Saturday, August 1, 2015

General Q&A for stuff I forgot to mention in other posts

Hey guys! Thank you so much for the comments/questions that you sent me, I'm slowly working towards answering them all. This is just to fill in some gaps I might have left in my videos and if you still have any questions please ask me!!

I did a video about classes I took in Japan and how my experience was with them. You can click HERE to watch that video. A viewer asked me if I had any problem with the Japanese language in my classes. I had TONS of trouble with understanding the classes language wise at first! It took me a while to get used to listening to my teachers speak in Japanese, then it took a time to understand what they were actually saying. It was definitely not an easy process, and a lot longer than I thought but it wasn't impossible.
I took Japanese (こくご国語) with my homeroom class and lucky for me, they were on the Old and historic Chinese section. As a Chinese-Canadian, that was extremely easy for me to handle since a lot of it was stuff I already knew. In fact, I was the only one raising my hand most of the time when the teacher asked any questions about the meaning of the phrases! That was about the only time I actually felt smart in my high school carrier haha! In contrast, the hardest courses were Math (すうがく数学) and Sciences (かがく科学) for me. I'm not a very good student in these courses to begin with, less to say when I don't fully understand the language it was taught in. Math was manageable with the numbers but calculators weren't allowed so it was a huge hustle for me to calculate everything by hand (which I haven't done since grade 6). They had a lot of Katakana (カタカナ) which meant the words were foreign but I still had trouble understanding them only because I never liked Math. Science, on the other hand, was much more traumatic. I took Chemistry (かがく化学) and Biology (せいぶつがく生物学) and both required lots of writing and most of the material was in Kanji (かんじ漢字). I just remember every single class, me and my fellow exchange student Miia, sitting in the back of the class and copying what the teacher wrote on the board. Yes, I have asked myself multiple times why I did that to myself. And I persuaded Miia to join that class. I'm sorry Miia.

I went on exchange with an organization called Greenheart Travel (CCI) which does both high school exchanges, volunteer programs and teaching programs across the globe. They're based in Chicago, US and have been in business since the 80s. I did a lot of research before I completely put my trust in them but they were extremely patient and helpful with my 101 questions AND my mom who didn't trust anybody she can't see in person. They did send me a T-shirt that I love because it is SO comfortable but this is 100% not sponsored by the company. Trust me, I will tell you if something sucks. I did have to fill out a lot of forms like medical forms and forms about myself which is understandable since they're responsible for me while abroad and they're trying really hard to find a host family that suited me (they absolutely nailed it).

Many messaged me, worried about re-doing their year in their native country after exchanging and I really am not a specialist in these things PLUS your school and my school must be very different. I spoke to my guidance counselor at school BEFORE completing my application with Greenheart to make sure my high school would allow me to be away studying for half a year. Luckily, they were fully supportive of my decisions and they explained to me what I needed academically to pass onto my senior year. I had already accumulated 2 grade11 credits in grade10 so I only had to do four more courses in the semester I got back in order to graduate in time. So I think some planing is definitely needed but I decided to go abroad a few months before I was packing for my trip, nothing to stress about. Pulling from my personal experience, talking to your school beforehand is probably the best thing to do after you made your decision.

This is it for now, as I said in the first line of this post, please let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment down below or...
Instagram @migoko2

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My most AWKWARD experience in Japan

I should be doing my homework instead of writing this but I don't feel like doing work so I will write this :p

I'm sure many of you who have seen some of my videos know that I'm sometimes kinda awkward... It never really bothered me since I was able to make fun of it all the time. I was so glad when I got some emails asking me if I was ever caught in awkward situations while abroad and the answer is obviously YES. I don't think I remember all of them and some of them are more or less private affairs but I'll tell you as much as I can!

Before I departed for Japan, I did a lot of research on the culture and knew approximately what were not good things to do. Once I was in the country, I picked up things fairly fast since it was similar to the Chinese culture. However, some things are not in either culture I'm familiar with and I had to learn the embarrassing way sometimes >///<

The first thing was the whole dating thing in school. Many couples don't show their affections publicly opposed to what I'm used to back home where everybody's all over each other. I didn't know a lot of people around me were dating unless somebody told me since there was absolutely no hint for me to know.
Second thing was tied to this. I never really liked how shy some Japanese people were with the fact that hugging each other wasn't in their culture. They usually have a lot of body touching (?) between friends of the same gender but rarely between boys and girls. I was obviously not aware of this and kept on hugging everybody until a guy asked me if I liked his friend since I kept hugging him...

