Sunday, 22 June 2014

A quiet but pleasing week

The week started off as hot as anything. Luckily I had bought some traditional Kiwi shoes ($5 plastic, made in China Jandals) plus a pair of shorts and a singlet. I'm fully set for summer! 

On that extremely hot and sunny Sunday, myself and the karate crew all met up for a first aid course. It was fairly early in the morning but that's alright, it was a great day.

This first aid course went well; for three hours we learnt how to deal with injured people and how to do CPR. We practiced on dummies but we learnt the procedures for adults, children and infants. I really hope I never have to use any of the stuff I learnt. 
A look from where we doing the course
Not a cloud in the sky!

After the course, we all went to Sensei's house and had a big BBQ. It was pretty great, we ate this local dish called "Ke-chan"
It's like, just chicken, cabbage and some sauce mix but it's so good!
Japanese BBQ? More like grill, still good though.
And plenty of chicken and cabbage

Sensei makes the lower grades cook
A true karate BBQ

Squid mouth...
I pushed the limits again when I was ordered to eat squid mouth. Admittedly, I refused the offer to eat this when it was first presented, which is dumb and I don't even know why I said no. But then Sensei made me eat so I had to. It tasted like normal squid but a bit stronger. And shit it was chewy. You don't eat the beak which felt like a really hard and quite sharp finger nail.

I'm glad I ate it though. That's one of the weirder things I've eaten so far.

I got sun burnt that day even though I spent most of it under a tarpaulin. Now I've got a singlet tan line, so I can keep my summer wear with me where ever I go! (I have since bought sunscreen and plan on using it)

Monday was great. I'm so happy with myself. On Monday I had another Rotary meeting and of course that meant another damn speech. Normally, I get quite nervous.

You might remember that I developed a stutter a while ago and that was in all honesty, shit. I've since fixed that but I'd still get a bit nervous before talking.

This time I decided that I'd deal with the nerves and force myself to calm down. So coming up to this speech, I did a lot of practice and never really thought of the day itself. When I got to meeting I was only a little nervous.

This meeting was different from usual too, to make it all the better challenge. Instead of a casual lunch time meeting, we were having a more formal dinner meeting. This time the school principal was coming along and a bunch of other official-ish people.

Normally I'd be shaking and unable to eat but this time I didn't even mind.

(Luckily, this time my speech was before dinner)

I got up and spoke my most fluent speech yet. I didn't stutter, I didn't forget anything, the audience laughed at my jokes and it was fun.

Everyone told me it was an awesome speech and that I spoke it so well. I was so happy. The rest of the night went amazing. I spoke fluently the whole with everyone and even had a good talk to the school principle. It was an awesome night.
 It was a DIY dinner, we had our own wee cookers and a bunch of meat to cook. Under the paper cone was a broth of some sort that boiled the meat. It was delicious!
Everyone was getting quite merry and I kept to the coke

The official looking stand from where the speeches are given
No longer a place for a shaky voice!

Hitting the hard stuff
I am still pretty happy with how that night went. Whilst it's pretty tedious with the speech making and all the practice, I'm looking forward to the next speaking opportunity!

Tuesday was an awesome day for karate. I was, as usual, super pumped all day because I had karate that night. I got to training and did the usual new stretches that we now do. We're doing something like yoga and a lot of balance training. It's pretty tough.

But the fighting was the best that night. I was slugging it out with Fuyuki who was landing quite a few good hits on me. He had managed to slip an uppercut through my guard and caught me right in the sternum. Ouch.

I had to get him back. So I managed to time a knee just right so that it came up and caught him right in the sternum. One for one, it seems.

Except he stopped, dropped and rolled into a ball. Up went his hand with a big thumbs up. I got him good. I was so stoked! Of course I said sorry but soon enough we were back to fighting. And it only got better (for me at least) Fuyuki started dishing out the big hits. 

He wasn't angry at all, but he wanted revenge and I could see it. I know too well not to get cocky because this guy can deck me if he tries. 

I wanted to make some distance between us so I fired a front kick at his guts but he blocked as if it were nothing. But he pushed my kick to far to the side which started to spin me around. 

After all the training I've done, most of the fight is fought on instinct. My body knows that once I've turned past a certain point that I've got to keep spinning. And that is the perfect set up for a spinning back kick.

So that's exactly what happened. I used his push to give me momentum and then threw my leg up. It copped him right in the side of the head. We had to tone it down after that but once again he gave me a big thumbs up.

