Stateside again : ) and : (

Posted by Allie at 10:46 pm on Thursday, December 28, 2006
Filed under General,Middlesex University

Alright, I admit I’ve been lazy. But I’ve also been busy seeing friends and family, trying to finish up my essays (that are due in early Jan) and taking care of various other odds and ends before I go back (Jan 10th!!). It’s been nice to be home again to catch up on sleep, good food and family and friends but of course I can’t wait to go back. Classes don’t start again until early February but I’m going back a bit early to have time to do some things (museums, travel) that I didn’t have time for at the end of the semester.

I’m going to be losing my wonderful travel buddy Jess back to New Paltz next semester, however she doesn’t leave London until Jan16 so when I get back we’re going to have a superpacked London week. Then after that I’m going to Rome because my friend Raggy’s sister lives there and she’s visiting and invited me along. I’m also excited to get back and see my boyfriend and other friends who are studying at Middlesex for the year or longer. But this next semester looks as if it’s going to be even better! Several of my friends are going to be studying in Europe for the semester (the NP-ers: two are coming to Middlesex, one to Besancon, one is going to Oviedo and I think she’s going to be a blogger ; ) and then my friend from Vasser is going to be studying in Amsterdam) so I’m definitely  going to visit them and vice versa. Then in February my parents and sister are coming to London for a week. Besides that I’ve been invited to Norway, a friend will be studying in Moscow for a month and I’ve heard Budapest is nice . . . so the possibilities are endless.

I’m really excited and although I’m glad to be home I’m eager to leave again, only because I know what awaits me this semester in London. It’s been such an amazing experience as I knew it would, I just didn’t think it would be to such an incredible extent. But I guess that’s what happens when you take a chance no matter how small it seems or how huge and scary it is, if things don’t turn out alright then you still have the power to change it and make things better but more often than not, especially if you go to another country and open yourself up to people and experiences, the most amazing unexpected things will come of it, and you’ll never look back, just thank yourself that you made such a great decision.

Much love from SI, NP, London and wherever I will find myself next,


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Posted by Roksana at 11:39 pm on Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Filed under General

So I’m back home and for the most part I have adjusted under the jet lagg and sickness I brought back with me (Diagnosis: bronchitis. This is what happens when Japan likes to waddle side by side with nature, and not heat their houses…). I have also taken note of the so called reverse-culture shock people were telling me about.
Wide roads (IN COMPARISON). Oh man, its scary! Look at all that room! Is this really a four lane road and no one told me?!
Light switches. I feel for the wide flat rectangle to turn off the light, instead I get a nub sticking uop and am like,” ah what is this!?”
The house is warm. As mentioned above, the Japanese like a cold house. Well not like, but have. Hence my illnesses in the chilled months past Halloween.
Carpeting, rather than tatami. I rather liked tatami mats, woven straw mats that gave up equal size of the room.
Closing doors rather than sliding ones. With the exception of my host families front door and some bathroom, all of the doors were sliding. From side to side.
All of the variety of faces to look at. Before in Nagasaki, with its relatively homogenious population, seeing a randomn Western tourist would be like,” Oh man, look! Pink skin! Blue eyes! McSqooooon!”
I was pretty much cured of that being back home after a few days.
Seeing all the signs not in Kanji. I was rather fond of the Chinese characters I could only guess at (with some of them) something their meaning; Seeing the word “EXIT” at the JFK parking garage and not having the kanji DEGUCHI was a little indicative my my Nipon adventure was over.
And indeed it is. Im starting classes in Spring at the New Paltz campus. My friends in the Japanese language courses are all planning to apply for Nagasaki, and in some rarer instances, Kanazawa. I want to inform them all about the proper etiquette of buying their plane ticket, 100 yen shops (which are amazing and should be the standard for them all), Seb and the other Nagasaki English langauge profs (I love the Seb…), and maybe palm my cellphone along. Silvery pink and magic yo. And you dont have to wait for a gaijin card.
I’m thinking about applying to some grad programs at other schools. Meeting the various people I met from other countries and from across the states who take different school programs make me consider the options I have availible.
Its sure is nice to be home. 

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Jet lag is silly, get over it.

