Monday, September 7, 2009

This marks the end of a chapter...

KagoJen is no longer in Kago
so now I'm just plain ol' GaijinJen

Yep, that's why from now on,
I will be blogging on GaijinJen instead

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My student exchange report (in English and Japanese)

Japan hadn’t been my first choice when I first signed up for the international exchange program at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) two years ago. Back then, I applied and was selected to go to a university in the US. However, things didn’t go as planned, and I ended up with a rejected visa application and deflated hopes. Originally, I had planned to go to the US for one year and Japan the next. However, Plan A failed and I was left with only Plan B and a fear of getting rejected again. Still, I was determined to try my best to make it work the second time. I completed the application forms and prepared the required documents early and worked hard on improving my Japanese. I took Japanese classes three times a week, three hours each time. This went on for a year.

My efforts finally paid off and I passed the international exchange interview and got a visa without a hitch. Still, I couldn’t help but feel nervous, somehow expecting customs to stop me and tell me I’m not allowed to go through. Imagine my relief when I finally set foot on Fukuoka safe and sound.

It’s only human nature to notice what is different when one arrives at a new environment. I immediately took notice of the serenity and rurality of Kagoshima but marveled at the same time at how clean and organized everything was. It was also my first time to have my own apartment so I basked in the moment while worrying about the expensive rent. When classes officially started about a week after we arrived, I took in the differences between the classes I have been to in the past and the ones here in particular. Compared to the fast-paced flurry of life in Taipei, everything seemed to be laidback and relaxed in Kagoshima.

In an effort to chronicle my yearlong adventures in my new and exciting life and share my experiences to my friends and family back home, I started a blog ( and recorded everything interesting that crossed my path during my stay. And my stay was nothing short of interesting and memorable. Short as one year is, I had the chance to become part of numerous meaningful activities. I took part in numerous Canada Project activities, wrote research papers, articles, and reviews, hosted events, made presentations, and met a lot of important people. I also took part in many local events and met a lot of people and made lots of friends. I experienced local festivities and got a clearer glimpse of society by taking part in numerous volunteering activities. I also worked at a house-moving company for a day and learned a lot about the working culture of Japan. I also taught a total of 10 regular and non-regular students English. All my students were professionals, thus giving me more chances at getting acquainted with the local culture. Most of all, I made a lot of friends, both at school and outside, and enjoyed my downtime doing various activities and visiting several places with them.

This year, I experienced snow for the first time, climbed my first mountain, hitched my first ride, learned how to cook, developed a liking for karaoke, improved my bowling skills, published several articles, worked as a volunteer for the first time, and immensely improved my Japanese. All these and more changed me for the better, and I now have friends and experiences that I will cherish for life.

I would not exchange this experience for anything in the world!

  二年前、国立台湾師範大学の交換留学プログラムに申し込んだとき、選んだ国は日本ではなくアメリカだった。結局、ビザは発給されず行けなかった。 最初の計画は、一年間アメリカに行って、次の年は日本に行くということであった。しかし、アメリカのことがうまく行けなかったから、日本への留学もうまくいくかどうか心配になり始めた。心配しながらも、頑張って申し込みの準備をした。早めに申し込みに必要な書類を準備したり日本語学校に通ったりした。日本語のクラスは週に3回、毎回3時間、一年間続けた。



  この一年間のことを忘れないように、他の国に住んでる家族と友達にここの生活が分かるように、ブログを書き始めた( )。面白い物事に関していろいろ書いた。一年間はそんなに長くはなかったが、色んな面白くて忘られないことを体験した。カナダプロジェクトのイベントに何回も参加した。イベントのための論文も、記事も、評論も書き、司会と演説者としてイベントに参加し、色んな人々と出会った。市内での色んなイベントにも普通の参加者として、またボランティアとしてたくさん参加することで、日本の文化がより理解できるようになった。一日引っ越し会社でバイトして日本の職場環境が経験できた。先生として全部で10人の生徒さんに英語を教えることができた。色んな人に会って、だんだん日本のことに詳しくなってきた。たくさんの友達ができて、暇な時は一緒に遊んで、色んな場所にも旅行した。


  もう一回選ぶとしても、ぜひもう一度鹿児島に 行きたい、素敵なみんなと会いたい。

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Final glimpses

Frankly, I thought that there would only be around 5 people coming to see me off.
The turnout was so surprising (around 15 people) that I was too moved and happy to shed any tears (I had been expecting myself to start bawling during the sendoff for days...)

It was the best gift I could ever hope for :D
I love Kagoshima, I love you guys, and I will surely go back <3

Thanks for everything, you guys
I especially loved your cards and messages
See you again in the future!
(Come visit me also!)

