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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Japan Journal 2: Southpaw, Aussie Cheer, Shady Pachinko Parlors, and Winning at Japanese!

 This is my SECOND INSTALLMENT of Japan Journals. I wrote down all of my feelings, the good and the bad, to save for later. Everything in Japan was perfect, but sometimes, I needed to get out frustration/culture shock, and hey look, I can write in my journal! In reality, though, everything was magic <3
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I slept for like 10 hours today, yet I'm still feeling kind of fatigued and vaguely overwhelmed for some reason. The thing is, I love, love, LOVE Japan--everything about it is so wonderful! Something about switching house and living with a different family, perhaps, is leaving me feeling tired. Change can sometimes be overwhelming! This family is great, though--all so kind and friendly! Today I went to the recycle shop/thrift store again (watch my video from my first trip here) and bought all kinds of wonderful, unnecessary stuff. It was great. I'm pretty thrilled with my purchases, I found a lot of cool stuff (I found these amazing tins from Tokyo Disneyland..I had to leave a few behind that were absolutely fabulous, but much too big/awkwardly shaped for me to fit into my suitcase...and I found a Tamagotchi! I say I bought it for Adora, but I might keep it for myself :p I love it too much). All in all, a success!
I've been trying to speak Japanese whenever possibly, but these past few weeks I kind of feel like I've been falling short. Which is ridiculous, because when I think back to even three or four weeks ago, I'm speaking much more now that I was then, and trying to make conversation whenever I can! Sometimes, my expectations for myself are a little bit ridiculous, I guess. I just really want to make the most of my time here.
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HEAD'S UP TO ANYONE GOING TO JAPAN:
Your organization will probably tell you NOT to contact the other exchange students, but honestly, they can be a lifesaver. They will mirror/validate your feelings when things are difficult and give you tips and tricks about life in Japan. I would be careful and ensure that you aren't contacting them TOO much, but don't be afraid to ask them a question if you're feeling overwhelmed. I had this crazy situation going on with insurance, and was super confused, but when I talked to the other students, I was able to clear it up very quickly. Use them, but don't OVERUSE them--my professional advice.
Also, I never see any of them in person, so I'm still only verbally speaking Japanese-yay! I am delighting in all of this practice time. And now--off, to practice! XD
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Update: I still love the name Zelda. So much.
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 Man, Facebook will not get off my back about not posting enough.
"The people who like 'Erin Yuki Violet' haven't heard from you in a while."
There are legitimately four of them, I think they'll make it through somehow.
Also, it's like, "YOU HAVEN'T POSTED IN 5 DAYS." I don't think I've posted a Facebook status to my personal page in at least three months, but I don't see you all up on my back about that one, Facebook. Gosh.
I'm going a great job of keeping this relevant, by the way.
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Today, I was home alone for a little bit. When I get that kind of free time, I tend to panic. I have myself convinced that if I am book studying instead of either talking to people or "EXPERIENCING JAPAN IN A HANDS-ON MANNER," then I am somehow doing it wrong. But, if my family is gone, I can't talk to people, and I can't really go out. So, what do I do? I go on the internet, to mindlessly surf and not have to sit with any feelings of inadequacy. I'm going to quash this problem, NOW.
Message to myself:
1. If your family is not home, you can and should study Japanese.
2. Don't go on the internet all of the time. You won't regret having studied. You WILL regret having constantly internetted.
3. IT'S ALL GOOD. Calm down, please. There is no need to panic about anything. In general.
Okay, that feels good. I can do this.
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 I bought more candy. I feel no shame. In will be sitting in America, eating Japanese food for weeks after I return. Yay! Sometimes I feel bad for bringing back so much, but I really want to make my time in America (how ever long it may be--I'm sure I'll be back) contain as much reminder of my life in Japan as is humanly possible.
Also, today, I thought about going home, and I genuinely felt sad. Woo, immersion! It's going to be tough to leave all of this magic behind.
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Japanese people legitimately say Southpaw. Like, frequently. I have never heard someone say Southpaw before, and I live in America. I had to Google it, no joke.
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I just learned that all Aussies know the "Aussie cheer." Because of this, if, when in a public place, I shout "AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE," all of the Aussies will respond "OI OI OI!" So, that just became my mating call, basically.
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On a scale from one to Augustus Waters, how pretentious is it to name your kid Holden? Because that's a legit name.
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I really hope I'm calling everyone the correct names. Last year, there was an exchange student from Zimbabwe in my younger brother's class, and she called me the wrong name for the entire year, and I NEVER corrected her. Why?! I don't know. I just don't correct people when they call me the wrong name, ever. A girl in one of my classes Freshman year called me Amber for the entire year, and I didn't say ANYTHING. I guess because the first few times I was like, "Whatever, close enough," and then it had gone too far, and I felt like correcting her then would just lead to awkwardness.
And the same thing happened with this girl, she called me Ashley for the whole year. And we were Facebook friends...? So, she had to have typed my name in...? Like, I know that all American names sound the same or something, but Ashley is not the same as Erin. Different letters. It was baffling.
Case and point, I'm pretty horrible at remembering people's names here, so hopefully I'm not inflicting this same pain on some poor Japanese girl.
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 Pro tip: If you see a large, vaguely shady-looking building, it's almost definitely pachinko. In fact, if you see any large building at all, and you don't know what it is, it's probably pachinko. Just, bonus points if it also looks vaguely scandalous.
If you ask about too many shady looking buildings, your family will begin to think you have some kind of weird pachinko obsession. So, take it from me--it's pachinko. I'm here for you guys.
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People here have been complementing my eyes a lot, and I kind of find it super flattering. SORRY, I'M VAIN.
Admittedly, I am much more flattered by and grateful for people saying that I am intelligent, that I have a good memory, that I speak Japanese, or that I study hard. Complements of substance mean so much to me. But, I'm flattered by nice things people say about my face too. S'all good, in the end. I appreciate any effort people make to be nice.
But, I digress. Basic gist, people here think my eyes are the bomb, and I dig that.
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My host sister doesn't talk to me as much as I would like, and not nearly as much as my old host sister did. I initiate all of our conversations. So, hopefully that will remedy itself later. I insist on talking basically all of the time, so...this isn't great. Must. Make. Use. Of. Japanese speaking time.
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We were talking about yogurt today, and I was reminded of this kid in my Calc class who once went on a long rant about Greek yogurt; "Looks like buttcheek, smells like buttcheek, tastes like buttcheek".....oh my word. Good memories returning from high school. I wish I could remember more of his rants, because they were...educational, to say the least.
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 So, I guess a preschool near me has a uniform, because I saw all of these adorable little kids today in FULL uniform. Like, blazers and little tiny plated skirts. I die. It was absolutely adorable.
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 Gay marriage isn't legal here, that seriously bums me out. I assumed it would be, because the influence of Christianity isn't big like in America. Gahh. 
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So, I've been watching Danisnotonfire videos recently, and one thing that I notice is that, when Dan is acting something out and there are random background characters in it, at least half of them are female, every time. I think this is really interesting, because Dan, who is male, plays all of the characters, yet he clearly makes a conscious effort to include males and females. Like, c'mon, Hollywood, if a British 20-something making YouTube videos from home can make half of his characters female (literally make, as he plays them all himself), I think that you guys can do it. Way to go, Dan. Representation matters.
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I was watching Japanese TV today, and I felt like I was able to keep up with and understand what they were saying, which is EXTREMELY exciting for me. I could understand the show and catch most, if not all, of the words. It was such a satisfying moment. Yay, immersion!
Japan Pictures:

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