Bring on the New Year…

31 12 2010

And so it is New Years Eve! I have survived my experience up til now, or maybe its better to say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it up til now, within the limits of knowing I still have a very long way to go. As cliche as it may seem, I can not believe how quick this thing has gone! Honestly I feel like it will end leaving me unsatisfied with what I’ve achieved, though actually I don’t think I would be satisfied no matter how much I achieve actually. But either way the end of this year will come no matter what I say so lets all look forward to, embrace and give our all in the new year of 2011 with all the wondrous opportunities and new experiences it brings to everyone.


As for a quick blog post, lately what have I been up to? Well school finished on the 14th or so, then from there I was in Osaka until the 22nd of December. All the exams went okay, though honestly speaking I didn’t study quite the way I should have for the Japanese exams, but all is well as I still got some good grades and will go on to study more next semester. In terms of what happened after exams up until I left for Tokyo on the night of the 22nd, most of my days were spent at school and trying to meet everyone at least once more before I left. I honestly wanted to take more photos and stuff but I was rather shy bout pulling out my camera so I didn’t really get much of my last week there, mostly figuring I’d be back there next semester. Anyway, a lot of the exchange students were going home so there were a lot of the Japanese people around to see people for the last time, and everyone seemed to be getting all caught up in the sad goodbyes.


All this led up to my final day with my first host family ever, and without a tear we went together to the bus stop, hugged, said our farewells and my host mother passed me an envelope and I got on that bus to Tokyo. And as you do when you’re passed something like that you open it right? And thus I did sitting next to a salary man on a night bus, I sat there and looked inside to find a letter and a bunch of photos they had printed off for me. First I looked through the photos, smiled and remembered some good times before moving onto the letter. Though knowing I would meet them again, just reading those words (or characters if you want to call them that) “we think of you as family” along with the rest of the letter in the end made me cry just a bit, and certainly woke me up, if I wasn’t already aware of it, that I was extremely lucky to be able to stay with that family.


Anyway hoefully I’ll post again, with a new video of New Years Eve on youtube up sometime soon if I take enough footage tonight!
(check out my channel (link on the side bar of this blog –>)

Wish everyone a Happy New Year and hope everyone enjoys all the celebrations no matter where you are in the world. Until next time..





But I just got here?…

4 12 2010

And thus my first semester here at Kansai Gaidai University is now coming to a close as I now go into my final two weeks and start preparing for final exams and working hard on my final assignments. Okay, well half of that is true…my first semester really is coming to a close. First of all I can’t believe this is only the second time I’ve actually made use of my blog, and secondly my sense of time tells me I only just got here a couple of weeks ago. It’s honestly a horribly harsh system with host families and so forth in terms of timing and so on. I’ve finally found myself extremely comfortable with my lifestyle and so forth, but now it is all about to end and go into the kitchen in the morning to see a piece of paper on the fridge with a calendar being slowly filled up with things to do before I leave this house and go to Tokyo.


So what has been going on lately? Well as was in my last post the  frustrations at times with the whole English thing for the most part, with many interviews and stuff I did on the topic with Japanese people and so on for an assignment in regards to foreigners in Japan, have slowly disappeared as I am becoming more and more comfortable with my situation. Don’t take it the wrong way of course and think for a second I was not happy here for any amount of time, while I admit I’m not a huge fan of Kansai Gaidai as a University, my situation in terms of where I am in the world and the lifestyle I’m leading is certainly something I’m grateful for and very happy with. In fact if anything, I enjoy the opportunity to be able to disprove the image that foreigners don’t understand Japanese, the culture, or its food etc. (though of this is certainly not what all foreigners in Japan are like, but that image has apparently come into existance at some point in time and so I felt I might as well put it out there).


Well anyway I don’t have much time to write this I actually just wanted to put up a link to my videos I’ve been putting up on youtube (spoken Japanese with English subtitles) as an opportunity to see what I do get up to over here (though its mostly things I don’t do everyday I put up there), and to see more than what you would see on this blog because at the moment I have a better posting rate on youtube than I do on this written blog which you would think would be so much easier to do than make a video..and you’d be right, it is easier to write. I don’t even make sense to myself haha.




