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Posts Tagged ‘leaving’

The last couple of weeks has been a mixed bag of emotions. I’ve had some real highs  – like seeing my Cousin Hazel in Kyoto with Toddles in tow; great fun now he is running around everywhere! And he has grown SO big since I saw him last! – but its brought about a lot of low points too. Saying good bye to a lot of people on my course I’ve made friends with over the last few months was sad enough, but a couple of my really good friends were leaving too which is a bit of a blow. Luckily we are living in the age of Skype! The other thing was that this year was my first ever Christmas away from home and while I was expecting it to be hard, it was even harder than I imagined. I kept myself as busy as possible to keep my mind off the fact that I wasn’t with family, firstly on Christmas eve by going to one of my good Japanese friends’ house.

Since I live in halls, I really appreciate getting this kind of home-stay experience! After paying respects to the family shrine we entered Haruna’s grandparents house – enormous and incredibly Japanese in every single way with tatami flooring, sliding doors, with an outer corridor surrounding the inner rooms. We had a real feast for lunch and although I though I had tried almost everything before they still found things to surprise me! Remarkably, they have a small amount of land and grow all their own rice, vegetables and fruit, as well as making their own plum-wine liqueur, pickles and other things! Naturally it was all delicious – there’s nothing like home cooked food!! I enjoyed talking to them – even if they spoke with a really thick dialect accent that made it hard to understand! Her grandma is an inspiration – at 70 she still does Japanese archery and competes at a national level – I saw the trophies! They were so kind and very generously gave me a whole bag of goodies to take home with me – home grown clementines, pickles, sweet potatoes and dried persimmons.

Afterwards we went on to her family home and I got to meet her mum and dad. We made nabe which is kind of like clear soup with meat and vegetables or whatever you have lying around – for that very reason its becoming a favourite of mine! I got to try out her koto which I suppose is a cross between a guitar and a piano – very strange – and heard all about her dad entering the famously hardcore Iron Man competition for a second time!

We then had drinks at My Bar and after a long long walk from Sakae all the way to Don Quixote in Kanayama/Nagoya Eki decided to crash out at a Manga Cafe till the first train home. Christmas day itself was also very very different to what I’m used to; replace the roast with raw octopus, soy beans and radish salad, the wine with beer, and instead of carols at church think of carols at karaoke and you’ve got a pretty good approximation! I actually had a pretty fun day in the end but I’m really glad its over now so I can enjoy the rest of my holiday.

Here are some pics…

I’m going off to Tokyo for New Years Eve and to see a bit more what I missed last time, like Akihabara, a bit more Harajuku and maybe we will try and catch a glimpse of the first sunrise of the new year from the vantage point of the Roppongi Hills Hotel…

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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’ve finally booked my flights now, so I’ll be leaving on the 31st August and I’ll be in Nagoya for the 1st September. I’m excited and wondering what its all going to be like: who I’m going to meet, what the classes will be like and what Nagoya is like too.

I’m not really so nervous but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how much I’m going to miss London, friends and family, and even the over-keen socialists of SOAS! Having been to Japan before I have some idea of what to expect; I am preparing myself for a drought of bacon, and cheese, and Sunday roasts. Bad times. But on the plus side, Japan offers a lot of things which I wish we had here, most notably vending machines 【自動販売機】every 50 metres which serve tea and coffee in cans (hot in the winter and cold in the summer – amazing) and obviously all my favourite Japanese foods such as Tempura, Yaki Soba, Okonomiyaki, and Takoyaki – good times. I’m even excited at the thought of eating my first humble Onigiri again (rice-ball with fillings/flavourings and wrapped in dried seaweed) at newsstands and convenience stores.

I’m going to have to find a way of getting regular red meat in my life since Japan observes a predominantly fish/rice/vegetable based diet. The business minded amongst you should start buying shares in Kobe beef NOW. No Meat = No Meal.

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Well, I’ve finally found a flight and will be booking it tommorow; finally everything seems to be falling into place! I’m still waiting for my Certificate of Eligibility so I can get my visa sorted, but that should come in the next week or two.

Im also starting to realise I need to brush up on my Japanese before I go… hmmm. Been trying to teach my parents a few words for when they come out to visit, and luckily mum has memorised “where is the toilet” which I’m sure will be useful. Must test them again soon, they’re slacking off.

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