New Blog!

Hey there! I've decided to continue blogging at a different blog. The MEXT archives and some of my travel posts will remain here, but I'll be moving some stuff over. Hope to see you there!

Friday, 22 February 2013

End of Winter-Term Exams

Yes, it's finally over! I finished everything yesterday, so I'm now free to focus on.... my presentation. My friend and I will be speaking about the function of betrayal by characters in a response to rejection in two books - Silence by Shusaku Endo and The Man Within by Graham Greene. In Japanese, the title will be:『沈黙』及び『The Man Within』における拒絶された人物による反応としての裏切り.

And now, and update about marks:

I did okay for Japanese (maybe a little worse than usual), but considering that I mis-studied a little, I think the marks are more than fair. The jury is still out on my Presentation, Graduation Essay and Politics and Economics essay though.

But I'm seriously proud of maths. I improved from sixty-something in the previous term to one hundred marks!

Now, on to the rest of the term!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Images of Winter #1

Now that winter is coming to a close/now that I'm hoping that winter is coming to a close, here are some of my favourite photos that I took this time round. They're all square thanks to the wondrous app that we call Instagram (and yes, I used Instagram a lot, mostly because my phone is the handiest 'camera' I have).

If you follow me on Google+, or anywhere on the web, you might have seen these photos before.


Isn't it pretty? 

This reminds me of fire and ice :D 

More snow on plants

Yes, I like the whole snow-on-plants thing. You noticed? 


My school is truly beautiful. Plus, I love this view. 

The day of the heaviest snow-fall in seven years!
It makes me sad to think that I'll only have four more winters to experience before I have to leave here. I probably won't miss the snow though!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

When you come, the Sakura should be blooming

Alright, as promised, here is a compilation of the questions all of you ask me. If your question isn't answered here, please ask it in the comments.

1. What documents do I need?

Just to be clear, I have no idea what documents the Osaka gaidai requires. But, it would be a good idea to bring certified true copies of your  graduation certificates (and however many years of transcript you had to submit to the embassy when applying for the scholarship) in case they want it. This is very important if you applied before you graduated. If you're worried about luggage space, you could always wait until the school asks for it and then get your parents to mail you the transcripts. There's normally sufficient time to get the necessary documents by mail.

2. Under what conditions will I be sent home?

You will be sent home if you're caught cheating. And also, if your attendence is below 80%, you may be barred from the examinations. So basically, do not cheat, and do not frequently skip class.

And yes, you have to pass, but even if you do fail, you'll have make-up tests. It's no fun to have to do the exams twice though, so study hard and try to pass.

3. Are the subjects (MATH) very difficult?

Yes, math is difficult. I hear that in Osaka Gaidai, it's common to fail.

Don't worry so much about Japanese, when you have lessons in Japanese every single day, and you speak it every day, passing generally isn't that much of a problem.

Visa Matters
I'm sorry, but if you have any questions here, you have to ask your embassy. There are different requirements for different countries. Generally though, since you're a Monbukagakusho scholar, there's a lot of help given.

Money Matters
1. How much money will I need for the first month?

Well, you should bring about one month's worth of allowance with you. For us, our first allowance was continually delayed. If you really need money (or if you can't afford), talk to the school. They're there to help. In our case, the school advanced us the first month's allowance (we had to pay them back later).

2. Is the money enough?/How much money will I need a month?

Amount of money needed per month varies on where you live, how often you eat out, how often you go out (to amusement parks, to nomikai's, etc). Generally, the scholarship amount is sufficient for the first year, because our rents are ridiculously cheap. Do note though, that you have to pay for your own gas and electricity fees here in Tokyo Gaidai. And my friend would like to tell you that they only way you can run out of money is if you have zero ability of money management. I'm sure all of you can surivive(:

3. How much is the hostel rent?
At Tokyo, I believe it's about 17,700 a month. I'm not sure about Osaka. But don't worry, your respective schools will send you an information booklet. Remember, when in doubt, refer to the information booklet!

3.1. Is there a monthly cafeteria service (I suppose you mean like in US dormitories).

There is a cafeteria, but as far as I know, there's no cafeteria meal plan. But, we have a stove in our dorm room here in TUFS (please look at this post for details about TUFS dorm rooms), so cooking is quite easy. And what your dorm room cannot handle, the common kitchen can!

4. Are there any jobs near TUFS?

Honestly, I don't know. And that's because we're not allowed to have a baito (part time job) while at TUFS. But like I said before, the allowance is sufficient, so relax and focus on your studies. You can worry about making money once you go to university (especially if you stay in Tokyo, with its sky-high rents) (;

1. What do I need to bring?

Here's what you don't need to bring:

- Electrical appliances (Except perhaps, your laptop). You can buy most of this in Japan, and besides, bring them from home means a heavier weight, and the need to find adaptors.

- Furniture. Our rooms are fully furnished, and we even have a futon, blanket and pillow (all this will be billed to you anyway).

Here's what you should bring:

- Your national costume (if you like it). It'll come in handy for the opening ceremony and other events where you want to introduce your country. If you don't, make sure you have a white shirt and dress pants/skirt (basically, something formal that resembles a suit) for the opening ceremony.

