Takarazuka (Japanese western theater)

This weekend I went to see a play performed by Takarazuka, which is a theater group comprised of all female members. This means that the male characters are also played by women. The theme was about Gustav III rising to power and the play was so pretty! There were lots of elaborate ball gowns and lights. So much dancing and singing! It was a beautiful performance and I would definitely recommend going! I was not able to take pictures though because they are prohibited and I apologize for this blog being so short…This month has been incredibly busy with all the homework, projects, essays, and events. This weekend I will be going to Kyoto to wear kimono so I will have much more to say then!

As for the work, it is hard to balance everything together. This is especially true because Kansai Gaidai stopped giving students holidays. It is easy to get burnt out on school so be careful!

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(最近、秋になって来ました)It has become more Fall lately

Here in Japan I am able to see the leaves change color. They refer to the fall color on the leaves as koi (こい)。This is actually the first time I’ve seen this gradual change throughout a period. Those that live in Florida don’t get to see this. Everyone keeps questioning why I keep gasping at red, yellow, or orange-leaved trees. I heard about how this month in Kyoto, the temples open later at night and have a night viewing for the autumn trees. They light up the trees, and it is a beautiful sight. I went with my friends Katrina and Giada to Kiyomizu-dera (Kiyomizu Temple) to see the night viewing after school last Friday. It was only 500 Yen for admittance, and this is not the only temple doing the night viewing, but it is a famous temple in Kyoto known for its red pagoda in the distance. This was why Friday night, the place was completely crowded with Japanese and tourists alike.

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The famous Kiyomizu Pagoda

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Over the weekend a couple of friends and I decided to go to Arashiyama, famous for its Bamboo Forest, Temple, and Monkey Park. We were able to see brightly colored trees at the temple here. The bamboo forest was pretty cool too, and while I was walking I ended up talking and buying a couple of post cards from an nice Ojiisan (elderly man) who painted them. He spoke to us in pretty good English, and when I said I was from Florida he said : “Alligators, chomp, Walt Disney World, and Space Shuttle, boooosh!” I think that’s the first Japanese person I’ve met who knew that Florida is where we lift off shuttles and rockets. He also knew some Spanish too. Nice guy.

We went across the famous Arashiyama Bridge to cross into Monkey Park. It’s relatively inexpensive to go and here you can walk side-by-side with monkeys. You can’t look them in the eye though, then they get mad. I paid about 100 yen for food and fed them some apples. The park was on the top of a mountain, so I got a great view of the city as well.

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View of some trees at the temple

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Bamboo Forest

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Arashiyama Bridge (boy was it crowded)

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Best Translation Ever Award

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Me in front of the Bamboo Forest

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View of the walkway at the temple

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Says: Arashiyama Mountain, Monkey Park

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First approaching Monkey Park

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Feeding one of the monkeys apples

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You’re actually not supposed to get this close to the monkeys, but I was standing and they just walked over to me, and flopped down. Took a quick selfie then was out.

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View of the City

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Beautiful photo of a river boat and the mountain view behind it

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Me next to the river

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Kawaii (Cute)

 

 

 

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Paris

Our last night in Amsterdam ended with us taking the tram to the station bound for Paris. However, the trams were being very slow, and we were running a bit behind anyway, so we decided to hop off around the city center and catch a cab.

After a lengthy cab ride, we arrived at the station, where we were the last ones to board.

We arrived in the early hours on Tuesday, meeting the rest of our group at their hotel.

The first day in Paris started with me getting a baguette, and visiting a cafe to grab some coffee as I had not gotten a good sleep the night before. After that, we headed to the Paris Opera House to catch a short tour around that part of the city, which concluded in the lawn leading to the Arc du Triumph. After re-caffenating, we ventured out towards the opposite direction bound for the Louvre. Since it was closed, it was nice and empty, giving us a good chance go get some pretty nice pictures of the buildings without many people.

After that, we went to Notre Dame to catch our second tour of the day. This tour was very long and detailed which we appreciated because the tour guide was very knowledgeable, and showed us very interesting details around the cathedral that we would have easily missed.

The rest of the day was filled with a lot of walking around, mainly getting lost and relying on our large fold out map to get us back on track. We ended the day in Luxembourg, which is a very large house that serves as a museum. Outside however, is a huge garden littered with very nice statues and a large fountain out front.

Since we had gotten around 4 hours of sleep in the last two days, we decided to end the day early since we were in Paris for 5 days, and could take our time.

