New Blog

Saturday, October 17, 2009

With a new chapter of my life comes a new blog:

Leaving Florida

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm leaving the States on Monday. Check out my photo album again, I've added some more pics. Mostly of food ;)

Driving CM

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ok, maybe I like American commercials too...but only a little ;)

My Summer...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Good to be Home

Monday, August 31, 2009

Some things have changed and yet some things have stayed the same.

US 19 and Interstate 275 are TOTALLY different but just as dangerous to drive on.

The radio stations play the same music they've been playing since I was in High School. What? Haven't heard something new in 8 years? It was like strolling through memory lane.

The house is different. New furniture and windows. New fixtures and TVs that take forever to turn on and change the channels but get HD cable so I'm not complaining.

Same old stuff on TV. Reality shows where people argue about some of the weirdest stuff. That's not normal people!!!

In some respects I feel like a Japanese exchange student walking into America for the first time. What?! People here are so much bigger and taller! I come up to everyones chest and it feels so weird and uncomfortable to be this short! Have I always been this short?!

It makes my skin crawl to even THINK about walking into a house with shoes on. And then I look over at my friend who not only has her shoes on but her feet are on the couch too! AHHHHHHHHHH

The food here is so rich and delicious! Much more delicious than I remember it (^u^)v

The rooms are so large. I could fit a whole family in my bedroom! But yet, it's still not large enough to relearn my Yosakoi dance. How did I ever manage to practice it in my tiny apartment back in Kochi?

I'm grateful to my friends for not making fun of me for this either. Wait, how do I text message someone? I just send it to their telephone number? How novel!

ATMs are open after 6pm? Well, what time do they open in the morning? They're 24 hours? How convenient!

I walked into Sam's club and just about fell over. A giant cake for $10? Where did it come from?! Who made it and were they payed well? Cuz that same cake would be well over $30 in Japan! It blows my mind.

People are so loud and in your face here. They're extra rude but super friendly. Neither of which I would find in Japan! I go into a grocery store and the woman working the register greets me with the most bored expression I have ever seen. I feel instantly bad for bothering her! But then we joke about the price of head bands and she tells me how I can get a discount if I do something or other.

In Japan, the cashier would politely smile with the warmth to melt your heart but then not stray from her set script because doing otherwise might lose her her job! Nothing but the utmost politeness and coldness.

It's good to be home and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel out of place and right where I've always been all at the same time. I'm happy to be here but I miss Japan all the same.

Can't I have both?

I heart Japanese commercials

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This is my current favorite commercial. It's an advert for the new Daihatsu Move Eco car.

Personally, I just love that dancing deer. BAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA


Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm packing up my life of 3 years in this place. It's a pain in the ass to say the least ;)

Monday is my last night in this apartment and I'm crossing my fingers that my car will be packed at ready to ship out to the J-families house my that evening.

Anywho, check out how my summer has been so far!


Saturday, July 4, 2009

I have not been looking forward to packing up and saying goodbye to everyone. In fact, I think I am more in love with Japan than I have been in a very very long time and I'm not looking forward to leaving it.

I am, however, looking forward to going home, having some REAL food and saying hello to everyone I haven't seen in 2 years. And then after 6 weeks I think I'll be ready to come back here again ;)

My working visa expires on August 6th, when my contract ends. But I plan to stay in Japan until the 15th. So I need to change my Working Visa into a Visitors Visa. Easier said than done.

On Thursday, I began gathering all the paperwork together. This thoroughly stressed me out. I couldn't find any information for what I actually needed specifically. Why was this so difficult?!!?

And I thought, if only my supervisor were here! But sadly she's in the hospital. (I REALLY hope she's ok...but she's going on her second month of being out and I'm sure that can't be a good sign)

So, I'm kinda on my own...or so I thought.

The vice principal (aka Kyoto-sensei) came up to see what I was doing. I vented a little and told her I had no idea what I was doing, and her response to that was "Nina, do you want me to call the immigration bureau? We can have this all figured out, no problem. Should I call the prefectural main office? Here, let me look for the application for you in Japanese. I'll even print it out for you. Are you having any other problems? PLEASE TELL ME HOW I CAN HELP YOU!"

I almost burst into tears of joy. What a wonderful woman!


I need a copy of my plane ticket home to prove that I have a set date for leaving Japan but the prefectural office (who is buying the ticket for me) said I won't have it until a week before I leave...odd.

So Kyoto-sensei called them and told them I need a copy for this visa application. They told her that they would send the ticket to her by the end of the week but not to give ME the ticket until it's time for me to leave.

Kyoto-sensei tells me all this with an odd look on her face and ends by saying "why wouldn't I give you the ticket? You're not a child."

I do love her, ah!

