I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now, but I just never got to it until now. I’ve realized that you (whoever’s reading this!) don’t necessarily know much about me! So in this post, I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself and what you can expect from this blog in the future.
So, as you might already guess (from the title of the blog), my name is Emma. At the moment, I’m 19 years old, but my birthday’s at the end of October so I’ll be turning 20 WHILE IN JAPAN! Usually, during the school year, I live in Kajaani, Finland (a city of 38,000 people) and study International Business at Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK, which has about 2200 students). I finished my first year last May.
Right now, however, I’m living back home in Suonenjoki, Finland (a small town of 7500 people), as I got my old summer job back and I wanted to spend more time with my family before leaving for Japan. For the last two summers I’ve been working at the Valio Jams and Fruit preparations factory in Suonenjoki, where I make and pack products, e.g. strawberry jam, different kinds of fillings for pastries and toffee sauce that goes into ice creams. The pay has been good, but the work is also physically and mentally tiring, as it requires a lot of heavy lifting and it is a 3 shift job (the whole week is always either mornings from 6am to 2pm, evenings from 2pm to 10pm or nights from 10pm to 6am!!).
A bit about my family: my parents are almost in their 50’s and they live in Suonenjoki with my now-18-year-old sister who’s still in high school. We have a 8-year-old Shiba Inu girl, Kerttu (a Finnish women’s name). Our grandma (from dad’s side) also lives in Suonenjoki, in an old people’s home. Our grandpa (from mom’s side) lives in Pöljä (which means ‘idiot’ or ‘dummy’ in Finnish), about 80km north of Suonenjoki, with his wife.
About my hobbies: I played volleyball for 8 years (from around 5th grade till the end of high school). I like reading, mostly fantasy novels. (Okay, ’embarrassing confession time’: I’ve read all the Twilight books 13 times. In my defense, this happened in secondary school, so grades 7-9!) I obsess about certain tv shows and movies (Marvel Universe!!!). I’m into anime and manga, especially genres like sports, supernatural and romance! I’ve cosplayed a few times, with and with the help of my best friends from Suonenjoki (and some other friends from around Finland). I spend most of my free time (outside of work, school and sleep) on the internet and various social medias. I’d say I’m on Twitter and YouTube the most, but I also use Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. I read a lot of things online as well.
I created this blog as part of reporting back to my home school about my exchange experience. The choices were a full report once I got back or writing a blog during the exchange, so I chose the option that would be more fun and more useful for me, as well as my family and friends back home. (EDIT: It turns out, the blog doesn’t replace the full report, but a Power Point presentation, which has to be only min. 3-4 slides…) I’m planning on trying to post something weekly with additional posts on trips, free-time activities and other fun things we do outside of school/lessons. All posts will be in English with the addition of short Finnish summaries at the end.
I’ll write the next post about what the application process was like, what else I’ve had to do until now regarding the exchange and also about some struggles I’ve had to face. Any and all suggestions and ideas for future posts etc. are welcome!
On Saturday, October 24th, I went to Universal Studios Japan, which is in Osaka, with two other Finnish girls, Annina and Noora. We got there around 10:00, but there were already a lot of people.
The one-day ticket cost 7,200 yen, which is around 55 euros.
The only ride we had the patience to line up for was the Back to the Future one. While all the other rides we would have liked to go to had waiting times up to 4,5 hours, we only had to wait 1,5 hours to get into this one.
The thing all of us were the most excited about was the Harry Potter World. To get in, you have to get a separate ticket (which is free, but still, you have to go get it) with a time slot for when you can enter. Before reaching Hogsmeade, there is a walkway/path lined with trees, with movie music (OSTs) playing in the background. Hogsmeade itself was very well done, even though there was snow on the rooftops when there wasn’t any snow elsewhere.
At 18:00, the main part of the Halloween event started: most of the park was turned into a zombie (apocalypse) zone, where different kinds of zombies roamed around, screaming and scaring people. During this time the park was also really dark, and there were siren and helicopter sounds as well as searchlights and explosions on rooftops. It was really intense!
Down below is a video Annina made! It covers the whole day (other things we did aside from what I wrote about as well)! And sorry, but it’s only in Finnish.
Friday October 30th was my birthday and luckily we didn’t have any school then because of the University/Halloween Festival. So, I went to Osaka with Annina and our Japanese friend Kumi.
After we did some shopping (and purikura 🙂 ), we went to a cake buffet called Sweets Paradise. We were supposed to go bowling afterwards, but for some reason (probably because of all the food) we were really tired, so we just went to sit at a McDonald’s.
On Friday November 20th, as I mentioned in a previous post, was the BIGBANG concert at Kyocera Dome in Osaka. I got to the venue around 15:00 (2 hours before the doors opened) in hopes of buying some merchandise. As you can see from the video below, no chance.
As I was alone at the time, I got into the line early and was one of the first ones to get in (mainly to go to the toilet before everyone else got there). To my surprise, there were small merch stalls, with very limited options, inside the stadium, and so I was able to buy a BIGBANG/MADE towel. Then I ate some chicken and waited for two hours. My three friends didn’t get to our seats (which were in the second highest, btw) until 5 minutes before the show started.
We weren’t actually allowed to film/have cameras, but I was able to get a few clips (where you can’t hear me sing along that well).
We stood, singing along and doing the audience parts to every song. We only sat during the trailers (before all of the solo songs) and when the group was on stage, just talking. Getting back to the Seminar House was slow and sweaty. The first train was super packed, because everyone leaving had to go to the same direction. The worst, however, was the bus from Hirakata Station to the SH. I could barely fit in, and for the first half of the ride I was pressed against the entrance door and the IC card reader. But I survived. And the next morning, I was dead. 😀 😀
On Sunday of the same week (November 22nd), I went to Kobe with a Japanese friend of mine, Naru(mi). We visited Chinatown, where we ate delicious soup dumplings (shoronpo in japanese) and I tried butaman, a thick doughy bun with pork on the inside.
After that we went to a shopping mall called Harborland.
We only visited a couple of stores, but it was fun. 😀
Ok, this is it for this post. The next one is going too be about my trip to Tokyo! Hopefully I will get that one out a bit faster.
