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Gap Year Abroad

5 posts categorized "Lea Klock"

11/21/2013

And Then We Walked (Plus Bathroom Slippers)

So I haven't been updating because I'm a forgetful bunny *forgetful bunny dance* and also I just feel so terribly busy. Well, I’m not really that busy, but I don’t really turn on my computer too much these days. I suppose that is a good thing, because over the summer my internet addiction was almost palpable.

I do so much walking here! Yea, despite my obsession with Japanese sweets (YUMYUM) all the walking is keeping me pretty healthy. I've also found myself to be consuming a lot more music. I put it down to all the walking. I'm one of those people who needs good head bobbing music while walking. 

In many ways Japan is a lot like my home, I suppose. Except bathroom slippers. God damn bathroom slippers man, it's such a weird custom. The weirdist part by far, is how obligated I feel to wear them whenever I see them in the bathroom. It's not like anyone can tell when I'm not wearing them (though bathroom slipper sense would be an awesome super power). 

Hm, what else? Oh, Japanese Egg plant! Why have I never had this before? Why is it so glorious? No one may know the answer to these questions, but all I know is I'm going to fill my suitcase with them before heading home. (Don't tell the TSA) 

I think that's it. I will update more often, though I strongly suspect no one is actually reading this. 

10/21/2013

Handkerchiefs and Cats

Can I just say how much I love handkerchiefs? Sure, I knew they were a thing before coming to Japan, but I think they're excellent. I brought a couple with me because my Japanese teacher told me that they're really helpful in Japan because there aren't as many hand dryers or paper towels. And man, do I love them.

I can say that they are possibly my favorite thing so far, not because I haven't been experiencing lots of crazy amazing things but because handkerchiefs are just so damn awesome.  I know that they're a western thing, but they just seem so Japanese to me! I mean, they're so convenientt and useful. 

I've also been liking the Japanese crane games, as silly as that sounds. I mean I tried one, and I knocked into a little plushy cat keychain, and suddenly there was a waterfall of cats! Is there anything more beautiful than a waterfall of plushy cats? No. 

There are also some serious things I've been enjoying, like the awesome train system, the beautiful kimonos, and the impressive architecture. I went to a traditional tea ceremony with my host family and some friends. It was amazing! 

The thing about the tea ceremony that amazed me was how delicate and beautiful it was. It also showed the Japanese adapting culture. When they were explaining the history of the ceremony, the tea masters explained that the ceremony has evolved so much since it came to Japan. Not only did the ceremony itself change, but it also went from the priests to the aristocracy to male tea masters to where we are now, with 80% of tea masters being women. 

And that's what I've truely been enjoying about Japan. Their willingness to change and adapt their culture. They don't wallow in nostalgia like we do in the US. All I ever hear about from anyone over 30 is how good the old days used to be. It's silly and just frankly not true. I like that Japan is willing to change, but not willing to lose themselves in changes. 

 

Japan 491

09/26/2013

Fitting In

My mom always tells me that if you go do something you like you'll meet people you like. She's been bringing this up more and more as we get ready to embark, but it's true. Cheesy? Yes, but it's been helpful advice for me. 

Sometimes making new friends scares me a little bit. I haven't really made that many new friends since I was in middle school. That's a little sad sounding, but if you meet my friends you'll know that they're the best people you could ever hope to know. I've never really been left wanting for much in that department.

Last summer (the summer of 2012) I went down to Virginia to participate in UVA's Young Writer's program. It was a little intimidating, but I ended up getting along really well with my roommates, but particularly with the other people in my class.

I was in one of the two fiction classes (there were also two poetry classes, a screenwriting class, a creative non-fiction class, and songwriting class). Everyone was so talented. I mean REALLY talented. Sure, we had to apply and a lot of people got rejected, but I didn't expect other people to be that entirely awesome.

At first that made me a little wary of them, but they were all really relaxed and most of the artistic egos were under control. Well, as much as you can expect them to be from super-talented teenagers. People were so friendly and so willing to help me improve.

