The first place I ever visited outside of the U.S. was Japan, so it is only fitting that my first post pay respects to a country I lived in for two years. If I’m being completely honest when I got to Japan I was miserable. It wasn’t my choice to go, but I was required to be there and I hated it. However after a month of being miserable I decided it was time to get over myself and start finding a way to enjoy my new home. I took a few short cultural classes to learn more about proper etiquette while venturing around the towns. Something interesting was the chopstick use and etiquette. For example there is a funeral custom in Japan that involves leaving chopsticks upright in a dish of rice. So doing this in a restaurant is considered a faux-pas and rude. It’s small and most likely you’d be forgiven as a foreigner, but knowing things like this will go a long way to endearing you to the culture. Personally I didn’t learn the language, but I had friends who I was living with that learned the basics.
The food is vastly different there. Preparation is very meticulous, often there will be food served in common dishes (don’t eat directly from these), and obviously there are a lot of raw foods. I’d never had sushi until I visited Japan. Now it is one of my favorite foods, but I’m also quite picky about where I will buy it from. I also sampled horse for the first time there, and while I didn’t like it it is a common food option for Japanese people.
For those who don’t know the money there is called Yen. It fluctuates often, but usually it is between 90-102 yen to every American dollar, so the exchange rate is very favorable. As a result I found I was able to really indulge and explore. On Okinawa, the world’s largest tug of war competition is held each year. This on it’s own is a very cool event, but they also add on a re-enactment of a Japanese story on top of the giant rope. There were thousands of people and I was able to interact with so many. There is also a cherry-blossom festival in Japan that has a great deal of importance and cross-cultural significance. Japan gave cherry blossoms to the U.S. at the end of WWII (if I remember correctly).
Overall something I was not excited about when I started turned out to be an amazing experience that broadened my knowledge and allowed me to learn about a culture completely foreign to me.
This was an interesting assignment. It took me a while to decide on what songs I wanted to use for it. I needed songs that I felt captured the true theme of my blog. The songs are from various cultures and in a variety of languages to really emphasize how different people can be. However I also worked hard to overlay and crossfade them in ways that show a blending of the cultures perfectly into one another. Through traveling you learn to take individual pieces of each culture and blend it into your personality. America, more specifically, New York City is often referred to as a great melting pot. Well someone who travels the world and embraces the cultures, I believe, becomes a melting pot in their own right. With each new place they visit an ingredient is added and stirred until it blends and becomes a true part of the concoction.
After deciding on the songs and blending them to a point where I was happy I had to decide what type of audio I wanted. I’m a relatively simple person if I’m being completely honest. I’ve learned to enjoy the small pleasures in life by being exposed to people who have quite literally nothing, and yet they still find happiness each and every day. For that reason I chose to use only three short voice-overs in my audio commercial. I do not have a Mac so I didn’t use GarageBand. Instead I used Adobe Premiere Pro to create the video.
For those unfamiliar with the Adobe suite; premeire is the equivalent of garageband. However if you haven’t ever used a previous version or any version of it the controls are complicated. Things are not labeled the best. For example there are at least three different ways to adjust the volume on each individual media clip you insert, so if you know the short way it’s not much of a process. However there are longer ways that can be annoying because you’ll have to click back and forth between frames. Overall It wasn’t bad for me because I’m familiar with the software.
So setting up a blog is not in my normal skill-set. I’ve never had a blog before and so, it took me a while to figure out how to properly navigate the site and use all the customization options effectively. It was a little frustrating, but it’s a good way to expand my knowledge and capabilities. This blog is going to be my canvas over the next few weeks to share the experiences I was able to have while traveling through 9 different countries. Some I stayed in strictly for pleasure while others were a mixed experience of work and play. Many people look at travelling as a way to have fun or new experiences. Of course it is that, but more importantly when it is done right travelling can be a humbling experience where you learn about yourself and other people. You’ll be able to share in some cultural experiences you never would have done in your own country. Those are the moments and experiences I’ll be highlighting in my writings.