And then the adventure continues a bit more.....

A very, very long time and no see! I haven't been here for a while now, have I.... But HEY, I'M BACK! AND STILL ALIVE!
I am still going strong and my life here is a lot of fun, I'm all up in my daily routines and am really immersed in everything that is going on around me (which I think is the biggest reason as to why I've been quiet here for a while). My language skills are getting better and better and I feel comfortable speaking with people around me (even though I know I make mistakes all the time, I've just decided that it doesn't matter and that it won't stop me from speaking), and whatever life I had before this feels like a thousand years away. Although I guess it's starting to come back to me now that Sweden is closing in again... I'm constantly re-remembering Swedish words that I've forgotten during the year (a few days ago the word purjolök came to me, I had completely forgotten about its existence and it almost felt like learning it all over again), and I am starting to kind of mentally prepare myself more for the whole leaving-and-returning-thing.... while I at the same time try my best to live in the moment and really focus on here and now and all that is going on. No wonder I'm constantly tired nowadays..........
There has happened a lot in the time that I've been away from the blog, and a lot of things have changed! I went to Tokyo and I went fishing and I've been going to an international church and I've been in school from 07.00-19.00 last week and this week, and, and, and... But the first thing I want to tell you about is that I GRADUATED THE FIRST YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL! Woho! Well, I've already graduated from the first grade of "high school" once (in Sweden ofc), and the second as well, but since they placed me in the first year here I graduated with my class in the end of march and once again, once again I became a second year student. And being a second year student in Japan (and a first year student for that matter, being anything really, just being) is quite different from being one in Sweden. To take an example, in the schools here (or at least in mine) you keep check on your study hours (they literally have schedules they write down how long they've studied every day) and the expectations the teachers have, even though the school days are long and many of the students have club after school, are very high. And so the first year is hard to begin with, but I think you can guess that the second year is even harder and more busy. And let's not get into how the third graders have it, we don't wanna scare the kids. Like, I can't compare it with how I had it before. It's worlds away.
Another thing that's different is that when you transfer to the second year and the new, cute little first year students come, you suddenly become something that is joked around a lot about on the internet - a senpai. Senpai means superior or elder, and since Japan has a very strong tradition of treating your superiors with respect that is exactly what happens with us here as well. The first year students, and especially the ones that join the same club as you are in, speak to you in polite Japanese, bow when they greet you and generally just treat you with a lot of respect. This is natural here and like a part of the circle or life, but I, who in no way am used to this, find it very strange and I have yet to get comfortable in my new shoes. When I have cute little girls from my club running up to me shouting KONNICHIWA JOHANNA-SENPAI, what the heck do I do?! RUN? 
But to be honest this change has been- and is a lot of fun, it's fun with new faces in school and just feeling like things are being stirred around a bit. I feel like the students have gotten used to my face now because they have been getting more and more social with me the last three months or so, and so instead of just staring or shyly waving to me they approach and talk and ask questions and notice that hey, that lil' exchange student can actually speak Japanese (well, a little bit). We have this crazy thing going on in school right now that I will write more about later, and it has required a lot of working together with the other classes and years, which has led to me making TONS of new friends! And I absolutely love it, I love all of them and they are so much fun and I'm getting a lot better at remembering names as well (ABOUT TIME JOHANNA). It makes it harder to think that I have to leave all of it in a while, but is making my life here even better and I'm always super thrilled to go to school! The teachers are super nice to me (well, most of them, with the exception of the few ones who give me weird looks) and encourage me and just the whole we're-all-in-this-together and joined-forces spirit is really cool and very different from what I used to and it is definitly an environment I like being in. 
