Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 Resolutions


When I was more serious about blogging, I would do a post about my New Year's resolutions at the start of every single year! I felt that if I publicly announced my resolutions online for all my friends and followers to see, I would have a better chance at staying true to my resolutions throughout the year! However, this year, I want to try something a little different!

Recently, a very popular YouTube Tag has been floating around the internet. The tag is called "Mimei's End of the Year Tag!" and it was first created by Mimei, an extremely popular YouTuber in Japan. After watching several of my friends' video responses to Mimei's Tag last month, I decided that I wanted to participate in the tag as well! So for my annual resolution's post this year, I want to share my answers to the five questions mentioned in Mimei's End of the Year Tag!

① 今年の一番よかったことは何ですか?
What was the best thing that happened to you this year?

Hands down, the best thing that happened to me in 2013 was the opportunity to live and work at a Japanese university for six months! Although there were times that were really difficult and disappointing for me, and in some ways my time at the university could even be considered as my worst/most challenging moment of 2013... but looking back now, I realize that the good times outweigh the bad times, and if I could go back in time I wouldn't change a thing. I learned so much about teaching, about Japanese culture, and about myself. I made friendships that will last a lifetime!

② 今年の一番悪かったことは何ですか?
What was the worst/most challenging thing that happened to you this year?

The most challenging thing that happened to me this year was going to the Philippines in November, and witnessing the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Typhoon Yolanda) and the 4.8 magnatude earthquake of Bohol first hand.

To give you guys an idea of why this was my "worst/most challenging thing" from 2013, here's an excerpt from a Tumblr post I wrote while I was in Cebu:
Yesterday, I went to the northside of Cebu with my neighbors. We witnessed some of the damage from the earthquake/typhoon, and we passed out some food to the hungry kids that were begging on the side of the roads. We probably visited 5 different towns, and there were begging children in every single town. Adults waited in long lines, waiting for a truck with relief goods and their daily meal (juice and sandwiches) to arrive. The further north we went, things kept getting worse. I saw houses that had the roof ripped off, with the walls completely crumbled apart―and yet, you could still see the family still inside, sitting together at the kitchen table. I saw women scavenging though waste that was once a house; completely destroyed. Guys, it’s really bad here.
I think this trip really opened my eyes. In the past, I was involved in several relief charities for Japan's Tohoku disaster in 2011, but I never saw anything up close and personal like this.

This one hit home, literally.

③ 今年の一番好きだったゲーム、アニメ、アプリ、曲などを紹介してください!
Tell us about your favourite game, TV show, app, song, etc. of 2013!

Favorite Games: Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Pokemon X.

TV Shows: When I was living at the university, me and my coworkers would to extremely lengths so that we could meet up one night every week and watch the new episodes of Game of Thrones' season 3! However, GoT has been my favorite since 2012, hasn't it? My favorite TV Show discovered in 2013 is Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人), and I am OBSESSED with it. I've read the manga, and marathoned the episodes 3-4 times already... and I only first discovered this show in December. This is such a big deal because I don't usually like anime, or manga. Someone recommended watching Attack on Titan when I needed to get my mind off things, and I decided to give it a try! I finished all the episodes, one after another rapid-fire, in one sitting! Such an amazing, thought-provoking series.

Because I don't have a favorite App, I want to mention my favorite movies of 2013 instead!

Favorite Movies: Warm Bodies, The Wolverine (Samurai), From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から), Ender's Game, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaog, and Disney's Frozen!

Favorite Songs: This is really hard for me because I've never really had favorite songs. Recently, I've been replaying "Daft Punk" by Pentatonix, and several songs from Rebecca Ferguson, though. Does that count? Oh, I know! "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk, and "Blurred Lines" from Robin Thicke, are probably the two most memorable songs from 2013 so maybe I should pick those?

④ 今年買ってよかったもの三つ紹介してください!
Show us the 3 best things you bought this year!

Working at the university last year was my very first job, and I would get a fairly large paycheck every other week. Naturally, I used most of it on food and necessities, but sometimes I would splurge and get myself something nice! It's a really nice feeling to buy things for yourself, and not have to rely on parents or family members to lend you money.

I got myself a new laptop (with an external monitor and keyboard), the new Animal Crossing game, and the DVD box sets for Game of Thrones seasons one and two! (Actually, season two was a gift from my dad after leaving the hospital though. Whoops, thanks dad!)


⑤ 新年の抱負はありますか?
What's your New Year's Resolution?

