Since I’m in an utterly lazy mood, and Simone put it succinctly, I’m going to blatantly steal (and appropriately cite) her explanation of this thing.“A few days ago, I was nominated by fellow Japan blogger and language teacher, Kayla, for the Liebster Award. Liebster is a German word that roughly translates to sweetheart, beloved person or darling. The original idea of the award seems to be to give a shout out to lesser known blogs, so that they might garner more followers, and also pay it forward to other blogs. This is done through a chain letter of sorts; the nominator sends a list of questions to the nominee, who posts their answers to the questions, writes a new set of questions and then nominates other bloggers to answer those questions. And so on and so forth. Depending on which blog you’re reading, the Liebster Award seems to have all kinds of different rules about how many bloggers you’re supposed to nominate and how many cats will die if you don’t.” (Armer, S., 2014. Liebster Award. [Blog] Paintings from the Cave. Available at: <http://www.simonearmer.com/liebster-award/> [Accessed 21 Apr. 2014].)
1. Knowing what you know now, if you could go back and tell yourself one piece of advice before you set out on your current journey, what would it be?
Think very carefully about what you put down as your location requests. I like where I’m living, but it wasn’t my first choice. Or second. I’m adjusting, but I think I would be so much happier if I was somewhere on the main island of Honshu.
2. What is your biggest inner conflict when you travel?
Balancing the need to simply relax and let things happen, with the need to make sure I see everything on my list.
3. What do you tell people about your home country?
Thankfully a lot of Japanese people have a vague idea of what America is like from the movies, tv shows, etc. More than anything I find myself telling people that there are no mountains or oceans near my hometown. That seems to be the most surprising thing for them.
4. Which place, where you are now, serves the best food? What is your favorite dish there?
In my city, my favorite place is the conveyor belt sushi restaurant. I can eat almost everything there and the grilled salmon sushi is one of my favorites. In my area-ish there’s an Indian restaurant with the best butter chicken curry everl
5. What is something you wish you could bring from home in abundant supply?
A lot of my answers for this are rather boring and practical: shampoo, conditioner, medications, and cereal.
6. What is something you’d like to take home in abundant supply?
Curry. So much curry. An entire suitcase of it.
7. What is something you packed that has served you well?
Before I left the US I used a site called MixBook to make an introduction book. The book has proved invaluable when I’m introducing myself to another teacher or one of the students. Especially when it comes to, “What state are you from?…oh….I have no idea where that is.” That’s ok. Most Americans don’t even know where it is. (I’ve heard people argue with me that it’s down South or even that it doesn’t exist and I must just be pronouncing another state’s name incorrectly.) Either way, the map in my book is incredibly useful when I don’t have easy access to the internet. If I was making one now, there are definitely different things I would include that I didn’t think to include at the time, but it’s still very useful.
8. What of your home country do you see in the country you live in now?
Hm. That’s a tough one. There are some days when I think that Japan and the US are incredibly similar and others when I realize they couldn’t be more different. (I guess that pretty much sums up this blog in general.) I think one thing that surprised me to see was how similar kids in both the US and Japan really are. Yes, of course there’s going to be differences, but kids here make up the same kinds of games as kids back home. Similarly, teenagers are really similar in both countries.
As I’m trying to answer this question, I find myself struggling. I know there are similarities, but I think I’ve stopped recognizing them. Obviously the differences are going to be more profound. Ask me what’s different and I could write, well, about 200 blog posts on that topic alone. But the similarities are more subtle and I think because they seem “normal” I can’t even name them. As I’m writing this I am trying to go through a typical day in my head. I’m going to have to revisit this question at a later time.
Now for my questions:
- How has (if it has at all) your experience in the JET Program changed your plans for the future?
- What are some major goals you have set and/or accomplished while here?
- What is the one thing you could not live without?
- What has been the most successful omiyage you’ve brought to school?
- Other than blogging, are you keeping some other record of your time here? (Photos, diary, collection of other kinds of writing)
- What are your travel goals during your time here?
- What is something you’ve learned while in Japan that you want to make sure you remember and apply to your life in the future? (I swear this question made a ton of sense in my head.)