After the final exams it was time for travelling! With three friends I flew to New Zealand for a week and drove through the northern island witha campervan. The next three weeks I drove with two friends from Cairns all the way to Brisbane, and from Brisbane I flew home. Now I’m happily back in Malmö ready for Christmas. And here are the highlights of the last month! -Vappu
We were two bachelor students from Malmö university travelling to Hiroshima, Japan in august 2017, Camilla Perming (to the left) and Ludmila Betina (to the right). We were starting our sixth and final semester after INU workshop in Safe Quality Patient Care at Hiroshima University.
I, Camilla, travelled to Japan a week earlier than the workshop started because I wanted to experience Japan since I had the opportunity. I took a shinkansen to Kyoto, the former capital of Japan and the more cultural and traditional city in Japan. I would highly recommend doing so to those who are thinking of applying to the INU workshop for next year. Both Ludmila and I took some extra days to spend a little time i Tokyo after the workshop and I’m so happy that I did. Tokyo is a great and fun city!
First day started with us meeting up with our fellow participant students from South Africa and Spain, we had met them briefly the evening before when we all arrived in Hiroshima. We took a train to Saijo where we met up with the rest of the students and had introductions and getting to know each other, followed by a lecture about LEAN theory held by representatives from Toyota. The reason for them inviting in Toyota was for us to learn about their high safety level and how we in health care can apply the same structures to avoid doing unnecessary work and to make our job working as a nurse more effective. In Sweden we learn about LEAN theory in our third semester in organisational theory but the focus was now on how applying Toyotas LEAN theory can increase patient safety.
Second day started early with us going to the Peace memorial museum. We took a bus to Hiroshima city and walked through Peace Memorial Park where we got the see The Atomic bomb Dome for the first time. We only had a few minutes to stay and take some pictures which i thought was a bit disappointing. The whole day was very stressful. When we got to the museum (a bit late) we only had an hour to walk around and it wasn’t enough time to see everything. The museum wasn’t that big but I would have liked to stay longer because it was a lot to take in. It covered the whole history from making the atomic bomb to after it detonated and the time after. After the museum tour we hurried to the International Conference Centre where Mrs Keiko Ogura, an atomic bomb survivor, told us about her experience being born and raised in Hiroshima and being only eight years old when the bomb detonated. It was incredible to listen to her story; how she remembered the day the bomb detonated and the time after and how it has shaped her and other survivors life afterwards. I learned about the discrimination people experienced in Japan for being from Hiroshima. It was very inspiring to listen to her, her way of viewing the world wasn’t bitter nor in anger. She just wanted to speak up and work for a nuclear free world.
The afternoon was spent in a Call Medical Clinic which was very interesting. At the Call Medical Clinic they had MP, nurses and other specialist professions going out to homes and treating people in need of care. They could offer advanced health care treatment in the patients homes. We also had a look around their base clinic and learn more about how elderly care was provided in Japan. Most lectures were held in Japanese but we had Yumi, who worked at Hiroshima University, to translate for us.
Early morning we took a bus to Peace Memorial Park where the University had reserved seats for us international students to take part of the Peace Memorial Ceremony. The Peace Memorial Ceremony is held each year on August 6th, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Some 50,000 local citizens and visitors, as well as ambassadors and dignitaries from around 70 countries, gather here to console the spirits of those killed by the atomic bomb and also to pray for lasting world peace. Japans prime minister Shinzo Abo delivered a speech, amongst other noteworthy figures like Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and representative from the UN. A minute of silence was held 8.15, the same time as bomb dropped to remember the dead and a call to eliminate nuclear weapons.
It was a lot of people in the area and cameras and news teams with all their camera equipment. It was very hot even though it was early in the morning. Thankfully we were given headphones so that we could hear the translator throughout the ceremony. I had had a mental picture of how this day would be like before coming to Japan, I thought it would be a day to grieve and to mourn and remember the people that had died. And it was a day to remember the horrible consequences of the bomb but most of all it was a beautiful day with people coming from all over the world celebrating peace together. It was clear that Japan was proud over how quickly they had rebuild Hiroshima and now stood for the message that atomic bombs should never again be used. So I was surprised to see that it was such a happy day. Kids were playing and laughing everywhere and people were talking and enjoying themselves. It was a wonderful atmosphere to be in.