Peace ~

I am still here, homestay-ing, alive and well…

23 10 2010

OK, so this has taken me what, 2 months to actually get something written and posted on this darn blog. I would like to say I’ve been flat out busy with whatever and thus have not been able to write, but then I would be lying. Honestly I just haven’t felt like posting anything, mostly because I haven’t felt anything has been major enough to post. I believe having already had one trip to Japan before I am not quite as amazed as I was last time by everything that surrounds me. Though not to say I do not love what surrounds me, I think this time its just something I haven’t felt like yelling like I did last time.

So anyway starting from when I got here. First of all I landed in Kansai International Airport and from there went to my friends house in Himeji. This honestly was the best way for me to start things, starting with a few days with friends just to get me comfortable and enjoying things. In those few days while I admit my Japanese was not great, nor is it that great now, I was able to meet some new people and go to some new places and just kind of sort of fun in quite a casual way. Though anyway this only lasted a few days before I had to move into the dorms in Hirakata. And this is where the issues started…So the first issue was getting there itself, I took the wrong exit on the final walk to the dorms and my suitcase broke and so that was by no means a good start to my time in the dorms. I did eventually get there by taxi after walking for about 40minutes in the wrong direction in 38 degree heat or whatever it was that day. So yes from there it kind of did go downhill further. For some reason I can’t explain (not just on here, but I literally can’t put it into words that well) I absolutely hated my time in the dorms (and for this reason I will try limit my time in there before next semester, or if possible avoid it all together). While I did have a pretty decent roommate, well one of them was, the other guy was very in and out and never really saw much of him anyway, the rest of the dorms just didn’t go down well with me. But that’s enough of complaining about stuff I can’t even reason properly, and on to my current living situation!

So I’m doing homestay. This was by far the best choice I could have ever made. My family has had quite a few Australians here before, and other people so they are experienced with having foreign students. The food here is great, the family are extremely allowing for me to go out and so forth as I have my own seperate room from the house with my own key which has allowed me to go out all night and so forth as long as I let them know. I honestly haven’t really heard any bad stories as such from people about homestays, though I did see someone move out of there homestay (don’t know the reason though).

And now onto the university itself, with a big warning: this is where the bulk of my complaints exist. Though of course with complaints it does not mean in anyway that I do not love being here and want to go home. So firstly, the situation of the foreigners, the CIE (where all the foreigners have class), the lessons taught in English, and the Japanese students. Well rather than ‘firstly,’ this is basically the base of all the issues I have with this university. So basically the amount of foreigners, putting them all in one building in the setting of a foreign language university has kind of created issues, though not everyone will experience it the same. For me I am here for Japanese language study specifically, which has meant those classes taught in English have become a huge hindrance on my studies, and have made it a little bit harder to focus on my Japanese. And of course beyond this is the issue of actually making Japanese friends. And of course when I say friends I mean FRIENDS, I did not come here to teach English, nor be someones English practice. While as friends I would be happy to help check there homework if I am there friend, but I unfortunately for study reasons can not speak in English for them to practice listening and so forth. And this is where it gets hard, because this is what half the Japanese people here are thinking when they meet a foreign person. And it doesn’t matter how good your Japanese is, unless you can pull off being Japanese, this sort of mindset in the Japanese will come out, whether it be in the form of a quick “sankyuu (Thank You)” or “sorii (sorry)” or whether it come in full (possibly broken) sentences. And I don’t mean to make there level sound low or anything, because my Japanese of course is not perfect, but there is a strong imprint in the minds of many of the Japanese here that foreigner = English. I have had some Japanese insist on using English despite my many times asking them to use Japanese (which was actually originally because I didn’t understand what he was trying to say). Though in the end it ended up that he would not use Japanese, I couldn’t understand him and I gave up talking to him because I obviously don’t want to make a friend who is as stubborn as that. So basically, it is hard to make friends here as Japanese friends, without being nothing more than English speaking friend in there eyes, without being a hi-bye type “friend”, and without being anything else superficial on a level that develops no real friendship, but just an association labelled with the word “friend.” Of course the situation of the CIE, and the English classes don’t help because it means you end up having classes with English speaking people, in an English speaking environment. Then of course the only Japanese people that come to the CIE building are those Japanese who want foreign friends or help with English or practice etc. I mean I expected an English trap, but this is quite a bit tougher to get out of than I thought it would be, which I suppose is the greatest, or only shock I’ve really got coming here. I’m still in hope that with time I can find a more comfortable place and get out of all these sort of thoughts.


