Thursday, September 30, 2010


I have much pleasanter things to record later, when there is time to spare, but right now....

the USD-JPY ($ /¥) exchange rate is deeply saddening to me.

US$1 = ¥83.5 (thank you google.)

That's market if I go exchange my traveler's checks at a local bank, the rate I receive will be 1 or  points(? don't know this terminology..) lower.  ¥82 or ¥81 per US$1.  It's pretty close for the post office's international ATM, too....

should I try and wait it out for a better rate, or just get some money?  The highest it's been this month is about ¥86, I think.  Bahhh..... my wallet's going to be emptied tomorrow (paying for insurance), and I'm going to Osaka for a field trip on Saturday, so I'll probably just suck it up and do that ATM-thang.  Cash disappears so quickly...really forces me into consciousness of how much I'm spending and how constantly I'm buying.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Life in Japan

A picture's worth a thousand words, so let's say this entry is ...a little over five thousand? :)

Rilakkuma slippers.  Worn all around the seminar house (dorm), except on the tatami mats in rooms.

Futon.  They're arranged a little differently now (this was taken during orientation week), but you get the idea.  Rolling out of "bed" is easy and painless.

Bicycle.  In Japanese, 自転車(jitensha).  In Kansai-ben, チャリ(chari).  Not utterly essential, but pretty darn amazingly helpful.  If the USA is a car culture, Japan (at least in Hirakata?) is a bicycle culture.

Cell phone.  In Japanese, 携帯電話 (keitaidenwa), or just keitai for short.  Again, not absolutely essential for life, but exceedingly useful and advantageous for one's social life.  Almost every other 留学生(ryuugakusei, exchange student) has this same, exact phone (in either black of white), but I've finally distinguished mine by adding Kanazawa gold lacquer シール(shiiru, stickers).

Pudding.  プリン (purin) is my favorite dessert here in Japan; it has a flavor and consistency similar to flan and/or creme brulee.  This particular pudding has a special point: 焼きプリン (yakipurin) is browned on top...not sure how much it actually affects the flavor, but I like it a lot.  A lot. ♥

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 9:40 PM

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Monday, Monday, always comes again so quickly...
...and now Tuesday is already over (I started this post yesterday, hahaa...).

Here at KGU, all of the exchange students attend classes in the Center for International Education (CIE, also technically building 3).  Morning classes are Japanese language (taught in Japanese, with occasional uses of English vocabulary), and afternoon classes are lectures (in English) that can all go under the topic of "Asian Studies" in some way or another (they're actually divided between Business classes and Social Science/Humanities).  Most of the students are internationals, but in (most of the?) afternoon lectures, there are several local regular KGU students, either preparing or just back from study abroad.
All students are required to take, at minimum, 14 credits, and allowed, at maximum, 17 credits.  This translates to 4 - 5 classes (regular classes are 3 credits each, spoken Japanese is 5 credits).  Spoken Japanese meets five times a week (50 minutes a day), Reading/Writing Japanese meets 3 times a week (also 50 minutes/day), and the afternoon classes meet twice a week (90 minutes/lecture).  Japanese classes are typically less than fifteen people, and Asian Studies classes hit capacity at about 30 - 35 people.

I'm taking four classes this semester (a loooovely break, considering that I took five a semester last year...):
  •  Spoken Japanese, level 5 (required) - Japanese classes here are divided between spoken (required) and reading/writing (optional).  This one's every single day, but Naito-sensei is quite sweet and funny, so I don't mind. :)  Also, for some reason, the class's lessons are structured very similarly to J10 classes at Berkeley.. I personally suspect this may be because Naito-sensei studied at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the authors of the J10 book, An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese, are also from that school. who knows~
  • Monsters, Ghosts, and the Making of Modern Japan - (Media studies) Umm....the topic is pretty cool, covers how 妖怪 (youkai, spirit-demon-ghost-things?) and other Japanese ideas about supernatural phenomena, plus how those things are treated in Japanese society, help us understand Japan.  There are plenty of interesting ideas and interpretations presented in class and in the readings, and I like it well enough...umm...I just don't have much to say about it yet?  haha..
  • Japan-China: The Challenges of Modernization - (International/Area studies) Professor Scott is pretty cool, has plenty of interesting things to say about all sorts of topics relating to China, Japan, Korea, and East Asia/the world in general.  This subject this class covers is one of the key reasons I chose KGU over ICU.  Tons of reading though...feels just like classes back home. :P
  • Religion in Japan - (Japanese/Religious studies) I adore Professor Kenney.  This class miiight just be my favorite (which doesn't say thaaat much, because I like all of them).  Subject is interesting, lectures are interesting, looking forward to learning lots~  I would describe the class as...a general survey of religious practice and beliefs in Japan.
In general, all the professors are fairly interactive with the classes (especially Kenney)~  I really love how the subjects we cover in class connect really well with the topics from some of the classes I took last year--Chinese history, the religion class (Faith, Religion, and Religious Experience), Ethnic Studies, and of course, Japanese.
    Mmmm....anyway, now it's time to go study/do homework.  Or eat/make dinner.  Or finish planning a trip to Kanazawa.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm, so busy-busy.  いつもそうよ。

    Or maybe I should just write a few more entries to actually record life beyond academics, because what I'm learning outside of those classes is super, super interesting (at least to me), too.

    Sunday, September 5, 2010


    Classes start tomorrow... ((technically today))

    I'm simultaneously excited and sleepy.  Only the afternoon, taught-in-English classes will be held.  Japanese language classes (speaking level 5, yay!) don't start until Tuesday.

    We finally did official check-in to the seminar house today!  Grocery shopping, yayyy...except I had to borrow money from friends. ^^;; Going to the bank before classes tomorrow to exchange some traveler's checks, yosh~

    My 携帯 (keitai, cell phone) has an amaaazing emoticon selection and texting with it has spoiled me for normal writing.  :(  I want to add kitties and weird faces and other random cutesy stuff to everything I write....

    Okay, gonna go pack my backpack!  Posts on orientation week to come later, once I've figured out a decently organized/readable way to write them~

    ((you know what also makes me feel ドキドキ? (dokidoki, onomatopoeia for rapid/throbbing heartbeat, often indicating nervous excitement)  exchanging text messages (メール, meeru, e-mail) with Japanese girls. >o<♥ 友達作ってた~))

    Monday, September 5, 2010 @ 1:50 AM