Workplace Differences

The main difference between working here and working in the US is the language. It’s definitely interesting to experience someone commenting on your work in a language that you do not understand. Comments would be made, and someone else translates them. This system seems to work, but I’m probably missing out on a few comments. Once, they were rearranging the office and I wanted to help out as much as possible, but I didn’t really know what was going on.

Using WeChat to contact everyone isn’t a huge difference, but it’s definitely different. Occasionally, I’ll get an email, but I don’t think anyone here has my phone number. Files are sent through WeChat. WeChat can translate messages, which is useful. (WeChat is basically WhatsApp, but you can do a little more with it.)

The company seems more laid back than most of the companies I’ve worked for in the past, but I think this is just a difference in the kind of company. I think that design companies are usually like this. The attire is pretty casual, which I enjoy a lot, especially in the hot weather. (It’s not jeans and t-shirts, but it’s also not constant business suits, it’s a good middle ground.) Everything happens a bit later than it is scheduled to. I feel comfortable with talking to most of the people in higher positions, I even work in the same room as a lot of these people. There aren’t cubicles and group work is promoted. The office is filled with a few little animals, some fish and a lot of plants. This isn’t too far from my ideal working situation.

My advisor brought me along to another company that we were trying to work with, which was a great experience. We went to the building of what is probably the most well known TV station in Beijing. They building was pretty cool. We drank tea in a lobby are that explained the history of the company while we waited for the meeting to start. The meeting was my perfect amount of casual. We sat in what seemed like their usual working area and traded business cards. Then, my advisor showed videos to the small group of people. It wasn’t a scary presentation to a really large judgmental group. The group liked what she was showing and seemed excited to work with the company. It’s possible that I completely misread the situation since 99% was not English, but this is how it appeared.

And So the Ring Nears Completion

IMG_1962IMG_1973IMG_1983IMG_1999IMG_2004It seems like a lifetime since I was in America, so much has happened. I still remember the faces of my loved ones, the layout of my house, the area where I live, almost like a dream, I remember all of these details, yet I feel like its a dream. Okay, maybe I am getting a bit too sentimental and what not, but when your life dream of living in a nation with such an astonishing culture, history and society as Japan, where arcades are filled with all sorts of fascinating machines and historic sites centuries older than my country, it is pretty bittersweet to be leaving. Still, I made so many incredible memories and friends. I also invited a lot of these Japanese friends to visit me in New York as many are coming to America to study abroad and glamorize NYC as this amazing metropolis. Honestly, I am happy to be going home soon as while I loved, really loved the country, living here, the standards of Japanese society are a bit rough, nothing too major, just that my bed was a little small, I am 5`11, which is above average, still I slept well and the other major topic being that while Japanese and Chinese food are great, I really want some pizza and tacos! Also, I miss my car, the trains are really easy to navigate and use, but I like being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want. I mean I could adapt to living without these things, probably could make my own pizza and tacos, but America is my homeland and that is the culture that I am used to. I am positive that others, who study abroad feel the same. What really brings me back to America is my friends and family, I love them and if they lived here, then I would have no major reason to not consider living in Japan. I definitely will return, probably for the Olympics in 2020, but hopefully sooner, I really like the arcades here, I know that sounds petty, but they are so much fun, also there are a lot of places that I want to visit when I return that I did not have the chance to, did a ton of traveling, but it is impossible to see all of a nation as rich as Japan.

I know that I am suppose to focus on the point of my leaving Japan and my emotions, but really I knew that it was always the last part of my trip and I have been preparing to leave before I even got here. Not that I felt that I would not like Japan, but because I am a very pragmatic person, something that I definitely advise anyone studying abroad to be. I bought a ridiculous amount of stuff, which I have described in detail in previous posts. I have had to buy a second suitcase and fill my duffel bag to get everything home, fortunately my airline, ANA (All Nippon Airways) allows a second suitcase and a large carry-on for no addition charge, if you`re coming to Japan, ANA is your best opinion. Not that the other airlines do not have these accommodations, but the flight on a Japanese airline, definitely helps hype you up for Japan and the service is great!

