#1 – Happy World Cup Day
#2 – As you blogspot followers can tell, I changed the background of the blog (estenson.blogspot.com). The website has a whole new array of displays and I’ve decided to experiment with some of the new features over the next week or so. If you ever like one of the designs drop me a comment below to let me know what looks best!
#3 – LIFE. If only I were referring to the entertaining board game rather than the ever-elapsing experiences we call “the real world.” But hey, at least LIFE’s no Monopoly!! (I’ll let you decide whether I’m talking about the game or the real deal there.) What I mean by all of this is that I’m having my first real slap in the face of how little time I have left on exchange. As I’ve told many of you before, I am flying home to Minnesota on the 11th of July, meaning one month from today I will be somewhere over the Pacific ocean enjoying an awful chick flick and ginger ale! To me it’s almost unbelievable – almost. What I haven’t told all of you bloggies yet is that I am actually finishing my Rotary Youth Exchange on the 22nd of this month. On that day I will be beginning twenty fun, and jam-packed, days of traveling with my “Japanese brother” Ryota. Ryota is the student from Ishinomaki, Japan who came to Northfield High School last year on Rotary exchange and stayed at my family’s house for four months during the spring. Anyway, he and I will be out causing trouble and experiencing even more incredible adventures during my last couple weeks here in Asia. Our plans are finally beginning to unfold, so as soon as I know exactly where we’ll be visiting I’ll be sure to let you know.
But back to the few days I do have left here in Tochigi. This Wednesday my homeroom class and I actually got to do something very historically Japanese, but which few current Japanese have ever taken part in: 座禅 Zazen – Seated Zen meditation. It involves crossed legged, thoughtless meditation in a temple while a monk walks around behind you, smacking you (hard) on the shoulder with a long wooden pole if your posture is poor or you see fidgety! The figures to the left are actually in the position we had to maintain thought the exercise. It was awesome!! Haha, definitely an experience I am glad to have under my belt, and also one I wouldn’t necessarily want to do again any time soon. We only did a short ten minute meditation session but for those ten minutes I struggled to think of anything other than what the monk’s instructions had been, if I was breathing properly, and if “the boss” was anywhere nearby behind me! Haha, so I don’t think I achieved any deep meditative trance, but I do know that after those ten minutes of deep breathing and stillness, the rush of feeling and relaxation that I received at the end was well worth the time. And yes, for all of you who were wondering, I did get hit by the stick. In fact the monk used it to hit each of us once, because he said he wanted to be fair in teaching us all a lesson! Don’t ask me what the message was supposed to be. If I had to make a guess right now it would have something to do with something along the lines of keeping your back straight ;)
Then last night I went out for dinner with six of the guys from the Kobayashi’s store one final time. We went to a great restaurant/bar in Otawara where we enjoyed an evening full of laughter, stories, food, music, and more. That’s a live pianist in the picture above – yes, she was as talented as you’d expect of a cute little Japanese girl! I’ll hopefully get to see the guys one last time next week, but it was still strange to know that this was a “going away” party. But I guess I better start preparing for them, I already know of four or five more planned during the coming week!