Posted by Richard at 7:10 pm on Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Filed under General

I know this blog is suppposedly intended for me to talk about all the pretty things I saw but this, but my last night in Spain, won’t be satisfied by words. So suffice it to say, my last night in Spain I saw real Flamenco, I experienced Sevilla and la cultura Andaluz, and a few hours later I left the country.

And now I am sitting in my very favorite coffee shop in NYC writing my thoughts. I just DEVOURED the New York Times in hard copy form. While my reading comprehension improved consierably in Spainish, there’s nothing like the fix a news junkie gets from consuming a newspaper at full and fluent comprehension.

If you have been following this blog than you are aware that I am at best a critical man. Thus I have been suprising myself in conversations about my experience for the lack of aspersions I have to cast. I suppose it’s that weird thing about memory, the whole generally vague and reliable aspect of the recording capacity of our brains. I’ve found myself generally excited to talk about it, and failing to capture the weight of any negativity I had predicted to remain. Conversation and recollection seem to be happening in spite of myself, and I’m positive my eyes are doing that wistful thing by their own volition.

And then more importantly, I’m in NYC again, and soon I’ll be back in New Paltz. Distance has done this city and I very well, and we have resumed our love affair (nos amamos aun que nos queda problemas). There have already been hundreds of moments that capture the essence of our connection. Thank you Europe for reminding me just how great is the greatest city in the world!

Here’s some pictures:

bridge I really never got enough of this bridge.

100_1013.JPGPlaza de Espana (I’m back home so I don’t know how to do tilde’s on a Mac)

100_1029.JPGwe’re holding hands.

100_1038.JPGGrampa, you were wrong!

100_1053.JPG sorry about the sideways, Yay for leftist politics!

100_1098.JPG It’s December.

100_1007.JPGI didn’t see much of my brother while he was visiting but I got to know his camera rather well.

Studying abroad, especially at New Paltz, is increasingly recognized as a rite-of-passage for the undergraduate college carreer. The global tourism industry most likely has some influence in this recent Western aparition. And yet, the odd thing about is that most of my friends who studied abroad speak of their experience with a slight edge. And igualmente, I have my own criticisms of the entire concept in comparison with the reality of my experience, but such is learning right? I’ll be the first to say that I learned. Here’s a bit of the lessons which are already clear:

-The age of 22 is quite different than the age of 20.
-Spain’s sense of left and right is difficult for an American to decipher, more than even an astute political observer might realize.
-Conversations about linguistics never get old, seriously.
-Fluency is far away still.
-National identity is much stronger than I had previously believed.
-Coming home to the ones who love you is better than you could imagine.

Check back here in a few months, I’m supposed to write a post post return post. Thanks for reading.

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Home for Winter Break!

Posted by Lauren at 5:37 pm on Thursday, December 21, 2006
Filed under General

Hi everyone!  I finally figured out how to use this blog.  I am currently at home on Long Island anxiously awaiting my trip to London.  It is fun being back at home, seeing my family, dogs and friends; but I am anticipating London.  I am in the process of packing and making sure I have all of the important things, like my passport/plane tickets/etc.  I really have no idea what to expect, since I’ve never been out of America before, but I know it will be an amazing experience!  I am relieved because I know who my roommate will be.  Her name is Chalyn and she was a Student Ambassador with me last semester.  We chose to room together since a lot of the students on the trip are all Theater majors and already know each other.  I know which flat I will be in already–32 Burton Street Flat 2! We are staying in apartments at a college instead of hotels because it’s much cheaper that way.  It’s also better because it comes with a kitchen and laundry facilities.  I also know 2 of the girls that will be in my flat- Michelle and Jenna (they are actually my neighbors in Bouton- my dorm on campus in New Paltz).  The study abroad orientation was really informative and just made me look forward to the trip even more.  I also met Anita Gonzalez– our theater seminar professor.  We received the syllabus for the class and it seems like we’re going to be extremely busy, but having a lot of fun. 

I really think this trip will be the best I’ve taken so far in my life.  I am going there with high expectations.  My only fear is that since I don’t know ANYTHING about theater, I might not be able to enjoy the plays or seminars as much as the theater students will, and maybe it will be harder for me to write about the plays since I don’t know anything about acting style/technique/stage design, etc.  However, I think this will be a good learning experience for me and will educate me more and maybe I’ll become more interested in it after this trip. 

