britney jean

•8 January, 2014 • Leave a Comment

you know i can’t help it… after all i am a huge britney fan and when her new album was released i just had to get a copy of it.

yet again, britney does not disappoint. i am really enjoying ‘britney jean‘. the deluxe version comes with four extra tracks. the mix of ‘perfume’ is definitely worth the purchase of the deluxe version.

the album comes off a little bit gritty. the first single released from the album was ‘work b**tch’. the music video was a little intense but overall the song is addictive and in true britney fashion the beat has you wanting to move your body. this is why i love britney spears, her music really feeds the dancing spirit. even the slower songs like ‘perfume’ and ‘alien’ would work in a contemporary piece.

i do have one dislike on this album and that is the song ‘chillin’ with you’ which britney sings with her little sister jamie lynn. the song really doesn’t belong on the album, and that song is immediately skipped when it pops up. my ears want to bleed when i hear it. luckily there really is only one bad song on the album.

image from www.amazon.com

the track list for the standard version is:

1. alien
2. work b**ch
3. perfume
4. it should be easy (feat. will.i.am)
5. tik tik boom (feat. t.i.)
6. body ache
7. til it’s gone
8. passenger
9. chillin’ with you (feat. jamie lynn)
10. don’t cry

the deluxe edition adds the following four tracks:

11. brightest morning star
12. hold on tight
13. now that i found you
14. perfume (the dreaming mix)

the latest offering from britney gets a body bopping 4-1/2 out of 5… (i really don’t like “chillin’ with you’)

light and love to you all.

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price tag

•7 January, 2014 • Leave a Comment

my italki lesson went well. the teacher was friendly and didn’t speak english during our lesson. i was a little concerned at first but i have learned from experience that the best language learning comes from total exposure. my teacher says that my lofty goal of reaching b2 in german by july is actually possible. this makes me feel so much better about my studying ambitions. on the whole it was a good experience.

after my lesson i tried to study but i ended up passing out. which tends to happen. i managed to eventually get myself out and into a mall to buy some gloves for a friend in the us. while wondering around the local mall looking for the right pair of gloves i decided to stop over at the ¥ 100 shop.

life of i 365 - 007

now let me tell you about this wonderful place. these havens are quite useful, much like コンビニ. you can buy so many things at a 100 yen shop and (almost) everything costs only ¥100. i tend to get carried away and end up buying way too many things that i don’t need. it is one of my favourite places to buy cheap stationery. you may think that the quality of something priced at ¥100 wouldn’t be so good, but the stuff you can find at these stores are remarkably of good quality. the most popular store in japan is daiso, but there are other great options out there. my favourite ¥100 shop is called seria and you can find one in aossa in fukui city.

on one return trip home i bought little goodies from the ¥100 shop located in bell mall. my family loved the things i bought for them, as they were really useful. like coffee cup covers, lunch boxes, and other random items i could find for 100 yen.

anyway, just thought i would share something else that i completely love in japan. i have heard that there daiso is now operating in mauritius, and i hope that this trend spreads to other countries too. for one coin you can buy good quality stuff. who needs more than that?

light and love to you all.

(‘price tag’ is performed by jessie j and is taken from the single album of the same name)

half life

•6 January, 2014 • Leave a Comment

making a checklist of my language requirements and i am starting to wonder if i can do this all. hmmm… i like a challenge. one of my friends has introduced me to a language learning website called italki. on this website you can find professional teachers to help you learn languages. the prices vary by teacher and there are quite a few languages to choose from. my friend is learning hindi and she has found a teacher she is happy with. tomorrow morning at 7am i have a trial lesson scheduled with a german teacher. i will let you know how it goes.

the last few days of my vacation are starting to wind down really quickly and in a non-exciting way. i spent today doing laundry and then studying german in a study area located in fukui city. there are several places you can choose from, with coffee shops being a favourite. i used to study after work in a place called mister donuts (or ミスド for short), but studying there came at a risk of overeating and too much caffeine. for someone who struggles to get a lot of sleep you can see how the caffeine can be an issue. many students who attend one of the schools in the city study in the various coffee shops and restaurants near the station. don’t be surprised to find a student studying for their maths test at a mcdonalds.

