About Cecilia Johansson

My name is Cecilia Johansson, and I come from Sweden. I am a Second year student at International Migration & Ethnic Relations (IMER). This will be my second semester at Ristumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. I love meeting other people from different countries and cultures, and I consider my self being a citizen of the world. I will do my best to share this upcoming adventure in both words and pictures with other students at Malmö University. Enjoy!

Hiroshima

Konichiwa

Wow time flies in Japan! We are already in mid – terms period. Felt like I just arrived. Even if they work load is heavy, I’ve been travelling (within Japan ) the last two weekends. My motto; Work Hard Play Hard, and there is not a huge chance that I will come back to Japan in the nearest future, so I have concluded, while here lets experience as much as possible….. 😉

Two weekends ago, I was in Hiroshima with to friends, one Spanish girl and an American guy. Hiroshima was a place I really wanted to visit last semester, but I always put it on hold since it’s actually not that far away with Shinkansen (the bullet train), you don’t have to really plan for it, so well…. I was a bit too lazy to be honest. So now when I came back for the second semester, I decided to do it as quick as possible, before running out of money and time.

We left early Saturday morning with Shinkansen, and we decided to visit Miyajima first, which is a Island close by Hiroshima, and it only takes 20 minute with a boat ride. Miyajima has such a beautiful nature and is famous for the Major gate in the water, and all the deer walking around. Also the street food is amazing, I think we were eating every 30 minutes, well… not really, but kind of!!!! We spent the whole day walking around and watching shrines, temples, and deer on Saturday. We also took a cable car to the top of the mountain, such an AMAZING view. I realize after living in Kyoto for 8 months, that I really miss the ocean. Miyajima is surrounded by the ocean, and I felt really like home, which is difficult in Japan I have to say, cause everything is so different from let’s say the western world; it’s impossible to explain, have to visit to understand 🙂 However, heading back to Hiroshima in the night we checked in to our hotel and went for dinner, awesome Okonomiyaki. Hiroshima is famous for their Okonomiyaki, which is an omelet with noodles inside, LOADS of mayonnaise, and some other Japanese sauces I don’t know the name of, it’s sooo Oishii (delicious in Japanese). Ohh I almost forgot, we of course went to Karaokeeeeeeeeee, a Saturday night without Karaoke isn’t working, so we were trying the Hiroshima karaoke, and yes it deliveredJ The day after, slightly tired, we decided to explore Hiroshima, our focus was on the Bomb – Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Museum. That was an emotional journey, we started with the Dome, and there was a man that was just a baby when it happened and whose parents have survived the atomic bomb, or his father died after couple of weeks, and his mother recovered but was suffering from several diseases (cancer, inner bleeding, and so on) thru her whole life. It was so emotional to listen to his story, and actually see a real person who survived the bomb. We later on moved on the museum, and yes another emotional journey, and finally we went to the peace memorial hall. Before heading back to Kyoto we visited Hiroshima Castle, and we left Hiroshima with several impressions.

Okinawa

Last weekend, I went to Okinawa with a Swedish girl from the BKC campus. It was indeed another kind of trip than Hiroshima, the closest culture we saw were the American Army, Navy and Marine ( no complains though 😉 ) . Reason why I point them all out, because I learned that there is a HUGE difference between them. It was such an insult if you couldn’t realize there was a difference, I failed that test 😉 Okinawa is an island belonging to Japan and the American Army, yay all of them are stationed there. Why? Because Japan don’t have any defense, so there’s agreement between the States and Japan; if Japan will be attacked the States will defend them. It was such an amazing Island, and it was so different from other places I have been to in Japan. It was so Americanized, which I didn’t mind. The Japanese people there were more open, they could speak English and they didn’t stare at you. You could really see that the American culture has a big impact of their way of living and behaving. The island it self with all the nice beaches, ohh laa, it was a nice weekend get away, and I meet a lot of nice people, both Japanese and Americans. I would love to go back, and I can recommend people that may not be that interested in Japan, or just Tokyo, go to Okinawa, the beaches are as beautiful as in the Caribbean. (and yay, we found a karaoke bar that served free drinks to ladies, we were their all 3 nights)

This Friday it was Halloween, as a swede you don’t really have any tradition to celebrate it, but OMG Japan it has been 3 weeks of celebrating Halloween, and we all went out this Friday. It was a night to remember indeed…. 😉

See ya soon again

Matane

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Cecilia – San

Work Hard Play Hard!!

Konbanwa!

So the semester has started at Ritsumeikan University, and it started with full force indeed. As mentioned before we have at least 8 courses and you get A Lot of readings, homework and presentations everyday. So after being away for a couple of weeks, it was lets say, refreshing to get back to reality 🙂

Well even though the workload is heavy, it is actually fun to go to campus every day. Mainly because you always interact with new people from all over the world, and you always have lively discussions in class, especially between USA & Europe, and China / rest of Asia & Japan. I must say, after already spent a semester here at Ritsumeikan, we European people might come from different countries and cultures, but we do have a lot in common. One can argue that the language, and,-or cultural barriers can never connect us hundred percent, but when being exposed into such complex society as Japan, and being mixed with so many different nationals, you kind of realize that you share some common things with other Europeans.

Except for classes, we have of course “late night socialized a lot”. I mentioned Kamogawa in my last blog, and we have spent a couple of nights their pre – “gameing” and then went to nightclubs…. BUT in Japan, nightclubs always close really early because of noise problems, neighbors and so on. So at 1, or if you are lucky it will close by 2 o clock AM. The majority of us are reaching our peak at that time. So it is a little bit annoying not being able to dance anymore. However, in Japan you sing Karaoke the whole night instead….. and OMG I LOVE KARAOKE!!!. For those who know me, I can’t sing at all, but no one can sing karaoke during late hours, well maybe the Asians cause the all have beautiful voices. But the rest of us, yes us foreigners, we are just screaming to all different national famous songs, and American famous songs….. and yes it sounds terrible but we have so much fun. ABBA is a classic choice for many Germans / Frenchies, but personally I prefer Buffalo Soldier… You can either go to a Bar who has a karaoke set up, or you rent a karaoke room (different sizes available) for a couple of hours. I know it sounds weird, but it is so much fun!!!!!! So another thing you have to try when in Japan.

The weather is still really nice and warm here so we have been to the beach a couple of times. Or it is a lake named Biwako, but honestly there is no end on that lake, it looks exactly the same as a normal ocean / beach. We also have been to Osaka, which is kind of famous city and it is really big and has a good night life. The annoying part is….. that the train home stops at 23.30, so you have to pull a so called “all nighter” which means you are taking the first train in the morning, around 5.30 AM and you will be back home in Kyoto, in you room around eight o clock in the morning! So therefore, going to Osaka happens one time each semester, but it is worth it!

I also have during these two weeks been visiting some temples and shrines. I also went to a flea market and bought a Kimono and Yokatta ( summer version of Kimono).

10620771_10154558425170004_4275730010101558015_n IMG_6889 IMG_7130 IMG_7279 IMG_7289 IMG_8323I don’t know if I mentioned it before but if you are being sick or having a cold or whatever, you need to wear a mask. So the reason for wearing a mask is to protect others from your sickness. If you are a public transport, any kind and coughing without any mask, people will take action a move as far away as possible from you. They even give you most awful stir, like they think you have Ebola. I’m actually just waiting for the Japanese government to say that everyone must wear a mask because of the ebola outbreak, cause they love their masks. Reason why I’m bringing it up, is because I am at the moment sick, and walking around with a mask 24/7, and it is kind of a struggle.

 

Matane

 

SouSou

Cissi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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