Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It still hasn't hit me yet...

Strange, but I still feel like tomorrow is just another day - as if I'm going to wake up, go for a run, and chill at home like I've been doing for the past three weeks. Usually I can't even sleep the night before because (wow, this is going to sound geeky) I get so pumped about traveling - skipping the "moving walkway" to see if I can beat the people who take it, sitting in the coveted window seat, even cruising through the security gate and then trying to see how fast I can put back on my shoes. So why, after four months of knowing that I won the Light Fellowship, can I not even imagine myself in Japan tomorrow?

Maybe it won't hit me until I step out of Narita airport and feel the bustle of Tokyo whirling past me. Or maybe I'm denying the reality that I should have studied more for the placement test ("Test? What test?"). Or just maybe ... I'm nervous?

But you're going to Japan! Aren't you excited? I wouldn't say that I'm NOT excited, but guess I am ... a little ... whatever that word is ... nervous. Nervous that I won't be able to navigate a country in which hardly anyone speaks English. Nervous that I won't click with my host family and that I'll end up shutting myself in my room with mounds of homework each night. Nervous about a lot of things ... but in the end, I think I'll be all right. Though my worried subconsciousness isn't letting me face the fact that I'll be in Japan a mere 28 hours from now.

Thus ends my ambivalent self-reflection, although the original plan for this post was to talk about my host family, which HIF (Hokkaido International Foundation, the program I will be attending) emailed me about a couple days ago. Pardon the rough transition, but as it is, I'll be living with the Domae family, a couple in their 50s and their 16-year-old daughter, Riko. (They also have a 19-year-old daughter, but apparently, she's away from home?) According to Google Maps, the family lives just eight minutes away form the HIF building by foot, so I definitely lucked out in terms of daily commute. Though it took me way too long to figure out the kanji about their jobs/schools/interests since I couldn't copy the characters from a pdf file:

Looking up Kanji - THE HARD WAY
1. Zoom into the pdf until you can make out those TINY characters. (For me, this meant 400% - and even then, I had to squint because the high zoom also made things fairly blurry.)
2. Go to  and attempt to draw the character with a mouse. Anyone who's done Paint knows how problematic this can be.
3. See if your character matches up with any of the dictionary's suggestions. If you find one, move onto #4. If not, FAIL. The kanji you're looking up is probably a variation from the Chinese character, so the dictionary doesn't recognize it.
4. Copy and paste the character onto Denshi Jisho and look up the definition. If your word has one kanji, you're done. If more than one, repeat steps 1-4 for each character. (The dictionary will most likely have definitions for each character. Putting them together ... not so much.)

Looking up Kanji - THE EASY IER WAY
1. Go to and check off the radicals that are found in the kanji. (Once again, zoom in if the tiny characters are straining your eyes.)

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On a side note, I finally got a haircut today. Not as short as everyone at Yale seems to want me to go for, but after completely forgetting to get one during spring break, this is an improvement.
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Kelly McLaughlin said...

Wow, 8 minutes by foot? That's amazingly lucky! Very cool.

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