Friday, March 20, 2009

I am finally here!

Oh boy. It seems like such a long time coming. The flights over were great. On the second one-the shorter one-I sat next to a Japanese man, and said "Konban wa", and then the rest is history. We talked the whole flight in Japanese, and in English, and it was wonderful!! It was a great cultural experience, especially since we`d just arrived in Japan earlier that day. Oh man, what a fantastic experience.

Jason Barrows picked us up and treated us to dinner! Our first meal was a benki, which is typically a box lunch type thing in Japan. It had vegetable and shrimp tempura with tons of rice. Afterward, I felt a little sick. That feeling continued for a couple days, and it`s only gone away today. I went for a run the first morning I was here, which would have been yesteday. It was great to be outside, running around in Sapporo. :D

Emotionally, I am doing okay. I`ve been feeling a lot of different ways throughout my first couple days here. I`ve been mostly down, but I am definitely on the upswing of it, and I am doing fine. I am excited for all the other BCA students to come tomorrow night and for the Honshu trip that we will leave for on Tuesday! Sapporo is pretty chilly now, which is definitely a shock, coming from Hawaii. Honshu is a little warmer, so that will be nice. I can`t wait. I haven`t taken too many pictures yet, but I know I will on the 10 day trip coming up.

Later today, Kate and I hope to go to the 100\ store to look at all the cool things they have. We`ve heard great things about them. I might try to find some post cards today too.

Also yesterday, a BCA student who is here for a year, took us around some of Sapporo via the subway. It was neat to see around the different parts of this large city. His nickname is Zero...I am not sure what his real name is since no one calls him by it. We also went into Yodobashi Camera. This is like the biggest electronic store in Hokkaido, and it was a neat experience. It was sooooo busy and chaotic. I liked that environment. It said a lot about the culture.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Host Family info!

Oh yea!! Kate and I received our host family information today, and I will be staying with the Ito family in Sapporo!! Yayayaya!! We were soooo excited to get this information. It looks like I'll be taking the bus to school, and it's about a 35 minute commute. They have two kids, but they are both older than I am, so they won't be in the house. I can't wait to meet them.

Hawaii is heavenly!

Looking out at the big crater.

Looking up the spiral stairs as we climbed to the top!

The daunting stairs on Diamond Head.

On top of Diamond Head looking out at Downtown Hawaii.

This was one of our first spectacular views from the Bamboo Forest.

One of my favorites. Seriously. I was just on a random ledge overlooking the beach. :)

This is me on a random stone wall we found one morning while exploring!

So...I've been in Hawaii for a little less than 60 hours, and I have done so much already. I ate sushi, sashimi, eel, oysters, shrimp, and lots more at this Japanese restaurant two nights ago. We also had what's called "Mochi" for dessert...It's basically ice cream wrapped in this rice dough. Good!

Yesterday, Kate, Toby, and I climbed Diamond Head Crater. It was a great morning workout...haha. We took lots of pictures and video. Hope I can upload them soon! The views were almost too much to take in, and so many times I found myself just staring off at the mountains. Part of me feels like I am in a different country, but I have to keep reminding myself that this is still the U.S. We also went to the beach and just observed many crabs, starfish, and regular fish. :) We came back and ate lunch, and then headed out yet again. This time, Kate and I were off to Waikiki! We spent a little time at the beach, and then walked around some more. It was very sunny, and the two of us just enjoyed being out in the sunshine. :D It was great to be out and about on our own, so we could experience a little bit of Hawaii by ourselves, and it could be whatever we made of it. We ended up catching the bus to Safeway, a grocery midway between Waikiki and the house. Kate bought some last-minute stuff, and we trekked back home. It was a good two miles. That was our evening workout. :)

The two of us have been incredibly active, and I am so proud. I always said that I didn't want to give up running and all that, so I am so glad that I have already had opportunities to keep my fitness going! Kate is also very excited about being active! Together, we're quite the team.

This morning, we woke up around 6, and then went out for a run and walk. I ran and Kate walked. The house is on what I think is a giant hill, so going down wasn't a problem at all! I also explored some in town, and I even got to see the University of Hawaii campus as Toby suggested. And then I headed back. When I made it to the final mile, the mile-long hill with an average incline of 45 degrees, I looked at my watch and it said 25 minutes. Okay, it took me about 10 to get down, and I knew it would take a lot longer to get back up. Here goes! I got off to a great start, but eventually I began walking. Even then, it was tough. Throughout, I would walk the flat areas, and then run as much of the uphill stretches as I could. It was a wonderful morning workout. I ran into Kate about halfway up, and she was headed back as well. I ran ahead, but only made it to the house about 7 minutes before she did. I looked at my watch, and it said 47 minutes. Lol. Let's see if I can still do math...It took me 22 minutes to get to the top! I am hoping to beat that tomorrow when I run!

Also today, the three of us went to the North Shore Beach. We again looked out for crabs and fish, which was really neat. Toby is so knowledgeable when it comes to aquatic life, so I imagine it was a real treat for him to be able to show us all the cool things he sees quite a bit. Then, we went to Waimali(?) beach where there is an annual surf contest held in the "winter", only if the waves are above 25 ft. Today they were maybe 5 ft, but they were great for Kate and I who are from the midwest and were out there to just enjoy the water! I love playing in the waves and all the enjoyment that comes with it. It was truly wonderful. Again, the scenery was gorgeous. In all directions we could see mountains, rocks, and all sorts of trees. Kate even spotted a whale. I might've seen it, but I can't be entirely sure. Lol.

We played around for over an hour, and then headed off to a turtle bay and saw a huge turtle who looked like he was beached on the shore. Lots of people were around getting pictures with it and such. Kate and I took pictures with it too! Our next excursion was to Costco! I love this place! They have so many bulk goods-they're a lot like Sam's Club-and we bought some things for people back in Indiana! Later in the afternoon, we mailed them, so I hope they get there soon!

Tonight we ate Korean cuisine for was interesting. I liked the majority of it, but the seaweed is going to take some getting used to...Again, we ate with chopsticks. I can say that all the dinners I've eaten in Hawaii have been with chopsticks. :)

Since we leave tomorrow around noon, our time in Hawaii is coming to an end, but it's been a great visit. I've loved getting to know the Drivers, and I have yet to look at anything in Hawaii with a crinkled nose. It's truly paradise, and I love it very much. It definitely compares to the places in the Caribbean that I've seen, and by August it may get my vote for best island. :D And also, tonight is my last night in the U.S. for quite some time. That's kind of scary. I'll definitely be having cereal for breakfast tomorrow since I have no idea when I'll be able to eat it again. We are doing some last-minute laundry, and then we'll finish repacking for tomorrow.