But then that makes me wonder, why the hell wouldn't they give me the ticket? I'm sure somewhere in the past some ALT screwed things up for the rest of us but...really...I'm not a child (o.0)


Finally, last night was the second of the many going away parties being held this month.

I usually don't have fun at parties like this and I REALLY wasn't looking forward to it. An entire party devoted to saying goodbye to me. Speeches, presents and sushi...mmm not liking it so much.

This was the party held by Odochi HS. Remember, the HS I had SUCH a hard time with in the beginning. And now, I'm really sad to be leaving. (for the most part) I won't miss sitting in the teachers room for hours at least.

Anyway, I actually had the most fun last night than I have had at ANY drinking party.

In my first year I went to these parties and hated them. Just sitting around not being able to talk to anyone. I would go to the toilet just to get away from everyone! Then in my second and third year,I just stopped going. They were way overpriced anyway :P

But, well, I guess my Japanese has improved in 3 years ;) and these parties are WAY more fun when you actually sit around and talk to people! I had such a wonderful time!!!

These people may look like stuffy old people ;) (hahahaha) but check out the teacher on the left! They sure know how to pretend to be "normal" hahahahaha!

One of my favorite JTEs of all time. *sigh* I'm really going to miss her!!!

Anyway, I got another one of these things next week and then another one the next :P weee


Thursday, July 2, 2009

I know I haven't posted in a while. I was busy with the Largo Student Exchange and now I'm in full swing "Nina Evacuation".

And speaking of "getting the hell out of here" I've been in the process of canceling accounts and packing up. Today, I got around to calling YahooBB to cancel my service.

Customer Service Representative: Thank you for calling the YahooBB English Hotline, how can I help you?
Nina: Yes, I'd like to cancel my service by the end of this month.
CSR: Certainly, we'll send you the cancellation paperwork right away. It should be there within the week. The service is billed monthly so your internet connection will continue until the end of this month. If we do not receive the cancellation paperwork by the end of this month, we will charge you for next month.
Nina: That's fine. I should have it sent before then.
CSR: May I ask you how you are currently being billed?
Nina: Direct withdrawal from my bank account. It will be closed by the end of this month.
CSR: Is there any way for the account to remain open for the month of August?
Nina:...I'm leaving the country, so I don't think that's possible. Is there anyway for you to send me a paper bill that I can pay myself?
CSR: I'm sorry to say that's not possible. YahooBB will bill July's service in August. Go ahead and close the account. When we see that the account is no longer active, we will send a paper bill to your address in September. Is that ok?
Nina:.... (Not gonna be there but...) Sure.

YahooBB really has their thumbs up their asses. If the company had an eye, I'd spit in it. If they know NOW that I will not be able to pay via bank account, why can't they go into the computer system NOW and change the billing instead of waiting 2 months!?!?!???!?!?!

2 months seems to be a big thing with this company. Their world revolves on a 2 month system. Nothing will ever happen faster than 2 months. Good Lord how their systems would crash if someone were to go in and MANUALLY adjust something.

Disclaimer: Everyone I have ever spoken to that works for YahooBB has been nothing more than the epitome of kindness. Japan will never be beat when it comes to politeness and customer respect.

Also, I realize this isn't ACTUALLY a major issue. Sure, they'll bill me in September and I'll pay it and be fine. It's not like I'm falling off the face of the planet. If this is the worst thing I ever have to deal with in Japan (and let me assure you, things could be MUCH worse) I think I'm getting off pretty well.

At the same time, YahooBB is fucking shit...just fyi

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's hot...and I've been busy...

What a Fuss!

Monday, June 1, 2009

...over nothing...


Oh well. So much for my lucky money beetle (;-;)

Flies in My Eyes

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Since February I've been seeing this little black spot floating around my left eye. I thought it would go away but I'm sure no one is surprised to hear that it didn't.

So when I went to the doctor this last week to get new contacts, I asked her about it. She said it's nothing big but usually doesn't happen until people are in their 40's or at least 30's. *sigh* I'm falling apart!!!

So she dilated my eye and tried to stick a flashlight in there to check it out.

Now, I remember getting this done regularly back in the states. It was uncomfortable, sure, but this time around I could NOT force my eye to stay open! It's not so much that it hurt to have the light stuck in it, it's just that I had such a strong automatic reaction to close my eye that even holding it open with my fingers couldn't keep my eye wide enough to see clearly into.

So she took a picture!

She still couldn't see everything because I was scrunching my eyes so much. I think she was getting annoyed after a time. ;P

Ah well! I got a neato picture in the end!

Batocera lineolata

Friday, May 29, 2009

Batocera lineolata
aka シロスジカミキリ (shirosuji kami kiri) <-- "White muscle paper cutter" (I'm not very good at translations)

I asked my Japanese teacher and she said he was of the "Kami Kiri" family. In English this is the Longed Horn Beetle, so I wasn't too far off in my last post.

