Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Welcome Party

It's the beginning of a new semester, the 自己紹介 tradition, and the endless welcome parties.

There isn't much to say, just pictures:

Saturday, April 15, 2006


I finally gathered enough courage to tell my parents about how I have a boyfriend. I told my mom over the phone. There was literally a 7 second pause before she replied. I have also sent them a picture of us at hanami. She said she will staple it onto the wall as a target. She further added that she will keep her eyes out for him on the streets. At last, she said she will set up a network among her mahjong friends. Any news, especially if he were to cheat on me, will be reported to her. Although I am sending her a full body picture, she said she'll take it to the developing store to blow it up.

Then, of course, she laughed. I even told her that I will be going to Taiwan with him in June. From there, she figured out how we met.

So, what was I so afraid of? My mom was never a problem. We'll see what happens next week when they call me again. That is after my mom transfer the news to my dad and after they receive the picture.


Friday, April 14, 2006


This is what happens when everything at ダイソ costs under a dollar:


By the end of Rob's stay, we also had 花火. We bought a bunch, but we withheld ourselves from getting the ones that shoot up into the sky. After all, we don't want to cause too much trouble. Apparently, the only regulation is that it is done before 10 pm, and that the garbage must be cleaned up. That's quite hard since there's never a garbage can in sight.

Since the week was rainy and it is a hassle to go to the beach at night, we did it at the playground across from my dormitory. It was lots of fun.

We also climbed on this pyramid at the park. I have always wanted to climb up on it, because there was the same thing at the park where I used to live at in Hong Kong. Since then, at 8 years old, I have never seen it again. I couldn't climb all the way to the top. It makes me wonder how I used to do it when I was half my size.

Speaking of which, Japanese kids does the craziest things. Now, are we, as Americans, being too protective? Or, are Japanese kids just simply smarter? They seem to be capable of doing things that would never be allowed in the states.

Anyway, here are some more pictures:


On the day of our hanami, we found アメ横, a tourist area, nearby. It was ordinary. In fact, it was somewhat disappointing considering that I often hear about it. Luckily, we didn't go out of our way to get there.

Anyway, I bought my first 浴衣 there. It is white and red. Unfortunately, even with an English guide, Rob and I were unable to tie the おび. In fact, we were no where near that step.

Although it was a 浴衣 and not a kimono, it was just as complicated. As a result, Rob bought me my second 浴衣; at Narita Airport before he departed. It is beautiful. It is pink and white with a floral pattern. Unlike the first one, the おび is actually a clip on. It also came with the sandals.

And now, I am only looking forward to festivals in the summer where I can wear them. =)


Originally, we wanted to go 花見 for our second time at a different location. We visited 千葉公園 on our biking trip. We wanted to return to ride on the boats with 弁当. It was then that we found out that it was illegal to have 2 people riding on the same bicycle. Cori confirmed it, and apparently, I was the last one to know.

Unfortunately, we were plagued by the rain for consecutive days. However, even so, we had a great deal of fun sipping wine and making sushi. Once again, we only picked our favorite food.

And, I present to you, the work of Robanie:


(Today, a whole gang came with me to exchange my TV tuner. We must have spent hours. I was excited to watch not only the world cup this summer, but to watch anything the entire weekend. Instead, the second one became dysfunctional as well in a matter of minutes. Because I am totally furious, I decided to post entries on my blog as Rob had suggested.)

After much consideration, Rob and I decided to go to 上野恩賜公園 for 花見 (flower viewing). Fortunately, Rob arrived before the season has ended. In addition, I have bought equipments to make our delicious お弁当. With the Japanese recipe book and Desy's rice cooker, we were ready to go~! For our lunch boxes, I decided earlier that it would be fun to prepare food to make hand rolls. The ingredients included our favorite avocado and eel, my newly mastered 焼き卵, sushi rice, いくら (salmon eggs), and seaweed.