I'm think I'm going to get a good smacking next training. Something to look forward to.

Wednesday saw another bug assassin in my room. This one had wings and it certainly didn't last long.
I punched this harder than I punch at karate
I made some progress in calligraphy as well. In class we are making portfolios and our best piece acts as the cover. I'm pretty pleased with what I got done but it could probably be a bit better.
I don't think it came out too bad
After school on Thursday, I took time off kendo to help with the school debating team. Why would I be helping with the school's debating team? Well it turns out that they all debate in English. It's quite cool.

A bunch of Japanese kids arguing all in English. It's actually amazing.

I helped them with grammar in their arguments and that sort of stuff. It was real good fun. I think I might be helping them out weekly but that's cool as. 

I had karate that night and we did a bunch more of that yoga. I don't think it's actual yoga but it's a bunch of weird stretches so I guess they are pretty similar?

My legs still hurt though.

More of this balance training and endless kicks have finally popped the blisters on my feet. Yes, of course I'm going to show you pictures of them!
Pretty gross feet

Got rid of it with the heavy duty scissors in the end.
Friday was quite a long day. It was hot and school wasn't too exciting. I got a little bit of speech practice in (that's right, more speeches this weekend. Luckily I can recycle the previous speech for this meeting.) So I revised my speech and got a bit of study done.

Kendo was tough because of how hot it was but fun nonetheless. Lately kendo has been going until five o clock instead of six so I've been getting home early. This is because there are some real serious tests coming up and people need to study.

So it's been pretty relaxed lately and I'm not so tired. (Still pretty tired but not as much as usual.)

Saturday was a day for relaxing. I slept in until lunch time and had noodles for breakfast. I revised my speech again and that was pretty much the day. 

I did go and see the American boy 'cos it was his birthday. He and two other exchange students are going home soon. They've been here for nearly a year now and next month they will return. It's quite sad.

So Sunday's meeting was about the three who have completed their exchange. We drove to Gifu and delivered speeches and congratulated the three on their year. Everyone got up and shared their memories that they had with the students. I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a tear.

And everyone saw it too! Damn!

Pretty choice salad

Mini steak and mini fish

Serious photo time

The crew

Words cannot describe this bunch
After everyone has gone home or off to their host countries, only three of us in the above photo will be left. It's a grim thought but This could be the last time we are all in the same photo for a long time. I'm actually quite sad at that thought.

The girls in the back are going to be off in August. They were all like mentors and we became a pretty close group. We taught them English and in turn they taught us Japanese. It is an awesome bond. These are friends for a lifetime and I can't really believe that soon enough they wont be here.

Then there are the other exchange students. We are like an actual family. A bunch of bickering brothers and sisters who laugh and smile together, complain to each other about each other and then laugh it all off. We are all in the same boat here and it has made us become so close so quick.

The guys that were here before us were like the elder siblings. They showed us around, told us what to look out for and how to live the exchange life. When we arrived, we had a big meeting just like this weekend's one but at that meeting instead of us saying congratulations on the year been, they gave us advice for the year to be.

It is very weird to think that soon, us newbies will be giving that same advice to the new newbies. We will be the elder siblings showing these new kids what's up here in Japan.

The big kids leave next month and it's going to be pretty rough. I honestly can't fully believe it. I'm all teary right now as I'm writing. I'll be a mess at the airport next month saying by, and when it comes to my departure, well shit, I don't even want to think of that.

Emmeline, From America

Juliette, from France
Jordan, from America
Ania, from Norway
Ania left early, but she is still part of the crew
It's going to be a tad empty when they go, but that's all part and parcel of it.

Driving back from the meeting today, in the car was myself, Jordan and three of the outbound girls. We were all talking about the fun we had that day when I decided to be open and tell one of the girls that a line from her speech made me cry. 

Of course Jordan bombarded me with all the insults he could muster (as is usual) and the girls said that I'm always the first to tear up. I was a tad embarrassed but I decided to not be. But it was true, I'm the "tough" guy and it seems I'm the first to start the water works.

Our driver put in his two cents and made me feel a lot better (not that I was feeling bad, just a slightly knocked ego) and said "That's actually awesome that he can do that without shame." 

I feel truly blessed to have made such amazing friends. We really are a family.

That's all I've got this week. It's been a good one. 

Until next time.
No witty comment, just good friends

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