We were all so different and from such different backgrounds. A lot of them were from the south, which I had never before been to. Some of them were a year older, some a year younger, but things weren't divided by age in the way highschool had been.

More than anything I got a glipse of what I hope my gap year (and college) will be like. Everyone was super smart (easily smarter than me) and they all pushed me to be better. And I pushed them right back. Everyone was attentive in class, everyone wanted to answer questions and ask them too. There was this willingness to learn that I had yearned for from classmates in High School.

So that's that. I hope that I find some version of the people below in Japan and in college after that.  

 

 

Pink underwear

(Lindsey, Sebastian, Graham, Elizabeth, Hannah, Me, Liam, and Cylde)

We were doing silly faces :P

09/16/2013

Home and Jitters

What is my home like? I suppose I'll have to get used to people asking me about it, but I suppose it's hard to explain. I live in the Town of Cortlandt in Westchester. It's not big, or particularly nice, but it's served it's purpose in my life. There's not much to do, or a diverse group of people, in my little town, and I would be lying if I said it didn't make me resent my town a little. 

I know  that I'm should gush about my little town with it's little icecream shops (though the Blue Pig in Crotan is to die for), but I can't quite find it in me. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful that I've had the opprotunity to go to a rather nice public school and have a nice house in a low-crime area, it's just that it can be a little fake. 

In February I read a book called Paper Towns by John Green, my favorite author. The main character talks about living in a paper town, fake but not hard enough to be made of plastic. Sometimes that's how I feel about where I live. People are fake, with their fake smiles, fake ID's and even a few fake noses curtosy of expensive plastic surgery. 

So no, I won't be missing my town very much. I will be missing my friends though. They're wild, fun, dorky, and have made living in a paper town more real than anything. They've done a lot to make me love where I come from, no matter how much it may drive me to insanity at some points. 

I'm already missing my school in some aspects. Not the majority of the kids there for certain, as I think I've gotten enough snobbish scoffs to last me a few lifetimes, but I'll miss my friends and a few other people who were good for a few laughs. I was also super lucky to have some great teachers in my time who pushed me to do better even if I didn't always show that I was worth their pushing. 

As it gets closer and closer to leaving I start to think about these things and all the little things I'll be missing. I'll miss the Peekskill Coffee House and the Bruised Apple bookstore, I'll miss all my friends and all of our silly escapades, I'll miss my family and my adorable dog, and I think in some ways I'll miss the year I could have been having, one with all of my friends and all the markers of Senior year. Hopefully I won't miss the last one too much. 

08/12/2013

So Japan. It’s a nice little concept to move to the other side of the planet, but quite a different thing in practice. I’ve wanted to spend some time after high school in Japan for years now, but there’s something quite strange about getting ready to do it. I think that feeling will intensify when we actually start packing.

My friends are handling it... well? Mostly they refuse to talk about it and deny the fact that I’m leaving, which is pretty cute :) My best friend Jake is the least vocal about how he’s going to miss me, but I think he’ll probably miss me the most. After all, he needs someone to buy him food.

I’m happy to be done with highschool, though it’s a bit weird not to have to worry about the first day of school this year, or completing the summer reading. It’s also a little sad to know that there are people I might never see again, but there are also people I’m thrilled not to have to deal with.

Maybe I’m being silly, but I am getting a little worried about making friends and stuff while I’m over there. I mean it’s well documented that I can be a little strange, and I’ve never exactly been a shining social star with my peers.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty excited :D

Gap Bloggers

  • Eva - Gap Year Abroad in Japan
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  • Sage - Gap Year Abroad in China
  • Kira - Gap Year Abroad in France
  • Smith - Gap Year Abroad in Chile
  • Maddy - Gap Year Abroad in Japan
  • Hannah - Gap Year Abroad in Italy
  • Chloe - Gap Year Abroad in Chile