Kävin lokakuun 24. päivä Osakassa, Japanin Universal Studiosissa, kahden muun suomalaisen tytön (Anninan ja Nooran) kanssa. Tsekatkaa ylhäältä löytyvä video, siinä on kaikki oleellinen siitä, mitä höpötin englanniksi! 😀
30. lokakuuta oli sit mun syntymäpäivä! Menin Anninan ja asuntola-assari/kaveri Kumin kanssa Osakaan. Käytiin purikurassa, shoppailtiin ja sitten mentiin kakkubuffetiin. Sen jälkeen oltiin kaikki niin kuolleita, että ei jaksettukaan mennä keilaamaan, mikä oli siis alkuperäinen suunnitelma. 😀
20. marraskuuta oli sit se kauan odotettu BIGBANGin keikka! Menin paikalle noin 2 tuntia ennen ovien aukeamista eli noin neljä tuntia ennen keikan alkua. Meinasin ostaa fanituotteita ennen keikkaa, mutta kuten yllä olevasta videosta voi huomata, ei onnistunut. Itse keikka oli mahtava. Me seisottiin kaikkien biisien ajan ja laulettiin mukana mitä osattiin. Istumaan pääsi soolo-osuuksien trailerien ja puheosion aikana. Asuntolalle takaisin tuleminen oli ahdas ja hiostava kokemus.
Keikan jälkeisenä sunnuntaina (22.11.) menin japanilaisen kaverini Naru(mi)n kanssa Kobeen. Tutustuttiin Chinatowniin ja sen tarjoamiin herkkuihin, ja käytiin satamassa olevassa kauppakeskuksessa nimeltä Harborland. Pääosin siis vaan kierreltiin ja katseltiin, mutta hauskaa oli silti. 🙂
The Saturday of this weekend was actually an “field trip” for a course I’m not taking, and the main event was a speech by an atomic bomb survivor.
We (Emi, Niki, Emily, Darlene and I) left the Seminar House at 6:30 on Saturday morning and headed to Hirakatashi Station, where we met up with the professor. Together we went to Shin-Osaka Station, where we boarded the Nozomi 5 Shinkansen bullet train at 9:05. The 330 kilometer ride to Hiroshima lasted only for 1,5 hours. And there was so much leg room I could keep my legs straight (a bit under the next seat, but still)!
When we got to Hiroshima, we had about 2 hours before the speech, so we went to the Peace Memorial Museum. The admission fee was only 50 yen!
Then it was time for the speech. Unfortunately I can’t remember any details of her, like her name (I know, I’m the worst) or her age at the time (if I had to guess, 12 or 13?).
What I do remember is that she was at her part-time job when the bomb dropped and, that after she and her friends got out of the ruins of the factory, they didn’t receive any medical attention or help from the government. They saw people dying with their skin melting off, and how horses would go into the river for water and then drown, because they were so weak.
After the speech, we went to see the Atomic Bomb Dome. It’s only 170 meters from the Hypocenter (the place where the bomb went off).
Afterwards, Darlene and I went to the hostel while the others went to see a castle of some sorts. We stayed the night at a hostel chain called J-Hoppers. By coincidence, our room was a lot smaller than the two other rooms our group had booked.
That night we ate Hiroshima styled okonomiyaki for dinner and bought cake from a nearby cake shop. Later Niki, Emi and Darlene went out while Emily and I stayed at the hostel.
On Sunday morning we left around 8:00 to go to the island of Miyajima. I was just going with the group, so I had no idea what would be there. We took the tram to the port, which took a good 50 minutes. The ferry ride took only 10 minutes each way and cost about 360 yen for the roundtrip.
The island itself is full of trees, hills and… people. There’s also ‘wild’ deer, like in Nara! There were a lot of turists, even though there are Japanese people who live on the island full time. The houses, however, aren’t right along the cost line, at least on the port side. That’s where the shops, restaurants and the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine are. The shrine was first built in 593, and rebuilt in 1168. The corridor you walk through after entering the shrine is about 280 meters long and connects 20 building together. The shrine has also been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1996.
Possibly even more well known than the actual shrine is the 16-meter torii gate off the shore of the island. It was first built there when the shine was being rebuilt, but the current gate only dates back to 1875. It’s still impressive! And apparently during high tide, the gate and the shrine look like they’re floating in the water. Unfortunately we were there during low tide.
On the island, there were also a lot of smaller shrines and temples; some of them for shinto, others for buddhism. On our way to one, we came across a pathway that was lined with 500 small stone Buddhas. They all had little knitted hats… And while we were going up that path, a deer was following us… 😀 (Sorry about the vertical video )
A bit later, when the others from our group went to walk up a hill to see yet another temple, Darlene and I went to the Miyajima Public Aquarium. (Check out their website, there’s better pictures there!) The entrance fee was 1400 yen, but it was worth it as we spent almost 3 hours in there. 😀 Aside from fish and other smaller sea creatures, there were sea lions, penguins, otters and some kind of small whales (that kind of looked like white whales).
The otter in video was really sad to look at, cause it was just going around the small space over and over again. 😦 But moving on: we also saw a sea lion show! It just a really quick video of the audience members that successfully threw the rings to the sea lions, the latter of the two beings pretty awesome! And after the throw, the guy got a kiss from sea lion!
A bit before 17:00 Darlene and I met up with the rest of our group. Before we left the island, I got this next thing on video! And just to let you know, the high pitched noise is coming from the mother deer. That’s the noise they make, and it’s freaking adorable! 🙂 🙂
So, we left the island around 18:00 and parted ways with Emi in the port, as she was staying for another night. The rest (4) of us took the tram back to Hiroshima and looked for a place to eat. We ended up going to a family restaurant called Café Gusto, where I had been to before (but the others hadn’t). Emily left halfway through our meal, cause she was taking an earlier night bus. Niki, Darlene and I went to Starbucks after dinner to have dessert, charge our phones and study. Our bus left left Hiroshima at 23:15 (on Sunday night). Night busses are double decker busses with three seats in each row, with curtains in between seats. I could recline my seat quite far back, so I slept through the whole thing. 😀 We arrived back to Osaka at around 6:05, and we got back to the Seminar House at around 7:30. A quick shower, a couple more hours of sleep and I was ready to go to school!