I also heard from a teacher friend of mine that in Japanese culture, gold bugs bring good luck in fortune if they're treated well.

Welp, I haven't shoo'ed this thing off yet, she seems happy enough and I could sure use the cash ;)

To tell the truth, she hasn't done any damage as far as I can tell so I think I'll let her stay for a bit longer. I was just throwing around the idea that I needed a pet hampster or something. This just goes to show the PTB really do have a sense of humer (^_-)v

And besides, I'm leaving in 2 months and if she did mess up my plants by laying eggs in their soil or something, it's not like I could take them with me anyway :P

Long Horn Beetle

Monday, May 25, 2009

Still there this morning.

I THINK it's probably a long horned beetle.

And if that thing is eating away at my plant stand I'll be REALLY...meh. At least it's not my herbs :P

Friend or Foe?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What is it?

Does it kill other bugs? (yeah!)

Or does it eat my plants? (boo)

If Japan=Tokyo does Tokyo=Japan?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It wasn't until about half way through this video before I was able to pin point how my experiences here in Japan have been different than what I was seeing.

My first thought was children.

For years Japan has had huge issues with their baby population. No one is having any kids.

What I didn't know until recently is that Kochi is booming with children. There having a hard time finding daycares for all of them!

But when I go to big cities like Tokyo, I'm hard pressed to find children anywhere...maybe it's because I always go to touristy areas...but then again, maybe not.

Anyway, this video shows a very popular restaurant style known as "kaiten zushi" or conveyor belt sushi. Here in Kochi, you won't find any Kaiten Zushi places that aren't equipped with at least a handful of family sized booths. No matter what time of day, you'll find families with children at places like this. I guess not so much in Tokyo.

Also, I hear, and have seen first hand, how impersonal people are in Tokyo. No one will look at you straight in the eye. No one will acknowledge your presence. If you make a mistake on a super crowded train, no worries, no one was watching you anyway...or rather, they've just gotten really good at hiding that they were actually staring at you the whole time ;)

Welp, not so much in Kochi! There's no way that camera would have made it all the way around the store without someone staring right into the camera, someone commenting and pointing as it goes along, someone picking it up and then quickly putting it back or some child picking it up just to have his mother tell him to "give it back to the sushi chief" (since clearly it was a mistake to put it on a plate on the conveyor belt in the first place)

So there HA! I live in the real world Japan. Everyone else lives in a bubble in Tokyo!

No Lasting Effects

Monday, May 18, 2009

Friday Night
After writing the last post I went home and cleaned the entire apartment. It seems to be a coping mechanism for me :P

Anyway, a few friends came over and we made the worst Okonomiyaki I think I've ever had. It was still delicious because Okonomiyaki is fail proof but we came really close anyway.

Overall: good party but still a crap day.

I woke up bright and early, made my lunch and headed to school (-.-) I then traveled around the prefecture with a handful of students to watch their classmates compete with other high school students. It was surprisingly exhausting.

That afternoon, the teacher who sits next to me suggested that we go to Yamda Denki Electronics store and figure this whole internet thing out together. I am forever grateful to her for this.

We got there at 6:30pm. We did not leave until close to 9 and it was the same run around as we had on the phones on Friday. What's your phone number? What's your ID number? We can't help you.

I got really angry at one point and almost walked right out of the store. I would have too if my desk neighbor hadn't been sitting right there waiting for me to calm down and take my seat at the counter again.

It's just that the problem is only with the modem!!! I have no problem with the service!!! And if they can charge me every month they can figure out who I am lickity split!!!

At 9:30 we left and headed to an "American" style restaurant (as American as Outback Steakhouse is Australian) and I gorged myself on enough meat to make a Atkins fanatic proud.

Afterwards, I went over to Steven's place to have a pity party. He convinced me to check my apartment just one more time because there is just no way I would have ever thrown something like that little tiny piece of paper away.

Overall: REALLY crap day

1:30 in the morning, I tore my desk apart. I found old receipts from cellphone bills, bank transfers, old envelopes that had nothing in them. I found sewing kits, glue, tape, post-its I had been searching ages for.

I did not however find very much dirt or dust. Score cleanliness bonus points for Nina.

And then I found that stupid little bit of paper. It had somehow made it's way up and under and inside my desk. Even upon moving out of the apartment I would have never thought to look there.

What a pain in the ass!!!!

And so I went to bed :P

At 10am, I called the English help line.

