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How I learned Japanese   

Sometimes,people would ask me “Why did you start learning Japanese?”, or “How come youwanted to come to Japan in the first place?”. Well, to be honest, there aretimes I wonder that myself.

Butgiving it a little bit of thought, I came up with some possible answers. Givingsome more thought, it may be better to call them “excuses”.

Amongthem, the relatedness part.

Iwas raised in Brazil, a country with a huge influence of Japanese culture.

Duringmy childhood I would watch the same amount of anime as I would watch cartoons,because they were often in the same programming block on TV. Of course, bybeing Japanese productions, there is a both relatedness and strangeness when itcomes to a foreign audience's perspective.

Amongseveral thoughts, “Look at those narrow streets, the school uniforms, thetrains. Why don't we have it here?”, followed by “I've seen this before inanother series, I'm starting to understand this and this!”. And that, naturallyadded to the curiosity to understand what the characters were talking about,and what the music lyrics mean.

Onthe next post, I would like to talk about some of the methods I used to learn.

Fernando (Brazil)

by chitchatcafe | 2018-02-14 14:06 | 英会話 個人 レッスン 札幌

Life in a Cold Climate   

It's been ten months since I moved to Sapporo. The weather in Hokkaido was unfamiliar to me. I came to Sapporo from the Philippines, where the weather is predictable and the sun shines almost throughout the year.
When I arrived in Sapporo, people frequently said, "You poor thing, it is your first winter? Oh my God, you need to get good boots and a jacket." So many people said this, I was petrified of winter. The more people warned me, "Winter is coming, what are you going to do?" the more nervous I became. It was as if a monster was coming, one which I had never heard of or seen.

Ten months ago, if someone asked me how I would describe snow, I would have most definitely said “a carpet of glistening sparkles.” Ten months later, I beg to differ on that view. Don’t mistake me; I still like the snow, and when it snows, I just couldn't help to look up to watch the gentle snowflakes falling from the sky. Beautiful.

First snow fall -- one November morning, when I tried to open the door, something was blocking it, when I pushed harder I couldn't believe what I saw. Mother Earth had been covered with a big white blanket. I touched it and tried to smell it. It looked like white sugar, but the snow was much more lively and charming, it was gentle and delicate. It was love at first sight and there was nothing to be afraid of. At least for a few days.

I learned that winter can be hazardous, (and even deadly,) because of the extreme cold, severe winter storms and challenging driving conditions. As a newcomer, knowing what to realistically expect, and how to prepare yourself for winter is essential.

I am grateful that I listened to people who warned me about winter. Bought myself a good pair of snow boots, a set of warm clothing – thermal lined gloves and hat, down coat, scarf, a sleeping bag and a couple of heavy blankets.

Winter living takes some time getting use to. I know it might take me a while to adjust to the snow, ice and cold temperatures; but I know it can be done and makes for an interesting journey!

Shiela (Philippines)

by chitchatcafe | 2018-02-09 09:06 | カフェ 英会話 札幌

Food is my friend   

Hello everyone, I hope you are having a wonderful day.

I am the newest staff at Chit Chat Café, and this is the first blog I write. It is really hard to really come up with a fresh new idea, and write about it in a way that will be entertaining for you guys. So, I thought that I might want to talk about something I get asked a lot in Japan: what are my favorite Japanese dishes. More precisely, I will talk to you about two restaurants in Sapporo that I really like. Let’s go for a small culinary adventure!

As a Hokkaido University student, I hang out a lot around campus and I barely go anywhere else in my free time. There are two reasons for that. First one is that I am really lazy, so I do everything to stay close to university and my apartment. I that way I don’t have to walk for too long going back home in Sapporo’s freezing winter nights. Second one is money. It is well known that university students are not the richest people on earth, and actually eating for cheap fills my heart with a lot of satisfaction (and especially when the food is good ahah).

The first place I go to on a regular basis is a Café called Jikan (時館), located just next to the 18-jo gate of campus. There are a lot of students there and it opens until midnight. I find it really nice to study there when I don’t want to study in my room. They do amazing burgers, that are really cheap. The one that I prefer is the Zangi Burger. I often take a glass of Coke and fries with it. But I can’t talk about Jikan without telling you about their amazing pancakes. I had never seen, my entire life, such fluffy and delicious-looking pancakes. Last time I tried them, I tried the coconut sauce, but in the end, I think that my favorite is the caramel sauce.