I think that the last third part or last quarter of my exchange year has been the best in many ways, I'm both way more comfortable and just really, genuinly happy. I am not looking forward to leaving even though it's gonna be fun meeting all the people back in the cold lands of the north again and eating all the food that I miss to death, but I realize that I need to start preparing myself a bit mentally for leaving. It's a bit less than one and a half month left now, and I'm slowly starting to accept that my exchange year will end and I'm also trying to change my mindset and look forward to coming home to Sweden again, just so that it won't be as hard as I've heard people telling me it is.... And that has also made me want to talk and write a bit more about it and in that sense, as well as in so many others, exchange students are magic. What would I do without you?!

I have more to write about my recent adventures but I'm not gonna squeeze everything in here. I'll write another post. Thank you everyone, thank you for following me here and sharing my moments and everything! I'm hopefully gonna get my things together and be a bit more active these last weeks. 
And, so, yeah. See ya, I guess!
xoxo Johanna senpai
General | | Kommentera |

The adventure continues...

Um, hey there people. It's been a while, hasn't it. Heh. I could say something like that I've been super busy this last month and that I didn't have time to write anything, but it's been quite the opposite so I have nothing and no one to blame but myself.... But hey, here I am, as happy as ever (if not even happier)!
I know I just wrote that it hasn't been a very busy month, but there have been a few fun events and "blog material" and while I don't think I'm gonna make a monster post about everything I definitly want to write about it because I've had loads of fun!!
As I might have written here before my host dad works in the army and is very sporty and active, so we've found a mutual interest in going out on adventures and seeing new things and challenge ourselves physically. So some time in February he came to me and told me that there was this local 2 km marathon race coming up (these people really love running, in January and February they held countless numbers of marathons and runs around the country and a lot of them were broadcasted on prime time tv) and asked if I wanted to participate with him and some others. Truth be told I wasn't super keen on the idea at first, I know my strengths and weaknessess (I think?) and as I've expressed before running ain't one of my strong points which made me worried that I would sink my team down to the point of complete defeat and at the same time make a complete fool out of myself, but it only took my host parents a few words to completely change my mind around. It will be a fun memory to have. And I realized that it would, it really would, and so I put my worries aside and accepted the challenge. So the weeks passed and all of a sudden the day to show what I was (or wasn't) made of came. It started of well (haha) with me oversleeping and therefor forgetting to bring some things I had planned to take with me, and a very rushed but nevertheless excited Johanna placed herself in the car to take off to these new lands. These "new lands" turned out to be the same sports arena that I had run my 10 kilometer run with my school, so I felt quite at home when meeting up with out team mates and settling down to wait for our starting signal to go off. My team consisted of me, my host dad and three other men that I would guess were between 50-60. They were SO much fun, really enthusiastic and just generally happy and chill.
My super awkward pose kinda bothered me before but I got over it. Just look at these guys, super duper cool! 
They kept telling me that this was all for fun and that I should take it all in my pace (my pace is always IgiveeverythingIhaveandthensuffertheconosequenses) and we had a lot of fun before and after the run. And so our turn finally came and they were all really fast and did their best, and so did I. Two kilometers doesn't sound that much but when you give everything you have you will soon realize that it's a bit tough. But yeah, I really gave it my all and I had soooo many people cheering on me along the way (Ganbare! Guddo lakku! Fighto!) which made me fight even harder. So yeah, now I add this little event to the story of How Johanna's legs became amazeballs and I have another funny story to tell people and to look back on!
