Everyone’s a little bit racist…

…even against their own race.

Subconsciously, even.

Including me.

Last month, the Northeastern Vietnamese Student Association held a design contest. They wanted to print some custom hoodies. Photoshop-user as I am, I decided to enter with my own designs, which you can see here.

I entered my design and the VSA members voted on it. And I won! It was very exciting, until my dear roommate noticed something was a little off…

No, they couldn’t. As a result, I was asked to redesign the hoodie with the dog outside of the bowl. But when I did…

The VSA e-board decided to have its members vote again. This time, a different design was chosen– one that, in my opinion, is equally cool if not more cool!

But what about me? The winner of the design contest was promised a free hoodie. Except now, not only had I not won, I wouldn’t be able to get a hoodie of my own design. So the NUVSA e-board cut me a deal.

Was that okay? Hellz yeah it was okay! So I ran off and made another design, just for me.

I guess I didn’t learn my lesson.

Advertisements

F#ck yeah Engrish

For those who are interested, there are more photos from my trip on my tumblr! I haven’t been able to blog about everything I’ve done, so it shows several places I visited but haven’t mentioned.

This country is the best, especially at English. I’d just like to take a moment to share these wonderful gems I happened to encounter during my time here…

Extra Dope Wear Select Shop:

RIDE YOUR SEXY BODY: the night surfers

SPANK ME!

Actually, that’s probably exactly what it sounds like.

Plane-flavored ice cream:

No drunk:

The Real American Underwear:

Wait…what?

Baby Shoop:

It’s kind of hard to see here, but here’s just an example of the ridiculous fashions we saw in the 109 Building, Shibuya. The entire mannequin was dressed with bling reading “BABY SHOOP.” Pardon?

Titty & Co:

UP YOURS TO SWINDLER:

Limited Express Romancecar:

This is an actual… thing on the Odakyu line in Tokyo.

Candy Stripper:

Why wouldn’t you name your company that?

Miracle Battle CArddAss:

Let’s quench insensibility and indifference to fire!

BOSS COFFEE is the boss of them all:

Boss Coffee is actually a huge brand over here.

for Female, Fetus, Family & Future:

No scribbling here:

While I’m at it, I’d also like to share this series of signs explaining the rules of the Tsukiji fish market. While the English isn’t that bad, it’s amusing nonetheless.

That’s all for now. Until next time!

On being Asian-American in Japan

Now that I have internet, there’s going to be more photos coming up on my tumblr! Feel free to check it out. 

Japan is a very homogeneous place. It’s historically been isolated. It’s very difficult for foreigners to obtain Japanese citizenship. As a result, the large majority of people here are, naturally, Japanese.

As a result, Japanese people have an odd fascination with non-Japanese people, known as 外人(gaijin, literally “foreign person.”) We’re rare, after all. Groups like mine—with 18 college gaijin—get lots of attention. Little kids and middle schoolers in particular enjoy staring at us.

People have even taken photos of us.

Japanese people, as I’ve experienced, don’t expect gaijin to know any Japanese. Like, at all. So, unlike America, where we expect everyone to know English, saying any Japanese to a Japanese person them induces shock.

If you’re white in Japan, then, any effort is appreciated. But what if you’re not white? What if you’re Asian, like me, who at first glance could pass as a Japanese girl? I’ve been told that Asians that are in Asian countries, but cannot speak the native language, are totally rejected. I expressed my worries to a friend of mine:

Which, for the most part, has proven to be true. Except I mentioned before that I had a really bad cold, the worst I’ve had in years. I was coughing and sneezing and hacking and sniffing, hoping to god I wouldn’t get any of my fellow students sick. And in fact, there was a way I could prevent it. A very common thing in Japan, when one is sick, is to wear a hospital mask:

This way, the afflicted does not spread their germs. So I decided: Why not? When in Rome…

I wore the mask for a couple days, throwing the people around me into confusion.

Cashiers assumed I was Japanese, and didn’t hesitate to speak their language rapid-fire at me:

The best was when my group went to watch a sumo wrestling tournament, however. The guy at the ticket booth was handing out programs in both Japanese and English. To the rest of the kids, he automatically handed them an English flyer. But when I came up, he paused:

Otherwise, though, I haven’t experienced much trouble. Thank goodness! And now I’m better, so the mask is off. Besides, as soon as I open my mouth, people can pretty much tell I’m a foreigner.

My goal by the end of this trip is to be able to pass as a Japanese girl for 30 seconds. Think I can pull it off?

I have an Asian nightmare

I had a horrible nightmare the other night:

Oh wait. It doesn’t stop there. It gets better.

My sleepy subconscious was in legitimate agony. Yeesh. Dreams are weird.

Speaking of dreams, I forgot to mention here what is old news to my friends: one of my dreams is, indeed, coming true!

At the beginning of this semester, I applied for one of Northeastern’s Dialogue of Civilizations programs. These programs, exclusive to NU, are kind of like a summer study abroad, except with a much greater focus on cultural immersion and experience rather than just taking courses in a different country. For example, there are Dialogues where kids learn about healthcare in Australia, micro-financing in Cuba, or photography in Italy.

I applied for the Language Immersion Dialogue to Japan.

It was a bit of a long shot, actually. I’m just a freshman. My Japanese, when I applied, was… rusty. So when I went to interview for the program, I kind of freaked out:

But… I guess I did okay! Because, last month, I got an e-mail…

I was accepted! Oh my goodness gracious, I was accepted. I couldn’t believe it!

Especially because I’m the only freshman going on the trip. Everybody else is an upperclassman. I just… can’t… I don’t…

So this summer, from May 11th to June 19th, one of my longtime dreams is finally coming true. I’m going to Japan! 日本に行く!I’m still in shock, really. The best part is that my scholarship pays the tuition costs– so I’ll only have to pay about $700 instead of $10,000. Not a bad deal, for sure.

And this time, I’ll remember my camera!

Engrish

My family.

Immigrated from Vietnam.

Therefore, English is their second language. (I was born and raised here in America, however.)

My relatives, then, speak fluent, but perhaps not perfect, English. Occasionally this results in hilarity. Take, for example, how my uncle tried to abbreviate “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:”

…though anyone who’s taken a math class knows that “twinkle to the third power” would result in “Twinkle Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Hmm.

Similarly, “Ode to Joy” became

…and my cousins and I laughed the entire night.

My favorites, though, are some movie DVDs we have laying around. My sister and I left it up to our dear ol’ family to label them, with some comical results. For instance, we’ll often find movies labeled “CF,” or “chick flick.” As my dad phrased it, a “warning label to let me know not to watch it.”

Alternatively, you can drop all plurals with us:

Just one Ring. Just one tower.

Enjoy some “dairy” with Bridget Jones…

…Or perhaps search for a “spork” with the Star Trek crew.

Spock is nowhere to be found, but now we have a multi-function utensil!

This one definitely is my favorite, though. Feast your eyes on this wonderfully fobby label:

Though all are minor errors, our parents’ English is no doubt a source of endless entertainment for my cousins and I. Perhaps we shouldn’t poke so much fun at our aunts and uncles, but the temptation is irresistible. And it goes both ways: just as I make fun of my family’s English, my family will tease me for my poor Vietnamese. (Which, by the way, is absolutely terrible and has much more cause to be made fun of than my family’s English. Cheers!)