“Ita daki mas” – summer in Japan

“Ita daki mas” – summer in Japan

I have always been skeptical of the old adage that travel is the best learning experience. However, after traveling to Japan for a two-week cultural immersion program, I have become a firm believer that travel is indeed the best learning experience.

Get ready for a photo overload, especially of food since I’m a foodie 🙂
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On the flight to Japan. Despite all the bad news of United recently, this 14 hour trip actually went pretty well. I had so many cups of green tea during the flight which I oh-so regretted later.

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My first breakfast in Japan – guys they have green tea granola. Let’s just say that I was obsessed.

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Visiting the aquarium – the jellyfish were so cool!

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The Big Buddha – little did I know when taking this trip that I would be in for a long hike in the nearby mountains.

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The hike was only half as bad as its length because aren’t these hydrangeas beautiful? These flowers were peppered all throughout the hike. Apparently, they are called the June flower in Japan.

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After a long and tiring hike, and an even tiring hour-long wait for the restaurant, we ate udon. Oh. my. goodness. The wait was definitely worth it because the udon was so good. There was also tempura and the chefs just made it right in front of you. Warm tempura is always the best.

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To cool ourselves off after the long hike, we got green tea and sweet potato ice cream. I know, the combination sounds weird, but guys, it was so good!

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Here is Takoyaki. It’s a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special moulded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onion. It was delicious, but very hot! I could have watched the chefs making takoyaki all day long, it was such carefully methodical process.

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Apparently this is a hit-or-miss not only with foreigners but with local Japanese. It’s something called natto. It is fermented soybeans that can be eaten by mixing it with rice. I actually enjoyed the taste which my host family was very impressed by as only a few Japanese people actually enjoy it! Of course, as a foodie, as long as it’s healthy and relatively tasty, I’m always good 🙂

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On one of the nights, my host, my host sister and their cousin met up and ate out for dinner at a Hawaiian restaurant. It was so much fun hanging out with them – so much laughing and fun while with these three. The pancakes for dessert were equally as good, although we all regretted eating them because we became so full afterwards.

It wasn’t the healthiest option, but these days, I’m all about balance and moderation and that being mentally healthy is as equally as important as being physically healthy.

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My host introduced these to me, but apparently, these chocolates help reduce how much fat and sugar you absorb. My host and I both being foodies, ate a few of these chocolates just for good measure!

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Japan was just beautiful. Here are a few non-food pictures that are so beautiful.

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One of my favorite dinners while in Japan.

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I’ve always heard that you never know the taste of matcha unless you try it yourself. So I tried to try matcha as many times as I could. It’s definitely not as sweet as the matcha we taste at Starbucks or in the States. It’s a much more bitter taste but somehow has some charm to it. I actually brought home a matcha kit so I could continue making it at home! Once I’ve mastered it a bit, I’ll write up a post for those interested!

Japan was in short, such an amazing trip. I can’t wait to go back there someday!

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After two weeks in Japan, I took a two hour flight to Korea and stayed there for a week. My parents were already in Korea at that time so I met up with them at Incheon airport. After a quick week of meeting up with old childhood friends and family, we left Korea and finally headed back to home sweet home!

 

P.S.: In nod to the title of the post, “ita taki mas” is what Japanese people say before they start their meal. It’s kind of like saying “Thank you for this meal, I will eat it gladly!” I loved saying this every time before I ate because literally every time I ate something, it looked and was super delicious!

P.S.: If my host and her family or any of her friends are reading this, thank you for letting me have such a memorable trip!

 

 

Relax & Refresh

Relax & Refresh

Sometimes, you just need a couple hours to yourself. School or work might have been overwhelming, you might have issues occurring in your relationships, or maybe you just had a grueling week and want to reward yourself. Regardless, in my experience, relaxing and refreshing can be very effective in productivity and feeling a sense of well being. Here are some of the things that I have done in the past to pamper myself!

1.) Hike or take a walk in nature. Even sitting in nature and taking it all in clears my head and makes me feel better.

Views from an awesome hike
Acai Pomegranate Bubble tea

2.) Go out to eat. Yes, sometimes food can be a wonderful reward! This past weekend, I went to a restaurant called Asian Bistro to have delicious hot stone bibimbap, and then I also had lunch at a Japanese restaurant where I had avocado sushi. For snack, I got myself a raisin croissant and an acai pomegranate bubble tea. Everything was so delicious and I felt so happy afterwards!

Vegetarian bibimbap

3.) Go on a run. I’m not a big runner (especially compared to Stephanie), but running helps me “run off my stresses” and “run away from my problems”!

Views from a recent run
Custard pudding- almondy and delicious!

4.) Cook and try out a new recipe. My friend and I made egg custards together, and we had an amazing time bonding and cooking. Even if you’re cooking by yourself (as I often am), cooking is a great way to relax. Seeing and eating the final product gives me an amazing feeling. See my first ever blog post on Why I Love to Cook 🙂

5.) Hang out with your family and/or friends. Whether it’s playing board games together, watching a movie, walking around town, or just talking, being with other people makes me feel happier.

6.) Take a long shower, put on a face mask, and listen to music. Your skin will thank you and you’ll feel super refreshed!

7.) Take a half-day trip by visiting a farm, going to the city (if there’s a city near you), visiting a museum, going to a flea market, or something else.

Farm trip
KALE Heaven

8.) Try something thrilling-like white-water kayaking, or rock climbing 🙂

9.) Take a nap-cause sleep is amazing and I can never get enough of it!

Now that I’ve shared my tips, I hope you feel super inspired.

In the words of my mom: “Work hard, play hard!”

Love,

Serena