The second day, Emily & I ventured into the Louvre, which was the main reason I was in Paris. Since it was very early in the morning, we figured we would go visit the Mona Lisa since there would probably be a lot more people later on in the day. It was pretty funny finding the Mona Lisa because there was a sign pointing the way to it every few hundred feet. It seemed like they knew that it was the only reason most people were in that wing of the museum.

The room that holds the Mona Lisa is huge, and very wide to accommodate the large crowds. In the middle of this huge room is a slab of a wall her it on it. Making our way through the crowd to the front felt a lot like trying to make your way through a crowd at a concert, but instead of having somewhat lively people trying to get to the front too, we were met with hundred of annoyed looking middle aged tourists that didn’t appreciate all of the pushing and shoving. After about 10 minutes of slowly pushing our way forward, we made it, and of course, got a selfie.

After that, we spent over 6 hours walking around the three wings of the museum, occasionally noticing a random nice painting, and realizing it would be a random Da Vinci just sitting there with no one looking at it. That must have happened at least 4 times.

The food in the Louvre is how they stay profitable, since we’re students, we were able to get in for free. However, the food tariff is quite stiff, so they definitely got their fee from me.

Afterwards, we met up with the rest of the group and got some very nice dinner near the hotel. The onion soup is on point in Paris.

On our third day, we decided to head to the catacombs with everyone. Emily stayed with and got to go inside, while I was away back at the hotel taking an important call that took up the bulk of my day preparing for it. At night, we headed to the Eiffel Tower to get some pictures and relax on the lawn behind it.

On the fourth day, Emily and one of our friends got some Escargot for breakfast, which had me gagging, but nevertheless, an experience. After that, we headed out to Versailles for the day. We got to grab some awesome pictures inside for free since we’re students, and then ventured out back to check out the famous gardens.

After returning, we headed to the Eiffel tower once again to have a picnic on the lawn with some cheese, crackers, & wine.

Our friends left that day, so Emily and I got a hotel for ourselves near the Eiffel Tower. It was really nice, had a great view, and was right across the street from a bakery. After grabbing some croissants and baguette, we headed out to the Eiffel Tower for the last time, and spent the majority of our day just walking around, eating at random restaurants that were among the best we’ve ever had, and ended our night just hanging out passing the hours near the tower.

The trip was incredible, and I’m so happy that I was able to experience Paris with friends. Paris has its faults, but I’m glad to say that I’ve been to.

 

Until Next Time,

CheersIMG_2600 IMG_2322 IMG_2449 IMG_2397 IMG_2436 IMG_2377 IMG_2504 IMG_2367 IMG_2466

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ハイキングは今っぽい (Hiking is trendy)

A lot has happened since my trip to Hiroshima. My seminar house had a Halloween Party in the lounge and the RAs ordered Domino’s pizza.  Pizza here in Japan is super expensive! For a box that is actually smaller than what you can get in the states, it is about a $25!!! Fortunately, our RAs got a deal for Buy One Get One Free, but I still think many students took pizza for granted. We watched The Grudge (the American version) because some of the students were in lower level Japanese classes, and the Japanese version had no subtitles.

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The next day, two friends and I met up with some others at Kuzuha Mall, the next train stop over from Makino (the closest to the seminar houses) because they have a cinema there. We saw Guardians of the Galaxy in Japanese dub, and after seeing the movie twice in English, it was actually a pretty good dub. We saw advertisements for upcoming movies, Japanese and Hollywood both. The most famous one coming out right now is Naruto: The Last movie since the manga for the show has been running for a long time and actually just ended maybe a couple of days ago.

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My friend works as an English teacher to young students and invited a couple of us to participate in a Halloween party for children while teaching them English. I did such things as reading a book aloud to them, helping them put together a jack-o-lantern, dressing them up, and eating lunch with them. It was a great experience, and definitely fun!

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I finally got around to doing an Experience Japan Program trip this semester. These are basically trips put together by Japanese students to promote international and Japanese friendships. I went to Sunai’s Village outside of Kyoto in Shiga, which is basically a nature reserve that specializes in making mochi, a type of Japanese dessert made out of rice. We arrived via bus from a station and right of the bat tried some mochi and tea. We then went into the actual process of making the mochi, which is taking a huge hammer and smashing into a pot while another person moves the rice paste around. Using this paste they shaped the mochi into our lunch. We tried them with a sweet sauce as well as soy sauce. We then moved into making Wagashi, sushi-like mochi. We shaped the ingredients given to us at the table into looking like two different types of sushi. We then made a pumpkin one and finally a red/yellow leaf mochi. We were able to take the mochi we made home with us. We went for a hike after this, and then got to practice Calligraphy, visual art in the form of writing, with various Kanji. I ended up writing the Kanji name they gave me: 貝美. The used the English pronunciation for the first one -“ Shell”  and then the Japanese pronunciation of the second one: “bi”. It ends up sounding like :”Sherubee” if you say it in English. We then witnessed a Japanese tea ceremony and drank some good tea.