the study area i now frequent is located in aossa. this 8 floor community hall and mall is home to several shops, restaurants, event rooms, and it even has a ballet studio. i have actually danced at that ballet studio but i haven’t been able to frequent it often. i plan to start classes there again this week. i have been missing ballet so much, and i need to get over the fact that i can’t take up ballet professionally. it still pains me to think that i was only one exam away from going pro…

there is no point in dwelling on what could be, and now i push myself to fight for what will be. this is part of the reason why i am studying so many languages. there is method to my madness and it will all make sense soon. i hope.

anyway, so in the study area today (with my colleague) we saw many students filling up the tables assigned for free use. so many studious students you may be thinking, and you would be correct. being a school student in japan is not easy, and it is very stressful. from about the 8th grade (junior high school year 2) students start stressing over entrance exams for high schools. in south africa we have it easy, we pick a school and if they have place (and if we can afford the fees) we can pretty much go to any school. well, that was at least how it was in my day. in japan, you need to be recommended by teachers and principal to attempt a high school entrance tests. you take tests in various subjects (including english, maths, and japanese) and stress out.

when the results are finalised the schools post them at one of their entrances so that students can come see the verdict. this is usually done over the weekend, so i am glad i don’t get to witness it. some of these kids are crushed or elated at the result. it is heartbreaking to see the former.

it is sad to realise how much stress these kids are put under. it continues through high school when they have to think about university but i have heard university life isn’t as stressful as high school is. i have many 11th grade students (high school year 2) with more grey hairs than i have. i am about twice their age, kids should not be this stressed. it is the stark reality of the school system in asia. i hear it is just as bad (if not worse) in china and south korea.

i hope when i have children, i will remember this and not put so much pressure on them to succeed. i want my children to only do their best, and enjoy their lives as responsibly as they can. i am a long way off from having kids, but this is something i hope to keep in mind.

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it can’t be all that bad if this is the view from your school (in winter), right?!

what do you think? are we putting our kids under too much pressure now to be the best?

light and love to you all.

(‘half life’ is performed by imogen heap and is taken from the album ‘ellipse‘)

imagine

•5 January, 2014 • Leave a Comment

today i went for a bit of ice-skating with my friend. it is a bit of a trek to get to the ice-rink from fukui city. we had to take the local train from fukui station and then travel all the way down south to tsuruga. the total trip is about 50 minutes and the train was packed. we managed to get the shitty fold down seats at one of the doors to the train. the train was mostly people who looked like they were ending their new years’ trips home to be with family. as i said before, new years in japan is (one of) the time(s) of year where japanese people go home to be with their families.

life of i 365 - 005

the packed train should have been our first clue that the ice-rink would be packed. we got there and were greeted by the sight of hundreds of families with little kids attacking the ice. the ice was pockmarked and the sliding was choppy at best. all of this is negligible when surrounded by that much cuteness! the kids are so tiny. some of them could barely reach the ledge of the barrier around the rink. they are so fearless at that age. they fall (nearly bounce because of their puffy clothing) get up and keep going at it. i was such a chicken as a kid, i was terrified of falling or getting hurt. seeing these kids go at it makes me wonder if i didn’t miss out on an important part of growing up. with snowboarding i have learned that you have to let go of the fear of falling. once you have that down, the rest becomes easier.

letting go of the fear of falling can apply to any part of your life. well, i suppose more specifically it is letting go of fear. fear is paralysing. i let go of the fear and uprooted myself to come to japan. best decision i have made in my life so far. i have experienced so much and i am still growing. everyday i learn something new about myself and i am starting to become more sure of where i want to be in life. i wouldn’t be trying to make a move back into engineering, were it not for this experience. who knows what the future will bring, but i am not afraid of finding out anymore. i always thought that i had to have everything in my life planned out, but sometimes it is ok to know which points you want to get to and then just let the journey take you. i have learned first hand that “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” thank you john lennon. so i think it is only fitting that i will use his song ‘imagine’ today in this post. i have taught the sign language version of this song to students here in japan. the experience has left me and the kids a little bit richer. learning sasl (south african sign language) has proven to be a good choice. luckily i was able to learn asl (american sign language) because of the similarities between the two languages.

so, i will leave you with john lennon’s powerful message (as sung by the cast of glee) and with the notion that if you want to experience more of life you have to let go of the fear. as fran from ‘strictly ballroom‘ said: “i life lived in fear is a life half lived.” live every day fearlessly.

light and love to you all.

