Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lack of Posts

Hi.


Just wanted to apologize for the complete lack in posts recently (as in like the majority of my exchange so far), and I will definitely provide full detail of most/everyday so far. Currently I am catching up with my online VHS class <--definitely top priority right now, along with studying all new vocab I encounter during school, and also practicing riding a bicycle through the super narrow streets of Japan without continuously running into walls like I did the day before yesterday. Running into a wall really did hurt a ton, and I actually passed the same location today on my way home from school, and you can see the mark on the wall where I smashed my bike into the wall...darn.

OK SO, I am super sorry, and eventually I will be completely caught up with this blogging, after I am completely caught up with my online classes.

I'M HAVING SO MUCH FUUNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!

-Oliver

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Costco, Hibarigaoka Gakuen, and City Hall 3/23 - 3/24-3/25


3/23

Hmm...so right now it is 10:35 PM on the 24th (I have totally lost track of the days of the week), and I am currently trying to recall as much as possible about yesterday while my pictures are being uploaded to my computer, or as they say in Japan, pasokon (personal computer).I am super tired right now (btw, the picture of the dog is Suzu on my bed. I am in love with Suzu), because I went to my school (Hibarigaoka Gakuen) and spoke with the teacher who "I should always consult to" Nakanishi-sensei, which was draining for reasons I will explain later on in this post (my school is gorgeous). ANYWAY, TODAY, I went to Costco for the first time in my life, and, the experience was pretty amazing (I use that word a lot don't I). I had heard the word "Costco" everyday in my American life, and I continue to hear it everyday in my Japanese life, but, it was strange. I had HEARD of Costco, and I knew it was a place where people bought food in bulk, but I had no idea like...what it was, anyway. SOOO I went to a JAPANEEESE costco with host mom and brother.

...

Soooo Costco is pretty cool. There is a ton of food. This Japanese costco was basically entirely American food, and I even saw a group of three Dutch men which was pretty awesome. I would have to go to an American Costco to compare between countries though. Now, when I think of Costco, I think of the Japanese costco, and I don't know what the American Costco is like, so, it is difficult to compare, obviously. The Costco I went to yesterday seemed pretty popular, and was incredibly crowded, and I noticed that a ton of the fruits were from Florida. I bought some blueberries because I NEED FRUIT and no matter how much I eat I NEED MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAR. I have yet to see my host brother eat any fruit, actually.Which is kind of scary (in this picture you can see the sea of Japanese people in Costco around the sushi section). I used to live on fruit. Host mom has actually been feeding me a ton though, which is
too kind of her. And before she gives me a ton of food every evening, she always says "parents in Vermont must be worried, ne".

Oh, also, I also brought a ton of chocolate and candy for my host family, and, my host family loves all of it, and they call it Orichoko (Oli-choko/Oliver Chocolate) (in the picture of host mom and brother, they are trying to figure out the chair thing in Costco, which was like completely broken, or atleast impossible to figure out).

Later on that night, YUKI my host sister arrived with her ex-boyfriend (I'll explain that in a sec), and I must have forgetten to mention that up until the 23rd, Yuki was in Miyazaki surfing with her friends, and she just got home after hanging out with her ex-bf. She had been with him for a super long time, but then he cheated on her, and she punched him, and now they are friends. His name is Eryou (I LOVE THAT NAME) and he is to become a Priest at Nakayama-dera, a super famous temple, meaning he has a lot of money, and so my nick name for him is kanemochi (rich). He was pretty cool. He has dog allergies though, so he had a bunch of tissue paper stuck up his nose the whole time he was at the house because of the three super loud dogs that were like attacking him with their hair. I don't have a picture, but I most definitely will get one next time I see him. I do have pictures of Yuki already though!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yuki is pretty amazing. She is insanely wonderful at the piano, she is super skilled at Shodo (calligraphy), she is open minded and super friendly and skilled at surfing and awesome, and is obviously a part of this super awesome host family I have.
Aaaaah I can't really remember what else happened, but I will update this if I receive any awesome spurts of memory.

2/24

OK. SO. Today I didn't really take any pictures, because even though I went to my school, the weather was completely gray and rainy and I didn't want to destroy my camera, and I didn't know if bringing my camera to a little school-related discussion was appropriate (the school is intimidating D:D:), and my camera ran out of battery, which irritated me. I was in the middle of making a video tour of my Japanese house, and then my camera ran out of battery, and I was pissed. But, it was ok, because I still have until 2011 to make as many video tours as I would like. Also, regarding pictures of the school, I would rather get pictures of the pretty buildings in pretty weather, so that you all get a very attractive view of the school.

So, I was woken up at 9:30 am, took a shower, ate breakfast, and was driven to the school with host brother and mom. Host brother had guidance for becoming a high school student, so he went off to see his Japanese guidance counselor. The first thing I noticed about the school, was that, there were a ton of white-purplish/pink buildings, one of them newly opened for this upcoming year of high school (so I get to spend high school in a brand new Japanese building. AMAAZING), there were a ton of trees and vegetation, with one huge sakura/cherry blossom tree in a small square outside the high school area. There is a huge Olympic sized pool sorrounded by trees and stuff which is pretty awesome. A ton of benches, and the school is extremely hilly/on a steep hill. And there is no parking.
So, we went into one of the buildings, and were required to put on Hibarigaoka slippers, and like 10 different men came to say 'Hajimemashite' (how do you do) within the course of like, 6 minutes, and I had no idea who any of them were..one of them went by the name of Nakanishi-sensei, and he was the one I, host mom, and Miyahara-san spoke with about MEEE. At first there was a ton of confusion, and apparently the confusion was because we were supposed to come to the school on the 25TH, but Miyahara being a Donkusai (according to host-mom, means like, 'always making easy mistakes/always forgetting'), she told us to come on the 24th. Mizuno-san, who is one of the head representatives for YFU in Japan, is very annoyed with my area rep. all the time and is constantly telling her to go to the hostpital cause she thinks Miyahara-san has Alzheimers, hahahha. Miyahara-san is super friendly, but makes mistakes, with everything, which is actually hilarious, and I LOVVE IT. SO ANYWAY, things worked out, and we had a talk with Nakanishi-sensei in a separate room, who went over clubs (he signed me up for Judo. He said I should try a martial art and I don't know if I am capable of doing Kendo sooooo I said Judo. I am very interested in Judo anyway). He also went over some paper work and everything, and we went over my current enrollment in online classes which he said is fine, and at the end I asked him if I am able to receive class credit and he said that wasn't a problem at all. OMGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE AAAAH that made me so happy. SAAAAAAAFE. Then the vice principal came, and he seemed kind of questionable about me, and my host mom was all like "Don't worry, Oliver is good student. He is GOOD!" Apparently (my host mom told me this after), Hibarigaoka Gakuen hosted several exchange students in the past, one from Finland and another from Germany, and they both recently also went to Hibarigaoka Gakuen for a year, but they were...........really bad. And would make excuses not to come to school, and didn't follow the rules. So. The Principal said "NO MORE EXCHANGE STUDENT AT HIBARIGAOKA!" But, they accepted me and only me (so I will be the only exchange student), for certain reasons. Which is why the vice principal was kinda like "whats he doing here talking to Nakanishiiii". Host mom also said that the teachers at Hibarigaoka are super strict, and the Principal is super SUPER strict, and thus the school has become more prestigious, and acceptance into Hibarigaoka has become much more difficult. He also took away the majority of international-related classes, and currently the only language offered is English because he wants to put a ton of emphasis on English.