After the peace memorial ceremony we went on a trip to Miyajima. Miyajima is an island outside Hiroshima and the island is known for its torii gate and Itsukushima shrine which is UNESCO World Heritage classed. I learned a lot of interesting and fascinating facts about Japan’s two biggest religions which are Shinto and Buddhism. Most people in Japan embrace both religions, or both religions are practised in the same family. The Japanese people were encouraged to have two religions when buddhism grew popular in Japan so there wouldn’t be fights within families or between religions. So many of the shrines in Japan is a combination between shinto and buddhism. But there are some distinctions that can show which religion is most influenced in that shrine. We got to visit two shrines, one which was mostly Shinto and another that was mostly Buddhism.
On the island there are wild deers living that has gotten accustomed to people so they are walking around harassing tourists for food. They tried to open our bags nibbling on almost everything so you had to be careful. I found them absolutely adorable and they were so friendly, you just had to gently push them away when they got to close.
The island was breathtaking, Ludmila and I took a walk on the beach down to the torii, it was low tide so we could walk underneath it. And while we were walking back we took a moment to ourselves and appreciated being in Japan and getting all these experiences. It was a beautiful day and we were halfway around the world with wonderful people, getting to take part of unique experiences and we felt so blessed. If you ask me if I thought it was worth all the effort, the extra costs and the trouble of arranging and flying for that many hours I will promise you that it is! I loved every minute, even after eating all that damn rise! 😉
From the boat we could see how the mountains shaped a head with a crack in the mountains where there was a waterfall and the crack formed the eye of the head. We were told that it was one of the reasons why many japanese thought of the island as spiritual and holy place. On the picture you can see the face, it starts with the forehead to the left and then the “eye”, nose and lips. The face is looking up to the sky. In front of it is the torii.
We didn’t have that much time on the island though, we wanted to get back in time for the lantern ceremony. While back in Hiroshima we walked to the atomic bomb dome where we could color and make our own lanterns.
It was nice watching the lanterns with the word like “peace” or “love” written or painted on them. Some lanterns drowned but after awhile the lake started getting filled with lanterns. We didn’t stay long enough for it to become very dark since we had another full day of workshop the day after. The days were long and so hot so you got pretty tired. The apartment where we stayed were really nice though, this day we had to go the the spanish girls apartment to use the wifi to finish our presentation about swedish health care and send it in.
It was time for our student presentations. It was interesting and nerve wrecking. I don’t enjoy giving presentations but we pushed through it. We also got to listen to the other students presentations on how their health care system work in their countries.
After the student presentations we transferred to Mazda museum. This day was rainy and windy which was welcoming, the other days had been so extremely hot. We got a guided tour learning more about their cars and how they worked. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any pictures where they worked putting the cars together. That was the most interesting part to me, watching them work and seeing how a car is put together. Then we listened to a representative from Mazda who talked about their safety work.
The pre-noon was spent listening to lecturer Gwen Sherwood explaining about QSEN – quality and safety education for nurses, which was a great and inspiring lecture. She has been working to improve nursing education to improve safe quality patient care and by telling us the story of Lewis, a 12 year old boy who died as a result of improper treatment lacking several patient safety measures and she made most of us cry. I was very affected by Lewis mother’s story whom Gwen worked alongside to improve patient safety in health care. The Lewis story was used as a case study that we based our group presentation on. We were divided into four groups with students with different nationalities. We were given three key words, transparency, culture and error reporting and we were given free hands in how we wanted to present these key patient safety factors implementing them into the Lewis story.
Afternoon was spent visiting Hiroshima University Hospital were we learned how japanese nurses worked from a patient safety perspective. It was very interesting and we also got to see patients rooms, nursing station and different equipment that the nurses used.
The visit was followed by another lecture in patient safety and risk management and then by a cultural activity where we were given the opportunity to try Ikebana, japanese flower arrangement. It was harder than it looked and who knew there were so many rules in how to make Ikebana?