Sorry I’m so slow, Emma
Kyseessä oli siis jonkun historiakurssin päiväretki Hiroshimaan, jossa päästiin kuulemaan Hiroshiman atomipommista selvinneen naisen tarina.
Lauantaiaamuna lähdettiin klo 9 jälkeen luotijunalla Osakasta. 330 kilometrin matka hurahti 1,5 tunnissa! Ja niin paljon jalkatilaa! Saapumisen jälkeen aikaa oli reilu 2 tuntia ennen puhetta, joten käytiin Peace Memorial Museumissa eli rauhanmuseossa. Sisäänpääsy oli vaan 50 jeniä (alle 40 senttiä). Itse puheesta en muista enää muuta kuin pääpiirteet: hän oli töissä tehtaassa, kun pommi iski. Hän ja hänen ystävänsä joutuivat yksin ryömimään tiensä ulos tehtaan raunioista. He eivät koskaan saaneet minkäänlaista lääketieteellistä apua, tai apua hallitukselta. Apua tuli vain ulkomailta ja joiltain järjestöiltä. Mitä he näkivät päästyään ulos tehtaan raunioista oli jotain hirveää. Puheen jälkeen mentiin katsomaan vielä Atomic Domea eli ‘atomista kupolia’. Kyseessä on siis yksi harvoista rakennuksista, jotka selvisi atomipommista, vaikka se olikin niin lähellä itse räjähdyspaikkaa (n. 170 metriä). Myöhemmin illalla käytiin syömässä Hiroshiman tyylistä okonomyakia, ja haettiin kakkua jälkkäriksi.
Sunnuntaiaamuna mentiin Miyajiman saarelle, noin tunnin päähän Hiroshimasta. Itse saari oli todella vihreä. Siellä oli korkeita mäkiä (en hajua sanoa vuoria, vaikka ne olikin tosi korkeita ja jyrkkiä), temppeleitä ja pyhäkköjä sekä… paljon turisteja. Ja PEUROJA, niin kuin Narassa! Saaren pääpyhäkkö on Itsukushiman pyhäkkö rakennettiin ensimmäistä kertaa vuonna 593 (ja toistamiseen 1168), ja on UNESCOn maailmanperintökohde. Toinen (ja yleisesti tunnetumpi) nähtävyys on saaren rannikolla/meressä sijaitseva 16 metriä korkea torii portti. Nousuveden aikaan pyhäkkö ja portti näyttävät kuulemma kelluvan vedessä, mutta harmikseni olimme paikalla juuri laskuveden aikaan.
Myöhemmin menin saarella olevaan akvaarioon yhden kaverini kanssa. Siellä oli ihan normikalojen ja muiden pikkumerenelävien lisäksi merileijonia, pingviinejä, saukkoja ja pieniä valaita (ehkä valkovalaita, en oo ihan varma). Kierrettiin paikka ympäri, katsottiin merileijonaesitys ja ostettiin muistomyymälästä roinaa. 😀 Aikaa kului melko helposti vajaa 3 tuntia. Melko heti tämän jälkeen lähdettiin takaisin Hiroshimaan. Viiden hengen porukasta tippui yksi heti satamassa ja toinen joutui lähtemään kesken illallisen (meni eri bussilla takaisin Osakaan). Minä ja kaksi muuta mentiin tappamaan aikaa (ja lataamaan puhelimia) Starbucksiin. Bussi lähti klo 23:15 sunnuntaina Hiroshimasta ja saapui Osakaan n. klo 6:05. Nukuin onneksi koko matkan, koska bussissa oli verhot penkkien välissä ja sain selkänojan melko taakse. Asuntolalla oltiin noin klo 7:30. Suihkuun oli pakko päästä heti, sitten pari tuntia lisää unta ja kouluun. 😀
Last Saturday me and four of my friends from Seminar House 1 went to the RAINBOW FESTA! 2015 in Ogimachi Park, Osaka, which was basically the Pride parade/event of Osaka. We got there pretty late, so we missed the parade and were in the area for only about an hour. We went around the area, some of us got food (takoyaki) and we saw some music/dance performances. One of the singers started their performance with ABBA’s Dancing Queen. There were even a few drag queens in the crowd! At the end of the event, there was a balloon release. We weren’t able to get balloons, cause we found out about the whole thing only a couple of minutes before it happened, but I was able to film the moment which, in the end, was pretty brief.
After the balloon release, we took the subway to a part of Osaka called Namba. As the rest of our group was planning on staying in Osaka until the next morning, with some other people who joined them later, we decided to get something to eat while they’d start drinking. At first we were thinking of ramen or okonomiyaki from a street vendor or a small shop, but all the places we found were too expensive. We ended up going to a Japanese restaurant chain called Torikizoku, which I had been to once before in Hirakata. It’s now also my favorite chain restaurant ever! 😀 All the dishes on the menu (food and drinks) are 280yen excluding tax, so 302yen in total. That’s about 2,25 euros! So cheap! And good! 🙂 I had two dishes: Chicken Nanban (“Deep-fried chicken tempura with sweet & sour sauce and original tar-tar sauce”) and Tori Paitanmen (“Chinese Baitang chicken soup”).
After eating, we went outside to wait for the people who were joining my friends for the night, and we came across two idol groups performing by the river. A lot of people were gathered on both sides of the river and on the bridge to listen and cheer for the groups. There was however a particular section of the crowd that caught the attention of many. I took some video of their enthusiastic cheering:
Seriously, these guys knew all the cheers for every song from both groups. It was amazing.
