Thursday, October 30, 2008

Miyzaki and Aoshima Adventure

Taking off like a rocket in a Miyazaki koen (park).

My inner obnoxious American tourist does come out occasionally. But seriously, who could resist?

This is a Shinto shrine entrance at the beach in Aoshima. Surrounding the entire beach are large rock formations in the water called "Ogre's Washboards".

This is a picture of me in a Japanese arcade. I think the last time I had stepped foot into an arcade, I was probably 12 so it's been a good decade or so. I just had my first jam session on a Taiko drum game. It's kind of like playing Rockband, but way more intense!

So here are some pictures from my trip to Miyazaki. I just started working in Miyazaki on October 25. The city is beautiful and even reminds me a little of Southern California.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nihongo es no Espanol

It's been more than two months since I arrived in the land of the rising sun, but every day is an uphill battle to speak Japanese. Being thrust into a new culture is difficult enough, but trying to live in a place where you don't speak the language sometimes feels less like an experience and more like a chore. Ordering food becomes a game of charades that you will probably lose. Small talk with a native becomes a series of long pauses, abnormal speaking volumes and obnoxious amounts of pointing. If anyone's ever tried learning two foreign languages, sometimes the problem of language-mixing arises. Being from California, I took three years of Spanish in high school. Around 50 percent of the population in California speaks Spanish, so even if you didn't take Spanish you can still recognize the meanings of several words. Living in California, you most likely know that when you see a sign that says, "piso mojado" in a grocery store, you know to watch your step. You also know the important words like "cervesa", "bano" and "por favor".

Learning Japanese after learning Spanish can make things a bit more difficult. If you hear a question in Japanese you don't know, you have this automatic urge to say "no se". (I don't know). Sometimes we revert back to our second language in the process of learning our third. I had this problem about a month ago. I was in a bar trying to request that the bartender put on some music. Trying to make requests in Japanese when you're a bit tipsy is never a good idea if you're not fluent in the language. After a few minutes of English/Japanese gibberish my mildly intoxicated brain just couldn't translate anymore and eventually started spouting out Spanish words, sheerly out of habit. We've all heard don't drink and drive, but I have a new one, don't drink and doesn't really work. Eventually your speech becomes a linguistic blender and all you can produce is a soupy mess of words. But no matter what, at the end of the night, you're still just the ridiculous gaijin who looks so cute trying to string Japanese words together. The Japanese won't hate you for trying, in fact, they will respect you more for making the effort. So, if you're Japanese sucks, don't stress, you'll learn more eventually. And as for the Spanish, well, hopefully I don't spout off "si"s or "muchas gracias"s anytime soon!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We've Got More Bounce in California

Hanging out at "The Bear" with my five best girlfriends Megan, Katie, Monica, Stephanie and Lacey. We were celebrating the last week of school!

Here are the five restaurants in Chico I miss the most. If you ever take a trip to Chico or Northern California, check out these restaurants, they're awesome.

1. Celestino's Pizza

It's New York-style pizza and the only pizza
I've had better than this is pizza actually
served to me in New York.

2. Broadway Heights

This place serves California-style gourmet sandwiches. It was
always my opinion the bread is like a blanket. Excellent!

3. Madison Bear Garden

If you want to sound like a real local, call it "The Bear".
The burgers are yummy and it's a great place to hang out and
great for a night out since it's a bar, too. Sierra Nevada beer
is always on tap so try a pitcher of blond won't be

4. Chipotle

What can I say? It's the McDonald's of Mexican food. And if you
dress up as a burrito on Halloween, you get a free burrito. Oh,
the things in life which motivate us!

5. In-N-Out

Now for those of you who do not live near the west coast of the
USA, you are missing out. In-N-Out is everything a fast food
restaurant should be: fresh, cheap and right off any major
freeway. The only items on the menu are burgers, fries, soft
drinks and milkshakes but the food is incredible. My advice:
get to an In-N-Out immediately and your life will change. If
you want to be really cool, order something from the secret
menu. Don't know it? Well, my friends, that's something you'll
need to figure out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"I'm an American!"

Britain:1, America:0

There's nothing better than proving you're a stereotype of America. I hate to pigeonhole people including myself but all stereotypes are based on some truth. So I'm three weeks in of this year in Japan and I finally went to some bars this weekend in Miyakonojo. The past two weekends were spent getting hammered in Kagoshima and Kokubu. My friend Halit came to visit for the weekend and he's from England. The majority of our conversations revolve around the differences between England and America. Halit's perception of a drunk American is that we're loud, obnoxious and a little frat-tastic. I was hoping not to fall into this category but by the end of a long night of matching the number of vodka tonics with my British friend, I was pretty wasted. I'm fuzzy on the details but at some point I was staggering around yelling, "I'm an American!" while waving my fists in the air. I'd just like to congratulate myself on officially proving to be a loud, obnoxious, frat-tastic, drunk American. Well done!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Great White Wonder

My first week in Japan is nearly complete. Strangely enough, people keep staring at me like I'm some sort of circus freak. At the bus station, twin girls about five years old watched me for a good five minutes, then shifted around to watch me leave. The great white wonder has arrived!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Playboy Mansion of Japanese Apartments

Even though I'm only 5'2, I still feel like a giant in this apartment. This apartment could be hazardous to anyone more than 5'5!

Two flights, two bus rides and a taxi later I am finally at my apartment in Miyakonojo, Japan. The city is pretty with an amazing public park unlike any I've ever seen before. It's one of the most serene places I've ever walked through. Here's a picture of my apartment, It may look small but it's quite large compared to most Japanese one-bedroom apartments. My bedroom here is even bigger than the bedroom in my old Chico apartment. Here are some pictures of home sweet home.

Monday, August 11, 2008

From the Words of Suze Geos

Me and Kate (Tejas) celebrating our last night in Vancouver.

Vancouver, Day 1:
If I can describe this trip in one word it would have to be: frantic. Never in my life have I felt so panicked than the last 48 hours I've had. Being in a foreign country with no cell phone is scary enough, but when I called my hotel (The Ramada Inn) to confirm my reservation, I was told my name was not on the confirmation list. After some frantic calls on Vancouver airport's stylish pay phone, I figured out I had called the wrong Ramada Inn. Apparently there are two near the airport. The trip thus far hasn't been a cakewalk. I forgot my work's handbook so trying to get my work done is going to be a greater challenge than I had anticipated. Other various inconveniences have sprung up but I'm trying to keep optimistic so I don't take the 7:30 back to California. Four more days until Japan so updates are to come.