Monday, June 30, 2014

A HUGE rant about Samurai Blue (Japanese soccer team) and CANADA DAY

Hi all~ I'm sorry I haven't updated anything recently... Summer has finally reached Canada and my family decides to have a road trip to Boston ._.
Anyway, today is the day where all Canadians get out of their igloos, wearing red and white, to celebrate our national holiday: Canada Day!! It is only 3 days apart from the American holiday on July 4th so I guess July is a happily proud month for North America! :D

My hometown Ottawa (for those who have no idea where it is... It's in Ontario and it's the capital of Canada) is probably where most Canadian people want to be on July 1st. The one and only Parliament Hill will be filled with people anxiously waiting to see concerts by amazing artists while others wonder the main street downtown, enjoying the red and white atmosphere. Also, sales in stores are a must see!! Even stores that don't usually have big sales will be having red tags. All of this... I will be missing this year it seems because as I'm writing this now, I'm still at least 3hours away from home. Boston is far... Car rides are long... Motion sickness is a devil...

Anyways, before we left for the trip, I was glued to my TV for FIFA. Canada is, as expected, not even trying to participate so I had no country to root for. That's what most people thought at least... I ROOT FOR SAMURAI BLUE JAPAN!! I mentioned 2 players in an earlier post I think and I was just so anxious to watch them play. After all, they were the Champions for Asia Cup! However, after the first match against Cote d'Ivoire, it just went downhill for them. If ONLY they could win against them. If ONLY they could at least win against Greece. Then I thought of a factor that could not be changed, physical. The Japanese players are, indeed, very talented and skilled but they seem to be so much weaker physically compared to Caucasians. All the clashing and sliding made me cringe. All I can say is しょうがない.
I knew Hasebe (C) and Uchida had terrible injuries right before the event and had to do rehabilitation like crazy to get back into the game. Then there was a picture of Uchida with taping on his knees after the match against Columbia. It just broke my heart to see them like this.

During a TV interview after the painful play, the interviewer asked if he will be joining the Japanese Soccer team in the future and he answered with "I've been thinking about leaving the team for a while now, mostly due to my leg injuries." No matter what his decision is, it's for the best. Either way, I'm sure he wants to give his 100% to the team and felt powerless in front of his injuries. It's not something very hard to understand; you take your sport seriously, there's a big chance you will get seriously injured. 

On the internet (mostly Japanese E-Communities like Twitter, Naver and 2 Channel) were piled with posts against the captain, Hasebe, since he and Honda have left the team to go to Europe instead of returning to Japan on the 27th. Many were calling the two "run-aways", saying they are not responsible enough to deal with the angry fans waiting for them so they fled. The truth is, from what I had read on many posts, Hasebe needed to take care of matters about changing soccer clubs while Honda had some health check up to do for his club. Personally, I was taught to always look at things from different point of vues to avoid single stories. I felt extremely bad for Hasebe since he has to deal with all kinds of comments, mean or good, because he is the captain. It's a miracle he didn't crumble under pressure. He also released a book a while ago, called 心を整える。 and I happen to have found it in my local bookstore when I lived in Japan. I spent about 2 hours standing there, reading through the first half of the book, until my legs were about to give up on me. From my unprofessional judgement, his writing reflects the way he is: calm and focused. Those are 2 of the most important skills to have when you are a leader. That's how I fell for him, through a book (haha). It's weird how people usually become fans of a player due to their play, but I became a fan because of his book. If you have the chance, please go check it out!! I should've bought it!! Every time I think about it, I hate myself. I only brought about 300 yen (about 3.50$) that day since I thought I was only going for a run. Ahh so mad! 

Other players like Kagawa (who's name got butchered so many times during the match by the narrator) also received bashing from people since he was supposed to be the star of the team. Instead, it seems he didn't really "do" anything. As unbelievable as it sounds, "doing" something or assisting in a soccer game is not as easy as it seems. I had done soccer for a few months and all I can say is a part of the goal relies on chances and opportunities. It's not easy to block someone who's 2ft. taller than you! It's not like you can do anything about the physical differences. I don't think he did a bad job at all! It's hard for anybody in that position and I hope people understand that. Of course, I'm not saying they should be given flowers and enjoy welcoming parties even though they lost. However, I think being bitter after a team loses and therefore bashing them is not only disrespectful but also immature. 


And here is the end of my forever on-going rant about soccer. 
If you feel like discussing about this, I'm always open!! Please comment down below and I'll get back to you as soon as possible!! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Japan Student Exchange Q&A Part2

Again, thank you to everybody who asked me questions in emails!! :D

Before I start, I would like to remind you that today is the opening day for World Cup 2014 in Brazil! Canada is, unfortunately, not part of this amazing event. However, the Japanese team, Samurai Japan, is going to be playing this year and their first match will be on Saturday >_< I mainly look forward to Atsuto Uchida and Makoto Hasebe!! They are my two athletic crushes recently :3 They're so cute *_*
Uchida Atsuto

Hasebe Makoto

 Ok, before this post becomes a rant about my Japanese crushes... Lets get to the questions ;)

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Q7. What if I experience homesickness?

I didn't get any homesickness while I was in Japan! I was really busy with school and school clubs. So the best way for me was to keep myself busy and find close friends in Japan to feel less lonely. 