While we were fitting everything into the lunch box, we started eating the sushi rice from our sticky hands. It was scrumptious! Along with our 弁当, we brought snacks, wet towels, chopsticks, etc. We then tied it into a blue cloth.

Although we were up early, we were still in a bit of a rush. Apparently, I only had dark color clothes. Since it didn't seem to fitting for spring or the 花見 season, we shopped. After an hour by train, we arrived to find the park flooded with people.

The atmosphere for this popular park is exactly what we had expected. Large groups of people were on picnic mats drinking beer, laughing, and singing. Dominos was taking over the place!! Their workers were every where, holding menus, taking orders. At last, there was an interesting group of men in business suits singing for free to whoever wishes to see them perform.

We must have spent hours under a sakura tree. It was slightly windy, thereafter, they would fall from time to time. It was beautiful. We took off our shoes like everyone else and sat on our tiny, pink mat. We weren't civilized enough to use chopsticks, therefore, our hands were covered with rice. After a while, we were running out of seaweed. So, our hand rolls were stuffed with more and more stuff. Moreover, different shapes were produced.

After making about a dozen handrolls, we strolled to different areas of the park. We even rode on the paddle swan boat! There were white swans, yellow swans (not duck), regular paddle boats, and rowing boats. On a side note, there were these black and white evil-looking ducks as well. They looked like they were about to take over the world! Their eyes glowed. It was colorful, and we were in time to see the sunset reflecting from the pond. The pond closed within minutes after we finished.

When it got dark, there were ぼんぼり点灯 hanging every where. In addition, there were the food stands that we often encounter. At last, I almost killed 9 of my friends! They were Wing-Chow, Ichiroo, Alice, Dim Sum, Dwayne, Dawn, Cooper, Alex, and Mandy. What happened was that I was playing the game where you try to catch a goldfish with a tissue paper spoon. I caught one, but she gave me 9! While we were sitting on a bench eating who-knows-what that was served at one stand, I was trying to sit the plastic bag of goldfish on the floor. The water ended up flowing out of the bag as I dropped it and the goldfishes were flapping on the floor. I immediately picked up 3 or so of them and dropped them back into the bag. I almost killed them!! Worst of all was that Rob named all 9 of them. After what had happened, we freed them before the night ended at the pond.

When we were exiting the park, we found a dance floor next to a big fountain. They were playing Japanese reggae. Everyone was facing the speakers and did a one-two step.

And, guess what? I just found a cockaroach next to my bed~! Go figure.

Friday, April 07, 2006


I decided to pick up a few things so I can make an お弁当 for Hanami before the season ends. The Japanese has everything to sell. They make anything that would make life easier. At last, I must have spent 3000 yen on who knows what.

Speaking of which, what the hell is 昆布 or kelp (dictionary: a type of brown seaweed)?
It is one of the listed ingredients.

Wish me luck! I am horrible at making anything. I just hope that I don't cut any fingers.

First Day Back in School

When I first came back to the dorm, Eun-Jung ran up to me and started chattering in Japanese. She was asking me simple questions, but I froze and I slowly explained that I have forgotten my Japanese. She continued to talk faster and faster, and I became silent.

On our first day back, we had to take a placement exam. I did horribly. Even if I hadn't left for 6 weeks, I wouldn't have done much better. It wasn't that I had forgotten Japanese, but I am simply slower than before. It took me longer to read. The Japanese words were all jumping out at me once. Although I have been reviewing and learning in my current level, I have always wanted to be placed in a more challenged class. I gave up on the idea after the test.

Afterwards, we had homeroom. Everyone seems to be speaking Japanese instead of English more willingly. Either I have become slower, or other foreign exchange students are speaking much faster. Thanks to Rob who downloaded a bunch of Japanese drama, I have noticed certain usage of words (mostly slangs) between Japanese people that I have never noticed before. In addition, I'm sure I'll pick up on it.

