Friday, December 23, 2005


No... I haven't lost my English language yet. (I wish.) In Japan, they say "Happy Christmas," "Happy Merry Christmas," but never "Merry Christmas." In fact, people run to me to shake my hand on the day of my Birthday (as oppose to a hug).

I haven't been writing, therefore, I'm a bit behind. Well, it has become increasingly difficult to contact people back home. Hell, I only check my email account weekly, as oppose to the hourly visit to Hotmail when I'm in school.

Anyway, lots of things had happened since I last wrote.

Birthday: I was sick the weekend of my birthday. I had nausea. As Cori has mentioned in her blog, it ended up with our friend, Andrew, translating some really private questions. i.e. When was your last period? Apparently, during my little "lost in translations" with the pharmacist, she thought I was pregnant.

Home Visit: I visited a home of a Japanese person. It was fun. I ended up watching a soccer match for the Asia Cup (or whatever). Never, ever speak of soccer with a Japanese soccer craze and 2 Koreans! They memorized the entire bracket for World Cup 2006.

Claudia (German), Cori (Canadian), and Kai (German) converted to Austrians and spoke about beer, while I stood next to a Marylander, and spoke about American parties. We stressed about it for a few weeks, put a slide show together, 2 pages for the program, etc. As if public speaking isn't hard enough already, we had to do it in Japanese in front of an auditorium of people. First, it was stressful to think of our culture, because we have none! At last, the presentation turned out well with topics such as foam party, jelly wrestling, ice luge, jello shots, etc. We had a unique culture after all~

Desy's Birthday: I went to Karaoke for my first time in Japan. It was extremely disappointing. New York is not a place known for its karaoke, yet, we definitely have better equiptment, etc. than the one I went to here. I was fooled by everyone's "free drinks, free food" comment. By "food", they meant a broken cotton candy machine and ice cream. Back home, we get fried chicken and fries! "Free drinks" meant tea and coffee. Alcohol drinks costed extra.

Harajuku, Tokyo: I had one of my weir,d only-child act again. I went all the way to Tokyo by myself. What did I do? I ate McDonald's! My original plan to look for a X'mas present for Rob has failed.

Makuhari: I am remember why I have always liked to shop by myself. I was done with the whole outlet and mall in less than an hour. I was never the type of shopper who circle each store 7x before moving on to the next store. It was an experience thought. Of all stores, they have Billabong! You'd think they have Gap or something, but no. In fact, there are no Apple Bee's in the entire Japan, but they have Outback Steakhouse. How strange.

In Japan, as oppose to the popular Christmas party at home there are the forget-the-year parties. I couldn't help but laugh when I had first learned about it. Technically, they are parties to forget all the negative things that had happened throughout the year. Honestly, what's the point? The year's already ending...

Clean up, Clean up, Everybody, Everywhere! I walk out, and I hear vaccuum cleaners. It seems that everyone is cleaning up for visitors and what-not. We have a 2-week winter vacation; everyone seems to be going some where. As for me, Rob's arriving in less than 3 hours! Woohoo. We plan to go to Disney Sea and other tourist attractions in Tokyo.

My Canadian friend, Cori, got hit by a car while she was on the bike. I can't stress how dangerous it is here to ride a bicycle. I have flew off my bike twice. Once, I landed safely on two feet. The second time, I landed on my right arm. When we sat together for Katya's "farewell lunch," we all seem to have our own near-death experiences with our bicycles.

We are all so home sick that we get excited about a pack of Extra gum from home. I miss home food! *frown*

At last, I thought it'd go away... but my identity seems to be more and more confusing as time passes. This, Asian-American, holding a British passport, but never visited to UK would like to say... HAPPY CHRISTMAS and Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, November 21, 2005

One Thing I Don't Miss

Rob and I often speak of what-if scenarios. For example, what if there was an emergency that only he had witnessed (since we spent a considerable amount of time with each other in front of the webcam). Who would he contact when he's in New York?

Here's another one. We often joke about how he can answer my door when I am away, or babysit my laptop when I am absent. What if my laptop was stolen in front of his eyes? We used to joke that he would able to stop the crime when he interrogates the theive on the other side of the world.

Earlier, I was in my floor's meeting room to receive better wireless internet connection. While I was talking to Rob, I had to use the bathroom. My homework, bookbag, and electronic dictionary were all layed out on the desk. After a short contemplation, I decided to leave my belongings unattended.