And finally, my appearance is not very different from local people so many thought I was either a Japanese girl from Canada who came to exchange in Japan... Or I was full on Made in Japan. It was pretty hard for me to justify some mistakes and actions I do unless I tell everybody I was a foreigner. After a while, my school mates knew but when I was in public, I just look like a dumb Japanese person to the others around me. It doesn't really bother me since I proclaim myself as a pretty positive person and I usually make jokes out of my awkward experiences.
Many are worried if there will be racism in Japan, but from what I've been through, there is a very low chance of that. It might sometimes sound like they're mocking you but in reality, they don't really mean it.

I hope this helped you out somehow. If you have anything you need me to know please leave it down below in the comments or stalk me on...
Instagram @migoko2

How I learned Japanese


It's been a long time since I posted... Oops...
School has been unbelievable recently since I'm in my last year everything just piled up T_T

This post will be dedicated to my journey in learning Japanese before going on exchange and I hope this will help you!
Here's a video if you don't like to read and please don't mind my hair...

I started learning Japanese in grade 7 and continued until grade 10. It was a good four years of in class learning in my life. I went to two different Japanese schools for two years each. The first one was during Saturday mornings from 9 to 12. This is where i began to learn Japanese in a classroom as I pretty much self studied it before this. 
In that school, a lot of students were Canadians wanting to learn Japanese as a second or third language out of interest and it does go up to a pretty high level. We used GENKI I as the textbook for the first year to start us off with the basic reading and writing skills along with fundamental conversational skills. It also teaches you Kanji! I think this is a pretty good book since it has both English and Japanese text which is much easier to understand. I think it works best in class though only because there would be a teacher to help you out when you have questions. It explains a lot of the easier grammar rules in the language in English but I find it a bit confusing sometimes. My second year there, we were using GENKI II which is essentially the part2 in the GENKI series, with slightly harder grammar and Kanji. 

The second school I went to was organized by our school board to encourage international language learning. It's free but if you don't have the textbook, you need to borrow one which needs a 60$ deposit. It counted as a school mark and credit so it was more serious. Many of my classmates were either Japanese or half Japanese because they would get a free mark booster through the course. It went by school grade opposed to levels so I was put in the beginner class for the first few weeks but I soon begged my way out to the grade 11 level. They started to use GENKI II in that level while I was already halfway through so it was still very easy for me. The next year, they tried to finish the book and at this point you should be at a certain level of fluent in the language. Again, this depends on the person since we all learn differently. 

I find I learned most of the useful conversational stuff by watching animes, dramas and TV shows in Japanese. That's just how I learn, I imitate what I hear and see. 

I hope this post was somewhat helpful to you. If you have any further questions please leave it down below or you can contact me by...

Instagram @migoko2

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2015 in New York

Happy New Year everybody! Even though this is extremely late, but this past month was just chaotic for me… I had university applications and finals all packed in the same month, it wasn't a very amusing time. I’m still not completely done yet でも大丈夫!

Our family went to New York for New Years as a relaxing vacation. We’re been to the city for many many times but never during New Years period. It’s probably the busiest time of the year everywhere and we chose to go to one of the busiest cities in the world. 
It was a good 8 hour drive while I slept for most of it haha. We went to Woodbury Outlet first and stayed for the night to shop the next day. My mom had friends in the area so we went to visit them for two days. During that time we visited the Metropolitan Museum (I became a member ^_^;). Our hotel in New York was 5 minutes walk away from Times Square so we thought it wouldn't be too hard to get a spot to watch the Ball Drop. BUT there was just TOO MANY people! I know millions go there every year just to countdown the last 10 seconds of 2014 but I wasn't prepared for so much squishing!! We went at 5:30pm but we just couldn't take it and honestly, we were still too far to see any of the performances and the Ball itself. So we decided to go back to the hotel and come back out 30 minutes before the countdown. It was the best decision I’ve made! 

Also, I have to suggest you this restaurant/Izakaya I found near Times Square! They are amazing. The owner is Japanese and they served the most tasty Japanese food I've had since I came back from Japan. 

It's in a small street and it's a rather small place but it's sooo good! I definitely recommend it. They don't take reservations so you usually have to wait around an hour to get in if it's during lunch/dinner time.

My favourite brand, Super Dry. Love this store!

I know this was mainly all pictures but I wish you could feel the excitement of this trip through my pictures. 

I'll have a couple more videos about Japan in the future. Please stay tuned! :D

You can leave me a comment or contact me by...
Instagram: migoko2
Youtube: Manou Liu