Reasons....

Posted by irene , 6.24.2010 5:45 AM

Bleh! You all haven:t heard from me in a while, huh? :\

the reason for this is that my host family doesn:t have internet. XD
I:m currently using a computer in the hotel i:m staying in in Tokyo. I have a lot of entries typed up , but this PC can:t take USB drive.
I promise I will upload all of them and photos if I somehow get a good connection.
Sorry to all of you--I:m okay! :D and miss you!!

~Irene

Seattle airport... Tokyo soon!

Posted by irene , 6.14.2010 12:09 PM

Currently at the Seattle airport :DD
This is the first airport that we've come across that actually has fast, free wifi.
I will be boarding plane to Tokyo in 45 minutes!

Wish me luck on the 10-hr flight! :D

~IRene

AHHH YAY SHINJUKU

Posted by irene , 6.12.2010 11:00 PM

OMG.

I just looked on another Exchange Student's blog, and apparently the hotel we're staying in is in SHINJUKU.
...yes, that Shinjuku.



Flail of excitement!
this simply makes me hope that we get to go outside of the hotel even more ;______;

*crosses her fingers*

Japan PDO Day 2: aaaaaiyaaaaaa awesome

Posted by irene 10:03 PM

Note: All these posts following with are, obviously, pictures that I have and will upload once I get a decent wifi source.
Yep!

I am currently using the only wifi connection known to all the YFU students right now... lucky me :D

6:04 AM

Everyone living in California really needs to appreciate this beautiful sky and landscape they can wake up to every morning.


This is at 6 in the morning, mind you! I would be so much more motivated to go to school if it was like this every day, haha. It usually doesn't start looking like this until at least... 6:30 in Michigan? If not later.

Today's schedule is pretty packed...
(and I never finished this)

-------
10:08PM

We had huge amounts of lessons and such today. Our entire day is crammed full... which is great :D it's amazing how long I feel like I've been here... Finally feel like I'm actually in California and I'm leaving in two days ;___;

Radio exercises (ラヂオ対ソ) in the morning:
After WWII, the Japanese government wanted to create a system of boosting morale, community bonding and such in its citizens (as well as encouraging physical wellness, of course!)
The exercises are essentially a series of timed stretches set to the wonderful beat of a man saying "いち、に、さん、し。。。” so on and so forth. Example video with way more people here!
Call me a nerd but they are actually somewhat fun... it's kind of amusing to see 60 other people doing the same exuberant movements as you XD

------
In the afternoon, we discussed our homestay experiences (I think I'm going to discuss this in a later post), and then practiced Japanese.
I know I mentioned my uncertainty about this in my Day 1 post, but I somehow got into the advanced class o___o
けいこ先生, our teacher, is a native Japanese speaker from 大阪, Osaka! :DD Her accent is very good, as a result.
We just learned some basics: parts of the body, time, days of week/month, et cetera.

-------

We also played a game called bafa bafa. The premise sounds pretty simple, but actually playing the game was really fun XD
Our kumis represented different cultures, with completely different ways of associating, trading money, and values.

(for example, my kumi placed huge value on money and we spoke a language solely based on phonetic sounds... to trade. on the other hand, another kumi was a outspoken, patriarchal society with much physical contact, little notion of personal space, and less emphasis on the value of hard currency)

We sent three rounds of ambassadors between the two kumi rooms, mirroring our own exchanges, and it was definitely amusing to see the perceptions of one culture by another.

It'll be impossible for me to completely understand Japan, I realize that... but looking up current events and understanding the psychology behind the societal workings will help.
I want to make sure to not eliminate the human element behind all this though. Cultures do not operate simply by a set of rules... those rules are simply norms and guidelines.
The individuals themselves are the ones who make the decisions, with the norms in place to show precedent... which is usually followed as the outcomes for choosing those paths are known...
Getting a little too in-depth right now, sorry! I have a post on tis that I will type on the plane, when I have a clear head and time to thing ^0^

----

After dinner, we had our two culture workshops :D
Since I picked karaoke and taiko drumming, both were rather musical. I have videos for both, which will go up velly velly soon.

...and right now I'm taking full advantage of my limited wifi connection! :)


Tomorrow is our last full day of PDO, and I really will miss it.
I have met so many people here... it's my dear wish that I will be able to see them again after Tuesday (stay in JP for 1 night).

...and yet, it's just the beginning! I really am unable to wrap my head around it right now... even after I've heard so much about it, it's almost unreal that I'm going there. In two days. AHHHH!

*deep breath*

Until I get a good connection (probably tomorrow), toodleloo! :)

~Irene

Japan PDO Day 1: Arrival!

Posted by irene 9:50 PM

Directly following up to my travel post :O

(This is June 11th post.)

After arriving at Berkeley, I signed up for two culture workshops. There were Haiku, Karaoke, Taiko, Takoyaki, and Sports Festival to choose from, but by the time I got there, only Karaoke, Taiko, and Sports Festival were open. I picked the two musical ones, haha :)

I also got my room key and a language evaluation... I had no idea it was coming o__o but I guess I'll find out how that works out tomorrow.

