Friday, June 2, 2017

10 Things You Will Do On JET

Ahoy readers!

Another long absence caused by adulting, making cosplays, and doing hood rat stuff with my friends. I'm currently transitioning between jobs and planning for upcoming cons, so not much has been going on in my writing world. It's sad...I miss my characters so much!

But, this is also an exciting time for anyone embarking on the JET Program. For those of you not in the know, JET is a program where candidates teach English for 1-5 years in Japan. It's been almost 2 years since I've come home from JET, but the memories are still as strong and as fond as ever. Now that I know a few other people who are heading out, I decided to put together a little list of things that someone on JET will experience*

*note: JET is famous for the Every Situation is Different (ESID) philosophy. You may or may not experience these things exactly, but there's a pretty strong chance you will ;) 

1. You will compare Japan to your home country.

my biggest problem was that the nearest Popeyes was in Seoul...

You will make this comparison A LOT. Some of it will be due to making self-introduction lessons and to answer questions that students and curious coworkers may have about your place of origin, but you'll be making little mental notes along the way as well. 

"Oh, neat. We don't have recycle bins in front the convenience stores at home." 

"Man, the streets in my country are much wider than Japan's." 

"Oh, look! Old people burn their trash in my country's rural areas, too!" 

Your comparisons will come in goods and bads, favoring both your homes throughout the journey. The best part is that JET is primarily an exchange program, so you're encouraged to find the differences and similarities between Japan and your country and to share what you find!

2. You will have your ego stroked by your Japanese friends.
my twin, y'all~ 

Being a foreigner in Japan, especially in the inaka (countryside) comes with its own personal brand of ego inflation. Nearly every JET will get told how beautiful/handsome they are or how great their Japanese is. Also, your chopsticks skills are apparently on fl33k~ 
You're the new kid in town and, for the most part, everyone from students to parents to the friendly neighborhood Granny will want to be your friend.  

And you know what? It can be a great thing! 

People can be so hard on themselves, and the self-esteem can really take a hit whilst adjusting to life in a foreign country. So, maybe your little conversation with the local convenience store clerk wasn't elaborate, but you can still feel good about being complimented on your pronunciation of pointo ka-do. And maybe I don't sing just like Olivia Newton-John, but it sure put a smile on my face!

3. You will become a master of packing.
every JET makes this post

     With the vacation days, the stellar public transport, and the numerous long weekends, JET program is the best time to go exploring! From personal trips to AJET-sponsored tours, you'll be bombarded with opportunities to see what all of Japan has to offer. That will include plenty of chances to cram 5 days' worth of clothing into a rucksack for easier train-hopping. It would be a shame not to try and see all of Japan!

4. You will have a favorite conbini.
Choose wisely...

     And you will fight to the death for it. While this usually depends on the closest convenience store to your apartment, you'll get awfully attached to that particular brand. I've gotten into heated debates over whether Seven-Eleven or Lawsons fried chicken was the best (Lawsons,) and who has the best sandwiches (Lawsons egg salad sandwich is bae.) 

Keep in mind that each conbini has its own special perks and try them all! At the end of the night, whichever one has a clean bathroom and  walking beer was my favorite! Just Lawsons all the way!

5. You will relive your university days.
24 is the new 18

I swear the bachelor's degree requirement is simply to make sure you can handle the nightlife in Japan. JET is full of parties. Whether it be with other JETs or attending enkai with your co-workers,there will be plenty of opportunities to drink and be merry. 

Be careful, though. Japan has this custom where you can't pour your own drink; someone else has to top you off when you want more. Being the foreigner at work parties means that everyone wants to make sure you're well watered at all times. The beer will flow freely at these events, and there's usually second, third, and fourth rounds after the main event, so make sure you hydrate and eat! And it's also okay to politely decline that 9th round of whiskey from your principal!

Japan is also infamous for its nomihoudai at bars and izakaya. You'll pay a fee (normally no more than $40) to drink for about 2 hours. Some people like to take this as a race, and before you know it, you've downed those 9 whiskeys once again! (But don't worry, your favorite conbini will have some delicious food to sop up the alcohol and lull you back to sleep!)

6. You will know at least a little bit about a popular anime.
So. Many. One Piece campagins! 
Japan is the land of anime, after all! Even if your coworkers and friends aren't fans of these popular cartoons anymore, teaching students will have you up-to-date with the latest TV shows. 

Maybe some of you are already fans of One Piece or Shingeki no Kyojin , but the last anime I watched before JET was Rock Lee no Seishun Full Power Ninden so I was a little behind the times.

A lot of students will see you as the cool, young sensei and will express disappointment when you don't know the name of that popular basketball anime on TV (seriously...all I know is that it's got "Basket" in the title.) So you'll get a lecture whether you want it or not, but it'll result in you being closer to your students. And who knows? Maybe you'll get a new favorite show out of it too!

