Back to reality….

Ohayo Gozaimasu

Back to reality??!!, not really yet. I’m at least back in Kyoto, Japan. I moved into the same room as last semester, the only difference is that there are 25 new students at my dorm. The majority of the people living in this dorm is from Aussie land, and then it’s a nice mix with people from al over Asia, Europe, North / South America, and Africa. So it has been a lot of social networking during these days, and yesterday we had our dorm welcome party.

The majority of the exchange students from last semester have went back to their home’s since they already spent a semester or a year in Kyoto. We are 10 “oldies”, as we call ourselves, and around 160 newbies, hmm maybe some more. Well, what I do know is that most people that are doing an exchange year in Japan are here for the Japanese language. So all these new students are eager to start develop their Japanese skills, and you walk around and hear people comparing their knowledge / levels in Kanji, Hirgana, Katakana and their Japanese speaking skills. I’m gong to be honest; it is quite interesting to observe this. Mainly because they don’t understand how good all of them are in their own ways, and that Japanese is so difficult to learn, and as the semester starts they’re gonna wished for being placed in a lower level since the workload can be really a lot! ( Words from former Japense language students). However, the workload is a lot for everyone. For us European students we have to take 8 – 10 courses to get the same amount credits as in Europe.

As mentioned, a lot of social networking lately, one thing that I love with Japan is (except for karaoke) Kamogawa. 🙂  Kamogawa is the name of a river that is REALLY LONG and goes thru Kyoto and some other cities! ( Lacking in Geography skills ). However, Kamogawa in Kyoto downtown is a very special place. It is as mentioned a river, but it is also place where people meet up and have drinks / beers, yay whatever you like. It is a place where gaijins (foreigners in Japanese) can meet Japanese people that are interested in speaking English, or at least can do it a little bit. There are no bars, you have to buy your drink at the convenient store close by and you are just mingling around. Ritsumeikan University students has a “claimed” spot, well it’s usually just the same place we always meet up, just under the bridge and you can go alone and there will always be people there. It is really cool place and the environment is really  unexplainable and you meet people from al over the world that are in Japan for different reasons, such as language teachers, backpackers, bankers and so on. So if you are ever in Kyoto, Japan travelling around, make sure to at least have one beer at Kamogawa, it is in a way something magical over it.

On Wednesday we will have the course registration and then on Friday school starts, yepp really convenient that we only have one day of school before the weekend starts.

 

IMG_7926     Kamogawa during the day!

Matane

Cissi

 

U of G – Week 2

Did you know…

That milk is sold in transparent plastic bags in Canada? Apparently it is much cheaper to buy a bag with 3L of milk than it is to buy 1L or 2L of milk contained in carton. The bag contains within it 3 smaller bags of 1L milk each. However, it is also possible to buy 4L of milk divided into two bags. Fascinating.

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Dear reader,

Another week and yet another blog entry. This time I will be focusing on living on campus, its pros and cons, as well as my observations so far. I will also tell you a little bit about how my lectures went, and, of course, a bit of drama. Brew your tea, add some “half and half”, stir in a bit of honey, take a sip and read on.

Living in the East Village

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First of all, I’m currently living on campus in a residence community called East. As I mentioned in the earlier post the East residence is divided into two parts: Village and Residence. I live in Village. Which is pretty much the “adult” part of town…or village. You get the point.

Moving on!

The East Village is a, usually, quiet and serene area with townhouses. Within the residence is a building merged into the townhouses called The Town Hall. Inside are the mailboxes, laundry room, games room (with tennis and pool tables, and a TV), as well as beverage and snack machines, and a large room upstairs which you can rent.

On the opposite side is a building called East Residence. This is where all the youths usually reside. You can also find a convenience store in there (quite convenient, eh?), the East residence desk, and an ATM.

I have yet to see the insides of the East residence rooms. However, the village townhouses are quite similar to each other, and are reasonably furnished. For example, the townhouse I’m currently living in is shared with three other women other than myself. We each have our own room, and each floor, there are 3, has a bathroom and a shower. Except for the first floor/ground floor which has the kitchen and dining/living room. Quite cozy, too.

Lately I have been referring to Canada as a “zoo”. Why? Well, let me tell you something. I saw a skunk the other week, I see more than 5 squirrels every single day, adorable chipmunks passing by, and there is at least one ground hog in my front “yard”.

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Suite mates

So far I have, sadly, not been able to properly communicate with my suite mates. They seem to be too busy with their own lives to even care about whom they live with. I managed, however, to have a nice conversation a couple of times time one of them.

Not wanting to be the annoying suite mate I have been ignoring the whole awkward situation and gone on with my life. However, I did send an email to the lot about meeting up. Guess how many replied? So frustrating.

