Wednesday, December 29, 2010

このライフ

最近は気分が悪くなって来た。

もう何も出来ないみたいの気分になって来た。

いつも相手の気持ちに気付け過ぎて、
自分が自分のやりたい事が出来ないようになっちゃう。

例えば、
三月に日本のお友達の卒業式を見に行きたかったけど、やっぱり見に行けないよね。


なぜかと言うと、
先週はクリスマスだった。
母は貧者でクリスマスの為にお金がなかった。
私が日本へ行くの為に10万円くらいを貯めた。
母は私にお願いして母からもらうプレゼントをすべて買ってあげた。
4万円くらい使っちゃった。
今航空券を買えないとドンドン高くなっちゃう。

だから、もう行けないようになった。
残念だよね。

何回泣いても、行かない。
もう二度と皆に会えない。
いつか日本へ戻られるかどうか分からない。
ここからもう一回出られるか分からない。




金曜日は大晦日だ。
お兄さんの彼女と私のお友達がパーティーをやる。
私は最近お友達と全然会ってない。
毎日は仕事だから。

1月1日も仕事がある。
朝の8時に仕事が始まるから、早く帰れないと行けないみたいなんので
お兄さんが「ステイシーはもう行かない」と言われた。
なんか、不平等じゃない?
お兄さんが私に何もやってくりたくない。
わがままじゃない?

1日に仕事へ行かないと
家賃を支払えない。
石油を買えない。
食べ物も買えない。

仕事へ行く事が必要。

それが分かっているけど。
もう一回楽しい事をやりたかったけど。



もういい。
大晦日は一人で。



アメリカでそう言う生活をやるんだ。
なんか、いやだな。




去年に戻ればいいよね。
でも、無理だわ。

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sweet Things Giveaway!!!

Hello everyone!
This is a quick blog to announce my first ever giveaway!!!

I just want to say THANK YOU to all of my readers and followers. Every single one of you are very special to me, and all of your nice emails and comments make keeping this blog so worthwhile!


So, to show a little love for the now over 60 followers I have, I'm having my first giveaway!
 The only rule to enter is that you must be a follower of my blog, through Google Friend Connect, Bloglovin', RSS Feeds, stalking the link to my blog, whatever!




HOW TO ENTER:
+1 entry - comment with your name, email, and how you follow my blog (I'm really curious!)

and, of course, for extra entries....
+2 entries - write a blog linking back to this entry. Please feel free to include the image above advertising this giveaway as well! Comment with the link to your post.
+1 entry - mention this blog post on twitter! please use "@stacywahh" and comment back with the link.(feel free to retweet my original tweet mentioning this post) Comment with the link to your tweet.
+1 entry - if you post this giveaway on tumblr! Again, fee free to use the image above) I don't use tumblr, so please make it so I can see it! Comment with the link to your post.




So, you can have a total of five entries to this giveaway!


the deadline is January 31st at 11:00PM EST.


Here are some of the prizes!


The prizes included here are listed on the above image. But, I'm waiting on an order to go through so I can have even more goodies.
Some of these items are leftovers from Japan, but all are new and unopened and waiting for someone to love them!


I will update with another post detailing all of the prizes as soon as they are received.

The winner will be decided by random.org so even if I know you, you will receive no biases, haha!

Thank you all so much for following my blog. I hope at least one person will enter so I can feel like I accomplished something! Hahaha.


**next post: Christmas Haul, then a post in the "Things I Learned About Japan" series!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nails, recent gets!

Today I called my host brother, and as we were hanging up the phone, he told me I had to update my blog! haha

玄ちゃんは厳しいね(笑)

How was everyone's Christmas?
Did you eat a lot?
What was the best present you received?

So, to start off my next few days of constant posts, here are my Christmas nails and recent purchases!


My friend Melissa did my nails again. This time, I took pictures of all of our holiday nails.
my nails. A red color with cold glitter with a Revlon silver glitter top coat.

Lynda's. A pale nude color with blue and silver glitter (to match our tree, and favorite football team. GO DALLAS!)

Melissa's. Bright red polish with one green glitter nail.


I loved my nails soooo much! I'm so sad they didn't last forever

^ See that sirotan icon? ohmygosh, love it sooooooooooooo much!!