Q8. What happens when I have a problem with my host family?

Try to communicate about the problem with your host family first but if it doesn't work, then go to your counsellor. The company will try to find a new family or they will try to talk about it with the family on their side. 

Q9. Can you chose the city you were going to?

I wasn't able to chose it myself. I was lucky to be placed in Kanagawa since it was only 40mins by train from Shinjuku station which is downtown Tokyo. I'm not sure how the companies decide on locations but I assume it has to do with your application and what they think your personality is. 

Q10. Will you be with another exchange student in the same school?

I had four fellow exchange students in my school. My host school was very focused on English and foreign languages, like Chinese. Therefore, there will be many exchange students every year coming from different countries. Our company didn't allow us to "hang out" too much with other exchange students but it was close to impossible since we basically all had the same friends and all knew the same people. 

Q11. Can you wear makeup to school?

My school was very westernized and they didn't have much rules for how you looked. They allowed everything reasonable and didn't have an uniform. However, most schools in Japan do have regulations for your looks so be careful! 

Q12. How do you make friends in Japan?

It's different from person to person since our personalities are different. I personally love sports so I joined sports clubs at my school and became very familiar with people on the teams, mostly guys since we didn't have a lot of girls in my school. Another thing is to become close to your classmates so that you can get to know other people from other classes through them. Go talk to them yourself since most of them are too shy to talk to you and make conversation with them. I got really close to the girls since there was only eight other girls in my class and there was a total of thirty. Don't think that you're special because you're a foreigner! This might sound weird, but it's important to consider yourself one of the Japanese students in order to blend in with them. 

Hopefully this wasn't too long for you to sit through and I wish this helped people with questions. If there's anymore questions that you want me to ask, comment down below or 
Youtube: Manou Liu
Instagram @migoko2

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Japan Student Exchange Q&A Part1

First of all, I would like to thank everybody who sent me emails with questions about my trip, thank you for reading my blog!! So many questions make me happy :3
I had to separate this into two posts so that I don't have a massively long one and bore you all to death.

Just a reminder: I'm not in Japan anymore! I came back to Canada in January.

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Q1. What academic requirements do I have to have?

This depends on the company you chose. Greenheart Travel has a requirement of a GPA of 3 but that's a system rarely used in Canada so I'm not quite sure what it actually means. My school told me it should equal to at least a C student, so as long as you're not failing school, it's fine.

Q2. How old do I have to be?

This depends on your company again but I've seen from 13 to 18. A lot of companies think that 19 would be too old to be in a high school exchange program but they usually have gap year options. 

Q3. How much pocket money do I need?

I had about 300$ per month. This might sound like a lot to some but if you think about it, you have to pay for transportation (train, bus, etc.) to school everyday (unless you walk or take the train), food which is irresistible. You have to base it on your own spending habits and add a little more to that to go out and have fun with your friends. 

Q4.  Can my parents visit while you are on exchange?

My company didn't allow my parents to visit and they had a limit of two calls (skype or telephone) max every month. My mom was really mad about this since she doesn't understand why they did that. The reason is to help you overcome homesickness since the more you talk to your friends and parents back home, you get more sad. 

Q5. How were you supported in Japan?

I had a counselor who worked for the company who met with me every month to talk about any problems I encountered. If there was anything uncomfortable (host family, host school, etc.), she's the person I should go to. She was fluent in English so it was easy to talk with her. 

Q6. Do I need to be fluent in the language? How fluent are you?

I think it's a good idea to know some of the language to survive better and to make the lives of people around easier too. In case of emergency, it's always better to speak in Japanese for people around to understand and react faster. It will make your life much easier too. 
I had six years of Japanese school training before deciding to go to the country. I'm Chinese originally so I could read the kanjis pretty well and I was lucky enough to have Japanese friends to practice with so I got around easily.

Please go to the next post for part2! 
If you have any questions I didn't cover, please comment down below or...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Spring in Paris~Louvre Museum

On our last day in the city, we decided to take a break from walking and went to the Louvre. It was a rather cool day so I wore a sweater but then it got really warm so I had to go back to the hotel to change. Luckily, our hotel was 3mins walk from the museum! 

The museum itself was a piece of art with the entrance of a glass pyramid in the middle of a palace court. Louvre itself was an artifact since it was built long before our time and underneath the museum was the original remains of it. There was three sections: Richelieu, Sully and Denon. It was free admission for me since I was a student underage but I had to show them my passport before entering the different wings every time. I would suggest to grab a map at the information counter because we got lost even though we had one! It took the entire day to be able to see everything in there. 
Main works like the Mona Lisa and the Venus was flooded with tourists. There was a hall made of stones and filled with statues which was so calming and cooling. A lot of people would be sketching around some statues or studying paintings. I loved that place!

After changing to thiner clothes because it was so hot...

The crowning of the queen.

Old remains of the Louvre Palace

The stone hall

The first written laws of humanity by Hammurabi 

When we got out of the museum, the entrance to Printemps was so shiny! There was also luxury stores like Chanel and Dior too. 

This is the glass floor showed in Da Vinci Code I think... I couldn't find it above ground though :(

If you have anything you want me to know, please comment down below or...
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Youtube: Manou Liu
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