One thing I don't miss is to have to worry about leaving things unattended. New York, especially my university, is infamous for having things "disappear." It takes as little as 1 minute. In fact, my laptop was stolen while my roommate was asleep in the room. How? I don't know.

The streets of Japan are unbelievably safe. No matter how dark it is (without street lights), how far the police station is, or how deserted you are, one would always feel secured, simply because it's Japan! There will always be umbrellas left on bicycles. My belongings will always remain where I had abandoned or forgotten it (i.e. my bicycle basket).

Saturday, November 19, 2005


In the Japanese class at Stony Brook, we often talk about the useless vocabularies that we have to memorize for our quizzes. One of those words were 悪循環 (a-ku-jun-kan) which means vicious cycle. When would it ever be in use? I have never even used it in English (or Chinese). Until one day...

A few weeks ago, I was eating Shabu Shabu (the onomatopoeia for boiling water) for dinner with Claudia, Kai, and Lukas, who speaks fluent Japanese after 2 years of studying by himself. I wasn't following the conversation, but they were talking about Catch-22 and such. Lukas turned to me and asked what the English word is for 悪循環. Before I heard his question, I found it humorous that he believes that I can answer his question. His Japanese is far better than mine. When his question finally registered in my head, I thought to myself, That sounds so familiar. I the repeated the word to myself 3 or 4 more times.

Within seconds, I yelled, "Vicious cycle!" Lukas confirmed that it was right. Till this day, I am still surprised at the wide range of useless Japanese vocabulary words that I know and remember.

Monday, November 14, 2005

New Yorkers, Where Ya At?!

In May, I went on a cross-country road trip with 3 friends. By the end of our trip, we couldn't wait for the honking cars, disrespectful New Yorkers, etc. Being in Japan is 10x worse. (Then again, for some reasons, Japanese are actually really mean to me.)

Last Sunday, we were invited to play with the boy scout kids and to visit our Architectural Design's professor's house, the Yanagisawa's. I felt extremely uncomfortable ending the day with a simple "Thank You very much." I could have repeated it 27 more times and not be able to express how thankful I was.

Their house was beautiful. Their entire family were great hosts and hostess. We were served fruits, oven-baked pizza, shumai, yakisoba, sushi, chips, and soda. Moreover, we learned to make sushi. Everything was prepared especially for us. It was like Christmas. We all set around, chatting, laughing, and playing with their 2 sons. For the first time in 10 or more years, I played Legos.

Earlier that day, we were invited to play with the boy scout kids (there were girls, too). For the kindergarten to 2nd grade's Beaver group, they had to guess each exchange student's origin of country. Our names were the only thing that were given. To my surprise, they know a lot of countries. i.e. Nepal was one of their guesses. However, they would guess an Asian country for a European person and vice versa. They would even guess the Phillippines when the hint was "somewhere cold".

By the end of the day, a girl and her parents waited for us at the train station unexpectedly. The thanked us for the day and gave each of us a print of the picture we had taken earlier. Once again, I don't think I could've bowed any lower or gave thanks any more than I did.

I don't think I can get used to it. Argh! Stop being so nice to me!

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I was fortunate to be 1 of 4 girls who volunteered to participate in a tea party at my dormitory building. I drooled at the opportunity to wear a kimono. Thereafter, I dragged 2 of my hallmates, Desy and Laila, to sign up with me.

(Unfortunately, I had to cut my talking time with Rob short to attend the event at 10 am. Now, he's asleep, and I missed the chance to talk to him.)

The first thing I had noticed was that I had the lowest proficiency in Japanese. The event is hosted by the Mother Associations, which translates to the requirement of tremendous manner and respect. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but the Japanese has a whole different way of speaking to the elders. Different verbs are required, more bowing, and more arigatoos gozimasu's.

There are a group of 4 girls and 1 guy coming in at each hour. First, we had to wear these funny looking socks (see below). Since I was the first one to master them, I was the first one to choose a kimono. When I first entered the building where the event was taking place, I puked at the color and style of the kimonos. Apparently, the girls who were an hour before us were just tasteless. I ended up picking the first one I saw, a plain, blue, flower-patterned kimono.

Then, I stood in the middle of the room, in front of a mirror, with 2-3 other "okaasan" dressing me up. I don't know if I would want to be related to it, but it reminded me of a chapter in "Memoirs of a Geisha". For the next half an hour, I became a statue with my arms up.