Operator: Good morning, how can I help you?
Nina: Yes, I'm having a problem with my modem, it has no power so I'll need a new one.
O: May I have your telephone number?
N: *sigh* Can I give you my account number instead?
O: No, I can only look for your information using your telephone number.
N: (-.-) 090-###-####
O: Hmmm we don't seem to have you on record.
N: Really? You don't say...
O: Have you changed your number recently?
N: Never.
O: Never?
N: (for the um-teenth time) NEVER
O: Ummm...uhhh...ssssss....ummm...
N: ... (-.-#)
O: OH! Can I have your account number?
N: Yes, I just happen to have it right here. It's #############
O: May I have your name? Birthday? Address?
N: blah blah
O: Alright, I have your information right here! It seems you gave me the wrong telephone number. Your number is ###-never-seen-b4
N: Fascinating... (-.-####)
O: Now, can you tell me what the problem is with your modem?
N: It has no power.
O: Ok, are you by the modem now? Can you tell me with lights are on?
N: ...there are no lights on.
O: oh...ummm...uhhh....sssss....Can you hold a moment please?
N: ...
O: Thank you for holding! We'll send you a new modem on Tuesday. Thank you very much and have a great day!

This is a classic example of how no one teaches logical problem solving in Japan. If the computer did not tell this operator what to do, she wouldn't have known. If she had gone to her supervisor for help, he/she would have had the same problem. If it's not in the manual, if no one told them before hand what to do, they just wouldn't be able to take matters into their own hands and figure it out themselves. This is the way Japan works. This is how it has always been and will always be.

I am NOT calling anyone stupid for not being able to think logically. I have some great, BRILLIANT students but if I don't tell them exactly what to do and how to do it, they would be lost. It's just how they have always been taught to be.

But I'll have my internet soon and I know how to logically problem solve, so for today I'm ok.

Week from Hell

Friday, May 15, 2009

I went bike riding with a friend and then had dinner with some new and interesting people. Not a bad day.

Good day for classes but one of the students made fun of my accent. Later that day, I emailed a guy I WAS trying to flirt with about how my student made fun of me. He then replied with a correction to my Japanese. The conversation abruptly ended...and not for any lack of effort on my part. Just fyi guys, that's a really great way NOT to be attractive.
Also, I started having a few personal issues unrelated to the above.
Overall, a bad day.

Decent day at work but for some reason I was exhausted by the end of it all. I went to my monthly English conversation hour at a cafe and couldn't really do much conversing because I was so tired. I then drove up to my Japanese families place and couldn't keep up with the conversations there either.
Overall, slightly bad.

In the morning, my Japanese mum asked me "how many sandwiches would you like for lunch". I had no idea what she was saying. Her 12yr old daughter had to translate. How sad is that?!!?
Overall, kinda crap day

Decent day at school. One of the teachers randomly asked me to figure out how to order wallpaper from Ralph Lauren. Personally, I don't think it can be done. BUT I told him I would call the international number when I got home. I figured it would help my karma points.
However, when I got home, I found that my modem was completely powerless. Why? No one knows.
Overall...stupidly busy and irritating day

I brought the modem to work to have my supervisor call the service provider and ask them to replace it. She called and couldn't get further than "who are you?" because it seems my internet provider doesn't know me. They charge me every month. They've given me continuous service for 3 years but because I lost the account number they sent me all those 3 years ago, they don't know who I am. Can they search for my name? No. Can they search for my address? No. Can they search my bank information? No. Can they search the serial number on the modem? No. Can they do anything? No.

I spent all day calling the company, going home and searching for a 3 year old receipt only to be told at the end of the day that I should go to the bank and tell them to stop sending money to them. Then, in about two months I should expect an angry letter from my service provider demanding that I pay them. On this paper should be my account number. Once I have that, I can then call them back and get this whole thing figured out and THEN they can send me a new modem...maybe.

And they'd probably want me to pay for the 2 months I spent waiting for them to send me the angry letter...the entire time unable to use their service.

Despite the fact that I am leaving in two months, it is an entirely UNACCEPTABLY amount of time to fix something that is clearly their fault. I do not blame myself one bit for losing some small bit of paper. If they can bill me every month, they can have a record of me somewhere.

So now I'm going home and I'm going to have a small party and let's just hope that the place doesn't burn down in the process.

So far, totally shit day.

PS, while I was on hold, I looked down and noticed my favorite shoes have holes in them. It's just the icing on the cake.

PPS - still no word from "poor conversation" boy. And just FYI, there is WAY more to his story than I'll ever post here (and you'll never guess so don't try) so just keep in the back of your mind that he's more of a "bad day maker" than I'm explaining here.

Tomorrow is Saturday and I have to go to work.

Golden Week

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Check out the pics of my Golden Week. It was the first time I didn't go anywhere for this week of holidays. I was actually planning to do nothing but my senpai (upperclassman from high school) called me up and said he wanted to visit me in Kochi, so we had a blast checking the place out. Who knew Kochi was so awesome? Certainly not me. HAHA!!!


Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm leaving this place in 3 months. The weather is nice now so I figured it would be a good time to clean out some of my apartment. So far, I have a nice large box of books to get rid of and a pretty solid list of things to leave, sell, and pack.

After a little bit, I decided to clean out my front storage area. While moving things around, I saw a pretty big spider but thought nothing of it. Hey man, I'm outside, he's outside, we're both outside, what's the problem?

The problem is that my door was propped open because it's such a nice day today.

When I started moving things around, the pretty big spider got scared and ran into my apartment where he suddenly morphed into FUCKING GIANT SPIDER IN MY GOD DAMN APARTMENT!!!!

The crime scene...
Let's zoom in on that bad boy. He even has an evil glowing eye!!!


So I did what any other girl would do. I grabbed a plastic broom and started swatting at it.

He didn't move.

It might have been because I wasn't quite close enough to touch him...he's EFFING HUGE!!!! (need I remind you) so I was kinda too scared to get too close, even with a broom.

THEN, once I got the balls to get closer, he didn't run away. Instead, he started facing the broom like he was about to attack it!!


I backed up and looked around the hallway where I was. I found some Korean Cup Ramen that has been sitting there since I came back from Korea in October '08. I chucked one at him.

It missed and flew out the door.

I chucked the second one, screamed "kyaaaaa" and missed again.

I can only imagine what people must be thinking. A nice quiet afternoon. They look down the walkway and hear some very Japanese style screaming while cup ramens are flying out someone's doorway...I can just imagine the looks.

So I called my friend Steven (he lives 20 minutes away)

No answer.

I then called Michelle (2 hours away).

No answer.

I called Dave (Ibaraki, 2 hours plane ride away)

No answer.

I then tried Steven again when Dave called me back. He then sat on the phone with me for 20 minutes while I freaked out. Against Dave's suggestions, I pulled out the vacuum and tried to vacuum the thing up. It just ran to the ceiling and sat there.

Remember that box of books I was talking about before? Yeah, they were by the door. So I proceeded to pick them up, one at a time and chuck them at the spider.

"Date me baby one more time" (present from Christina) MISS
"Perfume" by Patrick Suskind MISS
"Yokoso" Japanese study book MISS
Fuck it, throw the broom at him!!! MISS
"The Hottest State" by Ethan Hawk HIT

The spider fell to the floor and started running away from the door and TOWARDS ME!!!


And then I lost him!

By this time, my front shoe area had quite a few books and shoes all over the place. He could be anywhere...

So I pulled out an umbrella and scrooted everything outside and closed the door. When the spider is outside, he turns back into "a pretty big spider" again so he's not so dangerous...

But then Dave (who's still on the phone) says, "Nina, how do you even know he's in that pile?"

Hmmm, good point, so I look around. Underneith my shoes in the corner I see something, AND THERE HE WAS!!!!

So whipped out a can of bug "freezer" spray. I bought it some time ago when I wanted some bug killer but didn't want chemicals in my apartment. Turns out, this stuff was pretty chemically anyway. Oh well. And then I froze the thing to death!!! MAUAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

Let's zoom in on that shall we?

Gawd, just looking at it brings back horrors.

And so begins my first day of Golden Week (solid week of holidays) Let the relaxing begin (T-T)

New Link

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sorry, the link to the "perm" album was a bit off. Try this one, it should work.

Other than new links, not a whole lot is new with me. To say I've been stressing about money is an understatement. It sucks being poor :P I've decided to dedicate my entire golden week (full week of holidays) to sitting at home and looking for scholarships. Will anyone give me money to go to a language school and not a university? Unlikely, but not unheard of! I have hope (TuT)


Saturday, April 11, 2009

My birthday present is finished! The whole thing was half the cost of what it should have been because I got a discount for the happy occasion. I only plan to do this once but it IS permanent. I expect my hair to be back to normal (albeit a bit short) around January. I'm having a blast playing with it!!! HAHAHAHHAHAHA

Check out this facebook album for the full story and more pics

Snowing PINK

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's snowing pink these days since the sakura are quickly losing their petals. I wish I could take a video of just how beautiful it is here :)


As of two days ago, the school year has officially begun! But I won't teach any classes until next week...maybe. We'll see. I have no motivation to write lesson plans. In fact, today I went over my self introduction (that'll I'll probably be doing for the next two weeks) and it took me 10 minutes to review and tweak last years plan...and now I'm done.

Nothing much else has been happening. I'm still studying and improving my Japanese at a steady rate, my finances are somewhat in order, assuming I can keep ALL spending down to about $100 a week (that's tough people) which leaves me at home a lot cooking for myself which I don't mind. It's the dishes that I mind.

