Hello everyone! Im finally back.
Its been a while now, and i cant say ive not been busy. As usual, we have had alot of things to do in school. Ive have had a great time, so no worries, but its been hectic. While i do not have as much pictures as when im usually away from this long, i have done some very fun things ill write about.
So firstly, the last 2 weeks have been filled with studying. A few weeks ago, 3(if i remember correctly) i had my first try on the entire Book 2 test, which was about 300 pages, and sadly failed. But no worries, because most people ive talked to did fail it when they took it, people with much much more brain capacity than me, so i just simply set my goals for the 2nd round. On the Friday 2 weeks ago, i got to try out the grammar part of the test, 3 days before anyone else, based on my slower test time. But i did well with 93%, but i do not count that as an achievement because this was my 2nd try with the knowledge of what i did not know the previous time. And what was funny, is that during the time i was studying for my 2nd try on book 2, we were learning new stuff aswell, so alot of that i have a hard time remembering.
But after the weekend, i game a my best on the Vocabulary, Kanji, Interview and listening test. Kanji and vocab went with little problem, but i did not do well in the interview and listening. I have a hard time with answering questions in Japanese where i have to use complex grammar. The listening went well until the last questions, where the speed and difficulty got increased. While its a little sad that i did not pass those subjects, they have not asked me to redo those parts. Might simply be because i am so close to finishing my time here at the school, or because the rest of the score was good enough to pass in general.
But i digress. Even if i would fail every test i take during my last few weeks here at Genki JACS, i would not feel bad at all. I know my ability in Japanese, and scores does not matter. I love this country, its people and its language. I dont want to be the best, or the most elegant sounding person. I just want to speak, without having to worry how i sound, and have people understand me. I know my own abilities and i love learning. I am having fun, and that is all that matters. While you have to focus on learning your subjects and study hard, if you dont have fun while doing so, what is the point? If i do something where im not supposed to laugh while doing it, it is not for me. Life is better with a few giggles and childish jokes from time to time.
So what else has happened? So, 2 weeks ago, me and 2 people from an English learning school, went hiking, visited and Japanese hot spring, and went to a pancake cafe. It is just amazing to go hiking here in Japan, the hills and mountains are just made for it. We all drove to the mountain for about one hour by highway and parked in the nearby town. It was a beautiful little seaside town with a fantastic view of the mountains on one side, and the endless sea on the other. It took us about 3 hours to go up and down the mountain, and after that we continued for about 2 more hours walking to a hill close to the sea. We had great luck with the weather during that day, because even when we were 300 meters above sea level, i could walk in only my t-shirt, even though i still had a cold while climbing.
I had a great time. Great company, great view and we had some great conversations on our way to the top. And when i go hiking, my energy rises sky-high! They had a little hard time keeping up with my dashing back and forth the entire duration of our climbing. I do not know why, but whenever i see a hard to reach area, i usually find it amusing trying to try to hassle my way to it, even if it is simply a tall rock on top of a mountain. And of course use it as my resting place.
And while we were on our way back down, i saw the cutest thing in my life. Just 2 minutes after we left the top, we meet another hiker who was walking her dog up the mountain, and in her big hiking backpack, she had a small cat sticking her head out of the opening, looking confused but excited of her surroundings. I did not take a picture but it was so adorable that she seemed to have brought everyone she could with her. While thinking if i could do that with my cat, i realized that she would probably shred the bag to pieces before entering it.
Once we finished the climb, we went down to the city again and walk through it to a small peak on the other side. Took us maby 20 minutes to walk there and then we saw some amazing sea views. I swear i could have seen the silhouette of Korea.
Once we had finished to hiking, all tired and sweaty, we drove to a Japanese hot spring. It was absolutely fantastic, yet confusing. Firstly, i had a huge brain fart when i first entered the changing room. The key we got to the locker, was a wristband with a few cm wide tag. Inside the tag was the key that you had to peel out to use. I literally had to idea that the key was hiding inside the plastic tag, but i think i had left my brain on that mountain that day, because i also forgot that the number on my tag, might indicate that it means that it only works for that specific locker. But my brain thought it was only a random number. So after asking the man next to me if he has any clue, he showed me to take out the key, and that i had to use it on a specific locker. Sometimes their view that westerners can be extremely dumb, is based on experience. I think i have helped giving that image more than once.
But this is the first time ive been to a Hot spring where i was aware of what your supposed to do. Here are the customs for Hot springs: When you first enter, you put all your stuff inside a locker, like any bath, but that means even any swim suit. The only thing your supposed to bring is your towel. Preferably two towels, one small and one bigger. The bigger one, you leave at the entrance to the showers to dry yourself after, the other you bring to cover yourself if you want, or to dry your sweat. Once you enter the showering area, there is very few standing showers. The more common way of showering before a bath, is to sit down on a upside down plastic bucket infront of a small mirror, shower of your entire body and they usually offer you free shampoo, body soap and gel. After you have made yourself properly clean, you can enter the bath. It is not to far from the western way, but the sitting down while showering and being in such a open and different showering area, made me somewhat confused if i was doing things correctly.
