abroad

Time For An Apology

An apology and a thank you.

A big fat juicy thank you to my dear friend Yuka (first my older sister’s friend after doing a high-school exchange in rural New Zealand) for allowing me to stay.

I believe very few people can truly understand how happy I am to be here. Really, you may think me melodramatic or this an exaggeration, but I almost feel as if I’ve fled prison! My soul is rolling on the grass and my heart is breathing in mouthful after mouthful of fresh air.

Before beginning my apology, I’d like to say that no one forced me to sign up for the JET programme. As continuously reiterated to participants, each JET experience is different. This is because, as expected, the lifestyle and mannerisms of each student, school, Japanese teacher(s), contracting organisation and geographical location will differ – in both good and bad ways. Without getting into specifics, my experience happened to be extremely unpleasant (put politely). However, as you may have seen from my previous posts, I tried my best to make the most of it – my life. I made many friends of all ages and partook in various activities every-single-day. Again, no one forced me to stay, I could have left at any moment. However, I felt a strong responsibility to my students, colleagues and myself to see things through to the end. Even through the difficulties and even through the heartache. And though I made some unforgettable memories with my dear students and friends, I still finished my contract with a heart full of sadness. Sadness at mistreatment, of lack of apology and of prejudice. I felt disheartened because I felt I had so much to give. For goodness sakes, I was an ENGLISH major. English was my passion. English is my passion. Still, I was underutilised and unappreciated. I remember thinking to myself that if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this experience, it’s to never ever be unproductive.

As for my apology, again, I would like to first thank Yuka. For in the mere three days that I have lived in Osaka, I have felt more good energy and positive vibes than I had for a year and four months. I had so many back-to-back negative experiences that I’d convinced myself I hated Japan. I couldn’t understand how others were having a pleasant time here. Weren’t they being stared at everywhere they weren’t? Wasn’t the doctor refusing to treat them because he or she didn’t speak English? Weren’t they turned away every time they went to class? Weren’t they frowned upon for wearing a singlet, riding a bike, having their hair out?

Osaka is a wonderful city. I mean, I have only experienced a small part of it but what I have seen emits great spirits. People are always out and about. They have blonde, purple and blue hair. They sport tattoos and piercings alongside formal and traditional attire. Mothers ride their bicycles in floral dresses as their loose hair dances out back and their front seated toddler watches in amusement. Business men carry stylish briefcases and smell like heaven and young girls are so damn fashionable they put me to shame.

I would like to apologise because I based my perception on a small minority of Japan. Even though I knew it couldn’t all be like this, I still couldn’t really believe it. Osaka or city-life, whatever it is, has changed my awareness. I am so glad I could/can experience this side of Japan. I’ve decided I could easily live in this city, forever.
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japanese people peel everything

Fun fact (Jap edition): Japanese people peel everything. Seriously; apples, pears, peaches, FIGS, GRAPES. ALL THE FRUITS.

Do you know how hard peeling grapes is? Borderline impossible.

So, as you can imagine, things didn’t go down too well when I told my Japanese friends I can eat an entire apple, stalk and all. Tehehe I accidently….

Okay, but in their defense, most Japanese fruit are gigantic. For example, the apples are the size of my dad’s head and their grapes the size of golf balls. And, I hear they have massive pears, too (I’m holding out for those). Oh, and since this post is all over the place and I’ve already gone on a tangent, let me quickly just say, I’ve literally been spotting hundreds of premature figs, persimmons and kiwi-fruits everywhere – the anticipation is killing me!

Anyways, since I don’t have any relevant fruity snaps for this post, please visually feast on the following photographs of my recent dinner parties, instead:
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PS: if you’d like the recipe for anything just ask meeee

mr. big under

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The word homesick had barely left my mouth when Y sensei organised a girl’s night out. We went to Rajita Italian restaurant which sounds more Indian than Italian does it not? There were five of us. Again, I made the mistake of asking someone what they were going to order and being looked at as if I were a Martian. In Japan, one does not simply order for themselves. Instead, several dishes are ordered to share.

As soon as our two pastas (both spaghetti – as if we hadn’t had enough noodles that week) two pizzas and a side salad were collectively decided, the girl-talk started. Now, I wont even try to document the exact dialogue exchanged as I’m sure you don’t want to read pages and pages of broken English (even thinking about it gives me a headache). So, here are the highlights instead:

We discussed Mr O, the sexy math teacher who we are all secretly in love with but who unfortunately/fortunately for him has a beautiful wife and an adorable toddler. Next, we talked about Mr K aka “Humpty Dumpty” and his very circular appearance and later, Mr H and his pointy eyebrows and super red face. Lastly, we joked about the literal translations of the Kanji which made up their names. A sensei had the most “normal” family name translating to a tranquil title of “blue mountain”. Mr O’s however; appropriately translated to “big under” which as you can imagine, resulted in many an uncontrollable laughter!

typhoon news and a note on minimalism

Apparently a typhoon is coming and everyone’s freaking out at school.
I’m just worried I don’t have enough food to last me the weekend… hehehe *nervous laughter*
Anywho, here’s what I had for breakfast this morning – just four ingredients (oats, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, fig). I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about how too many ingredients not only confuse the digestive system but can also lead to over eating and irrational food cravings (mostly sweets). So, I’ve decided to simplify my meals (as in breakfast, lunch and dinner). Dont worry, I shall be annoyingly kept up to date.
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sometimes pictures speak louder than words!

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Some words:
-Every single restaurant in Japan, without exception will give you a damp white cloth to wipe your hands and face with before gobbling your meal.
-Slurping is OK so don’t be surprised when you hear it and I guarantee you will!
-99% of restaurants serve Japanese green tea (hot or cold depending on the weather/restaurant/time) with each meal which is heavenly for digestion – definitely one to learn from!