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:: My Urban Eyes ::

All that I see, and then some.
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:: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 ::

Yea for Classes and Homestay!



I have about 15 minutes here to babble, so I'm going to do just that. Very rushed, so please excuse any mistakes. ^_^

Everything here is going really well. My host family is really really nice! I moved in with them last Saturday. It's a mom, a dad, a sister, two brothers, and a grandmother. Quite a large family! Okaasan (mom)'s hobby is English conversation, and she wants to become an English teacher. That's great because if she says something I don't understand we can usually work out some kind of understanding between both Japanese and English. One of the boys, Hitoshi, loves English and America, so we talk to each other in English sometimes. He did a three month exchange in Austrailia that he loved, and the next place he wants to visit is the US. He's a really good drum player and wants to go to college for music. He keeps asking me if I know this jazz drummer or that jazz drummer, but I only know the most famous people, so it's pretty useless. :P

Otousan works for the city, I think... for the government in some way. Both he and okaasan studied English in college, but back then they taught no speaking at all. So their vocab and grammar are great, it's just getting the words out that's a problem. Phonics are tough, as well. Okaasan works in some kind of office during the week.

Yuki, my host sister, is studying German in college. She had really bad English teachers in high school, so she hates the language with a passion. I kind of feel bad when I have to resort to English vocab words when I'm talking with her. (Ex.--ku-ra-su means class, but the native Japanese word for it is ju-gyou. I have a hard time remembering that, so I resort to ku-ra-su a bit too much, I think.)

Okaasan and Obaasan (my grandmother) cook great meals all the time. I try to help out, but the kitchen is their domain so I'm not really allowed in. I do help clean up after every meal, though. So far I've liked everything put in front of me! Well, except for broccoli, but I already knew I didn't like that. :P I've eaten lots of things, from raw fish in make-your-own sushi to octopus ("tako") to squid ("ika"), to little inch long fish. Those tiny fish were whole! They tasted good, but after three bites I couldn't eat anymore--it looked like they were staring at me. -_-

My Japanese comprehension is getting better--it has to! Hehe. The first day with my host family I asked a zillion questions and didn't understand lots of things, but I'm coming to understand more and more. My family speaks a dialect of Japanese called Kansai-ben, because it's from the Kansai region of Japan. The Kansai region includes Nara, Osaka, and Kyoto. It's very different from standard Japanese, with its own grammar and slang. Also, the speech pattern of high and low tones is nearly the opposite of standard Tokyo speech. I knew I was going to come out of this experience with an accent, but it's kind of cool to live it.

Osaka people are known for being loud and slightly coarse... kind of like a New York stereotype (or, if you're from New York, a New Jersey stereotype). (Wait... it's not quite *that* bad. -_^) Seeing as how I come from New York it's kind of fitting, ne?

Eeeep, class is starting in a couple minutes, gotta run! Next time I hope to have tons of pictures... and yes Mom, there will be people in them! :P

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:: Kazen 11:48 AM [+] ::
:: ... 1 comments | backtrack ::



Comments:
How's the commute from homestay and school, are you close? What is the transportation?

In school, how well are you able to understand your professors? Is it hard to keep up with them and how hard do you think your assignments are going to be?

While in Germany I had a hard time with the food, your experience here I know I would starve....raw fish, YUCK! Is there any types of food considered "American" available to you, if you needed?
 
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:: Saturday, August 27, 2005 ::

Last Night in the Dorm



...because I meet my host family today! I'm really excited and nervous and everything. I'm going to do a load of wash very soon and shower and pack. I should also take a picture of my current room, now that I think of it...

The mosquitos here in Japan are sneaky little buggers. Everyday I pop out with more bites, but I never see the bugs! The bite on my right wrist rubs against everything, so it is quite red. Yargh for bugs!

To answer Karri's question--yes, there was a typhoon! But it went north of us, so we didn't get any rain. Apparently typhoon season is just starting, though, so I may have more to report about later. -_^

Laundry time! I may not be able to post again until Monday, but do keep your eyes open! ^_^

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:: Kazen 5:26 AM [+] ::
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Comments:
mosquitos are sneaky everywhere! =D

Bah, who needs clean clothes. No need to wash ;-) Talk to you soon. =)
 
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:: Friday, August 26, 2005 ::

Picking Classes



There was a registration lottery to decide the order we sign up for classes in. You basically reach your hand into a box and pull out a number.

The girl in front of me got 52. I got 388. ...out of 433. >_<

My language classes will be automatically scheduled, so I only had to pick two afternoon lecture classes. My first *five* choices--Onna to Otoko, Body and Communication, a gender studies class, a current events class, and most painfully, Ceramics, closed beofre I could sign up. So instead I'm in an athropoligical perspecitves class and a class about youth in Japan. The subjects aren't exactly what I wanted, but they aren't *too* bad. The killer is my schedule--I have one afternoon off each week, but three days a week I have a three or four hour break to kill. Not to mention that I'm in class until 5:30 on Friday. T_T I know that will be good time to do my homework and all, but I think it will get very very annoying after a while.