Classes

IMG_1772IMG_1769My first week of lectures was both exciting and disappointing. I ended up dropping a couple of courses due to their irrelevance, and chose three new ones instead. Latin, here I come! However, before I was even able to drop out of my courses, I needed to speak to my programme coordinator, who, by the way, is six hours ahead of me in time. Thank God, he answered quite fast (at 1 AM his time) and I managed to drop and register the courses within a day. Thank you so much Berndt Clavier!

The teachers here, mostly, refer to themselves as professor or doctor X. and, thankfully, they also tell you what to call them. You see, we don’t use titles or prefixes in Denmark or Sweden. Meaning I currently have to restrain myself from calling the professor by their first name. That would be rude unless they told you otherwise.

Something I discovered here in Guelph was the i-clicker. This device is used in class as a tool for multiple choice questions. For example, in both the history courses I am taking we often use the i-clicker during the lector. The professor allows us a certain amount of time to pick our answer, before ending the question and showing us the answers. These quizzes count towards your final grade.

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Sincerely,

Lady Diala

and so it begins…

I attended my first lecture today 🙂 the course is called “Media Campaigning”. It’s pretty interesting but I’m still having trouble deciding which courses to pick as those I really wanted were full (Fashion Marketing and International PR).

Another first today, I did laundry here 😀

I also signed up for “a few” societies at the freshers fair: football, netball, badminton, rugby, hockey, and cheerleading 😀 oh and a book club where we watch movies instead of reading the books 😀
I’m probably going to have to pick 2 or 3 of those (sports teams), since I can’t be in 2 places at once :/ as much as i would love that!
I met and LOOOVED the football team so that’s a sure one. And cheerleading starts tomorrow, We’ll see how that goes! 🙂 /Dania OUT!

Week 1 in Edinburgh and QMU

Let’s get this blog started! 🙂

It’s been a busy week for me here, so this will be a summary of week 1.

I have settled into my new home on campus, got myself a gym membership, and enjoyed the Fresher’s Week (organized activities for the first year students, like parties, tours of the city, comedy night, traditional Ceilidh Dance, pub crawl, and much much more).

I’ve made loads of friends already and I’m loving the atmosphere here. We’ve also had pretty amazing weather.

It’s a new week, I start my first class today and I get to sign up to some societies at the freshers fair. Wish me luck! /Dania OUT!

Pre – Arrival Stress

Konichiwa!

Wow, I have been home in Sweden for seven weeks for summer vacation. Time has just rushed away, and in four days I’m heading back to Japan. So yes, pre – arrival stress with VISA’s, tickets, and documents that need to be handed in at both Malmö University and Ritsumeikan University. However, I feel calmer since I already spent one semester in Japan. So, I was thinking to give you little information about Japan and the city Kyoto that I’m living in!

Kyoto is the old capital of Japan, and it is deeply rooted as being the cultural heritage of Japan. There are more than hundred of temples and the atmosphere in the city is, hmm how should I explain it… The first word that comes up in my mind is spiritual, but that’s not really accurate, but it’s neither religious it’s just very peaceful and quiet, which can be frustrating sometimes, I’m not going to lie. However, it is really beautiful and my dorm is located right beside a bamboo forest and mountains, and it takes me approximately 15 minutes to bike to my campus. Well it depends, it’s SUPER hilly in Kyoto and sometimes you just have to walk up those mountains 😉

 

They have (I think) 3 campuses so far, I however only spent time at two of them, Kinugasa, and Biwako- Kusatso Campus (BKC) in Shiga. BKC campus is an hour away with bus or train. It is really different from Malmö University, and only at Kinugasa there are 20. 000 students, and we all have lunch at the same time, yes you probably can imagine the lunch lines and people everywhere. You have classes from 9. Am – 21. Pm. Not everyday but in general it is long days and attendance is mandatory.

A HUGE surprise when I arrived last semester was that Japanese people don’t know any English. I am usually really relaxed when travelling around the world and solve the problems as they occur, but I was not prepared at all that they weren’t able to even say Hello in English. So that became a huge culture chock for me, and during my whole stay you just have to accept that you are alienage from the Japanese society. So I therefore decided to take Japanese classes, which helped to a certain degree and you could survive in daily situations, such as going to the supermarket, public transportations, restaurants and so on and so forth.

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My first weeks before school started we were visiting several temples and cultural heritages and the cherry blossom viewings (Sakura) was going on, so I got to experience amazing places and meet other international students from all over the world. It was a great experience, and I still have contact with some people around the world, and I’m looking forward to meet 120 new students from other partner universities this semester.

I will keep you posted.