Käytiin siis nopeasti viiden hengen asuntolaporukalla “Osaka Pridessa”. Ei keretty näkemään paraatia, mutta siellä alueella oli edelleen kaikki kojut pystyssä ja lavalla esiintyi koko ajan joku. Tapahtuman lopuksi kävijät päästi ilmaan ilmapalloja. Tästä lyhyt video ylhäällä. Tämän jälkeen mentiin Nambaan syömään. Päädyttiin Torikizokuun, mikä on nyt mun lemppariravintolaketju. Kaikki annokset (ruokaa tai juomaa) on noin 2,25€, eli ihan sika halpaa! Syömisen jälkeen mentiin ulos odottamaan muutamaa tyyppiä, ja osuttiin paikalle kun kaksi idoliryhmää esiintyi joen varrella. Ylhäällä on video joukosta japanilaisia aikuisia miehiä, jotka osasivat kannustukset jokaiseen biisiin kummaltakin ryhmältä. 😀 + helkkarin iso ja kallis pyyhekumi!
Hi… Sorry, I know it’s been a while. 😐 From now on I promise to write shorter posts more often.
As actual school life is relatively boring (other than having usually multiple tests etc. every week), I’m just going to share some of the day trips I’ve done so far.
This wasn’t a trip or anything, but I want to mention it either way: we had a Seminar House Welcoming Party on the 9th of September. (Almost) everyone gathered into the girls kitchen, where we ate yakisoba, sushi and soup Okaasan made.
On Saturday, the 12th of September, I went to Nara, which is about an hour away from Hirakata by train, with four other Finnish exchange students. Nara is probably the most famous for its ~1,200 “wild” deer that roam the parks in the city (and the areas around the parks)! There are also multiple large temples etc., but for me personally, the deer were the most important part. :3
We also went to see the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. It’s almost 15 meters tall! We had to pay 500yen to get into “Todai-ji” to see it. Unfortunately, the place was so dimly lit I couldn’t get any good pictures.
A week after the Nara trip (on Saturday the 19th) I went to Kyoto by myself. I visited the Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair (Kyomafu for short!). Luckily foreigners got in for free, cause after being there only for an hour, I would have been pissed if I had had to pay the 1,200yen entrance fee. It just wasn’t worth it. Afterwards I went shopping in one of the many shopping streets in Kyoto.
On that Sunday (the 20th), I worked at the KGU Open Campus Day. Around 2000 local high school students came and a lot of them actually brought their parents with them. There were 10 of us working (and yes, we got paid 3,250yen!), and 20 volunteers who were in the CIE Lounge talking with students, in English of course. We (the one’s working) were given Kansai Gaidai t-shirts and caps, of which the shirt was mandatory to wear on that day. The first thing we did (at around 10:00) was hand out information packages/bags to people arriving to the opening “ceremony”, which started at 11:00. During the ceremony, we had lunch, which was free(!!), although it was only sandwiches, tea and water. After the ceremony ended, our job was to give campus tours in English. We had a script, a route and a pair, so everything went well. All the pairs did three tours, and at least with my tours, the group kept getting smaller each time. 😀 A bit after 14:00, we got paid and were free to go! 🙂
The 21st, 22nd and 23rd of September (Monday to Wednesday) were national holidays, also known as “Silver Week”. Except, we still had classes. Well, my business and marketing classes were cancelled, as the professor was in the US at the time, but we still had Japanese classes in the morning. On Monday, I went to Osaka with two other Finnish girls. We visited a cat café called Neko no Jikan. An hour with the cats and a drink cost 1,200yen.
On Saturday the 26th, there was a field trip to Kyoto with some high school students from Osaka. Only 22 international students could attend this trip, so a lottery was held. (At first I wasn’t chosen, but then someone cancelled, so I got to attend the trip!) We got to Kyoto, to each of the locations and back to Hirakata on a charter bus. First we went to Fushimi Inari-taisha.
(Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go all the way to the top of the hill, as it would have taken up to two hours.) On this trip, we also visited a small museum about sake brewing (and kappa).
That evening I also went to a house warming/takoyaki party some of my Finnish friends, who live in a shared house, threw with their housemates. In total, there were seven Finns, three Japanese, at least one American and then three people (that came over later) who I didn’t know…
The next day (27th, Sunday), Annina and I went to Osaka. First we visited the Pokémon Center in Umeda. After that we went to see a Kapibarasan birthday event and the 10th Anniversary Café. Even though I’m not as big of a fan as Anniina is, I think Kapibarasan is a really cute character and I had fun!
On the 29th (Tuesday), I went to a baseball game with nine other exchange students. The game was at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomya, a city west of Osaka. We were lucky enough to get tickets to Osaka Hanshin Tigers’ second to last game of the season. Their opponent was Yokohama BayStars from southwest Tokyo, and in the end, Tigers won the game 4-3!! Down below is a video of the balloon release after the top of the 7th inning!
Now a little something about what I have coming up in the future:
I going to spend next weekend in Hiroshima with some friends. This is actually a field trip for one of the history(?) courses (which I’m not in), but outsiders were also welcome to join. The actual field trip is only for Saturday morning/afternoon, but me and my friends are going to stay there for Sunday as well. We are going to Hiroshima by Shinkansen (1,5h) on Saturday morning and coming back on a night bus (6-7h) on Sunday-Monday night.
On the 20th of November (Friday), I will die… Seriously, I probably will, cause I’m going to see BIG BANG in Osaka!!!!!!! I’m so freaking excited! BIG BANG is my favorite band/(K-pop) group ever! I never thought that I’d be able to see them live, but now I am. I’m going with three other girls from my Seminar House, so it’s going to be even more fun. 😀 🙂 ❤
Happy~, Emma (^u^)
Ja sitten tosi lyhyesti suomeksi (koska kuvat kertoo jo aika paljon!), eli listaan vain päivämäärät, missä tuli käytyä ja muita huomiota:
9.9. Asuntolan tervetuliaisjuhlat (syötiin tyttöjen keittiössä ja otettiin yhteiskuva)
12.9. Nara (Suomi-porukalla käytiin kattomassa peuroja, joitain temppeleitä ja aluetta muutenkin)
19.9 Kioton kansainvälinen manga- ja animetapahtuma + shoppailua (onneksi ulkomaalaiset pääsi ilmaseksi sisään, ei ollu nimittäin omasta mielestä 9€ sisäänpääsymaksun arvoinen tapahtuma)
20.9. Kansai Gaidain Avoimet Ovet (olin siellä töissä ja palkkaa tuli noin 28€ viidestä tunnista + koulun t-paita; sinne tuli noin 2000 lukiolaista ja niiden vanhempia)