I recently went shopping at Charlotte Russe. It is my favorite store. I went there for the purpose of getting my sister in law a gift card, and I ended up buying myself more stuff! haha.




I love the corset, and to think, it was only $10!!! I actually own a couple corsets from Charlotte. They're cheap and make so many kinds, I can't help but love them.

I also got a grey and a black camisole but those are rather insignificant, haha!


So, this is all for now, because my next post will be about my giveaway, followed by a christmas haul post, Things I Learned in Japan post, a christmas party post, and by the time those are finished, it'll be time for new years!


As always, thanks for following my blog and I hope you all enjoy my posts. If you ever have any suggestions, please let me know!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

still think i love youだから、頑張るよ!

昨日、車のラジオでMichael Bubleの「Just Haven't Met You Yet」と言う曲を聴きました。
すごく懐かしくてちょっと泣きたかったんです。


なぜかと言うと、Hさんが会ったの前に毎日その曲を聴いて私の事を思い出したそうです。
あぁ、会いたいわ。
心が痛くなるほどに会いたい。


ずっと連絡しないのでHさんは元気で居るか全然分かりません。


でも、また会えるはずだ。絶対に。


それと思いながら、頑張れる気がします。

頑張る、頑張る、頑張るよって伝いたいです。

良かったら、聞いて下さい。

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sorry I've been missing.

I took a break from, essentially, the internet for almost a week. Work was busy, I'm still fighting a cold, and I felt like nothing great had happened. I didn't really feel like thinking too much either.

but, I'm back, if only for this post! hah

Last week, my friend Melissa came over again and did my nails again (see this post for the other time she did my nails). Inspired by her OPI "japanese koi" nail polish, she used my gold thin-brush art polish to create fins on my nails!

Here are the results:



I was so in love with them. The gold and reddish color made them kind of festive, which since it is almost Christmas, I really loved.

The lovely Caroline at Spooning with a Schoolboy featured my blog in one of her posts!! I was so happy. She comments on 90% of my posts and is just extremely awesome! Please check out her blog!



As soon as the holidays are over (and I can figure out my money situation, still gotta buy my ticket to Japan for March >_<), I will open my (still kinda winter-themed) giveaway! It won't be much, just some interesting/cute things I find and can part with! haha

Please keep an eye out for that♥


And now, onto a few things in 日本語・・

この間ペンシルバニア州はすごく寒くなって来ました。雪を何回も降りました。
外で散歩した時に0℃でした。
息音がしぶいようになりました。
寒すぎて足と頬が悴みました。
「明日は、死ぬかも知れないよね」って思っていました。
「でも、今日はまだ生きているので良かったなあ」って思っていました。
その日の寒さからそれに気付けました。その寒さに感謝する訳。

明日も目覚めれば良いよね。

Monday, December 06, 2010

Host Family number 1 - The Fujiis.

Something more positive for a change! hahaha

I'm sorry if my last post seemed too negative, but it was fueled by something that had just happened so I was a little miffed. I often worry if by pointing out the different not-so-pretty parts of Japan makes me too negative? I'm really not a negative person, at all!

Btw, I will get back to everyone's comments/emails/everything soon! (maybe even today)

But, to turn this into a more balanced blog...
I've decided to introduce my host families, in order, so you can see more about my exchange.

藤井家(the Fujii family)

I lived with this family for four months - from September 25th 2009 until January 20th 2010. There were three people I lived with - Youko (early 60s, my host mom), Kenji (also early 60s, my host dad), and Obaa-chan("grandmother" whose real name I've forgotten because I've never called her it. >< mid-80s, my host mom's mother). There was also the frequent visitors: Mariko, my host brother's wife who was a librarian and liked to practice English for me, eldest host brother, his wife and three children, my host sister and her daughter (who stayed with us for part of my exchange), and many cousins, friends, and neighbors.

They had hosted twice before, a girl from India and another girl from Australia, I believe. Those were only three week long exchanges, so hosting me was the longest they've had a non-family member living with them.

They owned three restaurants and two taxi companies in the area we lived. My host dad's "hobby" was his chicken farm, which produced all the eggs for the home and the restaurants. Our garden also provided much of the vegetables in the restaurants as well.
Three of the workers at one of the restaurants. And yes, that is a fish head. They tried feeding it to me and I politely refused.