Anyway this was all abit wordy, but being my first post since I’ve got here I had to get my thoughts down on paper and hopefully see things change and later look back on this and think how stupid I was (haha). Alright peace out until next time–



Can almost count the days on my hands…

13 08 2010

Ok, so this whole blog thing apparently got old very quick. I will keep my best to keep it alive, though being busy here in Perth to the point where I haven’t had the time to think about this leads me to believe it maybe even harder in Japan. Since last time I posted much has happened, much has been organised, there have been new friends made, new connections made, and seperations from people I won’t be able to see anytime soon. And of course on top of this there is the more official things like, dates sorted, visa received and the starting of what seems like it maybe a long fight with the issue of money, where it will need to be spent and how I can budget myself to both enjoy it to my best, as well as save money so I can stay on the desired extra month after I graduate from the Japanese University. And as always with me, my constant focus on the Japanese language is continuing on, and I’m loving the fact that I have been lucky enough to attend random Japanese classes at University and study Japanese at leisure rather than purely for the purpose of being tested. And while I’ve read people saying it’s bad to study a lot just before you go, I figure the study needs to be done sooner or later, and if it causes me to get into a higher level over there…then so be it, I’ll study my arse off to fill the gap and end up being better off for it.

Anyway, because this post is short I may as well talk about my last 2 weeks, which was the first 2 weeks of University (not that I had any classes to attend anyway, though I attended some Japanese ones for fun), we had 11 students come over from Shizuoka Gakuen. I had one stay with me, who was the equivelant of a year 10 student in Perth (i.e. turning 16 this year). It really was kind of a warm-up to my Japan experience I think, because it gave me a chance to be with Japanese people constantly, and whilst it was hard at times, it gave me confidence both in seeing the Japanese students have faith in my Japanese (to a degree haha), and finding that I could generally communicate pretty much anything that needed to be communicated, though no gaurentees on how direct and to the point the communication was. And despite the language difficulties and frustrations at times, it ended with some new friends, and people I’m still in contact with, and some of whom are going to come visit me in Kansai (as they themselves haven’t been there either), which is definetly something to look forward to.

Anyway, not really sure its necessary for me to post up anymore on here for now. So I’ll end this here, and probably will not write again til I’m in Japan and settled I’m guessing!


I’m booked, but not sorted…

28 06 2010

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve had anything to blog about on this growingly dull blog of mine. First there was exams, and then there was the period after exams in which I do a whole lot of nothing but…well ye nothing. And now I’ve actually started making a move on things once more as the 2 month mark (until I leave) has just come past. So originally I had been looking into flights to leave on the 27th of August, but it seems I was stupid enough NOT to book and so the tickets soon became sold out. Instead now I’m leaving on the 26th of August, and heading in there with still no plan as of yet. Let me explain my current situation to you in the following paragraph with plain and boring facts, whether or not you choose to read thats up to you!

To begin with, I am allowed to stay in the dorms for Kansai Gaidai from the 28th of August (Saturday), and must at least book in by the 31st of August (Tuesday) and in between that is the Sunday in which we are not allowed to enter the dorms (I believe). Ok, so I arrive on the 27th which makes me a day early, and so now I have to find a place to stay before hand, and then find my own way to the dorms or go to Kyoto station to get the bus to the dorms from there (which only leaves at 3pm on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday). I am leaning in the direction of not going to the dorms until Monday, or Tuesday although I could go Saturday. I figure if I do go stay elsewhere I will contact friends in the area, or even stay with one and spend my first few days like that rather than trying to get to the dorms and surround myself with English speaking people as soon as possible. So I have to make a decision before the 10th of July for all this. But, none the less, the fact is I am booked and I will be going it seems! Although I’m still waiting on that seemingly illusive CoE (Certificate of Eligibility) for my visa.