21.9. Osaka ja kissakahvila (Neko no Jikan kahden suomitytön kanssa!)
26.9. Bussireissu Kiotoon japanilaisten lukiolaisten kanssa (Fushimi Inari -niminen pyhäkkö ja saken valmistus -museo) + suomikamujen tuparit
27.9. Osakassa Anninan kanssa (Pokémon-kauppa ja Kapibarasan-juttuja)
29.9. Osakan Hanshin Tigers, baseball-peli (mä ja 9 muuta vaihtaria, Tigers voitti 4-3!!)
Ensi viikonloppuna Hiroshimaan. (Lauantaiaamuna Shinkansenilla sinne ja su-ma yönä bussilla takasin.) JA 20.11. mä tulen kuolemaan ilosta, koska BIG BANG (mun lempparibändi) tulee Osakaan, ja mulla ja kolmella kaverilla on liput!!!!!
As I said in the previous post, this one will be an introduction to the Campus and Seminar House 1.
This semester Kansai Gaidai has 373 exchange students from 35 different countries. A majority of the international students are from the United States (220/373). There are 10 Finns at first, but because of medical reasons, one of us had to leave Japan. 😦
Three of my five courses (Japanese and culture courses) are held in Building 3, Center for International Education (CIE). It has four floors, and it’s the main building for exchange students and courses taught in English. The rest of my courses (business and marketing related) are held in the second newest building which is number 6, the International Communication Center.
It’s separated from the rest of the Campus by a road. There’s a bridge over the road so students can cross safely.
These two buildings (CIE and ICC) are actually the only one’s I visit daily, aside from the building with the cafeteria, the convenience store and the ATM.
The Campus has three cafeterias. North Cafeteria (on the map) is actually two separate cafeterias in the 1st and 2nd floor of that building. South Cafeteria is a fancy octagon-shaped building with glass walls (just like Buildings 6 and 7). There’s also an Italian restaurant in the ICC building that some students have lunch in, but I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t really say much. The three cafeterias serve mostly the same dishes, just in different sizes and with different components. The most basic dishes are curry rice, tonkatsu (with rice), soba or udon noodles and fried chicken (with rice). Basically all the dishes, except for the noodles, have a lot of rice in them. 😀
Excluded from the map above are the roads to the West Gate (in the upper left corner) and the East Gate (in the upper right corner). For the Seminar House residents, the East Gate is the easiest access point to the Campus.
Now, on to Seminar House 1! It’s the second smallest of the seminar houses with a room capacity of 66 people (+ “okaasan” and “otoosan”, the caretakers!), but only two floors. (That’s why SH1 doesn’t have an elevator, while all the other houses do.)
The first floor has the men’s rooms and the second has women’s, and both floors have a kitchen, a laundry room, a toilet room and a shower room.
There’s a computer room on the second floor (that everyone can use), and in the first floor there’s a lounge/common area with vending machines. Both kitchens and the lounge have TVs.
In the kitchen, three rooms (5 or 6 people) share one fridge/freezer unit. Between the windows you can see the kind of lockable cupboards that we all have for whatever dishes and dry foods we have.
Then, on to the room itself (that I share with an American girl called Paige). As you can see in the picture on the right, we don’t have beds. Instead we sleep on futons, which are basically two mattress toppers, a duvet and a pillow (on which one side is grainy and the other has feathers). We both also have desks with some shelves and drawers to keep our stuff in.
The picture (on the right) shows all the closet space we have, and as you can see, we have to store our empty suitcases in there as well. Luckily I don’t have that many clothes so I still have some space left!
Enjoying Japan, Emma
PS. As you might have noticed, my posting schedule is not weekly, like I planned on making it… I feel like this will continue, so please be patient with me! 😀
Ja sitten taas lyhyesti suomeksi: KGU:ssa opiskelee tänä lukukautena 373 vaihto-opiskelijaa 35 eri maasta, ja jenkkejä tuosta määrästä on noin 60%. Suomalaisia oli 10, mutta nyt yksi meistä on joutunut palaamaan Suomeen terveydellisten syiden takia. 😦
Kampuksen rakennuksista eniten tulee käytyä CIE:ssa (#3) ja ICC:ssä (#6), koska niissä mulla on tunnit. Näiden lisäksi kampuksen pikkukaupassa ja halvimmassa ruokalassa tulee käytyä useamman kerran viikossa.
Asuntolasta sen verran, että siinä asuu 66 opiskelijaa (+ talon “isä ja äiti”, jotka huolehtii meistä/vahtii meitä kellon ympäri) kahdessa kerroksessa (alakerta on poikien ja yläkerta tyttöjen). Kummassakin kerroksessa on keittiö (missä on telkkari), pyykkitupa, suihkuhuone ja vessat. Yläkerrassa on tietokonehuone ja alakerrassa yhteinen tila, missä on myös telkkari (eli kolme telkkaria yhteensä!). Keittiössä jääkaappi/pakastinyhdistelmät jaetaan kolmen huoneen kesken (eli jokaisessa jääkaapissa on 5-6 henkilön ruuat). Jokaisella meistä on kuitenkin oma pieni (lukollinen) kaappi kuivamuonille ja astioille.
Mä siis jaan huoneeni toisen tytön kanssa (jenkki nimeltä Paige). Ja kuten yhdestä kuvasta näkyy, meillä ei ole sänkyjä… Vaan me nukutaan futoneilla! Futon on periaatteessa kaksi petauspatjaa päällekkäin, ja sitten normaali peitto-tyynykombo. Kuvissa näkyy myös mun pöytä/hyllykkösysteemi ja vaatekaappi (jossa siis säilytän matkalaukkujakin, koska niitä ei minnekkään muualle saa).