First, we had to wear a white undershirt (see below). Then... lots of layers, tying, tightening, etc. I forgot. The entire process was so complicated. An average Japanese person would not know how to put it on. I have worn a Japanese kimono before a few years ago, when I visited Japan for the first time. However, this time, everything is more "formal". After lots of adjustments, they spent a 1/3 of the total time on the "obi" (bow). When I was done, all the elders compliment you. I was bound to blush, and denied their compliments.

Subsequently, we had to pick out our slippers, bags, etc. Then, another "okaasan" had to style my hair. I was one of the few people with long and wavy hair. Thankfully, I didn't have to wear a hair piece. At last, I picked out a pink hair ornament.

It was extremely tiring to have to worry about dirtying the kimono and walking with restrictions to the movement on your legs. At last, old Japanese music was played. We sat at a table, and we were taught how to drink our tea. The picture on the cup has to face a certain direction before and after you drink it; the cup has to be rotated before and after you drink it, etc.

At around 12 pm, the fun was over. The Mother Association prepared a feast. As soon as the kimono was off, it was all like a dream. It was so much fun.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Flower Power

A few weeks ago, Rob sent me a care package. Inside, it included a set of pajamas (because I have been complaining at how cold it is getting night), pictures of us, a picture frame that I wanted, magazines, and a few essential items I have requested.

One of the most exciting moment when you are living away from home is to receive letters (until I started receiving bills). Before that comes the care packages! During the first month, it was so sad seeing everyone else running to the office to sign for their packages. i.e. Cori got her pillow the first week or two. The sadness was over when I received one of my own. =)

Earlier this week, I remembered one of the many reasons why it feels so good to have a boyfriend. It's because you get spoiled! Rob sent me a dozen of red roses. They are B-E-A-UUUUU-TIFUL!

The delivery guy had to call me at my cell phone. After 3 minutes of wondering who "Ro-ba-tsu" from Tokyo (the florist) is, I ran down without even locking my door. I was smiling the entire day thereafter.

I love you, Rob!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Volleyball Class

Volleyball and Chinese are the only "regular" classes that I am taking along with Japanese students (due to my low proficiency). Otherwise, I am taking Japanese language courses, Economics courses, and Architectural Design with fellow international exchange students.

Japanese girls appeared to me as the scariest creatures when I first stepped into the class. It was quite intimidating, seeing cliques throughout the gym. Not to mention, I had to personally meet with the gym teacher before enrolling in the class.

First off, I had to do a self introduction in front of 50+ people. Fortunately, I have become quite custom to it. I must have done dozens of self introductions in classes, welcome parties, or casual conversations. In the end, it wasn't as horrible as I have imagined it to be. Like my Chinese class, I know what is going on; thereafter, it is much easier to comprehend without knowing what they are saying all the time.

The first day was extremely fun, frustrating, and intimidating. It was frustrating, because when a ball comes at me, I don't think in Japanese. Therefore, I would utter, "free" or "I got it!" I'd end up mumbling the end of a word or sentence. Because I have to speak Japanese entirely, there have been a few interesting stories. It's actually quite foolish of me. In fact, to the class, I am either really stupid or really... lost.

Story #1:
On the first day, as if it was not intimidating enough, I had to struggle through the directions to little games that we played. At one time, we were playing, "cat and mice." In Japanese, the words are "neko" (cat) and "nezumi" (mouse). Boy, "nezumi" became my vocabulary of the week. I don't think I will ever forget the word after what had happened.

Basically, (now that I know what was going on) we had two teams: the cats and the mices. I was one of the mice. I asked for interpretation, but by the second time, I gave up and said "wakatta" which means, "I understand." I figured, I'll survive when I look at what everyone else is doing. Boy, I was so wrong! For example, if the teacher was to call "cats," the cats would tag the mices who were standing on the other side of a line, 5 feet away. Notice that both "neko" and "nezumi" starts with the sound "ne". When Japanese is not your first or second language, you're screwed! Big time!

Anyway, not only was I tagged every time by this evil-looking girl, I couldn't tag anyone. In addition, I'm the last person to run to the other side (to catch the "cats"). So, I was stupid AND slow! In fact, at the last round, I ran to the person who was supposed to catch me! Doh!

Story #2
Each week, we would have a new team. Every time we have a new team, we would be given 5 minutes to do quick self introductions. Typically, you would tell them your full name, what year you are in, and what faculty you are in.

Before our scrimmages, we played games (again)! I never liked the idea of games after my first day. This time, it was easier to comprehend; we simply had to pass the ball around in a circle. The moment you pass it to another group member, you would have to call their name.

