Friday, September 9, 2011

Osaka: Orientation Day 1

I will be the first to admit, that studying abroad is VERY intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you have not done it before.  Not that this is a bad thing, but it can easily cause a lot of stress, necessary and unnecessary.  Most of this probably has a lot to do with culture shock, language barriers, little number of friends in the beginning, unsure where to get started or how to ask, etc.  Even if you do know the language, it can still be difficult, especially when put in a region with a completely different dialect.  Kansai-ben(関西べん) is much different than what we deem as "standard" Japanese, and it shows when speaking and listening to others speak.  Some examples:

*Thank you:  arigatou ありがとう -> ookini おおきに
*I likesuki desu すきです -> sukkyana すっきゃな

It can be very different. Although, this also makes for an interesting, upcoming school year. :)


Some tips for everyone if you decide to study abroad one day.

*find yourself a good support system IN and OUT of the country you are going to. A good support system will help you when you are feeling culture shock, depression, jet lag, or emotional.

*Budget and plan accordingly.  How much will it cost? What is the rate of exchange? How much for transportation and how often will you be traveling or using a transit system? Food? Rent? Extra? All of this should be taken into consideration. Rate of exchange fluctuates everyday, and will effect your budget. Find out if you also are able to get a part time job. This can not only help you budget your money, but will also enhance your study abroad experience and will look super on your resume. :)

*Bring extra shoes in case you need them. You won't always have time or money to just go out and buy new shoes. Bring an extra pair, especially if you plan on doing a lot of walking (such as in Japan).

*Make sure to have a list of emergency contacts in and out of the country. Be sure to have a list of doctors, hospitals, etc and find out what your insurance covers overseas. This is very helpful in case anything happens.

*Obey the rules/laws of both countries. Don't be stupid. You can't fix it.

*Get out and meet people! Socialize! Especially in Japan! This is a very important part of your study abroad experience. Meet people, make friends or even SOs. No use spending all that money to recluse yourself. ^_~  This is also a very good way to learn the language and culture, as well as help ease culture shock.

Those are just some basic tips. I will leave more from time to time. ^^  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at:   OR


We had orientation today beginning at 1, with a lunch at noon.  I am not much of an udon fan, since I prefer my noodles to be a bit crunchy and udon is as far from crunchy as you can get, but today's niku udon was delicious. :)  It was 280 yen for a large bowl. Can't beat that with a wooden stick. ^_~  

Orientation was kinda half boring and half interesting.  I mean, we were just reviewing a large packet of papers that we already read through a dozen times, along with some new info on cell phones and alien registration and national health insurance.  It is about as basic and important that you can get, but at the same felt like it would never end. lol

I am thinking about getting a basic plan with an "au phone". It will be more affordable than others, and I can get unlimited calling to 3 other people. :)  But at the moment, I need to make sure I can afford my year here.  I am behind about $7000 and I have to come up with it somehow before I leave back to the States.  This includes rent and remaining tuition amount.  


I am having some difficulties with coming up with the proper amounts. I can't ask my family for any more money since they don't have any, and I can't get student loans since I don't have a job (at the moment) and I don't have anyone who can co-sign.  I am really worried about finances.  I am not sure I will be able to come up with $7000 from working part time.  My work visa will not go through for another three months, so I have to somehow come up with the money for rent from that time outward until I can save up enough worth in rent.  Plus electric and linens utilities.  *sigh*  I wish I could get more scholarships.  I have been applying, but it is really competitive, and it is difficult for people who need the scholarships to actually GET them.  I'm a bit worried I may be screwed before I have to come back to the US.


