Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I've decided that I can't recap everything that's happened sequentially so I'm just going to write about different topics until everyone is brought up to speed. Today I'll do school since that's taking up most of my time right now (plus I'm typing this in school right now, IT class).

My school

I started school a few weeks ago and it's been interesting to say the least. I have to take the bus to school and back every day and on the first day, my host dad put me on the wrong bus. I was told the bus I was on would go straight to my stop with no changes so I stayed on the bus until the last stop. Luckily the bus driver I had that day was the nicest one I've come across so far so she was very helpful in making sure I got to where I needed to go. After a few small problems (no bus going to my stop), I finally made it to school (only an hour or two late). Thank goodness it wasn't an actual day with classes. I walked around the school and got lots of stares and pointing. I found my room and as I walked to it, two girls were standing outside the door and saw me. Smiling and with excitement they boldly and eloquently asked...."Jared?" and I answered with a triumphant "Yes!" Queue excitement and stares as I walk into the class. All the girls wanted a picture with me and asked me questions like "Do you have girlfriend?" Then the guys came up to me and asked things like "How tall are you?"

That day (and the day that followed) turned out to be days in preparation for the school festival that weekend! The days were basically me helping out my class with their room theme and watching the many dance groups practice. They really take it to the next level here. School festivas are all out with coordinated hip hop dancing, Japanese food stalls, bands playing on a stage, and rooms with themes like a haunted house or a quiz of some sort. Keep in mind that most of the dances were comprised of homeroom classes (not dance clubs or anything like that) and they were doing things like jump rope stunts and breakdancing and everything.

My class turned the room into a giant board game. I got to help as a person who sat outside the class inviting people to come to it. Most of the time I was going around to different rooms with some people from my class. There was a group of girls that weren't students that asked to take a picture with me and then would all giggle if they saw me around the school. I just found it kinda crazy because I would just stand there or say "Hi" or wave and they would go "Kakkoiiiiiiiiii" (So cool!). So, if you're planning on going on exchange and you have:

Non brown eyes
Non black hair

and/or you are:


People will think you're cool. (If you're a girl, everyone will think you're cute)

Since then I've been having regular school days. Everyone stays as a class and we stay in the same room for most classes. Class goes from 8:40 until 4:05 on every day except Friday (which gets out around 3:05). It's definitely been an interesting experience so far! I don't understand a lot of the classes so I just practice kanji or doodle for the time being. Except English classes. In those classes I help with pronunciation or grammar or things like that. My English reading teacher kind of annoyed me the other day because he pronounces everything himself and his accent isn't that great. He insisted to the class that wolf was pronounced as "oorf."

I'll write more about school in later posts. My next post will probably be about my recent trip to Kyoto and Osaka during Silver Week :D

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


So I've been in Japan for a little over a week now. Everything has been going so fast it feels way longer than 10 days.

I left Toronto Int'l Airport on Friday with two other exchange students who I met an hour before the flight. They both are in areas close to Tokyo though so no dice on meeting up with them really.

One 13 hour, continuously sunny flight later I was in Tokyo! After going through some customs and baggage claims, I met up with the other inbounds in my district. They were there along with two Japanese guys related to Rotary (rebounds I think) holding signs for the district. All the other inbounds had taken a different flight than me and were taking a connecting flight at the same airport. I, on the other hand, hand to first ride a bus with one of the Japanese guys to Haneda Airport for my flight to Komatsu. Unfortunately, the bus was slightly late in dropping me off at the airport so the Japanese guy had to work it out at the flight desk. Luckily there was a flight leaving two hours later and they changed my ticket so CRISIS AVERTED. (I just realized if you're quickly skimming this then you'll notice the bold words first and think something really bad could have happened)

The cool thing about my flight being later is that it got dark so my one hour flight was accented nicely by the lights of Tokyo and all cities in between. I even saw some fireworks going off as I flew overhead. Tokyo at night is really a sight to see in the air.

I arrived in Komatsu and when I got to the baggage claim, the other inbounds were picking up their baggage! I was 2 hours late and somehow managed to be synced with the other inbounds...