Hmmm...so actually, the whole time we were talking with Nakanishi, I thought that Nakanishi-sensei was the principal of the school, but then later on found out that he is actually one of like 20 English teachers, and is very kind, but according to many people is a terrible teacher. Some people question if he is even able to speak English which I think is hilarious. Anyway, then we walked over to another building and spoke with a Math teacher, and theeen....host mom, Miyhara-san and I went to McDonald's, bought coffee (host mom hates McDonald's but the coffee is cheap[er]), spoke for a while and reassured her that being a Donkusai is totally fine (she is actually pretty old), then we returned to the house, and I don't really remember what happened then, but an hour later we went back to Hibarigaoka Gakuen in order to measure my body for a school uniform (YFU Japan is paying for a new one apparently), I also bought gym shoes which are super Japanese-school-uniform-like and thus I am super excited about having them, we also had my body measured for my gym clothes. Since I am going to be a Junior/second year student, my gym clothes are PINK WOOOOOOOO and I am pretty excited for that too along with basically the entire thought of going to a Japanese school (school starts April 8th I believe...not quite sure though). Also I noticed that at the time when I was getting my body measured for uniforms and stuff like that, there were other students as well, and they along with all the teachers at the school were super solemn and serious looking. Host mom said it wsa because these were the students that weren't accepted into the school/class they applied for, and so the majority are in the lowest class at Hibarigaoka. Today (yesterday) was measurement day for most of the lowest scoring students :/ Scary stuff.

Hmm.....I am having a super hard time remembering stuff. We returned to the house after all the measurement stuff and introducing to several random teachers, we also ran into one of host-brother's female friends that is transferring to Hibarigaoka (she was the only happy/smiley student I saw at the school that day), and she apparently used to live in the same apartment building as my host family when host family used to live in an apartment/'Manshon'. (I am watching t.v. while writing this right now, and I am completely noticing that unlike in america there are like, at most 15 commercials ONLY, and so I keep seeing the same commercials ooooover and over again and I am starting to memorize them all word for word unexpectedly. It's kind of creepy. There was this commercial about 'Sumaato Chizu' [Smart Cheese] and I just sang the whole thing word for word somehow. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH OMG so scary) so after all going back and forth between house and school, we finally settled in at the house, and sort of just hung out. I did this, and online classes, and showed pictures to host brother and sister, and gave them more Orichoko, aaaand I can't remember anything else. OOH and we also figured out my kanji name. For gym clothes, since I am buying new ones, I get to have my name printed on, and my host mom recommended that I don't use katakana so that I can actually like, have a Japanese meaning which would be pretty amazing. Yuki and host mom really liked: 織羽 instead of just regular phonetic オリバー, and I really liked/like it too, SOOOO that is my new kanji name!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The meaning is something like, 'Weaving Wings', which to me sounds like something that could have a TON of hidden symbolic meaning which is pretty amazing. My host brother said I should use 檻馬, which means 'Caged Horse' or 'Horse in Cage' and I was all like "no" because that is a suckish meaning, and my host mom couldn't stop laughing. In the picture you see Shota writing my name in Kanji.

My host sister is super skilled at Calligraphy/Shodo as mentioned before, and so seeing her write my name was quite amazing. Much appreciated.

3/25
Soo, today so far has been very lax. We went to the Shiyakusho/City Municipal Office to register me as an alien/foreigner, and besides that we haven't really done much. I just had a bowl of udon which was wonderful, and I have kind of been half asleep the whole day. The weather is also incredibly dreary and gray and depressing, and I am insanely tired, so, the day has been pretty slow. Host dad says that Osaka weather is very 'kurejii' (crazy) and changes a lot, so, hopefully tomorrow will be super sunny!!! I kind of love rainy weather though. It's relaxing, but this is like stormy gray rainy weather (and the wind is super cold), so, it isn't really relaxing. Totally ok though. I have been doing quite a bunch lately, so I appreciate today. I also have constantly been asking host mom if she needs help cooking and all that, and she appreciates me asking a ton but doesn't want me to help. SO, a rule to any prospective exchange students: always be willing to help. It's a super easy thing to do and makes your host mom amazingly happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111 (also try putting away everyone's dishes for them before they put them away themselves ;);D You can have a kindness battle [kind of kidding])


Hmm...talk later. BYE!!!!!!!!!!

Walking Around Ikeda----Experiencing アバター (Abataa - Avatar) 2/21 - 2/22

2/21/10

Hi.

So I apologize for being so slow with my posts and updates. This post is about 3/21, so I probs forgot a bunch BUUTTT I will try to remember as much as possible as I write, so, yeah. I will also be updating posts whenever I get sudden bursts of random memories and such. ANYWAY,