I feel that it is important to be able to give some useful advise to those considering doing it. First of all, it is kind of intimidating to decide whether or not to leave everything and everyone, you have ever known and live in a foreign country. But, it really is a great opportunity that you may never have again and you can not let your fear hold you back. I was pretty intimidated by it at first, but my parents supported me and told me that I have nothing to hold me down like a family or job; and that I have to take this opportunity to grow as a person. The best way to think of it is just like living in a college dorm in a different part of the country, same amount of personal space and amenities, just as long, and you know that you are far from home, but with modern technology like Skype, you can feel like you are there. My cousins who have graduated from college have told me that their only regret was not leaving their comfort zone and studying abroad, something that they give me credit for. If you are a very pragmatic person, than what I would suggest is try a short 2-week or so Summer study abroad program and see if you like it, that`s what I did and it definitely helped incline me to go for the whole semester.

I definitely feel that thanks to studying abroad, that I am more confident in myself and that when I am given an opportunity, I will go for it with no fear. I went on a lot trips, both alone and with others, from mountain climbing to festivals, I seized every day to its fullest and felt that no day was wasted. It was exhausting beyond belief, I know that sounds rough, but honestly you have to make the most of an experience that you will never have again. A lot of people give me a huge amount of credit for being so brave and adventurous, that praise definitely gave strength to keep going even, when I missed home. Whenever I encounter an issue or something intimidating in my life, I just think to myself that I went to a foreign country and prospered, there is nothing that I can not do and I know that I can adapt to any situation.

One area that is absolutely vital to mention is interactions and relations with others. When I first go here, me and all of the other new residents were always hanging out, going on adventures and I believed that we would spend a lot time over the coming semester together. But, as school started and people committed to their studies and made new friends at school, we all went our separate ways. Of course this happens in college in America too, but as it seemed like everyone lost interest in exploring Japan within a few weeks, while I still had my enthusiasm, this kind of bummed me out, but I preserved and continued to go everywhere I could. While going by oneself may seem kind of lonely, I definitely encourage you to go everywhere you want to because not going due to being by yourself is wasting a great opportunity. I did make friends that went on adventures with me, but I always acknowledged that not everyone would be interested in going everywhere I wanted to and I should not let that hold me back.

Like I have done since the start of my time in Japan, its time for stories of my adventures and all of the amazing things to see and do in Japan! After passing it twice on my other Bullet train trips, I went to the central Japanese city of Nagoya for a day trip. Its a smaller city than Tokyo and has a lot less history than Kyoto, but still it did have some pretty cool places. The first place that I went to was called Atsuta Shrine, which according to Japanese mythology a legendary sword is believed to be there enshrined behind closed doors where not even the Priests are allowed to see it. The sword is properly called Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi and according to myth, it was acquired by the God of Sea and Storms, Susanoo, in the belly of a legendary eight headed dragon that he had defeated. With a story like that, I had to go to the shrine and while Kusanagi is not on display, they do have other swords including one that was easily 9 feet long, but photography was prohibited. It was a really amazing shrine that had a very spiritual feel to it as the area around it has remained untouched for nearly two thousand years, yeah Shintoism has a long history.

After that, I went to Nagoya Castle, which belonged to the legendary, yeah there`s a lot of legendary Daimyos, Oda Nobunaga. Unfortunately, the original castle was destroyed during the war, so it is a reconstruction, but that actually makes it easier to explore as it is built for tourists and you do not take off your shoes, something that is required at real castles. It was a pretty cool place with lots of artifacts and a really good view of the city from the top. Overall it was a fun day trip and certainly worth taking!

Then last Sunday, my friends, who are part of a dance troupe, invited me to see them at a dance festival competition. The type of dancing they perform is called Yosakoi, which is free-style traditional Japanese group dancing, that permits the groups to choose their moves, music and costumes allowing for every group to develop their own distinct style that stands out. There were over 80 groups made up of everyone from small children to the elderly with group sizes varying from 20 members to some that easily had over 50, it was incredible to see so many people taking part in the competition and their beautiful costumes. My friends` group did really well and placed in 4th, which they were very happy about, they gave a great performance and I am glad that they were praised for it.