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Me hammering rice down into a paste that is used to make mochi

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Getting ready to create mochi

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The mochi that I created!

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The Kansai Gaidai Festival was also a big event on campus. We got a Thursday’s lecture classes off, and all of a Friday’s classes off for it. It lasted all of a Friday and Saturday. I went both days since each day had some different things. The Festival is put together by just students; there were no faculty in site. It was also the only time that I saw Japanese students be aggressive, asking me all the time if I would by food from their stall. We went to a “Light Music Society” event, which was smart because when entering these rooms they made you pay for a “drink” to enter so they couldn’t get copyright infringement. It was not the light music  I thought it was going to be because we were presented with screemo. That was a surprise. We also saw such things as Flamenco dancing, deep-fried ice cream, dance performances, a jazz café where you got a latte and listened to students perform jazz, ballroom dancing, and a musical. The next day had INFES, which were events and food stalls dedicated to international themes. We listened to exhibitions from around the world, got a stamp, and in return got a cool button. The International King and Queen Competition was held this day as well. One Japanese and one international student participate as a couple for the crowns. I got to try a type of African food, Vietnamese food, and an egg-like taco combination that was absolutely delicious made all by students. I wish USF could have a festival like this, it would be great!

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Flamenco dancing performance

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I also got to go on some hikes a couple of weekends. One Sunday I went on an old hike between two small villages Kurama and Kibune. It was the longest upward climb I’ve done here. It took us about 2 hours to climb and we got to a shrine and temple on the way up. Once we got to Kibune, we knew we were in the middle of nowhere when we found out we would have to walk an additional 30 minutes to get to the next train station.

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The other one we went on was the Fukuchiyama Abandoned Railway Hike. We got to go through about 4 pitch dark tunnels, while walking over the old tracks. It was pretty surreal, and actually a pretty popular one for the Japanese. This was right outside of Osaka and rather easy to access.

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It’s hard to believe my time in Japan is almost up. I’ve made so many friends here from around the world and I know we’ll be friends for a lifetime. It’s weird to say this because I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say this with such confidence before, but everyone here is some of the best people I’ve ever met.

 

 

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Food Festival & Guy Fawkes Night

Next week will officially make it two months since I have been in the UK! That is crazy because I feel like I literally just started my study abroad program.  As far as school goes, all of my assignments are due in November, therefore, I do not think there will be much exploring for me for this month. But I am looking forward to the trips I have booked for the month of December!

Food Festival:

I attended the Dartmouth Food Festival and that was great! I highly recommend it if anyone is in England around that time of the year. I had the opportunity to taste a lot of the local foods, which is why I decided to go. If there is food, you know I am there. It was my first time attending a food festival (shockingly), so I never tasted such a different array of food in one day. The festival was not just in one location it was spread out all over the town. Therefore, I got the opportunity to walk around and see what Dartmouth is all about. On top of the food tastings, they had cooking shows, cooking classes, and cooking competitions. Unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to sign up for any of the shows or classes, but I participated in one of the competitions. I was supposed to make an omelet under 16 seconds. But I came in 5th I believe, finishing my omelet (more like scramble eggs) at 30 seconds.  Lastly, I got the opportunity to taste a duck burger with plum sauce, surprisingly it was good, and many local foods.

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Guy Fawkes Night!

Every November 5th they have fireworks and bonfires pretty much all over England. Therefore, yesterday I decided to go see what it is all about by going to Ottery Saint Mary, where they have this tar barrel tradition. The tradition started a while ago, the exact origins are unclear but the celebration has become associated with Guy Fawkes, who was executed for his attempt to blow up the parliament in London. I went expecting to see burning tar barrels, fireworks, bonfires, and a festival. What I did not expect was: 1) signing a waiver in case I got injured and 2) how cold it was going to be that night. I did not understand how serious these flaming tar barrels were going to be until I had to sign a waiver and when I arrived at Ottery Saint Mary there were signs everywhere stating to enter at your own risk. To recap the night, there were men racing all over the town with flaming tar barrels, the barrels were so hot that they had to wear protection on their hands and on their body as well. So here are these men running with burning tar barrels in a huge crowd. They kept running up and down the crowd until the barrel eventually burned off. There were many times where they would lose control of the barrel, I mean it is hot, and that is when it got scary. These were the moments where everyone was running and screaming for their lives because the flames get pretty close to your face. Also as this was happening, there was someone behind me telling me how last year she got burned, and yes she still takes part of this tar barrel tradition. As far as the cold, let’s just say from now on I will be wearing TONS of layers and retiring my sandals.

