Monday, January 31, 2005


Earthquakes, yen, sake, typhoons, etc.

While this list might not be common things in America, they are no stranger to my friend MM.

MM is an international graduate student at UTA from Japan. MM and I met last year in our direct practice class. It was my first semester of graduate school, but graduate school was nothing new to MM. She already had a master in counseling from Dallas Baptist University and was basically a licensed professional counselor [LPC] (I say basically because she had all her hours for requirement, but had chosen to avoid the licensing exam, so she was currently still practicing under a supervisor). As to why MM is seeking yet another masters degree, now in social work, I’m not exactly sure…HA! But I respect her for her education endeavors!

So this semester MM and I have yet another course together—Human Behavior and Diverse Populations, which meets on Monday evenings from 6-9 PM. Following first class meeting, MM and I went out to a Chinese food restaurant near school that she wanted me to try. We had a blast just chilling and eating for about an hour and half. During our talking I told her she should hangout with Holly and that Friday, so that’s what we did!

On Friday Holly and MM came to my house and we went and rented “The Forgotten” from blockbuster. After the movie we began playing “the globe game” (sorry, if you don’t know what I’m referring too, you need to come over to my house and try to beat me…Opps…I mean play it with me! HA!). This was fun because Holly and I were curious if MM knew her world geography. I don’t know why, but I suppose we thought with her being an International student she would have some amazing gift of knowledge about the world. Whelp, it turned out she was like most people who I’ve played the game with, no amazing gift of knowledge that is. HA! We all had a blast, but I did find it really cool how when countries like in Central or South America came up, she would be like, “What?!?!” and Holly and I would have to help her with those ones, but then when it was us, and some of the smaller Asian countries would come up, she’d have to help us. I mean it makes sense since we are from the America’s side of the globe and she is from the Asian side, but it was just so different to see people who don’t know the Central American countries, I suppose.

So following the globe game my cultural enrichment session began!

I LOVED just talking with MM! I love learning and Japan is for sure somewhere I don’t know anything so the fun began. I was asking question after question, and MM didn’t seem to mind! Some of the things I’ve learned include: --the Japanese and the Chinese share the same symbol system. You know, those symbols that mean words, yeah those ones that Americans think are so cool to get tattooed on them or wear on shirts (and yes, the Japanese and Chinese too probably, as MM told us, think it is funny to see the Americans get those tattooed on them…HA!). Originally, the symbol system came from the Chinese and the Japanese took it. Tee hee hee! But as for the alphabet, the Chinese and Japanese have their own letter systems.

--the computers keyboards in Japan have the Japanese letters on them and you hit the letters that make a word and then the computer automatically translates it to the symbol for the word. That’s SOOO cool to me! HA! MM is going to bring her laptop to school some day for me to see it too!

--All the best brands that I love come from Japan….AKA Toyota, Honda, Sony…

--Earthquakes and typhoons are like tornados here in America. The people are just used to them happening.

--When the eye of a typhoon is directly over you, it is all clear and peaceful outside, sunny and calm, but this only last for approximately 5 minutes (so run back for cover QUICK!)

--The Japanese are not strict with alcohol consumption. MM started drinking when she was seven. And while she claims that the Japanese don’t really get drunk, I believe she meant they just have a higher tolerance (which makes sense if the folks have been drinking since age 7 or so…HA!).

So of course I wasn’t just like “MM, tell me all these random things about your country,” instead we just were talking and telling stories and stuff and these all came up, but let me share with you some of my FAVORITE stories! MM had Holly and me in tears at one point we were laughing so hard. HA!

First, I asked if she had ever been in an earthquake and she was like oh yeah. She proceeded to tell Holly and I about the time it woke her up at 5 AM because it knocked her bookcase over (which luckily was stopped by her bed, but that of course didn’t stop the books from falling out on top of her!) So even after having an earthquake, that morning her mom made her go to school, even though there was NO ONE out on the streets she said. Her mom is real dedicated when it comes to school, she was apparently a teacher and principal. So MM said without the city bus system running because of the earthquake, she walked the 40 minute walk to school only to find no one there (imagine that…HA!), so then she had to walk another hour to get to her mom’s work.

Story number two…

Yes, her mom was totally dedicated to MM going to school. She said that whenever she would wake up feeling sick or with a fever her mom would give her sake, which is a really strong wine and then send her on her way. HA! She said she wouldn’t remember the first half of the day, but by the second half she was feeling all better of course! HA!

Third story…

Okay, if you can’t tell that MM’s mom was a stickler about school, this one should convince you. HA! Well, if it ain’t an earthquake in Japan, it is another natural disaster. In this case, a typhoon (which is a Hurricane in the Pacific Ocean for those not aware). So yes, as you might have guess by now, MM had to walk to school in a typhoon once. HA! And once again, once she got there, there was no one there but the security guard who ended up giving her a ride back home. HA! This is the story that had Holly and I cracking up! Not AT her, as she did ask when she saw us laughing so hard that we were crying, “Are y’all laughing at me?” “NO! We are just picturing little you walking in a freakin’ typhoon! Being blown everywhere! HA!” Don’t worry, she was laughing too, as I’m pretty sure she cried as well!

So, if those aren't some of the coolest stories, I don’t know what is! HA! And yes, let me clarify, as I had MM do. I kept referring to her walking to school because apparently not until you were in high school could you take a bus, and that was a city bus at that, no school buses.

Japan—a place I’d love to visit now!

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