The semester is actually over, I cannot believe it. I am actually sitting in the airport lobby typing this final blog. This past week has been extremely sad. Now I know you may be wondering, “what is so sad about school being over?” Well, to put it short, it is because I will be departing with some very good friends I have made over the semester. Last night I said my final good bye to my best friend Saya. While I am planning on studying here for the 2015 fall semester, she will be leaving for one year to Canada to do her own study abroad. I am extremely happy for all of my friends who will be studying in different countries come August, but also saddened by the fact that all of my close friends will not be here for the fall semester.
This semester at Kansai Gaidai was like a dream. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. This experience has been like no other I have had in my life. It was only recently that I found out I would be able to extend my stay at Kansai Gaidai and I am extremely grateful for that. I really am looking forward to many new experiences during the fall semester.
Last weekend we had a graduation ceremony for all of the study abroad students. Most of the men were dressed in suits and or yukatas. A majority of the women were wearing kimonos. The day started at 9:15 am and ended around 1:30 pm. The graduation ceremony was very nice and afterwards there was a large buffet with so much delicious food. I stood near the table where the president of Kansai Gaidai was sitting, waiting for an opportunity to try and get a picture with him. I finally got my chance when he stood and proceeded to exit the cafeteria. After doing some keigo (polite speech) brainstorming, I made my move and asked him if I could take a picture with him. He was very kind and took a photo with me and even asked about my semester at Kansai Gaidai. I am pretty sure, I am one of the only students to get a photo with him! After that, I met up with friends and began taking photos with everyone. Around 2 pm, I met my friends near the front gate and we left for Kyoto to challenge our appetite!
A week before the graduation ceremony, my friend made a reservation at a Parfait restaurant in Kyoto, but not any ordinary parfait restaurant, we were there to try an eat an 8kg parfait! In case you are not familiar with kilograms, that translates to almost 18 pounds…Oh Dear God. Eating this would have been fine…if we had more than 7 people. In Kyoto, we walked around for the first few hours and talked before making our way to the restaurant. When we got to the restaurant, we were brought to the third floor, which looked like a VIP room. Another great thing was that we had the whole third floor to ourselves. There were black designed couches, and a glass wall looking out to Kyoto. I cannot describe how big this parfait was. When they brought it out, I immediately knew we were in trouble. We also had a time limit of an hour and a half to eat the whole thing. We started off strong for the first 20 minutes enjoying every bite. I felt like I hit a brick wall after my friend said we had an hour and five minutes left. I laid down on one of the sofas and let all the sweetness settle in my stomach. Everyone kept trying to eat but the parfait showed us first hand who was boss. When there was 30 minutes left I felt a little better and began to eat some more. We eventually decided to make eating the parfait into a game of Jankenpon (rock, paper, scissors) to decide who had to eat the next bite. I, stupidly, put a bunch of ice cream into a bowl and said, whoever loses the next game has to eat all of this. Everyones’ reaction was priceless. The dreaded game started and just as luck would have it…of course I lost. Everyone died laughing and my friend pushed the bowl in front of me. I had to skip the rock, paper, scissor games for the next 10 minutes while I regretfully ate my karma one spoonful at a time. Time quickly expired and looking at the remaining parfait was somewhat hilarious. We only managed to eat half of the $100 parfait. However, this was an experience with my friends I will never forget.
Afterwards, we all decided to go to karaoke to end the night. After an hour and a half of singing and laughing, I looked at my phone and realized that is was Saturday. Immediately, I asked my friend if she could check the bus schedule for me and…of course, I already was going to miss the last bus of the night. I had to take a taxi back to my homestay which cost me a hefty 2100 yen. If you plan on staying out late with friends when you come to Japan, make sure you take a picture of of the stations bus timetable.
Yesterday marked the last day of my homestay. I highly recommend homestay to anyone who is wanting to immerse themselves in another culture. I had the absolute best time getting to know my family and they were always super kind towards me. My homestay mother took us to a park and I played football with my homestay brother. It was kind of strange because a young girl came up to us and started talking and began to hang around us and participated in our game of catch. She must have been all of 9 years old but she was extremely energetic. She played catch with us for about an hour in the park before she left. We also brought Bloom (the dog) who was having the time of her life playing with the other dogs in the park. Afterwards, we went back to the house where we had a BBQ. My homestay mother invited some of her friends over and we ate and drank. It was a wonderful way to end my last day with them. Later that night, I went to go say goodbye to my best friend who told me she would be on break for 10 minutes around 9 p.m. I am really happy I was able to see her one last time. I gave her a handwritten letter expressing my gratitude for all of the help she has given me over the semester and talked about when we hung out. After I said my final farewell, I returned home and went to sleep.
I am planning on staying in Japan during the summer and doing some interesting trips and I am going to climb Mt. Fuji next month sometime! I am already looking forward to a new semester at Kansai Gaidai. I hope the few students who will come from USF next semester can meet with me. I will give you some of the tips & tricks for surviving in Japan!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write this blog for USF. I hope some of my posts have inspired others to follow through with their study abroad dream and or gave some heads up for what to expect in Japan for prospective students. I hope everyone has a wonderful summer and stay safe.