I also got my kumi!!
It is basically be my home group for the next 2-3 days... and I'm happy to announce that my kumi is amazing :DD
I am in 青い(blue) kumi. We have a flag that says 青侍 (blue samurai) on it! :D It's very majestic.
The other colors of kumi are 紫 purple, 刀 (katana) silver (we call them gray though XD), and 赤い red. We've already established that 青い kumi wins though.
At what, you may ask?

...you'll see :)

We ate dinner in the very spacious and beautiful UC Berkeley Dining Hall:


... in which I pigged out while somehow sleeping simultaneously.

Afterwards, we saw a slideshow on Japan in general, which made me even more excited to leave on Monday... mental convulsions of joy.

After that, I went back to my room, cleaned up some loose ends, and hit the bed :D

Exciting day tomorrow!!!

More updates to come later

Posted by irene 9:08 PM

BLEAARGH!
UCBerkeley has... no good wifi for non students ;___;
I don't blame them for that, though. It's completely justified.

I'll be posting pictures and all that later, then. This is just kind of an excuse for my hiatus...

Today was our first full day of YFU Japan PreDeparture Orientation O___O I am writing up long posts and stuff like that (have taken at least 100 photos since I got here!) but those will come later, when I actually have a valid wifi source ;___;

Just a summary: did taiko drumming on trash cans, legit radio calisthenics, sang old Japanese boy band songs, and ate many things, such as strawberries (as Tanya is narrating to me right now)

Kaytlin and Heemy are also in this extremely overheated computer room...
I know these names don't make any sense, but I will explain later. I think. Yes. I will.

Sorry I am incoherent... tomorrow is our last full day in the US and I am absolutely sure there will be a lot to type later :D

Okay, Irene is over and out.

Ta ta for now! (says Tanya)

Finally, an update! pt.1, host fam :)

Posted by irene , 6.06.2010 6:08 AM


[Whew! It's been hectic recently. I'll post info in separate posts, this one's more general :D]

Last wednesday, I was doing homework on the computer when...

[image coming later]

Pretty much sums it up :)
Needless to say, I was extremely excited and like shaking when I was talking on the phone with the YFU admissions counselor XD

I'm going to Handa City in Aichi Prefecture (
City website) according to Wikipedia:
Handa (半田市, Handa-shi)
is a
city located in Aichi, Japan, which was founded on
October 1, 1937. As of 2003, the city has an estimated
population of 114,336 and the density of 2,421.35 persons per km². The total area is 47.22 km².

Handa is a little bigger than Canton.

I'll be staying with the Kawauchi family: mom Hisayo, dad Nobuyuki, brother Yuu (18 years), and sister Ai (16 years)
Squeeeeeeeee!
/shivering with excitement/

As such, I checked my email extremely frequently for the remainder of that week... and my efforts paid off today, when my host mom sent me an email

Dear Irene,
How do you do?
By the way, you wil have swimming class in the school.
So if you have a swimsuit colored dark blue, please bring it.
Then we will go travel to Tokyo Disney Land.
Why don't you go there with us?
This season has a lot of rainy days in Japan.
I hope that you enjoy Japanese life.
I'm looking forward to seeing you.
See you.
                 your host mother, Hisayo
Can you imagine my excitement? Tokyo Disneyland..... oooooo :D
To top it off, I also called my host family today!

...as I've never taken Japanese, you can imagine how many 追う一度おねがいしますs and わかりませんs there were XD

However, it was definitely one of the most awkwardly exciting things I've ever done... sense of accomplishment!

Paraphrased, translated conversation below
Mom: Moshi moshi. (hello.)
Me: moshi moshi! Is this the Kawauchi family?
Mom: そうです. (That is correct.)
Me: I am calling from America. This is the exchange--
Mom: OOOOH!! Are you Irene?
Me: yeeyeyeyeyeyeyeyes! (it was something like that... coupled with frantic head-nodding and mental happy squeal)
Mom: Hello!! Nice to meet you.
Me: Nice to meet you! I called today to say hello.
Mom: Yes!
Mom: Oh, did you get my email?
Me: Yes!

[email related conversation here, hard to sum up since I was asking questions for most of the time :P]

Me: I have some questions.
Mom: Yes?
Me: What are my brother and sister's names?
Mom: Brother is Yuu.
Me: Yuu.
Mom: Hai. Sister is Ai.
Me: aaah, Ai.
Mom: Hai.

Mom: battery
Me: Oh, okay, わかります. さよなら!
Mom: さよなら!
Whew! I really hope that I didn't make any serious mistakes!
It really was fulfilling though, seeing as I was able to communicate in a language that is somewhat alien to me :)

I have almost finished getting host family gifts! All that's left to do is get wrapping paper and the like. Gift shops are great for finding michigan -related stuff... I found one of those oven mitts with a map of michigan on it XD

On a different, slightly related note...
Check out my shirt.
The only reason why my shorts extend past that shirt is because a) I pulled them down and b) I have my arms extended.

...my amazing YFU logo'd shirt! :DD It's XL as I have said before. A good precaution to take, methinks!
However, since my mom is an amazing seamstress, she has altered it so it is roughly my size now. Whoo!

Okay, phew. Long post. Next one coming up!