I woke up sometime around noon, which was actually incredibly early for me as I usually get up quite a bit later than that BUUTT I am currently trying to change my sleeping hours to a more realistic and polite schedule. My family/Japan currently has several days of vacation though, so everything is pretty lax. My host brother is actually just as bad/nocturnal with his sleeping, so I’m not alone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I ate breakfast/lunch with my host brother, who then then skateboarded off to go hang out with friends that I would actually surprisingly run into later on in the day unexpectedly. SO, I actually spent the whole day with my host dad which was pretty awesomely amazing because he is a pretty awesomely amazing host dad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My host-grandmother/obaachan actually lives right next door, in this absolutely gorgeous traditional Japanese home that smells like incense on the inside which.is.awesome, and we went to see her immediately after breakfast/lunch. The houses are kind of connected in the back, or in other words it takes like 1 step to get into obaachan’s house from my host-house, which is super convenient and awesome. We walked into her house from the back door which I guess is something she doesn’t appreciate, because she scolded my host dad for doing it (host dad is obaachan’s son) which was funny. She doesn’t speak a word of English, but I told her I speak a teeny bit of Japanese and she immediately took that as an indication of me being super fluent in Japanese and started speaking in slightly rapid fire Osaka-ben which I kind of, didn’t understand at all. It was all perfectly ok though, because, she is hilarious, and very grandma-like, in the sense that she gave me a ton of Japanese cookies and was super sweet. She told me that, 20 years ago, she hosted an Australian girl for 5 months named Jenny, and Jenny is now married to a Japanese man and lives in Perth, Australia. She also has a giant wombat stuffed animal and she showed that to me as well. Up until then I actually had no idea what a wombat looked like, so that was an enriching experience. OMG her house was so gorgeous toooo!!!!!!! The house was incredibly traditional Japanese-like, with a semi-large altar in one room, incense everywhere, tatami floors in every room and an insanely gorgeous traditional Japanese garden. Next time I go over I will most definitely take pictures. I was impressed, impressed over already super impressed because of my host family’s house (HEATED FLOORS>

After that excursion, we went one step back into the host-house, my host dad and I sat for maybe like 5 seconds, and then he was all like “let me show you Ikeda city!”, and I said “yeah!” and we walked/took trains around the city which was super amazing!!!!! I couldn’t BELIEVE how much there is in the city. I had expected the city to be nothing but a suburb of houses housing 120,000 people BUUUUT I was totally wrong. The city is most definitely not touristy, but there is a ton to see and do. There are several museums and quite a ton of parks all over the place which feels super homey, and there is this mountain in the center of the city called Satsukiyama, my host mom said it’s just a hill though. She went all like “NO. Satsukiyama is HIRU (hill)”, which was really funny. I like Satsukiyama a lot—very calm and when the wind blows all the trees swish all over the place which looks really cool.

So. My host dad and I walked along several narrow streets (in the pictures you can kind of see what their area looks like. Unlike what these pictures show however, my host-house is at the end of this extremely narrow little road that is basically hidden from the rest of society. Totally ok though. I LOOVE their location. I will soon provide more pictures/video) to this covered shopping arcade-shopping areas which I remember very well from Japan when I came last summer. I looooove these shopping arcades. They are so incredibly convenient, the store names are wonderful examples of awesome ‘Engrish’, and the background music is super catchy. Also to note, I was pretty surprised that I didn’t notice a single non-Asian the whole day. I saw tons of people because Japan is busy and dense with human bodies, but not a single Caucasian person. THUS, I received a ton of stares. Like, the kinds of stares you receive in places like Matsuyama on Shikoku where foreigners are nonexistent. Usually I am ok with stares but it diiiid get a teeny bit awkward after a while. Some of the teenagers would stare at me, and continue to stare at me when I started to kind-of-stare at them, and when they passed me along a sidewalk, I would look back at them and sometimes they were still staring at me. YEAH, like THAT much. And that happened more than once too..Also when we took the Hankyu train to a different part of Ikeda (I took a picture of our local station. It's actually pretty big and has a modern shopping mall attached, and one of the exits is connected to a covered shopping arcade. I also took a picture of the houses of Ikeda with some hills in the background. Super peaceful and pretty), several of the fellow train-riders would stare a lot…I was surprised, and sometimes kind of scared. But it was all good, just something I may have to get used to. But SEERIOOUUSLY the stares totally surprised me (and still kind of do). I didn’t hear anyone talk about me in Japanese (or any other language) though. I was KIND OF hoping someone would (and that I would hear/be able to understand them) just so that I could eavesdrop c: teehee.

OH, something I learned about my host dad. HE MAKES INTERACTIVE BOARDS! When I called my host mom several months ago, I somehow thought she had told me that he works at a bank. I was totally wrong though, and I actually still don’t really understand what he does, but apparently one of the things he makes is INTERACTIVE BOARDS! Like, in this picture you can see random animals and buildings of Ikeda, and you press one of the buttons, and this traditional Japanese music plays while this enthusiastic man explains the picture. My host dad said he “made” this particular board. He also apparently made a map in one of the Ikeda city information pamphlets. He also apparently had something to do with cleaning dirty buildings. I am kind of very confused, but eventually I should be able to figure out Mr. Toshiyuki’s shigotoooo (job).

Hmmmmm (I am trying super hard to remember everything that happened. Here is a picture of Satsukiyama btw)…I noticed that there is a ton of shopping in this city. We went to one of several large department stores located throughout the area (This is random, but my host family owns three tiny dogs and they are always constantly licking the tatami mats in the house. I am watching Nana doing it now). There is also this famous statue named Billiten (picture of Billiten and I), designed by an American guy. If you rub his feet, you shall be blessed with good luck. He looks pretty awesome c: There is also a replica of a castle in the city which looks awesome (I didn’t take a picture though, for some strange reason). I’ll eventually get a picture of it. OH! ALSO, there are wombats EEEEVERYWHERE. Not real ones, but there are pictures of wombats, cartoon wombats, stuffed animal wombats etc. all over the place. Wombats are like, Ikeda city’s mascot animal. LITERALLY, everywhere.

We also went to a Hyakken/Hyaku En/100 Yen store which was amazing. I had heard good things about them from a bunch of people, and seriously, 100 Yen stores are like the definition of convenient. They have everything, and it is super cheap. I would have taken pictures but I don’t think picture taking was allowed (the store had so much amazing “engrish”). There was a chain restaurant named “Friendly!” nearby as well which I remembered from my visit to Japan last summer. I also bumped into Shota and his friends right after leaving the 100 Yen store who were skateboarding/socializing outside the train station. Apparently he and his friends had dropped by the house to come hang out with me, but I had left already with host dad, BUUUTTT it’s all good cause I bumped into them NOW! They were really awesome and friendly and wanted a picture with me as seen here. The one to the left loves baseball which is why his hair is so short (according to host mom), host brother is in the middle, host brother’s best friend is to the right of host brother. I feel terrible right now though because I forgot their names, and I suck with names, so even if they told me their names I would probably still not remember for a while BUUUUTTT..things shall work out. I will work incredibly hard to remember people’s names here. !!!!!!!!! OH, I also met several college students who know my host dad, and we met up in covered shopping arcade. They were super friendly too. People I have met have been, in general, very friendly. Wonderful-ness :D

Hmmm…I also had Takoyaki for the first time, and it was delicious!!!!! I love Osaka “jyankii fuudzu” (junk food)!!!!!!!! We had curry for dinner, family taught me some Osaka-ben (Osaka dialect) and host mom explained to me what ‘Kousa’ is. Kousa is yellow sand from China, and apparently there has been a lot of it recently. The sand makes laundry really sandy and heavy when being dried outside, so she apologized for having to wash my clothing twice. I was totally ok with it though BECAUSE with MY terrible body odor, my clothing would probably need to be washed…a lot. After all that, the family watched some game shows which was obviously HILARIOUS. We saw a bit of Manzen, which is Osaka comedy where two male comedians just, do stuff, and it is hilarious. We also watched Pirates of the Carribean (first one) on T.V. That was great. I tried introducing Pirate Language to the family through the movie but it didn’t work out too well…that’s ok though. I should be able to find another opportunity to introduce Pirate Language.