During homeroom, we received our grades. My grades consisted of only A's and S's. Sarcastically, I turned to Cori, "Woohoo, I got an A in Chinese." She replied, "And, you didn't get an S?" It was then that I realize that the grading system is in the order of S, A, B, C, F, and W. The 2 classes that I am absolutely fabulous in, Chinese 2 (a level much lower than what I should take) and Volleyball, I received A's. It sounds so ironic when everyone yelled out, "I can't believe I got an A (in so-and-so's class)!"

Back in NY, a friend of Rob who is applying to go study abroad approached me. I was quite intimated. He spoke in an incredible speed. Thank god for English! I wouldn't want to embarrass myself. After thinking that I have gained nothing from Japan the first semester, I wish to make the best out of my second one. Of course, I will still stay in my room to talk to Rob. LOL. Fortunately, he will be coming more frequently. At least, I'll be out some where ordering food and reading signs.

At night, Andrew delivered the DVD of our presentations from last year. Thanks again, by the way!. I watched the American presentation and I got the chills looking at myself. Heh. Thereafter, I decided to skim through the other presentations that we did not stay to watch.


I have been gone for 6 weeks, if not more. The more I was worried about my Japanese, the more people came up to me. I was approached by 2 foreigners who asked for directions in Japanese.

Right away, I remember the distinctive smell that I have only found in Japan, the businessmen in suits, the vending machines, etc. Everything has changed. The grasses are greener, the flowers are blooming, and most importantly, SAKURAS! There are even buildings that I have never noticed before on the path to school. I was excited once again to walk into a convenience store.

I had 2 inches of mail, and there were signes posted all over my door. Apparently, while I was gone, they installed the internet connection and a new conditioner! Hopefully, the new A/C will be more energy efficient. I wouldn't want to pay over $100 a month for electricity.

The brighten my day even more, they cleaned up the pidgeon poop outside my balcony! I cleaned it up once, and I almost puked. Ever since, I have simply avoided to walk outside. No one else seems to have that problem but me. For that reason, only my floor in the 2 buildings have a green net hung up to prevent further problems.

One thing I am upset is that I thought I was to be excused for a whole month of electricity bill. Apparently, I forgot to turn off the water heater!! GRR!! I have learned that keeping the water warm is probably much more expensive than keeping my computer on throughout the entire month. *sigh* Live and learn, Stephanie, live and learn~

At last, seeing everyone makes me happy, especially when I received an email from Cori asking if I needed anything such as groceries. Thanks Cori for paying my bill and thank you, Desy, for signing things for me~

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Six Flags

As early as the first week in NY, I have already wanted to go to Six Flags Great Adventures. Ironically, our friend Tom had found free tickets on the opening day for the season online. Not only do all 5 of us have tickets, we had 2 extra tickets that had to be thrown away.

We decided to take only one car and squeeze into Tom's beamer, making him our designated driver. After hours of chatting, singing, and eating Chinese take outs, we arrived half an hour late at 5:30 pm.

Although the amusement park was giving out free tickets, the temperature was at high 71, and it was the opening day for the year, the were less people than any other day. Without speed passes, we were fortunate enough to ride one rollercoaster after another. I started to pose at the cameras at the rollercoasters, but unfortunately, they were out of service. Throughout the day, we caught shows and parades of looney tune characters. By 10 pm, there were fireworks as well.

In the middle of our day, Rob and I got to pig out at our favorite Boardwalk food - boardwalk fries, funnel cake, and even corn dog. While we were roaming around, 2 guy friends decided to sit next to each other in a go cart race. On the other hand, the rest of us found free Dippin' Dots. Apparently, the cash register was broken. Therefore, any customers that approach the counter receive them for free.

Earlier, we made plans to hunt down looney tune characters, but they were all waiting for us by the end of the day. The characters included, Bugs, Lola, Daffy, Tweety, Taz, PePe Le Pew, Road Runner, Porky, Porky's gf, Granny, Sylvester, Marvin, and many more. We had two fully charged cameras. Of course, we took pictures with all of them!! It was much easier than what we experienced in Disney Sea.