I recently found that reading books on my DS is crazy fun and I'm finding more books and comics everyday to enjoy my geeky self. I've also just started watching Dollhouse and WHOA! Joss Whedon can do no wrong!!! (Except for signing up with FOX... seriously, Joss? Seriously?!?!)

*sigh* I know there was something else I wanted to post about...and I can't remember, for the life of me, what it was! (and it's not about my bday or anything...this isn't a subtle hint, this is just me being an airhead as usual...)

Oh well. When I think about it, I'll letcha'll know.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

When I went to Tokyo a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of eating at a very Italian restaurant. It was the closest thing to real Italian I think I've ever had and I almost cried over it. This food was so beyond delicious.
The other day, I took a long lunch break and met up with Steven and his friend. After eating, we took a little stroll down the way. Steven saw a rare patch of grass and had to take advantage of it. Grass is not a common sight here in Japan, even in the countryside. Especially not such soft grass, dead as it may be...

Last night I invited a few friends over to my apartment for a Hanami party (flower viewing party) As I have mentioned before, the shrine by my house is quite beautiful this time of year. Unfortunately, we planned the party on a very cold and overcast day but I enjoyed myself immensely.

Energy Mind!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This happens every year in the land of seasons. Spring is here! It's still kinda cold but the Sakura has fully bloomed! The world is waking up! Everything's bright and energetic and alive!

AND I!!!!!

am sitting at my desk :P

Anyway, as of this morning, I have pretty much decided to go to Yamasa. It's gonna be much more money than living with my friends but *sigh* quality is never cheap!

I'm gonna be eating dust for dinner every night but at least I'll be learning tons (TuT)

What else, what else...

I saw Twilight last night for the first time. I don't care what anyone else says, that movie is totally my speed. Vampires are the best (-^u^-) =*geeky giggle*

Hmmm, oh! My trip to Sendai. The day I left warm sunny Kochi a cold front swept through Japan making the entire country colder and so Sendai seemed much worse than it normally is. But lordy it SNOWED!!!!

Kochi: Cherry blossoms
Sendai: effing snow

Alright so it was just a little flurry here and there but STILL!

Basically the whole trip was full of stress. Thinking about going to the good school but not being able to afford it. Thinking of staying with my friends but being disappointed in the school and realizing that Nina and cold weather just don't mix. Having more than 5 months of cold just doesn't flow with me. I'll get so depressed I might do things I'll regret.

Yeah thanks mom and dad for moving to Florida. Now I'll never be satisfied with anywhere else!

Oh to be back in the land of 1 month winters where a light jacket and jeans will hold me over till mid February...

grrrr ENERGY!!!

I need chocolate...

A Nina by any other name...

Monday, March 16, 2009

...would still be a hard core Otaku...

I'm planning a party for this weekend. If you can't figure out what we're talking about, trust me, it's really not that interesting. But I giggled to myself audibly enough to warrent a blog post about it.

I'm looking forward to geeking it out

I love DDR too. Lots and lots.

but check this
you're gonna bring guitar hero, do you need a Japanese playstation for that? Leah is gonna bring DDR, and Hank is gonna bring her Wii with DDR
this is nuts :D:D

No, it's for American.
It's a good kind of geeky nuts though.
Kinda reminds me of the old LAN parties where people would drag their hard drives, speakers, and monitors just to play DOOM together.

I did that
you know how stupid it is to lug around some huge ass monitor AND a tower PC?!
I can imagine having these speeches with my children's children
when I was young, we didn't have computers in our brains
we had to carry the damn things around with us on our backs!
up hill to school! BOTH WAYS!!! And it didn't have wireless neither!
this convo is too funny not to blog about

Quality Vs Comfort ROUND 1 DING

Spring is coming! I see it! I can see flowers starting to bloom. Pretty soon the Sakura flowers will be all over the place. Covering the street and my car. Hanami parties will last for weeks! And the rice fields are being flooded. Pretty sure they'll be green with shinmai (new/fresh rice)

But I can't feel it. Sure the weather is slightly warmer and the sun comes out earlier but for some reason I can't feel the energy that comes with this time of year. Usually, I begin waking up at about 6 in the morning. I feel energised and ready to work. I usually wake up and clean the house! I just go nuts. Throw out old things and scrub the bathroom floor. Reorganise the book shelves and clean out the pantry.

But this weekend? The sun came up earlier than usual and I slept in until 11am. Sleeping in for me is 8!!!

I must have accidentally dropped my energy in the subway station in Tokyo...

Other than that, since I have no classes to teach until April, I'm preparing for "Life After JET". I've been getting my tax forms together, making lists of what I should take home, sell, leave, throw away, etc. But mostly, I've been figuring out my finances to see if I can go to school and for how long!