SO, that was 2/21. 2/22, I woke up and went to see Avatar in 3D with my host brother. WOOOOO I EXPERIENCED A JAPANESE MOVIE THEATER!!!! Aaahh Japanese movie theaters are super expensive. The food is insane. They don’t really offer much, but a medium popcorn is like 7 dollars and it isn’t very big in comparison to an Amurican medium size. Host brother and I were also 22 dollars each, which is kind of insane. Since our movie was 3D it was 22 dollars, though usually we are $18 each. Host mom paid for me which was super awesome of her. SO, we saw Avatar, and I was the only foreigner in the entire building (The building is/was huge: 18 theaters. I also think I am the only foreigner within like 100 miles), I got my share of stares (some lasting unnecessarily long), and also noticed that there is assigned seating, very unlike Amurica where people have like bitc* fights over seats, except that actually never happens…at least in Vermont it doesn’t. Our theater was completely full and my seat was B18, second row from the top, YAAY!!!!! I had not seen Avatar yet so this was pretty awesome. The movie was also in English with Japanese subs, which I appreciated BECAUSE the Japanese could then hear the various dialects, and I could then hear the English version, and then Shota could practice English, haha. Except, it was super difficult for him, because the movie had a ton of random Amurican slang that would be kind of hard to understand, and the Japanese subs were super literal and bland in comparison to the English being spoken, unfortunately. Or maybe the Japanese had a ton more meaning, but I just didn’t understand it. Either way, the languages differed. Like “sounds good sir” was translated as “onegaishimasu” for Japanese which means ‘please’. Anyway, the movie was amazing. I am so glad I finally saw it!!!!!!!!! The animation was absolutely amazing, and I completely freaked out when the black panther looking thing jumped out from the trees when Jake encountered those triceratops looking things, and then Jake ran away and the black panther looking thing is chasing him, and then he jumps off a cliff/waterfall thing and the girl almost shoots an arrow but then a jellyfish looking thing lands on her arrow and so she doesn’t shoot her arrow…yeah that was a really scary part of the film. I totally embarrassed myself while everyone else watched the movie completely contently. I actually freaked out quite a few times throughout the movie, and I couldn’t laugh with my obnoxious laugh like I usually do during movies because EVERYONE would have gotten mad and stared at me. People would have done the same in Amurica but I wouldn’t care. Being the super obnoxious foreigner in Japan doesn’t sound like a cool label to have unfortunately L I am noticing that my laugh is pretty much completely forbidden throughout most of Japan, but that is ok. I will find a location where I can laugh my obnoxious laugh, so that I won’t lose it. Maybe I can find a deserted park or deserted location somewhere in Japan where I can just..laugh. Now I am excited. I must find this place.

OK, so this is what I recall from the past two days. If I suddenly have a spurt of memory regarding these two days, I will most definitely update this post. So, if you have time, reading this blog multiple times may be worthwhile J

BYE!!

Goodbye Fellow International Japan-lovers, and Meeting Host Family FOR THE FIRST TME (3/20)

SOME VIDEOS OF THE US STUDENTS BEFORE HEADING OFF TO OUR HOST FAMILIES---1---2---So in the morning, everyone had to wake up at like, 6 AM or so, get their luggage together, bring it to the area near the orange building which you can see in these pictures, exchange the luggage for a breakfast ticket, go eat breakfast, go back to the luggage outside the orange building, and wait for our buses. For the people having their foreign exchange outside of Tokyo or Kanagawa (Yokohama City), buses came to pick us up and bring us either to the Shinkansen station, or Haneda Airport. The students taking either ANA or JAL (I took JAL), took a pretty bus which came and picked us up toooooo bring us to Haneda Airport, Haneda Airport being a super busy and super large Domestic Airport in Ota, Tokyo. While waiting, everyone went super crazy with their cameras and took tons of pics with everyone as a final goodbye, which was pretty sad. Here on this post, I have several pics of people waving goodbye as I get on the bus to head off to HANEDA AIRPOORT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (In this pic you see me with the Canadian exchange student, student from Belgium, and three from the Netherlands, also the Finnish exchange students, next is Masato, Finnish speaking returnee on the left who I met before while talking with the Finnish exchange students, and super awesome Australian accent returnee on the right, also the Thai students waving good bye, )