- Your favourite local snacks. If you're sure you can't find it in Japan (do a quite Google search, or ask your seniors!), you might want to bring along the snacks you can't live without. Plus, it's another very good introduction to your country. Make sure you check immigration rules before packing though!

- A LAN cable (for those in TUFS). You can get one here in Japan, but if you want internet on your very first night, bring the cable with you.

2. Can I join a club? What clubs should I join?

You should definitely join a club! It's the best way to make friends and practice your Japanese. And if you're coming to TUFS, please go and check out the kendo team! They're a fun and friendly group, and if the idea of being allowed to scream and hit people with a bamboo sword excites you, you're totally suited. Total beginners are welcome too.

If you're a bit more quiet, what about Kyudo? The Kyudo team is very friendly too (I've intruded, I mean, visited their dojo enough times to say so), and it's apparently a popular club for foreign students to join.

Apart from these two that I'm promoting, there are lots of other clubs like Quatro (dance), choir, etc. Just make sure to check the practice frequencies and times. Remember, school over clubs!


If you have any other questions that I haven't answered, please feel free to ask me in the comments below! I'll probably make a FAQ part 2 from them ^^

ETA: Please take a look at this page of "Do not ask me Questions" and the comments (if possible, I understand that the comment page is very long). If your question falls into the "Do Not Ask Me" section, I will not be replying, even if you use the email me widget and email me. 

Monday, 11 February 2013

Quick Update (On School, Housing, Etc)

Guess what? I just came back from Fukuoka today! I went there for a two day trip to find an apartment for April, and.... I found one! It's not the one I wanted at first, but I've seen the place and I love it! Now, I just have to wait for the confirmation from Kyushu(;

Unfortunately, I was so focused on apartment hunting (then crashing in the youth hostel), that I didn't take any photos, except that of the apartment. Then again, I haven't found much inspiration lately, perhaps the stress is blocking it out.

BUT, I did take a picture of the delicious ramen I ate. If you don't know yet, Fukuoka is famous for Ramen (there's even a Ramen Stadium):

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get much done today. My flight was delayed on hour due to technical difficulties, and my plans got thrown off >.<. Well, I suppose turbulence would be an interesting experience, if I wasn't looking at the wing shaking and wondering if that was the technical difficulty part. That's what happens to me if I say, wake at 3 am one day and 5 am the next.

Apart from that, well, exams start next week, so I'll be gearing up the whole studying to meet it head on. I want to graduate with good results. But kohai's, no fear, I will try to answer your questions by Friday, so please, keep on asking. I've gotten some really good questions from Gergo (congrats on going to Osaka by the way!), so please, keep asking so I can matome (consolidate) all the questions and answer it in one nice long post.

Oh, and also for those contributing to An Excuse For Company, I will get it done before the end of February too, so you have plenty of time to promote your posts. If I manage my time well, (by sleeping less, and uh, I suppose I could cut down on, gulp, reading) I should be able to finish it in time.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Snoopy Potato Potage(Instant Food Reviews)

I think I'm going to rename the instant ramen review series to include all sorts of instant food! I never ate much of this in SG, but I love it here in Japan.

Before I start, please remember this: It's possible to live off this (and conbini food). BUT it's very unhealthy and you really really should not do it. Please cook your own food too!

Ok, so I saw this at Lawson and had to get it. I mean, it's so cute!

My sister agrees :D

And since I have the bad habit of buying stuff and waiting to eat it, I decided to go against the flow and eat it tonight.

Omnomnom (My sis said "ewwww" though :/)

First off, it really does taste like Potato soup. Of course it's not restaurant quality, but it's probably close to Campbell soup quality. And the potato cubes taste a bit like potato chips at first, then softens to taste like mash potatoes. I like them either way.

This is really for those who like cute things. The taste is just average, so unless you're a huge snoopy fan, you don't have to get it.


Monday, 4 February 2013

Book Review: 30 Days of Becoming a Better Japanese Learner by Koichi

If you're reading this blog, then you're either interested in Japan or studying in Japan. Either way, it's probably not a big leap of faith to say that you're interested in learning Japanese. Well, so am I! (Ok fine, I have to learn Japanese). But a while back, when Koichi from Tofugu had an offer on this book, I grabbed it straight away.

And you know what? This book is suitable for everyone. It's aimed at beginners, but there are things that even 'advanced' learners can learn. The book is a thirty day program that aims to help you build good habits when it comes to learning Japanese, so that you'll continue progressing and not get stuck.

If you're the sort that's self-studying, you should get this book straightaway. I really think that you master a language, you need to study it constantly, and this book is going to help with that. It has really good examples (具体的 gutaiteki) of what you should be doing. You can put your own spin on the excercises, or you can just follow them as it is.

One of the biggest takeaways for me was the discovery of Lang-8. I've always heard about it, but I didn't bother finding out more. But after reading the chapter on it, I signed up for an account - to practice Chinese (most of my posts are in Chinese), although I do occasionally post in Japanese.

Which brings me to my next point - this book will help anyone learning a language. I think that you can probably use the techniques here to learn any language, although again, this book is aimed at Japanese learners. When I was reading it, I was actually wondering how I could turn this into Chinese (especially the bit about passive learning).

This is probably one of the most useful books for language learning. It's not about the grammar or the vocab (but it does teach you how to study them), it's about the skills to learn, and that's probably the most important element of your study.