Before we started, we were in a circle, and everyone was reviewing their names. I was the last one to say my name, and everyone laughed. I lauged under pressure. I thought, perhaps, it is because my name is so different from everyone else's.

I managed to remember 3 names. There was "Hachi" who was on the left of me, "ichi" who was across from me, and "Nana" who was diagonal to me. I remembered "Nana," because there was a girl in the volleyball club who has the same name.

By the end of the class, I figured out why everyone laughed. Apparently, we weren't reviewing our names, we were counting in numbers around the circle. "Ichi", "hachi", and "nana" were 1, 8, and 7. Instead of calling their names, we had to call each other by numbers. I would have been "kyuu" (9), but instead, I said my name. *sigh*

Story #3

One day, while everyone was putting away the net, scoreboard, balls, etc., I found myself standing at the emptier part of the gym doing nothing. Since everyone was finishing up, I decided to head to the locker room. I changed and emptied my locker. By the time I walked out of the locker room, everyone was still in their gym clothes in a circle with the teacher in the center. I was about 30 feet away from them when they gave thanks to the teacher for the day. I decided to bow and say "arigatoo gozaimasu" like everyone else. Since it is extremely rare to find someone disrespectful, it was quite strange that I did it so casually.

To make matters worse, after the teacher looked at me (thankfully, he's really nice), everyone else did as well. All the girls were saying "Stephanie... (blah blah blah)," pointing, and laughing. All of the sudden, I'm like the class clown.


What is really frustrating is that the word "kawaii" (cute). I don't think I need a bunch of Japanese girls to talk about how "cute" I am. In fact, I only call people "cute" when it's stupidly-cute.

I just hope that I won't do any more stretches that I am incapable of doing (like touching my toes and having someone pushing me down, forcefully).

Most importantly, no more games!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I haven't been able to update my blog, because the condition of the wireless internet connection that I am "borrowing" is getting worse.

Last week, we had 3 days off from school to hold a festival (大学祭) at school. Moreover, it was 文化の日 or Cultural Day on November 3rd. The festival was 4 days long. It is where all the "circles" or clubs come together and sell food, handmade crafts (I bought flower earring holder shown above), and hold performances.

The second picture above is "taiyaki". It is similar to the "Hong Kong Style Cake" that you buy from Chinatown, but better. It has different flavors, such as chocolate, green tea, red beans, etc. There were tons of food, including yakitori (barbeque meat), yakisoba (stir-fry noodles), okonomiyaki (seafood pancake), ramen, etc. Strangely, there were 2 clubs that sold hot dogs.

As for the performances, they were quite impressive and entertaining. Most of the time, I watched the Japanese dance to Ciara and other hip hop songs. When popular songs like, "One Two Step" were playing, no one knew the words. Moreover, the dancers were lipping the wrong words to the song.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Random Pictures

1. An Architectural Design class trip on a Saturday morning to the samurai house. There, we all gathered together and had tea.

2. We went to a museum. This piece found approximately 3000 yrs ago is my favorite one in the entire place.

3. A look inside a samurai house.

4. A praying mantis found outside the front yard.

5. The sky outside Sakura, Chiba, a place known for their killer slopes!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


The Japanese calls school clubs "circles". I went to the Capoeira Circle with Hatim, a fellow exchange student from Chicago. Obviously, I can't do any of those dance moves. Thereafter, I was sitting around, hoping to speak Japanese, but the guy from Brazil (in green pants) kept speaking English to me. At last, I was a mere audience who was trying to learn the different instruments.

There are more interactive clubs in Chiba University, compared to the excessive cultural clubs in Stony Brook. I intend to join the volleyball circle, Japanese instrument circle, and maybe the Soccer circle. Uh... Akido, too? Either way, it's Fun, Fun, Fun (with a capital "F")!

Bills, Bills, Bills

Here's a picture of me, taken by Cori, when I bought my new futon (comforter). For the first month, everyone rented pillows, bed sheets, futons, blankets, pillow cases, and futons cover for about $23 a month each. From then, we all bought our own bedding goods.

Even with my 2 scholarship and overpaid financial aid, it is barely covering my expenses. For the first week, utility was $9. Initial clean-up charge for the room was $160. Luckily, the rent was only $47. My cell phone (with only 60 included minutes) would come out to be about $30. Not to mention, there are no such things as free nights and weekends.