7.  You will treat nomi/tabehoudai as a challenge.
this x12

While buffets are few and far between, Japan has this wonderful concept of timed all-you-can-eat-and-drink courses. This is usually in yakiniku places, where you'll pay $40-60 bucks for 90-120 minutes of literally all table side DIY grilling you can shove down your gullet. While service is prompt and that time frame is more than long enough for a sensible meal, every JET feels the pressure to reach the high score of beef tongue consumed and beers drank. The good news is that you'll be doing it with a bunch of other people, and the meat sweats are always worth it.

8. You will have a favorite onigiri. 
tuna/mayo please! 

The humble rice ball should be Japan's national dish. They're cheap, plentiful across the country, and come stuffed with many savory, and sometimes sweet, options. Craving sour plum? There's an onigiri for that. Want fried chicken and mayonnaise squished between fluffy rice? There's an onigiri for that, too! Choosing a favorite rice snack can be a tricky thing, though, as some of the better options are seasonal. It's good to stick with a regular as go-to fuel. I still get cravings for the tuna and mayo!

9. You will be spoiled.
100 yen per plate...that's $1 for two pieces of sushi...

With the salary, subsidized rent, and ample amount of free time, JET is a time to live the high life. That can include an array of things, but the two biggest ones that stuck with me are the sushi and the shink. 

From conveyor belt to conbini the sushi will be cheap and fresh beyond comparison. Even growing up along the Gulf Coast in a culinary capital didn't prepare me for how mind-blowing Japanese sushi really is! I'll shell out quite a few more bucks for the same sushi experience in New Orleans that I had for 1300 yen in Japan.
oh, Nozomi-chan, how I miss you <3 

The shinkansen or bullet train is another one of Japan's luxuries that aren't prevalent elsewhere. Though expensive, it'll get you across the country quickly in the spacious convenience of a luxury train car. Who needs airport security and stuffy planes when you can splurge on the shink?

10. You will have an amazing experience.
I miss them every day! 

 JET, as with many programs abroad, will have its ups and downs. Transitioning to life in a new country where the customs and the language are vastly different is no easy task. You'll have your homesick days, but you'll have many more wonderful days with your students, co-workers, and new friends. 

Japan is opening its doors. Go on and explore!

Monday, April 3, 2017

A Nerd Poser Reviews FFXV

Consistency is key, right? 

Second blog in a week, woo! 

I haven't posted much about my geek side on this blog, but I am --indeed-- a geek. Started with my Sega Genesis and was fed during high school by a steady diet of Square Enix and anime. 

That being said, I'm most definitely a poser when it comes to Final Fantasy. I've tried to get into some FF games, really I have, but RPG just ain't my thang unless it's a button masher like Kingdom Hearts. The starting, stopping, and god forbid strategy needed to complete the average FF game are too much for my brutish, impatient nature. 

I couldn't even get past FFX, for Pete's Sake! And that one has a story...A STORY! 

So, I was very skeptical when the long-awaited FFXV came out for PS4. I'd just gotten my console (because I didn't bother getting one in Japan...sounds foolish until you're packing a year into two suitcases) and I was looking for stuff to play. Actually, I'd given a birthday/Christmas list that included Uncharted 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and FFXV. 

Now, I'm a huge Tomb Raider fan, and I have been since that little TR2 demo for the Playstation, but somehow that one didn't make the birthday present pile. Since I'm not an ungrateful little shit, I was happy with my Uncharted bundle and my FFXV deluxe edition game. 

And after playing Uncharted 4 (excellent ending to a really good franchise) I dicked around on some of my older titles before tackling FFXV. I'd been hearing a mixture of responses from friends and on social media, so I really didn't know what to expect. All I knew was that the bromance was strong and that it had a Crisis Core vibe to it 

Since Crisis Core is, now was, the only Final Fantasy game I truly loved, I figured it was time to jump on the FFXV bandwagon. 

Still my boyz~ 

So, without further ado, here's my SPOILER FREE~* review of the FFXV experience! 

Starting the game...

I opted to not watch the film included in the deluxe package before playing. Not because I wanted to save it or anything, but because I'm wildly impatient when it comes to video games and the last FF film I watched (here's looking at you Advent Children ) was pretty disappointing. 

The game starts off strong. You're the prince to a small kingdom setting off to go marry your beau. You got your boys, a sweet ass car, and your father's blessing. The little beginning where the car doesn't start and Florence sings an underwhelming version of "Stand by Me" is a cute way to start 4 friends' adventure.

Side Quests Schmide Schmests

The early chunk of the game moves rather slowly. It starts off well enough with a canceled ferry and political unrest, but that tension dies down to a sluggish pace for the rest of this bit. 

Most of the time, you're hopping from town to town, getting weapons from Notcis's ancestors' graves. In between, there are tons and tons of side quests and photo-ops for Prompto to get all the sick shots. 

Now, I love dicking around games where the characters are cool, and FFXV definitely has its share of cool characters, but these side quests get to the point where the game becomes pretty mundane. Having a car means filling it up with petrol often enough to be a problem with small funds of gil. You also need money for items, food ingredients, and caravans/hotels to hide away when the demons come out. 

