Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I feel like I have a lot to write about.

I first have to tell you that I just received two letters today!!! After Japanese class, I usually check my mail, since it`s in the same building, and what do you know!! Two letters were in my box! One from my "gambling granny" and another from Auntie Joyce!!! I am so happy that they sent me letters. I remember when I first saw them, tears came to my eyes because I was so excited to hear from them, and I was greatly anticipating reading them. I love hand-written notes!! So, class today was okay...everyone is starting to get into the routine of everything here in Japan, so we are all pretty tired. It`s starting to get a little harder...harder as in, I am a little less bored in class...One more day until the weekend...I believe we are going to Karaoke tomorrow night. Oh yea!! I am SOOOOO excited for karaoke tomorrow. Satomi is coming! She`s one of my favorite people here. Her, Kate, Alyssa, and I are totally going to sing チョコレートヂスコ, and it`s going to be wonderful. Elias and I will definitely sing BYOB tomorrow too. We totally rock out at that song. :D

This weekend at my house, we are having a "Welcome to the Ito Family, Natalie" Party...lol. Like that is really a name. Anywho, I will have the chance to meet their children and grandchildren!! I am very excited about it. Honestly, one of my favorite parts of being here is feeling like I am a part of their family, so I CAN`T WAIT until Saturday!! We`ll probably have a cookout, speak in Japanese, and take lots of pictures. Sounds perfect to me. On Sunday, we will also be going to a concert, at which my host cousins(??) will be singing at. They are my host parents` grandsons, but I don`t know how to classify my relationship with them...no matter.

Yesterday, I made a pretty big decision. Beforehand, I talked with Aunt Liz, Uncle Wayne, and my dad for a while just about my options and the benefits of each decision. I really felt comforted to talk to them, and I was so glad that I was able to hear their voices. I wish I could have talked with them longer and about other things, but given the circumstances, I was just thankful to be talking with them. Thank you, Jason!! After that, I checked my email, and read what I needed to read. You know who you are, so thanks a million! I pretty much had my mind made up, but I thought a good run would do me good in this situation. So, I went to the ぎむ-gym-here at Hokusei, and ran a 5K. It was weird. All the machines measure distance and speed in kilometers...hahah. Good thing I am a Math major! I ran it in less than 26 minutes...that`s pretty close to a personal best for anyone who is curious out there...okay, now I am just babbling...After my run, I had some うどん for lunch, and then told everyone what I had decided. I decided yesterday that I am going to stay in Japan for another semester. :D It took me FOREVER to decide, either way. I mean, it came down to the wire, so I was stressing a lot about it. I am still unwinding. There is a chance that I can still graduate on time, but I`ll worry about that when I get home...I am planning to still come home in August after the week in Hawaii, so I will be able to visit for maybe 2 weeks before I head out for another semester. The program here ends on December 13, so I will be home for Christmas!! I am definitely lucky to have this opportunity, and I have always been someone who seizes the opportunities life has to offer. Initially, this wasn`t an obvious decision, but I believe it fits with what I want and need. :D I am already looking forward to so much next semester: even more time to learn and practice Japanese, more time with people here, another Honshu trip, and personal growth! Oh yea, I kept hearing this thing about more life experience? Yea, I might get some of that too. Haha, that was a joke. Please feel free to laugh. :D

After lunch, I went with Kate, Elias, and Mira to Shin Sapporo, which is about a 30 minute walk from school. We went there so Mira could pick up her alien card, and I wanted to go to this international food store to check out the taco supplies. I am making tacos for my host family on Showa day...next Wednesday! They had a pretty good selection of stuff, so I shouldn`t have any problems. The highlight of yesterday was the picture booth we went to!!! I love these things, and I wish they were more popular in the States. We made all these crazy poses, and they turned out great! I wish I could upload them to here, so you all can see them. Another cool part about yesterday was that we ran across the street a lot. Lol, that sounds dangerous. Let me be more clear. At the cross walks, when the light was green, we ran a lot, instead of walking. It was originally Mira`s idea, but we all got into it. I especially loved it! We always ran across when the light started to blink just so we would definitely make it. Other times, we would line up at the cross walks when the light was red, and then we would race across when the light turned green. Homemade-FUN!!! That`s the best kind.