My host mom and I were extremely close. She would often let me stay home from school and she would skip work and we would go exploring together - a "Garden Viewing Tour" in Tokyo, helping introduce the Philippine Rotary members to Hakone Mountain, onsen, and a few other historical places, soccer games, etc.

And speaking of soccer, my host mom is a huge Kashima Antlers fan. We saw many matches together, and before game day, she would deck out her taxi cab with all these Antlers stickers and then she'd insist that she pick me up from school in it. Obviously the desire to embarrass your children is not lost in translation... haha!
My host mom, myself, the Kashima Antlers female mascot and my host mom's grandchildren.
She often picked on me for liking Johnny's, but she and I were very, very close. One day, I felt kind of sick, so I stayed home from school and she climbed into my tiny futon-bed with me and we just talked until I fell asleep. That's when I knew how much she meant to me.

Another one of my favorite memories is our trip to Hakone. We went to an onsen together, so we essentially saw each other buck naked. THAT was embarrassing, but after, we went on a boat sight-seeing tour of around Hakone. After that, we went to a place near the lake where samurai would use so they were not caught. It was really interesting!
The first picture of us together! I love her and her tattooed on eyebrows! haha

At the bottom of this post will be a mini pic-spam of photos taken while with this family.

My host dad was HILARIOUS! He was a joker by nature, so from day one, he sought to embarrass me as much and as often as possible. He taught me bad Japanese (we would practice how to say "うるせんでお前!" and his personal favorite "ベッカ" in place of "バカ". My host mom would always laugh, scold him, and then remind me that ladies did not talk like that. We would also "play-fight" all of them time. He would get home, say "ただいま" to which I would respond "やべっ"(a masculine way of saying "oh no!") or "いやだ!" (a way of showing disgust, dislike of something, the kanji for it is the same used in "kirai" - "hate"(adj)).

He would call me an "alien" or "invader", and then tell everyone I came to Japan to "mix" with Japanese. He said because my family is from all over Europe, it makes me "super strong" so I was sent here to "mix with Japanese" and "make stronger babies". Imagine all of this, with engrish galore, being told to completely unaware Japanese people who would just look at him in complete bewilderment. But we would be laughing hysterically together (uchi/soto much? XDD)

He would also ask me EVERY SATURDAY to go on "secret dates" with him. Of course he knew this creeped me out, so he did it more often. We also had a sexual harassment joke going on between us that is probably not very Rotary-approved. But oh.my.gosh. was it fun!
My host dad yelling at me for taking his picture on Christmas.
Essentially, my host dad was awesome. I've never met someone so entertaining. Though, my 3rd host dad was also hilarious, and he was also named Kenji. Must be hilarious people are all named Kenji?

He also gave me my "Japanese name" which is "Steiko" (ステイ子). My host mother's name has "ko" in it, which means child, and in Japanese, my name is ステイシー (su-te-i-shii), so using just the first part of my name and "ko", I got my "Japanese name".

My host grandmother, whose picture I do not have for fear I would offend her by asking for one(found one randomly! よしゃ!), was also very kind. She couldn't speak English, but she would also keep talking and talking for me so I would feel at home. We'd also watch Sumo together every Sunday and she would have a warm sweet potato waiting for me when I got home from school.
side-view of my host grandmother and my host mom, around christmas last year at an art display of my host mother's.

My host family's cat was Kei-chan, and she was my buddy. She would follow me around the house and always want to be in my lap. She was sooo cute. My host dad, the smart-a** he was, would called her "Steiko" and then go, "あぁ、違うか?"("Oh, was I wrong?")
Kei-chan sleeping in "her" chair. There's a special towel to collect all of the hair, haha.

There were a few hardships, but I think it was mainly because after three months, the honeymoon period is over, and being a host parent is just tiring. They were also very busy, which meant little time to spend catering to my every need, which was also added pressure. I also could not speak Japanese while at this home, so it only added to the frustrations of trying to communicate effectively. There were a few other things, but I don't want to go into too much detail because they are best saved for other discussions.