I also bought a new electronic English and Japanese dictionary ($188), and a bicycle ($110). The quality of 99 cent stores here are great. There's a store named, "Kyuu-kyuu," which literally means, 9-9. For only a dollar each, I got a pot, hooks, (really soft) kleenex, instant noodles, picture frames, a fork-spoon duo, instant miso soup, dish detergent, salt, a pole for hanging laundry, hangers, a mini broom, a doormat, a clear umbrella, a rug for the bathroom, a scrub, washing sponges, etc.

It's my 24th day, (excluding my cell phone bill, health insurance, and the possible of water bill) I've spent about $1,300. *sigh* Not to mention, I spent part of my scholarship on my new Fujitsu laptop and outerwear before I came.

P.S. I went to McDonald's and ordered (in direct translation) Ice Cream, Vanilla from the Dollar Menu (100 yen menu). I spotted the ice cream machine, waiting for the cashier to get a waffle cone and proceed to the machine. Instead, she went to the back of the kitchen, opened the fridge, and gave me a vanilla ice cream in an already-made container!

Monday, October 24, 2005


(From Top: Cori, rainbow at the water foutain at the entrance of Odaiba park, inside the ferris wheel, and Japan's biggest ferris wheel )

Yesterday, 6 of my friends and I went to Odaiba. It has the "biggest" ferris wheel in Japan. Despite the height, the entire ride had its sense of comfort and security. Personally, I am not afraid of height, but I am afraid of ferris wheel. This one is one of the few where it did not initiate any fear. The ferris wheel does not stop. People are loaded on and off as it moves, talk about operational management! The ferris wheel moves very slowly and steadily.

The place was like an oriental Central Park. It was a big park, beautiful, and clean. The only difference is the style of landscape, and HUUUUGE spiderwebs!

P.S. The first 2 pictures are Cori's

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rain, Rain, Go Away~

It was raining today (Big surprise, NY!). I decided to simulate myself into the Japanese culture. I took my bicycle to go to class like I normally would. With my left hand, I held my clear umbrella. I now know why clear umbrellas are so popular in Japan. It's so you can see while you put it in front of you to block the wind! Duh! As for my right hand, I had to manage the turns, the breaks, and the bell. On the way, with the conditions that I were given, I am very proud that I rode on this steep hill that not anyone is capable of riding on.

At last, I managed to get only 15% wet. I had to keep the headphones to Rob's i-Pod stationed in my ears along with the strong wind. I managed not to kill anyone or be killed. Then again, a truck sped pass me while I was sharing a narrow road.

P.S. As shown on this entry's picture, I gave in (on the 15th day).

Vocabulary of the Day: 地震 (Ji-Shin)

Jishin is a Japanese word for "earthquake." Why in the world would I need to know? Because I experienced my first earthquake!!!

Don't worry. As you see, I am still alive. It was pretty bad. The wall seemed to be pounding at one point. I thought, "Who the hell is kicking the wall?" A millisecond later, "Wow... pretty strong. That's not possible!" A second later, "Whoa! My calendar and keys hung on the wall, as well as everything in my room, are shaking!" Oh my God! I was talking to Rob, and I said, "Um... earthquake?" At one point, I was pretty excited because I have never been in one before. It was kind of fun, because it seems as if the whole building was vibrating. When it finally stopped, I felt my heart beating. When I calmed down, I wasn't calmed at all.

Girls in my hallways were screaming, "Jishin!!" They continued to laugh nervously, "Jishin..." That is how I learned the new word. I didn't have to question. I walked out to ask if everyone's okay. At the same time, I had to join the excitement.

You'd laugh now at my story, but it doesn't really hit you that it is an earthquake until a quarter of a minute later. I totally forgot that earthquakes happen in Japan. Another story I've heard from a guy from Chicago was, "I know my cell phone doesn't vibrate that much!" Of course, I am excited about anything. A girl from Canada didn't think much of it. Another American didn't notice it at all.

Rob made a funny comment. When he saw me walk out my door, he was expecting, "Oh my God!" in the typical Long Island girls tone. Instead, he tried to make out what we were saying. Because, it wasn't English~

Half an hour later, the entire neighborhood (or perhaps everywhere that was effected) I heard a Japanese announcer speaking about the earthquake. It's interesting. It can easily be heard. I live on the 4th floor, and I heard it clearly. That is one of the many cultural differences that I have encounter thusfar.

This brings an opening to another story. I have been having pidgeon problems in my balcony. They poop, they come back time after time. Once, my calendar that was hung on the wall fell while I was sleeping. Waking up from a sudden sound, I automatically looked to the window, and thought, "Damn, pidgeons!" The pidgeons are now blamed for everything, including the fact that I have to hang my clothes dry inside my room.