Sigh. Well, next semester it can't get worse, ne! -_^ Also, I think they offer some kind of ceramics over the intersession, so maybe I can do that.

A quick note--Karri, hiii! ~huuuuuuuuuuuug~ So awesome to hear from you--I'm glad you like the blog! I hope that I can keep updating it this frequently! I also hope that you and Sean and the kids are well. ^_^

Oh, that's something else to note--when I'm in my homestay I probably won't be able to update quite this often, and not at all on the weekends. Don't worry though--during those long breaks I'm sure I'll get some writing done. :P

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:: Kazen 2:45 AM [+] ::
:: ... 2 comments | backtrack ::



Comments:
K-
I'm so glad to hear that you made it to Japan ok. I've been thinking about you all week! My internet has been at the stage of "argueing w/ the installer" so I'm at work reading your blog right now. I'll tell you the same thing my mom always tells me when I go away:

BE SMART AND HAVE FUN!
-Eliz
 
Ditto on Eliz, BE SMART AND HAVE FUN!

Too bad about the classes, but maybe something can happen for you over your break on the ceramics. I know that is big over seas! Please post an address when you get your homestay! Aunt Pat said there was a Typhoon, hope you can tell us about that!
 
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:: Thursday, August 25, 2005 ::

Days Two and Three



I'm really tired right now, so I'm just going to show and explain some pictures. ^_^

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Went to the supermarket--what a sensory overload. Not only all the bottles and packages I can barely read, but also the voices that were coming from speakers everywhere. There was a male and a female voice saying different things at the same time--it all became a jumble.

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Another view of campus, from right inside the main gate. Pretty, ne? This is pretty much all of the green on campus, save a couple of street trees. Most everything else is paving stones.

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This is the view from outside the bookstore, which is on the third floor of the Campus Center-esque building. Take a close look at the power lines--the towers are actually painted two different colors! Why is that? Seems like a waste of paint to me.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Got my ID card today, so I could check out the library (you need to swipe your card to get in, kind of like the subway in NYC). It's very very very nice--a little smaller than the UAlbany library, but more open inside. Many places to sit and study, but again, not quite as many as Albany has. This section is for language study books.

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It seems whereever I look I'm confronted with a wall of kanji. These books are from a computer section. I think some of them deal with programming languages and the like.

Okay, eyes going buggy, so I think I'm going to go sleep now. ^_^

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:: Kazen 4:19 PM [+] ::
:: ... 1 comments | backtrack ::



Comments:
Karla,
How wonderful this blog is! I absolutely love it and now will be looking at it frequently. I am so proud of you! What a wonderful experience this will be, and how jealous I am! Take care and keep up the page as best you can. This is a once in a life time adventure! Love, Karri
 
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:: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 ::

First Full Day in Japan!



Good morning! Right now it's 5:24 am Japan time. The sun is just starting to rise--I can see it through the computer lab window. Both days here I've woken up really really early... I think it has to do with the fact that it's 4:24 pm back in the States. Body is still catching up.

Yesterday was great! Woke up really early, checked my e-mail, showered. The showers in our building are kind of weird. You have to hold down a little lever in order for water to flow. If you take your hand off the lever the water will stop five or ten seconds later. I'm sure it's to save water, but I'm just not used to it yet.

Went with my roomie Kate and some new friends to find our way to the University. It's not a short walk from the dorms--about a half hour. So we figure that's like what, two miles? Once there we went on a tour (very short, kind of disappointing) and grabbed some food to eat. The cafeteria is great! I'll do a whole entry about it some other time, but I will say that the onigiri (riceballs) were awesome. And only 100 yen (about a dollar)! Later in the day I got a set lunch--a patty of some sort, two small dumpings, a little pasta salad, a bowl of rice and a drink for 380 yen. That's around $3.50 US. Not bad.

Later in the day we went to a banking session to set up our bank accounts. The bank is absolutely crazy with how the forms must be done--perfectly. If your pen skips and you carefully rewrite over a letter, no good. Start form over. If your two signatures don't match, no good. Start form over. If your home address has a comma in your passport but you didn't write the comma on your form, no good. Start form over. Three forms had to be done this way. >_< I was really lucky and got my paperwork through on the first try. Hopefully it won't be in my mailbox tomorrow with a "do over" post-it on it! -_^

Afterwards a whole bunch of us went on a little adventure to find the supermarket. We passed so many neat things! Actually, let me start from the beginning with the photos. ^_^

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The Library (maybe?) on the main campus of Kansai Gaidai University. The fountain has a little routine it goes through, with all kinds of spurts and sprays.

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Vending machines are absolutely everywhere! I have a feeling they are going to be my weakness, hehe. Most of the ones I see are for cold drinks (they'll be hot drinks come winter), but these are for beer and cigarettes.