My last day at Leo Palace

I spent my last day at Leo Palace packing, socializing with friends, and taking pictures!
It was pretty emotionally therapeutic, I think :D

Anybody need a model?

Somebody hire him!

"Jenny Party"

My farewell party was held on a cruise ship (納涼船, Nouryou Sen)
We had to name the event, so we called it the "Jenny Party"

PS. Special thanks to Izumi and Shinobu for making the event possible! Love you guys! <3

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More print club!

Trisha is back in town!
I guess that calls for another round of photo stickers... :P

Full circle

In some ways, I feel like I'm coming back full circle.

I'm leaving at pretty much the same timeof year I arrived last year, so the weather and the scenes from all around me kept reminding me of when I first came here.

Has it been a year already?
Though there are things I wish I could've done differently, I'm grateful for the learning experience I acquired just by being here and meeting all the people I met.

I'm coming back full circle, but I'm different from what I used to be.

Think of me as the new improved Jenny. Thank you everyone for making it possible. 〓

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Just came back from my first camping trip in Japan!
It was loads of fun.
I'm so glad I did it because it gave me two days to hang out with some of my closest friends here :)

More on the trip on later posts... but first, here are the pictures!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Random shots around Kagoshima

Found these shots while rummaging through my camera's memory card
Kagoshima sure is very photogenic!


Near IUK

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Only in Japan...

No, it's not a recreation of "The Creation of Adam"

In Japan, you can send your contact details, pictures, and files through infrared or Bluetooth (infrared is much more common though, as you can see ^)
It looks kinda funny at times (especially at times like these) but it's all over the place, really

Lessons Shida should learn from IUK

Throughout my stay at IUK, I noticed many things that are different and at times nonexistent at Shida.

Here are some of the things that Shida should "copy" from IUK:

1. Grad school lab: so this is specifically for the English department at Shida. We're the biggest department in the entire school (if I'm not mistaken) and yet our "lab room" has barely enough room to swing two cats by their tails. Think about that, a tiny room with ancient furniture for around 100 graduate school students! And guess what, they lock the door and you've have to make your own copy of the key if (if!) you want to use this room... no, thank you!

As you can see from these pictures, this is way more spacious than what we have at Shida (maybe about 10 times more...). And here we have our own lockers (forgot to tell you that we had to share our ancient (I'm thinking at least 20 years) lockers with another student), our own space, three computers to share between us, and (!) unlimited access to the printer (I'll probably miss this the most...)

2. On the same vein, graduate school students at IUK get a Xerox card worth 1000 copies free!

3. This one doesn't really make too much sense, but it's cool to have a travel agency inside the university, lol

And this one... I could do without...

4. This outdoor cafe makes really good mocha drinks! It's nice to have lunch surrounded by trees once in a while though the bugs do get pretty annoying...

5. Student hall
The student hall is a place for students to hang out, eat, talk, do homework, whatever. This is a really nice alternative to the library for me, since I find the library air too stiff. Unfortunately, we don't have such a place at Shida. That's why I'm busting my brains trying to think of a place where I can write my thesis when I get back...

6. Bookstore!
Yep, we have a bookstore in the university. And yep, it's tiny but still.

I'm sure there's a lot more I forgot to mention but you get the picture. The main complaint I have for Shida is that for a good school it should provide students a good environment conducive to learning (which I really think it lacks!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Google is going...

Just a random fun thingy my brother sent me... try it out!

Here is something fun.. you know the type ahead feature of google where you type in a few keywords and some suggestions come up?

Try typing

"Google is going"

Then wait for what will come out

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I got my hair done!

Me and Miyoung (the new exchange student from Korea) had our hair done today and Marie came along to make sure we do not misunderstand the hair stylists and vice versa.

I don't think I've done something so different with my hair in quite a while so... :P

Monday, June 29, 2009

Kinda cool...

Here's kind of like a tie-in to the previous post.

Apparently, a prison in the Philippines has been coordinating dance programs including all of their inmates for some time now.

Here's the news report on CNN:

And here's their rendition of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller':

I think it was pretty cool, although I can't imagine something like this happening outside of the Philippines, lol...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson is dead?!

