Updates from December, 2012 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • kimuchee 2:26 pm on December 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , different languages, , , ,   

    Lessons Learned 

    1) Communication is an amazing thing.

    Being in a country that speaks a language with absolutely no connection to yours except a couple of loan words can be quite a frustrating experience. I took understanding a person and having a person understand me for granted. It sounds silly but the fact that you can understand me now and the ideas that I am trying to portray is a beautiful thing. But when someone finally does understand me I get this ridiculous elation. It’s like my eyes have just been opened to the fact that the human species is amazing. That there are different languages and cultures is amazing. I wish I could find words that could express this enlightenment properly but unfortunately I wasn’t gifted with the power of eloquence.

    While on this trip I’ve also had a new-found respect for those people from non-English countries that attend our school, whether it be for a semester or four years. Talking about complicated concepts in a language that you were not born with is no joke!

    2) Distance makes the Heart grow fonder.

    This has proven to be true throughout my college experience in regards to my family and has proven to be even more true in Japan where I am away from my family and friends. I have resolved to go back and really make sure to treasure those bonds that I do have and to put effort into every relationship that I engage in.

    3) Try everything, even when it makes you queasy.

    My first adventure with queasy inducing food in japan has been with natto. Natto is essentially fermented beans with soy sauce. I had been warned about the dish and had been crazy to try it ever since. Of course it was everything  they said it would be. Stinky and Cheese link. I was told then that it is and acquired taste and most Japanese young people don’t like it. Needless to say I didn’t like the food but my host family found pleasure in my willingness to try out new foods. My second adventure was with a dish called Sukiyaki. This dish consists of meat (usually thinly sliced beef) which is slowly cooked or simmered at the table, alongside tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, and other miscellaneous delicious things. It doesn’t sound bad does it? Imagine my surprise when my host family proceeded to show me how to eat it. I  could feel my eyes getting nigger as they went on to scramble a raw egg in their bowl and dip the meat and vegetables in before eating them. That had to be one of my biggest adventures and I was well rewarded for my effort! It was absolutely delicious!!! I just couldn’t think too much about the fact that I was eating raw egg or I would start to feel queasy.

    4) Traveling is beautiful.

    There are of course difficult times that you experience when traveling but for all of those experiences there are three times as much wonderful experiences. After a while you even being to appreciate the tough times because they make the wonderful times stand out even more. You meet all kinds of people as well! I can’t ever see myself getting tired of the thrill that comes from traveling.

    5) Japanese is hard.

    Of course I knew this before my trip to Japan but studying Japanese and being fluent in Japanese are two completely different things, but on this trip I have come to realize that becoming fluent in Japanese is now a goal in my life. It is something that I wish to pursue no matter what career I ultimately end up choosing. The director of JCMU told us in our opening ceremony that the way you can tell if you have become fluent in a language is if you can understand their jokes. Not only do you understand the grammar, and vocabulary, but you understand the culture behind the joke as well. This is the measurement that I wish to abide by. Until I can understand jokes in Japanese I don’t want to stop learning it!

  • explorewithasmile 3:08 pm on December 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Sunset in Sihanoukville 

    Sunset in Sihanoukville

    Taken on my way back to Sihanoukville from Koh Rong Samloem, an island off the coast of Cambodia, via boat.

  • kimuchee 1:24 am on December 18, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: anime, , , latin american culture, music   

    Mi Bachata En Fukuoka (My Bachata in Fukuoka) 

    Sekai Itchi Hatsukoi (The World’s Greatest First Love). I believe that this phrase adequately represents my relationship with Japanese language and culture. My love for Japan really blossomed during my childhood years. I can still recall the countless days I would wake up at 6AM during middle school just to watch Sailor Moon.

    Through watching ridiculous amounts of anime (Japanese animation) I found that this strange world called Japan was extremely beautiful. From their attention to detail, to their meticulous cleaning habits, to the pink sakura trees, I just couldn’t get enough. It seemed so different from the world of Latin American culture that I was so used to. One of the happiest moments of my life was when I realized that a very famous Dominican artist named Juan Luis Guerra made a song dedicated to his visit to Japan. It is called “Bachata en Fukuoka.” Never in a million years would I have thought that these two completely separate worlds of mine would collide and work so well together. But to hear him speak Japanese in a bachata, a genre of music that originated in Dominican Republic,  warmed my heart. All I could think was: “I’m not alone! There is a native of Dominican Republic that loves Japanese culture like I do!” Here is the link to the music video:


    And so I decided that my last few days in Japan would be spent in Fukuoka. I took the Shinkansen bullet train from Maibara and arrived there in 4 hours. The first thing that I realized was that it was much warmer than Hikone. (Thank goodness for that it’s freezing over there!) The second thing I realized was that they have a different way of speaking over here! I had just gotten used to hearing Kansai-ben in Hikone, only to come to realize that it is completely different from Fukuoka-ben. Needless to say I was surprised upon getting there.