So this is my final post in Japan and I am both happy and a bit sad. I will return to America, see my friends and family, sleep in my bed again, get prepared for graduating, getting an internship and just getting used to America again. These are things that I very much am looking forward to. At the same time, I will miss the bright neon streets of Tokyo, the arcades with their amazing games, the different festivals and of course, the awesome friends that I made here. I always obviously knew that I would only get to know these people for a few months and they knew it too, but I believe that we will meet again when one of us goes to visit the others country, probably when they come to New York, so that is something to look forward to! Still social media makes it pretty easy to stay in touch with others, so the gap, won`t feel that big. Really, that is all that I am feeling, obviously everyone has their own way that they will react to leaving, its really tough, but change is part of growing up and the earlier you adapt to it, the better. I still have finals to take care of, so I have to dedicate to studying, but after that, I will enjoy my last days here by just relaxing, going to the arcade and fireworks, I have done plenty of huge adventures, so I think relaxing and preparing to go home will be best. Talk to you again, once I return!   



Reasons why Beijing’s Subways are better than NYC’s

Checking bags. Some might call it an invasion of privacy. I call it, I’m not gonna die because someone brought something dangerous? Nice. (They don’t actually open your bag, it’s put through a scanner and the line is never too long.)

It costs a lot less (and it’s still so much nicer.)

I haven’t been into a train that wasn’t air conditioned.

Clean and shiny. Garbage is rare.

A lot more workers, especially during rush hour. I don’t know what they’re saying, but I assume it’s useful.

People line up outside of the subway door entrance. This way, the first person to arrive is the first to get on.

Most stations have glass doors to help prevent things from falling into tracks. The station without glass doors has a lot of room to move around. Not fearing falling into the tracks is pretty nice.

I haven’t seen a single person take up more than one seat.

There are signs telling you where to transfer. There is only one place to transfer at each station. It’s hard to get lost.

I haven’t seen a broken escalator. I saw some people working on one once, but it didn’t seem to be in the way of anything.

There are signs outside of each station that tell you each stop the train is making.

Trains don’t occasionally run express when they feel like it or occasionally not run express, while somehow skipping your stop.

Almost all of the signs are in English and Chinese.

The app actually tells you the best way to get there. There’s no guessing which place to transfer or which subway will be faster.

There are a lot more poles to hold. Some poles separate into 2-3 poles.

There are a lot of places where I expected to see graffiti, business cards, etc, but didn’t. I haven’t seen any. At all.

The subway is one single car, which gives people a little more space.

Have you ever been to a stop where you had to be in the first five cars? Doesn’t happen here.

There’s no getting out of the subway to walk a few blocks to transfer to another subway.

The speaker system actually works. Most things are translated into English.

The inside of the subway has a list of all the stops the train has made and all that it will. This also exists on some new subways in NY, but not all. This one is always accurate. It also tells you which door is opening. I haven’t had to look through a window for a little sign that had my stop.

People actually get out of the way when you’re trying to get off.

There are bathrooms and they aren’t a terrible experience.

Seeing a foreigner is exciting. Bonus points if you hear them speak English. I’ve been on about 20 rides and I’ve seen one person begging for money.

Have you ever gotten into an empty car and regretted it a lot (because maybe it smells?) Empty cars don’t exist here. There haven’t been weird smells.

If there are weird smells, put on your air filtering mask.

The ride seems a lot smoother.

I seem to have service the entire time.

Settled In

I’ve been in South Korea for three weeks, but I already feel it’s like a second home. It’s almost like I’ve lived here for a longer time. I feel comfortable with the campus and the people.

The program I was so worried for, Global Village, ended on Friday and I already know it was the best part of my trip. Teaching my students was an incredible experience and I realized that it’s something I definitely want to do in the future. I never thought I would like teaching but getting closer to my students, seeing them open up and talk more than the first day is heartwarming. We’ve already started planning to meet during the rest of the time I’m here and I’m really happy. It’ll be sad when it’s truly time to say goodbye when I go back to the United States. I’m so thankful I got to experience Global Village. I only wish it had been longer 🙁

The academic program starts tomorrow and I’m a little excited to see what my classes will be like. I’ll be taking Contemporary Korean Culture & Society and a Korean Language course.

Continue reading…

Some Differences

Here’s a list of how some basic things in China are different.

