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Journals from Kanto Gakuin University

2008-10-03 Homestay!

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Field Trip to the House of Councillors

Apparently it's been a while since I've actually written anything, so I figure it's high time to catch you up on what's been going on. It's been a crazy (fun) few weeks. I'm sure I'll forget little things and whatnot and all will be mayhem. But here goes my small attempt to make sense of it all for you ^^. We met our host families on Saturday, September 20th, which was a lot of fun. The buddies were there to act as buffers and help translate a little. There was much food to be eaten and moments of quiet awkward shyness from all parties. It was nice to meet everyone and get a feel for them before we were to move in with them. It was a lot of fun to mangle languages and come up with some sort of understanding, and just in general bridge the cultural/language gaps. The following Monday was "Enjoy cooking." We split up into 4 groups to prepare different dishes. They were as follows: Sushi, Gyouza, Yaki Soba, and Okonomiyaki. I helped with the Okonomiyaki preparations and it was fairly simple. There's a special flour required that you mix with some water, add lots of lettuce, then some meat (pork usually) and egg, then throw it on to fry like American pancakes with some adventuresome flipping involved. All the food was extremely delicious. (It's making me hungry now to write about it.) Also after this some of us were able to go get cellphones from different locations. It took a long time to get everything in order, but was so worth it. The phone was about 60$ and we also got a 30$ prepaid card which covers about 30 minutes talk time and unlimited emails to other cellphone users. One frustrating thing that future students should keep in mind is that all you need to get a cellphone is proof that you've applied for alien registration. The Interntational office thought we needed the actual card so we waited about a month longer than necessary before we got a phone. Future travellers should try to get a phone as soon as possible because it's so nice to have. On Tuesday a VERY large group went bowling, and it was a blast and a half. There were Americans, Buddies, Teachers/Staff, and other Japanese student friends. We played three games (two would have been better because we were all tired), and then wandered off to fend for ourselves for dinner. Wednesday was a day off with class on Thursday and Friday. Saturday was spent packing, doing homework and just generally relaxing before we moved in with our host families on Sunday! It was an adventure/struggle getting my big bag on the bus and train to get to the house. I felt bad because it was so big, but the smaller bag would have been harder/heavier to carry, mostly because all of my school books were in there. It's amazing how quickly things pile up -.- It's been great being here, the food is delicious and it's fun trying new foods that I wouldn't normally order in a restaraunt just because I don't know what they are. It's a fun experience, though I should want to help with dinner some more too. Usually I come up and work on homework, though. It's amazing how tired I can be at the end of the day. It's interesting taking a bath at night rather than a shower in the morning. I'm sure if I wanted to I could take a shower in the morning, but I've been thoroughly enjoying the baths. They're amazingly relaxing; especially on Wednesday after I started Aikido I was incredibly sore and so looking forward to the bath. Also I've been sleeping on a futon, so I have to set it up every night and put it away every day. It's not so bad, though it's certainly different. In general my host family is pretty great. They're very friendly and willing to help me with anything. We've got all sorts of events planned and it's interesting just being part of the family and seeing how they live. The dad always gets home late, which is typical for Japanese, so we mostly see him on the weekends and once in a while when he gets home early on weekdays. It's so different from (at least my family life) in the US, though part of the reasoning is the travel time. Madoka (my little sister) is a lot of fun, though it took a little while for her to really warm up and feel comfortable around me. It is hard not speaking more Japanese, but I manage to make myself understood most of the time. There are so many different things about Japan that are interesting. The transportation is one of them. The buses will sometimes/often be off schedule, but the trains are very frequent, though you need to be careful about getting on a bus that you think is local and ends up being express so you miss your stop -.- Cellphones are hugely popular here, but computers aren't used as frequently. There are a lot of little technological things that are so different because Japan seems to be such a technologically advanced country. One thing that's very weird is how ridiculously clean the streets and sidewalks are, but there are virtually NO trash cans. In houses and restaurants yes, but when you buy a drink you have to carry the bottle with you for a while before you find somewhere to throw it away. You think this would encourage littering, and maybe it does a little, but everyone seems to be responsible for the street in front of where they live/work. I've seen shop keepers and home owners out in the morning with little brooms sweeping up the street and picking up tiny pieces of garbage. It's an interesting concept but not one I think would ever be commonly accepted in the US, where people are just too lazy for that. Krista Fehr

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