Archive | September, 2013

First couple days at my new college in Japan!

20 Sep

Yesterday was my last day of the two day orientation and I also finally got the chance to pick my classes. I’m taking 4 Japanese classes (Kanji, reading, grammar and conversation), Spanish 3, Japanese society, seminar on Japanese studies, European History and Australian History. Hopefully next semester I will be able to enroll in some classes taught completely in Japanese. Each class is once a week for 1.5 hours a day which is why I’m in so many classes for those who are wondering.

I’m adjusting very well to life here at Tsuda College and there are definitely some differences when comparing it to my home school, Spelman College. There are public showers with no privacy so it is still quite awkward for me sitting on a container near the ground showering with 10 other girls. Also, there’s no mall nearby and all the shops are at least a 20 minute walk. Luckily I rented a bike with a nice little basket and bell so hopefully I can get around a little smoother. And lastly, transportation in Japan is so expensive and all my favorite shops are 40 minutes away by train in Shibuya, Tokyo so I will be one broke college student!

Off to a rough beginning at my new college in Japan

14 Sep

Yesterday I arrived to Tsuda College which is about 40 minutes from Tokyo but trust me, it was not easy. I arrived at Nagoya airport about 2 hours early thankfully and paid $40 for my 75lb suitcase which if you’re from America, you know is a pretty good deal. That took about 1 hour since I guess no one travels with overweight luggage so they weren’t sure what to do.

Once I arrived in Tokyo I was greeted by my 2 “big sisters” which are basically part of the foreign student exchange friendship group or something like that. I felt like death dragging my two heavy suitcases through rush hour in Tokyo, 4 transfers and 3 hours later to Kodaira, where the school is located. With my broken Japanese I tried to tell them I’d like to take the express route but obviously that was lost in translation.

After we arrived we were able to get some delicious Indian curry near the station and another 20 minute walk to the dorms. I shed a few silent tears as I was sure my arms were somehow dislocated (I know I’m dramatic). Lugging it up 2 flights of stairs I arrived to the room a hot sweaty mess only to find out that my airconditioner didn’t work and I needed a chord for internet. Needless to say I bawled my eyes and finally dragged myself into the showers. The showers are very different. You go in, get naked, step behind a curtain and sit on a 6 inch basket type chair near the ground and wash yourself. There is also a onsen type tub that you can get into AFTER you shower. It was only a little strange to see everyone talking and having conversations while completely naked only a few feet away from each other. I got in and out as quickly as possible!

Things are looking brighter today. Although I had to walk around for a few hours in attempt to find an ATM to get money out of I was able to buy the cord for internet and food for groceries.  I’ve met a few of my neighbors and even had a few broken conversations in Japanese although the consist of me saying “hai” or “unnnn” since I don’t know what exactly is being said lol.

Date A Boy Who Travels

9 Sep

if only..I can barely maintain a stable relationship while in the same state but it is a nice dream!

Thought Catalog

Date a boy who travels. Date a boy who treasures experience over toys, a hand-woven bracelet over a Rolex. Date the boy who scoffs when he hears the words, “vacation”, “all-inclusive”, or “resort”. Date a boy who travels because he’s not blinded by a single goal but enlivened by many.

You might find him in an airport or at a book store browsing the travel guides – although he “only uses them for reference.”

You’ll know it’s him because when you peek at his computer screen, his background will be a scenic splendor of rolling hills, mountains, or prayer flags. His Facebook friend count will be over-the-roof, and his wall will be plastered with the broken English ‘miss-you’ of friends he met along the way. When he travels, he makes lifelong friends in an hour. And although contact with these friends is sporadic and may be far-between, his bonds are…

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Adjusting to Japan/Adventures around Okazaki

8 Sep

It’s going on my third week here at Yamasa Institute and things are going a lot better than they were the first few days. I’ve made friends from Singapore, Israel, Taiwan and America and I’ve even gotten to see a few sights around Okazaki.

Classes have been very intense and I’ve learned so much these past 3 weeks. I have Japanese classes Monday-Thursday from 9am-2:30 and fridays until 11am. I’m in the SILAC program so it’s short term and focuses a lot on conversation. Next week I’ll be moving into my dorm at Tsuda College and the week after is orientation! I’m super excited and although I don’t feel in the least bit prepared, I know everything will work out eventually.

So far the hardest adjustments have been the food and the weather. I have to make my own breakfast and dinner and it’s hard to choose healthy options. On top of that, I can’t read all the Kanji on the packages so my food may be overcooked or undercooked. I’ve been living off sandwiches, bento boxes and an udan noodle shop. It’s also really humid here and the sun is relentless. I can’t wait until October when it cools down a bit. People seem to be relatively fascinated with me and stare a lot (especially kids and old people). The fact that I’m Black and have poofy hair probably has something to do with that lol

Below are a few pictures from Magome, Tsumago, Takeshima Island and Lagunasia (Ghibli Museum)

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Chopsticks aren’t my strong point

3 Sep

Chopsticks aren't my strong point

This captures a rare moment where there is food in between my chopsticks. Usually I’m madly stabbing at my food like some sort of samurai or gulping my curry udan noodles from the bowl like a wild banchee.

My experience in Tangier and a review of SolChasers

2 Sep

Well I’m sitting here in Tokyo and one of my friends in Spain asked whether she should use Solchasers to do a trip from Spain to Tangier, Morocco. Thus that prompted me to write a review as to why she should definitely reconsider. This is based solely on my experience with Solchasers tour company and my time in Tangier.

The trip was very reasonably priced and included a ferry ticket, a hotel and a day of sightseeing. They were very accommodating and available in regards to their customer service. We were able to get to Morocco with and no problems until we stepped off the boat. We were greeted by two men who insisted we take a taxi with them as they were are tour guides. Lucky for me I have common sense and knew a man was supposed to be waiting with a sign of my name ensuring he was the correct tour guide. We quickly found him and hopped into a comfortable van after a little bit of arguing. We never got stickers from the company so although he had a sign with my name on it (as well as the other members in my group), he wasn’t convinced it was me.

We began our tour of Tangier. This consisted of our tour guide pointing out hotels, the beach and some new construction for about 30 minutes. We also stopped to ride some old camels for $2. We had lunch at a nice restaurant that was included in the price. Afterwards was when things went straight downhill. We visited two souvenir shops, a rug shop, a spice shop and a food shop. It was extremely obvious that our tour guide got a large commission on each shop we visited. We had to sit down, listen to the shop put on a show of its items and were of course quoted outrageous prices. Everyone was irritated by this point. She was even so kind as to offer us an opportunity to come back with her family for a fee. It was very rushed, disorganized and not as advertised. 

We stayed at Hotel Almohades in Tangier. The hotel was very nice, clean and modern. Dinner was included and it was pretty much the same as lunch. We went out that night to get henna, eat ice cream and go to a club for a few minutes. The club started playing 90’s rnb and hiphop upon our arrival which was interesting.

The next day we took a trip to the medina since we were unable to do much shopping the day before due to the rush. As a women, I cannot recommend other women travel to Tangier without a man of some sort. It was stressful and slightly dangerous. We were offered a tour and once we turned it down, were called Black whores, slaves and a few other derogatory terms. He then followed us around and we had to run to ditch him. All the priced we were offered were 50% less than when we were with our tour guide. The carpets they were selling for $60-200 were somehow magically $15-50 when we were without her. 

The tour ended with us being picked up on time and brought to the dock to catch our ferry. Overall there isn’t much going on in Tangier and I’d recommend visiting other parts as it’s basically a tourist trap for the hoards of day trippers from Europe.