28 May 2010

Cultural exchanges

Although I still feel like a foreigner, the gift sharing atmosphere my professors started is so conducive for the family-like bonding my lab mates and I share with each other. It's getting to the point where I am starting to wish that I could spend the next 5+ years of my life as a graduate student in this lab... But eh, that's getting off topic. Last Thursday my tutors taught me how to cook a common winter Japanese soup during lunch! They surprised me by remembering how one of my goals here is to learn to cook. Actually, I was more amused by the patient and kind way they were showing me how to rinse rice and peel potatoes. It felt like they were giving directions to an 8 year old- which is probably my age when it comes to cooking! Let's just say that both Natsumi and Mika startled me by uttering こわい(!) when I tried to peel carrots and potatoes with a real knife. Turned out, I almost cut part of my left thumb up without even realizing it. But anywho, the festivities in the kitchen area were so contagious. Even Nishitanisensei and Yokoyamasensei decided to join us for two hours. That is, two whole hours of teasing the girls about their cooking skills :). Or maybe it was me that they were laughing at. Hahah, oh welps. I took pictures throughout the process just in case I forget a crucial step. Fortunately, the dish turned out to be so simple to make. Even I am confident that I could cook this on my own. So cheers to potatoes, carrots, onions, peas, pork and rice dish- aka にくじゃが!

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Posted by Amelia Nguyen at 6:56 | Permalink

28 May 2010

Golden week

According to the lonely planet: discover Japan book my friends gave me, the "Northern Honshu (Tohoku in Japanese) is a place of rugged mountains and remote valleys, terminating at the very tip of Japan's main island. The time-honored travelers' route through this region takes you along ancient watercourses that feed fertile rice paddies, and around hulking volcanic massifs that fuel natural onsen (hot springs)." In many regards, fate played a role in my impulsive decision to escape from Berkeley and O.C. to study (actually vacation) at Tohoku University. From the "rugged mountains and remote valleys [to] rice paddies and natural onsen," I was given a chance to forget the exhaustion I constantly felt to fully appreciate the innate simplicities of nature without worrying about deadlines to meet. During moments like these, I am glad my major is plant biology... It did not take much effort to understand how the natural wonders of Tohoku have taken the breaths of countless travelers over the centuries with its sublime beauty. Mine were no exceptions.

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Posted by Amelia Nguyen at 6:32 | Permalink

18 May 2010

ephemeral stability

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Someone once wrote to me wishing that I, "had a chance to take in the last remains of the cherry blossoms that are falling...that is, before they turn into leaves [and noted how] it's funny [that] those cherry blossoms... are beautiful for a few days, and then, that's it." This many sound quite out of context and difficult to understand if you haven't observe blooming Japanese cherry trees in April. To be honest, even I did not understand what he meant at that time. What's more ironic, I passed by hundreds of blossoming cherry trees on my way to Tohoku University each morning I biked to school!

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Posted by Amelia Nguyen at 7:03 | Permalink

01 May 2010

Habitat for Humanity

I guess this is technically a plug for my club :), but this has been my first semester as an officer (Fundraising Coord) for Habitat, and I just wanted to reflect on how fun this past semester with Habitat has been. The thing that obviously jumps out at me

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Posted by Katarina Makmuri at 9:39 | Permalink