Transportation: In New York, taxis aren’t really something I take. Subways are cheaper and sometimes faster, depending on the day. Before figuring out the subway, I took a few taxi rides. Generally, taxi drivers here do not speak any English. I get someone else to write down my address and show that to the driver. A few times, I was dropped off at a different entrance that I did not recognize. This was difficult to explain, but I eventually found my way. Eventually, I figured out the subway. This was much easier and I haven’t taken a taxi since. Soon, I will be making a post about great the subways here are.

Food: I started making a lot of my own food because it requires less communication. I only have to give a cashier money and sometimes ask for a bag (by pointing at the bags). If I’m not with someone that can translate, I only eat at places with photos or food I can point at. Once, I thought I was pointing at chicken, but it ended up being eggplant. It’s good that I like eggplant. There are a lot of American fast food places. On my way to work, I walk past a KFC and Subway. Around my apartment, there is a McDonalds, Subway and Pizza Hut. My roommate keeps telling me that I’ll get tired of the food soon, but I can’t imagine this happening. (If you have any allergies, please, always get someone to translate.)

Communication: I’m not a big fan of talking. I like to avoid talking to strangers as much as possible. Not knowing the language has made this a lot easier. I’m no longer a shy person who barely speaks, instead, I’m just a person who doesn’t understand Chinese. I guess it would sometimes be nice to know what someone is saying to me or what someone near me is discussing, but I don’t miss this that much. Nodding, pointing and smiling go pretty far.

This weekend, I’m going to the Old Summer Palace, which I’m really excited for.

Also, here are a few photos that I took.

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Enlightened Pilgrimage

IMG_1950IMG_1954IMG_1952IMG_1955IMG_1959Though it has seemed like a long time, I have only been in Japan for a bit over three months and have less than one more until I am to return. Am I kind of bummed that I will be going home soon with no idea when or if ever I will return to this incredible land?. Yeah a bit, but I looking forward to returning to my homeland as well as the obvious fact that I have seen more of Japan than the Japanese have according to them, and I know that I will return some time in the future, possibly for the 2020 Olympics, it will be very fascinating to see what Tokyo looks like for the World to see. Still, there there are a few more tasks on my list to complete first, two more places to visit, the city of Nagoya known for a legendary Daimyo, a shrine dedicated to a mythological sword and a nearby original castle; as well, there is the mausoleums of Nikko, which I might go visit with a friend, who recently moved near there. Of course, seeing the new Godzilla movie before I leave, maybe Disneyland, though it has been getting really hot and the special Studio Ghibli exhibition going on downtown, are also on my list.

As usual, I spent the last two weeks are more adventures, both locally and farther away. I went up to Sendai, which is an hour and a half from Tokyo by Bullet train on a Friday instead of my usual Saturday due to having to make up a class as the the professor was going to be away for a conference. It was a pretty smooth ride, but there were significant less tickets available to buy, but I was lucky enough to get one of the last two tickets. Though the weather was cloudy, it was not raining, so I was able to go all over the city without any issues. I started by taking a taxi to Zuihoden, which is the mausoleum of the Daimyo, who founded the city, Date Masamune. Though he has been dead for nearly 400 years, he is still well-known throughout Japan and highly revered by the people of Sendai. He is best known for his boisterous personality, distinct armor topped with a 2 foot long golden headpiece on his helmet and , hence his nickname, the One-eyed Dragon. While he was only a minor lord, he has the second most impressive mausoleum, only topped by the Shoguns own, making Masamune stand out even in death. It was a really cool place and certainly worth going to see. After that, I went to the Sendai City Museum, which had an extensive collection of artifacts of the area including their centerpiece, the armor of Date Masamune. I also went to 2 shrines, one built in honor of Masamune and other built by him. He is Sendai`s greatest hero and still loved by people, much like how Spider man is to New York, except that Masamune was real. On my way back, I went to buy my return ticket, but the next available train was not for an hour and because it was so booked I had to stand, the next one with available seats was not for a few hours. It is very ironic, that in New York, it is illegal for someone to ride a bus going across state lines standing, but it is perfectly legal and `safe` for someone to ride a bullet train going 200 miles an hour standing, well its Japan, so it must be safe. Fortunately, there was an available seat, it was a smooth trip and I even had this really cool meal, that I pulled a string and it cooked itself in 5 minutes! As a result of this trip, I decided to think about buying a round-trip ticket to avoid this problem from happening again.