I'm just watching the news right now... and they're saying that Michael Jackson is dead?!
Wow! That's pretty sudden... 0_Oa

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Earnings - expenses = savings

For some time now, I have been 'evaluating' which of the places I've lived in offers the best deal when it comes to monthly savings. I base my evaluation on savings instead of earnings because the cost of living also differs from one place to another.
For the purpose of comparison, I will present everything in Japanese yen (JPY). Here are the rough estimates between different currencies for your reference:
1 Philippine peso (PHP) = 2 JPY
1 US dollar (USD) = 100 JPY
1 Taiwan dollar (TWD) = 3 JPY
The average monthly pay for college graduates (rough estimates) in
the Philippines is JPY 16,000
Taiwan is JPY 54,000
Japan is JPY 180,000
The price of a coke in can (350 ml) in
the Philippines is JPY 25 (0.16% of earnings)
Taiwan is JPY 45 (0.08% of earnings)
Japan is JPY 100 (0.06% of earnings)
The price of a Big Mac meal (at McDonald's) in
the Philippines is JPY 124 (0.78% of earnings)
Taiwan is JPY 315 (0.58% of earnings)
Japan is JPY 620 (0.34% of earnings)
Anyway, the list could go on and on...
It's clear from the figures, though, that by the end of the month, people can save more money if they work and live in Japan, as opposed to living in Taiwan, and much less (or almost nothing) if they live in the Philippines.
And that's where things stand right about now, and it says a lot about the country's economy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Apparently I'm an apartment building...

So I was googling my own name like many of us do when we have time to kill (I'm sure there are many of us out there :P). I've already tried my English name (too many results) and Chinese name (again, too many results) in the past, but this is the first time I tried googling my Japanese name (ルージェニー).

Guess what? Apparently my name is used as a name for an apartment building.

Gee, should I be flattered?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Studying abroad versus studying at one's home country

I just came back from a big event where over 400 people from many different countries came together and mingled for two days. It was interesting to find that most of the kids from non-Japanese families are fluent in both Japanese and their mother language. Many of the kids also converse in Japanese to one another and also with their parents.

Loosely related to this is the fact that I used Japanese throughout the past two days because my friends were from different countries and our common language was Japanese. That got me thinking about the debate between studying a language in the country where the language is spoken and studying it at one's home country.

Two of the most important arguments (that I can think of) supporting the study of language in the country where it is spoken is that it allows people to use/practice the language with people at the same level, for instance in the circumstance I mentioned above, wherein the only way we can communicate is by using Japanese. This is directly related to the second argument, which is the fact that there is a real need to communicate.

I really do think that such exposure is helpful for people learning a language.

Another random entry, lol

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Alternative lodging

In Japan, there are several alternative options for lodging that are most probably unheard of in other countries. Here are a few that I know of:

Daily Mansion
These are fully furnished apartment type hotels. They cost almost the same as a hotel room as far as I know

Internet Cafe
Yep, you read right. Japan's Internet cafes offer individual booths, which are sometimes furnished with reclining chairs (I don't know about beds) and shared shower rooms (in addition to computers, of course, and comic books)

Capsule Hotel
These so-called "capsules" are kind of eerie. Basically you sleep in a rectangular box (with a TV!) and you clean yourself up in a shared bathroom. However, because of the lack of privacy (the "door" is made of glass), women don't usually stay in this type of... um, hotel?

I've never tried any of these though :D

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Apparently, there is a new (?) search engine out called Blackle. It is said to be more energy efficient because it is mostly black.

I'm thinking that Blackle is probably Google's retort to Microsoft's Bing, which by the way has not given me any reason to pay attention to.

Which reminds me, I worked as TA for Mathematical Programming today and my partner did not show up... O_O
That was totally scary (cuz like I mentioned, I couldn't quite follow what the teacher was teaching). Luckily, though, no one asked any questions today. Yay!

I know... totally random, haha

Friday, May 29, 2009

You know you've been in Japan too long...

Here's a fun book that captured my attention during my last visit to the bookstore.
Although some of the entries were kind of hard to relate to, there were a couple or so that were hilarious :D

View here for more!

You can't read the whole book online but there was one entry that was particularly hilarious (sadly, missing from the link above), but this should give you a little taste of it:
"How to speak fluent Japanese without saying a word"

Comments please!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Back to the Philippines

Seeing relatives I haven't seen for years under the circumstance of my grandmother's passing away was a bitter-sweet experience. Although the gathering may seem to be a joyous affair from the outside looking in, it still cannot hide the fact that the reason we were gathered together was one of sorrow. Regardless, few days we spent together during the wake was, at least to me, emotionally comforting.

