Friday, November 9, 2012

Possibly One Week Left Before it Starts Snowing at Akita

In Hawaii, the weather rarely changes. The weather is always warm, it rains occasionally, and during the Winter, the sun goes down earlier. In Akita, Japan, the weather changes constantly. It was really hot when I arrived at Japan during August. In the beginning of September, it got really cold and started to rain more often that I needed to wear warmer clothing. It is already November now, and according to my friend it will start snowing at Akita soon. I heard the snow can get up to at least three feet or higher.

I am looking forward to the snow because I have never seen snow fall during the Winter, but I am also not looking forward to the snow. I am looking forward to doing things like learning how to snow board or ski, and eating snow cones. However, I am not looking forward to the coldness or the fact that my heater bill will be really expensive during the Winter. I know that I intend to stay at the library most of the day when  it starts snowing to reduce the cost of my heater bill.

The leaves are starting to change at AIU

Anyways, I hope to accomplish as much things as possible before it starts snowing because it is supposed to stop snowing around May I heard. In addition, as for this past week, despite staying at a farm last weekend at Nishiki, I had somehow lost my bicycle lock key, my windproof umbrella, and hanko (stamp I use to sign things that has my initials inscribed in it). I am not sure how or when I lost these things, but I guess regardless of how careful you are, sometimes things get lost. According to my AIU Student Advisor, I need to bring my bicycle to Aeon Mall by car to get a new lock and show the locksmith proof that I own this bicycle.

This past weekend I got to stay at a farm on Saturday and Sunday for free through a school event. A bunch of other Akita International University (AIU) went, but we were broken up into several groups so I did not stay with them at the farm. At the farm, I got to live with four other students and stayed with a host family for the first time. Out of the four other students that I stayed with, only one of them was from AIU.

Before going to the farm
In my group we had one Japanese student, a girl from Malaysia, a girl from Taiwan, a guy from China, and me from Hawaii. My host family spoke only in Japanese, but the other students were able to communicate with them in Japanese without any problems. Out of everyone in my group, I spoke the least amount of Japanese despite learning Japanese in school for about three years. I was frustrated that I did not know that much Japanese at the farm, but the other students and the host family were very supportive to me despite my limited Japanese.

The five of us students are having fun cooking
At the farm, I was able to do things like pound mochi, make rice balls, eat natto, and sort azuki beans. Staying at the farm was nice because it reminded me of when I stayed at my grandparents farm at Wainae when I was little and had to help my grandparents with the farm work. In addition, the food that the host family served us was so delicious that everyone was surprised how much I ate. 

Getting ready to pound mochi

Posing with the entire family
After staying at the farm, we regrouped with the other students and talked about our different experiences with the host families. Some of the other students had done things like drink alcohol, took a bath at an onsen, played the Shamisen (Japanese string instrument), and picked chestnuts with their host families, but I was happy to stay with host family I was assigned to. The family was really nice, and I got to do things like meet the entire family, and I was allowed to contact them if I needed anything in the near future. Apparently my host father is the mayor of Semboku City at Akita.
These students also got to stay with a host family on the farm

Before returning to AIU, I took a picture with the other international students that went to the farm stay, and  took a picture with my host mother and the four other students I stayed with. It was sad to leave my host family, but I know that I will see them again on December 1. I just hope that next time I see her, I can bring something for her that will remind her about Hawaii.

Posing with my host mother and friends from the farm one last time
After returning to AIU on Sunday night, I worked on my host family application for another program and gave some of the extra rice balls to some of my friends that were unable to go to the farm stay. It would have been nice if I could apply for the same family I stayed with on farm, but they were not available on the list of families I could apply for the program that I am applying to.

Currently, I am waiting for a reply from the other program about my host family, and I am thinking about what to get for the host family I stayed with on the farm.

Besides working on a applying for a new bike lock, this week I got to teach English words to sixth graders on Wednesday, and I got to bring spam musubis and popcorn with kakimochi to my Finance class on Thursday. 

I felt that teaching English to the sixth graders was difficult because on Wednesday, I was given two stacks of cards to present to the sixth graders without any further instructions. One of the stacks of cards had a name on it and other stack had a picture. I had only an hour to spend with the kids, but I did not know what to do with the cards besides match the word with the picture. I felt bad for the children because I could not think of anything interesting for them, but I noticed that some of the other international students were able to make a games with the cards, and it seemed like the children were having fun.

Here is me attempting to teach the kids in English
My friend from New York seems to be more creative than me
I decided to bring spam musubis and popcorn with kakimochi (also known as arare in Japan) to my Finance class on Thursday because we were watching a movie that was related to our subject, and I wanted to introduce Hawaiian culture to the Japanese and other international students somehow. We had already watched a movie for this class before, but it felt strange not eating popcorn with kakimochi when watching a movie because that is what I grew up with.

I was nervous about bringing spam musubis to my Finance class because I was unable to make it like my friend from Hawaii who has been here a year longer than me and uses guava jelly to cook with the spam musubi, but the students and professor were happy to eat the food and were able to enjoy the movie better. My friend from the Philippines was extremely happy because this was his lunch and he only had enough money for dinner on that day.

Despite loosing my bicycle keys, this week was still pretty fun. I got to do various things, and with one week left before the snow starts, I hope to get a new bicycle lock before it starts snowing, and enjoy the sun while I still can.