Due to lack of tech compliance

Posted by Roksana at 10:36 pm on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Filed under General

I will give out my Photobucket account in order to showcase the wonderful pictures I have been taking in my journey here.


In other news the Nagasaki Gaidai University is putting on a school festival. A school wide festival in which we get two days off in order to prepare. I myself will be dancing Souran with about 7 other foreign American students (SUNY New Paltz Brian included) and three or four foreign but East Asian origined students. Souran and its female only counterpart Yosokoi, are dances originating from fisherman dances.  They involve a variety of movement, as dances tend to, and have a large following in just the idea. I have video taken of some friends performing the completed piece, so Ill try and see about putting that up.
Some of the American students were coerced into doing a hamburger stand, as its a near requirement for the JASIN students to make hamburgers (American eats nothing but, of course). Some other JASINs have taken the initiative and well, the All American Taco Stand has been born. Some future tales will be spaned, I’m sure of it.

Less than two months left to go. I really dont want to leave. This whole experience is just utterly amazing. I recommend study abroad for anyone (over 20 XD). But for now, I’m off to tour a Japanese elementry school.

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Posted by Allie at 8:45 am on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Filed under General,Middlesex University

This weekend Jess and I went to Prague. We left on Thursday and came back Monday however most of Thursday and Monday was spent traveling on trains, planes and buses since we flew RyanAir into Brno, Czech Republic and then took a train into Praha. So we had three full days in the captial. We walked around a lot even though it rained a bit was was bitterly cold and windy on our last day.

It’s a really touristy city but once you get away from that it’s beatuiful and the views are amazing. It’s also cheaper as well, and like Jess said, “anything is cheaper after living on the £!”. So it was a nice chance to make our money strech a little bit further and treat ourselves to a meal in a restaurant which hasn’t happened since I left the US. Our last night we were planning to take a pub tour but because we got extremely mixed up with daylight savings time we missed the tour and so picked an “authentic” restaurant ourselves. I don’t know how authentic you can really find in that area of Prague but it was something that had to be done! I got goulash and Jess got the Czech plate which had different kinds of meat- rabbit, pork and duck- which must be pretty big there because it was on all of the menus.

We didn’t buy a guidebook and so our research came from other places. Before we left we both did research online of things we wanted to do in Praha and our one friend told us about this five floor club to go to. Once we actually got to our hostel (the Golden Sickle!) one of the staff told outlined the main things to do on a map, told us about two things that were going on that night nearby (we went to a bookstore that was having some sort of party or opening and got free drinks!) and suggested the amazing bar next door to the hostel which was a labryinth of cavernous rooms. Then a Canadian guy (whom we nicknamed “grandpa”) who was staying at the hostel also suggested some places.

We didn’t get a chance to go to any museums but I feel like we still did a lot and saw most of the city by ourselves on foot. It’s a very accessible city, we never needed any sort of public transportation except our own sore-from-walking-on-cobblestones- feet. We went to Wenceslas Sqaure (which isn’t really a square but a rectangle and was near our hostel); up the Powder Tower for the view; through Old Town Sqaure and saw the astronomical clock, went into a church nearby which was later holding a mozart concert as most of the churches were; crossed the Charles Bridge and stopped several times for the view, massive amounts of people and musicians; walked along Kampa Island, which is one the other side of the river and had some sort of photography exhibition going on throughout the park; crossed a different bridge and walked past the National Theatre; went to Prague Castle which doesn’t look like a typical castle, it just has a cathedral in the middle, and explored the area around the castle (mainly less expensive tourist shops); one night we saw marionettes (little puppets) perform Don Giovanni which Mozart wrote for and in Praha; another night we went to Karlovy Lazne the biggest club in central europe (which had lots of tourists but not just american there were lots from all over europe as well); we went to Petrin park and the observation tower (it was a windy day and the tower was shaking a bit!); and of course did some souviner shopping for friends and family that will suffice as souviner/christmas presents!