That is really all I have to say for now.  I will make sure to update often once I am actually in London!  I hope everyone has a great winter break, happy holidays and a fun new year.  Feel free to leave comments! See you in 2007 :)

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TRAVEL 101: Hotel Safety

Posted by Penny at 10:36 am on Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Filed under General,Study Abroad 101

Penny Schouten by Penny Schouten

I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels throughout my travels.  As a female traveling alone, I heeded the warnings of

1.  Don’t get a room on the first floor or near a stairwell, 
2.  Always keep your door locked and the chain on,
3.  Don’t answer the door unless you’ve called for room service, and 
4.  Note where the emergency exits are located. 

I follow these guidelines faithfully and luckily never had a problem until recently…

I’ve been in hotels where they’ve had fire drills, but they were during the day and we were told they would be happening and didn’t have to evacuate.  In November I was in Rochester, NY at a conference.  At 3AM the alarms went off.  Half asleep, I jumped up and went to the door to see if staff were in the hall.  No staff, but a few other bleary conference goers stared back at me from their door.  We decided to evacuate.

Slightly panicked, my roommate and I clamoured for the essentials–our room key, shoes and a coat.  I couldn’t find my key, but my roommate did.  I grabbed my coat and I thought she did too.  We went out into the hallway where someone called to us that the stairwell was there.

A sign on the door said that once we went into the stairwell, the door would lock behind us.  That’s scary.  What if we needed to get out?

Our room was on the fourth floor and our stairwell ended on the 2nd floor where all the exhibits were–still not one hotel staff member in sight.  Luckily we knew to go to the right.  We walked all the way around to the main stairway which lead down to reception.  It was eerily quiet, except for the alarm–really weird.  We thought we faintly smelled smoke.  We met 4 other guests at the top of the staircase.  They had not seen any staff either.

Down at reception there wasn’t one staff member to direct us.  We headed out the door into the freezing night air.  There was probably 15 guests already outside, some wearing coats, some in just pyjammas, some fully dressed.  For the next 15 minutes people trickled out of the building.  Still no hotel staff came to speak to us.  Then the fire trucks came.

Julie, my roommate, had only grabbed her robe and was cold.  We all began hopping around to stay warm.  The alarm stopped a half hour later and we re-entered the building.  Many people had left their room without their keys and had to wait in a long line to get a new one. 

In the morning, some people found letters from management under their doors about the fire.  In some cases, this was the first they’d heard about it because they’d slept through it and no one banged on their door to get them out.  It turned out there had been a bad fire in the kitchen, but it was contained in that area.

So, here’s what I learned: 
1.  Make note of the fire exits on your floor, maybe even do a test run on your way out one morning.

2.  Put your room key, coat, shoes, & mobile phone in one spot before you go to bed.  Then you don’t have to think about finding them in an emergency.

3.  Also keep a small flashlight with you–we were lucky, the lights were all on and there wasn’t any smoke.  But if the power was out–we would’ve been panicked and disoriented.  A flashlight would’ve helped find the stairwell and get down the stairs.

4.  If you can’t leave your room–line the bottom of the door with wet towels to block smoke from coming in.  Call 911 and tell them your room number.  Place a towel over your nose/mouth and keep low to the floor.  Hang a white towel in your window.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this advice.

Safe travels!