Well, all of that aside... I have to study a little while for the Japanese language placement exams tomorrow.  I have a feeling this is going to be another long day. @.@  It starts at 9am.  I really hope I don't have to start from square A. >.<  I will be greatly upset if I have to pay AGAIN for something I already know and already taken.  It is really frustrating.  I am worried about the exam, because I do NOT test well, and I get really nervous when it comes to taking a written or oral exam, ESPECIALLY an oral exam.  I am scared that my inability to test properly will flunk me into a language class I am already familiar with, proficient in and comfortable with.  I don't want to pay $40,000 to learn what I already know. >.<  I want to learn what I DON'T already know. :)  This is how I improve my knowledge and cultural experience. ^.^


Originally, we were planning to go to Umeda today, but we didn't get out of orientation until after 5pm. :(   So instead we picked up some needed things at the hyakuin 百いん (hyaku ya 百夜, hyaku en ya 百円夜, etc).

I'm a little hungry, but I am so sleepy and jet lagged. @.@  I am probably going to wait to eat until tomorrow after the exam. I think tomorrow, if the exams are not an ALL day thing, we will head out to Umeda to either the SukiYa or for some shabu shabu and treat ourselves before we no longer can. lol

Today was a pretty good day, I'll say. Long though, since I woke up around 6am. It is hard to believe it is only 8:30pm.  It feels SO much later. Once more, I blame the jet lag. :D

oyasumi nasai minna san!

<3 From:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Arrived: Osaka

Finally, after a looong process of applications, moving, and traveling, I have at last arrived safely in Osaka.

The plane ride was very long.  Overall it was a 17 hour trip. By the time we arrived at Kansai International, all 11 of us were ready to drop.  We went from St. Louis to Dallas, Dallas to Tokyo, and then Tokyo/Narita International Airport to Kansai International Airport. The first two flights were on American Airlines, and then we switched to Japan Airlines for the domestic flight.

We took a taxi from Kansai International to the dorms, however the total was nearly 200000 yen. I wanted to cry. That is a lot of money for the first day here. When we arrived at the dorms, they quickly got us settled into our rooms (the dorm manager was kind enough to help carry luggage).  Unfortunately, immediately after everyone got settled in, we had to have a meeting for paperwork.  I will tell you, no matter how much Japanese we knew (some of us are very fluent), being exhausted makes it very difficult to process what anyone is saying. 

There are plenty of others here in the dorm that are from the US, some from France and others from other places. There are a lot of Japanese students here as well. ^^

Something that I didn't expect, was the culture shock when it came to the dorms. The rules are quite strict.

*Not allowed outside after 11pm. The dorms become locked. If we are locked out more than once, then our parents are notified and we have to write a log in a book.

*No guys allowed in the building.

*No eating in the dorm rooms, but for a fee, you can smoke. (I don't quite understand this part...)

And so many others, but those are the ones that are most important.  I do understand the difference in culture, thus the "parents being notified" part, but since we are from overseas, this may be a little difficult as well as pricy.

The room is very cozy, and we have our own air conditioning (thank goodness!!!). Japanese air conditioning in main areas really sucks. It is really hot and humid, and the air in the building may only be one or two degrees cooler than outside. @.@  When walking into our own rooms, it is like walking into an ice box. lol

I am still trying to figure out and budget my finances.  I have a few months' rent set aside, but I don't have too much more to spare.  I am kind of worried about the later months.  I do look forward to obtaining a few jobs, doing the Volks service, and tutoring. 

I am still trying to figure out what clubs I want to join. I am leaning towards Kendo and Archery club. ^.^ 

Since I came back, I am very happy.  It is very comforting to see places I have  been before, eat foods I love, get the exercise that is harder to get back in the States, and even enjoy a culture that I really love and appreciate. This trip, though stressful, is entirely rewarding, and I would never have done it differently, nor will I ever regret it.

I have orientation in a few. Then off to the Hyakuin (what the kids at Kansai U call the 100 yen stores) and then heading out to Umeda and Nihonbashi.  I want to check out Volks, at least briefly before the weekend. Maybe shabu shabu tomorrow or something as an arrival treat.  Plus, I also want to eat at the Sukiya.  I miss eating at the Sukiya.  The gyudon is amazing here.  I had gyudon at the Japanese festival, but I really wanted to gag.  It was not very appetizing. >.<  I love real Japanese food.