And guess what. It did not end there. Oh no! Because just a while after this my host dad came up to me again, now with another event to present. This time I was on before he finished his sentence, because what he presented to me was a long "Walk of History" (that's literally what it was called - 歴史のウォーク) that would be done on the old Japanese main road that was used during the Edo period. In other words, a long walk along with a bunch of other people where we would walk along an old road with lots of beautiful nature around us from start to finish. There were two options avaliable, one 6 kilometer walk and one 20 kilometer walk, and I didn't hesitate before saying that I wanted the latter. So he signed us up and this last weekend we went off to this rekishi no wooku. Around 300 people participated, mainly old people (old people here are amazing, their energy is admirable and they are really active, and also extremely nice), and I got to meet and talk to a lot of cool people who were curious about me and where I was from and why I chose Japan of all places etc etc etc, and I got to ask them questions and learn more about them as well. Along the way they had arranged a several "pit stops" with snacks and drinks (there were lots of small candy, japanese raikon and other root fruits, sweet potatoes, chocolates, strawberries and of course Japanese green tea) and each time we stopped to grab a snack I got curious questions and a lot of "try this, and try this!", and I met such an amazing generousity and could really tell how excited they were to show me more of their culture, explain things and make me taste things I hadn't even seen before. One woman wanted to hold my hand. This was very like out-in-nowhere, countryside extreme, ute på landet as we could say in Swedish or 田舎 as they call it in Japanese, and I don't think that a lot of the older people living around there travel outside a lot, and that they therefor aren't very used to meeting foreign people, and especially not foreign people who can speak with them in Japanese. I'm guessing that that's why this woman was so excited about me and really wanted to touch me and hold my hand... I felt very honored and overwhelmed at the same time. I mean, I'm just me....
Around 4,5 hours after start we arrived at our goal, and I could sum this up as one of the best experiences I've had so far. The weather was really good, the nature was beautiful beyond words and the people showed me and reminded me why I love them so much. I did take a lot of pictures and I will post them later. Looking through them I noticed that the lightning was weird and ruined a lot of them, but I think I have some that are good for showing!
Besides these two events life has been rolling on quite as usual. I've been doing my thing in school and in club, I've hung out with my friends and I have put a lot of focus on studying vocabulary which has improved my understanding remarkably! This month has been a very happy month, my mood took a sudden and big turn up in the beginning of the month and it has stayed there! I fall asleep with a smile on my face and just go through the days really appreciating everything, accepting the things that I wish were different and taking time to stop for a minute and just breathe and take in the moment. I have started to go on longer walks and explore my surroundings, the last three weeks or so I've been on several 2-3 hour walks and thanks to them found new small places that I really have come to love. Some of my favorite bands have released new music and I've also discovered a lot of other music as well, I've been reading, and thanks to one little girl that I love so so much (you know who you are and girl I love you) who sent me this little picture on facebook reminding me to live in the moment and not focusing on how much or little time I have left, I've stopped keeping day count and stopped thinking about and worrying about that I'm kinda closing in on the end. Right now I have spring break, my class graduated from the first grade and in a bit more than a week we're starting the second! And yeah, I will be one year older than the third graders, but that's another story lol. 
Since it's closing in on easter my grandparents sent me a package (which I had NO idea was coming, I almost screamed out of pure happiness) with a little easter greeting and some easter candy - amongst it licorice. And I thought that things couldn't get any better!! And then, yesterday, another package came from my friend Erin from the U.S whom I met on facebook last fall and with who I've become good friends! She had been talking about sending me one and yesterday it came, a heavy package full of amazingness. I'm really overwhelmed and thankful and just wow, THANK YOU SO MUCH GIRL! You just wait until I'm back in Sweden, you have great things coming for you. 
One more thing, one more small detail that I thought would be worthy of mentioning..... I'M GOING TO TOKYO! WOHO! So, a lot of exchange students are placed fairly close to Tokyo and doesn't have that hard of a time going there on a regular basis, but then there are those who get placed a bit further away which makes it harder for them to go there as often.... It's not like I'm suffering from it, I'm completely in love with Kyushu and wouldn't have wanted to be placed anywhere else for anything in the world, but I'm nevertheless super excited to visit Tokyo and see all of the things that the city has to offer. My organization is organizing a camp for their exchange students and everyone who wanted to join could sign up for it. It's very expensive but I think that money is best spent on experiences and I knew that I would regret it forever if I didn't go, so I'm going!! IN TWO DAYS! WOH! I'm really excited to meet some of my fellow exchangers, it has after all been 7 months since I last saw them, and I'm thrilled for what Tokyo has to offer me. 
