Saturday, December 31, 2005

3 in 1

They came and left in a blinking moment. Why does time pass through the hourglass so quickly when you wish it could last forever?

Colin and Daniel, I had the best of times with you guys. I know I told you before, but I can't imagine any other Christmas than ours sitting in the Indian restaurant eating naan, naan and more cheese naan. Thank you for spending the time, money, and effort to make my life so much brighter for the past 2 weeks.

I love you guys!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pizza and nabe

My stomach is happy with homemade pizza I just made and ate with these girls. I have 2 classes with the middle girl, Aya, so last week I went to their apartment for a nabe party. Nabe (Japanese soup) is really popular to eat during the winters in Hokkaido because #1 its so darn cold outside, #2 its cheap to make #3 it's oishii! Today I hung out with them again and showed everyone how to make homemade pizza. It was great fun!

I got an e-mail this week from the international student office requesting me and the other American girl to go to a voice audition this Saturday afternoon. What kind of voice audition? Apparently, if I get this job, my voice will be on some kind of Japanese video game produced by GameSoft. Some things you just never think you will do in life... Anyway, I get $50 bucks just for auditioning. It will be an interesting experience I'm sure!

This is at a Christmas party with the student cell group at my church. I started going to Sapporo International Church a few weeks ago and really like it there. The pastor is Korean and we have people from all over the world, but most of the members are Japanese. They have so much love; I am looking forward to learning from and growing with Japanese Christians this year.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Christmas in Japan

My friend Makiko and I went to Oodori Koen- a big park in downtown Sapporo- which hosts a "White Illumination" festival every winter. In the park at this time, there are bunch of huge christmas decorated Christmas trees, Christmas music playing, and even a Munich Town where you can buy german sausages and hot wine.

I thought I would really be getting homesick around Christmas time, but the amount of Christmas music and decorations in Japan has really surprised me. All I am missing is my family now. Colin and Daniel will be here in 2 weeks and will be here to celebrate Christmas with. Yippeee!

Winter wonderland

These pictures are from Moerenuma Park in Sapporo. This park, as well as many other parks across Japan, was built on a previous landfill site. I went there with some classmates on a field trip to see the work of a famous Japanese architect Isamu Noguchi. We climbed to the top of this hill and the wind was so strong you could almost lean into it with all your weight!

They say the winters in Hokkaido are really harsh, although snow has not yet accumulated in Sapporo. Last weekend, a few friends from my outdoor club and I went to Niseko, which is about 2 hour drive. We were going to climb a mountain there, but about a meter of snow had fallen, so we decided to can the climb and just play in the snow. I can't wait to go snowboarding!

Kabocha Pie

On November 24th (Japanese Thanksgiving day) I was invited to Eniwa for a Thanksgiving celebration which was hosted by 2 American English teachers. These girls, Kelly and Marissa, led 25 Japanese women through the process of roasting turkey, making pumkin pie, sweet potatoes...etc. Before we ate, we went around the table and everyone shared what they were thankful for. I did my little speech in Japanese and also was assigned to give the toast. Although I really wanted to be at Auntie Lisa's celebrating with the family, I think this was the next best way to spend the Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2005

moshi moshi

In the last 2 months, I must have been asked at least 49 times what my cell phone number is and everytime I would reply with "mada..." which means I haven't gotten one yet. But today, after a turn for the better in my financial situation, I was able to get my first Japanese cell phone. Here, the free cell phones come with the following features:

-barcode reader
-video camera and camera (of course)
-animated globe which tells the time of cities all over the world
-17 pages of smiling, crying, laughing (...etc) animated faces,
-internet service where I log on and check my balance for free
-LED lights which flash in different colors and different patterns according to the mode I choose
-much, much more that I will probably won't discover until I learn the meaning of the Kanji (Chinese character) in my class

The payment plan is different here too. I can only talk for 35 minutes a month for free, after that it's like 20 cents a minute. All incoming calls are free. The wave that has completely consumed Japan (as well as most Asian countries) is text messaging. Text messages cost less than 1/2 cent for each one, but one must pay both to send receive them. Because I am a student, I can get my cell phone at 1/2 price, so before texts and call time, I only have to pay $17 dollars a month.