Anyway, so I along with the other students traveling by plane drove off on a bus (picture of two Dutch students), to Haneda Airport, and on the way we saw a bunch of pretty awesome Tokyo sites (from the bus) like, Tokyo Tower, the sky scrapers of Shinjuku, Palet Town and other recreational areas of Odaiba, and we also went across the Rainbow Bridge which was pretty cool. If we had gone across at night, we could have seen the bridge lit up BUUTTTT it was day time so it was kind of like just a regular (but super long and awesome and Japanese) bridge. We eventually arrived at the airport, and the students taking ANA (blue luggage tag) got off the bus first and went to Terminal 2, which the JAL students got off afterwards at Terminal 1. As you can see, I took some pictures of the super pretty airport which was super flashy and glassy and had awesome stuff like the Mobile Ashtray Museum Cafe, RESTAURANT, JAL Smile Support (everyone took a picture of this), JAL NEWS, and an incredibly hostile looking animal poster. As you can see, there is a picture I took of the airport with security people in the foreground, and those security people all gave me incredibly hostile looks after taking the picture, because, my camera has an incredibly flashy, huge, and bright flash, and I think they may have thought that I was taking a picture of them, and thus, they gave me hostile looks, which made me feel bad. And then, like 5 minutes later, I intended to take a picture of RESTAURANT, and the security people showed up like the moment I took the picture (with my super strong flash), and they gave me semi-hostile looks again, which made me feel bad again. Bad timing.
So, I said good-bye to a bunch of people, which was super sad, and one of the American exchange students and I went up to the Chinese Exchange student and told her how much we loved her hair and overall perfect-ness, and I went through security, and didn't even have to take off my shoes which was super convenient, and then I sat down with some other exchange students, and watched Japanese commercials on the T.V. nearby, and peed (in the bathroom on a wonderful japanese potty), and eventually boarded the plane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OOOOMG IT WAS MY FIRST TIME ON A JAPANESE PLANE!!! The plane was quite amazing, and even had a camera thing at the front of the aircraft displayed on the t.v. screen to give everyone a like, airplane-eyeball-view which was pretty nice, I fell asleep with a pocky on my sweatshirt, and since the plane was super hot, when I woke up, I had a mess of melted chocolate on the front of my sweatshirt WHICH IS STILL THERE SITTING IN MY JAPANESE BEDROOM IN THE CORNER BECAUSE I JUST REMEMBERED THAT I TOTALLY FORGOT THAT IT STILL HAS CHOCOLATE ALL OVER IT AUUUUUUUUGHHHHHHHHHHH crud. But yeah, when I woke up I basically peed at the sight of the melted/hardened chocolate which kind of looked like poo and was super obvious (the sweatshirt was my blue one from PA)...so I had to carry my sweatshirt and wear my YFU t-shirt instead, which was totally fine. BUT YEAH, anyway I slept throughout the entire flight and woke up to see Osaka below me/the plane. We eventually landed, and I was super sweaty because I was FINALLY going to see my host family in like 5 minutes (they sent me pictures in the mail but I never received the package) and I am actually sweating right now as I type because the whole thought was incredibly super frickin scary and I am pretty glad that my host mom fell asleep on the floor 5 feet away from me right now because if she saw how excited I am getting as I type this that would be pretty super awkward, and I actually don't know how to say "sweaty" in Japanese so I wouldn't be able to EXPLAAAIIIIIN MYSELLFFFFF! ANYWAY, I went straight to the bathroom when I landed, and ate like 7 tic tacs, and everyone else wanted tic tacs so I gave everyone else tic tacs, and I peed (again in one of those amazing japanese toilets), and washed my hands, and walked down the stairs to the baggage claim super quickly, and looked at the area outside of the baggage claim and saw a man and woman and boy with a sign that you can see in these pictures (personally, I love the fact that they taped a clothes hanger on the back of my welcome sign), it said like HELLO ORIBAA! and I was like OMGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE and I ran to them super quickly and my host mom was all like ORIBAA!!! And she hugged me/I hugged her, and I shook hands with my host brother and host dad, and they took a picture with me immediately, and we were all like super happy. And then my area rep. introduced herself and she is super awesome (I had coffee with her today at McDonald's actually), aaaand I said g'bye to the rest of the exchange students who went with their host families...so yeah. We walked off, to their car in the parking lot, and it was super hot out (unlike in Tokyo, there was barely a breeze so it was sweaty hot weather, especially for me), and for the first time since I had landed in Japan, I wasn't incredibly crazily loud and instead, had a normal volume, and we made conversation, as we drove off to their house (I will provide a video tour of the house when the weather isn't so gray. Weather suddenly got super rainy today).

The first thing I noticed, was that, American music was eeeeverywhere, and that day alone, I heard Lady Gaga three times. 2 on the radio (Bad Romance and Just Dance), and then I heard Just Dance again when we went out for dinner, and they also played this song by Justin Timberlake on the radio, and Beyonce, ALL IN ONE DAY IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY WOOOOOOOOOOOOOW. I was surprised. But yeah, we arrived at the house, which was a pretty awesome feeling, and you will soon see the house once I provide a video tour (video = far superior to pictures).

Hmm...so I spent a little while unpacking and checking out the house. My luggage arrived like an hour after I did which was super convenient. I unpacked, which took a while, and then I took a shower in their super awesome bathroom that has like, a really deep bath in comparison to Amurican bath tubs, (their shampoo is $50 WTFFFF. All of their lotions and stuff are SUPER expensive :O) I felt super bad using some of their expensive shampoo but my host mom told me to use it. I felt fortunate and still do c: Later that day, we went to this mall-like place, and ate dinner at a spaghetti/Italian style restaurant, and my host family bought a SHI* TON of food and yet we managed to eat it all, which was pretty great. I found out that my host brother is going to the U.S. in July for a year as an exchange student through YFU, along with...I think 130 other Japanese students going to the U.S. through the same program. He really wants to go to California, and I told him that he TRULY wants to go to Vermont ;) Except I didn't really say that, but I was thinking it. I remember my host mom said that she wanted an exchange student from the United States above any other country, which made me feel pretty amazing. She had her reasons which also made me feel wonderful about being American <3 onblur="try {parent.deselectBloggerImageGracefully();} catch(e) {}" href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_xsozQQ1PrS8/S6nF7xQR9OI/AAAAAAAAALE/hemgVYnykvs/s1600/2010_0321Japan0027.JPG">and they went CRAZY (the bottle is like half gone already. They put it on everything).

Oh, and sorry about the lack of pictures of my host family :( I will get more most def and post them on one of the upcoming posts. I had totally forgotten about taking pictures somehow. I DID however take a picture of host mom loving the maple syrup, and of the three doggies (fat one sleeping is Kota, black-ish one is Nana, and golden one peaking from the corner of the table is Suzu [Suzu means 'Bell'], Suzu and I have a connection ;D. Also, those dogs are freaking LOOOOUD. They never stop barking.)

BYE!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chicago-O'Hare Airport and Orientation 3/15-3/19

Playlist of all videos of the Orientation. Please watch c:
Hi.

So a kind of unexpected event happened before I was to meet my host family. I had an Orientation at the Olympic Center in Tokyo (from the 1960's Olympics), and that lasted until yesterday (3/20), thus I didn't have internet access UNTIL yesterday, and I couldn't figure out the internet access until today. WHICH is why I haven't written before today. Also, a bunch of stuff has happened since coming to Japan, like, a TON of stuff, so I am going to write two posts cause I want to write a bunch and attempt to put a bunch of detail into these posts, and all that info in one post would be kind of way too long.
SOOOOO, this post is planned to be about the Orientation, only!!

