otaku vegan

An American vegan studying in Japan

My Friends: Bartosz Warzywoda

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My Friends: Bartosz Warzywoda

Ah Bart~ He’s truly a great friend. We knew each other throughout the semester but it wasn’t until the last 2 months that we grew close. He be a gentleman from Germany who’s still in Japan at the moment studying for a year abroad. We would talk about our lives and rant about our problems and concerns and watch movies and such with friends ^^ This picture was taken from my farewell party-thing. Our goodbyes for the moment TT^TT


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“Tadaima…Deshou?” so the title reads, meaning “I’m home…right?”

It’s been quite a while since I’ve last updated and there are still many things that I want to post about from Japan, but considering my habits of not returning to wordpress regularly…I’ll write what I feel when I feel like it and I feel that right now is a good time to post about my homecoming…a reflection of my life no longer in Japan.

I came home on the 10th of January. I stopped in Washington for a week to visit Josh and see the sights. We had so much fun! We saw the Space Needle in Seattle, walked to the pier and went on a ferris wheel, spent ALL out money at an arcade and played with a children’s toy on the pier until it was too cold to stay out any more ^^ I was so high on life at that time that I didn’t care where I was. America, Japan, Europe, Zimbabwe, wherever! I had friends with me and that’s all that mattered. Coming home to Wisconsin however…was a bit different.

I caught up with many of the friends I’ve been separated from these past few months and we all had a blast! There are still many more that I need to see but due to distance they’re a bit difficult to get to without a car ^^’. I’ll see them soon so I’m not worried…but I must say I was troubled by one thing when I came back. When classes started again at my university, things were hauntingly familiar. I felt like I had forgotten everything I once knew about my college and its curriculum but…there was this innate sense that I had on certain things. Almost like muscle memory for your brain. It was a challenge to adjust though. I struggled with assignments and felt depressed for a while. I missed my friends in Japan…deeply. I would check facebook and skype often to see if any of them responded to my messages or if they were online. I ached to see them again.

I felt as if I had come back enlightened. Like in The Allegory of the Cave, when a prisoner is freed from her shackles and leaves the cave to experience the outside world. She sees the sun, the grass, the sky, the animals…a whole new world has been opened up to her. She can do things she never thought possible and learn things that were just awe-inspiring. I learned to grow when I was abroad. I came to learn new things about myself and the world around me. I was free. And now I have to return…return to my cave. I didn’t know how to live there anymore. I didn’t know how to continue my growth after having been in an entirely new environment. I had to use techniques I used once before to get my homework done. It was slow in coming to me, but still there in my memory…but that’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want to revive old habits and return to the life I had before I left. I wanted to create a new one, or at least one different than before. I struggled with how to do that, which only made me pine for Japan all the more.

One day it clicked. I didn’t know how to grow because there wasn’t anything new at this college. I had no new opportunities to grow. After having been offered an internship by my travel adviser, I had a new goal. I had something to work towards, to work for. What I needed was an outlet for growth, something meaningful to me that I can dedicate my time to…and I’ve finally found just that. I’ve been working at this internship for a while and I’m proud of all that I’ve planned so far. In my high I decided to take on other outside projects as well. I’ll be busy this semester, but I’ve rediscovered my passion for graphics, web design, promotional design and drawing. My creativity flows now, allowing me to embark on another journey.

Wish me luck on this one! Expect some belated Japan updates int he future!

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Vegetarian Kitchen: Sushi

マヨコーン Mayo Corn

DSCF8288This lovely concoction is one more bit of proof that vegetarians can eat in Japan! Another type of sushi that I’ve run into here here in Japan and almost GUARANTEE that it’ll be one of the cheapest dishes at a sushi restaurant. マヨコーン is exactly how it sounds. Mayonnaise and Corn. Now this dish won’t be for any vegans since mayonnaise contains egg, however, for vegetarians who do eat eggs…this sushi is fantastic!

I’ve been living my life mostly vegan under the circumstances of being a vegetarian and lactose intolerant. With that established, I HAVE eaten this sushi and enjoyed it. The components are simple…as most of the vegetarian sushi is. マヨコーン begins with a small mound of white rice wrapped in nori (seaweed). After wrapping the corn, there should be some space at the top to fill. A simple mix of mayonnaise and cooked corn (not sure what kind or brand of mayonnaise) to scoop on the rice and おわり!(Owari= Finished!)


My Friends: Arisa Ozaki

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My Friends: Arisa Ozaki

I can’t believe that I haven’t even mentioned Arisa yet…forgive me Arisa!

