9/3/11    12:59

I met my language partner, finally. Her name is Mika and she’s a freshman here at Gaidai. She calls me Ryan-kun and there’s a little 13 year old me inside that is squealing with joy because it makes me feel like I’m in an anime. I am embarrassed at this fact. Continuing with the line of embarrassment, we were talking about interests and it came out that I liked Ayumi Hamasaki and manga like Lucky Star, Honey and Clover, and Yotsuba. This, right after she tells me that she’s a big fan of One Piece and Dragon Ball. And so, she finally said it.

“女の子らしいですね。” [You’re like a little girl ._.]
“あ。。そんな。。” [Er.]
“全然大丈夫だよ。” [Oh, it’s totally fine.]

恥ずかしいー ;_; In my defense, I only read shoujo manga because it’s aimed towards kids, has furigana/is easy to read, and they’re usually funny and the love stories are easy to follow. I swear. >_> I SWEAR. ;_; STOP JUDGING ME

So she offered to walk with me to the bookstore by the station and we could go look for some shoujo manga because I was too embarrassed to head into the all pink aisle where they’re located. And we did. But not before she announced loudly to her friend what our plans were. Her friend thought it was really cute. I was just further embarrassed. Ahoo.

In other news, Mika is really cool and nice. She commutes from Shiga-ken which is about an hour away by train and lives on Lake Biwa. Her house is situated in a valley between the mountains and a lake [lolwtfawesome]. It doubles as a Japanese-style restaurant and she told me I should come visit. I definitely intend on taking her up on that later in the semester. If it wasn’t just her being polite.

~ ~

On sharing food:

In America, it’s not uncommon to split both your meal and the cost so you can save money. Being in Japan, where everything is expensive, I thought this would be a good practice to continue. I asked a Japanese person if it’s normal to do that and they said it happens sometimes. I feel bad though because meals usually come with a drink, and if you’re splitting it, it logically should include only one, but they always provide two. I am cheating the establishment. :/ Oh btw, if you’re ever near the Kansai Gaidai campus, there’s an Indian restaurant across the street that’s friggin’ amazing. It’s called New Delhi and here’s what Julia and I split. The naan is ridicu-huge and the curry is crazy good.

~ ~

There was a safety presentation at one point and here are some interesting tidbits about Japanese law and custom that I gleaned from the speaker:

As much of a drinking society as Japan is, the penalties for being drunk in public are really severe. The legal limit is like .02% as opposed to our .08% and you can be stopped and charged at random. Also, bicycles are considered vehicles in Japan so riding your bike drunk can net you a fine of 500,000 yen [$6,000-ish] or a max of three years in prison. Prison for a DUI on a bicycle. That’s getting up there on the list of saddest things I’ve ever heard.

~ ~

– There’s a genre that’s very popular in Japan called 時代 – jidai . It’s translated as “period” and it can refer to dramas, books, manga, or anything that is set in older eras of Japanese history. I think it’s usually the Edo period or earlier, but suffice to say that there are people running around in kimono and geta, complete with all the intrigue that comes with those periods of history. There are seriously hundreds of soap operas and other media focused on this period and they obviously have a big following. I guess the genre can be compared to that of westerns in America. It’s just a setting focused on a bygone period.

~ ~

Every time I hang out with Julia, I meet more Japanese people. She’s just really focused on meeting them and she’s not afraid to put herself out there, so she strikes up relationships easily. We came across a whole bunch of people practicing brass instruments outside, presumably for auditions of some sort, and she told them about how she marched Phantom Regiment’s guard. They were so honored to meet her, it was pretty awesome. She then went to go spin some with the guard at Gaidai. It’s cool that DCI is famous even in Japan.

Later on, we met a whole bunch of Japanese students who randomly decided to take us out to karaoke down by the station. I then found out that Marisa and my ability to sing Disney songs is highly prized by the Japanese university students. Or just this particular group. Maybe it’s the +5 ethnic bonus to karaoke skills that being Filipino brings. In my case, at least. Now me and Marisa know what to do if we want to impress female Japanese university students. Sing Disney duets.

~ ~

There’s a bar nearby that has signs outside saying things like “Welcome to Japan: we would like to associate with foreigners!” It caters to the Kansai Gaidai international student populace with cheap food, alcohol, and a decidedly Japanese atmosphere. The seats are cushions on the ground and the tables are very low [as are the lights]. The owners speak English to some extent and are very friendly. I went with two people from UF, Troy and Marissa, and their friends DJ, Veronica, and Dylan. It was pretty great, I’ve gotta say. Afterwards there were supermarket adventures at the Midori shopping center. Dylan and I found some awesome Engrish shirts for like 480 yen. I am definitely going back to purchase one before I get into the homestay.

~ ~

– Speaking of homestay, we got our preliminary information packet about our families. I’m going to be living in Neyagawa-shi, 40 minutes by train southwest of the university. I have a mother, a father, a 26 year old brother, and an 82 year old grandfather. I google mapped my house address and it was an empty field. I do hope that part was mistaken. >_>

They have a dog and that’s pretty awesome. I hope it’s a shiba-inu. As far as the homestay goes, I was kind of hoping for children, but it’s alright. I’ll deal. Also, I’m alternating between being really bummed about the grandpa and being really excited. He could be one of those really animated and engaging old people or he could be sleeping all day. It could really go either way. Also, his birth date puts him at the right age to have fought in World War II. I wonder if my being Filipino will have any bearing on our relationship. Post-war resentments?

Also, I Japanese wiki’d the city my host family lives in. I couldn’t read a lot of the kanji on the page, so I tried to google translate it.

I appreciate that my city has a registered Virgin School-girls’ High School. And a launch river flood green. It’s held at the green river flood, y’know. Oh, and some stone discharge. Can’t forget the stone discharge. (笑)

~ ~

– In more relevant news, this typhoon is messing up a lot of things. The opening ceremony almost got canceled yesterday [which would have sucked because there was this awesome reception with all-you can eat Japanese food afterwards]. And now we can’t leave the seminar houses today because we’re under a storm watch.

Things don’t change, though. As with Florida hurricanes, when you’re under a watch or warning, it’s mildly worrying but it really usually means just some wind and inconvenient rain. Which is what’s happening right now. It’s super windy but there isn’t even rain so I don’t see why we’re under house arrest. It’s okay, though. I get to update this, Julia and I watched some of this jidai drama, and now people are watching a Perfume concert DVD. Chill day.

I mean. This happened. Come on. Lol

– –

I think this trip has the possibility of being the most well-documented UF study abroad… evar. There are a lot of us posting stuff about our travels be it a photo-blog, regular blogs, or youtube vlogging. Here are links to some of our other UF students studying at Kansai Gaidai.

Marissa – http://kansaishiosai.blogspot.com/

Grace – http://hatsukoukai.wordpress.com/

Julia – http://hopeinjapan.wordpress.com/

Marisa [Vlog]  – http://www.youtube.com/user/mfigzz

Tina – http://gingersmiles.wordpress.com/


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