4 Semi-Free things to do in Orlando: a City of the Sunshine State!

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So you guys, I’ve been doing a bit of traveling, including visiting family down in the sunny, incredibly humid, and surprisingly rainy state of Florida.


I know this isn’t exactly glaringly novel information. But it is new to me. I never traveled to Florida before.


This is the land of alligators, popular beaches, and a wealth of amusement parks. As you can see, there is plenty to do in this state. If you decide to vacation here, there is definitely a list of options. Especially in Orlando.


What can you do that’s free? That’s the million dollar question ( no pun intended).


If you come from a walkable city like me, you may understand my pain. In Cleveland, there may not be attractions that could live up to Orlando’s universal studios, but people who live there, have found ways to beat around the usage of a dollar.

1) Shadow Bay Park

A sight during a walk on a nature trail.

This is just a community park located in Florida that the locals go to. There are nature trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a basketball court. That park was one of my favorite places to travel to. And it didn’t cost a dime.

2) Universal CityWalk

Now we all know about the theme parks that are spread about the city.  From DisneyWorld to the new water park that is in construction, all are a lot of fun and a lot of money. But did you know you can enjoy some of the perks without having to be in any of those parks?

A hub of lights, sound, and activity!


Well you could come to this hotspot! This is a hub of entertainment, eateries, and (seemingly) endless shopping options. Parking is $20.00 but is free for residents after 6pm. 

3) St. Petersburg Beach

Now, if you love the beach, then you are a friend of my own heart. I love the beach!  This is a popular spot that sits outside of Tampa. Resorts have this area covered to give their guests a great view and great time near the water.


 4)  Black Hammock Adventures

On Lake Jesup, there is a free live alligator and bird exhibits. Watch trainers feed the 12-foot (3.6-meter), 650-pound (295-kilogram) resident gator Hammy on Sunday afternoons. At the restaurant, listen to free live music every Friday and Saturday night. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see this. Even though I’m not a huge fan of reptiles, I still think that would have been an interesting experience.


Even though all of these options are not entirely free, they will help prevent the burn in your pocketbook from getting any deeper. Orlando is definitely an expensive play to have fun in.



Rejection Makes Success

Traveling the world is something that many people dream, and in many cases leave as only as a pipe dream. Like many other fantastical goals, this dream is locked in their heads like a forbidden fantasy, with excuses of w

Money. Family. Careers. Responsibility.

I’m young and broke. I graduated with my undergraduate degree a year and a half ago, and I feel no richer than I was in college (Loan payments. Ugh.). Responsibilities are all I know.

But recently, one of my deepest desires is now an opportunity for me. (Travel) This only happened after the hurdle that I struggled against was pulverized. (Fear)

I feared that I was not good enough. I feared that I didn’t deserve to travel abroad because of the many rejections I received.

 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return.” ~ Galatians 6:7

Oh no. She’s going to start preaching….

No.  The meaning of this is that God will provide the consequences for whatever work man has invested, whether good or bad. Believer or not, results are shown with hard work.

After pushing my fear aside, I never stopped searching for opportunities. Then, one popped up.

Persistence is key.

I now think rejection is a good thing. It toughens you up. Plus, there is that proud feeling you get when you finally succeed.

こんにちわー!The Culmination of 6 Intense Weeks

Can you read that?

Those strange characters say, “Konnichiwa.” That is a rough Japanese translation of, “Hello!” But you probably already knew that since the mispronunciation of this greeting could be heard on the radio. “Don’t Mind” by Kent Jones uses this phrase with a variety of others from other languages to make his point about his preference of women- or the lack of pickiness.

That is neither here nor there.

Right, the culmination. I use this term because the month of June has truly been a brutal month for me between starting a new job AND taking a six-week intensive Japanese language class. Hence, why I have not posted much of anything during that month. This past Friday was THEE last day for that class. Let me tell you: a three-hour class with three hours of homework that is scheduled Monday-Friday is NOT the business. Not with a job anyway. I was even asked to continue with the second half, which of course started the following week after the first one ended, but honestly I was just too tired at the end of each day.

However, with the sense of relief of finishing this class came a sense of sadness. I had truly enjoyed being in a classroom again. With the dream of one day traveling to Japan once more to live, there were days when I would come into class so excited- especially when I began to learn Kanji.

I had taken Japanese for two years in high school and a semester in college before. But I have never, never, NEVER learned all three writing systems.

For those who do not know, these are the three writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are more like phonetic systems. Katakana is generally used for foreign words and Kanji is a borrowed writing system from the Chinese language with different meanings. Before this class, I had only been trained to all of the first two previously.