This wonderful young human is my roommate for the semester. She’s fantastic! We’re both so easy going that we’ve transformed our room from two separate sides to one “lounge-like” hang out area. She’s a full-time student here though she’s originally from the U.S. She moved to Japan 3 years ago and lives in Tokyo. She’s been a great roommate this semester and I’m going to miss her when I go back to the U.S. Well I’ll have to plan another trip to Japan in the future so I can visit ね~

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雪がふてる~!Yuki ga Futeru! It’s Snowing!


We had the first snowfall this year.

To be honest, the snow here really surprised me. When I was first told that it was snowing when I woke up, it was followed by, “but it’s raining now.” Having lived in Wisconsin my entire life, my natural reaction to the first snowfall of the year is to shrug and carry on as per usual. Especially when it comes to the slushy mix of rain and snow. That’s never anything to be excited about. As I took my seat by the window for my Japanese class watched the rain fall. Occasionally I would look back out the window and see more and more white flakes fall amongst the rain.

”ざんねん” Was what I thought. (Zannen= Too Bad)

There weren’t nearly enough flakes for me to call it snowing. I would have like to see more snow but I wasn’t hoping for much. I’m used to the first few days of snow being fairly slow and slushy and never seeing any REAL fluffy snow until December at least…well…I should say anything that sounds absolute. Wisconsin is known by the locals for being rather moody when it comes to the weather. So imagine my surprise that by the end of class, my friend Amy from Hawai’i comes rushing past my classroom shouting to me that it’s snowing. After having not looked out the window for about an hour, I turn around once again and find the entire sky clouded with fluffy flakes of snow and small piles of white crystals forming on the ground. My vision blurred slightly from the amount of snow falling before me.

I smiled wide.


“しつれいします!” I said to my sensei as I ran out the door to join Amy. (Shitsureishimasu= I’m taking my leave. You’d say this to a sensei after class is over or when you’re exiting their office.)

As she and I ran down the stairs, our mutual friend Dazzy sprinted toward us shouting with immense elation, “IT’S SNOWING!”

From there the three of us booked it out the front door and into the snow. うるしかった (Urushikatta=I was so happy)。Both Dazzy  DSCF8416and Amy had never seen snowfall before. Seeing them spin around in the snow with such exhilaration was refreshing to me. I was reminded of the amount of assortment of characters at this university. There are those who reside in warm climates and therefore had never seen snow before. Students from Taiwan, Hawai’i, California and Egypt viewed the day’s snowfall as nothing less than magical. There are those from northern regions such as Hokkaido, Canada, Norway, Sweden, UK and Finland too jaded to do anything more than groan in contempt; those from southern regions such as Mexico and Okinawa too busy shivering from the cold to feel any kind of jubilation; as well as those, like me, from northern regions who had been waiting all semester to witness the first REAL snowfall.

I knew that I’d be happy once the snow began to pile up, but  I never expected the first snowfall to stick like it did today. After lunch I headed back outside to play in the snow. My friend Josh started scooping handfuls of snow off the nearby cars and tossing it at us, thus initiating my first snowball fight of the season. The snow was perfect for packing without compressing it into spheres of ice. It felt as if it had been so long since my hands were numb and raw from the cold. Back in the U.S. the first snowfall would have been less of a big deal. Our last winter (snowfall) ended around late April/early May therefore, I’ve got plenty of snow awaiting my return in January. However, to be surrounded by so many people who were witnessing snow for the first time or by people who hadn’t seen snow in years…their euphoria was breathing new life into me. It was so refreshing.

I’ve decided that this winter I want to share my experiences, my knowledge and snow stories with my friends. I want to share these winter memories with them because I know that those memories will be as precious to them as they are to me.


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がっくせんのまつりです!It’s the School Festival!




 Welcome to the School Festival! Over the past year, all the AIU Students have been banding together to host this huge event! The School festival is festival that is almost entirely run by students. Any fan of anime/manga (especially Shojo manga) will know exactly what a school festival is. Though I’m a bit late in posting this, it had to be done. The festival was such a huge part of my experience here at AIU that It can’t go unmentioned.

One of the coolest things about the school festival is the amount of participation by both full-time Japanese students, and short-term International students.

Everyone’s participation came in various forms. School clubs, like Ikebana (flower arrangement), Aikido, Dance, Volleyball, Basketball and Futsal (soccer) had their own venue for the festival. Some ran food stands along the main walkway; some performed on the main stage outdoors while others showcased the fruits of their labor with indoor demonstrations and artwork. Classrooms were turned into cafes. The grass outside the student hall became a mini flea market with tarps all across the way. An entire floor of the main building was set up as a haunted house. A stage was built on the main lawn for various committees and clubs to perform. To end the festival, there was a Kanto parade, a touching video and beautiful fireworks.