There was a big welcome group for me. I did a lot of handshaking and met my first host family some of my other host families as well as Yuki! Yuki was there with his family! That was cool.

It was physically hard to smile because of a mix of no sleep and holy-crap-this-is-happening

Everyone parted ways and I went home with my first host family in their car (with a BUILT IN TV).

I'll continue the rest later so I don't make a super large wall of text...

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm in Japan!!

I made it! What a loooooong flight! Today is my second (full) day in Japan. Unfortunately right now I only have access to internet through my host family's computer. I've written down stuff that's happened so far and once my host family fixes their wifi connection (a familiar scenario for me haha) I'll do a bigger, better update. Like a sequel to a movie. Except it won't suck.

On another note, Japanese tv is basically sports and round table discussion talk shows during the day. Denzel Washington was on a Japanese show and all the Japanese hosts reacted to him as if they couldn't believe he was there. They felt his abs and compared it to themselves and then they made him throw a little toy and a glass pane for some reason. I dunno.

Will update later! Until then, enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It Begins

I fly out tomorrow at 1:15pm from Pearson Int'l!!

I've been doing lots of running around and lots of packing and I've even had a few butterflies in my stomach.

This is my last post as an outbound. For the next year, this blog will be about my inbound experience in Kanazawa, Japan!

I'll try and make a post as soon as I can in Japan with as much info as I can. Enjoy the official start of the blog!

How I imagine my flight will be like

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Started a Video Blog

Hopefully I can make more in Japan, enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

1 Month 3 Days

That's the official time left before I leave for Japan! It's coming up so quickly!

A picture of my future school...looks nice!

A few things have happened since my last post. I've booked my flight so I'm officially flying out on August 21st. I also applied for my visa a few weeks ago so everything is going smoothly. Canadian things continue to pile up on my desk such as Canadian ties, mini hockey sticks, socks, playing cards, magnets, stickers, pencils, bandanas, and of course I'll be prepared for the countless situations in which I'll need an inflatable Canadian baseball bat...

I also contacted my host club counselor in Japan and he/she (the name was pretty ambiguous) passed on the email address of my first host family. In my last post, I had been kinda worried that there might have been no host siblings since the papers didn't mention any. It turns out I'll have THREE host brothers! One is 20 and off at a university in Yokohama (pretty far away from Kanazawa), one is 18 and "busy studying for college entrance exams," and one is 16. My host club counselor told me that the 16 year old will be my best friend. Wow, they've planned out EVERYTHING for me over there...:P

So I sent my first host family an email and the father responded back in an email with a mix of English, Japanese, and Japanese written with English letters. The cool part was that he sent a picture of the family and they look really cool. When I showed my parents, I pointed to an empty space high above everybody's head in the picture and said "That's where I'll be."

The only stuff left to do now is get more Canadian stuff, get some nice host family/Rotary gifts, get a better camera (so I can post all the professional top quality photos on this blog that everyone will shed a tear for at the very first sight), and maybe some new clothes since I'm sure they'd have to special order everything in my size over there.

I'll make a post closer to my departure date and from then on this will be a blog coming from a Rotary INBOUND!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Official: Kanazawa, Japan

Yup, I just checked my email and the district chair for my Rotary district's exchange program sent an email my way with a file attached that (FINALLY!) gave me a bunch of info from Japan.

My official home away from home will be KANAZAWA, JAPAN!

The basic info from Wikipedia:

Kanazawa sits on the Sea of Japan, bordered by the Japan Alps, Hakusan National Park and Noto Peninsula National Park. The city sits between the Sai and Asano rivers. Its total area is 467.77 km².

There's a LOT of info on it. Basically it was one of the few major cities that was spared of bombing in WW2 so there's a lot of old architecture preserved and it looks BEAUTIFUL.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanazawa,_Ishikawa <- go there if you want to read more Also, as of right now it looks like I'll probably be flying out August 21st so that's when this blog will (FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY) kick off into an EXCHANGE blog. The email also told me a few other things:

1. The trip costs are only around $250-260ish! It's especially awesome because Rotary over there pays for the other two thirds of the cost (yup, it's actually $750ish)

2. I'll get a monthly allowance of 15000 yen. (~$180 CDN) That's quite nice for an allowance (I don't spend lots of money so yeah...)