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My first vending machine drink! It's called "Hajime", or roughly "Begin", and is made by Coca-Cola of all people. It's good, but not very sweet. I'm used to sugar in my tea, so it took some getting used to.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com
Everyone loves Engrish! This is outside of a hair salon right near the dorms. Your guess is as good as mine for what a "face sled" is. -_^

So! Where was I... ahh, to the market! We got to walk down a street with a lot of shoppes on the way. A third of the way there we went over a bridge and this was the view:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It was the most green I have seen in one place my whole time in Japan. I'll have to take more street pictures today so you can see what the place really looks like, this picture isn't very representative. I think I used more Japanese on this walk than anywhere else--mostly asking shoppe keepers where we could buy an international phone card, hehe.

Okay, I should really end here and try to get another hour worth of sleep before I shower and get ready for the day. I hope these pictures come out okay--they're resized by photobucket, with no photoshopping by me, straight from camera. (I hide a lot of sins in photoshop, usually. :P ) Take care everyone... and I hope I can keep this pace of writing and photos up, wheee! ^_^

PS - Thanks for your comments, everyone!
PPS - Maltorg - I'm manually updating it to Japan time now. Hopefully I'll remember to do that each entry, we'll see how it goes! ^_^

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:: Kazen 2:52 AM [+] ::
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To Explain



Someone left icky notes on my last post, so I hid them until I can figure out how to erase them. If you'd like to comment on that post, feel free to misplace the comment on another post, I'll still see it. ^_^ Now there's word verification on all comments, it will be explained when you leave one and is painless. It should stop these icky things. ^_^ Thanks for understanding!

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:: Kazen 12:06 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, August 22, 2005 ::

In Japan Safe and Sound



Just wanted to let everyone know. I'm dead tired now, as I haven't really slept in 24 hours. So I'm going to take care of that. ^_^

But all is good, no worries. ^_^

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:: Kazen 6:33 AM [+] ::
:: ... 2 comments | backtrack ::



Comments:
AHOY! Glad to hear ye made it ok. Um, what time are we seeing on the blog now, Japan time?
 
Happy to hear that you are safe.Looking forward to hearing of all your adventures. Love Aunt Pat
 
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:: Friday, August 19, 2005 ::

Oh, Crazy Day



Shall I start at the beginning?

Start off the day with a bagel, then packing. Packing for a trip this long requires major decision making. Exactly how many pairs of undies/socks do I need? Just think of the variables—wash is done more often in Japan (in general), but what about wearing out? The pair of socks that gets sacrificed to the family dog? And so on.

After that my Mom and I head out to do some near-last-minute shopping for all the stupid little stuff. Then dinner with and saying goodbye to Papa, my grandfather. I even got a pic with him with his fingers in a peace sign, like Japanese people do… cuuuuute.

Then on the way home we get a phone call—my brother Kurt got a piece of rust in his eye at work. (!!!) His eye had swollen shut and he needed someone to pick him up. So mom and I race down there. Turns out Saturn took him to see a doc down the street that gave him a prescription for antibiotic eye drops. So we got there, Mom drove Kurt’s car and I drove the caravan back home. The thought froke mom out because I haven’t been behind the wheel in any fashion or form for over a year (yeaaaa public transportation! And that’s an honest yea, not ironic at all!). I got home trouble free though, thank you very much. :P

So then I get home… and find out that the airline I’m taking to Japan, Northwest, will probably strike at midnight tonight. (To be more specific, their mechanics are striking. You know, the people who keep the planes safe.) The President isn’t stepping in, Northwest is going to run a full schedule regardless, and my connecting flight is in their hub, which is expecting the longest and most tragic delays. Awesome. (That was filled with irony.) Just when I was getting to grips with the flight, all this comes up. Now I’m just want to make my connecting flight to Japan! Otherwise I’ll be sleeping in the airport and everything, fuuuun.

Then I get a call from Mark—he got a job offer!!! An awesome one, too. It’s not signed just yet, so I’m going to avoid details, but let me just say that I’m very very very happy for him. ^_^ Yeaaaaa Mark!

So yeah, that was my day. How was yours?

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:: Kazen 8:18 PM [+] ::
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Comments:
I hope you had a safe trip. I will be weird not seeing you next year when we come up. You will always be in my thoughts and prayers that you are safe and having a GREAT time. E-mail me so that I know you are safe and I know my parents will want to know also. Well girl, Love You!!!!! Have an AWSOME time.
 
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:: Thursday, August 18, 2005 ::

Little Japan Update



The packing and handwringing has begun! Hehehe. Everything is going well, I'm just busy trying to figure out what needs to come with me, what I want to come with me, and how to fit it all in two suitcases.

My flight leaves Albany Sunday afternoon, so keep an eye on the skies for me! I'm crossing over the whole country, so you won't miss me. -_^

I've been e-mailing my Speaking Partner, Noriko. She's really cute and excited--I am, tooooo! I can't wait to meet her.

All the same, I can't quite comprehend what I'm doing yet. This is my last Thursday night in the States for a really long time. But nothing is sinking in. Self-defense mechanism? Maybe.

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:: Kazen 8:39 PM [+] ::
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