Hiroshima Diaries 広島

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

Visiting Hiroshima is such a humbling experience that everyone should try at least once

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.

 

New friends from all around the world! This is the best thing this summer school gave to me

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.

The pink area is Higashi Hiroshima in greater Hiroshima Prefecture

 

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 minute of Silence for the victims of atomic bomb attacks in Hiroshima

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

The master’s students that represented the US and Russia in role-play.

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!

Similar to the deers in Miyajima island, crows in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park can be a problem.

 

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.

You’re expected to wash your hands before entering the Shinto shrines. Japan combines Shintoism with Buddhism and in most cases, it is difficult to differentiate which religion’s shrine you’re visiting.

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.

 

The UN Role-Play is a great way to understand how international politics function

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.