If anybody’s read my little blog description blurb, you’ll know it says:
I’m going to Japan for a summer internship. Join me on my adventure in Nihon, featuring food, broken Japanese, and just a dash of culture shock. It’s gonna be /great/.
And if you didn’t know, well, consider yourself enlightened. So as promised, this is going to be one of many food-related posts I’ll be writing…
I’ve been spending a lot of my weekends with another Techer, Grace, who’s also interning at Mitsubishi for the same period as I am. It does feel a little better to wander around in confusion (not “lost”, just “confused”) with a familiar face by your side than alone. Which seems to be happening a lot, since every time we try to go to a restaurant we look up on a map or Google Maps, we can’t find it. More than once we’ve overshot our destination by a few blocks, or wandered around in a loop only to find that we’d been walking circles around the restaurant we’d been looking for, or asked for directions to a place and then realize we have no idea where we’re going. It’s fun because we probably get to see more of the city and talk to more people this way since we’re wandering around so much, but a little annoying when we’re trying to find a particular store/etc. I blame Google Maps, though. It, like us, sometimes seems a little confused–like when it tries to route us to a supermarket half an hour away when it turns out we’re standing a few streets over from another of the same chain. Oops.
Our second weekend here, we attempted to go to Tsukiji fish market. It’s the biggest wholesale fish/seafood market in the world, and one of the things it’s really well-known for is its early-morning tuna auction. Starting around 5am every day, wholesalers auction off tuna that have been shipped there the same morning. The first 120 people who get there are allowed inside to watch the auction, so naturally, we thought we’d give it a go. Unfortunately, the trains don’t start running that early in the morning, so we got there the night before, wandered around a little bit, then found some 24-hour restaurants to spend a few hours in. At 3am we headed over to the fish market and started lining up.. only to be brought to another room where we spent the next two hours waiting some more.
Long story short, we spent basically five hours of our lives and a night without sleep to watch people take tuna very seriously for 20 minutes. I won’t say it was completely not worth it, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. Not that I’d be able to; the fish market is relocating to another area in a year or two and who knows what it’ll be like by then.
The upside to all this is experiencing some of the freshest fish imaginable, of course. Two of the most well-known and reasonably affordable sushi restaurants near the fish market are Sushi Dai and Daiwa Sushi. Apparently Daiwa is run by the son of the guy who owns Dai, and they’re competing over who can serve the best sushi. Of course, being a famous sushi stop next to Tsukiji market basically meant the lines went around the block for both places, so Grace and I decided to go to Nakaya to get donburi (rice bowls with fish on top) instead. It was fantastic and the more I ate, the more I wondered if I’d ever go back to eating Chandler sushi. (No offense to Caltech Dining Services, but it just won’t be the same anymore.)
And now, with Tsukiji checked off our bucket list, our next (food-related, at least) goal is conveyor belt sushi. We were told there’s supposed to be one near the train station, but did I mention how it’s nearly impossible for us to find any restaurant we’ve looked for so far? Fingers crossed, but at least we know it’ll be another adventure.
Starting college can be a big transition. You’re moving to a new place, starting a new school and classes, and faced with making new friends in an unfamiliar environment. And, of course, there’s that whole “becoming an adult” thing. But, you’re also leaving a lot behind. Every new beginning means that an old chapter must come to an end. Leaving behind our friends at home may seem difficult, especially if they’re going to be a long distance away from you during the school year. Something I made sure to do was to spend a lot of time with them during the summer after high school. Of course, going to college doesn’t mean you’ll never see your friends again, or that you will no longer be friends with them. Good friendships will last if you put effort into them. It may seem hard initially. Coming into Caltech, it’s a sharp adjustment and many are caught up in the excitement of Orientation, Rotation, and starting classes. It may be hard to remember to check your phone frequently and to make time for phone calls and such. Rest assured that if you have other friends going to college, they’re probably going to go through similar things you will. In this transition period, it can feel like you’re going to immediately lose touch with people that mean a lot to you.
Let’s face it: the US loves being just a little different from everyone else. The obvious example? Units of measurement. As an international student from Canada, even I have no clue what’s going on half the time when my friends talk to me and use these weird nonsensical units. And I’ve literally lived on the border between Canada and the States for all my life. After a year here, I’ve finally got a sense of how the two systems of measurement compare and how you can more easily get your bearings with these weird units.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!