 Overall I had a really great time, but that was only once we got away from the crowds and souviner shops, you could never really get away from tourists. I heard so many American and English accents I sometimes felt like I had never left England. However that’s the only down side (oh wait, the wind, the rain, and the sore feet), once we found ourselves away from the big crowds and found a nice view, usually puncuated by me catching a glimpse of an upcoming amazing view and then saying repeatedly to Jess “oh my God, oh my God” and pointing in the general direction, all was well and the downside was forgotten while my eyes soaked in the red roofs, cathedral spires, and massive city. In fact my favorite spots in the whole city were the parks. I loved when Jess and I grabbed sandwiches and ate lunch next to Charles Bridge on the river bank, I loved walking through Kampa Island and looking across the way at the other side of the river, I loved Petrin Park (which reminded me and Jess of autumn back home in NY, there’s really no true evidence of autumn in London) and the leaves and view and I even liked sitting outside in the wind (it knocked over a bench behind me!) at a restaurant near the club we went to eat “breakfast” (it was noon) and looking across the river to Petrin Tower when we were figuring out how to get up there.

I’m glad we went and it was nice to spoil ourselves for awhile but now it’s back to, well I can’t call this real life either, since even London is a sort of “fantasy” life!

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Maybe I´ll just wear a sign that says ¨Ironic in English¨

Posted by Richard at 5:37 am on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Filed under General

Well, I just wrote half an entry and then the page got messed up.  It was written really well too.  So etc, pretend I just wrote some pretty things. 

Happy Halloween!

seville-5-025.jpg Here´s a beautiful rainy day.  But the rain is done now.

seville-5-045.jpg I think this lizard is confused and probably going to get electrocuted.

seville-5-057.jpg This weekend I went to Las Tablas de Daimiel.  Essentially, a wetlands area quite similar to the Everglades, minus the alligators and bugs and disgusting Florida weather.  It was spectacular and I was reminded of the importance of getting of cities.  I don´t think I´ve gone this long in a city without having a weekend in the woods or anything.  It was revitalizing to even briefly connect with nature.  seville-5-058.jpg

Thanks Spain.

And a friendly reminder from the Spanish art scene.  seville-5-037.jpg

 Enjoy your holiday and be safe.  I think I´m gonna be an American hipster.  I don´t think the Europeans will get it.

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And now, a kindly word from the wise Ro-neechan.

Posted by Roksana at 11:53 pm on Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Filed under General

To all the children who want to go to Japan, please be sure to be at least 20 years of age ( or at least within a month of coming here) before you leave. I’m not trying to spoil any one’s fun, but in Japan, you are a child/minor/unable to do a lot of things if you are under 20. Cigarettes, gotta be 20 (granted you can get them from the vending machines, but you dont wanna get picked up or anything…). Booze, you have to be 20 in order to drink (though the sinks I’ve been to haven’t actually checked i.d.s, and again, you can get them from vending machines).

So you’ll say to yourself, well I dont drink or smoke, or, I wont get picked up by the police if Im under and still do.

 Very true. However, what everone will need and have to get (don’t kid yourself into thinking otherwise) is a cell phone. Telecommunications in Japan is expensive. Everyone has a cellphone but people dont like to use them since most plans are about 100 yen a minute (around 93 cents). Instead people textmessage one another like mad. In order to text your fellow neighboor or friend or classmate (and spare yourself some heavy bills) you will need a cell phone.

Where does the age come in?

You need to be 20 years old in order to get a cellphone. Or have parental permission, but I would hope your folks speak excellent Japanese and possess wonderful Kanji writing skills in order to write a permission slip. Other alternatives are to find what is called esentially a voucher, which is expensive and costly or find someone in Japan who trusts you enough to do it (someone who has an excellent standing in their community preferably)

Yes, I know you’re 19 and an adult. But in Japan, you, sir, are still a juvie.

This is currently the dilmena of classmate Eric (of the fan giving Eric-types). A 19 year old kid, staying in Japan the whole semester, cant get a phone due to the fact he was NOT born in or past the Showa 81 year (the years go by Emperor reigns).  His parents are also unfluent in Japanese (a deliberate grammatical flaw on my part, btw) and the phrase “fiscal pain” comes to mind when searching for a backer.

Im not quite sure what Gakusei Eric will do, but I hope to forewarn other future trekkers of Nihon!

(Also, it shall take about one month after you arrive before you can actually get your cell phone, as you need the Japanese equivlant of an Alien Registration card to purchase a phone and plan, of which it takes several weeks to process. So you could be 19 and 11 months when you come over, it really won’t hinder that much.)

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Cultural freak!