DSCF8250One of the greatest moments of the festival was at the end of the video that was shown on the stage once the sun had set. Our festival theme was Galaxy: Connect the Dots, so the clear, cloud-less view of the night sky was beautiful in itself. What made the night however, was what happened at the end of the video. Just as the video ended, leaving a message somewhat resembling, “I hope your dreams of the festival came true”, a shooting star passes over us behind the stage…the synchronicity of it all was too perfect for us to handle. It was a wonderful way to end the festival.DSCF8212

Everyone worked so hard at the festival and even I put in my efforts worth to participate in the festival. I painted a Galaxy themed picture for the anime club, I performed in the Aikido demonstration and I sold postcards from my hometown. As an attendee for the festival, I bought food…LOTS of it. I went through the haunted house, attended my friend’s comedy routine and watched the bands who won the battle of the bands a while ago play on stage that first night. It was incredible! All the bands I voted for won as well!

Since the festival was something that even the students from lastsemester were working on, the event was huge and took up a large portion of the semester. Even so I didn’t mind. I enjoyed myself at the festival. I enjoyed being able to contribute to the festival. I enjoyed the extra hours of practice in Aikido. I enjoyed selling postcards, especially since I sold all of the ones from my hometown. Posutocaado Ikaga desu ka I talked to many new people and practiced my Japanese with many strangers. The entire feeling of the festival was harmonious and fun. I loved every minute of it. I only hope that the students who participate next year have just as much fun as I did if not more.

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A Sense of Community, A Sense of Family


As I enter my 3rd month of study abroad here in Japan, I’ve had conflicting thoughts about this university and what it’s main purpose is. I’ve been doing well in my Japanese language studies, but I know that I’m falling short of where I’d like to be. Due to the large number of International students here, there’s a heavy focus on learning English and so I haven’t had as many chances to practice my Japanese as I expected. I haven’t truly immersed myself in the language…causing some internal conflict over this university itself and what have I truly gained from coming here.

I look back now and realize how silly that was. As I sit in the dorm lobby, I look around at all the familiar faces and smile. Japanese is something that with more study and more of an initiative from me, I can improve. All it takes is willpower…but with what I have here, I’ve gained much more than I thought. I can’t convey how calming this feeling is. I’m surrounded by people I’ve come to know and care about in such a short period of time. I haven’t just found a community of people to socialize with…I’ve found a family.

Some of us have joked with each other by calling each other お兄ちゃん、お姉ちゃん and 妹.

お兄ちゃん:Onii-chan means Big Brother
お姉ちゃん:Onee-chan means Big Sister
妹:Imouto means Little Sister

Though these all started off as a joke; I feel that these jokes have a bit of depth to them. Everyone looks out for each other here. We joke and kid and get into arguments sometimes but in the end, no one is truly alone. Someone is someone else’s best friend, their sister, brother, mother, father, confidant or keeper.

I look around the room and am filled with this intense feeling of happiness and fulfillment. Simply by being in the same open space, we’re all connected. Though we’re all doing different things and there are various groups spread across the room…there’s still a sense of community. To be completely honest, I’ve very few instances of homesickness since I’ve been here as compared to others. I feel that the reason is because of everyone’s kindess, their support, their friendliness…their care. I’ve grown to care greatly for them and I feel that they care for me as well.

For everyone at AIU that sees this…Thank you so much for your love and affection. Your kindness and support. Being accepted into this family gives me a calm sense of belonging and I know that tears will be shed when it comes time for me to return home. I’ve been too wrapped up in the present. So much so that I’ve grown blinders on the sides if my eyes and if there’s too much in my restricted line of sight, I stress out. For the moment, the blinders are gone. I can see the whole picture and truly appreciate what’s before my eyes.

To end this post, a message from everyone to you!

“When the going gets tough…back away.”- Hai Hong

“Canadians are there! We do exist!”- Chris Mundy

*shake head* – Stu

“Shake it like a poloroid picture!”- Jess Varon

“I tripped…”- Dazzy La

“I’ll ride the wave where it takes me.”- Nick Raes

“NO FOOD NO LIFE!”- Martin Nguyen

“Live. Adventure. Be in the places you know you can’t be, doing the things you know you can’t do. Grow. Reach. Stretch. Further. Jump. Fall. SurviveLive.” Josh Lozensky

“Don’t be a fuck.”- Jackie LaReau

“Life has difficult times but you just have to persevere to break through the storm and find the rainbow.”- Josh Doig

“lalalalala Hi Amelia” -Matt Brumbaugh