On the day I moved, my host mother cried and gave me a hug. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. Harder than leaving America, because when I left America, I knew I'd be back in a year, and everything would be the same. My home would still be my home. My friends would still be my friends. My room would still be my room.

But, when I switched hosts, I would never return to there with the idea that it was "my home". Those people would never again have to worry about how I was, if I was eating properly, and if I was homesick. I would never again call this place home. In a way, it was worse than dying because I would still exist, they would still exist, but it'd never be the same again.



Or so I thought. My host mom and I are still close, still talk occasionally, and when I called her recently after being home for a couple months, she just about cried with joy. She kept saying, "I can't wait to see you! When are you coming back? I miss you! When are you moving back? How are you getting here? I miss you! I can't wait to see you!" I love her so much. I cannot wait to go see her again.

To me, having her family accept me and take me in without even knowing me meant a lot. She is one of the most important people in my life and I really appreciate everything she did for me. The Fujii family was my first Japanese family and ずっと大切にしよう気がします♥



And now for a pic spam............


My room at their house - I guess they hadn't expected I'd have soooo many clothes. haha!

My host mom's car navigation system! haha

Their home.

The Johnny's Jimusho mags that my host mom bought me to "study" from. XD

The sign for our tour~
My host mom fast asleep!

Our boat from the Hakone Tour in the background.
Us in front of the Samurai place.
At the Tokyo Imperial East Gardens.

We drank matcha together and had little leave-shaped okashii! 美味しかったわ!
Our Christmas cake! I got to eat the santa.
My host mom and me with the guys we helped serve food at a local festival.

Hope this post finds you well and genki whenever you are♥

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Things I've learned in Japan: expectations lead to disappointments [part 2]

For the first part, please visit here.


I think exchange students often go into exchange with unrealistic expectations. They usually have this "utopian dream", so to speak, of their country, their host family, their program, and the experiences they will have. This is not their fault - it's unavoidable when you're looking forward to such an awesome experience. I also had a very unrealistic view of Japan, but, thanks to my awesome Rotary orientation, I went in with few expectations. And because of that, I was not disappointed. Things were not perfect, but they weren't bad, either.


Some exchange students go into exchanges (especially in Japan) expecting a country similar to their own, or a place to party. Little do they know, people in Japan do not party like some westernized countries, or at least until they are legally of age (which is 20). And Japan has some "westernized" aspects but is very much a traditional country - whether it be for better or worse.
At Shirenji Temple. This is Sourintou, which is a designated "Important National Artifact". It was built probably around 1287.

Japanese people aren't as open to strangers as we are in other countries. In America, it's not uncommon that the first time you meet someone, you say, "Hey, we should hang out sometime." That would be a rare thing in Japan, and my hosts told me to be careful of people like that. According to one of my Japanese teachers (she was Japanese and taught English, but taught me Japanese on the side), most Japanese people are too embarrassed by their homes that they do not want to invite people into their home. They'd much rather go out. Most kids also do not hang out with their friends, watching movies and eating popcorn. They usually go out to places with purikura, do karaoke, shop, eat out, etc. This can be fun, but I feel it sometimes lacks the intimacy of being with someone in their home and seeing the "real" them, which can make friendships seem shallow. It's hard to get to know someone if all you see is what they wanna show you, you know?


Also, Japanese people tend to say a lot of things they don't mean. For example, I was told by numerous people that they would take me here and there and show me all these great things - 90% of which never happened.どうしようもないけど・・ However, I quickly learned that it had nothing to do with me, and it was simply a difference in American and Japanese culture. In America, if you say it, we hold you to your word. But in Japan, it would be them saying, "Lets go to Odaiba. Lets meet in front of Tokyo Station, Sunday at 10 o'clock" that would actually indicate that they really wanted to go.

Me and my BESTTTT friend from Japan. We're planning on getting an apartment together next year! I love him!



.................And these are just a few of the many examples of the differences in just culture alone.

Without even factoring in the individual exchange student's personalities, there can already be misconceptions and many disappointments. However, if the student prepares themselves by researching and getting in tough with as many foreigners living in Japan as they can, they can be prepared. I wasn't completely, but I felt like I knew enough to get me started and was willing to adapt, so it didn't affect me nearly as much.



However, factoring in the personalities is where my real frustrations comes in.