Posted by Allie at 9:37 am on Monday, October 23, 2006
Filed under General,Middlesex University

This weekend I was extremely busy to make up for last weekend of doing nothing but reading for class! Awhile ago, at the freshers fair, I bought an Ace Card for 9.95. It gets me discounted admission into some museums, clubs, theatre and restaurants. So Thursday I finally got to use it. For the museums I got two tickets for the price of one, along with a student discount. First Jess and I went to the Old Operating Theatre Museum which is in the top of a church. For the two of us it was 3.95. It showed all sorts of medical instruments as well as the actual operating theatre where operations and amputations took place usually without anaesthesia. My favorite fact was how there was a bucket of sawdust to catch the blood that dripped off the operating table, so that none leaked down into the church below. We next stumbled across Borough Market and walked around taking in the sights and smells. There was all sorts of organic foods as well as food from other countries in Europe. There was also a sign that declared this market was celebrating its 250th year!

We walked a bit further to Vinopolis where we learned about and tasted wine from around the world. Right next to Vinopolis was the Clink Prison Museum, we both got in for the discounted price of 3.50. It was the site of the original clink prison and held everyone from religious prisoners to debtors to children who were incarcerated with their mothers. It also had information on a variety of torture devices and punishments. So it was an odd day with a mix including gore, wine, torture and and a market! But Jess and I were happy and consider ourselves to be uber tourists because when we go out for a “cultural day” we knock out at least three things in one go. Plus this day was extremely cheap thanks to my Ace card.

Saturday I went to Camden Market with Cris and looked at the “weirdos” for a graphic design project he’s working on. I’m still amazed by the diverse, stylish things you can buy (as well as the people watching) and love walking through the food stalls and drooling over all the different types of food that smell delicious. I love going to Camden however it makes me feel like a glutton because I always want EVERYTHING. We then went to Portobello Road Market and played the “if I had money, I’d buy this and that . . .” game. Portobello was geared more towards food and antiques but it was huge and the street seemed to go on forever.

I also got, as a gift from my parents, this thing called City Walks: London 50 adventures on foot. So Sunday Raggy and I did the walk from Piccadilly Circus to Regent Street, passing through Saville Row, Carnaby Street and the walk finished at the Heights which is a bar in Saint Georges Hotel. The view from the 15th floor bar was amazing just like the walk said and we sat down, had a coffee and said several times “Oh my God, we’re in London!”.

We finished off the day by eating at a vegetarian indian buffet near Angel tube station for 2.95, we were going to start off on another walk but ate too much and decided to head home and digest. But we’ve decided to try and do all 50 walks since each sounds great and focuses on a different section of London, and guides you through cultural sights and history. It seems like a great way to become familar with the city as well as discover some things on our own (like a shop where we bought tea on regent’s street and got two free samples, we joked how we could write our own walk!) as well as discovering things that we would have never on our own (like the view from the hotel bar).

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I´m glad I´m not state-sponsored

Posted by Richard at 8:30 am on Monday, October 23, 2006
Filed under General

Yeah now I´m done with the rain.  It´s wet and muddy. 

Spanish theater: thus far, could be better.  State sponsored avant garde theater is a very strange concept for me to wrap my brain around.  And also, while I don´t know the details and I could be way wrong, I really doubt their theater has full creative sovereignty.   And if theater can´t criticze the establishment, then what´s the point?

Please don´t respond to that question, it´s rhetorical. 

The first play I saw was Autoretrato Doble - Double Selfportrait.  It was the more abstract of the two, essentially two men portraying two old widowed Spanish women, displaying their disconnections with their children, the everlasting effect of La Guerra Civil and forty years of Franco, etc.  It was interesting, but nothing I haven´t seen before.  And I really feel like there was a significant amount of politics that the author conciously stepped around.  I´ve been learning that you don´t publicly talk about Franco in any kind of subjective way. 

The other play just sucked, not worth mentioning. 

I also went to two museums this weekend, the Contemporary Art Museum and the Archaeological Museum.  The latter was wonderful, not only did it have a lot of beautiful sculpture from the Peninsula during the Roman period, but it also improved my vocabularly.  The art museum had one room open, the rest was being worked on.   So blah to the blah. 

It was a lovely relaxing weekend in Spain.  But it needs to stop raining.

And the fact that my American identity struggles to accept so much state-sponsorship of the arts I guess just proves how American I really am. 

