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Posts Tagged ‘exchange’

Question: what whips Japanese girls into a fury of baking, borrowing sugar, and locked kitchen doors? Valentines day of course!

Valentines Day in Japan is the complete opposite to what you would expect. The tradition here is that on February 14th WOMEN give MEN chocolates! And as if that wasn’t unromantic enough, they are nicknamed called “obligation chocolates” for the reason that they have to be given to male work colleagues, superiors, teachers, and all men who you interact with on a frequent basis. Its not all bad for women though; exactly a month later the men who received these chocolates have to return the favour by giving presents such as handkerchiefs or hand towels on what is known as White Day.

The fun part for the men is working out whether the chocolates are “Honne” (a gift from the heart) or “giri” (given out of social obligation). Obviously the more time you take to make them or the more expensive they are, the more love they show.

Rebbekah and I spent the best part of Saturday afternoon making home-made chocolates for our friends with fairly good results:

Valentine Chocolates

Valentine Chocolates

Oh and one other thing. To add another twist into the mix, and apparently due to the “influence of western customs”, one of the major chocolate manufacturers has brought out “reverse chocolates”. These are exactly the same as the normal chocolates except for the fact that the packaging is printed in reverse, and MEN are meant to give them to WOMEN in accordance with the usual Valentines day customs. And before you ask, no I am not joking.

Essentially, noone knows who to give chocolate to anymore.

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Soon my slightly strange flatmate from America-land will be leaving… right after next weeks final exam. If it were anyone else in the dorm, I would be sad, but the unfortunate thing is that she is the one person I am not sorry to see the back of. I wouldn’t want to write anything nasty about her as she is not THAT bad and she cannot defend herself in cyber-space, but she is certainly a funny character. In a bad way.

This is a girl so paranoid about security (in an incredibly safe dorm where everyone knows everyone and strangers are not allowed past the common room) that she locks her bedroom not only when she leaves her room, but when she is inside, or even when she goes 2 metres away to use the toilet or shower. Her bedtime routine involves going to sleep at 10pm on the dot every night, and her hearing is so good that she complains about me listening to music with my headphones on after 10pm. Yes really. The fact that NO other flats have a problem with noise indicates that it is not just me being noisy, she is just being selfish. Of course you can hear a murmuring through the wall when people talk next door, but she complains that earphones don’t block out the noise enough for her to sleep which I personally find ridiculous. She wont share any of her cooking equipment to the extent that friends have to bring their own crockery when they come over to eat, and has on occasion told people in the community room below to turn down the music at 9.30 on a Saturday night because she was trying to sleep – I could hardly hear a thing! The most funny thing however is that she doesn’t eat white bread or mayonnaise because her mum (who is black) brought her up on the principle that they are “white peoples food” – her exact words, not mine. A bizarre twist of irony considering that she is only half black and half white, and has skin that is whiter than mine…

It’s not quite up there with the now infamous blog Things I hate about my flatmate, but she has been a real bore; not letting my friends come over to my flat after 10pm, or talking on skype after 10pm because SHE has to sleep; a ridiculous expectation in an international dorm, where social interaction and noise occurs!

Hopefully I will get a good replacement… one who has an interest in Japan beyond manga (comics) and anime (cartoons), and who lets me borrow her cutlery when the only knife we have in the flat goes AWOL….

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I spent what seemed like a large proportion of yesterday morning running around London gathering bits and pieces for my Visa. A quick trip to SOAS, followed by a hurried scavenge around Mayfair looking for a photocopy machine and somewhere to have passport photos done. Unfortunatly I look like I am giving a horrific death stare in my photos, but I didn’t have the time/money to get new ones done! Hopefully the visa should be ready in a couple of days from now; just in time!

I’ve just found out that I am going to be living in an International Hall of Residence called Nanzan Nagoya Koryu Kaikan 【名古屋交流会館】. If you want to send me English chocolate/PG tips/interesting things/letters then that would be lovely! Apparently it is “located a few metres from the university gates” which I hope isn’t an exaggeration – allowing me to get as much beauty sleep in as possible! I’ll be in one of the Halls’ apartments, sharing with 3 other international students and one Japanese student. Luckily MJ (fellow SOAS exchange student) is also going to be in the same building, but I think the whole concept of this hall is to encourage people of all different nationalities to “culture-exchange”, and so I’m looking forward to meeting lots of new people.

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