My resolution for 2014 is to become more healthy, to update my blog more often, and to finally move to Tokyo! I've had so many hospital scares this year, and developed one too many unhealthy habits along the way... these are things that I don't want to bring to Japan with me!

I just want to reach a point were I am content with everything in my life, and learn to accept the things that I can't change! Whether that be something personal, or something about the country I'm living in!

Short and sweet, that's my resolution for 2014. I need to stay true to it!

タグする人はだれですか?I tag: Jade from Marikkuma, Hana from Visual Barbie, my best friend Cristy, and everyone who reads this! Please post your links in the comments below if you do the tag!

What are YOUR favorite moments from 2013, and your resolutions for 2014? Please let me know!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Out with the old, in with the new!


So, nearly one whole year ago, I said that I started living and working at a Japanese university! Since then, I've been getting endless emails and messages about what happened with that, and why I disappeared... I wish I could come up with some overly dramatic story-excuse that ultimately ends with me venturing off to a different planet and marrying an extraterrestrial, but sadly I can't do that. So instead, I want to tell everyone the summary of what happened, and what's been going on since then, and then move onto more exciting things! After all, isn't that what people typically do during new years?

So where do I begin?

I was living at the university for almost 6 months before leaving in June. I decided to not return for a future session with new students because of several very personal reasons. One of the main reasons, though, was because my grades in school were going down the toilet since the very first day. Before moving, I was getting 4.0s in Psychology classes, but then after moving I was getting 1.0s and 0.0s... Eventually, I stopped doing my homework all together because my job was so demanding. I would use sleeping as a way to get rid of my stress and frustrations, and I could literally sleep for days. It got so bad that I would only wake up to teach my one-hour lessons 5 times a week, and to perform roll-call every other night. I was skipping all my meals, and didn't bother going to the grocery store. I had several hospital scares, and freaked out my family with several late-night calls for a lift to the hospital. Although I loved living "alone", I didn't know how to take care of myself.

At the end of my session, I was actually offered a scholarship to become a student at the main university in Japan for one year. In the end, I refused because although it would've made getting to Japan much easier for me―I couldn't force myself to accept. I was, however, extremely honored!

After saying all these somewhat negative things, I want to make it known that I did have some pretty amazing experiences with my students that I will never, ever forget! I really cherish our time together, and I miss them almost every day...

Group 14!

I promise to dedicate an entire post to posting pictures and stories from my life at the university someday! This topic is still in desperate need of some proper closure!

After leaving the university, I started pouring my efforts into a website that I had been running since February. It was a Japanese language learning forum that I created so that I would have something to do during my free time at the university. The website eventually garnered over 200 members, with over 2400 posts on the site. Four of my friends eventually joined me in moderating the website as staff members, and on October 6th, 2013, we moved the entire site to a brand new, fully functional website―completely designed by us! We held a contest so that our members could pick our new name, and design a logo for us! And so, we became Gaiwa (shorthand for Gaijin no Kaiwa, or simply, "Foreigner's Conversation").

Almost one year ago, this site was nothing more than a cheap forum website that I created on a whim. Now, it has become a tool for people like me who are learning Japanese! This website has become a dream come true for me. It is an opportunity for me to help others with their Japanese, to educate, to share my work, and to make awesome new friends! You see, actually, five years ago I gave up my dream to become a writer so that I could study Japanese, and pursue English teaching someday. This website made it possible for me to realize all my different dreams, and I now write weekly Japanese-related articles on the homepage for our members and followers to read! So many people enjoy reading the articles, and I get so many emails from members conveying their love for the site... I just can't wait to see what Gaiwa will become in 2014! It's exciting!

If you haven't joined yet, please do consider joining! Especially if you are studying Japanese, and are interested in taking part in an online Japanese learner's community! The site is completely free to join, just click on the "forum" and sign up now!

And now for the best news of all...

After saying things like "next year, I'll be in Japan!" for nearly two years now, it is finally happening for real! Next year, in May (whoops, August) I am moving to Tokyo so that I can attend the university of my dreams! Since I finished all the requirements last November, and I am now eligible to begin the application process next month! I can't say too much about this now, but when I have more information―I promise to update you all through this blog! Either way, you'll be hearing more from me!

One of the reasons that I decided to blog now, instead of waiting for May (*ahem* August), is that I want to make sure that my blog has plenty of memories from America that I can look back on later! So many exciting things could happen from now until May (AUGUST), and even though most of it will probably be unrelated to Japan, I want to write about all of it and share it with all of you!