I said that I was going to go to Nagoya afterwards, but last weekend was so hot that I decided to go back to Kamakura, which was much cooler that day, and see the last of the great temples, though this was my third trip there, Kamakura has so many famous temples, that it took me three times to see all the major ones. While I was familiar with Kamakura from my previous trips, this time, I was in a much different part that was a lot more rural despite being only one station from the bustling center of the city. As usual, I went to a quintessential temple on top of a hill with a great big wooden gate, though I have seen even larger ones, this ones lack of ornate design or paint gives it a much more earthly and honorable appearance to it. Originally the temple had 40 buildings, but due to the Kanto earthquake of 1923, which destroyed significant amounts of the Tokyo region, there are only 17 remaining, but it is still the largest temple in Kamakura and has many impressive artifacts and buildings in it. The most famous artifact that the temple had was 715 year old iron bell, that was on top of another hill with a really cool view of the area visible. After that temple, I went to another nearby, that was also pretty impressive, but a lot smaller, though it did had a small open house, where you could mediate, which definitely makes it a unique experience. I could have gone to more smaller temples, but due to the heat, I just stuck to the big ones. I am positive that I seen enough of Kamakura as I can not think of any more temples that I have to see.

I also took a trip back to the mountains, this time to Nagano, a city known for a mighty temple, gorgeous mountain views and the so much natural beauty. Once again, I took a bullet train to get there, this one was called the Kagayaki, which is translate to shine, probably emphasizing how it shines in the sun as it whooshes past onlookers. Bullet train tickets are honestly astronomically expensive, just look them up with google maps, but my parents are paying for them as they understand it is the only real way to see a lot of the most amazing parts of Japan and want me to have no regrets about missing anything. They know how much I wanted to do Japan and are very proud of my bravery in going through with it, I really love them and can not wait to see them, when I return, welcoming me home with fresh New York bread, Japanese bread is good, but NY has the world`s best. The first thing that I did in Nagano was go to Zenko-ji, which is this huge temple with all these impressive buildings focused around it. I have been to bigger ones, but this one was still among the best and I always like to see the famous ones with have their own unique style to them. After that, I headed to Kawanakajima, which was the site of a famous series of battles between the legendary Daimyos, Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin. It is located in what is now a small park, but there are all these cool monuments to it including life sized statues of the Daimyo fighting one-on-one, which actual happened. A nice day, though there was enough in the city to rationalize staying a night.

While I am down to my last month, I still have plenty left to do, though I am quite satisfied with all I have been able to do. One of my friends at my dorm, who has been here for 2 years, told me, he was impressed with my dedication and passion for Japan and seeing as much of it as possible. He said among the several groups, who have come for a semester since he got here, that no one ever really went all out in seeing Japan like I had, I even went places he had not, so I know that I seized this once in a lifetime opportunity to its fullest. Aside from my solo plans, I am meeting with a friend on Saturday to go to the Tokyo Zoo, which I have not been to yet. I hear they have Pandas, which will be pretty cool to see. Still I plan to play it by ear on what I will be doing. Even though Finals are coming, the workload is pretty light, so I still have plenty of time to enjoy myself, though I do need to commit to my papers at night.


Study Abroad In China


As I’m writing this blog, I will be leaving to the airport in a few hours.
I would like to officially announce that I will be studying abroad in China this summer at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE). I’m so grateful for this opportunity to study abroad in China. Hopefully throughout the academic courses and the trip, I will gain experience in the business field as well as personal growth in adapting new environment and being independent.

I’m an introvert and like to stay in my comfort zone. It’s definitely hard to leave my home, friends and family. I try to tell myself that I’m only gone for one month. Yes, it’s not a big deal – it’s an opportunity. The thing that hits me so hard is time. I have been busy working since the finals were over. Along with that, I’m trying to keep up with my biology online course. I haven’t had time to enjoy the time left in America before I leave. Until the time comes so close that I realize I have to go and I will miss this place. The longer you stay in a place or spend time with a person, you develop a sentimental feeling for it. What I get from this whole process of preparing and going to study abroad is organize your time well for everything, emotionally and physically. Overall, take your time and enjoy every moment, don’t rush through the process as you will realize that everything is okay. There is a beauty in every trouble, as long as you see the other bright side of it.