And of course beyond that, there is the mental preparation that needs to be done for myself, because as much as I love spontaneous things, I prefer it be in a situation where all my plans have turned sour and then I can just wing it from there. If I can not make some half-solid plans to get me settled before I go I don’t imagine myself turning up in a very calm fashion.  Though other than that I can only start blabbing on about how I really should start immersing myself in Japanese again, with reading (websites, manga etc), listening (movies, music etc) and writing practice (can I get a ‘hooray’ for kanji?). So ye, lets end this post before it gets any worse.


Define acceptance…

13 05 2010

ヤッタ!I have been accepted by Kansai Gaidai University, and it seems that I will be going in August off to this land of vast language barriers and culture clashes. Yes, I’m not going to hype this up too much because the whole application has all become rather tiny in the long run as the real problems I will face will not involve “what shall I write as my motivation for studying in Japan”‘ etc etc, but rather much bigger and complex issues. At the moment I’m really trying to get my Japanese up to a speed that will allow me to communicate at least on a very basic level, whilst at the same time cover the points necessary to get past the level I want to in the JLPT (which would have originally been to pass 3, but now with the new system (that isn’t that new?) I’m a little confused as to what to aim for, and as such I am just いっしょけんめい勉強している for now). Perhaps I am expecting a little too much for someone at my level, I have either been achieving top mark or close to in my class’ tests, and am not by any means in the bottom section for my speaking. But having friends who are in a higher level I think has meant I’m comparing myself to what is for now the unachievable.

Digressing no further, point of this post being that from here on it is now another wait for my Certificate of Eligibility (CoE) from Kansai Gaidai University, so that I can apply for Visa. Apparently this comes towards the end of June or so, though  no certainty on that, could be July yet, no one knows (which apparently seems to be the fun of this entire process??). And on another note I did write “Define acceptance…” (with a negative nuance if you did pick up on it?) for a reaason, because it seems that all the spots for the JASSO scholarship have been taken, I have heard from numerous people around the globe that their exchange advisors have said the scholarship is not available to anyone this semester, or something along those lines. And continuing with the rumours, something to do with over-budgetting and now they have to cut back this semester. Perhaps I can still hope for a miracle, but at the moment it would seem in vain. The news is actually rather crushing knowing that I can’t get it at all, as opposed to never having had the chance in the first place, which now means I will have to look into other financial support options for sure. Gotta love money issues.

Well, either way main priority seems to be on my Japanese none the less, exams and such coming up at the moment so it’s not like I got the time to be worrying about “paper” issues, when I have many things to feed my brain! Anyone reading who is planning on applying, I give you this advice: Until you actually are IN Japan, you will remain in a state of “waiting”, whether it be for application results for your uni, the uni abroad, the consulate (visa) and anything else you decide to apply to during this period to add to the fun of it (such as summer/winter jobs etc). So learn to push things aside easily, no point sitting idle I guess…


Onto the final lap…

15 04 2010

And so I make the turn into my final lap(-se in time, i.e. my last wait I have to endure before finding out for sure if I get to go to Kansai Gaidai or not). So what you may ask? Yeh, I have to say at this point I agree. I’m not getting cocky as such, but the fact is its so out of my hands now I just have to get on with the job in front of me, that is my studies! And the fact that I know its not even the final wait if I do get accepted is kind of a real ‘buzz-kill’ also, because even once I do get accepted I’ll still be waiting on forms for my visa, and then goes the mad rush getting everything organised in time to leave. I’m really not sure about the timing for this time of year (i.e. starting in the “Fall Semester”), but I know from others that things can end up being left very late, so whether or not that is due to their academic calendar for us international students or if it happens every semester I don’t know. And what I mean by ‘academic calendar for international students’ is exactly that, stupidly enough the Japanese students at the university apparently have a very different academic calendar, one which is more conventional by Japan’s standards. I can’t say that overly thrills me knowing that the place will be ruled by International students for a period of time, because that wouldn’t be much of a ‘cultural experience’. Well mostly it bugs me because if it is true then club activities I’m guessing would not be running as per normal for that first bit we are there, which would seriously kill my best opportunity for getting involved, and not to mention my only way of getting some sport time in. Either way, thinking of all this stuff is getting a little ahead of myself, the fact remains exchange is still no certainty despite how probable some may say it is.


