Hallo!

Hi Everyone!

I’ve returned to the country that I love oh so much! I am currently living in Nagahama, which is a city in Shiga Prefecture (also home to Hikone!)

I am no longer here as a student. I recently graduated from my college William Smith. I am here as an Assistant Language Teacher through the JET program. The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program is a government program that brings recent graduates/graduates to Japan in order to teach English in Japan. There is a lengthy application process so make sure to start early if you wish to go right out of school!

I am now beginning my third week in Japan and it has been quite the roller coaster. With having my own place (for the first time ever) and having a full-time job (for the first time ever) I’ve been rather busy. BUT it has been a blast and these past few weeks have been filled with firsts. Today for example I made my first bento! It was curry and rice. Not terribly exciting but I will work my way up there and hopefully be able to post some beautiful bento! I think I will have much more time to update this blog than I did last time. I look forward to it! Ja ne!

This was a trip a couple of ALTs and I took to Dotonbori, Osaka! Super fun

This was a trip a couple of ALTs and I took to Dotonbori, Osaka! Super fun

This was at a festival held in Takatsuki, the town I live in. And the character was the princess from the age of Samurai Wars.

This was at a festival held in Takatsuki, the town I live in. And the character was the princess from the age of Samurai Wars.

Kakigori! YUM.

Kakigori! YUM.

Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki. This new restaurant just opened in town and we had to try it! It was delicious!

Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki. This new restaurant just opened in town and we had to try it! It was delicious!

新しい (new)

It’s hard to believe that I have been in Japan for two months now. But I have. It was only a couple of months ago that I was busy working and commuting to work in order to make this dream of mine possible. It’s so crazy. Even now I don’t think that I have accepted the fact that I am here. I have dreamed of being in Japan even since I was 12 years old. 8 years ago I made a promise to myself. A promise to come to this country that fills me with such wonder and excitement and I did it. Who knew it would be so difficult?

I came here to learn more about Japan and the people of Japan but I don’t even think I have begun to scratch the surface. There are little pockets of culture every where I go and it’s so difficult to even be introduced to them when my language is so limited. There is a culture around high school, restaurants, prefectures, you name it. Everywhere I go is different, with a new set of vocabulary and actions to go with it. How am I supposed to keep up?

Traveling is wonderful.

Staying and living in a foreign place is hard.

For these past two months I have been living with a host family here in Japan and it has not been easy. But then again this experience is supposed to be challeneging so I have embraced all the ackward moments as well as the happy ones.

I am currently in the process of wiriting an essay in Japanese about my host family and here is a little snippet about the dogs that I live with:

犬はプリンとバニラと言います。にひきはプードルで、バニラは男の子それからプリンは女の子です。じつは、プリンは私のことが大きらい見たいです!いつも家に帰った時にプリンは「ワン、ワン、ワン」とはえます。よく分かりませんけどはじめて見た時からプリンは私が好きじゃなかったかもしれません。

It reads:

The dogs are called Pudding and Vanilla. Both of them are Poodles; Vanilla is a boy and Pudding a girl. Actually, Pudding looks like she hates me! Everytime I come home she barks: “Woof, woof, woof!” (The Japanese sound for this is “Wan, Wan, Wan.”) I do not really understand why but she has not liked me since see first saw me.

A very rough translation but very true. Here is a picture of Vanilla!

He is the cutest poodle ever!

I would include a picture of Pudding but as I said before, she hates me and would never let me get that close to her.

I’ll be sure to write more about my host family experience in the next post!

Kindness goes a long way…

asiapod: walk~talk~learn

I had been hoping to put up a posting before I left to Japan, but unfortunately it never came to be. But I am posting on my second day in Japan! I am actually writing this at 4:15 A.M. I have come to realize that Jet Lag is no joke. So I’ll use this post to talk about my trip here.

I checked in to JFK 2 and 1/2 hours before my flight. Everything was really smooth. I decided to eat lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. It was the most American thing I could think of at the moment and it was my way of saying goodbye to the states. Lo and behold we didn’t actually fly off to Japan until 5:30, 2 and 1/2 hours later than scheduled. The plane ride was long and exhausting. But when we landed it didn’t seem so long anymore. It wasn’t until I…

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The creation of Kimberly Guzman

It’s getting harder and harder for me to fall asleep… I start thinking about all the adventures I’m going to have in Japan and next thing I know it’s 2 a.m. and I only have 4 more hours until I have to start getting ready for work.

Wah!

I might just go crazy before I actually get there.

I recently read a quote the other day:

Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.

It struck me so much. I always thought as I was growing up: “Who am I? How will I turn out? What was I meant to do?”

I grew up thinking that you are shaped by experiences and how you impulsively react, but this way of thinking takes away some agency from you. Its kind of depressing actually, to think that there is some end goal that you have to reach and that you don’t know what is supposed to be the end result. You will forever be reaching for an ideal you that doesn’t exist.

Yes, you may have reacted in a way that you weren’t proud of in a certain situation but that doesn’t mean that it defines who you are. You choose to be whoever you want to be.

And so Japan is not only going to be a study abroad experience for me, it is going to be one of the building blocks of Kimberly Guzman. It’s going to be an experience that will help me create the Kimberly that I want to be.

Sekai Itchi Hatsukoi

The name that I chose for this blog is Sekai Itchi Hatsukoi and it will be dedicated to my preparation for and travels in Japan. This name is based on an anime that I really love called Sekai Itchi Hatsukoi. (I definitely encourage you to check it out, super funny and cute.) I did not name it this because I love the anime so much (even though I do, lol)  but because I believe that this phrase adequately represents my relationship with Japanese language and culture. My love for Japan really blossomed during my childhood years. I can still recall the countless days I would wake up at 6AM during middle school just to watch Sailor Moon.

Through watching ridiculous amounts of anime (Japanese animation) I found that this strange world called Japan was extremely beautiful. From their attention to detail, to their meticulous cleaning habits, to the pink sakura trees, I just couldn’t get enough. It seemed so different from the world of Latin American culture that I was so used to. One of the happiest moments of my life was when I realized that a very famous Dominican artist called Juan Luis Guerra made a song dedicated to his visit to Japan. It is called “Bachata en Fukuoka.” Never in a million years would I have thought that these two completely separate worlds of mine would collide and work so well together. But to hear him speak Japanese in a bachata, a genre of music that originated in Dominican Republic,  warmed my heart. All I could think was: “I’m not alone! There is a native of Domincan Republic that loves Japanese culture like I do!” Here is the link to the music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4NBD3SqBwg&ob=av2n

My love for Japan has only grown since my childhood years and through my history and Japanese classes I have come to appreciate it even more. Don’t get me wrong though, it has not been a walk in the park.  We have been through some rough patches and there have been times where I wanted to quit but like all love it required hard work and dedication. I have been dedicated to my studies of Japan since my first year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and I have no intention of stopping.

I still can’t believe it though. Exactly 4 months from now I will be boarding on a plane that will be landing in Osaka.

Watashi wa tottemo ureshii desu!  (I am very happy!)

Hopefully by the time I come back I will be able to write that in kanzi!!!! 🙂

The beginning of the end

It has been such a long semester. Ridiculously so. I am looking forward to the end of it. There are so many things I want to do in the summer but I feel like I can’t look past my finals. I hope I can really finish this semester with a bang. I’ve worked way too hard to just half ass it now.

Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.

– Earl Nightingale

Just one more week. And then. I’m free.