Once in Japan I was hit by culture shock in varying degrees depending on the situation. I was also horribly nervous and could hardly say a few words to figure out where I was supposed to go to pick up my luggage, let alone have a conversation. Within a week I was able to hold a shaky conversation and after a month, I was talking to everyone and anyone I could. I had always been Read the rest of this entry
I had hoped to receive a few major scholarships but I have actually lost one that I have had for the last 3 years. Thankfully I have my 2 part-time jobs and I’m getting decent hours.
I have decided against a home-stay since I will only be in Japan for one semester and the time spent commuting back and forth to campus would be draining and I think I would miss out on a lot of opportunities. I look forward to meeting and getting to know the people from around the world in the Seminar houses of KGU. I still have so many unknown factors that will play into this but I am a cup half full kind of guy and I like to think that everything will work out in the end, especially if you have put everything you could into making it work.
As a Martial Artist I have been considering joining a martial arts club or circle at Kansai Gaidai. A club is very different at KGU than it is at UMass. I have heard that clubs in Japan are more like the USA university varsity teams as they have 3 hour practices, 6 days a week. While “circles” in Japan are more like our clubs, meeting up several times a week but not as often or as intensely as the clubs do.
I am also concerned with my Japanese levels as I think that my listening and comprehension skills are the most lacking, I will likely need that the most. Who know’s, one step at a time.
I just received my Official Certificate of Eligibility for study abroad in Japan at Kansai Gaidai University (関西外国語大学). This is the third time I am trying to study abroad in college and so far something has come up or changed to make it so I was unable to go. At the moment I have several challenges in front of me before I can call this definite but I have put everything on the line for this to work. I have purchased round trip plane tickets through United Airlines, I have withdrawn from my UMass dorm, been removed from UMass courses, and there is no turning back now. I am so happy that I am actually following through with this, but it is not without it’s risks.
When I was 4 years old I started training in TaeKwonDo in Florida. I continued for several years, entering in dozens of competitions along the way, traveling, meeting new people, and having amazing experiences. Then I moved to NH and went a few years before I felt a longing to get back into the martial arts world. I then moved to Kajukenpo and Pai lum kung fu, training in those styles for a few years and then injured myself, bringing my training to a sudden halt for about 2 years. Then switching back to Taekwondo after I had healed enough to train and getting my car so I could drive myself longer distances without relying on my parents. Once I entered college I continued practicing TaeKwonDo more and more and eventually entered my first collegiate competition.
Let’s just say it wasn’t my best set of results. But at the same time I loved it, it didn’t matter if I had won or lost, it was about pushing myself and seeing what I was capable of, as well as what others were capable of. From there I could see just how much work I needed to do to compete at their levels. I was having an amazing time while balancing coursework, a part time job, friends, and TKD. At the second competition I was leaner, faster, stronger, and smarter in the ways of competition fighting. I still had a long way to go before I would be able to compete with the highest ranking competitors from universities and colleges like Harvard, MIT, NYU, UCLA and more, but I was starting to hold my own. Saddly that was my last competition at the collegiate level since, I just finished my Junior year in college and I have recently come into contact with the people I had trained under as well as the people I trained with in Florida as a small kid.
Since talking with everyone I have realized that I could do so much more, push myself so much farther, but only if I was the one who truly wanted to, if I was going to push, if I was going to dedicate my whole self into this. There is no changing the past, and no use in wishing you had done something differently, there is only now, and the future that can be changed, but I will not let go of my past.
I have decided to dedicate myself to training every day in order to compete on the national level for TaeKwonDo. I will not, cannot, slack off. I will eat healthier, go distance running, body-weight train, possibly weight-train, bike to and from work (6 or so miles each way), and most importantly I will practice TaeKwonDo every day.
My goals to reach are as follows;
-win a local TKD Tournament
-run a 5K
-be in great health/ shape
-compete in nationals
-maybe more to come later
This will not be easy and I will not pretend that it will be. Yet that does not change the fact that I will give this everything I have.
