Friday, June 26, 2009

The exit interview

It's hard to believe that I've had my roommatey friends with me in Kuji for three weeks already!

We've seen and done (and eaten!) a lot together, and time flies when you're having fun. :) From my blog posts, it probably seems like all we've really done is eat and visit schools! But we also did the following...

  • Went bowling and shopping in Hachinohe
  • Attended Kuji Baptist Church
  • Went to the beach a couple of times
  • Hiked in the woods near my apartment

    Overlook of Kuji from our hike up the hill behind my place.
  • Tried Japanese calligraphy

Jennifer's kanji means "teacher," Lauren's is a poster of her name in katakana, and mine is the kanji for "love," which I have to admit my student made for me -- I couldn't do it this well!

  • Played traditional Japanese games

  • Jennifer was so good at this game -- knocking the blocks down to just the "head piece."

  • Went to two different parties with my ALT friends
  • Went to my dance practice each Tuesday night

    Ayaka and me goofing around at practice -- what's new? :)
  • Went to Round One, a sports center in Morioka
  • Saw a drum performance in Morioka

    Lauren trying her hand at playing the drums.

Before we say "sayonara" to Kuji tomorrow, I have an exit interview for the gals about their three-week stay at "Dana's Luxurious Retreat Center." :)

Question: What has been a highlight of your stay in Kuji...something we did that really stands out?

Lauren: Preparing for Dana's birthday! We managed to order a cake without knowing any Japanese! *Dana: And it was a gorgeous, delicious cake, too!*

Jennifer: I really enjoyed going to Hachinohe one evening to shop and bowl.

Q: Is there anything that really surprised you about life in Kuji?

L: The weather! It rained a lot more than we thought it would, and was cooler than we expected it to be. We brought a bunch of shorts and ended up wearing Dana's clothes the first week! Ha.

J: Yeah, several things did! I noticed that no one lays out on the beach, even on a very nice day. You would think they'd be out there enjoying the beautiful weather! Also, earthquakes are more commonplace than I expected. We were standing in a classroom one day when there was a small earthquake, and no one even seemed to notice! It wasn't a big deal to them. I was also surprised to learn that many people eat rice and miso soup for breakfast; I thought that was more of a lunch and dinner meal. The size of the loaf of bread was interesting to me -- there's only six slices in the biggest loaf. However, they have 10-20 pound bags of rice in the store!

Jennifer's picture of the massive pile of massive rice bags.

What is your impression of the people in Kuji?

L: They're very friendly. They try their best to understand us, even when we go into stores and don't know any Japanese whatsoever.

J. They're helpful and hard-working. Also, they'll go to a lot of trouble to look up an answer to a question you have. Or look up one word to try to explain themselves!

Q: What's your favorite place in Kuji, and why?

L: Crepe House Sweets! The lady who works there is very friendly, and the crepes are really good.

J: I loved Yamane Jr. High School. I could get to know the students well since there were only five of them. We had a good time with the students and teachers, and it felt like a family since everyone is so close.

Us with the "Yamane family." :)

Q: (For the benefit of the readers) What did you do when you couldn't go to the schools/office with me?

Both gals: For the majority of the time, we chilled out in the apartment doing various things -- surfing the Web, reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing games, napping, doing laundry, etc. Sometimes we walked around Kuji. One day the weather was nice enough for a picnic at a park and a visit to the beach.

Q: Do you have a favorite Japanese word and/or phrase?

L: Douzo! It means "go ahead," or "after you." My favorite phrase is "Iki ma shou," which means, "Let's go!"

J: My favorite word is "sumimassen," ("Excuse me") because it sounds fun. :) I like the phrase, "Ai shteru" -- "I love you."

Q: What will you miss most about Japan?

L: The food!!!

J: I'm going to miss the sense of wonder. You wonder what you'll see when you get somewhere. You wonder what the kids are going to say when you walk into the classroom. You wonder what the food is going to taste like here. Things are more exciting because you don't quite know what to expect.

We've had some good times. And the good news is that we have next week together, traveling around Japan (so I won't be able to write for a while) -- Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara. Should be fun!

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Click here to read my most recent post in "Keep Shining."


Dawn said...

Jennifer and Lauren seemed to have a great time. You all did a lot in three weeks.

Grace said...

Are you going to see the HUGE Buddha in Nara?! I hope you can reach "nirvana"! Take pictures! Oh I miss Japan. Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo...OH MY!