Alright so to start this off, I did not sleep on the 15th (the day I left for Japan), as my plane left from Burlington int. Airport at 6 in the morning and seeing as how I am nocturnal, there was no point i n going to sleep. Also I totally could not have slept no matter how hard I tried. I was just too darn excited.
So my plane left at 6:15 or some time around there, and after saying g'bye to my dad which was pretty difficult, I boarded the plane to Chicago, and slept, and woke up with the plane landing at Chicago=O'hare Airport, left the plane, and walked myself into the Airport to be immediately confronted by an elderly lady who was apparently the person responsible for gathering all of the exchange students to Japan. Because I was not expecting someone to confront me at the time, this surprised me as I had originally thought that everyone in nthe airport would have had to fend for themselves and find the correct gate (it was B16). Apparently not, she gathered me and we went off to find another exchanger who I would find out to be a guy that would room with me at the Orientation (actually, all of the other American dude exchangers did). My plane also arrived at Chicago an hour early (HAHA. I still wonder how that happened), and so I was the first exchanger she had to pick up. We went off to get the exchanger from Michigan, then the exchanger from New Jersey and the one from Florida arrived, then the guy from Pennsylvania, and finally the one from Minnesota. They go by the names of Oliver (me), Riley, Devin, Alex, Henry, and Amanda. Us 6 would then sit at gate B6 for about....7 hours until we were off to TOKYOOOO! The waiting kind of totally sucked, but I have pretty cool memories of it. Like, how one of the exchangers bought several bags of Beef Jerky (it had a SUPER strong scent), and we waved the bags infront of one of the other exchangers who was a vegetarian. That was hilarious. We also talked about how to not pay for stuff by pretending we don't speak English in America. We also walked around the area for 5 minutes and saw the huge Dinosaur fossil thing nearby (I'm in the picture somewhere). But besides that we didn't really do much. HOWEVER our plane DID indeed arrive and so we boarded it, and went off to Japan!!! HOWEVER, the ride kind of..sucked. It was I think, 13 hours, a length I had done twice before, but felt so.insanely.looooong. We also didn't have screens infront of our seats, and the food wasn't of the best quality (I ate it and many other people's plates though, which reminded me of my lunch days at EHS), but that was TOTALLY ok BECAUSE, we were going to Japan WOOOOO! One of the other exchangers also had Avenue Q on her ipod, which made me happy.
I don't know what was up with the length of the ride and how painful it was though. Like, I fell asleep at the beginning, and then woke up thinking that we were almost there, to find out I had only slept for an hour which was pretty frustrating. I remember the stewardists also offered water like 40 times throughout the flight, we had 3(4) meals, we/the exchange students also randomly met this college student who is currently in Hiroshima and spoke super intense Japanese (his accent was awesome. It was like a very serious Japanese man which makes him sound like a born Japanese native). Aaahhh...OH YEAH we also started eating the super mega large stash of chocolate I was carrying with me (including a chocolate bunny), and I took some fruit leather (organic) from one of the other exchangers and it was completely amazingly delicious, and I also ate an exchangers bag of gummy worms (they said it was ok). Several movies were shown as well. The new one about Roller Derby with Ellen Paige was shown but the name escapes me, and this other movie about an Australian widowed dad and two Australian boys was shown after that...oh and this documentary/commercialization thing about Hawai'i was also shown.

SO when we DID land in Japan, everyone kind of quietly and tiredly went "woooo Japan.." (I rose my hands wheee) and we were all super happy. When we exited the plane and entered Narita Airport, the first thing I noticed was the scent. IT SMELLED LIKE JAPAN!!!!! Japan has a ton of smells, but they all have the same characteristic as being a Japanese smell. I honestly do not know what it is, but the smell is---Japan. Whenever one of you comes to Japan, you will notice it too (it's a super satisfying smell as well). Another one of the exchangers noticed the smell too, so I knew I wasn't completely crazy.

So we walked through the airport to the passport examination place/where they let you into the country, waited in line for a little while sweating like crazy (the airport was basically completely filled with human bodies), until a man opened a door about 10 feet away from us, and beckoned us (the exchangers) to him with his hand. He didn't say anything but just beckoned, which was slightly confusing, but we/the exchangers figured out that he wanted us to go through the door he was standing outside of. (this paragraph so far sounds extremely awkward and is probably impossible to understand. Sorry about that. Also I'm doing this and my online science class while watching Pirates of the Caribbean in Japanese with my host family in their living room, so I am completely multi-tasking. My host family is always multi tasking which is pretty awesome. Making very good use of their time ;D We are also eating cake at 11:50 PM). ANYWAY, we went through the door to another passport examination area with a shorter line/waiting time, when it was my turn to show my passport, the guy at the counter took a good 3-4 minutes looking at my passport & visa while doing his respectful stuff on the computer, gave me a paper telling me to get my picture taken at my host city's municipal office within 2 months or something (I need to find that paper actually), and then I walked several steps into the reeeallll Japan!!!! We all gathered our luggage from the baggage claim (I of course needed help with my weak body and incredibly huge luggage), we walked to the entrance of the terminal to find a Japanese guy and lady waiting for us. The lady was/is a YFU representative and the guy was/is a returnee who went to the US through YFU when he was in high school (Name: Masato). Apparently the exchange students came to Japan in clumps of countries and in 4 waves, so the first group was Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, second group was Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Denmark, and Hungary, the third group was Netherlands, Belgium, Korea, China, Philippines, and Canada, and the final group was us (US) and Thailand. We and Thailand were the last to arrive apparently (7 PM). We all took a bus of just exchange students to the Olympic Center in Tokyo, and I introduced myself to all of the Thai exchange students who were very friendly. I also asked the Japanese returnee how old he was since he looked like he could be either 17 or 29, but he didn't tell me. I found out later on that he (and just about all of the other returnees) are college students though. So that's all good. Once we arrived at the Olympic Center, we were immediately directed to a lecture room known as c101, which we exchange students would begin to know as basically, THE room. C101 is where everything happened, and also where everyone would meet up for lectures. The Americans and Thai were given a small introduction to this whole Orientation, along with a towel, bottle of water, two masks (I have ALWAYS wanted to try wearing one), several papers, a contact card with our host family's address, two carry on bag tags (color coded, however at the time we didn't know that the color had any meaning. My tags were red, indicating that I would take Japan Airways to my host destination). OOOH we also got name tags with our name and country printed on it. Pretty cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 Also, one of the returnees who went to Australia for high school exchange, had a completely LEGIT Australian accent when he spoke English. GASP. SO SKILLED. He had no Japanese accent at all. The head returnee who would speak at all of the lectures, known as Saki, went to Alaska for exchange.
Note, I was also randomly turned into the Key Master of my dorm's key, and I was also given the Farewell Party info paper for our country. For the Farewell Party on the last night of the Orientation, each country must do a presentation, and I was given the info paper...just thought I would brag a bit if it means anything c:

SO. Everyone was rooming with their fellow same-country exchangers. There were exactly 4 male American exchange students (of 6 Americans), and there were 4 students to a room so that worked out perfectly. We were actually located on the girls floor as well (3rd floor) while all the dudes should have been on the first floor. There were 76 exchange students total (it felt way less than that though). Anyway we got kind of settled into our room, which was really old and dirty but that was totally fine, and I/we went off to the sento bath (Japanese public bath) to cleanse. ew. It was disgusting. My mouth smelled like a bird had died in my mouth and I was overall pretty nasty. The bath changed all that though to a super good smelling body, which was great.
I think I went to sleep after that.