3 cheers for calls from home!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hot chocolate

This morning at about 6:00, I was awoken briefly by a surreal trembling sensation. I thought it strange and went back to sleep after a few seconds of confusion. I got up a couple hours later and remembered nothing of the brief interruption of sleep. In my second class though, my friend asked me if I was awoken by the earthquake that morning. Weird déjà vu flooded my brain the moment he said "earthquake". I don't think I ever would have remembered the experience if he hadn't of mentioned it. Have you ever had an experience such as this?

In other news, I have 2 job interviews tomorrow. One is for a teaching position at a English conversation school. The other I am not quite sure about because the advertisment for this job was written in arguably uncomprehendible english. Anyway, it has something to do with being a room guide for english speaking visitors to Hokkaido. We'll see what happens.

I experienced Sapporo's first snow last week. This week's forecast: 4 days of snow. Send warm clothing and peppermint tea!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The best friends ever!

Guess what everyone???

My little brother Coli-boy, whom I love more than sparkling snow on a sunny day and my faithful friend, Daniel, who also happens to be an amazing person and a fabulous cook are coming to visit me in 35 days!

AND, as if that weren't enough...

My role model, giver of life, and best friend ever is braving the frigid air and had bought her ticket to come in February. I can't wait to see your faces, mom.

You guys are the best!

I can see the squid boats!

A few weekends ago, I went on a second trip with my outdoor club. This time, the drive was a manageable 3.5 hours (as opposed to 12). We reached the trailhead at 3pm on Saturday, hiked to our little cabin, cooked a huge pot of soup and hung out talking until 1 am. A few hours later at 4:30, we were rustled from our slumber and told that we were going to hike to the top of the mountain to see the sunrise. As I laced up my boots, I couldn't help but mutter "4:30 in the morning...these people are CRAZY!" The leader heard me and found it quite amusing! Anyway, it was a short climb to the top and quite rewarding to watch the sun rise over the other shore of the Pacific.

3 cheers for good food

2 weeks ago, I participated in a homestay program which was offered to all the international students. It was a 3 day program in a city about 20 minutes from Sapporo by train. Me and my new Australian friend, Jess, stayed with a the Maeda family. The have one daughter, Makiko, who is also a student at Hokkaido University and just returned from a studying abroad in Canada for one year. So, not only did I have a wonderful time with this family, but I met a great friend whom I plan to hang out with a lot this year!

The homestay was from Friday night until Sunday. On Saturday, all 14 international students, our host families and local community members had a big international party at the local middle school. Everyone made at food from their country (I made lasagna and salad) and we had a huge feast and played games together. Fun times!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

One month later

Yesterday was my one-month anniversary for being in Sapporo. That means 9% of my time here is already gone. Unreal! It's been a fabulous month and I was reflecting on some of the things that have happened during that time. Let's see...

-I've been extremely lonely
-I've made a bunch of incredible friends
-I've gone to bed really hungry 4 nights in a row
-I've eaten the best Korean food I've ever had in my life
-I've climbed 2 mountains
-I've been so terribly bored
-I've been so frustrated with Japanese people, I just want to leave
-I've realized time and time again why I love this country and it's people so much
-I've gone for 1 month without praying before eating
-I've experienced new levels of God's love for me and His desire to know all people of every race and nationality

Thank you all for your e-mails and comments! I look forward to reading them more than I can say...


Friday, October 21, 2005

the cost of living

5 sweaters
2 sweatshirts
1 fleece
1 matching teaset
2 sets of chopsticks
1 beautiful plate
1 cereal bowl
a few nice hangers
1 purse
1 Bon Appetit, 1 Sunset and a Japanese art book
1 bread pan
and best of all...
1 super duper blue on one side paisley on the other side down comforter

All for less than 500 yen (<$5.00)!

This week the Sapporo International Women's Club held a flea market for the international students. It was like the world's best garage sale and the running price for all clothes was 10 yen! Yeah for cheap stuff!

I already posted a picture of my room, but it is much brighter now with all your smiling faces on my wall.

Speaking of my beautiful room and cheap things, tickets to Tokyo are $425 right now. Sushi anyone?

Monday, October 17, 2005

13 hours later...

This weekend was lovely. I recently joined an outdoor club at Hokkaido University so this was my first opportunity to go on a "mountain climbing" trip with them. We left at 7:30 am on Saturday morning. 400 km (248 miles) and 13 hours later, we arrived at our log cabin in the middle of the woods. This log cabin was amazing and was totally free for us to use. That night we cooked pork miso soup, rice and some other kind of meat soup with gas camp stoves. Japanese food warms the bones!