Here are some pictures I put together between Shanghai and New York City. There’s no mean to compare two places but I just want to put them out there as a reminder of the places I’ve been to and experienced.


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Source: Photos are from Google Images.

Stay tuned for my next blogs as I will walk you through my journey in China.

A Few More Days

There are only a few days left before I’m in Beijing, China. It hasn’t set in that I’ll be arriving so soon.

I’m really excited about the company I’m working for. I mentioned E-Go to my coworker that used to live in China and she knows about the company. This is especially surprising because she lived in a completely different part of China. The projects on their website look amazing. I’m definitely going to learn a lot about graphic design that I would of learned in school. The company I’m working for seems excited, too. My study abroad adviser met with them recently and told me how much they are looking forward to meeting me. During the Skype interview, my interviewer seemed really excited to show me around.

My goal is to bring the smallest suitcase possible. This is a problem because I like clothes a lot. I’ve gotten somewhat used to this by taking the bus home from college during holidays, but in these situations there are already some clothes waiting for me at home. I’m going to wearing a lot of black because it matches everything.

I’m really looking forward to being in China and hopefully my very shy/quiet self will somewhat decrease the stereotype that Americans are loud.

Takeda of Kofu, Mikasa of Yokosuka and Byodo-in of Uji

IMG_1910IMG_1918IMG_1930IMG_1937 IMG_1943Once again, I find myself writing about the various places that I have been to since last I wrote. Every weekend including Friday as I have that off too, I plan another exciting trip and then I charge at it with all my energy and passion. Most people including even myself a bit, thought that I would grow tired of Japan within a month or be so bogged by school that I would not have time to really get out of the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area and truly see Japan, but fortune smiled upon me and I have been able to give it my all. Of course, it is incredibly exhausting, which I have mentioned before, but the experience is once in a lifetime and I don`t know when I will ever be able to return to Japan again. I have literally gone to places that my Japanese friends have never gone to, despite living here, showing just how extensive my travels have been!

So, where have I been that has been so exotic to even the Japanese? Well, as I said that I would, I went to Kofu in the mountains of Yamanashi prefecture, I took the same route as I had for Matsumoto, but the trip was at least an hour shorter. As well, for some reason the line to Kofu actually starts very close to my dorm, so it was an easy trip to get on the train. It was a beautiful day in Kofu and I arrived early in the morning giving me plenty of time to see all that Kofu has for the day. The city is most famous as the stronghold of the famous Daimyo, Warlord, Takeda Shingen. He is a legendary Daimyo that is frequently in works set during the Medieval period in Japan and most recognizable for his personal helmet having a long white mane to it. As each Daimyo wanted to show off their wealth and skill of their craftsmen, the helmets of Daimyos are well-known to have distinct, fascinating and even bizarre, one of the most impressive being an entire set of deer antlers mounted on a helmet. Like usual, when I arrive in a new city, there is something to greet me, instead of a sign or a banner, there was instead a Takeda Shingen mascot there to greet and take pictures with anyone, who asked including myself. Mascots are just like in America, a person in a big cartoon costume and they are very popular in Japan with all major cities, prefectures, companies and even smaller areas having a few, varying from a black bear with rosy cheeks to a peach fairy, who goes nuts in the costume, seriously look it up, the mascot is Funyassi and he is awesome!

After leaving the train station, I could see the surrounding the mountains, which were really beautiful as well as the forests in the distance, it reminded me a lot of New York, which is also filled with mountains and forests. I took a taxi to Kai-Zenko-ji temple, the largest wooden building in Eastern Japan, it was a really nice temple and had a very unique appearance. Unlike most of the countless temples that I have been to, this was at least 50 feet tall and that really gave it an impressive appearance. After that, I wandered around the city and saw there huge bronze statue of Takeda Shingen, showing even 400+ years since his death, he is stilled highly regarded and respected by the people of his prefecture. I also, visited the Takeda shrine/museum built to him that houses many artifacts of his clan including an impressive centuries old katana, still in pristine condition. The shrine was only in 1919 because the Emperor really liked Takeda and thought that he deserved a cool shrine, where he is enshrined as a deity. In Japan according to Shintoism, if someone was a really great person, victorious general, very wise scholar, great social contributor, they can have a shrine built to them when they die and people will pray at the shrine for this great person to bestow a gift upon them. Shinto shrines are a really amazing concept as Japan is the only country to have Shintoism and it has a very unique culture to it.