    The reason why I really wanted to go there besides the sight-seeing was so that I could play that song and be in Fukuoka. When I actually did play the song, it was very surreal. “How many times have I wished this?”, I thought to myself. It was an amazing moment for me. And it was the best way that I could end my trip in Japan.

    My love for Japan has only grown since my childhood years and through my history and Japanese classes I have come to appreciate it even more. Don’t get me wrong though, it has not been a walk in the park.  We have been through some rough patches and there have been times where I wanted to quit but like all love it required hard work and dedication. I have been dedicated to my studies of Japan since my first year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and I have no intention of stopping.

    Japan, I am sincerely going to miss you.

    Now, off to South Korea!!! 🙂

  • explorewithasmile 1:36 pm on December 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    It Finally Feels Like Vacation 

    After touring the capital, I traveled south to Sihanoukville – a popular beach community. It is filled with tourists, foreigners, backpackers of the like especially since it is around the holidays. The beach is stunning, the people are incredibly nice and the parties are great!

    Picture 1- Sunset on the Ochheuteal Beach
    Picture 2 – A view from my beach chair
    Picture 3 – Me and a friend I made getting a chance to play with the fire tricks at a party on the beach




    • Ellen 2:29 pm on December 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Oh no! You’ve just open the door for someone to remind you (one more time!) how he learned to EAT fire.

  • explorewithasmile 1:29 pm on December 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Exploring Phnom Penh 

    I spent a day and a half touring Phnom Penh doing most of the tourist spots. It is similar to Ho Chi Minh City as far as modernization, but has the historical and political building that are in Hanoi. In short, Phnom Penh has the best of both worlds, what a city!

    Picture 1 – Cambodia Vietnam Friendship Monument
    Picture 2 – The King (massive image) in pfront of Royal Palace
    Picture 3 – Cambodian Independence Monument




    • Ellen 2:25 pm on December 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Beautiful structures. I’ll admit my ignorance of Cambodia’s history. Can you fill us in when you get a chance?

  • explorewithasmile 1:24 pm on December 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

    First Tuk Tuk 

    My first ride on/in a Tuk Tuk (in Phnom Penh, Cambodia)


  • sallyintaiwan 12:40 pm on December 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Panda Politics 

    With the Taipei Zoo only two bus stops away from campus, it’s a little crazy it took me so long to finally check it out. I finally had some time recently to go (if you’re ever in Taiwan, go on a rainy day! No lines for the Pandas!)

    Those who know me might roll their eyes at this post, knowing me as someone who turns everything possible, political… but really, believe me, the cute pandas in the Taipei Zoo are in fact, political. Like any panda, in any zoo around the world, the two pandas in Taipei are gifts from Mainland China. This practice has even has a name: Panda Diplomacy—I recently learned that the idea isn’t new! It dates back to the Tang Dynasty when Empress Wu gifted pandas to Japan. The US received their first two pandas after Nixon’s historic visit. It’s China’s unique way to practice diplomacy with nations it has developed certain relations with.

    When 團團 (TuanTuan) and 圓圓 (YuanYuan) came to Taiwan in 2008, they were hugely controversial. One of Taiwan’s two main political parties, the Democratic Progressive Party (who strongly associate themselves with Taiwanese independence) fiercely protested the acceptance of these pandas. They see the pandas as propaganda by the Chinese government to pull Taiwan closer to reunification—after all, they’re names together 團圓 (Tuan Yuan) literally mean “family reunion”… However the party in power, the Kuomintang, welcomed the pandas. While the DPP requests that its party members do not visit the pandas, they still get long lines of visitor every day that required each guest to view the pandas only at their assigned time given to them upon entry to the park.

    You won’t get an opinion from me about whether or not the pandas should be here in Taipei, but I will testify that they are adorable!

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