Friday, May 3, 2013

Lessons in How to Use Chopsticks

Warning: this post could become long and emotional

These past two days have been bittersweet. It was one of my best friends last days in the United States. Akari started out just being my Japanese tutor but then she turned into one of my very good friends. Since she was only studying at my University for a year, and the year is over, she had to go back to Japan today. She invited me and some other friends to go to Chicago with her and spend a day with her before she left early this morning. Of course we all accepted and so after my adventures at the Wisconsin Dells, I got to have more adventures in Chicago! I took the Amtrak up to the city with Abby early Thursday morning. I slept for most of the time, but we still had some time to goof around and chat on the train. When we got there we took the L and go to Chinatown to meet Akari. 


The restaurant we ate lunch at

Akari and Abby at lunch

Tea

Akari and I at lunch

Some of the food we ate: a chicken and rice mix wrapped in this leaf thing

Shrimp dumpling type things

Chicken and rice unwrapped

Drinking tea! (P.S. right now I am having some green tea that I bought in Mitsuwa)

Now, to explain the title of this post. Since I am going to be in Japan for a year four months from now, I am trying to learn how to act in a manner acceptable to Japanese culture. One of my biggest drawbacks is that I am not the best at using chopsticks. I'm decent, but definitely still terrible compared to people from Asia. So, at lunch Akari was trying to teach me and here are some things I learned about eating in Japan. 
1. Don't use your hands! There are only very few occasions when it is allowed. 
2. It is acceptable to stab food with a chopstick to make it easier. After I learned this eating became 100x easier!
3. This summer will consist of me practicing Japanese and eating everything I possibly can with chopsticks as practice. So, if you see me eating salad with chopsticks, don't question me. 
After lunch we wandered around Chinatown for a while longer.

Abby and I by our zodiac statues

Fun lanterns

Candy shop

The best milk tea you will ever have! Mine was mango with tapioca in it

When we were done in Chinatown we went back to the downtown area to meet Chi at Millennium Park. While we waited for her we wandered around the park. 

Skyline in The Bean

Another side of The Bean

Akari and I


It was definitely looking like spring!

Long line of trees

Akari, Abby, Chi and I by The Bean

The weather has not been super nice this year and we were very lucky to have a good day! It was a little chilly with the wind, but the sun more than made up for it. I loved being able to get a few nature pictures that didn't have snow in them! After we had our fill of the park we went to Michigan Avenue and did some shopping. Akari needed to buy a few more presents for her family, so we mostly just followed after her while she did the shopping. After that it was time for dinner. For her last meal in America Akari chose to go the the Cheesecake Factory. 


Chi trying to decide what she wants

Tuna tempura roll appetizer

Chicken pasta

Steak/salmon combo dish

Cheesecake #1: wild blueberry white chocolate

Cheesecake #2: tiramisu

The food was all delicious, as was the cheesecake, especially the blueberry one. All of a sudden the day was over. We went back to the hotel and it really hit me that Akari was leaving in the morning. We made the most of our night and just goofed off. 

Mustache fun (Photo credit: Chi)

The whole group (Photo credit: Chi)

This morning Akari got up pretty early and got ready to go. She woke us all up before she left so she could say goodbye. And then she was gone. I'm very sad to see her go since we became such good friends in such a short period of time. Plus, it's not like when I went to college and left all my friends. I know that I will see my friends from home when we are all on break. However, Akari is from a different country so it is not likely that after next year, when I am in Japan, that I will see a lot. I'm so glad that I got to meet her! I can't wait to spend the year with her when I study in Japan next year! I am sure we will make even more great memories together! Today, it was just Abby and I together. Chi had to go back to school to move out of her dorm. Abby and I decided just to spend the day shopping. First, however, we met one of my friends from home for lunch. I have known Brittany's family as long as I can remember. After she graduated from college in Chicago, she just stayed there, and now lives and works in the area. I thought it was a great opportunity to meet her since I was in the city. She took us to one of her favorite restaurants, Soupbox. 

All the different types of soup

I decided on vegetarian chili

Brit and I

The food was souper good (^_^) and although it was a short lunch date, it was great being able to see Brittany and chat with her about everything! After lunch Abby and I went back to Michigan Ave and spent the rest of the day shopping. It was a perfect girls day! Then it was back to school. Even though spring term is over, I am still here for another month. I am taking one more class before I go home during May Term, a month long term that you can use to get gen-eds out of the way. Just a little bit longer and I will be able to go home and see my family and my pets! 













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