior-it's all there. I've passed by 2 huge painful breakups between young mid-aged couples...Goodness, where is The love.
I don't need to discuss seeing my home friends, CADC, ex-roommates. They define Love for me.
(this is also when the Twilight madness hit me and I turned into a major hermit crab. Oh, and 30 Rock too.)
1st Semester at School has ended...EARLY! I have 2 months and 2 weeks of spring break. Soo, decided to drag Margarine (Marj from 626 Arcadia) on a week-long trip to Kyushu. We visited Hakata/Fukuoka, Nagasaki, and Kagoshima. Each city was completely different, where Hakata was basically like Tokyo but in Kyushu with BETTERMUCHBETTER Fewdz, Nagasaki is basically the Japanese San Francisco, and Kagoshima was the perfect mix of the city/nature where an active volcano was in the neighboring island.
Luckily, our hotel in Nagasaki was in the heart of Chinatown...completely safe too, and we honestly had the best access to our meals ALL DAY LONG. I'm also going to spill it and say that I couldn't have asked for a better person to go on this trip with. She dealt with me when I got my period the night before our trip started, and then when I got a fever 2 days later...and when I had to delay our schedule for an hour with my Peeing pit stop. I'm super glad that I met you from this program (PRETTY LATE THOUGH). Everything just worked out well, to the point where I conveniently take night showers and she's a morning shower person. Ok enough lol, anyway.
No pictures yet for this month, because it is still midway...but we started dance practice this weekend for our performance in March. Basically we have practice everyday ranging from 3-4 and a half hours for a month. No Excuses. Ah well, it's at least definitely helping me with my endurance for the Tokyo Marathon...in March.
Currently Reading: Currently Listening: Stevie Wonder-For Once in My Life