At last, of all the words that I will forget, I will never forget "jishin."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Night at Chiba

1. Shopping Center, "Cone," in Chiba

2. My first puri-kura this time in Japan

3. Okonomiyaki

4. Arcade

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I am such a foreigner!

I just want to start the entry by saying, "I WAS DYING IN THAT PICTURE!" OMG, never, ever, ever make Stephanie kneel or sit, Indian-style, to eat. We may look happy in the picture because we just got there and was delighted at this whole Japanese-style seating. A minute later, we were all in pain.

You'd think I wouldn't stand out when everyone has dark hair and "yellow" skin like me. Guess again. I went to a tourist area, Akihabara (electronic town) in Tokyo. Somehow, the Chinese guy who was giving out flyers spotted me TWICE! He just picked me out from the crowd and asked if I was Chinese in Mandarin. I passed by him for the 2nd time that day, and he found me, AGAIN! This time, I was looking down (unintentionally). They know!! It's because I smell Chinese, lemme tell ya! Lol.

Oh my, my manner is horrible. Once, the banker was returning my passport with 2 hands; because my other hand was looking for my cell phone, I received it with one hand. His eye contact that split second afterwards (literally) gave it away! They are too nice to give you the stare-down, but argh! It was too late when I realized what I had done.

At last, I would like to conclude that I blew my nose 10x in my Japanese class. After my 6th time, I remember that it is rude to blow your nose in public (no matter how discretely you do it).

P.S. Angela would have been damned if she was here.

No More Tampons?

1. Talking on your cell phone is not allowed on subways. It must be off or on vibrate. There is a "manner mode" button on my cell phone. By "not allow," I don't mean the "No Eating" signs you see on New York buses. It is strictly enforced (culturally).

2. In Japan, the drying machines are useless. If you dry a 1/4 filled load 4 times, it will still be damp. This explains why Japanese appliances are not as popular as their electronics in the United States.

3. To my surprise, making calls on your cell phone practically does not exist. As oppose to Hong Kong, everyone holds a cell phone, talking to it (literally). It is quite normal for a person to own 2 or more cell phones. In Japan, Cell phones are used to have 1-minute conversations or to write email and cmail/txt msg. Phone plans are extremely expensive. For example, my plan gives me only 50 free minutes a month. There is no such thing as free night or free weekend minutes. Fortunately, incoming calls are free, so call all you want!

4. In the entire supermarket, I found only one kind and one brand of tampons. This is a nightmare, because they aren't cheap.

5. Apparently, opening your newspaper in a V-angle to read on a subway ride is rude. The correct way is to fold your newspaper.

P.S. My cell phone has a GPS system and it reads barcode. I must test it out soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dorm Party (Japanese Style)

It started out strangely. A guy I only know by name, Soushi, invited everyone to the C Building. Without knowing what is going on, we all showed up. In Japan, you don't question a person's friendliness. I helped out by watching him cook (and later carried the food). I was a good helper, let me tell you.

Momentarily, I found out this party was for Soushi's 24th Birthday. (Soushi is the guy who transformed from a chef to a blonde.) In Japan, a guy can always pull off a feminine act. Lots of things are not questioned, including a guy having his eyebrows shaped, the entire male population holding a pretty clear umbrella, etc.

Because the party invitation was so random and unexpected, I did not know what to expect from a party in the dorms at Japan. At first, I thought it was like the suite party back at home. In the end, the party consisted of people standing around, making friends, and eating at the meeting room.

It was as friendly as a party thrown by a school club. There were drinks, food, and snack. In fact, the only alcohol beverage brought to the room was by an American! Then again, I believe Soushi bought wine. Yep, no tv, not spills, no drunks, etc.

Here I am, not drinking alcohol. In fact, it's getting cold, so I bought a bottle of warm milk tea. Here are Evan, me, Desi, and Suvi (Chicago, NY, Indonesia, Finland). My favorite saying is still, "Hi! Stephanie, USA!"

P.S. Question of the Day: What happens when East meets West?

Beer Pong is introduced.
(with clear cups)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Let's back track...

On the last day, I was at the city with Rob. After we got our caramel macchiato from Starbucks, my flip flop broke (again!). I tried to pinch the thong part of the flip flop with my toes to keep it together, I tried to "skate" with the flip flops, and they all failed.