So please consider to support me, before and after my departure to Tokyo!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

久しぶり! Exciting new job!


Hey everyone! It's been four months since my last post ... ouch! 

I really wanted to do a 2013 New Years Resolution post, but so many things happened in January and I literally had no time to do any of the things I wanted to do! I have never, ever, been so busy in my entire life! I am the type of person who needs to take a break, and be alone, every other day. Because of this, I had a mental break down and needed to take some time to figure out how to manage my life again.

That sounds horrible! Why are you so busy? → I got my very first job! ♥

It involves me moving to this campus...

 And it involves me moving into this house...

...where I will be in charge of 12 Japanese female students!

I am so insanely excited about this job, but I am even more nervous about it. I've been stressing out a lot lately, and I am still unsure about how capable I am for this job. This has always been my dream job.

Actually, I first applied for this job in 2011. I've been maintaining extremely strong connections with the school since I was seven years old, and so it seemed natural for me to apply for the job. I was hired, but―several days later―they let me go after seeing my grades ... which were far below their high standards for the university-level positions. Everyone involved was devastated, and I gave up in ever getting this job...

A few days before Christmas, 2012, the director called and said that she wanted me to reapply for the position! Of course, I couldn't say no, but I regretted saying "yes!" the moment I said it. My interview was scheduled for January 11. I really really thought that I wasn't going to get the job, and that this was going to be more embarrassing than the first time. However, I was wrong! Dead wrong! They called me back on January 14th.
                                     Oh, and I got the job!!!

The week after getting this job, I was so shaky! In the mornings, I often lost my balance and fell over. I threw up a lot. This was the point where I had my mental breakdown, but for the most part―that's all behind me now.

So, what kind of job is it? What kind of school is this?
I will be living and working at a Japanese Women's University (abroad campus), on the outskirts of the town I currently live in. Here, I'll be living in a house on campus with twelve female students for several months, as their Resident Assistant (RA). This means that I have to help them adjust to American culture, and help them with their English. I have to counsel them through home sickness and culture shock. I have to advise them if they need help, I have to tour them around the city, and I have to teach them how to get around and stay out of trouble. I also have to provide 4 tutorials a week, from 7PM until 8PM.

Among many other things ...... >____<

There are about 21 RAs during my "session". The houses we live in are huge, and hundreds of years old. Most of the residential houses were originally two separate houses, but were joined as one for the purpose of this school. I will actually be living with another RA and her 10 students. She was assigned to the right side of the house, and I have the left. (She has the kitchen, the TV, and the bigger tutorial room―GRRR―but, I have the laundry room, and most the fireplaces. Let's see who will win this war.)

This is quite a prestigious school, and a lot of the students here are very wealthy. Most of the professors and their families live on campus with us, and we have 24.7 security on campus. It feels like a mini village, because everything we need is here on campus. We have a phone book with the extensions for mechanics, housekeepers, IT guys, cafeteria chef, etc. Our mail can also be delivered here, which I thought was nice. ♥
I can't reveal the name of the school because I want to keep my location private for the meantime, sorry! :(

Tomorrow, I will drive out to the campus and move into my house. So nervous. 
Training/Orientation will also start tomorrow, and will end Saturday afternoon. 

I will pick up my students from the airport on the 6th, and so I've been working on some crafts to liven up the house. Mainly a welcome sign for the airport, and 13 nameplates for our rooms. My friend is making cute bows for everyone, and so I'm going to put those in their rooms as well. I really hope that they like everything!
...... definitely not done yet ......

Bah. I'll get the names of my students tomorrow, so I'll finish the other nameplates on Saturday or Sunday. My boss won't give out the names early,... which is a little odd. Humbug.

Look forward to many, many more posts relating to my new life at this school! This is my very first job, and the very first time I've been away from my parents ... so, naturally, I'm very very nervous. But, as am aspiring teacher, I know how valuable this job is for me. There are sooo many connections at this school, and I know for a fact that Japanese companies go cray cray for people involved with this university. This is my chance!
If I do well, my possibilities and opportunities in Japan are absolute, and endless.

Oh! Look forward to several posts involving...
House Tour Video / Campus Tour Video
Late Christmas Presents
New → Japanese Learning Forum ← Information
New Series: "Home Alone"―living alone for the first time.

So nervous. So excited.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Laziness within the Oregon Coastline


Sometimes I really cannot believe how lazy I am. 
It's been two months since my last post! I am so, so ashamed! This blog has an incredible amount of sentimental value for me, and I'm hardly using it...