See, I was thinking of going to Sendai to study Japanese. I have a friend up there who's family has kindly agreed to let me stay with them. However, when I went to Tokyo for the conference, I learned that the schools in Sendai were only mediocre at best. I was then given a recommendation for a different school in Aichi (nowhere near Sendai). I checked it out and it's hella better than Sendai schools!!!!

But it doesn't come with a host family who will take care of me, cook and clean, do laundry, watch movies with me, chat over dinner, talk about the weather...In fact, the Aichi school is far from that. It comes with an itty bitty apartment where I basically stand in the toilet when I chop veggies for dinner. Yeah, I've gotten used to tiny sizes since being here in Japan but this is ridiculous. The apartment costs more and food will cost more as well. I won't have to commute to school like I would in Sendai, but that's a small cost for how much extra I would spend to live on my own. (roommates are not an option for me. Thanks but no thanks)

...but it's a better school...

So which do I go for, quality or comfort?

I'm leaning towards the former....

I have a trip planned for Sendai this weekend (planned a month ago, can't get give the ticket back now..) so I'll let'cha'll know how it goes.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A friend of mine found this in Nagoya station. It's advertising a diet pill...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I just got back from my trip to Gunma and Tokyo yesterday. First, I visited a friend in Gunma for two days then went to a conference for returning JETs in Tokyo. The conference was all about what to do when you leave JET. Taxes, jobs, interviews and resumes. It was quite depressing. The job market is just...yeah. I'm sure you already know (TnT)

I also finally got the DVD with pictures and all from the Yosakoi Dance I did back in August.

This is a picture of a picture. It is absolutely an amazing shot and it's not on the DVD!!! They just gave me the hard copy of it to keep for myself!

Anyway, here's a link to the video

The video is highly edited and the music doesn't always match the dance which is only irritating if you know how it's supposed to look. Whatever, it's awesome anyway. I'm at the very end :)


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Do I go and spend $60 to see these guys?

That means I don't eat for a week!!!! (ToT)

So that new bike my student gave me bit the dust the other day. The chain just popped right off. One of the links must have broken. Luckily, I wasn't late for the train :)

Friday, February 27, 2009

I was lucky and the birthday surprise didn't happen till Wednesday!!!

The third teacher (I'm really bad with names) doesn't seem too pleased that his chocolate character has bunny ears. I thought it was cute (^_-)v

Today, Friday, I have off because I am required to be in school on both Saturday and Sunday for graduation ceremony. I'll be bored out of my mind except for the 2 hours that is graduation :P

It's raining outside and I've done mostly nothing all day. It's not so much boring as it is making me lethargic. I need to move around. So despite the weather, I went out for a walk. It was nice and I found a really cute shrine that had airsoft gun bbs all over the ground. Some kids must have been having a blast.

I am content (-^^-)


Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's not polite to blow your nose in public. I do it anyway. I don't care.

Right now is "hay fever" season. So most people are pretty congested. Face masks abound. Well, the woman next to me in the teachers office has been sniffling every 4 seconds. (I'm using my stop watch from the interview tests)

Would it be very rude if I handed her a tissue?

I suppose she could just retort with "Alright, Nina, who's the bigger jackass? The one who sniffles annoyingly? Or the one who times the other with a stopwatch?"

Updates through pictures

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recently married father of a beautiful 7 month old son and his baby sister showing me how to brush your teeth the Japanese way.

The day before implementing my 5000yen a week budget, I went to an all you can eat Strawberry farm. I had 50 strawberries and felt kinda sick afterwards, but it was so worth it ;)

I didn't have to teach any classes on Monday but I still went to my mountain school for the soul purpose of baking cookies for the students. Wednesday is the last day of classes. This year, they'll be spending their Nina dollars on cookies and personalised CDs. I finally found something that works, and hey! the school pays for it too. Totally win/win!!

While in the kitchen, I was told that it was three teachers birthdays (there are only about 10 teachers left now so this was kind of a big deal). For the cake, the home ec. teacher made some chocolate faces of the birthday people. I was very impressed. Too bad I left before they cut the cake. I told another teacher to get pictures for me. These things really look like them!!!

Last night my Japanese teacher invited me way up into the mountain where she (and one of my students) lived. They have a large rice farm up there. But instead of spraying pesticides all over them, they use ducks to keep the bugs under control. Every winter and spring they have a big duck feast and then get new ducklings in the summer. This was my first time trying duck Shabu Shabu. Shabu shabu is basically raw meat that is swished around in a thin soup for about 3 seconds. Shabu shabu is the sound it makes while you swirl it around in the soup. It was really good!

And finally, tonight's dinner. Pasta with chicken, steamed broccoli and carrots, squash and garlic bread. How's THAT for healthy bitches!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In one month I'll be going to Sendai to touch base with the host family and look at/apply to the school of my choice. Today is the last day to buy one month in advance discount tickets with the airlines here in Japan (there are only two domestic airlines fyi)

It's gonna cost be about $500 round trip (-.-;) So much for saving money.