During those few days, we mostly survived on fast food takeout

My cousin Jocelyn and her daughter, Georgette

My brother, James, and my mom

It has been so long since we last sat down together for dinenr

Kitties! @ IUK

So, a number of newborn kitties (5, I think) can be seen on campus these days. Actually, that was last week. This week, I'm pretty sure there're only two left. I guess people took the other three home...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Teaching assistant

One of the things that causing me both grief and joy these days is my latest parttime job: a teaching assistant position at the university. I am TA to three courses in the Economics department: Programming I (Java), Programming I (Visual C#), and Mathematical Programming.
The first two I can get by with, because I used to study programming in my junior college years, but the Mathematical Programming class? I am probably more clueless than the students. So I always dread being asked questions by the students because I have no idea how to answer them. I tried to weasel my way out by telling the teacher that I have no knowledge whatsoever in the subject, but instead he said that I can learn along with the students. No way out, then. Let the stress continue.
By the way, I forgot to mention that all these classes are conducted in Japanese. This was actually one of the most important reasons why I chose to take the job. I thought it would serve as a great experience and good practice also (oh, and it pays pretty well, too). Well, I'm getting both of that, but that doesn't stop the stress... lol

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Going back to the Philippines, attending my grandmother's funeral, seeing long-lost family, talking to my friends here in Japan has got me, and having too much time in my hands during my two-week trip has got me thinking a lot.

First off, it has gotten me thinking about what I want in life and how I am living it. My brother mentioned that once, someone asked him why our family isn't living together (I live in Kagoshima now; my mom is in Taipei; my brother is in Manila; and my dad is in Baguio, Philippines) and that he didn't had an answer to that question. I told my brother then that it was all because of work and money. But then I thought: if I were to win the lottery and no longer have to worry about finances, what would I do? In that case, I probably would still not settle in the Philippines, but would instead try to convince my family to relocate to another country with me. The reason being that I cannot put up with the heat, pollution, corruption, and overall chaos that has worsen through the years.

On that note, while talking to Tienchi today, it also dawned on me that I don't really feel like I truly belong anywhere, that I don't truly call anyplace home. I feel like a foreigner in all three places I've lived in: the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan. (And it doesn't help that I hold alien registration cards for all three countries)

Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I'm in Hong Kong again

I'm on my trip back to Japan today.

I'm currently on a four-hour stopover in Hong Kong (within the airport only) and I'm pretty sure I visited every nook and cranny of the airport already so right now I'm just posting a blog entry and basically waiting for boarding, then it's Taipei - Fukuoka - Kagoshima from here on.


Friday, May 8, 2009

In the Philippines now

Just wanted leave a quick hi and to let you know that I will be back in Kagoshima on Monday, May 11, and that I haven't had a chance to go online in the past week or so.
It's good to be connected again... :)
Will post more updates when I get back to my routine!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hong Kong

Hiya peeps.
It's your favorite neighborhood otaku (computer geek) signing in from Hong Kong.
It's the last leg of today's journey and I'm glad it's almost over.

By the way, I'm starting to feel the heat.
It was 14 degrees this morning in Fukuoka and last time I checked, it's 34 degrees in Manila.

I'm in Taiwan at the moment... @@

Yep, that's right.

I'm in Terminal I of Taoyuan airport. I'm here cuz I have to take three transit flights to get to the Philippines (cheaper that way). So that's Fukuoka-Taipei-Hong Kong-Manila. So I'm just gonna be in the airport for an hour.

Nevertheless, it feels surreal to be back here after six months, and most of all, just passing through! Anyhow, just wanna share what I feel.

Next stop: Hong Kong.

I hope they have wireless Internet connection cuz my Japanese phone doesn't work overseas.


I took the night bus and have just arrived in Fukuoka, where I will be catching my flight in a couple of hours.

I'm writing this entry from my cellphone.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I will be away for two weeks starting Monday to attend my grandmother's funeral.

I have been making the necessary arrangements for the past few days (tickets, reentry permits, etc.)

I guess the reality of the situation hasn't hit me yet cuz I am so far away.

Overall, however, I am at peace because my grandmother lived a full life (she was about 90 years old) and I feel relieved knowing that she doesn't have to continue suffering as the cancer has been causing her much pain towards the end.

I will always carry her in my memory as the person who taught me the value of saving money, who peeled oranges for me when I was little, who gave me my first chance to walk on the streetr without an adult companion, who speaks English and Filipino with a cute accent, and many more. 〓

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Miniatur Wunderland

I realize that this has nothing to do with Japan, but I just wanted to share this video about the impressive Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg, Germany

Monday, April 13, 2009


Was browsing through books at the local bookstore yesterday when I came across this.
The two pages following the cover page was so funny I had to share this with you!
As an added bonus, the book's helpful for learning Japanese, too!
Give a holler if you're interested in reading the book!

...and tell me what you think!