This summer has been all about self-discovery for me. I spent too much time in the shoes of someone I'm not entirely proud of, and before I go to Japan - that needs to change. I spent a lot of time sitting and thinking, doodling sketches and using my Japanese as much as possible. Eventually, I think I pushed myself too hard. I discovered that becoming a better, successful person doesn't work with a deadline, or a time limit. These things take time, and can't be pushed. And so, I relaxed and took a nice break. ♥

My family and I took a road trip down to Newport, Oregon! Ice cold beach, baby!
There is a lot of fog in Newport. On some days, it was bright and sunny - but on most days, it's gloomy and cold. I like cold weather though, and the fog makes a good picture!

Oh! I had to ask my dad what these giant lumps of poo were. 
Whoops. I need to start watching the Animal Planet again.

My extremely tired dog chased my mum all over the beach. ♥ Cutest thing ever. 
This pub was one of the highlights of my trip! My dad and I really enjoyed this pub. We went at night, and the atmosphere inside was loud and booming, but very homey. I ate beer-battered cod fish, which did funny things with my head. ♥ I'm still very proud of my heritage. Coming here was absolutely magical.
In highschool, my dream was to move to Ireland and embrace my heritage. I was the go-to Irish girl, for all things Ireland related. I heard stories that my dad was the exact same way when he was younger. His friends used to tell me "damn, you are just like your father". I was so proud, so obsessed. And although things didn't work out the way I wanted, obviously, I'm still very proud. And I'm happy to know that my dad is too.
A few random Oregon "gets", and some omiyage for my friends. I bought the bread, and the alpaca at a Japanese store in Portland. I bought a few other things, but those things are extremely dorky and boring. Not worth a picture. For example, I bought a shark's tooth...

Lastly, one of my favorite pictures!

I took this picture under a ... bush, or a fallen tree. Our hotel was on a cliff, and on the first day - I was looking for a path down to the beach. I mistook a steep dirt trail for the path, and I fell down and slid. I might have slid off the side of the cliff, if not for the roots of whatever this beautiful thing was. It was like being in an evergreen cave, and this picture is the result of me pointing the camera up at the sky. It was so beautiful.

Anyways, I just wanted to post a recap of this amazing trip, and I wanted to thank everyone for sticking with me. ♥ Everyone has been so patient and supportive of me, and I'm really thankful. Now that college is starting again, I will be posting more regularly! I promise. After all, since last I checked, I had 75 page views. And now?

I think I love you creepers. ♥

And now, how was your summer? Comment me some stories down below! ♪

Pssst. I've been working so hard on my "photography" lately. (I have a cheap camera.) For those who had been readers of my old blog―have my pictures improved a little?

Sunday, July 15, 2012



I'm just a little hapa girl, trying to show the world that sometimes, dreams do come true.

It might come as a shock to some people, but I wasn't always so interested in Japanese culture. As a kid, I saw myself growing up to be a part of the Sea Shepherd crew ― spending my days annoying the Japanese whaling fleet and getting sea sick. (That, or, becoming a well-known American novelist.) Never once did I consider that I would grow up to be an aspiring teacher in my least favorite country!

Despite my tiny 12-year-old stature, I'm actually a college student. I have to work a little harder than most to maintain my grades, and continue self-teaching myself Japanese at the same time. I'm constantly saving money, and looking for work, in order to pay for my dream university's expensive tuition. The work that I can do limits me to art commissions and tutoring basic-intermediate Japanese, so you can imagine how hard it is to find work.

I'm definitely not your average Japanophile. Rather than watching anime or Japanese drama, I'd much rather watch an episode from the Game of Thrones, or perhaps re-watch my favorite movie Avatar for the hundredth time. My favorite type of genre is either historical, or futuristic sci-fi. What I am is a proud, little geeky man at heart. ♡

If you know me well at all, you know that I'm a complete shut-in, a night-owl, and a hopeless workaholic. Friends and family have nicknamed my room "the bat-cave". But, on the rare occasion that I do leave my cave, I'm wild and a little too much in your face. I'm blunt and laid-back.

My life-companion. Her name is "Destroyer of Worlds" Maddie.

Someday soon, I will start my life in Japan. I sincerely hope that I can take you along for the journey through this blog! I want to be inspired by you, just as much as I want to inspire the everyone I can to fight for their dreams. Let's work together and make some dreams come true. ♪

Let's make some dreams come true.