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Last week…

Posted by Roksana at 1:15 am on Monday, December 18, 2006
Filed under General

Was my last full weekend in Japan. I got my bus ticket for Fukuoka, where Im going to share a hotel room with Rebecca, Texas Chick, and then go home and see my darlings and some other too. Satrurday we went searching for Green Sand Beach. Barbara from Economics told me about it (as the wife of an IBM employee who lives here with her children and is familair with the area), and shes fairly knowledgable. Unfortunalty its far far away and the buses didnt even go there. The trains did but at the cost of 5000 yen. So we were like, noes, but the English speaking infobooth at Eki Mae (Train station) people gave us another fun idea to do. For 980 yen we could take a boat ride to this island, and take a trip to the onsen. You know, the strip down and be naked place? Well, by gender anyways. Unfortunatly, it was raining. Really raining. Like hard core. We walked about two kilometers in the chill and saw a beach resort that had been closed since the typhoon that came a bit around the same time as when we flew in. Lots of sand everywhere. It was interesting. After a romping walk in the chillled rain we set upon the onsen. The water was hot and I stayed five minutes in the sauna (which is more intense than American saunas). I also took an experimental stay in one of the barrel deep tubs. But that was an excersize in, I hate you. As in, when i went in, the displaced water went over the sides, and kept going over there. I could feel the women listening to the (apprently)fat American’s water just going and going and going over the side. And in the end i didn’t even stay in there for long. The water was too hot. This onsen was too damn hot! Atakai yo! Some of the other ones Ive been too have always had different water heat levels; this was just all around hot. No wonder I was lightheaded by the end of my visit. We toured the gift shop which was reasonably priced as apposed to so much of the rest of the omiyagi (gift) shops Ive been too. I bought Mochi. I hate mochi but this one was good. Biwa mochi, which is a sort of summer citrus. It was a three pack and i gave one to my host moms parents and grandmother when we went for dinner there later on. I also gave one to Kou-host fathers-’s mother when she came over and had a parting gift for me. Ino! The 2007 Chinese Zodiac is the boar! But Im getting ahead of myself. After the giftshop we wandered around, waiting for the boat to come around and take us back. The weather was attoricous. All the rain, and the rain, and cold rain. Maybe on Wensday we’ll go back and try to see the other half of the island to where they have cooled lava flows. Sunday was Mochi mashing day. Mochi is pretty much pulverized rice. At one of the local elementry schools, they had set up the fire places outside. There were many many people. After a long winded speech (honestly, it was), and some more speeches, we went outside. The old fashioned cookeries were set up. Cooking on a fire pit makes it take a while to cook the rice and imo, sweet potato. In the meantime, we bonded with the children. I broke the ice by showing off my crazy Rirakuma cell phone straps. I have a large amount of *crap* hanging off my keitadenwa. I plan to transfer it to my American cell phone when I come back. My cell phone strap collection rivals that of Japanese girls and thats saying something. The kids adored how much stuff I had on my phone and we were able to communicate over the cute bonanza of my phone. Me, Raymond, and Yetang took turns being a mashing trio, and later on I gave Yetang one of my Rirakuma phone strap teddies. I mean, later on I quickly had Raymond win me some new ones at Taito Gaming Station where we plaid an expensive hour of Billards. Afterwards there was a barbeque at one of the local prominents home. Mori san and the Togitsu International Circle of friends. It was a who’s who of local celebrities for a few few people and gaijin students. We had a national athlete, a five star chef, my host dad (ha), one of the largest land owners in Kyuushu, and this guy whose travlled to over 30 countries and enjoyed Germany the best. He spoke English very well, and lived in Kingston for a month a few years ago. There was meat at the party. Real meat. And the food was like school festival food. Yakisoba, which I love, and many many other foods. But unfortunatly, since the barbeque took place in the area where you can park about 4 cars… with no walls, it was windy and cold. And it alternatively hailed, briefly snowed, and rained. One side would be raining while the other did not. It was fearsome. There was a buffet line at the industrial sized grill and the mini heater. Oh yes. After a bit we did leave, Ray, Yiten, and I, for the bus downtown. We had fun going downtown in a warm warm place like the bus. Taito, then some crane games, and book shopping and quiet reflection on our last week. Good times, slowly closing to an end…

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1 hour

Posted by Richard at 6:55 pm on Sunday, December 17, 2006
Filed under General

I decided I may as well use my last hour at the internet café.  They close in an hour, and I have an hour left, it just makes sense.  I also managed to use almost all the food I had left for dinner - minus half a bag of dried lentils which are really too complicated to deal with.

Friday I found the perfect coffee shop in Sevilla, the one I´ve been looking for since I´ve been here.  I could view this negatively, and wonder why this happened at the very end, but I have decided to be optimistic.  It was there, and I found it, and enjoyed it as much as I could this weekend. 

But let´s keep this out of the sappy reflective realm until I´m unsettled back into the ´States.  My stance in Europe has made me much more aware of the increasing conflict of ethics the human rights movement seems to cause.  Please let´s exempt what we already know about my politics while reading this. 

