Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Summer in Spain - Terry Chaney

Spanish Survival Guide:
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
This should go without saying, but always make sure you know where you are, or have a good idea, in case something happens. Make sure you have some kind of idea on the area so you can find your way back to where you’re staying at the end of the day. You should also be conscious of who is around you, too, and keep an eye on your belongings.
I have a few examples to help illustrate what I mean. Let’s start off with the most serious, and end with the lightest and most humorous.
1.      First and foremost, make sure you are conscious of the people around you. Spain is full of wonderful, nice, and helpful people. But, no matter where you are, someone there is not going to be the nicest of people. I’m not saying this to dissuade you, or anyone, from studying abroad. I actually had no problem with this, but I also didn’t put myself in a situation where a problem could arise. Just as you would back home, make smart choices and most of the time you will be fine.
2.      Make sure you know where you are in case you get lost. Or at the very least, make sure you know where you need to go. I took a weekend trip to Porto, Portugal with some friends. Although it smelled horrid in some places, it was beautiful and well worth it. However, there was a bump in my trip that I had to get over.
My friends all drink wine and wanted to do a wine tour. I despise the taste of wine and decided not to go. I chose to walk around Porto solo until our meet up time, back at the bridge where the tour started, when the tour was over. The tour was supposed to end at 7pm. They didn’t get done with their first stop until 6:30; our bus left the same day at 9. Around 6 I had to go back to the bridge early to wait for them because my phone was about dead. I got a message saying the tour would last long and they couldn’t meet at the bridge. My return message was “Ok, my phone is about to die. Where should I go?” Then, my phone died. I was stuck by the bridge, no phone, no clue where I was. But I knew where I needed to go, the bus station, and I knew some monuments that could guide me there. So I went to the nearest train station and looked at the map, found out where I needed to go, and just kept bouncing from station to station until I found the street I needed, which lead me to the monument I was looking for, and then I found the bus station. All with an hour to spare!
It was an interesting experience but I wouldn’t recommend this. Keep a portable charger on you so you don’t go through this, too.
3.      The funniest story is next. I cannot claim ownership of this story, but I have permission to share it.
A friend I met here was in another city before she got to Salamanca. Her and her friend decided to go out and have a good night and were bouncing from bar to bar. One of the stops happened to look interesting. There were people coming out who looked like they’d been having a great time: smiling, pep in their step, super happy. You know the type. The place even had a beckoning red light. They decided to go down and check it out. It wasn’t long before the smell and appearance of the place made them realized that it wasn’t the kind of bar they were looking for. Needless to say, they abruptly ran up the stairs and left the area.
So, keep an eye on your stuff and where you are. You don’t want to lose anything important, get lost (although it was an interesting ordeal), or end up in a Spanish brothel.
Hasta Luego,

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Finals Week in Japan

My last week of Japan consisted of taking final tests and writing out the last of my essays for class. Studying for tests were hard, but I'm glad that they are over now.

Friday night, I went with three others from the seminar house and two more from Kansai Gaidai and sang some more karaoke. After doing that for about an hour, we met up with some more people, did a little bit of shopping, and then getting a really good dinner.

The food was really good.

Festival Time!

On Tuesday, I went to Kendo with a few others. This was the most boring of the clubs I went to. In the other clubs, we interacted and, in karate, we even participated in one of the meetings and did many different things. For Kendo, they had us sit down and watch as well as give us a manual to read over. When they say third time's the charm, I felt I was better off stopping after two tries.

However, the weekend was a lot of fun for me.

Saturday morning I went to Kyoto. I tried finding the Gion Matsuri, but I had no luck doing so. Instead, I did a little shopping in the area and went inside the Kennin-ji Temple. I went back to the Pokemon Center to buy another Pikachu for my sister and some keychains for people back at home. I also hit up a bookstore while I was there and managed to find a couple of manga that I was looking for.

Week 5 Dress Up

During this week, I went to another club on campus. This one was calligraphy. I went once on Monday and again that Thursday. I found a short video on Youtube that has a professional doing it (I didn't do nearly as well as he did).

Going to Clubs During Week 4

During Week 4, I tried out some of the different clubs. Now, as some of you are probably thinking, no, I did not go out to an establishment and decided to have some drinks while dancing the night away; I'm not that kind of person. What I mean by clubs is school clubs.

There are many different types of clubs that are here on campus: boxing, dancing, social groups, etc. The ICE Office allowed us to sign up for six different clubs to try out.  Aikido, Karate, Calligraphy, Sado, Koto, and Kendo. Since the two Aikido meetings we could've gone to conflicted with field trips (I don't know who planned that out), nobody signed up for them. I did, however, sign up for the other five and I did three this week.