The very next day after sleeping in after such an exhausting day, I decided to take another train trip, though this one was a lot closer. I went to Yokosuka, which is a harbor city in Tokyo bay, famous for being where Commodore Matthew Perry and his fleet entered in 1853 to convince, with warships, Japan to open its harbors. It was about an hour south of my dorm, but no transfers, so pretty easy to go to. It is also well known for being where both the United States 7th Fleet is stationed with its super-carrier and as well, Japan has its Maritime Defense Force stationed there. I didn`t see any US ships, but as soon as we pulled into Yokosuka station, I saw the JS Izumo, aircraft carrier, very close by, so much so that I could see the sailors leaving the ship.

Despite how impressive the modern vessels were, I was there to see a far older ship, the Mikasa, the flagship, under Admiral Togo, of Japan during their successful war against Russia in 1904-5, which is credited as making Japan recognized as a world power. It is the only Japanese warship turned into a museum, so it has a special place in Japan and among its citizens. There`s a park attached to it, so there was an event going on with lots of kids, stands and people next to the ship. It was a cool experience as the ship is pretty interactive and has a ton of artifacts from its service. I even got to put on an old Naval uniform and get my picture taken, so it was a lot of fun. I had never seen a ship this old before, so I was very fascinated by its design. When I was a kid, I had spent a night on the USS Massachusetts, which is a WW2 battleship, but this ship was far older and smaller, making its historic contribution much more impressive. As well, Admiral Chester Nimitz was a big fan of Togo and had meet him after the war, years later when the ship was in disrepair, Nimitz had spearheaded the successful efforts to save the ship, so the Japanese are very grateful to America for its help in saving the ship.

Though both of these locations have a great deal of history, the city of Uji, which I visited last week has far more than both combined. Uji is an ancient city located near Kyoto, which itself was capital of Japan for over a thousand years, and is well-known for being the Tea capital of Japan and the location of the World`s first novel, The Tale of Genji. It is also, the home of Byodo-in, a 950 year old original Buddhist temple, that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its age. Its better known as the Phoenix hall as it is painted in a bright red and located in the center of a pond to appear like a Phoenix in flight. Truly, it was an incredible place to visit and not hard to get to from the train station on foot and was not crowded at all. Its also on the 10 cent coin here, so it was pretty cool to see the actual place and compare it to the coin.

My plan for this week is to go to Sendai, a city in Northern Japan, which was the stronghold of another famous Daimyo, Date Masamune. It will be the most north that I have been in Japan and I will be riding a different bullet train than before. This one is called the Hayabusa, which means Peregrine Falcon, and has a very sleek design in a distinct bright Turquoise color. The week after that is probably going to be Nagoya, Japan`s third largest city located in the center of the country and home of the shrine of one of Japan`s Imperial Regalia, a legendary sword of myth as well as a large collection of other blades; and yet another Daimyo, Oda Nobunaga, the legendary Demon Lord, known for his ruthless nature and well-known by all Japanese for his might. as well, one of friends here, had lived near Nagoya, in a small city called Inuyama, which has one of the only five original castles in Japan as well as being a national treasure, it is not as larger as my previous ones, but it is one the same level of national value. Still, there are even more places to go if possible, but I am taking it one week at a time.


It was a long 14 hour flight to get to South Korea (although the food was pretty good so I can’t complain about that) but I’m finally here. I only slept for maybe three hours on the plane and then I slept a little more on the taxi ride to Dankook.

I was so excited to be in South Korea but at the same time, I was too tired to really take everything in because I mainly just wanted to get to a bed. I only got something from the convenience store to eat and then went to sleep.

Today we had orientation for the Global Village portion of the program and I am really nervous for this part. Although I want to teach abroad after I graduate and realize this is an amazing experience I’m still afraid. I’m not sure how I’ll conduct lessons, keep the class going and so on. I hope after the first couple of days I’ll warm up to teaching.

Tomorrow is our last day of orientation before Global Village starts and it ends early so my friend and I are planning to go to Hwaseong Fortress (수원 화성).

Here are some pictures of Dankook University Jukjeon Campus

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