But the bath itself was lovely. It is very quiet in the onsen and the water was extremely hot. To hot for me. I had to leave the inside baths after less than 10 minutes because my head was about to explode. My body is generally very warm and i dont often have a problem with cold, so being in a hot spring with that kind of heat, made my body heat go on overload. Lucky for me, this place had an outside onsen aswell. Going outside, it was still early February, so the weather was still somewhat cold winded, but with the warmth from the water and the small wooden fence covering the bathing area, it was the perfect place for me. usually there is either a step or the floor you can sit on, depending on how much water you want to be covered it, and i sat on the step so only my waist down was covered in water. It. was. perfect! I was both cooled and warmed at the same time.
After just 30 minutes of bathing outside, i felt renewed and almost felt completely rid of my cold!
Other than that, i have been a bit more social than usually. On the 17th, me and my friends went out to celebrate our classmates birthday by going to an Izakaya. We had both Nomihoudai and Tabehoudai for 2 hours. Fantastic price for what we got, and we all had a few drinks. Afterwards we decided to celebrate some more, so we all went to a bar to drink some more. It is so fun to see how Japanese people English, and westerners Japanese become fluent once alcohol is involved. It was an amazing time, and we weren’t done after leaving the bar. Me and 5 others decided to go to a club for a few hours, i think we entered around 11 or 12. This is the first time ive gone to a club in this manner and being as shy as i was, i simply tried to follow my friends and stand on the side. But seeing my friend dance like a professional and all the Japanese people moving their feet one or two centimeters from side to side over and over again, gave me the courage to try out some dancing on my own. I mean if you are gonna do something, then do it for real!
So with a bit of alcohol and renewed courage, i entered the dance floor next to me friends, we had some feet shufflers aswell, but next to the professional, i gave it my all. And it seemed to work! My friends and people around started looking at me and were shocked of the energy i unleashed on the dance floor.
Lets get one thing clear; i do not know how to dance. At all. I looked like Bambi on ice. But i had so much pent up energy and stress that just waited to be unleashed, so i bounced up and down, left and right like a maniac. I dont know what i did, but it seemed like i did it well. I even had one drunk Japanese guy laughing out loud and clapping his hands, while trying to, failing, to follow my dancing.
I had an absolutely fantastic time. Really wish i would have gone out to these events with my friends earlier. Thank you all for an amazing night. I didnt leave the club until half past 3.
Last thing that happened this month, i went to another friends birthday party. This time it was for my classmate i was in the same class as the first few months here, and again for about 2 months until last week. The evening started with about an hour of bowling with surprising results. I somehow ended up winning out of all 5 of us. That is such a surprise, because a few months ago, i went bowling with friends, and i was absolutely last. i Played dreadfully. But this match, i had so many strikes without any idea of what i was doing. I even ended up trying to bowl in a pin costume. It did not end well, because it was very big, and my glasses kept getting stuck in the face opening.
After the bowling had ended, we all went on to eat some curry and a delicious restaurant just closeby. Me and my friend had bought him a photo album where we all wrote small notes to him, next to pictures we had gathered over the year. It was fun to see how happy he got when he received his gift, and i am really going to miss that lovely bastard once i go back home.
But putting that photo album together made me very emotional. It gave me the shock that, now it is only 2 more weeks of school, as of writing this update. 2 more weeks of school and one more month of being in Japan. Time flies. I have now been in Japan for 11 months. It felt like last week that i first saw the beautiful pink flowers of the Cherry blossoms.
It felt like 10 days ago that i went to Iki island and saw how breathtaking the sea view of Japan could be. When i first separated with my host family, who i miss immensely.
It felt like one week ago that i first went hiking along the mountain road to confirm that the Japanese nature is the most beautiful in the world. Me getting reminded of how great my friends here in Japan are.
It felt like 5 days ago that i went to Hokkaido and reached the end of Japan, the furthest point of the Japanese mainland. And once again getting reminded of how amazing the Japanese hospitality can be by even complete strangers.
It felt like last night that i spend an entire evening laughing with my friends and having the time of my life, feeling like all the problems of the world was in the distant past.
It felt like last night, i realized that it will all come to an end very soon.
I am so happy for my time here in Japan. I have seem things i never thought i would get to see in my life. I have met people that have made me stronger and made me see things from a whole new perspective. I have learned things that i will carry with me until the day i die.
I will never forget my time in this amazing country and with the amazing people ive met.
I want to spend my last time here having fun with my friends. I want to see the few last things i can while i still have time. But even if i didnt get to check of all the things i wanted to see in Japan, i will come back. I will need to go back and recharge my energy. But i will be back. One day, i wish to move to Japan. Spend a very long time here to truly learn what Japan really is. To make more friends from the other side of the world, and learn better how to speak this complicated, but fantastic language.
I love you Japan. And i hope you love me back.