 

Dozo Yoroshiku Ongeaishimasu 🙂

Cissi

U of G – Week 1

Did you know…

that the “Poutine” is a common Canadian dish which originally comes from Quebec? The dish basically consists of fries, curd cheese, and gravy. You can also find different toppings sold at various restaurants and fast food chains, such as a vegetarian poutine.

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Dear reader,

This week has been just as hectic, if not more, as the previous one. With the orientation week and its 500+ events, culture clashes from left and right, and a certain juvenile suitemate. The o-week, as they call it here, was amazing. People were everywhere beaconing students to listen to their cause, inviting others to taste some delicious vegan BBQ, get a free book or buy a plant. However, before the o-week was kicked off, Move-in Day made its appearance. It all started on a hot summer day, one busy Saturday morning…

Move-in Day

I woke up early that day excited, and exhausted from the day before. I quickly finished up some dishes from last evening, and went back up to my room, waiting. Didn’t last long since I quickly got bored and decided to clean around the house, watch some TV shows, cook, Skype with my family, print and cut out coupons, and before I knew it, it was quite late in the afternoon. Nobody had turned up yet. Suddenly the front door to the three story townhouse was opened, and in came a girl. The said girl shot me a quick “Hi, I’m Ta ta~.” put her stuff away inside her room, locked the room, and left the house. She came back the evening before classes were supposed to start. That is, four days later.

However, the day after the disappointing “move-in day” another girl moved in. I greeted her with a smile and offered her a hand. Alas! I was, yet again, shot a “I’m La la~.” And she continued with an upset visage “I don’t like it here. I hate this place.” I dared ask why, and was met with a shaking head and another mumbled answer “I really hate this place.”

The third and last girl moved in while I was out busy with o-week. We accidentally met when an RA (residence assistant) rang the doorbell. She was a nice girl, and we quickly agreed on a basic kitchen rule.

Other than these three instances with the suite mates, I haven’t had the chance to actually sit and chat or get to know the people I’m living with. I’ve been trying to strike a conversation, you know, a simple “good morning, how are you today?” and was either answered with a “hi, ok” or a nod. All of them always seem to be in a hurry, and mind you, I have not been constantly trying to get to know them, oh no. I’ve been leaving them alone to their business and stuck to my own. However, none of them as much as communicate with one another. One is always running around (probably sorting things out) or in her room, the second is always in her room and I barely ever see her, and the third prefers to skip classes (since she hates the university, although she assured me that nothing was wrong with it) and watch Bollywood movies with wine all day and night.

The audacity!

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Pictures from the Orientation Week.

The Pep Rally

Putting aside boring residence problems, I would like to tell you all about my pep rally experience. However, first I presume I must clarify the term itself. A pep rally is intended to “pep” (energize) an audience before a sports game. The whole point is to get people excited and pepped. That is in briefer terms: to encourage the school spirit. The whole pep rally is seen as a huge support to the team who will be playing and cheerleaders usually also show off some dance moves and keep the audience cheering.

My role in this:

Each on-campus and off-campus residence community was divided into several groups of students. You’ve got North, East, South, West, and the off-campus living students. East was divided into East Village and East Residence/Side. And East side/residence was also divided into smaller groups, depending on the different names of their buildings. The whole dividing act was also applied on the other residence communities. I live in East Village, and had to pep with my fellow EV’s.

We got a t-shirt with the residence logo on (a monkey holding a banana in my case), and we were to learn some “dance moves” within a couple of hours before the actual event. Fantastic! Everybody was nervous and we all complained about not having had enough time to practice. Nevertheless, the pep turned out well. We danced, bumped into each other, and had a laugh. An overall great and unique time was had.

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Pictures from the Pep Rally.

Niagara Falls

Naturally, if you’re in the area of the famous waterfalls you ought to pay them a visit. START International had such an event planned, and I quickly signed up for it. I’m so glad I did. The Falls were absolutely astonishing. Although, I must say the pictures and videos I have seen of them kind of make them look bigger than what they actually are. Don’t get me wrong, the Falls are quite huge and sprayed a shower-like mist whenever you got close. My point is, don’t expect them to be covering the entire area like I did. Because they don’t.

Moving on, my group and I were guided to a big cruise-like boat and were given a plastic poncho which was supposed to protect us from the “mist”. I’m glad I brought my raincoat with me. Because the “mist” was like a shower, a heavy shower of rain which made me laugh in delight. The experience was quite hilarious. Though I do think I’m one of a group of few who found it so.

The remaining of the time my group and I took a long walk around the area, which looked strangely Americanized, and we ended the whole trip with a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate Factory.

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Pictures from the Niagara Falls trip.

Sincerely,

Lady Diala