Language issues for the win...

So in other news, language ability, ever feel like its on a day to day basis? Lately I have, it seems  despite how much I study or practice I can quite easily come across a day which is rather crushing to my hopes of achieving highly in my Japanese skills (and I’m not just talking about scores on paper, to me success lies in my ability to communicate with a person in the language and nothing else, after all thats what language is there for, as a medium for communication). It doesn’t take me long find my motivation again considering its all I seem to surround myself in, but still a momentary feeling of being overwhelmed certainly can set you back in the long run. Well I’ll cut this short here, otherwise I’ll end up writing down the thoughts I go through everyday relating to my language struggle haha (not that I haven’t already let some slip…)!


ピース! Peacee.

Application, or fabrication…

1 04 2010

At last the next set of papers to fill has arrived, in the form of userID and password to grant me access to the online application system which Kansai Gaidai has running. Though everything you fill in online gets printed out and sent by hand anyway, so I’m guessing the “online system” was created as a method of being able to read people’s applications better more than anything else. Looking at all these sort of application questions again, I see how rediculously subjective these questions are. From “how often do you consume alcohol?” to ‘are you interested in the exchange program for language and/or cultural reasons?’ It’s certainly an open opportunity to lie about your position, and one would only hope this would be corrected by the letter of recommendations from tutors, but one has to wonder if they themselves want to be brutally honest, or be nice and try get you a position to study abroad (considering they were nice enough from the start to take the time to write a letter about you for your application). So application or fabrication? Well I know which I’m choosing, I want them to accept ME to study over their, not some ideal student that I managed to write down on paper. Besides, I’m a hopeless liar as is..



Then again on a seperate pattern of thought, lying would eventually catch up with the person as they go through various testing and so on by outside sources who, one would hope, would be less willing to lie for them. I only think of all this anyway because I hear stories of people travelling over their for no other reasons other than to be able to party it up in a new country like an extended holiday with a bit of study on the side. I’ve met with these sort of people, and it really makes you wonder how they can get there (to Japan) to study, when their mindset is ‘like that’.

And now back to the starting point of this post; I have now begun my application to Kansai Gaidai. It is a little less work in terms of writing on my end but it certainly will be bothersome to collect all the necessary items for the application in the 2 weeks i have left to do so (we only were given a little over 2 weeks to do this anyway…). So looks like I’ll be running around frantically getting past tutors to write letters of recommendation, getting my Japanese teacher to fill out a form of recommendation (in Japanese), getting passport size ID photos (apparently these are not so cheap? considering I need 10 or 11 I believe…), having a physical exam (健康診断) and so on. All this in the name of showing my ‘fitness’ to be able to cope with exchange. One would only hope these long lists of requirements would deter those with the wrong reasons (I know, I always go back to this…but the thought does frustrate me…).

Anyway, point of reflection for me for now seems to be:

As much as I do think an experience like this would transcend ‘a language learning curve’ and go beyond that, I still am stuck on this one point; will my language skill be enough to get me involved from the start? Because as much as I study, learn outside of my current courses and take part in the consumption of Japanese popular culture for both entertainment and learning purposes…I still feel insufficient in terms of skill in so many ways. Fortunately having some friends who I can use plain form with and have them correct me and teach me new things has made the process of learning a little easier, but none the less it still seems like it is a long way to go…’Dear Fluency, I know you’re out there somewhere, I just haven’t found you yet…or is your existence merely a subjective figment of my own imagination?’