And with that, I think I'm gonna end this "I don't think I'm gonna make a monster post" post.... My no-Swedish month is long since over but I still feel really comfortable with English and figured I might as well just continue with the blog like this.... I hope that you're all doing super duper good, Sweden still seems to be a bit cold (at least in comparison with the freaking summer weather we have here), hang in there peeps! Summer break and vacations are closing in so hold on for a while longer and before you know it summer will be there and everything will be all fun and stuff. 
You are the best! 
Until next time
Over and out
General | | Kommentera |

"Rassun Gorerai"tte nan desu no?

RASSUN GORERAI! Eh eh, nante? Rassun gorerai, rassun gorerai, rassun gorerai, setsumei shite ne!
Being surrounded by Japanese teenagers 11 hours a day the phenomenon of Japanese pop culture is kind of inevitable to come across, and I've been shown so many things that I couldn't remember the names of if I tried (okay, maybe if I tried, but I'm not THAT interested in all of the craziness). Lately some of my closest friends have been singing this song and taught me some lines, and after going home and doing some research I sat down and listened to it and after a while I somehow found myself being able to sing along.... I've tried to sing some lines in the precense of other people to see what reaction I would get, and EVERY person have joined in. So since this seems to be a thing here I thought that hey, why not share some j-pop culture with everyone else. So here peeps, have some magic. (Oh by the way, this song basically makes as much sense to the Japanese as it does to everyone else. It's just a mess of weird things and it's a lot of fun!!)
It being the end of February I'm also closing in on the end of my no-Swedish month! It hasn't been that hard up until now, but these last few days I've actually missed speaking Swedish. I'm perfectly fine with Japanese and English but it feels weird not having formulated Swedish sentences and not having read Swedish writing or anything. But all in all it has been a good break from it and from everything going on over there (since I haven't read any news or watched any programs I have basically no idea about what's going on, I found out a few days ago that Melodifestivalen has started....), and I've been able to focus more on Japanese. So I'm kinda patting myself on my shoulder now, good job Johanna. Muchos bien. (I know I know I know the grammar is wrong, it's Johanna-spanish)
I haven't really had any routines in school for a while, this last month has been weird and a lot of different things have been going on so the schedule has differed a lot from what it usually looks like. I like it this way, it keeps my mind more clear and makes the days not-as-blurred-together! We've had some days off from school for different reasons (most of them being that it's closing in on graduation for some students which means a lot of tests which for some reason means that everyone else get's to stay home from school when the tests are held. Why? Beats me) and today was one of those. So I went downtown with one of my best friends here, Yumi, and we went around in stores and talked and talked and ate lunch at what I think is my favorite restaurant here. I haven't brought my camera with me to places for a while but today I did and I documented some of our adventurous adventures. So, enjoy the pictures I guess!
This store is one of the craziest stores to find in Kumamoto, and we have quite a few weird ones. It just has a lot of things out of which a lot of it doesn't make any sense, which makes it a really funny store to walk around in and you always find something new. I think the store is called Village Vanguard but I'm not 100% sure....
Moving on.....
This restaurant serves Japanese food, or washoku as they say here (western food is youshoku), and it's just amazing. Just amazing. I could live on gyudon.
After having eaten Yumi took me a to a place that I didn't know existed before, and I'm really happy that I know about it now. It wasn't exactly a library but had that kind of vibe (and it also had a lot of books), there were couches you could place yourself in comfortably with a book or to take a nap, and it was very calm and quiet and just a really nice environment. On the third floor in a building in the middle of the city!! So they had this little room you could go into and look through a small glass window, and behind the glass was this. I don't know why it was there but I loved it, super cool.
The place also had a shop, and I loved it too. It was kinda artsy and they played jazz music (which by itself makes me happy) and had a lot of cute things to look at and wish were in your possession.
Swedish things appear more often that you'd think and I always get excited about it.....
Waiting for the bus!
General | | 2 comments |