My instructor had said that the reason for this is because of the complexity of Kanji. Americans are not considered smart enough to learn this right away. I am paraphrasing this but there you go.

I am about 50-60 Kanji characters in so far out of the hundreds of combinations out there, but it is a start.

All of the practice and frustration I had to endure are all the things I will honestly miss. The structure was exactly what I needed to hunker down and immerse myself int the language. Now I have to discipline myself in order to retain what I learned until I am ready to take another class. I will definitely let you all know how that works out.

Until then, しゃまたあね。 (See you later!)



I’m terrible at Communication and I’m paying the Price.

I like people. I really do. But that doesn’t mean that I have much of an easy time starting, and nurturing relationships- well the starting part.

You see, I’m an awkward human being, which seems like a redundant statement considering how many people claim “awkwardness” or any level of “weirdness.” Which I don’t think at all. I’m perfectly  normal no matter what anyone says.

But when I first meet people and for some time after, it takes me a while to be comfortable. I’m ‘quiet’ and ‘nice’; the complete opposite of what my close friends tell me. Except the nice part. Maybe.

Getting to the point: I fail to communicate.

Years ago- fifteen years to be exact- my sister and I moved internationally for the first time to Osaka, Japan. The second time, when I was ten, we moved to Okinawa Japan so that my mother could teach English. Homesick, of course, but we made friends, visited places- had a life.

Now, we never completed a full year for family reasons, but to make a long story short, we moved back to the states only after eight months. Complete severance of communication from the friends we had made there either time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: That’s very rude to not stay in contact with people I called my friends. Basically pushed them to the back-burner.

Imagine my surprise when my younger sister was able to connect with an old Japanese classmate/friend on Facebook. My sister, the self-initiator.

There were many different things that I felt when this development occurred: surprise, excitement, nervousness, guilt. But there is a few things I want to clear up.

  1. As my younger sister and I have gotten older, she has been the self-initiator between the two of us. I’m learning.
  2. Neither of us had consistently studied Japanese. Consequently, I felt embarrassed that a few of our childhood friends’ English was much better than my Japanese. Consistency and persistence is key apparently.
  3. I’ve never been that great at keeping up with communication.

I’m an arrogant American and I’m ashamed.

This is an additional placeholder post.

Have you ever moved to a foreign country, learned at least some of the language, and then move back home hearing how wordly and cultured you are?

After receiving one of the best experiences of your life to travel and/or live abroad, were you geared towards wanting to travel and experience the world even more? At the very least, to live up to those compliments from others who have never left their home country?

Well be careful. I’m talking especially to you, Americans.

After the having two different living experiences at a young age, I believe my eyes became rounder with the knowledge that there was a world beyond the borders of American soil. Not just knowing it, but experiencing it first hand. I will not say that I sought out people who had a foreign background for friendships, but looking back, I noticed that I had more friends than I thought in High School who immigrated here or were first the first-born Americans in their family.

When I moved to American I met Jane Doe ( this will be her name for confidentiality), a Muslim who was moved to the sates in 6th grade from Kenya with her family. Now, she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and it was always interesting to us that we were sometimes even mistaken as sisters, probably because of our similar complexion and shape. Throughout High School, we hung out like any other other friend’s, met each other families’, and etc. I had never even seen her wear hijab.

It’s not that I was never interested in her religion or culture, because, sometimes that would come up in conversation. But most times it didn’t.

Then Senior year hit. We had both applied to a few colleges– and both made it into Georgia State ( she started in the Fall , but I was wait-listed for the Spring because of my late transcript. ugh!) But then the worst happened:

Her family was moving to Seattle.

At first, I didn’t think too much of it. I thought, well, I knew she would miss her family. Except she wouldn’t because, she would be moving there with them, even though she was eligible for in-state tuition and grants because of her Georgia residency status.

My response?

Why do you need to move? You’re 18 now and graduated High School! You should try and convince them-You get the gist.

Honestly, all I did was add stress to her life, all because I was upset one of my closest friends would not be attending college with me. In the end, she moved anyway.

The thing is, I didn’t understand. I’m close to my family, but I didn’t understand the family dynamic in her culture. I’m not sure if it is her Kenyan culture, Muslim religion, or both, but years later I realized that family came before everything in her life.

They say as Americans, we are generally very arrogant. It’s our way before anyone else’s and I regretfully see how I represented that even though I didn’t see that at the time.

Is this post too long?

