Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Finishing my internship

So I am finished my internship and Liz arrives tomorrow! Sorry for not writing for so long but I have been busy. Maybe because it's my last month, but this month has been really great. With AIESEC I have been making documents and giving many presentations, including one in front of a classroom of 300 students. I didn't talk much but I was surprised that my legs didn't buckle under me. It was fun but I wish I had more time to prepare since I only found out a couple hours before hand what I had to do. Also, I've been going out for lunch and dinner with AIESEC members a lot too.
AIESEC event for "First Step" at a recycle station

One of the highlights of the last couple of weeks was what the people here call "Cake Viking". It's essentially a cake buffet but there was also pasta and a few other items that you could call lunch. The cakes were sooo good though and they were light so you could lots. Well I could anyways. After that, we (AIESEC members and I) went to take some purikura (sticker pictures) and sang some karaoke. Karaoke is cheap if you go during the day, like $1.30 for half an hour compared to the night time rate of over $12 per half hour. That was fun even though I have no talent for singing.

I also watch Blood Diamond at Midland Square at Nagoya Station. They have leather seats and prices are cheaper if you go to a late show. And by cheap I mean like $12. Normally it would cost $18. You know you're in Japan when...

Johny had another party at his house and this time he made okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake). It was the best okonomiyaki that I've ever had! Also, Johny helped me pick some Japanese movies to watch. I thought I could start learning Japanese by watching more Japanese movies...of course with English subtitles!

A random event was joining a club at Nagoya City University for a tea ceremony practice. I was teaching English to some AIESEC members and an exchange student who knew the AIESECers came by to talk to us. He told us he was there for tea ceremony and the AIESECer members insisted that I try it out so I did. It was a pretty unique experience and thank goodness it was really informal. Everything is done in a special way like how you enter the room, how you open and close the door, how to accept your sweets, how to drink your tea, how to admire your cup, etc. It was hard for me to take in everything that was going on because I was told to bow a lot. There was a girl making tea in a pot that was set inside of the floor and there were girls entering the room to bring us sweets and clear away the dishes and cups. There's also a little fan that you have to place a certain way depending on what is going on. So, that was just a quick rundown of tea ceremony. The room that we were practicing in was really cute. It had a tiny door and the Australian guy was REALLY tall so he looked funny trying to crawl through it. We all had to crawl through it so that's how tiny the door was.

I saw Sarah for the last time on Sunday. It felt like a normal day until she mentioned that it is most likely the last time that we saw each other....maybe even forever. That made me feel weird. I thought I was used to people coming and going since that was how it was like with the interns in Calgary. Well, for this special occassion, luck was not on our side. We tried to watch a movie but couldn't find the theatre. We tried another one but that one had closed down already so we were on a wild goose chase. Of course it also started to rain and we were both already sick. We ended up just having lunch and shopping. Oh well, at least I got to see Sarah!

Also, I started packing! I HATE packing and like I expected, I have too much stuff. And taking all the clothes that I don't want to the recycle station takes an enormous effort since there are specific times and each location only has one day of the week were you can chuck your stuff. Not only that but I have to ride my bike to the recycle station and I have a lot to leave behind. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Izakaya, more cartilage please!

So I had the privilege of joining the boys for some izakaya at their favorite hang out. Izakaya is a Japanese style pub where people have a few drinks over some appetizers. On Friday nights, this type of place gets filled by business men but on a Monday night, I guess the students take over?
Chicken gizzard, chicken heart and something discribed as being near the liver.

Chicken cartilage and fried noodles in the background.

Anyways, this wasn't anything like the izakaya that I've been to before. The boys ordered some of their favorite dishes which included chicken heart, liver, gizzard and even cartiledge! The cartiledge was a bit weird for me. I had a hard time believing that our bodies could digest it. The weirdness continues. Have you ever had a deep fried garlic? The whole thing just chucked into the deep fryer, then served. It is a little bit toned down from the thing raw but it still tasted like garlic.
Deep Fried Garlic.

Deep fried rape blossoms.