 

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November 3rd

I apologize for the late post. Last week we were given the week off classes, a week termed as “Reading Week,” and during that week I, along with 6 other students from USF ventured out to Paris! We spent five days there and it was absolutely amazing. The weather was beautiful for the week, making the city even more spectacular.

We began the trip with a 15 hour journey from the Exeter bus station to Porte Maillot in Paris. Immediately upon our arrival we went to the nearest metro station to embark on the train ride to our hotel. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t realize that the doors of the metro only allowed about 10 seconds for people to get on/off of it; therefore, I was left alone at the station as my friends had already boarded. Immediately I was scared and nervous as I barely knew three phrases in French, I couldn’t remember the name of the hotel and I had no idea how the metro system worked. I overheard some people speaking English and luckily for me they knew which stop I needed to get off at and even located my friends for me.

The next day we began the day by going to the second tallest skyscraper in Paris, the Tour Montparnasse, which has 59 floors. On the balcony we were able to take some great photos of the city and the famous monuments around the town. Later on we continued our ventures by locating the Arc de Triomphe and the obelisk, which serves as a replacement for the location of the guillotine used in the French Revolution for the executions of such people as Marie Antoinette. We also went to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, which is the highest geographical site in Paris, and also the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen, inside and out.

On Tuesday we took two walking tours around the city. One of them focused on Notre Dame and the surrounding areas. At Notre Dame, it was interesting to learn that the term gargoyle came from the sound it makes when water from the rain enters their mouth from the room; however, although that was the original use for them, they also scared onlookers into entering the cathedral for safety, therefore introducing more people to faith. We also passed by a nearby former bakery and  barbershop and learned that the story of Sweeney Todd was based on a true story! Apparently at the time about 6 students had gone missing but without notice because of the lack of records and communication at the time. At one point a man goes into the barbershop and never came out; however, his dog was left outside and the nuisance of continuous dog barking caused someone to notify the police, who then investigated the area to discover that the barber and baker were in cahoots and the remains of the dead were the cause of the amazing meat in the pies that people came from all around just to try.

 

On Wednesday we went to Musee de Louvre, and Musee d’Orsay. They were both absolutely amazing. The Louvre was spectacular; however, it was absolutely huge and so overwhelming. We found it very easy to lose one another in the museum and found it difficult to navigate through the building. We were all able to take pictures with the Mona Lisa which was a really cool experience. My favorite part of the Louvre was all of the rooms that remained just as they had during the French Revolution. Everything was so extravagant and intricate. In d’Orsay it was incredible to see paintings by Picasso, Monet, Manet and Van Gogh as well as the exhibits that were currently going on at the time. Best of all was that our European student ID cards allowed us free access into the museum.

 

On Thursday, our last day there, we waited four hours in line for the Catacombs of Paris, which is basically an underground cemetery that holds the remains of about 6 million people. It was kind of creepy but cool to walk through the underground tunnels comprised of mere skulls and bones. Afterwards we went to a different side of town to see Saint Chapelle, a beautiful cathedral with some of the most amazing stained glass in the world; although it was closed whenever we got there, the outside was still amazing. We then went to buy cheese and wine for the picnic we all had on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower as night as it was lit up. The next morning we packed up and boarded the bus for the 9 hour journey to London!

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International Pot Luck with Yonsei Exchange Students

The past two weeks have gone by rather quickly and I spent the majority of the those two weeks attending school, studying for midterm exams, taking said exams, and shopping around Seoul. One event that I attended during the week that was school related (but more of a social event than academic) was an international Pot Luck for the exchange students. This event was not hosted by the school but formed by a large group of exchange students (35-45 of us who have all become regular friends). We decided to have the event in celebration for having lived through the week of midterm exams, constant studying, and very little sleep.