Directly after we were taken to Ai Ai restaurant to eat Okonomiyaki, soul food of Hiroshima. The food was great and the entertainment equally so! Two brave students got up the to grill table to learn how to make Okonomiyaki and it was hilarious, first up was Raquel from Spain and then my partner in crime Ludmila from Sweden. Fun way to end a great and long day.
We had a lecture by the American lecturers in system thinking, safety impacts, basic TeamStepps, team work communication and an interprofessional exercise. The lecturers drew a parallel from an NASA incident where a space crew were killed when NASA made a critical mistake than can be applied to nursing environment. The lesson learned from the NASA incident was how group culture can affect patient safety outcomes and it was relevant to the Lewis story. We got to do team exercises aswell and time to work on our presentations.
After the group work we transferred to a nursing home. The woman that ran the nursing home was very motivated to improve elderly care and I was very impressed with their different ways to stimulate the day to day live of an elderly patient living in the home. One part of their services was that they had a chef to special make the food so that it was easy to eat for the patients whom couldn’t chew but still contained the same taste and flavour as regular food. They demonstrated this with preparing a wonderful meal, we felt pretty spoiled.
After that we had an optional cultural activity to learn Kendo but unfortunately I skipped it for being very tired.
We continued the lectures on QSEN qualities concentrating teach back as a method and SBAR communication model. Teach back as a communication strategy is used to make sure a patient understands the information that is being given to them. We had a team exercise that was a kind of domino game structured to enhanced the importance of communication and the different ways of communication strategies that we have. The exercise was to put domino bricks exactly as a picture but only one team member could see the picture and then having to direct the others in placing them as the picture.
We got time to prepare our group presentation and the cultural activity where we got to participate in a traditional tea ceremony that is called Ocha. Me and two other students got dressed up in Kimonos and photographed like models, because we were so pretty 😉 The tea ceremony was more complicated than I though, it’s not just drinking tea with a neighbour, it’s a whole process with bowing, kneeling and eating. It was fun to try. The tea is called matcha and its green and thick tea, tasted a little bitter.
Then we visited another kind of health service that helps patients with diabetes with information about preventative measures to reduce the use for dialysis, which is very common in Japan. They educate about food and other diabetes related health tips and the patients can call for information. After that we went to visit a hospice where we met nurses working with palliative care in a house that is privately owned. They didn’t make any profit and worked and lived in the same home. They were very inspiring people.
We ended the evening with a home party at one of the Japanese professors with sparklers outside. We sang and danced and ate good food and enjoyed ourselves. It was remarkable how well we got to know each other after such a short time. We were all living in a little bubble where we were all family.
Day started with group exercises in SBAR, teach back and patient simulation practise, it was a great opportunity to practise what we had learned in lectures in the previous days. It was good to practise because it is harder than it sounds and the lecture demonstrated how using teach back as a method is very effective to make sure adherence with the patient is achieved. SBAR was new to many of the other students so it was a great opportunity to shine like a star 😉 We were also being subjected to a patient simulation exercise where the Lewis case was the background story and it was a way for us to feel how it feels to be unprepared and fail.
We had lunch at a traditional japanese lunch at a tofu restaurant and the rest of the day was spent filming for our group presentation and going shopping in central Hiroshima. We had so much fun this day, i laughed so much that i probably worked up some abs. We were beginning to realise that our experience were closing into an end and we started to mentally prepare ourselves for the sad day when we had to say goodbye.
It was time for our group presentations and in my group we were very excited to present. We had lunch in the conference hall and we got our certificates. Some of us were already saying goodbye that day and we started getting a little bit sad that it was now coming to and end, the workshop had just gone by so quickly.
So the japanese students took us into central Hiroshima again to do some last shopping and we went to a restaurant where we grilled our food on the table. We had lots of ice cream and took pictures in one of those japanese gaming hall were we all crammed into a photobooth and took pictures that we were able to draw on and design before printing out. It was so much fun. We also played for stuffed animals at the game hall and I won a pokemon teddybear and we all won at least one each that we carried around under our arms in Hiroshima while laughing and joking, it was the perfect end to a great week and a half. We cried while saying our goodbyes and promised to stay in touch.
To sum up the workshop was a great rewarding experience and if you love meeting new people from different parts of the world, learning more about other cultures and traveling around Japan you should definitely apply for a scholarship.