It is 2012 and the end of the world as we knew it has commenced. A Neuro–virus has been released onto the majority of the students here at UMass. The fire sprinkler systems were broken into, the Neuro-virus added and then, at the peak of the day, they were all set off simultaneously, effectively drenching the unexpecting and quickly irritated students. The virus seeped into the body through cuts, scrapes, eyes and even the pores if left on the skin long enough. All thanks to a junior writing professor and his whimsical mind and sporadic distaste for monotony, a few others and myself ended up outside, sitting on the steps of the Campus Center when this all occurred. This spared us from the almost instantaneous Zombification process that occurred once the N-virus reached your blood system.
Trying not to make a sound in this frozen world the boy opened his mouth wide to slowly let his breath out. A faint puff of his misted breath hovered and then it too was gone, hiding from view. KATOOOOOM! A sudden earth shattering explosion sent rocks and moon dust splintering through the air. The creature had found him. When you get tagged on the moon, there is no next time, there is only the end.
Hajime! It starts with the officials shout, as the two competitors flip off the edge of their floating start points. The two fighters become one with the water, swirling, pushing, and pulling at the crystal clear fluid. Strength is not the most important part of this battle, staying calm; using specific movements to manipulate oneself through the pressure of 50 feet of water is a particular skill. When the pair finally meets, an elegant series of movements ensues. A flick of the foot can save you from a kick and a swing of the arm can leave you open to penetrating strikes. One mistake and you may be left out of breath, 50 feet underwater with nowhere to go.
If I knew anyone with access to a nice underwater camera and a pool, or even some form of a clear water source, I would be all for underwater action photo shoots. Add in some random spontaneity, passion, and fun and my happiness would be absolute. Until I tried to top it the next day of course.
I would be excited and worried for the opportunity to compete in an underwater martial arts competition. I’m not sure if this would be feasible in consideration of only forms or if sparring would be included. Either way, it makes me energized just thinking about it.
It’s a perfect spring day, a crisp, yet relaxing breeze rolls in through the window. Not cold enough for a coat, yet not hot enough to turn on a fan. Pristine. The time of the day doesn’t matter, although a nice early morning feel is always there. All of the day’s worry, anguish, and exhaustion just get swept away with every passing moment. Reaching the point of being lulled to sleep by the distant chirps of a bird. Then…
“Munch…snap…muchity, crunchity, crunch!” echoes through the mind like poison. Leaking through the cracks, hardening and binding everything it touches. My eyes bulge open as if nails are clawing at a chalkboard’s face. Body rigid, I turn to see my roommate, on the other side of the room. Large carnivorous spiders latched to his ears, blocking out the world to all but the secluded pulsations of the metallic sheet centimeters from his ears. He turns just enough for me to see his mouth full of apple, opening then shutting, again and again! The munching has now turned to mushing, agonizing chomping and tongue taping as if it were a special skill to be celebrated.
If only the spiders would do as the should.
It was a sweltering summer day, not even the carnivorous mosquitoes had energy in them to find their prey. There were no clouds in the sky, the grass was parched, and while a couple laid in a hammock sweating just from the effort of their existence, a monumental decision had been reached. This called for a pool party. Within ten minutes of this thought being processed 50 people dove head first into the life saving arms of the chilly pool water. A deep sigh ushered from the depths of the pool by the twirling bodies, released with every wave on the surface. Abruptly, a pack of enraged men in torn clothing burst through the 6ft fence surrounding the yard and pool. Each ghastly hulk of a being took two to three people each, tying them together in an instant and demanding the leader to come forth and surrender the blessed pool of water.
The sky opens up; pushing back the gloom of grey and infusing the world with vibrancies that set the eyes and hearts ablaze. The fresh, crisp wind blows just enough to tickle your senses into a giddy smile. With this bliss and light-heartedness come the unpleasantness of fluctuating weather patterns and the despised first waves of mosquito battalions out for first blood. The want to sit in the nook of a tree and read something so full heartedly that your mind creates a movie through the mind, not even noticing the words on the page, but seeing the events firsthand. All leading up to the torrential downpour during a thunderstorm, raising the hairs on your body from head to toe until you are carried into the rain enticed into dancing your worries away until you have been set free.