The cooking event was a big hit with the exchange students that attended. At least 15 students cooked a platter or two of food which represented their own culture, cooking tastes, or was just a common food from their country. We were a very interesting mix of Americans, Spaniards, Dutch, Belgians, Germans, Swedes, Finns (Finnish), Singaporeans, Canadians, Peruvians, French, Italians, Netherlands; and the variety within our platters demonstrated that. While the cooking event was a means of relaxation and enjoyment it also developed into an unique bonding moment with other foreign internationals through food and a way to language exchange without the pressure of a language exchange.

The students cooked a range of dishes and once they finished everyone ate together at one very large table (much as is the Korean way). The food was delicious and the company very enjoyable. While dining I learned a bit (certain phrases) of the German, Spanish, and Finnish languages. Since I do not cook well, not to mention the lack of ovens in South Korea, I was able to contribute by purchasing drinks and taking photos of the event. Afterwards the 35 of us cleaned up our messes and went into the local area around the school for a night out together.

I am so happy to have been apart of such an event and for having made so many new and interesting friends this semester. I am pushing for a second event much like this one before the semester is over.

Here are some food shots of what the international students cooked. I don’t remember the names of the dishes but it is safe to say that everything was delicious and we did not leave anything on the plates.

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Amsterdam

IMG_2163 IMG_2178 IMG_2201 IMG_2148So following my 21st birthday, I ventured out with my girlfriend to the magical country that is The Netherlands. After going to the wrong station and having to take a taxi to no miss our ride, we started our ~15 hour ride to Amsterdam.

I was excited to go from England to France under the British Channel as it would be underwater. After a lengthy stop before we departed, we headed into the tunnel. It wasn’t very long, as it was maybe 20 miles?

Anyway, once we got to France, we had a stop at Lille. It became very apparent that we were in France as all the streets were slim, and everyone looked dressed up. It was like the normal people looked like they were going out to dinner, and the homeless people looked like normal people. So basically a step-up across the board as far as clothing choices.

After Lille, we stopped in Brussels and Rotterdam, before finally heading north to Amsterdam.

Our journey through Belgium can be summarized with one word: sheep.

Once we arrived in Amsterdam, we were greeted by a tram to take us to the center of the city where we could catch another tram to our hotel. One thing I was not used to was the fact that the trams don’t wait for you to get fully on, and that they take off at a moment’s notice, at about 20mph. I must have failed over about 3 times before we reached the central station as I was forced to stand since the tram was full from all the tourists getting on at our stop.

Once we arrived in the center of Amsterdam, it became very apparent where we were from the distinct aroma emanating from the people walking past.

After a rather lengthy ride to our hotel, we finally checked in and went to sleep.

The first day was filled with us being impressed by the lack of cars, and the rather shocking amount of bikes. The were at least 50 bikes for every car that we saw. What disappointed me about Amsterdam is that there isn’t a city-wide rent-a-bike program so that we could ride around instead of taking trams everywhere.

We had some of the city’s famous waffles and enjoyed the various cheese stores around the city. We must have been in at least 10 cheese stores. All having samples that we were free to return to until we were full. We also visited the Anne Frank house where the line was quite lengthy, but the wait wasn’t too bad. It was very cool because it was of course in the actual house, but was a museum that was incorporated around the house, having us climb the very steep stairs to reach the hiding chambers.

After returning to the cheese stores for our late-night free cheese, we returned to our hotel.

Our second day in Amsterdam was our last, so we made sure to do a lot more of the touristy stuff that required reservations, and where we could take good pictures.

We started off going to the Van Gogh museum, which was pretty small, but packed with his work and life story. From there, we walked to the city center stopping by souvenir shops along the way to make our way to the city centre where we walked around and had a nice lunch. At night, we went on a night canal cruise, that was a lot cheaper than I expected. It was about an hour and a half long, making it a very nice long relaxed cruise through a very relaxing city.

My favorite part of the cruise was when we would pass the various boat houses along the canals. In some, the curtains were open, and we could see people having dinner and watching t.v. I really found that I liked the idea of living like that, as it was really nice and close to the city center, but I would not like to have my blinds closed all day to avoid tourists peeking inside my house.

Overall, I really enjoyed Amsterdam. I liked the architecture, and just walking around relaxing. It really felt more like a vacation than a tour of the city.

Late that night, we departed Amsterdam on our way to Paris where we would meet 5 of our friends that are also Studying Abroad with us.

 

Until next time,

 

Cheers

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South Korea and the University Festival!