But mere stepping stones…

18 03 2010

So it is now 4 weeks into semester 1 at UWA for 2010, and at last the first of my anxious waits is all but over. I have received confirmation that UWA will recommend me for exchange to my first preference of university (i.e. Kansai Gaidai University). What awaits me ahead is still slightly unknown, besides more lengthy applications and waits, however that is not what worries me in the slightest…

At the moment my major concern and priority is my language proficiency in Japanese. Because of the time of year I’m going I actually will end up either repeating what I’ve learnt and not gaining as much out of it, or will have to study and cram like I never have before in order to jump up that extra step and be able to achieve so much more. At the end of it all, it would have been wasteful to have not given it my all and challenge myself to the fullest. I somewhat feel that my efforts at the moment are being made futile almost as the pace things are going at. Doing both Japanese Intermediate Bridging (2201) and the unit that its supposed to bridge to (Japanese Intermediate I (2203)) is somewhat difficult. I mean I don’t believe I’m struggling the most out of everyone, but I feel the pressure on myself (probably from myself) to achieve at a level of those who have probably had exchange experience and so forth after years of learning Japanese in highschool. Slightly unrealistic I realise, however in the bigger picture it is a level that I believe I need to attain in order to be able to “survive” in Japanese society, and break down the language barrier to a level that brings me much greater opportunity.


And on a side note, it appears I have run into a slight patch of trouble in terms of my chances of succeeding in my application. Though I have yet to do some research of my own into the matter, the word on the street seems to be that the number of people applying for Kansai Gaidai has reached a slightly rediculous level, further more considering the number of people that were sent from UWA to Kansai Gaidai last semester. I maybe mistaken but even the Head of Japanese Language as university has made the suggestion of applying to other universities. Whether or not thats just his way of helping me out though is yet to be known (please note the sarcasm in this sentence…). None the less it appears I may have to do the whole “weigh up my options” thing all over again, and see what I have available to me. At this point in time though, in my head its all just hit a brick wall and I’m being rather stubborn, because I don’t want to change my plan now. Even if this means waiting until the next period to apply again then so be it because the other offers to me didn’t seem very attractive before, so I’m not so sure that will change anytime soon. Well, I will talk to some people and see what gets said and take my next step from there. I never expected things to go down smoothly, so I can’t complain too much…


Beyond the dream…

19 02 2010

Today, for pretty much the first time since I’ve really started to drive myself forwards on this “road to Japan”, I took a step back. Well, technically it would be more of a metaphorical ‘step to the side’ if the road to Japan was one long straight one…but I’m going to stick with a step back because goodness knows this road will never be direct, but rather winding and all over the place, one with forks and so forth that will tempt me to get lost along the way. And to me this road is not just for the lead up to exchange (if I succeed), but rather the entire exchange experience itself is all apart of the same road because there will be challenges that I will face as a direct effect of the exchange program in Perth, as well as the many expected and unexpected challenges I will no doubt have to face if I do end up going to Japan. And to me the greatest challenge or decision I think I would find on this road is the decision for which path to take if everything doesn’t go to plan, and if I get rejected from exchange. I know it sounds all a little pesimistic and possibly unlikely to some people, but none the less it probably is something I should consider…


unrelated - completely...

And in all honesty, at this point of thought I got stuck. What would I do if I don’t succeed? Would it really take that much out of me knowing the effort I would have put in with structuring my units around going on exchange? Putting extra effort into my Japanese, taking on extra responsibility with being a peer leader amongst other things I’ve done in the belief it will help me when on my way to exchange will no doubt influence my reaction to the all ending rejection from the exchange program. Though there is not a chance that the things I do in preperation for exchange with the expectation of going will have gone to waste. But when motivation is lost I see things becoming a little more difficult. Would I really be mentally prepared to take on another semester as if things weren’t as I had dreamed them to be? Though a selfish thought I know, I can’t help but ponder further about dropping out, deferring, finding a full time job and moving out perhaps, as I will likely try search for another angle to attack from and persevere once more to try get back to where I want to be. This may either say not a lot for my commitment, or speak loudly for the sort of expectations I have in exchange, not even for the experience it will grant, but more so a ticket out of life here, something to completely break the circle and clear a new horizon to drift towards.

Its a little testing I think to try think about where I may end up in the next to years, when my next 6 months more so than any other year has the probability of many twists and turns. But none the less, rejection from exchange will never be failure to succeed in persueing the dream, only but a small test of my persistence.

“The determination to win is the best part of winning.” – Daisaku Ikeda.

I will end this here, its probably a little negative and not something I should dwell on too much. Either way, the dream lives on into tomorrow and beyond…明日へ!