(The big glass building to the left is where C101 and the cafeteria are located, along with basically everything else) The next morning, I had breakfast and then everyone met up in C101 at 9 AM (I would soon find out that being punctual was extremely essential...). We had a placement test that showed our skill and where we should start in the KUMON curriculum. Kumon is a Japanese language practice split into levels from 4A to 1A, to J, I think. After the test, there was lunch, and I met the Korean exchange students. The 4 Korean exchange students and I finished our placement test at about the same time (they were a few minutes faster), and so we started making convo in Japanese. I attempted to write their names in Hangeul, and then we ate lunch together along with a Japanese returnee who had done her foreign exchange in the U.S. ( most of the returnees went to the US for exchange. The rest either went to Germany, Australia, New Zealand, or Finland). The only guy Korean exchange student, Se-Young, really liked my name (and I reeaaally liked his because it is Korean. OMG), and so we exchanged name cards, and Se-Young thus became known as Ollibeo (Korean pronunciation of Oliver), and from then on I called him Ollibeo. That was pretty amazing I MUST say. The Korean exchange students also called me Se-Young. haahhaha, funny. I loved that. After lunch, everyone grouped back up (but in a different room, on the FIFTH floor :O), for our ADVENNTTUUUURREEE GAAAAAMMMEE YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY. There were 8 groups of students, and we had to find a total of 8 games all of which accurately taught about Japanese culture, and we got scores depending on how well we did at each Japanese culture-teaching game. The games were pretty amazing I must say. Just saying, you probably will be jealous. :)

My group had Riri as the returnee in charge of our group (Group 1), and the students were Lola from Austria, Stina from Estonia, Kristiina from Finland, Luisa from Germany, Christian from Germany, San-Yi from Korea, Sara from Sweden, Paloma from Switzerland, Wasin from Thailand, and ME from AMURICA!!!!!!! In the pictures shown, you can see what we were required to find and do once found. We had to pick up Gummy Bears, Beans, and pieces of scrunched up paper with chopsticks, as much as possible within a minute or something like that. We also needed to find this diorama of the entire Olympic Center and count the number of cars in the model (the answer was 9. We got it right). We also had to create Origami Sumo wrestlers and have Sumo matches against the lady who taught us how to make the Origami Sumo wrestlers who was absolutely INSANELY AMAZING at Origami Sumo wrestling matches. Like WOW, I was impressed. I actually tied her though (our Sumo men fell at the same time), so I didn't cry.

There was also a sort of slang-ish/Japanese culture vocab game where this returnee (she went to the US for exchange and her sarcasm makes it super obvious. She was hilarious) holds up cards with a picture on them, and you guess what it is (in Japanese). Like, certain foods, and Japanese slang guessing the meaning. I remember Takoyaki was one of the cards, and I screamed out "OCTOPUS BALLS" (The English name for Takoyaki) and everyone started laughing. Also note that I was the only native English speaker, so I was surprised that everyone else found OCTOPUS BALLS an extremely awkward word before I did. oops. I have a video of this that I may eventually add to this post.
Hmm...we also had this game where everyone had to line up in order of birthdays without speaking to one another. At the time I didn't actually understand how this had anything to do with Japan BUUUTTT I TOTALLY just think I JUST figured it out. Maybe like...language barrier? Communicating without speaking, perhaps. Anyway, we didn't get any points at this game because I messed up, and stood after the Swedish girl when I was supposed to stand before her as her birthday was after mine. darn. (It was totally ok though because our team eventually came in 3rd place, SOMEHOW. Despite my suckish skills at every game except Rock Paper Scizzors).
We also had to count the correct number of steps from Floors 1-5, the answer was 89 I believe. And at the end, everyone returned to the room on the 5th floor of the building, and the results of each team were shown with a bunch of music and awesome power point skills. Of 8 teams, our team INDEED came in THIRD PLACE!! OMGGEEE!!! The top three teams received prizes, and we received HI-CHEW!!! I ate mine in like 2 minutes, while sitting with the Koreans, Belgian girl, and Finnish dude. Koreans shown. The dude Korean (Ollibeo), said "F*** You" to the Belgian girl to show his American-ness too C: I laughed with my obnoxious laugh. The girl from Belgium, dude from Finland, and I, also made conversation about 'Bear In a Can' which is apparently a food item sold in Finnish grocery stores. Bear In A Can
After this, we had dinner, and then free time before having to go to bed at 10:00 PM (I needed to make a mistake in order to understand that there was a strict curfew). I stayed in one of the other dorm's, and watched Coraline while eating a bag of Butterfingers and CalorieMate (as shown) with one of the American exchange students until midnight, forgetting completely that there was a curfew while getting super into Coraline. When I left the room, one of the returnees I had met previously (Yusuke), caught me and asked why I was late going to bed (two hours late). I told him I was watching Coraline, and he didn't understand what "Coraline" was, so he just told me to go to bed immediately. I felt pretty terrible (I most definitely was not the last exchange student to go to bed though...thankfully, haha).

The next morning, I ate breakfast with the two Estonian girls, which was super awesome, and from then on I hung out with them quite a bit. We were late to the morning lecture though, which SUCKED, and made me feel even worse about breaking the rules. I apologized a ton to the main returnees though, and they actually seemed to appreciate that ;) teehee. We also received our scores on the Kumon placement test, and were then grouped into random groups of all Japanese levels, and we were then sent to random rooms to have our "Japanese Lesson". This lasted for 3 hours, and we sort of just went over basic Japanese grammar, and also what to say to our host family as an introduction...our teacher was Kurokawa sensei, and my class was made up of another American, a German girl, an Austrian guy, a Swiss girl, a Thai girl, me, a Finnish guy (same one who introduced bear in a can), and the two Estonian girls. In one of the pictures shown, I explained to Kurokawa sensei what a "traitor" is.
After that, we had lunch, and then our group discussion. This was grouped by country, so our group was made up of 5 of the 6 Americans and 1 Canadian girl. Our group returnee leaders were Asuka who went to Australia, and Masato, same guy who picked us up from Narita airport. We spoke about what we wanted to accomplish in Japan, and how we plan to accomplish what we want to accomplish. The returnees also gave us a bunch of tips regarding Computer use and everything. Like, don't ever spend long periods of time on the computer unless for online classes and homework, stuff like that. Our group was kind of insanely loud and obnoxious because of ME, who didn't stop laughing with the obnoxious laugh I have. I DO have a super great picture of our group though, as shown, which makes me happy. This is one of the awesome pictures I have :) I also have a picture of the group leaving, way before me due to my slow-ness and how I am always the last person out of a room (each returnee had to tell me to hurry up like, 20 times throughout the orientation).