Spain is currently dealing with their Law of Historical Memory, a law established quickly after Franco´s death to delay the reactions of those who disputably (un, right, un?) suffered throughout his dictatorship.  Now the government – members of it – are proposing some kind of way to recognize those who died, disappeared, etc.  (I suppose I should link some sort of ´real´ news article about it here, but if you read Spanish just hit up EL PAIS or El Mundo for both sides of the polemic.  And there´s always google, really there´s just no excuse for not knowing anything nowadays, is there?).

What´s going on here?  You can imagine it, many members of government served under Franco, the Baby Boomer generation in Spain lived half their lives under his rule, the younger generation did not but is not at all unified in support or opposition of either camp. 
That´s right, the ´camp´ could be a lot of things.  Even as much as who won the Civil War.  I mean, sure the Nationalists won and ruled Spain for 40 years, but then democracy was sucessfully came into power and the ´forces´ of the Republic took over.  I´m not touching that debate here. 

Ack!  I only have 20 minutes to flesh this out and I didn´t write it ahead of time!  OK I´m skipping some thoughts.  Essentially, the immediacy of information has completely ripped apart the ability to interpret history, history is as present and history is even prescient because we (everyone no matter what class, affected-by-ism) knows more than everything about an issue.  So governments can now debate what is right without even agreeing about what was wrong, becaue everything is as right as we want it to be as long as we have the internet pages to back it up.  Yes yes, a problem of democratic government that has always existed without a doubt, but I sense that the immediacy has caught up to the present. 

It sort of reminds me of the cycle of fashion trends, because as we have already recycled the 70s, 80s, and are now hitting the early 90s, fashion will eventually catch up with itself and then nobody will know what to wear, except the outfit they wore yesterday.

Well, I shouldn´t even post this as the analysis barely connects to the proceedings, and leads me to all sorts of murky debates about Never Agains and I remember better than you.

But look, my point is to highlight the ideoglical confusion, curiousity and dialectic arousal that a politically concerned American might encounter with even a modest effort at immersion in a different Nationality.  Is this the whole ´travel broadens you´ thing I´ve been so eager to discover?

And dear readers, you might suggest your own brand of resolving that confusion (some recent NYTimes bestseller that seems to have the undeniable answer) but I will almost definitely not follow the suggestion you propose to me through a blog comment.  This is a school blog, not a European politics and human rights forum (Such a cheap way to avoid discussion, eh?).

And so until the sappy reflective post, hasta luego Europa, and to conclude my list:

Number 7-1: Don´t spend so much time in internet cafés. 

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Posted by Richard at 5:23 pm on Friday, December 15, 2006
Filed under General

Sólo me queda 2 días en Sevilla, y acabo de darme cuenta que me encanta la ciudad.  Sí, es cómo van las cosas.   Pero bueno. 

 He pasado todo el día al BIACS2, el bienal internacional de arte contemporáneo de Sevilla.  ¡Qué arte, qué fuerte!  Sería muy dificíl explicar todo que me sentía por la exposición (especialmente en castellano) pues, déjalo alla como asi.  Si alguien tiene la oportunidad a viajar a Sevilla, y tiene ganas de acercarse al mundo de arte contemporáneo, no se olvida a ver este museo. 

Me voy en dos días, y echo de menos a todos de los estados unidos.  Asimismo, podía quedarme aquí más tiempo, porque no he empezado a vivir en este ciudad.  Y quería a ver la ciudad sin obras!  Pues bien.  Tal vez volveré.  Hoy no me siento listo para reflejarme. 

Mañana veré el segundo mitad de la exposición BIACS2, en sitio diferente. 

Ay perdón, un resumen de los días que han pasado

-Mi hermano estaba aqui, y nos disfrutamos el tiempo junto.  Vimos la ópera Roméo y Juliette, y una obra de teatro. 
-Además, he llegado al fin de mis estudios en Sevilla.  Un poco anticlimático, pero bueno.  Espero mantener el contacto con algunos profesores. 

Y sí, me ha mejorado el español mucho, pero todavía no puedo expresar mis pensamientos complejos ni mis observaciónes sociales.  Pero bueno, eso pasará con más tiempo y practica…y una estancia más en un país hispañola.