Konnichiwa, fellow world explorers and those to be!
Before getting into the actual interesting part regarding my experience at the INU conference on SOGI issues held at Hiroshima University August 4th – 12th 2017, I’d just quickly like to hit you with some boring stuff and introduce myself real’ quick. My name is Leah, I am currently on my 23rd lap around the sun and I have just recently graduated from Malmö University with a Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Born and raised in Germany and between finishing high school in 2012 and starting my journey with Malmö University, I had successfully dropped out of university in Amsterdam (it just wasn’t my thing…) but also worked and travelled my way through life. Never in my life would I have thought that Malmö University would be the place that would offer me so many possibilities to not only earn a degree but even more important: let me go. Yes, Malmö University wants their students to go. Go explore, go adventure, go learn, go see something new. In fact, I’ve only spent about 2 out of 3 years in Malmö itself. Within my program, I had the honor to be nominated twice for exchange studies and went to both, South Korea and Australia, in 2016. And the best thing about it? I didn’t have to take out a loan or sell my soul to the devil to do all these things.
Malmö U got you covered for the most part. Coming from a pretty average middle-class background I could have never gone without the bilateral agreements between my host universities and Malmö U. Between graduating from MAU and starting my Master of Science in Gender Studies at Lund University, I did not have many plans for my summer and so I’ve applied to basically all summer programs out there and seemed somewhat affordable. As soon as the deadline passed mid-May it was clear: I’d go back to Asia. Again. This would be my fourth time there and yet I was so excited to go. Again. Excited to go to Japan and participate in a conference with a topic I really cared for but it also meant that I would be able to go and see my friends I had made during my study exchange in South Korea after the conference. So there I was in May, planning a 1 1/2 month long trip from Sweden, home to Germany, to Amsterdam to see my friends from my first failed university experience, on to Japan for the conference and, finally, Korea for some reunion time.
So after catching up with my family in Germany and visiting my beloved Amsterdam, I finally got on a plane to Japan. My fist stop was Fukuoka because the flights to Hiroshima were just unaffordable at the time I had booked everything. Fukuoka is one of the major cities in the South of Japan and only about an hour away (given you are taking the Shinkansen aka bullet train) from Hiroshima. I had been to Japan before in 2014 and therefore already knew Tokyo and a couple of other cities, so I decided to go for the way cheaper option and just see Fukuoka. Traveling in Japan is easy. The trains are fast and comfortable (leg room for days!), however, quite expensive. You can also take intercity buses, however, it’s a little more complicated to figure out when and where to be with limited Japanese only.Arriving in Japan after a 13h flight, having had the whole aisle to myself on the way here #winning, my jet lag was so bad I feel asleep in the middle of a park as my hostel would not let me check in yet. It was hot and humid at an average of 38 degrees but a little breezy as well so it was alright. Japan, and East Asia in general, is very safe. I am usually more on the paranoid site of life but whenever I am in Korea or Japan I never feel unsafe. You can literally drop a $100 note on the street and be almost 100% sure that it will still be in the same place 40min later if the wind hasn’t blown it away. So if you feel a little uneasy about traveling on your own: start in Asia. I spent the next two days exploring and just trying to adapt to the climate and time zone before heading up to Hiroshima.
I got to the hotel late on the 3rd of August and didn’t really do much other than jumping on my hotel bed, taking a long, long shower and going to bed fairly early. The next day turned out to be quite mellow as well. We only got to meet everyone at a get-to-know-each-other-kinda-event on campus that night. We had lovely Japanese “finger food” (or should I say chopstick food, as eating with your hands is very much a no-no?) and it was fairly easy to get to talk to other students and participating teachers.
