Reflections Abroad: Oct. 5-Oct. 11

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Aroma Kifi, Moist and Smooth Conditioner.

As promised, here’s that conditioner I mentioned last week.  It’s not completely natural, I don’t think, but I’m living in Japan.  Japan has different standards and consumers to market to.  I can’t have everything I want in a hair care product.

But I think this conditioner will certainly suffice for the rest of my stay here.

October 5, 2015: Conditioner

My hair is very curly.

Not like pasta curly.

I mean, afro, kinky, wavy, frizzy curly.

And while I love it, it needs lots of tender love and care–care that only certain products can provide.

And I was partly worried about finding a conditioner that was going to work with my tresses once the other conditioner I brought ran out.

The Aroma Kifi Moist and Smooth Conditioner has been great so far.  No silicones, no mineral oils, no synthetic fragrances, and packed with tons of natural extracts! And it allows me to detangle my curly hair fairly well from what I’m finding.

Though, the problem is, in my attempts to perform my hypothesis, I might have compromised the results.  I wanted to try Tresemme Naturals Radiant Volume Conditioner on one side of my head, and the Aroma Kifi on the other half.  But because I put both on the separate halves at the same time, some of the conditioner might have mixed together.

Its ultimate test shall be this coming Monday, where I use it alone to detangle.  But for my fellow curly girls out there in Japan, or who might be thinking of going, I recommend the brand.  It’s sold in major department stores like Ito Yokado, but at a much higher price.  I recommend shopping for it online, as its cheaper.

Though the shipping might up the price.

October 5, 2015: Celebrations

Yes, this day deserves two entries.

So, I’ve grown friendly with two workers in the cafeteria, whom I will refer to as S-san and O-san.  They are always nice to me every morning at breakfast.  They compliment me on my Japanese.  And they are more than happy to tell me about what’s served in the morning.

One day, when I wasn’t feeling well, S-san offered me a glass of orange juice to combat the cold I was having, and O-san expressed her concerns as well.

That day, both of them went beyond what an employee should had done, and they deserved something nice.  Before coming, I had bought some souvenirs from home to give as gifts.  One of the pairs was pistachios and a postcard.  So I gave both of them the gifts.

As luck would have it, that day was S-san’s birthday.

Her birthday.

It must have been fate.

That could not have been any better.

Before coming to Japan, I was debating studying abroad via a home stay.  And I don’t regret it at all.  If you make connections with people near you, they will become your home stay family.  It’s not a requirement at all, especially when some people are just so willing to connect with you and share their love.

I hope to stay in touch with them.

October 6, 2015: Care

The night before my Japanese midterm, I still needed to study for it.  So I thought I would go to bed early and try to study in the morning.

My plan, however, was, I believe, foiled by a Japanese ice cream treat I ate before going to bed.  It has a chocolate crunchy coating on the outside, and green tea ice cream on the inside.  I’d had it before on a different occasion, and had no problems with it.

But that, I had terrible gas pains probably from the caffeine that green tea can have.  I was so uncomfortable in the night, to the point where going back to sleep was very hard.

I was angry at myself, feeling like I’d sabotaged my studies unnecessarily.  And the midterm for Japanese did not make my fatigue disappear.  There were kanji questions, grammar questions, and an essay we had to complete.

And on top of all of that, I’d been getting very little sleep from the changing weather.  Sunny one day, cold the next.

My body had reached its limit of stress this week.  I couldn’t function well in my Japanese class after the test, and that frustrated me.  And that frustration frustrated me even more.

I broke down, said enough was enough, and went to a counselor on campus.

I’d seen a therapist before, but it was good to go to something like this again.  The counselor I spoke to reminded me that moments of stress like this pass, and that I should be gentle on myself.  I was tired.  I was in a new country, still adjusting to my environment and diet.

I wouldn’t expect anyone else to perform well when tired and adjusting to life abroad, so why should I expect the same of myself?

It just didn’t make sense.

And I am glad I was reminded of that.  My body was trying to remind me, but I wasn’t listening.  I was too frustrated at my own frustration, at my never-ending stress.

And yes, stress is cycle.  It can come back, and most likely, it will.  It’s what makes life interesting and what makes people grow.  But what you do to minimize its effects will help you in the long run, and make stress look like a  pebble instead of a boulder.

Take care of yourselves, everyone.  Take extra naps, even if it means not doing homework until tomorrow.  That’s what I did that day.  Talk to people, too.  Don’t let that stress take you over.  Share it with someone; make it real.  Don’t make it your own personal nightmare.

October 7, 2015: Championships

The dorms at my university participated in a Super Smash Bros. Wii U tournament.  I’ve never owned it.  I always played with other people who owned it.  And since I hadn’t played it for a long time, it felt nice to play in a tournament setting with people from other dorms.

I’m not good at all.  I wasn’t even expecting to win the tournament.  I’m still a beginner, to be honest.  If I actively trained, I would probably be better.

But it was still fun.  I should really get a Wii U myself and play it.

But that will have to wait till graduation.

October 8, 2015: Crunch Time

Thursdays are my worst days.  I have school straight from 8:50 to 3:00 PM with a very small break between 12:40 and 1:15.  At least there are breaks throughout the classes, but I am stuck in the school building for the most part.

Nothing exciting happened this Thursday, I’m afraid.  Just more of Japanese and the history of English literature.

October 9, 2015: Centering

I accompanied my half-Japanese, half-African American friend to the housing office this day to give her support.  One of the skits in the dorm activities involved blackface.

Without going into too much detail, blackface is very offensive to the African American diaspora around the world.  It involves painting your face with dark make-up in order to make yourself look African American.  It was done a lot in Jim Crow era comedy skits in America, basically demeaning the African American community.

Yes, racism exists in Japan.  But not all of Japan is racist.  There are some that simply do not know the connotations of blackface, where it comes from, and what it means.  And there are some that do.  I’ve met wonderful people in Japan, but there are also some people in Japan who are not as open to racial diversity even now.   I’ve been grateful to have never experienced any sort of harassment directly, but as an African American myself, with some Caucasian heritage, I do not want anyone to harass anyone else for the way they look, nor put on innocent, offensive displays without them knowing the context.

I can only do so much, however.  I am here to study abroad, and to learn.  I can’t dedicate all of myself to the fight.  And even then, the fight awaits me back home–at universities in America.  I cannot be in two places at once.

My education, as of right now, is more important.  I am not blind to the importance of this issue; I am aware of it.  It is my culture, and my life, but only a small part.

I am a student.  I am a novelist.  I am a blogger.  I am a singer.  I am an illustrator.  I am a reader.

I am black, but I am also so much more than that.  And so is everyone else.

No one’s blood or skin color can, should, and would explain all of their behavior.

Why it would it explain mine or yours?

October 10, 2015: Chills

The weekend brought more cold weather, sadly.  But I went to the Ito Yokado in Musashisakai to pick up groceries, anyway.  It needed to be done.

All mundane things need to be done at some point.

October 11, 2015: Cracking Up

Ramen for dinner on Sunday night, cracking jokes with friends over scoops of vanilla ice cream…

That’s how a week should start, and a night should finish.

I’ll have to go there again sometime.  I enjoyed that.

I wonder what this week will bring.

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