Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One Week

I'm not counting the rest of today, but it's gut-wrenching to think that I have a week left in the States. It's not a bad feeling, but it's bittersweet. I feel homesick and I haven't even left yet. I can be talking to someone and looking them in the eyes and feel so far away from them. I already miss my family, boyfriend, friends, pets, and even people I don't associate with on a daily basis. I walk around the campus and feel like a ghost. I feel like I won't exist after I leave the states, and I know that's crazy. (Knock on wood.)

I've got some loose ends to tie up before I leave. I've still got a little shopping to do, which means that I'll have more things to pack as well. I have to wait for my visa and passport to arrive. They should be in on time, but it  makes me anxious to keep waiting. I'm still trying to figure out whether or not I have a place to live, purchase some items for my going away party, practice more kanji, and make everyone I know feel appreciated. It'll be rough, but I've gotta do it.

Contrary to all of the anxiety, I'm really excited about everything. I'm excited to be in Kyoto again. I'll get to spend time with Ai-chan's mom, decorate an apartment, and learn a language I've loved for years. I have to think of the good in all of this, too.

I'm tired from being on the road all day. Perhaps it's time for bed. Sorry for such a short entry!

Monday, August 22, 2011

18 Days and Counting

Okay, really, seventeen days if you don't count today, but it's still really weird to think about. It's kind of bittersweet. I'm so excited, but I feel like I've wasted a lot of time. Not just lately, but generally, over the years, I've wasted a lot of time.

I realized how "not" close I am to my family and friends. I didn't realize there were so many emotional barriers between myself and the others around me. While some of it is me specifically, I never realized how hard it is to communicate with the ones you care about on a daily basis. How much gets misconstrued when you speak? It makes me want to go up to everyone I've ever met and give them a hug. I just want to tell everyone, "Thank you for putting up with me. I sincerely care about you and wish the best for you. Please stay by my side as I grow as a person. I love you." But if you actually say that, it sounds fake. It sounds plastic. (Reading it is even worse.)

I was trying to clean out my room at my house today and realized how in-and-out of home I have been for the past year and a half. I feel like my feet aren't grounded anywhere, and I wonder if this is part of why I was so anxious to get away. I have a loving family, fantastic friends, and a boyfriend that I care about deeply, but I still wanted to do this. Is it right? Sometimes I wonder if people think I'm being selfish. I know that I'm doing this for myself and that I'm happy with it. Yet I can't help but feel that there is a little regret somewhere inside of me, and I'm scared. Then again, this is part of growing up, and I'm going through what some college kids go through when they move to a different school. I'm just going to another country. I guess it's normal to just question yourself when you're making a big decision. I know this is good for me. I've been so headstrong throughout the entire process, the good and the bad, that I haven't stopped to think of the consequences. Better to face them now than when I arrive in Japan, I suppose.

In all this questioning, I have often wondered what I was going to do in my future. I want to teach Japanese Literature, or at least pursue that as my major field in my academic career. But I also love manga. I think it's lame to say it, but I'm thinking about writing my thesis on manga. If I learn Japanese, I can focus on a linguistic approach. I can think about the differences in translation and the difficulty of translating a language perfectly. in my relationship with a native Japanese speaker who speaks English as a second language, I've realized that when we communicate that certain words have different weights. A word that might sound light or natural in Japanese may sound heavy when translated into English and vice versa.

Sometimes I wonder if English Literature is right for me, but I want to do so many things. I want to focus on linguistics, psychology, and Japanese, in particular. I figured and English Literature would be a good start because it would give me a basis on which to write a thesis for Japanese literature. Anyway, I guess this is getting a bit weird and off topic.

I knew that if I started a blog I would start to ramble, but these are the things you start to think about when you go to study abroad.

I still don't have an apartment as of yet, and that's a little unsettling, but that should work out soon. I'm just going to try to enjoy the rest of my time at home before I leave. A lot has to get done, and I haven't even come close to starting to pack. (Although I get rather excited about packing, so that shouldn't be a problem when I start.)

As for now, that's it. Until next time!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Housing, Scholarships, and Sponsors

It's weird to think that my first "real" apartment will be in Kyoto, Japan. Although it's not official, I think I am on the trail of an apartment near my campus. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that I'll be able to stay somewhere safe and inexpensive. Ai-chan is looking into some places for me, and I know she'll do a good job.

Although, all of this apartment hunting has forced me to think more about the things I need to put in my suitcase. What do I need and what do I want, exactly? Should I take a recipe book? Where should I shop if I need a frying pan or a cheap pillow? I never realized there was so much to think about and now it's all overwhelming. The apartments Ai-chan and I are looking at are furnished, so that takes care of a large problem, but there are still the small things inside of the apartment. Sure, I know where to buy some of the little hygeine/pharamaceutical items I'll need, but what about decorations and little nicknacks? (I don't need them, I know, but it's bound to happen if I'm renting an apartment.) I've never thought about asking if a store carried an item, nor have I thought about how to request an item if I do need it. These small, somewhat annoying, thoughts are penetrating my mind like non-stop lightning and it's a bit painful at times. Then I realize all of the conveniences that I take advantage of at home: Free food, bedding, and most importantly, the company of family, friends, and pets. I wish I could take some of this stuff with me.

But these are some of the growing pains I knew I'd have to face when I first applied. I told myself I wouldn't back out, no matter what, and that I'm going to stick this thing through till the end.

Please excuse my randomness throughout these blogs. I write spontaneously and don't really feel that true organization is necessary because this is a blog, not an academic research paper. I have a question for all of you:

Have you ever taken the time out of your day to realize just how quickly we speak when speaking casually? 

I've never really taken the time to think this until recently. I was talking with Ai-chan and her friend Yukko over skype. We were talking about my trip to Japan, preparations being made, among other random things in Japanese. After asking for them to speak slowly a few times, I gave up because their natural speaking speed was too fast and the slow made me feel as if I were three. Then I realized that I did the same thing in English when they asked me to slow down. There is no easy way of speaking slowly in your native language. You either speak how you are comfortable speaking or you slow down as if you are talking to someone as if they are bothering you. (Think about it. If you're having a fight with your significant other and they've asked you to repeat what you've said for the fifth time. Instead of remaining polite and speaking softly in a slow voice, you raise your voice and speak with hard annunciation. It's a similar situation.) I figured I'd have to just listen and try to keep up. I can't ask people to slow down for me forever, you know. But now I get more and more nervous when thinking about navigating the airport . . .

I can't worry about that yet, though, because there are still so many things I have to do before I leave. I have to finish writing these letters for probable sponsors and I have to continue hounding the financial aid office until I see that my aid has hit. I also have to find time to bake cookies for a small bake sale fundraiser this weekend. If you're interested in attending and trying some delicious samurai/geisha/ninja gingerbread men or other fun goodies (brownies, cookies, and cupcakes), please send an e-mail to the e-mail address beneath the title of this page, and I'll give you the information.

Thank you for reading!

Until next time!