So I have been quite busy lately with one of my big trips, which was going to South Korea, and also being able to experience a university festival. First of all, I must say that if you are going to Japan, you should definitely try to visit South Korea for some time. Tickets are pretty cheap and staying in a guest house for us was only about ten dollars a night.

So things I did while in South Korea:

1. Visited famous shopping districts- Shopping in Korea is relatively cheap and there’s so much to look at! It was incredibly hard for me to control my spending but there are plenty of choices of souvenirs. One of the markets we went to was called Namdaemun Market which is known for replicating the feeling of being in a traditional market. There are tons of shops on these busy streets, and let me warn you, being a foreigner means that you will be approached by thousands of shop keepers trying to pressure you to buy their stuff.

Palace- There are tons of palaces all over Seoul and each one is unique in its history and beauty. The palace that we went to had a garden that covered 2/3rds of the property. The area was really pretty, especially because it is fall and the leaves are beginning to change.

Food- Korean barbecue is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. In South Korea it is relatively cheap and incredibly delicious! It is important to be aware that South Korean food can be very spicy. This was a positive to me because I love spicy foods!

The second thing that I wanted to describe was the university festival! I had known about university festivals in Japan from manga and anime and the real life presentation had some similarities and many differences. The festival is very elaborate with lots of activities, shows, and food. Performances were amazing with the talented Japanese students performing a variety of hip-hop, and pop dances. There were also many bands who played covers of both English and Japanese songs. It was amazing to see how talented the students at Kansai Gaidai are!20141029_130115 20141029_145826 20141029_145914 20141026_135917 20141027_141007 1385332_10203692658651097_7369336116843353704_n 20141026_180637

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Vacation Week

Here at ESC-Rennes students, those not in the masters program at least, get a week off the last week of October.  Most students are using this time to visit family around Europe or go see places they haven’t seen before.  I will be visiting the museums and parks around Rennes.  Now that I have my student card, I will be able to get into most of them for much cheaper than before.  Rennes is a small city, compared to Paris, but has many different museums to choose from.  I will first be looking at the musee des beaux arts and the Parliament building.  There are a number of gardens around the Parliament building, and according to my French language professor the best bakery in town.  I haven’t been able to go visit many places thus far, and mostly it is due to a lot of work that I have had to get done for school.

European Geopolitics is a very interesting course here at ESC-Rennes, however the teacher is a no-games kind of professor.  He laid out strict rules in the beginning of the semester of no electronic devices unless being used for notes.  Already he has kicked three people out of his class for good from both sections of the course for failing to adhere to this rule.  He runs his class as if it were a boardroom and grants everyone the respect that is expected of a boardroom.  Unfortunately for me, I knew very little about the actual running of the European Union so I have had to read a lot more than most of the students simply to be on an even playing field when it comes to class.  We are lucky as students to have the professor that we do though, considering that he is actually active in one of the EU institutions and has been a politician for many years.  We are able to hear first hand how things work versus how they were intended to work through the different treaties.  Every comment or question that is posed must be well thought out and defended, it really keeps you on your toes.

French culture is taught by a very kind and odd man.  We are learning about the history of the French people from a first hand perspective.  We have covered everything from the French Revolution and the ideals established then to the number of waves of immigration into France that has shaped its people.  We are starting to get into the education system now and it is a very different method than most students are accustomed to.  Public universities are very cheap and there is no criteria for admittance aside from having your BAC, basically a comprehensive general studies test given at the end of high school age in America.  If you pass it within a certain percentile then you are free to be admitted to any public university in France.  When you go to school, you also only pay around Euro 200 for a semester of study.  There are other types of institutions as well, more prestigious ones.  A vast majority of the politicians and CEOs in France have come from just two schools.  They are called Top Schools, and once you graduate from one of the top Top Schools your career trajectory is all but assured.  I couldn’t imagine something like that being in place in the US.

Most of the international students here are on ERASMUS programs.  In many cases, they get paid to study at foreign universities.  It is a program established in European Union countries, I think, to aid students studying in different countries.  Maybe one day the US will be on board with that program to make it much easier for students to study abroad.  Currently there are only 4 or 5 Americans in my program at ESC-Rennes, I’m not sure if that is from lack of advertising or a lack of appeal to the lesser known cities in France, but I’m sure that if there were a program like ERASMUS many more Americans would study abroad in Europe.  As the world becomes more and more connected through the internet, high speed trains, faster and cheaper flights it will be imperative to have experiences abroad in the future generations.

I’ll try to take a few pictures of the museums and gardens while I am out and about this week and update you on them next time.

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