3. My first host family will be the Sugano family. No email was given :( It didn't mention any children but there was no space marked for children on the page anyways so I'll have to wait and see.

4. It had my Japan Rotary counsellor's info as well.

I'll update as I learn more :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Coming Up

I definitely need to update more often but I like to save stuff up and then post it all together for whatever reason.

Anyways, I performed at another art show recently with my friend Kieron. We did a Flight of the Conchords song (Most Beautiful Girl in the Room). I also filmed a short film that was shown at the same show and people seemed to enjoy it. Oh yeah! I did improv that night too. So yeah, THREE different thhings featuring me in one night :)

I continue to practice guitar and I'm definitely improving. I've also been collecting little random instruments. In the pasy few months I've bought: A ukulele ($30) , a mini piano/xylophone thing (50 cents) , a CASIO WK-10 ($2 :D ) which is a funky 80s mini sample keyboard, and a "Concertmate 460" ($10) that's a little more versatile than the WK-10. I want to try and write more comedy songs to make an album's worth by the end of the month (good luck....).

A few weeks ago, there was an optional Rotary outing to Niagara Falls that a lot of the exchange students took part in. It was lots of fun, even if we went to things I've been to before many many times. Everything feels fresh when you're with exchange students. It was definitely nice to see everyone again and we all had good times. Afterwards we went to a Rotarians house and most of us slept over. Good times... I remember I woke up the next day and went to the bathroom and when I came back, Luis (one of the inbounds from Brazil) was in my sleeping bag and just said "Can I use this?"

Two major things are coming up:

Rotary Erindale Weekend - I'll make an update about it after it happens in about two week's time-ish. It's probably the most likely time I'll get some more solid info on where I'll be living in Japan and the time window I'll be flying out from here :)

Stache Bash - It's basically Improv Night 2 with an advertising campaign based around mustaches. I'll have to get working on that pretty soon since it's on June 2nd...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm Curious

I'm wondering if I should make a completely new exchange blog now that this one has an irrelevant title/site name and it gives a pretty big background on before my exchange. I think if I started with a fresh exchange blog, it would be good.

What do you guys (assuming more than one person reads this) think? I'd post the link to it here if I decided to make it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's Official

I'm now going to Japan for my exchange! I don't know if I mentioned it before but Japan was my first choice last year and this year it wasn't certain that I was going to Thailand so this is AWESOME! I have to apologize to Thailand though. Don't worry Thailand, have you heard of university exchanges? Because Thailand, baby, you and I have a date when I get to uni.

Anyways, all the other outbounds found out where they're going and I couldn't be happier with this year's Team Asia. They picked a great person for Thailand and I know she'll enjoy it thoroughly. They also picked the exact person I was guessing would be the other person going to Japan! IT'S A PERFECT TEAM :D

There were a few surprises (in my opinion) as to where people were going but there were also a few I got spot on so it balanced itself out.

Karen (girl from Japan) showed me and Emily (the other person being sent to Japan) her Japanese phone. INSANE. It's like a phone from the future. "And you can watch TV." "What do you mean?" *Karen flips phone and it turns into a a widescreen display mini-tv* Me and Emily's faces = :O

This next year and a half is going to be a long whirlwind ride! And you'll get to read it all for entertainment value!

A map I made of all the outbounds and where they're going.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Previously on Jared Stryker's Life

So it's been over a month....yeah....

There's just been a lot going on and I didn't really want to sit down and write a huge post. I probably will make this a more summarized version of the past month.


I had the "first" outbound weekend back in January and everyone seemed really cool. I still had interviews and stuff, I think more so just to see how things are with me and if my views have changed at all. I stayed the night at a local Rotarian family's place. I was sent to a place by myself (as opposed to pairs like everyone else). They were all incredibly nice and we played Scrabble and watched part of a movie. Some of the inbounds were at the weekend as well so it was nice to see them again. I found myself trying to predict where all the outbounds would be sent. This year they're sending only one person to Thailand, and now TWO to Japan. The only other change is that they're also sending people to Australia, New Zealand, and (I think) South Africa.