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You wanted it!

Posted by Roksana at 1:02 am on Monday, October 23, 2006
Filed under General

And you shall have it! Pictures of Japanese potties! Or at least one. These treasures were taken by the Nagasaki Chinatown. What i love about this one is that the Kanji signs are purely Kanji, untouched by the westernized triangle women shape or rectangular male shape. No romanji words linger here I say! 


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Posted by Richard at 12:26 pm on Saturday, October 21, 2006
Filed under General

Number 8: Read the New York Times Dining Out Section…about restaurants IN New York.  C´mon, you´re in Spain. 

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They also don´t have broccoli.

Posted by Richard at 11:55 am on Thursday, October 19, 2006
Filed under General

Number 9: Hunt and peck.  You just gotta get over that.

Ok so let us be real, there is no way I am going to focus enough to continue running down my entire time in San Sebastian.  The apostrophe is not working on this keyboard.  Oh the keyboard is set to some other countrys style and I cant change it.  Oh there we go.  Anyway, I lucked out with the weather because it was beautiful and sunny all three days.  The Guggenheim in Bilbao was one of the more intense art experiences of my life.  I have now been to 3/5 of the world Guggenheims (NYC, Venice, Bilbao), now all I have to do is get to Gemany and VEgas.  I fell in love with San Sebastian when I took my siesta on the beach in mid-October.  The first hostel was great, the second sucked.  Travelling alone is more challenging and better and worse than I imagined it would be, and I can´t wait to do it again.  I read LOTS, in Spanish.  I ate at a Novoulle Basque restaurant for lunch once and it was fantastic. 

Most ridiculous thing (among many) was the Basque pride celebration Saturday night.  It consisted of a measley drum and bugle corp, wearing homemade tshirts, and bunch of guys around them, runnning around the Old City and singing.  Hilarious.  The guide book warned me to avoid the predominantly Basque street but that´s silly, it´s totally fine and probably the best way to see País Vasco. 

My stints in Madrid (a morning on the way north, and evening on the way south) were thrilling and wonderful and I´m glad I am not going to attempt Madrid on this trip.  It is a city that deserves more than a weekend. 

In a desperate measure to eat vegetarian at least one night I went for Chinese food.  It was disappointing and I was probably the most homesick I´d been or will be, eating alone in a crappy Chinese restaurant where they didn´t even have tofu. 

OK that was my weekend, leaving out vast amounts of details.  San Sebastian is a very very beautiful place. 

Speaking of tofu I ate tofu for the first time since I´ve been in Spain and it was soooo satisfying even though it wasn´t even really well made.  

Gaaah I have a nice list of thought provoking topics to write about, I´ve been brainstorming and all, but, computers are stinky.

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Calligraphy class revealed!

Posted by Roksana at 10:09 pm on Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Filed under General

Oh, calligraphy class. Its a Traditional Japanese Arts class and oh my, how to describe… You know how certain things are beautiful, and revered and such? Think of the American National anthem and pretty kanji characters. Picture a scene at a regular baseball park. Invited to sing the anthem is a pop-tart know for good vocals and vicacious lifestyle. So she sings this normally lovely song, and procedds to drag out each syallable, so a song that last roughly, what, 2 minutes, into a 6 minute encounter, barking certain parts like a seal, click verses like a school of dolphins (eating all this seafood has me leaning towards the ocean critters i think).
Thats rather what yesterdays calligraphy class was like.
Kanji and kana are wonderful characters. Yesterday was a study in how some ppl can decipher squiggly lines. Not to rag on the calligraphy teacher, but seasoned students of the language and its written word were baffled as to what some of the directed rotes meant. it seemed very strange, and some of the words just didnt make sense. That when the prof dragged out …

… the calligraphy dictionary!!!

Now I can be cynical and call it a dictionary for bad hand writing. I can. Matsubara sensei was rigid when it came to learning Kanji and hiragana in proper stroke order. Some of the examles were nothing more than just randomn pretty squigglies (there’s a method you see).  I will rather call it a book of different styles of pretty squiggly. Classmate Jim is exceptionally well at the pretty squigglies, and is much loved by Calligraphy Sensei for it.

With just one class left for the Calligrahy portion of the TGA, I think i shall forever leave them as pretty squigglies that have vague or little resemblence to actual characters.

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