Not everything was out of the ordinary though. There was katsu (pork) on a stick, some fried noodles, fried mochi (rice cake) with soy sauce, and a many other things. I'm glad that I tagged along on what is a normal activity for a Japanese person. I feel educated somehow.
Deep fried mochi with soy sauce. I love mochi!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ieyasu Festival in Okazaki

I went to a festival in Okazaki (Ieyasu Festival) where Sarah (Kent’s friend) lives. It was a pretty big festival. Something like Heritage Days in Edmonton and this city is only 500,000 people. I guess a lot of people from neighboring cities come out for this event. There were a lot of booths selling food and I went all out and tried as much as I could. There was also a parade and a big performance where I got to see archers on horses, people dressed in armor, people with guns firing blanks, a little show with a shogun and his small army, girls from the Miss Okazaki contest, dancers, etc. It was a lot of fun and the cherry blossoms were sooo pretty. When evening falls, light bulbs in the trees are lit up and it gets really romantic by the time nighttime comes around. And all this is along the bank of a river!
I stayed after the festival to hang out with Sarah and her co-workers. I really enjoy being around a variety of people. It was funny because there were 3 Australians from different parts of Australia and they were making fun of each other. It’s like rivalry between Calgary and Edmonton. Also, I learned that there are no lions in Australia, something that I never thought about but something that did come up in a conversation about the Australian outback. :D
Another thing that I discovered was that there is a train station near my house. So instead of walking to the subway and riding it half an hour north to transfer to a train that passes by my place anyways, I could have walked the same distance to the train station as the subway station. Oh well, you live and you learn.

Pictures: http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2093376225

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Adventures of Little Miss dTran

I went for a bike ride today despite signs of rain. I wanted to get to the mall across the city mostly because I was feeling guilty from eating so much junk food lately. I also wanted to see if I could do it. Well, I got lost many times and ended up biking on small roads with no sidewalks. That should have been a sign that I was not on the right roads but I made it about an hour later. It started to rain just before I got to the mall and it was still raining when I left. I still managed to get lost going home. I ended up in a park with few lampposts and I got kind of scared. I panicked but kept going. What choice did I have? I made it home in one piece so that little adventure was well worth it.

At least I found a park that had really pretty cherry blossoms on the way. My little bonus.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Back in AIESEC's hands

So my boss has decided that for my last month in Japan, I am to work for AIESEC. My work is passed onto the AIESEC members and/or the guitar club at the university because I can't play the guitar well enough to test an oscillator thingie by ear. Something like that. I am to this day curious as to why I was selected for my job. I specifically made clear that my guitar playing abilities were nil although I did make an effort to try after getting the job.

Anyways, it took me a while to find out that I had been traded in. And on my first day at my new office, I sat in on a meeting held 99% in Japanese by AIESEC staff. I think they were trying to figure out what to do with me since I was such an abrupt addition. I heard my name mentioned a few times, and they stopped once in awhile to ask me questions. That was the 1% held in English. I have worked for AIESEC for just one week and I LOVE it. I am much more busier now but I'm doing something a lot more meaningful. My tasks are 1. Help with recruitment, 2. Develop tools with the Incoming Exchange portfolio, 3. Teach AIESEC members English, 4. Work on the environmental project called "First Step".

This week I have been working on recruitment. I have been working on a presentation to be shown next week at the 3 Induction seminars. Yesturday, I helped passed out flyers to the stream of freshmen flowing into the university. It's quite funny how all the clubs move in on this steam and load up the freshmen with flyers. Never have I seen so much paper flying about.
Today, AIESEC set up a booth along with all the other clubs and we worked hard on selling AIESEC. I was tired but I think it was mostly the sun that zapped my energy. I like sunlight but find that I get irratated from it quite easily. This coming from a person who's traveling south Asia for 2 months soon. Oh dear.

Anyways, it is finally the week-end and the cherry blossoms are still a bloomin!

Pictures: http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2093682762

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ohanami (Flower gazing)

Today the AIESEC members and I went out for a picnic under the cherry blossom trees. Cherry blossoms have a short blooming period so the park was packed with people. We got a spot next the the soccor field which was a dirt field unlike what I'm used to seeing in Canada with grass and lots of mosquitos! Anyways, on occasions like these, drinking alcohol in public is permitted so we spent a good deal of the day sitting, eating and drinking. Actually, I've seen a group of grown men drinking alcohol in the middle of a busy train station once, and also in the middle of the airport come to think of it. So I don't really know what the rule is.

I also get to bike to work under the cherry blossoms. It's so nice with the petals slowly coming down on you. Why can't they stay longer???

Pictures: http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2093796344&idx=0