People were split up into tiny groups of approx. 7-9 students each who got assigned to one country that they would represent at a Model United Nations role play on the last day of the conference. I had the pleasure to be with Team Brazil. Throughout the week we attended workshops about all sorts of topics (mainly related to LGBT and SOGI topics) in the morning (my favourite one being about how different cultures tend to communicate) and worked in our little groups in the afternoon. Before the week of workshops and group works, however, we got to spend two days exploring around Hiroshima. From climbing up to Hiroshima’s castle, visiting holy temples and shrines, seeing the infamous Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima island, trying all sorts of traditional food, trying Sake, seeing the atomic bomb dome, meeting and listening to the story of nuclear survivor Keiko Ogura, visiting the Peace Memorial watching Japan’s President Shinzo Abe holding a speech. You can check out my little video for non-conference related impressions:
- How much does it cost? I received a travel grant from MAU over 3000SEK and the JASSO scholarship over 80,000 yen. Which comes to approximately 9000 – 10000SEK in total. The hotel was about 4000SEK for the whole stay. The flights came to about 10000SEK so you’ll have to make sure to have some money saved up at least.
- How do I find cheap flights? You can fly directly into Hiroshima City or you check airports around the city such as Fukuoka or Okayama. Even airports further away such as Osaka or Tokyo might give you a good deal. Just be aware that taking the Shinkansen, the bullet train, can be VERY expensive from Tokyo to Hiroshima. Taking the train in Japan is one of the easiest, fastest and most comfortable ways of getting around though. If you are planning on traveling elsewhere you might want to consider getting a J-Rail pass which allows you to hop on and off trains for a certain amount of time (e.g. 3 days, 7 days, 14 days etc.) You have to apply for the J-Rail pass BEFORE entering the country though.
- Where is Hiroshima? Can I go to Tokyo? Hiroshima is located in the South of Japan. The distance between Tokyo and Hiroshima is about 900km. You can either fly or take the train between these two cities but most people just take the train as they go more frequently (every 10-15min) and can be booked more spontaneously.
- Have you visited other cities than Hiroshima on this trip? I’ve been to Japan before and therefore didn’t feel the need to go up to Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto again. I’ve flown into Fukuoka and spent a couple of days there before heading into Hiroshima.
- How much time should I spend in Hiroshima prior or after the conference? As you will be exploring the city with your respective group, I don’t think you actually need to spend more time in Hiroshima itself prior or after the conference. I’d much rather use the time to go to other places.
- Is Japan safe? Japan is probably one of the best countries to go to if you have never been to Asia or far away from home. The crime rate is insanely low. The Japanese culture is very polite. Even Japanese swear words would probably still be considered polite in other languages such as English.
- Did you meet a lot of non-Malmö U students? Plenty! In fact, I hardly got to see anyone else from Malmö as you get divided into different groups.
- How was the food? JAPANESE FOOD IS INCREDIBLE. Try Okonomiyaki. You can’t leave Japan before you have tried it. Hiroshima is famous for it.
- What about insurance? The insurance was covered by the university.
- On a scale from 1-10, how valuable has the experience been? To be fair, I didn’t have a ‘mind blown – never heard of this before’-kinda-moment in regard to the conference topic itself, however, it was great learning so much more about the Japanese culture and just meeting and networking with so many people from all over the world. It’s something no one can ever take away from you. You’ll come home with a full heart, that’s for sure.
Feel free to contact me in case of any questions.
For mid-semester break, I was lucky enough to have my brother and my father visit me. We rented a car and explored Victoria and New South Wales. We saw the ocean and the desert, and tried to spend as much time possible in the sun. Here are some photos from the trip!
So in South Australia there is a spring holiday for two weeks, some say it’s meant for studying but surprisingly I spent it on other activities… In two weeks I travelled to Byron Bay in New South Wales, Surfer’s Paradise in Gold Coast and to Kangaroo Island on the shores of South Australia, the best two weeks of my stay in Australia for so far! 🙂 -Vappu
Life in Australia has been quite extraordinary for me for so far. Due to technical issues I haven’t posted in the first month of my stay here but here is an overview of the best moments here in Adelaide since my arrival! -Vappu
Trip to Cleland Wildlife Park
On the very first week the international services of Flinders Uni arranged a trip to the Cleland wildlife park where kangaroos, wallabies, Tasmanian devils and all sorts of birds go free (okay not the Tasmanian Devil, it’s called devil for a reason). Kangaroos are super social! The koalas were unfortunately napping so not that much material on them. The nature in general is much richer and greater than in Sweden or Europe. Even in the midst of the campus here we have a lake and woods. On the other hand, the campus is in the suburbs so it’s fairly peaceful here.