Me falta las fotos, discúlpame. 

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high heels and deadlines

Posted by Allie at 10:45 am on Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Filed under General,Middlesex University

Today I’ve got the fashion show (nervous, fingers crossed) in which I’m modeling a garment for a friend, it’s all through the uni but it’s still a big deal. I’m not really sure where it is yet but it’s at a place that was rented out and it’s in only a couple of hours! Luckily all my good friends will be there to give me the encouragement I need. Other than that I’ve been scrambling to get things done before I go home on Saturday (Ahhh!).

I’ve randomly been sending out mass emails to all my friends in the States, updating them on things I’ve done here and how I am in general. I just got an email from my one friend who doesn’t check his email often and so they all pile up and he joked how it seems like all I do is travel and party. It’s funny because I don’t feel like that’s what I do, especially recently. I mean all I’ve done this week besides the normal daily routine has been to go to a friend’s birthday party in her flat on Friday night and out to a club in Camdentown on Saturday night. But everyone has been really busy and so have I. I have three final papers which are all due in January however I need to do all my research by the end of the week so I can finish up those papers at home. So I’m sort of stressed and doing lots of work but then I’m also just trying to do the most I can without putting too much pressure on myself because I’ve already come to terms with the fact that when I get home I’m still going to have papers to write. However the same doesn’t go for everyone else and so lots of people have become hermits (or maybe I’ve slightly become one too) and haven’t been going out as much. However I’m sure by Friday (when a lot of coursework is due) everyone will resurface and we’ll all get to say goodbye whether it’s for just a month or so over Christmas or for much longer than that . . .

I’m excited about going home, I’m excited about coming back in Jan and I can’t wait to give out all my Christmas presents to people, go out in the city (my city), see my friends, sleep for a week straight and eat my Mom’s food! : )

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Japanese Stores!