If I didn't live on an island I dare say it would be about half as expensive! I'll be thankful to not have to deal with that once I'm gone from Kochi...problem is, after I leave, I'll probably only be traveling to and from Kochi for visits. HA

And for anyone who cares, once you get to a certain price range, all modes of transportation are about the same price. Bus, train or airlines. It doesn't matter once you break the $100-$200 bracket. Now it just is a decision of convenience...


Saturday, February 21, 2009

The interview tests have been going faster than expected. When I first started giving tests two year ago, students were taking so much time that I was having to stay after school with them to finish up. Eventually I started putting a time limit on them. 2 minutes per student. If they finish quickly, they get bonus questions for extra points. If they don't finish then that means they didn't study and I don't have to waste my time waiting for them to hmmm and ssssss about it.

This time around, the students are finishing the test in about 1 minute flat and that includes the bonus questions. I'm surprised! Maybe I made the test too easy....I really don't think so...but it is possible.

Anyway, so I gave the test to three classes yesterday. At the end of the last one, I had a whole 15 minutes left of class to just goof around with the students! So I decided to pull out this "killer wink" game I'd never played before.

Basically, everyone gets a card and stands in a circle. The person who gets a card with a K in it (one person) is now the killer. They have to make eye contact with someone in the circle and wink to kill them. The person can then sit down quietly or make a big scene of their death.

Basically, no one wants to look into anyone else's eyes otherwise they might be killed but the only way to find the killer is to look at who's blinking.

It was a fun game even though it didn't use any English. I don't care.

The problem arose when I realized that not only can most of my students not wink but at least two of the 15 students had eye twitches. So no one could really tell who was winking and who just had a nervous tick! We played the game two times. Both times the killer(both girls) couldn't wink. They could only subtly blink both eyes. I think they attempted killing 5 or 6 people before anyone noticed they were supposed to be dead. On top of that, two boys kept scrunching up their eyes nervously or just, well, twitching!

In the end, not such a good game.

Final thought, my students twitch too much. It happens far more often than I think appropriate. Someone should look into that.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I have been beating my brain trying to think of more things to post about. But life right now is really boring! I don't do anything these days! I go to work then I go home to study Japanese and spend as little money as possible.

School in October is going to cost a fortune and I'd really like to not leave the experience in debt. Which means I've put myself on a 5000yen (little more than $50) a week budget. Do you know how hard that is to stick to?! I've only been doing it since Monday, I've got about 2000yen left to survive the weekend on. I might not make it...

I can't afford Mos burger either! (ToT) Mos Burger is the Japanese McDonald's. I didn't like it at first, but since I've sworn off McD's forever, I find myself more and more addicted to Mos everyday. Thing is, even though it's kinda cheap, it takes around 900yen ($8.50) to satisfy me. And that's IF I don't get myself dessert!

The winter weight is back on, btw, for anyone who cares.

Other than that, my life has been a continuous loop of school, food, study, TV, book, bed. With little to no variation. It's getting depressing actually. I think I officially hate February now. The past three years, February has taken the cake as the worst month of the 12. This years isn't nearly as bad as last years, so that's a plus. But February is the worst and I'll be happy when it's over. And for the record, I think I hate it because of the weather, not because of Vday. Who decided the day of love should be put in such a wretched month?

So, let's see if I can find anything interesting about school to talk about. As of yesterday, I just began interview tests. They will continue every day until the end of next week. If given the choice between interview tests and sitting at my desk bored out of my mind....I think I'd pick the latter. Interview tests are that bad.

200 times to say "What would you like to be in the future?" assuming, of course, that a student doesn't need me to repeat myself.

But to tell the truth, this years students have proved to be much brighter than last years.

Here are two quotes from my more advanced class. They were playing scategories (of sorts) and needed to describe the following words:

Rome - "It's a country in London"
Soap - "It's an item in the bathroom. It's a rock."

Personally, I'm proud of these kids for being able to use any of these vocabulary words! This is a very bright class. Still, they're good for a chuckle.

And that's all for the life of Nina. If I think of something more interesting to write about, I'll be sure to post asap. You may have to wait until I recover from February though.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I went to a Thai party two nights ago. We were required to wear a tie in honor of the "Thai/tie" theme.

I won "worst fashion tie". Which is kinda crap cuz I was looking for something that was going to match my yellow dress that I bought in Thailand. But then Jacob (the host) put it a good way. "Nina, would you ever wear that tie out in public?" No, I guess I wouldn't. And I might just make fun of anyone who did.

My good pal Steven got the award for "most punniest tie". Needless to say, that's a tai snapper he printed out on the school printer ;)

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