Hallet Cove Beach Day
Hallet Cove Conservation Park is located in South Australia on the coast, and with some exchange students we made a day trip there. It’s very hilly full of cliffs and beaches and great views as you can see. As it is the Australian winter now it’s still pretty chilly, around 15 degrees daily, but the sun is very strong so on a sunny day it gets nice to spend a day outside. After hiking we returned to Adelaide to the Glenelg beach to check out the sunset. There is nothing more beautiful but a calm ocean and the vibrant colours of the setting sun playing on it.
Wine tour to Barossa Valley and wine tasting
Australia is known for its wines and especially Shiraz. Wine is also much cheaper than in Nordic Countries, cheapest we have found is 4 litres 10 dollars (around 7 euros/60 Swedish crowns) hehe. Again we joined a trip organised by the Flinders international services. We visited two wineries with excellent wine and some magnificent viewpoints on the Adelaide hills.
In general Australia is a very welcoming country and people here are helpful. Life is joyful here and I imagine when it gets warmer Adelaide will truly blossom. The university takes very good care of the exchange students and there are a lot of activities at hand. I play volleyball at the Flinders volleyball club and on mid-semester break I’ll also be joining Australian University Games in Gold Coast, I’m sure that will be one of the best times here.
Hello Dear Reader,
Since you’re here and reading this blog post I assume you are in one of these groups: The first group is the students who want to admit/who has been admitted to Malmö University and they would like to know more about their (future) universities opportunities. For these people, this blog post might not be helpful. First, university is more than just travelling to other countries. University is an experience that is going to affect the rest of your lives dramatically. So, if you’re deciding on which university to choose solely based on its “social” facilities, I’d recommend looking at other things. Nevertheless, Malmö University provides enough opportunities and you did/are going to make a good decision by choosing here. The second group is the academic or administrative staff who are curious what the students are writing in this blog. I’ve nothing to tell them either as no matter what I write here, they’ll probably read it until the end. The third group is the internet surfers who ended up in this website. To them, I say welcome. This blog post would be a nice way to kill time. And final group is the students who are planning to apply INU Master’s Summer School or who are already admitted to the seminar/summer school. This post would be most useful for you.
Before I applied to this school I had so many concerns. For sure the biggest concern was money. Despite the 80,000 JPY stipend, going to Japan is not a cheap business. I’ll tell you one thing about it: I brought back quite a lot of money despite buying all the weird Japanese stuff. Travelling to and within Japan is quite expensive and it makes you miss Skånetrafiken ♂️ however, food is so cheap! It’s incredible how cheap the food is. To be honest, I couldn’t believe for over a week and despite knowing the exchange rate I was still trying to convert. A large lunch box costs around 40-50 SEK which is a gem.
The second concern was, as a self-declared “nerd”, if this summer school would be
useful for my future. It’s difficult to answer as it’s been just 4-5 days since the school has ended but the experience was worth it. Apart from the cliché “It’s such an intercultural experience with people from all around the world, it’s a great opportunity”, I can also say it was informative enough. Not in an academic sense -I’ve a major in political science and international relations plus now I’m studying international migration and ethnic relations, so yeah, obviously I knew what is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how can we improve the global standards- but in a social sense. I gained a nice network of people. Every student who joined the master’s summer school had a great academic background, the lecturers who joined the event were also an asset for me. In the end, I learnt new stuff on the rights of people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, Hiroshima, A-bomb attacks and Japan. Overall I give 7/10 to the summer school.
Many of the participants arrived in Japan a couple of day earlier to travel more. I also flew to Tokyo rather early in order not to suffer from jet-lag but I didn’t travel much. I’d recommend going to Japan at least 3-4 days earlier and going to Kyoto, Osaka or Fukuyaka. I’ve not been to any of them and I regret it so much. Japanese bullet trains (shinkansen) are cool and it doesn’t take much time to go to these cities. If you want to see Fuji you really need to spend a couple of days earlier or later for that occasion.