Ja tännekkin tuo PS.: tää mun kirjoitusrytmi ei nyt ole siinä viikkottaisessa, mitä silloin aikasemmin sanoin yrittäväni. Eikä tää tule tästä tulevaisuudessa kauheasti varmaan muuttumaan, joten olkaahan kärsivällisiä. 😉
The first two weeks in Japan have been pretty hectic. I arrived to KIX (Kansai International Airport) at 9:30 on Monday morning (24th of August). I had slept for a total of 2,5 hours on the 9,5 hour flight, so I fell asleep in the bus on the way to Hirakata. When we arrived to Seminar House 1 (SH1), I signed in and took my luggage to the room I would be sharing with two other girls for the next week (one of which would be my roommate for the entire semester, while the other would go stay with a Japanese family after the first week). After that, two of the Resident Assistants (RAs) took all those who wanted to go to the nearest grocery and 100yen store, Sanko.
Later that evening, me and a couple of new friends I’d made went to explore further from SH1 to try and find a restaurant… Well, we failed and picked up something to eat at Lawson’s.
On Tuesday we went to the campus for the first time. It’s less than 2km from the Seminar Houses! On campus, we had an introduction to the orientation program, which would last for a week from that day onward. Right after the introduction, there was a campus tour in smaller groups. (The campus was really empty for the first two weeks as all the Japanese students were still on summer holiday. Of course there were some who had club activities or had chosen to take some of our lecture courses in English. The rest of the 14,000 Japanese students start school this upcoming week, so the campus will be PACKED!) After the tour, I registered for my courses: ‘Spoken Japanese’ (mandatory for everyone), ‘Reading and Writing Japanese’ (those who are staying for one semester only could choose between a 5-week, 1-credit introduction course or the full 3-credit course, which I ended up choosing), ‘International Business: Doing Business in East Asia’ and ‘Marketing Across Cultures’ (I need these courses for my studies at KAMK, and luckily I had a learning agreement so I was put on a priority list!)
as well as ‘Anime: Method and Meaning’ (as the fun, ‘free-choice studies’ course).
The last one wasn’t actually my first choice for the fun/culture course, but my first two choices went on top of the business courses that I need, so I had to find something else. We got the confirmation for the courses on Saturday (the 29th). I got into all three of my lecture courses, and of course I was put into Level 1 for the Japanese courses (as I’ve never studied Japanese and so didn’t take the placement test).
On Tuesday I also bought a (used) bicycle! I was walking back to the Seminar House with a couple of friends, who had talked about getting bikes, when we stumbled upon one of the shops recommended by the university. It cost 6,900yen, which is roughly around 55 euros.
Wednesday was a chill day. We had a meeting, where the faculty was introduced to us (the exchange students), before the Japanese language placement test, which I didn’t have to take. I also turned in some forms about insurance etc.
Thursday started with two orientation meetings on immigration and safety issues. After the meetings I went to get my SIM card. The school had three different companies introducing and selling their products at the school during orientation. With each one, the options were either a SIM card or a WiFi router. I went with a company called Sun-Net, and their short-term plan of 4 months with 10GB’s of data for each month. The 4-month plan cost me 19,800yen, which is around 145 euros. I cannot send text messages with the SIM card, I can just use the
internet and a prepaid phone number through a mobile app, which is fine by me, as I communicate mostly via the internet anyway. On Thursday evening, I also went to karaoke for the first time with a punch of people from Seminar House 1. We were there for over 3 hours and got the drink bar (unlimited soft drinks and coffee) and it was only 850yen per person (around 6,5€)!
On Friday, we had another general meeting about living in the Seminar Houses, after which I picked up my student ID. The rest of the day we spent in Kyoto. We went around in smaller groups of a few exchange students and a couple of Japanese students acting as guides.
Our group spent the whole time (14:00-20:00) going to/at/coming from Kiyomizu temple. During that trip I also got my ICOCA card, which is a travel card for Osaka prefecture’s trains and buses.
On Saturday, I went exploring/shopping with another Finnish girl (Annina), with who I go to the same school back in Finland. First we walked to a SEGA Gaming Center. We also visited a really fancy secondhand store just across from SEGA. Then we took the bus to KuzuhaMall in a town called Kuzuha. The mall was really big with three floors in two different buildings and a dining street.
Sunday was moving day for the home-stay students. The Seminar House residents had to sign out and sign in again as well, so that we could get our permanent keys. Until this point we’d only had a temporary room key (+ we had a curfew etc.), as some of us had to change rooms when the home-stay students left. Now we have our permanent room key, the side gate key (so we can get in after the caretakers close the main gate at 22:00) and the key to our own kitchen cupboard. On Sunday, we also had the first Seminar House resident’s meeting.
On Monday (the 31st), we met our class advisors for the first time. My advisor is Shikaura Yoshiko, a really sweet and enthusiastic older woman. The first thing she did was give us candy! After the meeting, I went to register my bike to the school. (The registration gives you a sticker that allows you to park on school grounds. If you don’t have the sticker, your bike can get towed.)
On Tuesday, we had the Opening Ceremony for the Asian Studies Program, which was basically a lot of speeches and a traditional dance performance by a local group of old men and women, who perform at the Ceremony every year. We also had to dress semi-formally for the day, which I didn’t hear about until the day before. After the Ceremony, we moved to one of the cafeterias on campus, where we had a Welcome Luncheon, which meant free food and drinks! After that we went to KuzuhaMall with a bigger group of people, and I had my first purikura experience!
Wednesday was the first day of class. I had ‘Spoken Japanese’ (which we have everyday for 50 minutes), ‘International Business’ and ‘Anime: Method and Meaning’. I also bought the books I would be using in both of my Japanese courses from the campus book store! (The textbook and workbook cost me a total of 5,100yen, which is 38€.) On Thursday, I had the first lessons in ‘Reading and Writing Japanese’ (which we have three times a week for 50 minutes each time) and ‘Marketing Across Cultures’. (Just a quick note: all the Japanese lessons are held during 9:00-12:50 and lecture courses during 13:15-18:10. Lecture courses are held two times a week for 90 minutes each time.) We were given the textbooks for the lecture courses by the professors (entire books printed on A4’s).
Friday is the worst day of school for me. I have classes at 9:00-9:50, 12:00-12:50 and 16:40-18:10, which means I have first two and then almost four hours of time to kill. On the other hand, I have that time to do homework, so I don’t have to do all of it at the SH. After I was finished with classes on Friday, I went to karaoke with Annina and Wakako, a Japanese girl, who was in Kajaani as an exchange student last year. It was really nice to see her again, even though I only met her once in Finland. 😀
So, that’s about it for the first two weeks of my exchange here in Japan. The next post will be about the campus and Seminar House 1, and will include more pictures on those two things! If you have any comments, questions or suggestions for future topics, let me know in the comment box below!