(‘imagine (glee cast version)’ is taken from the ‘glee soundtrack volume 2‘)

i know that some people might hate on me because i didn’t use the john lennon version, but this is the easy version i taught high school kids in japan.

get lucky

•4 January, 2014 • Leave a Comment

today i went to a temple and a shrine with my host family. now in one of my previous posts i may have confused some of the details between a shrine and a temple. shrines lean more towards shinto, and temples lean more towards buddhism. i won’t go into too much detail about the differences as i am not fully qualified to give that sort of information. if i learn something more i will write about it here.

i was able to experience part of the new years traditions in japan. i got to eat osechi and「お雑煮」ozouni. i spoke about osechi previously, but ozouni is a hot broth/soup that is enjoyed with pieces of「餅」mochi. mochi is a type of rice that has been beaten (and by beaten i mean beaten by a big ass hammer! – seriously click on the link to see it) into a massive sticky ball. uncooked new years’ mochi can be pretty hard, but when you cook them they become soft and sticky. they are really delicious and eating it on new years eve/day is considered an act that will bring you good fortune in the coming year.

osechi

osechi

osechi and ozouni

osechi and ozouni

after our lunch we drove off to eiheiji temple. the temple was cold, but there was very little snow. i have heard that eiheiji is beautiful in the winter when it is covered in snow. if there is fresh snowfall later this winter then i will try to make my way through to the temple. i took some pictures to show you but the lighting is bad so i don’t have much for you. i will post some pictures from an earlier visit though. when i can find them that is.

stairway to...

snowy garden

guardians of the north and east

guardians of the south and west

buddha and toad

we had hoped to buy 「おみくじ」 omikuji at eiheiji, but they are usually only available at a shrine and not a temple. omikuji is a lucky fortune you can buy around new years. this fortune「吉」(kichi) can vary between good and bad and many japanese people take it very seriously. my host mother was determined to take me to a shrine so that we could get our fortune for the year. we found a shrine and bought our fortunes. these fortunes are little folded pieces of paper that you can buy for 100 yen at the shrine. the kichi are sold by the shrine maidens who are dressed in white and are usually young girls who live in the area. many different fortunes are mixed up together and when you buy one you get to randomly pick one. the one i picked one was a 「大吉」 daikichi which is a pretty good thing apparently. a daikichi is the best fortune one can get at new years. my host mother and sister both said that they have never seen one before. the best part is that the fortune says that my dreams will come true. it makes me really happy to hear that. *happy dance*

the paper of destiny

the little paper of destiny

so today turned out to be a lucky day. i feel excited for the year ahead; more so than before.

light and love to you all…

(‘get lucky’ is performed by dragonette and is taken from the album ‘galore’)

rock on

•3 January, 2014 • Leave a Comment

holidays really have a way of messing up with my concept of time. i wasn’t sure what day of the week it was. i suppose i shouldn’t complain. it is nice to have some time off from work. i love my job but some downtime is nice.

i have attempted to study today and i am working through ‘the everything learning german book‘ and reading through it is helping make some sense of grammar in german. i thought french grammar was complicated and then i started german…

my friend returned from her trip from hong kong and macau and she gave me a copy of ‘the little prince‘ in portuguese. i guess i should admit that i am also trying to learn portuguese. brazilian portuguese to be more precise. this has come about because of the brazilians i have come into contact with. it is not a priority language, but it is still fun. i mentioned in an earlier post that i wanted to finish the ‘living language complete german course’ but that hasn’t gone according to plan. hopefully once i have a better understanding of the grammar then i can finish the book.