Rob, of course, offered me his shoes, but I didn't want to be Big Foot. He gave me his socks, so I wore them to go to Durane Reade hoping to find flip flops there. In the end, all we found was socks. Thereafter, I double-layered them, and wore them to take the subway back home. (See Picture)

Despite the mishap, I still looked pretty happy. In fact, it was quite fun. =)

Contact Info

011-81-80-6557-7386 (email address for my cell phone)

D-415 6-33-7 Konakadai
Inage-Ku, Chiba-shi, 263-0043

You Know You Are in Japan When...

1. You do the fob sign

2. When she is not a street performer or a beggar, AND she poses for free willingly

3. When you see a group of freaks not going to a Kiss concert

4. When Naruto says "Bye Bye" to you after a picture

5. When this person is not a child molester

6. When everyone has a umbrella that costs $1-$3

7. When you order your meal from a machine

8. When Mont Blanc is a cake

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Week 1

For the 1st week, all I have done is fill out forms. They are all in Japanese, but we get by it. We had to apply for utility, our dorm room, national health insurance, cell phone, alien registration card, student ID, bank account, bicycle parking permit, library's internet access card, and library card. It isn't as simple as one id where it is utilize for everything on campus. I had to use my broken Japanese to apply for various things on campus.

To my surprise, the level of proficiency of the other foreign exchange students is much higher than mine. I live in the international housing in Inage, 20 minutes walk away from the campus (a subway stop away). We are more diverse than New York. The numbers seem to be very proportional. We have people from Hungary, Canada, Russia, Finland, Austria, Australia, America, Indonesia, Taiwan, etc. We also have people from Korean and Mainland China. The last two groups are, of course, segregated into their own group. Mostly, it is due to the fact that everyone else's common language is English but them. There seems to be a "rivalry" for years between the Chinese or Korean and the rest of the group. The two groups interests are too different. For example, they would make complaints towards the others about the noises.

My room is small, but everything is space efficient. I have everything I need and more. I have a shower, a toilet, a sink, a desk, a book shelf, a closet, drawers under the bed, a shoe cabinet, an air conditioner, a BALCONY, and clothes line (because drying machine is expensive here). I live on the 4th floor, and the building does not have an elevator. Therefore, I get quite an exercise. Then again, I got used to it after the first time I climbed those stairs because (since I don't have a bike yet) I have been walking a lot.

Everything is nearby. There is a parking lot for bicycles outside of our building, as well as mailboxes. Across my dormitory, there is a convenience store. (Imagine going to a Japanese snack shop; it's fun.) Within 4 minutes, I have access to dozens of restaurants, 99 yen stores (equivalent of 99 cents), more convenience stores, cell phone stores, etc. Within 6 minutes, there is a train station, McDonald's, coffee shops, a mall, supermarkets, and such. Everything is right where I need them even though I am an hour away from Tokyo.

The Japanese are extremely nice. First day, they carried my 2 EXTREMELY HEAVY luggages 4 flights of stairs. Also, we got a welcome package which included a cup, plates, a knife, and a pair of chopsticks. My most memorable experience is when the cell phone store clerks stayed an hour after the entire mall closed (meaning, all the employees had left besides security guards) to set up our accounts. I remember, lights were going off slowly, one by one. At one point, ALL the lights were closed beside emergency exits. At last, they escorted us outside the building. The story does not end yet. The next day, a new store clerk for that shift was waiting for all of us with our bags of cell phone. I feel as important as a CEO of a company.

We have been eating various Japanese food. I ate ramen noodles, takoyaki, yakiniku (not so sure if I spelled them right), etc. Once, the restaurant clerks must have thought that we were having a business dinner (most people look matured, and we are foreigners). They gave us 1000 yen off of a 18,800 yen bill. I didn't think I would get shocked in the food topic after the birth of "Fear Factor" and stories throughout my whole life about dogs and whatnot. Boy was I wrong. 2 days ago, a group of people ate RAW HORSE MEAT and pregnant fish. The most unusual thing I have eaten is raw tofu. Heh. On a side note, the coffee here is so weak. Ugh!

I have been having various problems setting up a cell phone account. First off, international students don't receive the student discount (which gives you 50% off of your bill). Secondly, I AM A MINOR HERE. Then again, I get buy alcohol legally in December (not that I would). Anyway, each cellular phone stores have been extremely patient. They look like I had just dropped $1,000 everytime I leave the store and wasted half an hour of their time filling out forms. So, I don't really feel badly for lots of things that I normally would in New York. It's their job.