And in order to make money, you have to slay monsters which requires leveling up. Remember how I said I didn't like RPGs? Leveling up is about 3/4 of that hatred. 

That's not to say it's all side-quests and boring boss fights, though. You do get to travel to pretty interesting places and learn a bit more about each of your buddies, who are infinitely cooler than you. 

Ends in a rush!

Once you get enough experience and materials to fix a boat, you finally get to Altissia, which is where Noctis and grown-up Namine are meant to be married. 
Courtesy of Reddit. Glad I ain't the only one who sees it. 

That's where shit goes down and the story gets real. The villain is revealed, you have your first major boss fight, and you're probably longing for the simpler times where riding a chocobo was the least of your concerns. 

The plot moves about ten times quicker during the second part of the game. With the world literally ending, you have to move quickly. This is also where most of the backstory and character revealing happens. One of you is wounded, while the others are trying to keep it together. All while you, the prince who's supposed to be the leader, throws a hissy fit and becomes the worst character in the game. There's a little side-story that happens around this time where teamwork triumphs over pettiness, but it barely scratches the surface after all the shit that takes place beforehand. 

The final bit leaves you alone and weaponless. This is where Noct really has to dig deep and be a decent human being in order to save the day. 
This is hard for someone who looks and acts like Sasuke, so it's probably the most challenging part of the game. 

You get to play the hero, reunite with your buds, and fight the big bad guy. 

The End...was dumb. 

Honestly, I'm no stranger to weird and anti-climactic endings from Square Enix. Being a Kingdom Hearts fan, I kind of expect the endings to be pretty foolish. FFXV does not disappoint with this, but to save anyone stuck in the side-quest vortex from being spoiled, I'll keep my mouth shut on that one. 

Still, the bromance saved this game and puts it up there on my "Final Fantasy Games I Enjoyed" shelf. The gameplay and elemancy were also fun to use and kick butt with. It was like mixing my button mashing love with a little bit of strategy, which played a role without overpowering the story. Relationships between the characters and the backstories of each were conspicuously missing, so I hope that's due to the upcoming solo titles for each of the boys. I'm looking forward to playing all of the characters' story versions coming out, and I hope this one releases more games like FFXIII and FFVII have. 

Crisis Core is still my favorite, though. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Writing Whilst Growing Up

It's been far too long since I've blogged.

I can go on about how life got in the way, how I'm stuck in a job that sucks the energy from me, how I'm distancing myself from my publisher because I don't agree with their philosophy, or how I'm deciding the best route to take to finally push into adulthood. 

But, truth be told, I've been kind of lazy.

I haven't written anything since NaNoWriMo. If it wasn't for that month of peer pressure to get words down, I wouldn't even have a direction in which to channel my slowly rekindling creativity. The BarCon at Bad Wolf was great, but it only reminded me of how publishing early with a small e-publisher has put a bad taste in my mouth. It's great for some, and I'm happy to have made the connections I did while working with them, but I don't agree with anyone who chooses to limit the ways in which fiction should be expressed. Religious crusader or not, stories shouldn't be shamed. 

(...well, maybe except Twilight

Anyway, I've finally come to terms with life sucking a little as one grows older, and I'm forcing myself to get back into some form of writing habit. I took to re-reading my first ever story that I started in high school, and rewrote only a few years ago, and I found out something. 

All of the characters are insanely naiive. 

It's the same in Lucid. Devon is the only one who should be so fresh-faced and willing to do anything to be the hero. Characters should have a bit more of a raw anguish to them. Things shouldn't happen so methodically and almost too well-timed. And the funny thing is that I honestly tried to avoid all of that every time I write a story.

That's the whole thing about growing up, I guess.

Reverie is a little better. The plot doesn't move as slowly as the first book did. The characters have more relationships and sacrifices to make. And I realized that was the book written while I was on my own in Japan. 

I'm back in my little incubator in my parents' home now. And it makes me want to claw out of my skin if I sit too long and dwell on it. But until I get a decent job where I won't have to work nearly 24 hrs for a livable wage, I'm stuck here. 

That's not  to say I haven't grown up a little. Last year was hard, and I witnessed for the first time how one person can latch on to you and tear you down to a mere husk of what you recognize. Even though you should know better, you let it happen until the nuclear explosion that terminates the relationship and removes all traces of it ever happening. With that feeling, I've started to re-write the beginning of my first story and edit the novella I cranked out during NaNoWriMo last year. 

But I'm beginning to see why most authors are older. Age truly does open your eyes to better alleys and directions in which to begin stories. There's more to a story than its concept, and like a fine wine, it takes time to mature into something truly brilliant. 

So, I just want to let all of you know that I'm not being lazy. Not entirely. I'm maturing.

And you'll see it in later blog posts. 


here's a picture of my dog as thanks for reading this mess~