18 Days Until Graduation!

I am very ready to graduate high school. I have already packed three boxes full of stuff ready to ship to college. The thing I am most excited for in college is gaining independence. At my boarding school, all my actions are controlled since the school is responsible for everything I do. 

Last weekend, I had a plan to go visit one of my friends who is in college. I was planning to go with my classmate who is going to the same college as my friend next year. Since my classmate and my friend there don’t know each other very well, I wanted to be the bridge to help them get to know each other better.

Photo Credit: s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

On the Friday we were supposed to leave, we got a notice that we weren’t allowed to go. I was shocked. I had been able to get through my busy week by thinking about the weekend, and I had really been looking forward to it. All our transportation and other arrangements that my friend had set up counted for nothing. I felt so sorry for my friends, and I was so disappointed.

The reason our plan wasn’t approved is because we are not allowed to sleep overnight on a college campus. We were told that “a college campus is a dangerous place to be.”  I understand the school’s responsibility and that they sometimes need to be overprotective, but I didn’t expect our trip to be canceled.

I really need my independence. I am over 18 and can make my own choices regarding where I want to go and what I want to do. This is one of the reasons why I am very ready to graduate.

The Truth About Boarding High School

What is your impression of a boarding high school? Maybe you think it’s a place where bad behaved teenagers are sent. Well, this is not always the case. For example, I came to boarding school to get an American education.

I’m dyslexic, and I grew up in Japan where the disorder isn’t known at all. I was terrified to go to school there because my parents told me that if people found out I was dyslexic I would get bullied. I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone. The constant fear of someone discovering my secret crushed my spirit and my school life. Even though I studied hard late into the night, my grades were terrible. As an excuse for not doing well I pretended to be dumb and lazy. I couldn’t be myself, and no one could offer me help.

My life has changed completely since I came to OVS (my boarding school.) I’m getting good grades and am in student council, something I always dreamed of but couldn’t do in Japan because it involved a lot of reading. I’m able to play tennis, which I quit at home because I needed more time to study. I’m able to work on my photography and Photoshop skills. And most importantly, I’m able to tell people that I’m dyslexic without being ashamed about it or worried that I’ll be bullied.

It wasn’t easy to leave my friends and family, adjust to a language I wasn’t fluent in, and start life at a boarding school with new people. But my decision saved my life.

The video below shows a glimpse of what boarding school is really like.

Losing my hearing!?

Last week I had a cold that lasted forever. I had a runny nose and coughed a lot. It felt like the typical cold I’ve had in the past, so I assumed I was going to heal soon, and was not worried about it too much.

One morning I woke up and there was this noise in my ears. It sounded like the buzzing noise in airplanes. At first I wasn’t bothered by it, but it got louder as hours passed. After three hours I couldn’t stand hearing the buzzing noise, and didn’t know what was going on. I started to wonder if I was hearing it in my head or in my ears. Then, I started worrying if it was going to break my eardrums, since it was so loud. One thought led to another, and I started to think that I was going to lose my hearing permanently.

boat fairy lights fireworks
Photo Credit: Evelyn Brokering

It turned out that the noise was just caused by my cold, and was not harmful at all, but it made me realize the beauty of hearing. This sounds cheesy but I realized how beautiful sound is. Music, fireworks, friend’s laughter, babies crying, someone yelling your name from far away – all of these sounds are beautiful and I can’t imagine a life without hearing them. I am grateful I can hear and hope never to forget to appreciate that. 

Selected for the SIGGRAPH 2017 SV!

Last night I received an email from the Siggraph Student Volunteer Program saying that I have been selected to be a volunteer. Siggraph is the “world’s largest, most influential annual conference and exhibition in computer graphics and interactive techniques.” It shows the latest technical achievements, research results, art, screening, and “commercial exhibits displaying the industry’s current hardware, software, and services.”

This conference is five days long and, this year, is held in Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: img.gifamerica.com

I first heard of this conference from one of my relatives who attended it a long time ago. She told me that the movie “Jurassic Park” was screened at the conference before it was in theaters. This movie was one of the first movies that used realistic visual effects and it amazed the movie industry.

I want to be part of this conference because it brings people together from both science and art fields – they collaborate and it benefits both fields. It also is related to my studies next year at CSUN’s department of Cinema and Television Arts. The Student Volunteer program is impacted, so I am very lucky to have been offered this position and am very excited to attend it.

Sleep talking in my second Language?

I have a roommate, and she tells me that I talk in my sleep. I sometimes speak in full sentences, such as “the Jacuzzi was good,” or I mumble. When I wake up I don’t remember what I talked about at all.

