Notes from Kanagawa.


Hello!
This blog is for updating friends, family, & prospective YFU exchange students.
My personal tumblr: gracena.tumblr.com
-----------------------

FAQ:
How did you get to go on this trip?
- Youth for Understanding (http://www.yfu-usa.org/). They are a non-profit organization that helps kids become foreign exchange students. You can go on a trip for free if you receive a scholarship, they have many out there. My trip was provided through the FCCLA/Kikkoman Scholarship.

Do you have to know Japanese?
- Not at all. Not knowing the language actually makes my stay a lot more interesting, haha. But I do recommend learning it however if you are planning to go. I can't stress that enough.

Where are you from?
- A small town in New Jersey :)

How long is this trip?
- A month and a half, but YFU also has offers for semester and year trips!

26th July 2010

Text with 2 notes

Last night in Japan

Today I went back to school for the final goodbye. The girls handed out the class shirts & an adorable thing is that they put my name on the back along with theirs! & I find it really funny cause they used my doodles for the shirt decals haha. I drew a random disco man on the chalkboard one day & next its being drawn up for the shirt blueprint. They said the dancing man was cute. I thought he was a bit creepy but…anyways.

Turned into this

That little robot I drew on some girls notebook & it ended up there hahahha.

They also handed me & Kaytlin this framed picture of the homeroom…I was ready to tear up :) but this goodbye was easier.

Because I know for sure I’ll be back someday, & someday soon…the goodbye was okay. I can keep in touch with most of them through emails anyways & will always remember them through the gifts and memories they made for me<3

——————————

On other note…I just finished packing. I apologize for not updating as frequently but the past few days have been busy! Blogs &  videos will still come since there’s a lot still to share. I’ll post my afterthoughts & make a few talking video blogs to help out prospective exchange students. I leave Japan tomorrow at 4pm & arrive in San Fran at 9:30ish a.m. I’m not too sure about when I’ll land in Jersey.

It really hasn’t hit me yet. The fact that I’m leaving. My host mom & I already shed a few tears but I hope it isn’t too bad tomorrow when I say the final goodbye. I’m sure I will see this wonderful family again. I can’t even believe how perfect this family was. Oh, yesterday they handed me a full yukata which is basically a summer kimono. That really started the waterworks :( It’s navy blue with sakura flowers…& has this enormous bow that takes up most of my carry-on bag haha.


Going back home is perfectly bittersweet.

Tagged: Japanyfu japanYFU JAPAN 2010

Update on the past two days!

On Friday I hung out with two of my school friends Misato and Hitomi by the local square.

Momoko couldn’t make it out so she left Hitomi with a gift and a card for me & Kaytlin. I could have cried cause it was so cute! The night a few school friends and I hung out at the stores, Momo pointed to a few necklaces and asked Kayt and I which ones we liked. She ended up buying them for us :( We totally didn’t suspect anything. I’m gonna miss that little one<3

Yesterday I went to a summer festival with my family and Alex, a YFU semester student here in Japan. He’s been here before last year & is fluent! My goal of meeting someone trilingual has been met. He speaks Spanish, English, and Japanese. He can also read Korean and speak some so…yeup there ya go. OH & with all that he’s Egyptian and Chilean with a hint of Japanese. OH & he lives in New Jersey as well, just a town away from me so we have some crazy mutual friends.

 

The picture below is of a shrine. A few men have to march around town carrying this on their shoulders. It looks smaller and lighter in the picture, but it actually looked pretty brutal. From about 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., this was carried all over town. I’m proud that my host dad & Alex were two of the guys involved :)

I don’t have too many pictures from this day cause I took tons of video, so video update soon! 

Aihara Highschool video

23rd July 2010

Text with 1 note

Soy Sauce & Korea town

Yesterday I went to the Kikkoman Tokyo headquarter along with the other scholarship kids. We first had a sushi demonstration & then made our own. Afterwards we watched a video all about soy sauce…it was intense. I didn’t know how much it took just to make a few bottles of the sauce prior to this. 6 months fermentation? 300 different aromas? Bah, I’ll shut up now.

Pictures!

Some of the kids here are Japanese students who are going to America for a year! Ganbatte to them. I want to host a student now so badly, from anywhere.  

Afterwards, my host sister & I went along with Kayt & her host mom to Shinjuku a.k.a Korea Town. I didn’t believe Kayt -whos been there before- on how big Kpop was there. There are literally store rooms dedicated to each pop idol group & these singers have their faces posted on everything from erasers to food items. I think the best part was just getting to talk in Korean with the store workers who were all from Korea. It was fun surprising them :)

Cameras weren’t allowed but I took what I could, muahah. Basically the stores were all Dbsk, Big Bang, & Girls Generation dominated. It was fun & I’ll be sure to stay longer the next time I go!

Tagged: yfu japan.,japankoreasoy sauce

20th July 2010

Text with 2 notes

Aihara Highschool

Honestly, going to school here was probably one of the best things that happened to me.

I met all these great girls,

& now I have a bunch of penpals & good memories.

In Japan, the class stays in one classroom while the teachers move around the school to teach subjects. I guess since theyre all stuck in the same room all the time they’re bound to be close, but the classroom really had a great atmosphere of togetherness. I have never felt so invited in a school setting. They all seemed to look after each other & I didn’t see any apparent cliques. Everyone talked to everyone…& I loved that.

They all tried their hardest to keep me and Kaytlin entertained and stayed late after school to hang out with us. They would show off the American songs they knew and Kayt & I would show off what Asian music we knew :) I appreciated the fact that they tried to fully befriend us through the language barrier. Its hard, and I imagine, quite annoying for them to talk slowly in Japanese just so I could understand. They had to gesture everything they were saying or patiently wait for Misato (a student who can speak English quite well) to translate. The jokes they cracked and even the little side conversations were waited on to be translated or understood. I really met the best kids.

I actually wish American schools would require uniforms in public school because I learned who each girl was through their personality & character. Not their looks/style, or who they hung out with, etc. You don’t have much to judge from when someones in a uniform the same as everyone else. The ones I really got to know were so funny and outgoing. I feel like popularity in American schools is all about looks while in Japan your personality and talents matter more. Lots more.

On the last day of school a couple of us went out for sushi. It was my first time eating sushi by the way, I always said I hated it but I really never ate it haha. I was just too skeeved out by the raw fish deal. But anyways, it was delicious & I’m planning on raiding my local sushi shop at home.

They know how to have a good time, it was a lot of fun :)

After sushi -the restaurant is behind us- we took some pictures & hung out for a little while. When it came time to say goodbye, it was really tough. I knew I would see them again before I left Japan but…haha it was hard. They told me to never forget them and to come back to Japan. I promised both things.

Tagged: japanyfu japan

20th July 2010

Video with 1 note

Really cute kids I met who spoke English really well!

20th July 2010

Video with 1 note

The beautiful Tokyo Tower :)

20th July 2010

Video with 1 note

Momoko dancing at school,

she was one of my favorites :)

The infamous Shibuya crosswalk…the busiest crosswalk in the world!

Gomen Nasai!

Sorry about the super late updates here! I’ve been working on the youtube channel so I’ve been neglecting my blog :(

But hey! Here are a bunch of new videos…three more to come today!

& I still have to write about my last day at Aihara highschool, oh gosh. I will never forget those girls & that school.