Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First day of class... finally!

Today is officially my first day in class. I had to wait until 6PM (PM!!!) for my first class to begin. Our classroom (pretty big) can probably seat 60 people but there were only 4 people in the class, haha. The other three were: Hiroki (a Japanese graduate student), Furuse (a social welfare professor), and Faiz (an exchange student from Canada). Pretty diverse, huh?

I am taking 3 classes with Prof McMurray, my supervising professor in IUK, this semester. For the second class, which started at 7.40PM, there were only two of us, me and the Japanese grad student. And, guess what? For my third class with the Prof, it's a one-to-one course!!! @@

So anyway, since there are so few of us, we managed to change the schedule around and now I don't have classes in the evening. Yay! My classes are now from Tuesdays to Thursdays, exactly what I had planned to have before I came. It all worked out, so... yay!

Incidentally, the Prof is an expert of, and is devoted to Haiku and he gave me a copy of his book. I got lots of souvenirs from him today (see picture 2).

Seems like we've got lots in store this semester. I'll potentially present in at least one conference, publish two or more papers, have a chance to teach Japanese learners of English (of all ages), and probably also teach in a local high school, elementary school, and/or college.

Bring it on.

Interesting Campus Facilities

These are two of the more interesting facilities around campus: a travel agency and cigarette vending machines (LOL)...

First off, a travel agency in a school? I don't know how many students we have in the school, but I think this is over the top. :D

As for the cigarette vending machines, I don't think schools elsewhere around the world "motivate" smoking like this, do they?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A scene at the park

I captured this scene at the park. The baby (it's a she!) originally had her diaper on (I think the diaper is on the ground to the right of the picture), but then she tripped in the shallow pool so they had to remove it. Now here she is slapping herself to the dome that spurts water. And the adults can't even tear her away from it. LOL!


How cute! Too bad I can't deal with pets... I especially like baby gray tabby cats.

Saw the bunch of them by the roadside on my way home, seemed like strays...

Friday, September 26, 2008

My very first omiyage!

I met up with a potential student today and he brought me my very first omiyage!
In Japan, it is customary to bring presents (usually local specialties) to people you meet for the first time, or to people around you when you travel someplace else, stuff like that. He brought me Karukan Manchus, which he said is a specialty of Kagoshima.

The pictures above show the omiyage in various stages of unpacking... :P
The wrapping is exquisite and all, so I wanted to capture everything on film (or rather on memory?!) :D

The three musketeers

Sorry for the late introduction, but here's the gang (of exchange students) from Taiwan. Yours truly (of course), Tienchi, and Weilun.

Tienchi is from Kaohsiung and is only staying in Kagoshima for 5 months, which explains why she's always on the lookout for fun places to go to. She's a bit of a klutz, though... she banged her left elbow three to four times today... @@

Weilun is from the same school as I am. He's in physical education so he's in charge of everything if it has "heavy" written on it... LOL. He's a pretty trusty fellow, too; also out to lend a helping hand. :P

So, that's it. This is the original three-person gang. We might be expanding our circle soon, though, seeing as school is starting on Monday. Finally!

A stroll in the campus

I wasn't quite sure whether we start classes today or not as the opening ceremony was held in the morning, so I went anyway. I took a picture right outside the classroom where the class was supposed to be held and all, but it turns out that the class was moved to Tuesday for good. It wasn't such a negative thing, though. At least that got me out of the house. I was starting to feel bored at home anyway. :)

A walk around the neighborhood

This is what my neighborhood looks like.
(note the ominous clouds on the left... it brought quite an amount of rain to town today...)

A cheap and yummy way to survive in Kagoshima

To save money in Japan, don't eat out.
To have a fun meal, eat in with friends.

That's what we did, and we were all satisfied with the results. :P

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2nd Street

This store is a lifesaver.

Japan is a notoriously expensive place to live in, but thanks to places like 2nd Street, one can buy supplies at an affordable price.

This place sells all kinds of second-hand goodies, from electronics and furniture to DVDs and clothes. You should see the clothes section on their second floor! I actually got a pretty decent denim jacket at only JPY 500! Imagine that.

The best thing about this place is that, their second-hand goodies don't seem "second-hand" at all. Most actually look almost brand new.