Last weekend, Jason took me, Kevin, Elias, and Kate out for cheese ramen and gioza! YUM! This may be my favorite Japanese meal. It`s sooo spicy, in a great way, and the cheese tastes so good! Be jealous. Only a little. It`s funny because he also took Kate and I there one of the first days we were in Japan, and we couldn`t finish the whole bowl, because it was so big. Now, we have no problem. I could`ve eaten more!! I should start taking pictures of my food. That would be neat to show you all.

Last night, I had fried fish, rice, udon, and tofu for dinner. お母さんwas at a meeting, so I ate dinner with just 音尾さん. It was interesting. The table was definitely quieter, but it wasn`t awkward or anything. Our conversation was based on important things...the weather, and what I did earlier in the day...lol. That`s about all I knew. And, of course, that the food was おいしい。We also had anto last night, and again, it wasn`t bad! I may actually be out of that phase. Thank Goodness. (I could so quote Wicked again...)

On Tuesday, Kotaro and Rise, two of Jason`s assistants, showed off their musical talents at Cafe Coen! Kotaro on the guitar and Rise on the piano. It reminded me of home. I thought about the time that Josh played for Brit and I, and the band/choir concert around Christmas time were the memories that came to mind. It was a lot of fun to just hang out, and have a low key experience. They are both very good at their instruments, and I hope to hear them play again soon. Oh, I have to tell you this. Rise can play the Mario tunes on the piano!! I was soooooo amazed. I want her to teach me. I know she will if I ask her, so hopefully, I`ll be able to learn! That`s all I can remember now...but I feel caught up. I have two videos that I want to put up, so we`ll see if they work or not.

Don`t touch my mustache!
video

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Segoi ne!!

We made origami last night at dinner!!!

"This could be Jesus."-Kevin

Kate and I after climbing up a hill.

The four of us at our "picnic" in the woods.

This is the one where only I followed the rules!!

And here is when everyone finally went along with the timer rules. :)

video
That is Elias doing something funny.

What else can I update about??? On Monday, Kate, Kevin, Elias, and I went for a bike ride on the usual cycling path. Kate and I, being the adventurers that we are, climbed up this very steep hill just for the heck of it. The boys just stood and watched. Also, Kate brought some wonderful bread, and we had a mini picnic as we stood in the woods. And, most of the bread had anto in it. Now, I know what you`re thinking, "Natalie doesn`t like that stuff...." Well she might now. :D It tasted a lot better than it ever did on the Honshu trip, so I may actually like it now. Yay!!! In on of the group pictures, everyone but me is looking really relaxed and unemotional. Umm, that`s because they are jerks and didn`t follow the rules of the camera timer!! Lol. How it works is, I set the camera to take two pictures, one all smilely(is that even a word??) and then the second one all goofy. You see how it turned out...lol. I am always the one to fall for that kind of stuff!! No matter, we are a great group. :D

Before we went for this little bike ride, I went for a run outside in shorts and a t-shirt!! It was such a nice day. Originally, I planned to run inside on the track, but as I was walking from class to the gym, I realized just how nice it was. I couldn`t pass up the nice weather...so I ran for 42 minutes. I am not sure how many miles or anything, but it was a great run. :D I am also thinking about running in a couple races here in Sapporo. Probably a 10K first, and then, hopefully a mini-marathon after that! I am very excited about this possibility, and I am anxious to run in more races. Let`s see....yesterday was a fabulous night at dinner. We had this weird egg omelet type of food with rice in the middle. Actually, the egg acted more like a wrap, and the rice in the middle was mixed with onions and ketchup. Yes, I said ketchup. Lol, it was delicious, needless to say.