Trying to get used to school, Emma
PS. The combination of heat and humidity has had me sweating buckets everyday, all day long. Luckily the last few days haven’t been as hot!
Ja vielä suomeksi: ensimmäiset kaksi viikkoa olivat aika kiireisiä! Saavuin Kansain kansainväliselle lentokentälle maanantaiaamuna (24.8.) noin klo 9:30. Lentokentältä asuntoloille (eng. Seminar House) oli bussikuljetus klo 12:30. Perille saapumisen jälkeen epävirallisena ohjelmana oli lähikaupassa käynti. Myöhemmin illalla lähdimme muutaman uuden kaverin kanssa seikkailemaan hieman kauemmaksi asuntolalta. Tiistaina menimme ensimmäistä kertaa kampukselle (mikä on alle 2km päässä asuntoloilta), ja meillä oli muutamia orientaatioon liittyviä tapaamisia/luentoja sekä kampuskierros. Samana päivänä rekisteröidyin myös kursseilleni (joiden sisäänpääsyvarmistukset tulivat vasta saman viikon lauantaina). Matkalla takaisin asuntolalle ostimme kavereideni kanssa käytetyt polkupyörät. Hintaa pyörällä oli noin 55 euroa.
Keskiviikkona oli japaninkielen tasotesti, mitä minun ei tarvinnut tehdä, koska en ole koskaan ennen opiskellut japania. Tämä siis tarkoitti, että päädyin automaattisesti tasolle 1. Torstaina hommasin SIM-kortin, joten nyt minulla on netti myös puhelimessa! (Hintaa 4kk:n 10GB dataa/kk-paketilla oli noin 145€.) Menimme samana päivänä myös karaokeen. Olimme siellä 3,5 tuntia, saimme juoda limsaa, kahvia ym. rajattomasti, ja hintaa koko lystille jäi n. 6,5€ per nenä.
Perjantaina saimme opiskelijakorttimme ja menimme Kiotoon yliopiston japanilaisten opiskelijoiden opastuksella. Ryhmä, johon kuuluin kerkesi käymään vain Kiyomizun temppelillä, mutta sekin oli riittävästi yhdelle päivälle! Lauantaina menin Anninan (joka siis asuu ja opiskelee normaalisti myös Kajaanissa) kanssa käymään esim. SEGAn pelikeskuksessa ja KuzuhaMall-nimisessä ostoskeskuksessa. Sunnuntaina perheissä majoittuvat ihmiset muuttivat asuntoloista pois, ja asuntoloihin jäävät saivat lopulliset avaimensa (huoneeseen, sivuporttiin ja henkilökohtaiseen keittiökaappiin), sillä tähän mennessä meillä oli ollut vain väliaikainen huoneen avain. (Tästä lisää seuraavassa julkaisussa!)
Maanantaina tapasimme ensimmäistä kertaa ns. luokanohjaajamme. Oma ohjaajani on erittäin mukava: saimme häneltä karkkia! 😀 Tiistaina koulu järjesti avajaisseremonian vaihto-opiskelijoille. Seremonian jälkeen saimme tervetuliaislounaalla ilmaista ruokaa ja juomaa (mistä kuva ylempänä)! Lounaan jälkeen lähdimme isommalla porukalla käymään KazuhaMall:ssa, jossa olin siis käynyt jo pari päivää aikaisemmin. Keskiviikkona alkoi sitten oikea koulu. Ostin japanin kurssejani varten teksti- ja tehtäväkirjan koulun kirjakaupasta yhteishintaan 38€. Muiden kurssien kirjat saimme opettajilta printattuina A4:ille. Perjantaina menin karaokeen Anninan ja Wakakon (joka oli viime vuonna vaihdossa Kajaanissa) kanssa. Tällä kertaa hinta oli hieman korkeampi, sillä meitä oli vain kolme (viime kerralla 8) ja tilasimme huoneeseen myös ruokaa.
Seuraavassa postauksessa sitten enemmän juttua/kuvia kampuksesta ja asuntolasta!
PS. Apua, täällä on kuumaa ja kosteaa!! (Vitsi vitsi! Vaikka olenkin hikoillut aivan tajuttomasti, ovat pari viimeistä päivää olleet jo hieman viileämpiä, noin 25C. 😀 )
So, I’ll be spending the fall semester of school year 2015-2016 in Hirakata (a city of 410,000 people), attending Kansai Gaidai University’s Asian Studies Program. (The University has over 10,000 students! That’s more people than in my entire home town!) I’m leaving Finland on Sunday, the 23rd of August and coming back on Saturday, the 19th of December, so I’m going to spend almost four months in Japan. I was very lucky with my plane tickets: I got a two-way ticket for non-stop flights with Finnair (a Finnish airline) for 850€! Sure I could’ve spent less if I got flights from a foreign airline with multiple layovers, but I feel a lot more comfortable with my flights being the way they are…
((WARNING: This is going to be a long and detailed post about the processes of applying for things/documents. If you’re not interested, don’t read any further!))
Applying for exchange was fairly easy, because Kansai Gaidai is my school’s partner university. This meant that as long as I was accepted for the exchange by my own university, I’d almost certainly get accepted by Kansai Gaidai, as they had already reserved places for students from their partner universities. So, first I applied through my own school. The application form was online and I had to fill in my school choices (how long I would spend in each school and how many credits I expected to get) and why I wanted to study abroad and in those schools. I also had to put in what courses I had taken/was going to take before going abroad, how many credits I would have before going abroad, and an estimation of total costs for the exchange as well as my CV.