tomorrow i will be meeting up with my host family. my host family couldn’t celebrate new years properly as my host sister wasn’t feeling well this week. we are going to do some of the typical japanese new years celebrations. i am really looking forward to it. we will be going to one of my favourite temples in fukui. we are going to「永平寺」eiheiji which can be translated as eternal peace temple. it is a famous zen buddhist temple in the world. i have been there a few times and i am looking forward to the visit tomorrow. the temple is aptly named because one cannot help but feel a sense of tranquility come over them as they walk through the temple. unfortunately most of the snow in fukui has melted so there won’t be many winter landscape photos. nonetheless it will still be a great time out. spending time with my host family is great and i have been able to experience so much with them which has made my time in japan more special.

last year my host mom and sister took me to a tiny island off the coast. i can’t quite remember the name, but it was near an island famed for being haunted. this haunted island is called「大島」oshima and it is said to be haunted because it is the location of an old cemetery. we had planned to visit the island but unfortunately the bridge was under repairs so we could not go. the alternative was just as good a treat though. here is a picture from that visit:

life of i 365 - 003

i will get the name of the place and show you some of my other pictures i took from that day.

now to attempt round two of my german studies. ich muss deutsch lernen.

licht und liebe an euch alle…

(‘rock on’ is performed by freeland and is taken from the album ‘cope‘)

easy

•2 January, 2014 • 1 Comment

one of the things i will miss the most about japan when i leave will be the japanese convenience store「コンビニ」(konbini). now for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing one of these heavenly oases, i shall explain why they are the best thing to have ever happened on this earth.

in every city in japan you will find many of these konbini. apart from offering you beverages, snacks, and pre-made meals you can find a various assortments of things that one would need at say 3am. the konbini is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. they stock household items, clothes, printing/faxing/copying services, clean toilets, air-conditioning, and the list just goes on. the japanese have taken the idea of convenience and they have delivered superbly in these one-stop shops. my favourite part of the konbini is the self-help terminal inside many of the major konbini stores. in lawson, which is my favourite konbini, you can pay for amazon.co.jp orders at the self-help terminal. it doesn’t stop there. you can buy tickets to concerts, plane tickets, bus tickets, movie tickets, and you can even cash in on points you’ve earned from your points card! i love the fact that i don’t need a credit card to shop on amazon, and if i am not able to be home for the delivery i can arrange for delivery of my order to my closest konbini. i am seriously going to miss these heavenly places. in a 2km radius (centred around my apartment) there are at least 5 convenience stores. so easy…

as an example: my friend once told me of her issue with cockroaches and how her local konbini saved her night. at 2am she was able to buy enough bug spray to kill the terrifying cockroaches that lurk in our apartments in summer. another cool thing about the konbini in summer is the “free” air-conditioning. it is always helpful to stop by a konbini when you are out in the summer, it is a good way to prevent spontaneous human combustion in the japanese summer.

now there is one downside to the konbini, the prices tend to be higher than grocery stores. you are possibly paying for the convenience, but the difference is sometimes so negligible that it just doesn’t matter. where else can you find a fresh change of underwear, a clean undershirt, and new socks for the times that you have done an all-nighter at the karaoke place. i kid you not. people who have spent all night out, may it be because of missing the last train or partying all night long, you can go out and buy a fresh change of underclothes. awesome…

this is one of the konbini you can find near my apartment. this one is a family mart. my third choice after lawson (#1) and seven-eleven (#2), but still pretty decent.

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already on the 2nd of january, and i am trying to keep on track. i studied a little bit of german, but i got distracted by tv series and movies. the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. i will do some light french reading before bed at least. i have to start muscling down on the languages though. i will be attempting the proficiency tests for french, german, and japanese before august so that is my motivation. i may be crazy but there is necessity to studying these languages. it will all become apparent in future, for now i think of it as good business decisions. 😉

another thing: if you are thinking of watching ‘ghost rider 2‘ or ‘ted‘ then let me save you the trouble by saying “don’t waste your time.” such awful movies. really awful. if you are looking for something good then i can recommend ‘les contes de la nuit‘, it is a french animation about fairy tales retold. this is how i have spent my first two days of the new year.

how is your 2014 going so far?

light and love to you all…

(‘easy’ is performed by tracey thorn and is taken from the album ‘out of the woods‘)