Photo Credit: frontiersin.org

I’ve heard that people dream in the language they are most comfortable speaking. My roommate says I speak in both English and in Japanese. I was speaking mostly Japanese until I was 16 years old, but I’ve been using more English these past three years. I thought I was more fluent in Japanese just by the number of years I’ve used it in comparison to English, but it seems like now I know English just as well.

I was trying my best not to speak in Japanese, not to read in Japanese and not to watch Japanese T.V. shows for the past three years in order to be more fluent in English. But I never thought I would be as fluent in English as Japanese. So I am very proud of myself for achieving my goal of being bilingual.

Sleeping too much?

These days I sleep a lot. I mean a lot. Like taking three naps a day. Everyday I sleep a total of at least two hours during the day, and I go to sleep at 10:00 and wake up at 7:00. That means I sleep for 11 hours a day on weekdays. That is almost half of my day.

When I’m awake, the only thing I think about is when I can sleep next. On weekends I sleep more. Last weekend I went to bed at 10:00pm and woke up at 1:00pm and slept again until 5:00pm. I was shocked at how much time I was spending sleeping.

This situation is very bad and made me think that I have some kind of problem. I was worried so I made an appointment to talk to the nurse. But, then I realized that if my only worry is getting too much sleep, I have a pretty happy life. I realized how blessed I am that I don’t have anything else to worry about.

I am glad I was able to see how blessed I am, and I hope my sleeping habit is not a serious problem.

Photo Credit: i.imgflip.com

Cherry Blossom Season

It is that time of the year when it starts to get warmer. The spring breeze is so nice and warm that you just want to take a nap. The flowers are blooming and the birds start to chirp. This is when I know my birthday is coming up.

Photo Credit: eskipaper.com

I have a Japanese middle name, “Sakura,” meaning cherry blossom. This name is common in Japan among people who are born in the spring. The day I was born, my grandma in Japan said that since the cherry blossoms were in bloom she would name me Sakura.

Spring is my favorite season. Although it is the season of my birthday, the reason I like spring most is because of the perfect weather. It’s hot enough to go to the pool and also if you drive a couple of hours to the mountains you can go skiing. I love to ski and I love to surf, so this season is perfect for me.

Skiing and surfing in the same month?

Ojai Valley School is really big on outdoor education, so we have a lot of camping trips throughout the academic year. I realized that in this month of March, I’m going on two trips that are for opposite types of activities. One is the Mammoth Mountain skiing trip and the other is a beach camping trip.

I just came back from the Mammoth Mountain skiing trip. I can’t move as much as usual because my arms, legs, and neck are sore from skiing and snowboarding. I can’t even think about surfing right at this moment, but I need to in a week, so I hope I feel better by then.

This experience – to have both of these trips happen in the same month – is only possible in California. It is crazy to think the weather can be this different in one state. I’m from Japan and I know for a fact that California is bigger in area than Japan, so this blows my mind.

Mammoth Mountain
Photo Credit: Evelyn Brokering

Life is fleeting

I came to Ojai Valley School in the middle of my sophomore year and now I am 88 days away from graduating. Two and a half years at this school went by fast, but when I look back at the past it feels like a long time ago.

Life is so weird to me – the fun times go quickly and the sad, painful times go so slowly. Sometimes I want the time to fly and sometimes I want one second to last forever. As I’m thinking about all this, time won’t stop and life just keeps going.

I found this inspirational video by Robin Williams. He says “please don’t worry so much…because at the end none of us have very long on this Earth”. He also says that “life is fleeting.” I love the way he thinks about life, and that he puts this message out to the world.

Whenever I am stressed out about the future I always remind myself that “life is fleeting.” Sometimes I get so busy that I forget life is fleeting and precious. I need to focus more on enjoying life rather than rushing through it.

I recommend everyone watch this video, and I hope everyone gets the message.

The truth behind my acceptance to college

I recently got into my top-choice college, California State University Northridge (CSUN). I applied for the Cinema Television Arts department, which is very competitive.

I was shocked that they accepted me, because they didn’t ask for any teacher recommendations or personal essays. My GPA is not that high, so there was no way I got in just from that.

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The application only allowed me to submit my GPA, SAT scores, and personal information, such as my gender and race. So even if I were an Olympian, for example, CSUN had no way of knowing.

I researched a little about the real criteria evaluated by college admissions departments. I learned that race, family income, and where you come from can affect your acceptance. Colleges want to have a particular mix of new students. And I also know for a fact that the film industry is putting effort into getting females more involved.

Because I am mixed race, a female, I have a disability, dyslexia, and because I am a Japanese-American who grew up in Japan, I was at an advantage as far as getting into the school. I feel very lucky that my personal information was my advantage.