All I have to say is that ethnocentrism (evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture) is not a comfortable thing. I will include myself in the effort when I say that, let’s all try to be open-minded to people with a background different from our own. That includes attempting to understand by asking questions.

Her and I stay in touch through Facebook here and there, but I’ve always regretted how little support I showed. I vowed to do much better from then on.

Let’s try a little harder.




We Were Not Created To Be Alone But Most Times In Life We Are By Ourselves.

I have always been told that I’m emotional. Dramatic even. Sometimes.

But not really.

Dramatic is staying down in the mist of failure and allowing the world around me to be affected by the negativity. Emotional is letting the world know that my heart is breaking every single time.

But I don’t.

I learned a long time ago that everyone doesn’t need to know.

Take it in. Reflect on it. Progress forward. Channel it to the next level.

There use to be a time that when I felt inadequate, I couldn’t allow to put myself out in the world to fail some more; over and over again, collecting bruises on my spirit, heart, and even at times, my ego. It was all very tiring.

It’s hard. It can be so freaking hard.

But overall what I want is growth. Overall, I want peace. But most of all, when I’m old, and my adventures are done, I want to be able to tell my grandchildren all the possibilities’ of opportunity and joy in my life because I allowed myself to grow.

Strange goals, I suppose. But you can’t blame a girl, can you?

Reasons Why You Should Go to the NEXT Cleveland Asian Festival

So this past weekend  I had the opportunity to volunteer for this amazing annual event that started in 2010 known as the  Cleveland Asian Festival; celebrating different cultures originating from the other side of the world. Every year, more and more people come to enjoy their time and learn more about another culture.

Scope:  First year 2010 = 10,000 Attendees

Last  year 2015=   45,000 Attendees

You guys….that’s 35,000 more people! The data for this year has not been released yet, but I’m sure it was a lot more people. It sure felt like it.

Want to know why? Well here are just a few reason I enjoyed myself so much.


Now, from every great country, comes great food…and there was so much of it! Indian curry with samosas, Korean bbq, bubble tea, sushi….ugh. I was in a heaven where I definitely indulged in my fattening eating habits. I’m not a picky eater but I do have my favorites….and a lot of them are a part of the Asian persuasion.

(sesame mochi w/ red bean paste)


2) Performances

There were so many different performances and other scheduled entertainment between the 21st and 22nd. The lion dance, dragon dance, sword demonstration, Tradition Vietnamese dance, Egg roll eating contest, K-pop dance competition…and etc, etc.

I caught a few clips of different things. But most of the time that I attended, I volunteered in a different area that was nowhere near the entertainment. Kinda bummed about that, but I did get some footage of my experience there. I will post my Youtube video on my channel soon if you guys are interested.

3) Cosplay

Then there is cosplay. If you don’t know what this is, it is a form of pop-culture where people basically dress up like their favorite character, typically from comic books, anime characters, TV shows and more. However, this is not exclusive to those forms of media nor to just people who are of or are interested in Asian pop culture. ( Very recently I’ve seen Instagram posts of a couple of girls dressed as character from the Outlander series on Netflix).

I can’t say that I would ever participate in Cosplay, but I did enjoy meeting people who embodied some of my favorite characters ( I LOVED Inuyasha!). They made the event more festive.


4) Organizations/ Merchandise Booths

One of my goals for volunteering for this event was to meet other people who were interested in Asian culture, of course- especially Japanese.  Therefore, I knew that there HAD to be groups that had something to do with Japan or its culture in some form. Unfortunately, the Japanese community isn’t so large in this city, so there were very few choices. There is The Cleveland Japanese Meetup group, which was sort of cool ( except the white guy who spoke to me automatically assumed that I knew nothing of the culture, but, when he mistakenly spouted out a few wrong things as facts I kept my mouth shut.)

There were shops, study abroad booths, crafts and so much more. One thing I do regret, is never getting henna. InstagramCapture_64632800-14c1-4b20-8b2d-56b30ef96e9f



Are you jealous yet? Well don’t be because this annual event shows no signs of slowing down. You can come on down to good ole’ Cleveland next year in May to be a part of it all.






This J-Pop song!

So, I decided to look up some Japanese pop groups. Thinking perhaps this will help me with my Japanese study.

But now I’m OBSESSED with this J-Pop group.

FAKY.  Especially this song, CANDY.

Their music video can be found here on YouTube:


Even if pop music isn’t your thing, you have to admit that this song could easily become addictive.

But, whatever language you’re learning, music is a great way to learn Japanese in a passive way. It’s always exciting to me when I start to recognize words in the song and able to translate them.