Posts in Journal
Dear Kerstin,

When I first arrived in Japan this time last year, I was incredibly apprehensive. About the situation, yes, but about the people even more. I already understood that Japan seems to attract both the best and the worst people, and although we had chatted a bit on Facebook and you seemed mostly normal, I wasn't really sure what to expect when I actually got here. And while I was hopeful that maybe my new neighbor would be someone who could show me around and maybe even be a friend, never in a million years could I have imagined forming the kind of friendship that we did - and so quickly too!

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Sunrise

Whenever I'm home, I make it a point to do a sunrise hike at least once. Oahu being a volcanic island, it's not hard to find an east-facing mountain from which to get a good view. Normally I'll choose the Lanikai pillboxes or the Makapu'u lighthouse trails since they're relatively fast and don't require missing out on too much sleep. During this little jaunt home, however, I was feeling up to a challenge, and with my sister and a few of our cousins did a harder trail that normally takes about three hours start to finish.

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On Nature.

When most people hear the word "camping," they probably think of tents in the forest, dirt underfoot, the smell of pine in the air. But to my family, camping is something a little different. The word gets passed around the house in the week preceding a calm, clear Saturday, normally no earlier than May and no later than September. Dad asks Mom for permission to whisk away her two daughters for a day and a night, to drive the hour and a half to the farthest point of the island from our home and set up camp on the wide, white sands of the North Shore. To us, camping means long hours swimming in the deep ocean chasing after sea turtles; afternoons with hand poles scouring tide pools for bait; falling asleep under dark, star-filled skies.

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'Ohana Means Family

Yes, I'm in Hawaii for the food. Yes, I'm here to go to the beach. Yes, I'm here because Hawaii is home. But mostly I'm here for my family. In fact, I was originally supposed to spend a bit more time in Japan, possibly even climb Mt. Fuji before coming down here in mid-August (if at all). I probably would have missed my sister, but it would have meant I wouldn't have to take off from work like I'm doing now and would have the chance to get to ~experience~ Japan a bit more. But sometimes you need to prioritize.

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I love airports

I'm currently sitting at the gate waiting to board at Kansai International Airport. It's my third time here so far this year, and I have to say, it never gets old. I may be in the minority, but I absolutely love being at the airport. 

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"Visiting Home"

One week from today, I'll be home for a two-week visit. And I know I talked about this the last time I went back in February too, but it still stings to have to say that I'm "visiting" this place that, despite spending the majority of the last five years elsewhere, I call "home." Because, to be honest, I don't think I'll ever be able to say that of anywhere but Hawaii. Sure, I'll refer to wherever my current residence is as my home, but no other place will ever fill my heart the way that Hawaii does. 

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Observations on Internalized Societal Expectations

As we near the end of the school year (mid-March in Japan) and finish up the English curriculum, we've had some time recently to do a few creative exercises in class. In particular, with the third years, who're preparing for graduation and entering high school, we've been having them reflect on their middle school experience and think about what the future might hold.

Up until now, because of the rigidity of the curriculum and the way that English is taught (which is another issue for another post), I haven't really had the opportunity to hear about what's going on in their heads. So when they were able to really let their thoughts come out, it was eye-opening and made me really think back on the way that I thought when I was their age.

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