My application for Japan was approved by KAMK, after which I got instructions by email on how to start Kansai Gaidai’s application process. First, there was an online form (on their Online Application System: K-GENESYS website) that had topics like personal information, academics (previous schools, ‘why are you interested?’), information for immigration (passport info, criminal background), housing preference (Residence hall or Home stay, and why) and general health information. After sending the online form, I had to print and send the same form to Kansai Gaidai by airmail with two recommendation letters from current professors (if I’d studied any Japanese before, one of those should have been a separate form filled out by a previous Japanese instructor), a copy of my passport, four identification pictures, a medical information sheet with a doctor’s signature (while getting this, I also got a Hepatitis A shot), and a Statement of Purpose (a page-long essay about your educational objectives, “a particular characteristic” and “you as a person”). After sending all that to them, it was down to waiting for an answer. On 22nd of May, I got an acceptance email! After this I could apply for my own school’s grant for exchange students.
After getting admitted to Kansai Gaidai, there were more things in K-GENESYS to fill out. The first and most important thing was the Address Form. They needed the address for applying for the Certificate of Eligibility, which a student needs when applying for a visa. For me, it took about a month for the Certificate to arrive. Because I had to apply for a long-term visa (over 90 days), I had to take the Certificate, a filled-out visa application form (that I found on the ‘Embassy of Japan in Finland’ website), an identification picture and my passport to the Embassy of Japan in Helsinki. It only took an hour to get the visa done!
The other forms that had to be filled out in K-GENESYS were a Housing Questionnaire (questions about my Housing Preference: which seminar house I’d prefer, my hobbies, if I wanted a single room/Japanese roommate etc.) and an Arrival Information Form (when/where I’d arrive, flight information, did I want to use their pick-up service). Of course, the latter couldn’t be filled out until a flight had been booked, which I did at the end of May.
A thing anyone using some sort of medication has to consider is the restrictions of the country of destination on importing /exporting drugs. With Japan, a 1 month’s supply of prescription medication can be imported (for personal use) without any special procedures. But in my case, I was planning on bringing all the medication I would need for almost four months on me, so I had to apply for a “Yakkan Shoumei”, a import certificate for the medication. (For specific instructions on applying/details on importing other kinds of medicine, visit the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website!!) For me the only problem in applying for the “Yakkan Shoumei” was getting a translated copy of prescription with a doctor’s signature. It was difficult only because I couldn’t get the prescription from Suonenjoki where I’m staying for the summer. I had to call to Kajaani where I was given another number before finally talking to someone who could actually help me. It took a couple of days for the prescription to come by mail, and after that about a week for my paperwork to arrive to Japan and for them to email the certificate to me. (It’s basically a paper I filled out and sent to them which they had stamped and scanned.) There was also an option of having them send the original paper back, but that would have taken another week. (Also, I was really stupid and sent the original translated prescription to Japan without taking a copy of it first! 😐 I’m not sure if I’ll need it in Customs, but I sure hope I won’t.)
Another thing that ended up being a lot more time-consuming than I had expected was currency exchange. The first thing I did was go to my local bank and tell them that I needed to exchange some currency (euro to yen). The reply was: “We no longer exchange currency in this bank.” The closest banks which I could turn to were apparently in Kuopio (50km north) or Jyväskylä (90km south). I called the bank in Kuopio and was told I could order currencies to banks online. As I was ordering, I could choose the pick-up location to be my “home bank” in Suonenjoki. I did that, and the next day I got a call from the bank while I was at work. “The Suonenjoki branch no longer handles any currency.” Even the employee calling me couldn’t understand why Suonenjoki had been an option in the order form. I ended up ordering the yen to the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, from where I’ll be leaving on the 23rd.
Oh wow, this ended up being a long post… I promise that in the future, my posts will not be as long as this one. I just wanted to tell about these things in more detail, hoping that the things I talk about will help people planning on or actually going to Japan!
Preparing for Take Off, Emma \(^o^)/
Ja nyt sama (lyhyemmin) suomeksi: Vaihtoon hakeminen oli melko helppoa, koska Kansai Gaidai (KG) on Kajaanin Ammattikorkeakoulun (KAMK) yhteistyöyliopisto. Hain ensin KAMK:n sisäisessä haussa, jossa selvisi ketkä täyttävät vaihtokoulun varatut paikat. (Minun lisäkseni KAMK:sta pääsi yksi toinenkin tyttö, kenet tunnenkin jo!) Sen jälkeen piti hakea vielä KG:n omassa haussa, missä varmistettiin, että hakija on “sopiva” opiskelemaan ulkomailla/Japanissa. Ensin haku tehtiin netissä, ja kun siitä pääsi eteenpäin, piti KG:lle lähettää sama hakemus sekä muita kaavakkeita ja papereita postitse. Kun tämän sai tehtyä, piti enää odottaa hyväksymissähköposti ja vaihtoon lähtö oli varmaa! Seuraavana hain KAMK:n apurahaa, varasin lennot, täyttelin KG:n kyselyitä tämän hetkisestä asuinpaikastani/osoitteestani (minkä koulu tarvitsi hakiessaan ja lähettäessään minulle “Certificate of Eligibility:n, minkä tarvitsin hakiessani viisumia), Japanissa majoittumisesta (asuntola/perhemajoitus) sekä saapumisestani Japaniin.
Lisäksi minun piti hakea maahantuontilupa reseptilääkkeilleni (koska aikomukseni on viedä kaikki tarvitsemani lääkkeet kerralla), eikä Japaniin saa viedä yli kuukauden lääkkeitä ilman tätä lupaa. Tätä lupaa varten tarvitsin englanniksi käännetyn reseptin lääkärin allekirjoituksella, mitä varten minun piti soittaa kolmeen eri numeroon (Suonenjoelle ja Kajaaniin). Samanlaista sähläystä oli myös valuutanvaihto. Suonenjoen Osuuspankista ei enää valuuttaa saa, edes tilaamalla. Tämän sain selville ensin käymällä konttorissa fyysisesti ja myöhemmin saamalla puhelun että ks. konttoriin ei voi edes tilata valuuttaa nettipankin kautta. Onneksi yksi noutopisteistä on Helsinki-Vantaalla!
Kuten saattaa huomata, tämä kirjoitus on aikamoinen hirviö. Voin vannoa, että tulevaisuudessa nämä julkaisut, ja varsinkaan suomennokset, ei tule olemaan näin pitkiä! 😀