You’re going to Hiroshima Prefecture, not to Hiroshima. These are different things and if someone had told me this before I’d be more careful about my decisions. Think that you’re going to Stockholm metropolitan area, Stockholm is within that area but if you live in another city that’s around 40-50 min. away that means you’re going to spend most of your time in that city: It’s called Higashi-Hiroshima (literally eastern Hiroshima -they didn’t think thoroughly) and Saijo.
Saijo is known for being the sake capital of Japan. There are many breweries, take your time and visit them. They’re not very touristic so don’t expect people waiting for you at the gates, in some cases you wouldn’t even believe you’re entering to a brewery, it’s a friendly and warm experience. Saijo’s streets are narrow and people are so kind. I was sceptical about the hotel but it was just great! For around 400 SEK per night, it is just awesome! You get to use the free spa and public bath as well and the breakfast buffet is good. Ignore the fish-heads, rice and noodles that are offered for breakfast though. In comparison, I paid 500 SEK per night in a capsule hotel with shared room and bathroom in Tokyo.
The most unforgettable moment for me was joining a panel with a “Hibakusha” or a survivor of the atomic bomb attack. Keiko described each detail she could remember. I’ve never thought I’d be moved by the panel that much. Travelling inside Hiroshima was an incredible experience too. Hiroshima was rebuilt after the attack and there were only a couple of buildings that survived the attack. This means the city is more or less 70 years old and I don’t think this experience can be put into the words. I’d recommend everyone to visit the city and breathe in the air. It is such a humbling experience.
Master’s students are divided into the US and Russian groups for the UN role-play. In
fact, most of the events you are going to do you will be divided into the country groups. In some cases, only the country groups will be present so you may not see other people from different country groups. Moreover, get ready to be called by your country group. I was in the Russian team and throughout the school, many people called me “The Russian guy” despite I’ve no connections to Russia.
We went to the nearby island Miyajima together with our country groups. However, it was too humid and hot for me. My phone’s battery died out of the heat and I really couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the island. Moreover, the island was very touristic and crowded, adding the heat and humidity to this meant I couldn’t enjoy it much. Prepare yourself for overly friendly deer, they eat paper! Keep your tickets safe!
Japanese shrines are similar to each other. I’m not impressed by any of the shrines I’ve been. I assume it’s because Japanese culture refrains from showing off. Some small shrines are just wooden structures with nothing in them. However, my view is extremely subjective, many people in the group enjoyed the temples.
The workshops and lectures have been great experiences as well! During the 10-days-long summer school, you’re expected to learn more about the atomic bomb attacks and Hiroshima, prepare yourself for the UN role-play and finally the real deal: present your paper and discuss another participant’s paper. The summer school was easier than I thought, however, I wished we had more days which would allow the school to be a bit looser. Almost every day, I came to my room at the hotel around 6-7 pm, very tired. After dinner and resting a bit, you don’t really have much time to do things. Therefore, if you arrive in Higashi-Hiroshima at least one day earlier, you can travel within Saijo as well. Don’t waste your time with going somewhere else if you don’t have time. Hiroshima Prefecture is a quite large area, there are so many things to do, landmarks to see. Saijo is a nice experience as well and it doesn’t take a day to visit the whole city. Japanese people cannot really speak English, it’s better to know at least the basic greetings and travel sentences. However, as I said earlier they’re very friendly and kind, they’ll do whatever they can to help you.
In the final day of the summer school, the UN role-play takes place. Because I had similar experiences before my group basically crashed the debate! (Un)Fortunately, the resolution did not pass. What is unfortunate is that actually, the resolution was a great gain for the global politics and universal human rights. If the draft resolution had passed, the countries were required to decriminalize same-sex relations and put afford to fight against discrimination on the basis of SOGI. However, as we represented Russia, we did whatever we could to change the draft resolution. Consequently, the final resolution became a redundant paper. Indeed, the UN General Assembly has no binding powers but we tried hard to make the resolution as vague and as meaningless as possible. In the end, most countries voted no for the final resolution, which was a quiet victory for us, despite we worked hard to make changes, the final resolution had many articles that any Russian delegate to the UN would say no.
Finally, I recommend everyone to try and be part of this experience. Similar to other things, there are pros and cons, positives and negatives of this summer school as well. However, it is such an experience that will make you ignore all the negative sides.