Second Big Thing: WANAKITA

The four day winter camp from February 1st to 4th that all the exchange students go to. This was a fantastic time! Not a whole lot changed from last year in terms of activities. This time we had another sesssion of actual cross country skiing and our campfire was indoors (bah, not really a campfire then...). Wanakita is the time where you can get a better snapshot of everyone and it was much easier to predict where everyone will be going. In fact, that's what some of us did. We wrote down a list of where we thought people might be going and we're gonna see how close to the mark we'll end up being. Last year, the outbounds seemed to have a big group that socialized with each other and then a small group that more or less socialized with themselves. This year it's much more half and half in terms of "groups" if you can truly call them that. I had to sleep in a quinzee again. I hadn't ever planned on being in a quinzee twice in my life but they needed another guy to have enough body heat in the quinzee so I was that guy. The "dance" this year was a lot more dance-like compared to last year's. There was a constant strobe light going and people were dancing, not just standing and taking pictures. One other interesting thing to note is that when we did the "solo sit" (which is going out at night with lanterns and being sent off a few paces into the forest along a path so that you seem alone for 45 minutes) one inbound ended up staying out there a bit....longer than expected. We all had come back to a cabin for our indoor campfire and we all looked at each other and asked "Where's Juan Pablo?" Turns out he was still out there, he had gone a bit more than a few paces and was just sitting there waiting to be picked up by the Rotarians again. Crazy!

Third Big Thing: SCHOOL

I'm back in school now as of February 2nd (yeah I missed the first few days because of Wanakita). I needed something to keep me occupied so I might as well keep in the school mindset (for my exchange) and for extra credits. I'm not taking anything too strenuous and i'm only a part time student (only 2 courses in my case). I'm taking Film Studies and World Issues. Film Studies is really fun and I'm thouroughly enjoying it. World Issues is a "U" course so that's where all my homework and challenge comes from. I considered taking Travel and Tourism but that'd be too easy. I need something that stimulates my brain or at least keeps it moving.

Fourth Big Thing: IMPROV NIGHT

We finally had our improv night last Friday. It went fantastic. It was a night of improv, original skits (of which I wrote a lot of and helped write the others), and music (I got to perform one of my original songs which was cool). We finally saw it all come together (only about 5 or 6 people truly worked on this night from start to finish). A lot of people showed up - we ended up selling 70 or so tickets in advance! On the day of, we rehearsed from 10:45 all the way until 7:10ish when we had to start letting people in. I loved it when I heard compliments specifically mentioning the skit that I wrote entirely solo. It was also fantastic to hear the laughs when I performed my song (with help from my friend Kieron as the second singer). I couldn't help but smile hearing people laughing after delivering a verse's punchline and it was especially awesome when we got a HUGE cheer at the end of the song. We filmed the night so hopefully some footage pops up online soon. Although, apparently the cameras might have run out of film before my song (which majorly sucks). Meh, great night nonetheless.

Thanks for waiting over a MONTH for this post and be sure to look for my next post sometime after Rotary's Announcement Day on February 22nd.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Confirmed to be Healthy!

This is gonna be short.

I had a CT scan a few days back and I was expecting to find out the results this coming Thursday. It turns out my family doctor already had the results in and they told me that I looked completely healthy with no abnormalities at all! Great great news! :D

That really puts to rest a lot of the concerns I had. It feels great to KNOW FOR SURE that I'm healthy!

In other news, the people in improv (including me) have been granted their own "Comedy Night" to perform improv, skits, music, whatever we want. So that's what I'm going to be busy with for the next while (it's on Feb. 6th at the SJAM Auditorium if you're in the area and want to check it out). I've been writing and recording coemdy songs similar to what Flight of the Conchords does. I'll get to perform at least one of my songs live at Comedy Night! It's a lot of work, there's only about 6 of us behind the event organizing it, writing original material for it, and performing (doing this all within a month!).

I turned 18 on Christmas and I got a really nice, classy pocketwatch. I love it! The first outbound weekend for the Rotary exchange is this coming Friday and Saturday. I'm really excited to meet the new outbounds!

I'll probably make my next post sometime after the outbound weekend. Thanks for reading/commenting!