Posted by Roksana at 8:16 pm on Sunday, December 10, 2006
Filed under General

The Japanese have tow words for shopping place. ‘Ya’ and “mise.” “Ya” is the more commonly used one and can get tacked onto any word to turn it into, that kind of store. “Hanaya” flower store, “Ramenya” Ramen stand, “Honya,” bookstore. Id like to talk about hte speciaity store since those are the ones which are the coolest. Im not talking about any grocery store, no siree. Ramenyas, as I stated before, are ramen stands, or sometimes, actual ramen restuarants. I like the portable ramen stands myself. They seem more intimate, the owners and their wives (in the background) seem more authentic than some guy worrying whether or not his rent is due. They also adore foreigners, or at least the ones I’ve come across in my day. Its good conversation practice. The way a ramen stand is set up, unless i missed something vastly radical in my time, is three sides are devoted to patron sitting. There are usually just benches, and they sit around the center where the boiling water, and boiled vegatble bobble about in their broth. The fourth side is a tall drawered area, where he goes for his spices and whatnot. There is also a mini TV situated at the very top, playing an animal documentary. Always. Its written in the Nippon Ramen Association contract. “Must show footage of lioness chewing unidentifiable mass or else strainer will be confiscated.” Around the side on the outside, are flaps of durable clothe, proclaiming in their katakana’ed glory, “Ra” “Me” “N.” Ramen stands are beautiful, and they certainly taste better than anything Nissin or Top Ramen cooks up back home. In addition to wonderful noodles, you also get a half boiled egg, two pieces of meat (Pork?), long stringy vegtables I’ve yet to find an English name for, and a woderful sense of comradery. Just you, the Ramen-ka and his wife, and the business men not quite drunk enough to stagger home just yet. Yakitori-ya. Yakitori means literally “grilled chicken.” For the most part it is. But you can also get varieties of vegtables added to it or other meats and its just a wonderful site to behold. This is a yakiniku, “grilled meat,” truck that parks outside of selected areas and sells meat made right in front of you. Its immensley popular as a way not to have to cook, since its relatively inexpensive and really tasty and fully Japanese. The setup is that the grill area is built right into the trucks. They unfold them around 4 pm, roughly the right time to snag the hungry kids inbetween regular school and cram school, as well as the wives trying to feed them. Ditto on the tacoyaki-yas, but those are fried octopus dumplings rather than land faring meat. Conveyer belt sushi. I know theres a Japanese word for these things, but I forget at the time of this writing. I adore conveyer belt sushi. It is exactly what it sounds like. A store wide looping belt zips food along while people at tables or booths just reach out and grab what they want to eat. Avoid things covered under a plastic dish in the middle of a slow day; its been there for a while. Usually, most of the sushi pieces cost 100 yen for a set of two nice fish ones, or six vegitarian. You can also order things like miso soup and an unlimited drink bar at a bit of a higher price. Green tea is free and easily provided. You can even order slightly American things, like “Ha-mu” which is actually piece of fatty salami slapped atop some rice, or “Weina,” a halfed hot dog done up in much the same way. Oh, and krinkle cut fries. Usually when a group of us JASIN students come in, someone specially orders one set, and then they alllll order for the nostalgia. Or if not, the conveyer belt will then be filled with bowls of fries along side the tradiaitonal Japanese fare. I dont think the native populus really enjoys the invasion. Hon-yas. These are book stores to the max. They have manga and thick anthologies of popular comic hits and regular books in one specialized area. What makes these noticable is that there will be oddles of people just standing there reading. Seriously. They haven’t bought the manga or book yet, and they probably won’t. They just stand there and read. Most stores have a problem with their abuse of merchandise but these hon-yas are pretty good in leaving you to your reading. And on a similair note, Book-off. I adore Book-off and to a greater degree, the sister, Hobby-off, and a much lesser extend, Hard-off. They are ‘Eco-Recyle’ places. Pretty much used merchandise stores, only these are worth going to. Hard-off is a lot of hardware and such, cameras, dvd players, TVs, ancient laptops from 1989, guitars, video game systems and games. Hobby-off is a pop culture idea area filled with figures, hand towels, keychains, phone straps, most under 300 yen or so. If you want an anime or a media icon figurine, keychain, card, playing cards, full scale models, Hobby-off is for you. Not that I know or anything ::puts away cell phone and the cyptic jingle, as well as purse, littered with the stuff:: Book-off sells used manga and books at a 100 yen and up. Sometimes you find really old series, sometimes the latest issue of Naruto. They leave their books unsealed and just as with the Hon-yas, there are crowds of people standing around and reading. Unlike most of the Hon-yas, people readily buy these becuase the books and manga here are relatively inexpensive considering the already cheap price of manga. Books are so-so priced to begin with. The competitor, Bookbank is less popular considering their books arent as cheap or readily availible as Book-offs. They shut their books closed with plastic wrap and tape. Their figurines are expensive. Bookoff is so muh better than Bookbank and I dare anyone to fight me on this ::rubs hands::. Anime-yas. Since Im on this fangirl roll, I’ve really only discovered one anime place for all those fun manga and bubbly eyed goods. That would be Animate in Hananomachi Arcade. Its half books store, half I-want-to-blow-all-my-money-here-omg-its-so-cute-I-want. The popular series have lots of merchandise such as plushies, pillows, calanders, figureinges, posterboard, pencilboard, keychains, stat-books, mugs, Tshirts in some instances, and wonderful other things that make my toes curl and my wallet slim with the idea “Im only in Japan once.” Fairly cool place and I have purcased … some things from them. Pachinko. Eww. Why is this mob run industry on this list? Lots of myth, waste of money, questionable and smokey insde. Friend Morgan compared it “Walking in, giving them a 10000 yen, smiling, saying Arigatou Gozaimasu (Thank you), and walking out.” Omyiage-shops. Omiyage, the art of giftgiving means there are alway going to be stalls set up hocking wares and that from which ever area you visited. Nagasaki’s prime omiyage is the Kasutera cake, a sweet mixure of sugar, egg, and flower. It ranges from inexpensive gifts to “Well, I’m in Japan once,” sort of logic. Every hotel has the omega of all ift sops in each of its lobby. All the JASIN student with host families were told the first outing to bring back their host family a little something of where theyve been. The ones in dorms rejoiced.

Also, Christmas lights are out in full regalia. Come folks, buy your cakes and your KFC! Christmas tradition you.

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