(My page just refreshed itself, so I have to write this paragraph all over again. I am slightly irritated). ANYWAY, after the Group Discussion, everyone returned back to room C101 to have another lecture. This one had several returnees make presentations on random parts of modern Japanese culture, such as slang names for Japanese food chains, like how 'Starbucks' is usually called 'Sutaba' among teenagers, and 'McDonald's' is 'Makku' in Tokyo, and 'Makudo' in Osaka (I am in Osaka. In this area they have an extremely, EXTREMELY differing dialect known as Kansai-ben or Osaka-ben which sometimes resembles Chinese due to the different tones compared to Tokyo Japanese. I actually saw a Starbucks today when I was with my host brother, and I was all like "SUTABA!" and he was all like "YEAH!!" Oh, and I also JUST ate a banana, and noticed that I have NOT been eating fruit. I am totally changing that now). I have this video of the presentation on the customs of a Japanese house, as shown.

Next, we had dinner, but I didn't go and so I didn't use my dinner ticket (we were given tickets for each meal), and so I have it to this day, which is a mighty awesome souvenir. I went to the bath, and then...I went to sleep.

The next morning we had breakfast, and I, being confused as to what I should eat, was confronted by a Japanese college student who asked me what I wanted (in English) and "helped me out!"!!!!! I actually unexpectedly bumped into him two more times that day, which was pretty awesome. I also was confronted by this Japanese man who asked me if I was "Dan". I certainly was not Dan, so I told him, and he apologized a ton, and I told him that it was totally ok and I totally understood how he confused me with a "Dan". That event stood out a lot for its awkwardness and awesomeness. As shown, I also ate about 10 oranges of orange peels due to the lack of fruit in my diet at the time. c:

We then had another lecture in room C101, and then for the rest of the day, we had to pack and get ready for the next day (we would be leaving in the morning to meet our host families), and this time period lasted until 5:30 PM, when the Farewell Party would take place. This got pretty crazy as none of the Americans like, agreed on the same thing and our presentation ended up being a complete improvisation (or as we called it, "the ancient American art of, winging it"), so I actually had spent hours in the American girl's dorm listening to Amurican music for no reason (we didn't play any music). We were going to play Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani (the whole Japan-relation, you know), and/or We Are the World....Colors of the Wind/A Whole New World as they both perfectly represent the United States, yep yep. ANYWAY, eventually we had the Farewell Party, with all of the countries (15 in total including Japan). Here you can see all of the exchange students (I think there were 76), along with the returnees in super intense desk-moving-action.

So....the Germans went first, with a presentation on a typical German classroom. The Thai were next, who did a traditional Thai dance in AWESOME attire. Estonians were third with a sort of stomp-dance-traditional dance presentation, and a comical informational speech on Estonia at the end (each country had a maximum time of 10 minutes), Finland was fourth, presenting a dance involving everyone, linking shoulders and hands....it is kind of hard to explain so just watch the video. Fifth country was China, who did a speech in Chinese, I THINK from a Japanese electronic Kanji dictionary. She said she can not speak English or Japanese very well. Philippines was next, and they did an English-Filipino translated speech, and ended with a tourist video on the Philippines. Sixth country was Austria, and they explained the Austrian dialect of Germany and how harsh and hostile it is. Next country was Belgium and the Netherlands, and they explained their respective countries through awesome power point skills. Next was Denmark and Norway, and they introduced a game where they draw something on the board, and we have to guess what it is (the first drawing was a straight line, which represented Denmark cause Denmark is very flat), next was Hungary, and he gave some info on Hungary, then Sweden was up and I remember they ended with a song on frogs. Then WE WERE UP(US and Canada), and I understandably do not have any pictures or video of us, because I was presenting, but we sort of just gave info on our respective states (and Canada) which was pretty cool. Everyone/me and Amanda sort of acted super obnoxiously and "amurican" throughout the entire presentation, which I personally found to be incredibly hilarious. We actually managed to make people laugh a ton too!!!!!!!!!!!! That was all good. After us, Switzerland presented, and they randomly picked a students from each country and a random returnee to come up and try to pronounce random Swiss words. Apparently I had good pronunciation, but my word was really easy so it was nothing special at all. Last before Japan was Korea, and they presented a traditional Korean fan dance in awesome attire, which was very impressive. And then LASTLY, was JAPAN, made up of the Returnees, and they had....A JAPANESE FASHION SHOW WOOOOOOO. That was pretty hilarious. I was quite impressed.
After this, we were provided some food and drinks and stuff, which was pretty amazing, and then everyone went to bed for the big day happening 'tomorrow'. (Pictures. Finnish students. Me with the Thai students [they wanted a picture with me and I reeeaallly wanted a picture with them!!!!], two awesome female returnees and I, Ollibeo and I, Yusuke and I)

Later that night, everyone got ready for the big day tomorrow. I however, came to my dorm to see my pillow, pajamas, and sheets completely gone, stripped from my bed. I had left the door unlocked earlier that day, and literally, someone had stolen my BED (and corduroy pants). This SUCKED. I was totally irritated and was freaking out and getting all emotional, and the rest of the Americans were laughing at me, mainly because it was the first time they had seen me be serious about something (I acted pretty strangely throughout the entire orientation). Well, one of the other American exchange students (CRUUUUNK) apparently had stolen my bed and pants as pay back for stealing something of hers. The previous night, I had stolen her toy Ram named Rammy (female), and so she decided it was ok to steal my bed the next day. WELL, as you can see in the picture, she showed me to my bed (stuffed into a closet in her dorm room)--totally annoying though. I had even been in that dorm room multiple times during this time period and had never noticed my BED stuffed into an open closet in the room....If you check my playlist (and the picture shown here) of videos, you can see a video of her again stealing my stuff due to me stealing Rammy again.