I can't find a rice cooker nor a desk lamp, though. I intend to keep watching and waiting til I do, though. :P

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sorting trash in Japan

Sorting trash is serious business in Japan. I heard that if you didn't sort your trash properly, the day's trash might end up back at your doorstep.

The first two pictures details the government's official classification of trash. If you ask me, I'd say that it's too darn complicated. The third picture shows our "trash calendar," meaning that you are only allowed to throw a certain type of trash (before 8 am) that certain day.

I'm still trying to sort my trash so I haven't thrown any of my trash yet... @@

Monday, September 22, 2008

Leo Palace Sakanoue

Japan's residences are mainly divided into two types: apartments and mansions. Mansions are usually better equipped and furnished. We (me and the other exchange students) live in mansions (haha, that came out really haughty).

Anyway, there's this corporation called Leo Palace that has apartment (or shall I say mansion) buildings all over Japan that are available for rent.

This is what our apartment looks like from the outside. I know it doesn't look much but many buildings here look like this.

The second picture shows the sign that announces the name of our apartment building. On the far left side of the picture is the trash collection bin. More on that on later posts!

Eww alert

In case you don't know, Kagoshima is far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. With grass and trees and all these natural surroundings come bugs that roam free. I've seen so many bugs around, and many I can't even name. Well, guess what? Today, I saw a huge spider creeping along our apartment doors. Talk about icky... I had to walk by with my back to the fence. You can never be too careful, right?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our street

Here's a glimpse into how our street looks like. It's pretty and serene in the daytime, but it's dark as ink at night because there aren't so many streetlights this part of town, it seems.

The view from the Center of International Students Affairs

Our university is located on a hill, so it affords us with quite a view. These two pictures were taken from the second floor of one of the buildings in the university.

It has a nice resorty feel to it, don't you think?

There's a crow outside my window!

...and it just stopped crowing... :D

We got lucky

We got lucky.

The exchange students before us were the first batch to have have come from our university, so they had to go through a lot of pitfalls. One such problem has to do with rent-related fees.

In Japan, there are such things as 'rei-kin's or "gift money" wherein you have to pay your landlord a certain amount of money (usually two months) to thank him/her for having you. The place where we're staying, owned by a corporation called Leo Palace, prides itself for not incorporating such system. However, they do require payments of certain maintenance fees upon a tenant's signing of a contract (roughly JPY 150,000). Pretty steep, huh? That's what you have to pay just for moving in and don't expect to get it back (it doesn't include the rent too). Anyhow, I guess the students that came before us complained to the university here and they tried to find a way to solve the problem: Instead of signing a one-year contract, they signed up for two-years, meaning we don't have to pay the JPY 150,000-bureaucratic fee. Yay!

That's what I gathered from my limited Japanese; I hope my ears didn't fail me this time. In the meantime, yay!

PS. My apartment's still a mess... the second picture shows my very own flight of stairs. I live on the second floor but my door is on the first. Talk about weird.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sunny Kagoshima

The same typhoon that ravaged Taiwan for nearly a week in the past weekend was scheduled to do the same last night. There had been some scattered rain, and I'm pretty sure I heard the wind doing some serious bitch-slapping to the leaves, but that's about it. It was hardly even half the typhoon that terrorized Taiwan.

These two pictures are the view from my bedroom window. Look at the clouds! Yep, it's summery-hot here today! Bye bye typhoon!

Day Two: We've Arrived in Kagoshima

(Okay, I don't know why this blog entry ended up starting with a picture of my restroom, but it seems such a hassle to reorganize the pics, so just don't think too much about it...)

I moved in my apartment today. It's been such a long time since I last lived on my own, and this is definitely the first time I am living in my very own apartment!!

Truth is, I don't really feel that excited. I guess a huge part of the reason is because it costs an arm and a leg to live in this apartment (JPY 52,000 for the rent alone) and that it's kinda dark in here with the yellowish light, and that the apartment isn't exactly spic and span (considering we're supposed to pay nearly JPY 27,000 in cleaning fees at the end of our stay...)

Okay, I'm being negative now. I know that I'll grow fond of this place in a couple of months, but I guess I'm really experiencing major culture shock. Kagoshima itself isn't so bad, it's just that one of us got a really nice version of the apartment I'm in so I know that I got the worse end of the bargain. Oops, I'm being negative again...

We're going to the international student orientation tomorrow afternoon and I guess I'll have more things to think about then. I'm really glad I have Internet connection right away, though. :D