I have a tutor, which is simply a student advisor. Her name is Haru. I feel like a giant when I am around her. I feel normal when I am with the international students. However, when I am alone with another Japanese girl, I feel like a giant. Mostly, it is because their bone structure is so small. She is extremely nice. Every now and then, she would invite me to lunch. Then again, I was heartbroken 2 days ago when I found out that she gets paid by the school. Now, I don't feel so badly to ask her for help.

As for my language skill... Throughout the summer, I have been asked what my proficiency is. I always answered, "I can get around." Speaking Japanese is harder than I thought. Although I have been "getting around," it is not until a day or two ago did I get used to it. It takes some skill to ask for a mosquito anti-itchy ointment and to apply for a cell phone in Japanese all by myself. I have been more willing to speak Japanese. At the same time, I speak English a lot (which is not a good thing).

I thought it was hard for me to go "hee" or "kawaii" or other typical "words" that we recognize in New York from a native Japanese. Then again, I realize how easy it is to become "fobby". Within a few days, I have been saying "Bye-Bye" with a Japanese accent. It's inevitable. It's like if everyone starts saying, "sup?", you would, too.

It takes a lot for me to be "shocked," because I have experienced lots of things previously in Japan. Moreover, I was well-prepared for them by learning about it and such.

Oh, the yen system sucks!! With all the different measurement (temperature, currency, etc.), it will take some time to get used to. There are way too many coins in Japanese currency. If coins are dropped in a puddle of dirty water in NY subway, you leave it. If you drop yens, you pick them up!!! You never know how much money there are in those coins you dropped because there are 500 yen coins ($5).

As for the last topic, I would like to talk about how I am always reminded of Japanese horror films. First of all, every place in Japanese reminds me of one or another Japanese horror film. Mostly, it is because I saw a handful of them in the past year. For example, the lights in my hallway and stairwell is censored. It reminds me of the "Grudge." It is quite frightening to walk up the stairs in the pitch dark for 2 seconds before the lights automatically flicks on. My balcony definitely reminds me of "The Ring" (1 or 2). Fortunately, I don't get frightened; I simply recall movie scenes every now and then.

Bye now, I must go buy myself a new bicycle. I never knew how skillful I must have to be to ride a bicycle. People are every where, and streets are narrow. Moreover, I haven't figured out if I am supposed to stay on the left or the right, because the bicycles are every where.

P.S. There are 2 pidgeons that visit my balcony every morning. I believe they are a couple~

Friday, September 30, 2005

Dead End

Last night, Rob and I drove pass a dead end. It was pitch dark. There was a parked car on the opposite side; it's light was illuminating inside and it had attracted our attention. For that second, I saw an African American male facing the passenger's seat. Looking at his facial expression, I could tell that he was enjoying "whatever he was doing." Mind you, it was a dead end.

Quite disturbing, I say.

P.S. Before then, Rob and I met up with Tom and Johnson. We met them over the summer, and we see them every week. They must be extremely bored to be hanging out with a couple. Anyway, it was fun. We went to Flamingo Cafe on Northern Blvd. The food and coffee was... eh, but the desserts were YUM!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Boyfriend w/ Benefits

A week ago, I didn't have a suitecase. Rob then offered me his extra ones. My phone was broken, and Rob gave me his old one. (Of course, I broke that, too.) I needed someone to take care of my banking and operating transactions. I found someone to take on the Power of Attorney with me. In other words, I found someone to pick up my checks.

I have someone who would offer me his jacket when I am
cold. I have someone to hold me when it's chilly. Most importantly, I found the perfect candidate for all tasks; I found someone to rely on at all times.

I think the greatest example is that I would know who to call if I were to have a flat tire (and if I were to have a car, of course). Even if he is incapable of helping, it is great to have someone there 24/7, someone to whine to, to complain to, to bitch to, etc. The best part is, I don't have to limit myself or hold back. Heh.

Meet Adriane

She's turning 5 next week. Isn't she adorable?

For the past month, she has been building things with our collection of rented VHS. Yesterday, I got bored and built a well by myself.

When she would sing songs from Barney or school, she'd teach me. Also, she would make sure my father prnounces Yu-gi-oh correctly.

Her last complaint was why her 3rd grade brother won't let her kiss him when she leaves for school.

Once she told my father to make her a dish she likes. We couldn't figured out what. In the end, we found out that she had mistakened pork for chicken.

In high school, she was in the car while my mom drove a classmate of mine. My friend was chubby. Adriane asked, "How come she has so much muscle?"

P.S. My book shelf looks like a stationary store.