Everyone slept upstairs in the loft. The cabin was stocked with a mountain of mattresses and blankets. We woke up at 5:30 am, ate leftover soup and started the hike at 8:00. These students (and perhaps most Japanese) go about hiking in a very systematic way. They divided us (11 people) into 2 groups, each with a leader and a sub-leader. Before we started the hike, the leader decided the order we would hike in and we kept that order for the entire 7 hours! So interesting!

We reached the peak at about noon, ate our lunches and started back down an hour later. After gathering our belongings from the cabin, we began our long journey home at 4:00 pm. By that time I was thinking, "It's 4:00 now, so if we hurry, we will probably get home around 1 or 2 am." To say the least, I was a bit confused, yet intrigued, by all the 5 convenient store stops, our hour long dinner, and a trip to the onsen (Japanese hot spring). It's really hard to shift one's thinking from the American goal-oriented, let's see how fast we can get home paradigm to whatever was going on in my dear friends' minds. I have a lot to learn this year!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I want to ride my bicycle

My life has gone from somewhat boring to quite busy within the last couple of days. Today, we finally learned the results of our Japanese placement exam which we took 2 weeks ago...yikes! We were placed into different levels for the 5 different Japanese classes we will have. These classes are grammar, kanji (Chinese characters), conversation, reading and writing. Anyway, there are about 10 levels for each and I placed in the 2-4th level between all the classes. I have a long way to go!

This Wednesday and last Wednesday I went to a Outdoor Club meeting for Hokkaido University students. It is so very interesting compared to a outdoor club that one might attend in the US. First of all, the meetings last from 6:30-9pm on Monday and Wednesday each week. I am wondering how they have so much to talk about! Anyway, I have joined this club and am looking forward to the "mountain climbing" (a direct translation) that we will do this weekend. We will drive 6 hours and hike about 4 km, spend the night in a cabin and hike back the next day. It's Thursday right now, but from what I understand, whether we leave tomorrow night (Friday) or Saturday is dependent upon the weather forecast. I'll let you know how the trip goes!

Yesterday was the day we have been waiting for we raffle day! You see, our dormitory is about 15 minutes from campus on foot, a distance which can be covered in just a few minutes on a bike. It seems to me that biking is the most popular mode of transportation for university students as well as for businessmen, housewives, kids...Before we were eligible to receive a bike, the Sapporo city police came to the university to give us a 45 minute lecture about bicycle riding safely (video included). The video made me, a previously confident bicycle rider, quite unsure of my capabilities. Nevertheless, I picked out of the bag a winning ticket (there were 50 bikes for 80+ students) and now happily ride my 1000 yen ($10) bicycle, cautiously, all over the city.

Peace and love- Lindsey

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Looking up from here

Ahhhh...How much better this world is when we are surrounded by people who love us!

My first 2 weeks in Hokkaido have passed through the hour-glass and I am glad to say that I can look back and smile upon the good and the hard times that I have encountered in this period of time. My first week here was quite lonely. After leaving Eiko and family, every entrance into my quiet dorm room and meal eaten alone seemed quite unbearable. But this week was a week of new relationships and I can say that I am ever so excited to spend the next 11 months on this wintery island.

I stumbled upong this lovely pond at the Hokkaido Prefecture Office

My dorm room...chotto kitanai (it's a bit messy)

My Korean friends have adopted me into their family and I have joined with a smile.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Macha = real green tea

We went to a wonderful tea house it Kanagawa prefecture. It was only 300 yen (3 dollars) for a cup of macha and a traditional Japanese sweet. The gardens at this tea house were beautiful and the drizzle outside made the whole experience quite surreal.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I love Eiko and family!

I arrived in Japan on Sept. 21st and spent the next 5 days with Eiko, Hajime, Kimiaki and Yoshiko, my Japanese family. They are such wonderful people. I have only been in Hokkaido for 2 days now, and I already miss them!

I am trying to figure out how to post pictures on here...can anyone help me?

explanations first

Despite my personal objection to such modern contraptions, I have decided to keep a journal of my daily (or perhaps weekly) happenings. Please read and enjoy as you like and post a comment every once in a while to let me know you are still alive and well.

I love you all, my dear friends and family.