The second place I really like to go to is a place called Manbuu. It Is near the 15-jo gate of campus. I first went there with a circle of the university, and what a surprise when I realized that there was a ALL YOU CAN EAT KARAAGE menu. I did not try the karaage menu the first time, but I quickly came back to try it. A second time, third time, forth time, fifth time… The restaurant instantly became one of the places I loved to go to for a good dinner with a friend. The Chicken Katsu menu is really good, I can’t wait to go back there.

The good thing with those two restaurants? They’re only 30 minutes away from my place by foot. I can’t wait to be able to ride my bike to go there when the snow will be gone (will that even happen one day? It doesn’t feel like it ahah). I think it is a good thing to have some places to feel good when you’re so far away from home. Homesickness is a really tough feeling, but I am sure that whenever it gets me, a bit of Karaage and some fluffy steamy pancakes will get me back on tracks right away!

What about you? Do you have a favorite restaurant or a place to feel good when things get tough? Let’s talk about it next time we see each other!

Have a nice day,

Sofiane (France)

by chitchatcafe | 2018-02-08 15:02 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

Of All The Things… What Japanese Winter Looks Like   

Greetings to you all who read the Chit ChatCafe blogs and visit us! I’m Juliana, and I began working at CCC in summer,2017. I am from Finland, and I came to Japan in September 2016. I have alreadybeen in Japan for a year and a half! Basically this is my second winter here inSapporo, and I have plenty of experience with snow back in Finland, which hasmade my winter time in Sapporo very interesting. I had some expectations aboutthe Japanese before I came here, which I believe are similar to what other foreignershave thought of the Japanese people and the everyday life here. However, as Ihave spent more than a year here, I have realized that not all of myexpectations were met, and there is a surprising gap between how we handleeveryday things in Finland and here in Japan. I will mostly talk about commonthings like the snow and the houses’ heating systems.

Now, first of all, Finland is very coldcompared to Sapporo. On average, we have -20C , or -25C in winter. Some remoteplaces have -30C of freezing degrees. However, I always enjoyed my winters inFinland, because our houses are built to be very warm. We have three layers inour windows and thick walls with heat insulation, so it’s always +23C indoors.That’s why I was surprised to see in Japan that people have heaters. Why wouldyou need a heater if the house is warm by itself? Well, Japanese houses havevery thin windows and walls, so it gets very cold even indoors. I was verysurprised at this! Winter comes every year, so why not build better housesinstead of buying dangerous gas heaters?Of course there are many kinds of heaters such halogen and kerosene, but itnevertheless made me question the famous Japanese efficiency and thoughtfulness of Japan. Good houses are important, andseasons come every year.

Another thing that surprised me in the winterof 2016-2017 (and still does) is the way Hokkaido handles snow. The very firstproper snow that I experienced here in Sapporo was before Christmas of 2016. Iwas going to my part-time job at the Munchen Christmas Market in Odori, butsuddenly the way to the subway was full of snow. It was already past noon, butthe road apart from the car lane was full of snow, and I ended up falling overa lot. I was very confused. In Finland, that amount of snow would have beentaken out of the road by 08:00 in the morning by the city’s own snow plowers.But there it was, all the snow in Sapporo. Only a small, narrow path forpedestrians to walk on, and sprain their ankles in the bumpy snow. Even if mostof the snow is taken from the road, it still leaves ice behind, and walkinggets slippery. In Finland we use rocksand to make the roads easier to walk on, and so does Sapporo. However, here inSapporo it is up to every person to sprinkle the sand on the road, it’s not thecity’s responsibility. Most of the time, the amount of sand is nowhere nearenough in Sapporo. I was especially worried for all of the elderly people,grandmothers and grandfathers of Sapporo. It’s very difficult for older peopleto move around in winter, and if they break their bones, they may not be ableto walk.

In Sapporo, it is cold indoors, and walkingaround can be extremely difficult at times. Because of this kind of winter herein Sapporo, I have sometimes missed Finland. However, surprisingly, I like thequality of the snow more here in Sapporo. It’s soft, airy, dry, powdery. It’slike the ultimate winter wonderland. Nowadays in Finland, it’s not guaranteedto snow for Christmas, which is a shame. But here in Sapporo we get snow quiteearly, which feels good in December. A snowy Sapporo looks the best with themountains in clear view. This is what I like about winter in Sapporo.

How do you feel about winter here in Sapporo?

Juliana (Finland)

by chitchatcafe | 2018-02-03 17:36