Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Attendants, Please Be Prepared for Departure (Hannah)

As I set out on this journey, the most prominent thought in my mind remains the Japanese Language Placement Test. I worked all summer, and subsequently did not have as much time to study as often as I had originally planned, and therefore worry that my score on the test will suffer because of it. I also worry about the flight itself. While I’ve been abroad before, it was always with my family or a group of people with whom I had already been acquainted. I will have never gone so far and on my own. While I won’t be the only student from Beloit studying at Kansai Gaidai this semester, I want to try and tackle as much as I can on my own.

I’ll be participating in a homestay program during the semester, and I often speculate what the family will be like. I’ve hosted a Japanese student before, many years ago, and the homestay program was one of the reasons I chose Kansai Gaidai in the first place. Who will be members of the family? Will they have pets? Children? Are the rules of the house similar or completely different to those of American households? What little I know about Japanese home life comes from watching Japanese television in preparation for my journey, but I don’t give it too much credit since every house is different and television is often over dramatic for viewer pleasure.
Gifts for my homestay family.
As a segue, I’m not worried at all about food and alterations to my usual diet. As a Jew, I grew up without eating shellfish (like crab, lobster, shrimp) or pork, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that Japan, being an archipelago, eats a lot of seafood. While I’m sure I’ll be able to avoid pork fairly easily, I won’t avoid things like shrimp and octopus, and I’m okay with that. I’m not allergic, and I’ve come here to experience Japanese culture in all its forms, and I think I can be forgiven for that.

I’m prone to getting lost, and I can only hope that either my ability to read maps (Japanese and English) will magically improve, or the GPS on my phone will connect and not let me end up on the other side of the city! I have no idea what to expect when I arrive, and even in the first week of orientation I’m planning to keep an open mind so that whatever may come I’ll be at least somewhat prepared for it.
First sunset in Japan

As I Set Out on This Journey... (Millie Fan)

As I set out on this journey, everything is going to be new and full of adventure. I hope I can learn a lot from this small university – AIU. Comparing with other exchange students who also go to japan, I feel that I am the lucky one. I don’t need to worry so much about my journey, I had been to Japan for several times and it’s near my hometown China. However, the biggest important thing – language still challenging me and make me awkward.

With the help of my best friend, I decided to go to Japan early for travelling. On the one hand, it increased my familiarity of this country. On the other hand, I would like to go to the big cities first to experience the different life which is differing from Akita. That’s where I am coming from, big cities in Japan, waiting to see an entirely different world in Akita. 
Ginza, Tokyo. Photo by Xiyi Fan
I went to Tokyo first to see the most busy and gorgeous place – Ginza. I was dazzled by the sights and high-rise building in the District. As other big cities’ look, Ginza is full of fashionable breath; this big circle in Tokyo already has became almost every tourists’ heaven.

When I left Tokyo to Osaka, I felt great differences between these two cities. Osaka is also one of the biggest cities in Japan but strangely I didn’t feel any pressure here. People would not walk so fast; the food is cheaper here; even you do not have to push people into the subways. In addition, there exits a lot of scenic spots and historical sites.
Osaka-jo, Osaka. Photo by Xiyi Fan
Fortunately, I also got one day off to go to the Nara by myself. (My friend needed shopping). Nara is a small city with thousands of cute animals – deer! You can see them almost everywhere and they have little fear of humans. This is the place where people and animals can get along with each other.
Nara Deer
Many friends in Japan told me that they think Akita is in remote regions. But this is a reason why I choose Akita. If you real want to involve into local environment, the small town always are the best choice. I am so glad I already went to so many cities in Japan to experience different cultures. I am going to Akita, a small small town with both international students and local students. I hope I can learn a different world which full of various individuals.