Rotary International exchange students(and all other exchange students, and all foreigners abroad) are also considered "cultural ambassadors", meaning while they are there showing people what their country is like, they are also there to learn their host country's culture, language, history, etc. and to show an interest in it! Not doing so gives their club, their district, their family, their school, their country, and themselves a bad image.


That being said, no one is perfect, but I've encountered many students (especially in a country like Japan) that expect to essentially live like an America while in Japan. If this is why you want to be an exchange student, do not go on exchange. It will be a waste of time, money and resources for everyone involved.

View from a ship I was on a tour of Hakone for. Hakone is very beautiful in the fall!


For example, I really wanted to go to Osaka. Osaka is known for it's awesome food, amazingly funny people, extensive history and the one place I REALLY REALLY REALLY fackin' wanted to go. I know of a couple people who went and pretty much only wanted to go to Universal Studios Japan.


Granted, that seems like great fun. But what was taken from that trip? By visiting a theme-park, which there are plenty of ALL over, you miss an excellent opportunity to see a new temple, museum, old artifact, ancient buildings, etc that you may never see again!


This is not to say I feel qualified to determine whose exchange had value and whose didn't, but most of the people who would choose Universal Studios Japan over learning about the area it's in probably don't have a big interest in learning about, as my 5th host dad called it, the "real Japan".


That all being said, these same kids tend to come home with some chip on their shoulder about their exchange program:



"the people there didn't like me"

"their program is too strict"

"the people over there just don't get Americans"

"they're just stupid"

"they expect too much of me"

"sometimes I wish I went somewhere more fun"

"it's so stupid that we can't date"

"all I can do is take puri, shop, and eat"

"this place is so boring"

"I wsh more people accepted me here"


.................Yes, these are really all things I've read FROM exchange students. One should always be suspicious of comments like this because usually it means the student isn't trying hard enough.


And how is that the exchange program's fault at all?!?! Exchange students are children, living like adults with even more restrictions than they had at home. No, it is not acceptable to just invite anyone over. Or to make plans without telling someone one to two days ahead of time. If they get in trouble, too bad! They broke a rule, so it is proper punishment - just like at home!


Exchange is all about adapting. The host family must adapt to the exchange student. The program must adapt to the exchange student. The school must adapt to the exchange student. But the student must also adapt!!



If you or anyone you know is currently on exchange, please consider this: how would it make you feel if someone came to your country and had only a mild interest in it? It would make me very sad. I feel like America has a lot to offer, so I want to introduce it to anyone who comes here!


Sometimes horrible things do happen. Things that can happen at home, such as mugging, rape, etc do happen, even abroad. And should something bad happen, those already extreme feelings are intensified by being away from home.
All the exchangers, either inbound to Japan or future outbound from Japan in Hiroshima. Guess where we are! :]


However, every exchange program has some sort of help available, whether in that country or at home. It may be extremely horrifying to tell someone in your country what happened, but it's necessary that they find out. If you wait until you are home, why should they believe you then? What can they do for you?


I've heard of cases where bad things did happen and the exchange student waited. They did not contact their program asap and because of that, their program is not supporting their cause for justice. While in a perfect world, they would, no matter what the case, fit for justice for every child, but this cannot be so. Exchange student programs are just like businesses, only their clients are the countries they exchange with. Supporting the cause of one child in an instance such as rape could possible ruin those international ties, all because of one child. They should support the exchange student's fight for justice, but should not be held responsible in all cases(if they weren't openly negligent) nor should they be expect to fund and go out on a limb for one child.
Me and my 5th host family's daughter. She was three. Her name was Risa. I love her so so so very much.
All in all, the hardships of exchange fall 90% on the exchange student. You have to fight all your battles, whether good or bad, by yourself when abroad. No one should have to help all the time. And no one should be expected to.

If you live your exchange like that, I believe you will not be disappointed. I know I wasn't.



I know not everyone will agree with me, and whether you do or not, I'd love to hear your comments/opinions!!
Please feel free to tell me I'm 100% wrong and list all your reasons! I love open discussions and encourage everyone to post!

Do you have any exchange experiences? I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for reading this post!
Hope you have a good day/night, wherever this post finds you♥