On Monday was Koto. Koto is, what I was told, the Japanese harp. The one I played had 11 strings, although it can go all the way up to 25. You wear three picks on your right hand (thumb, pointer, and middle fingers) and use your left to hold down the strings to change the pitch of them. Many of us from the summer program got to try out to Koto.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 3 Adventures!

This week, unlike last week, had a bit more excitement to it.

Wednesday, I went to karaoke with some of the people from the seminar house. After having a bit of difficulty getting inside (I had trouble speaking with the worker), I finally got inside and I got to sing some songs.

I do have an example of when I sang, however, the file size is too big.

Thursday, there was a party on campus. One of the clubs was putting on an event to help students meet each other at a restaurant either right outside one of the gates. They had lots of different food to eat (pizza, clams, rice, different types of spaghetti, etc.) and two different things for everyone to do. One was the spiciest pizza I have ever had the displeasure of eating (I swear I have burns on my tongue from it). The other was bingo. They actually gave away some really good prizes (tickets to Okinawa, a bicycle, gift cards, and someone from the seminar house got a picture). It was a lot of fun and I am glad I went.

I talked a little with some first year student.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

In Japan: Week 2

First, with some good news: I got into the second class like I wanted! Bad news: It's really, REALLY tough. However, I was ready for that challenge when I came here and I've been studying very hard.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to do as much my second week here because I was busy studying for a test on Monday. However, that doesn't mean that my week or weekend was without adventure.

On Thursday, the resident assistants threw a welcome party for everyone. We had nachos, pizza (which has different toppings from American pizza like shrimp and eggplant), and sushi to eat and we also played Paper Telephone (kind of like telephone, but with pictures). Luckily, my team got second place and we didn't have to eat the mystery cream puffs (some of them were filled with spicy mustard and one guy almost threw up because of them).

Friday, June 23, 2017

My First Week in Japan Part 2

Here is the rest of my first week here in Japan.

On Saturday, I went on the train to go to Nara with two people from the summer program and two Japanese students.

Sometimes in Japan, they have promotions on the trains. I had no idea that Thomas the Tank Engine was so big in Japan. It reminded me of my childhood so much.

Monday, June 12, 2017

My First Week in Japan Part 1

Hello, everyone! I'm doing just fine here in Japan. Sore feet, a couple of blisters, a cold sore, and having to go to bed by 10:00 PM, but besides those I am doing well. I have been very busy settling in and going to places in the area. Today, I'll be going over some of that.
I left for Japan on Tuesday, central American time. By the time I got to Japan, it was about 2:30 PM Japan time. Here are the pictures of the plane ride over here. With the exception of the last one, all of them are from America because it was raining when I touched down in Japan.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pre-travel Itinerary

My name is Rose Steffensmeier. I'm a senior at Western Illinois University. Soon, I will be going to Japan for the first time in my life. I have wanted to go to Japan for a very long time and I now finally have the chance to do so. I'm going to Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata City, Osaka Prefecture. I will be there for six weeks, studying Japanese language, history, and culture. I've already arrived, but for those of you who want some help getting ready for a program of your own, I'll go over some of the steps that I took to be able to go to Japan.

1. Sign up for Kansai Gaidai's summer program.

I couldn't go if I didn't sign up for it. I went outside the school's normal programs offered in order to find this one, but the school itself should be the first place you look when looking for somewhere to study. They have a bunch of great offerings and there will be something for everyone. If money is something you need to be worried about, read the next point.

2. Sign up for scholarships and financial aid.

This one is very important. Scholarships really do help out when going to school in general, but especially when you're going overseas since you'll want to get souvenirs, try new food, etc. I signed up for financial aid through my college as well as scholarships. I managed to get one scholarship through the school.
There was one scholarship that was the most helpful was the $2,500 I received from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship (also called the Gilman Scholarship). This scholarship gives out awards to many students every year whether your study abroad program is for a semester, a full year, or for a summer like mine is. While many people got the scholarship all across the United States, I was the only one to have gotten it at WIU. There was even a press release on the website back in May.

Sign up for those scholarships; you never know if you'll will receive them if you don't sign up or not.

3. Getting visa and passport in order.

Since I had been to France before when I was still in high school, I still have a passport that was good, but if you are going to a foreign country, make sure you sign up for one months in advance. This way you'll know you will have it before you leave.

This visa was another matter. I had to look up Japanese laws and was confused on the wording of some of them. I even emailed one of the embassies to see what I needed, but I apparently emailed the wrong one. It wasn't until Kansai Gaidai sent an email about which citizens of which countries needed to get visas. Americans only need to get visas if they are going to be there for more than 90 days unless they are working. I'm only going to be there for about 45 days, so I turned out to be fine, but if you're going overseas, make sure you have the right visas.

4. Signing up for school credit.

I am the first person from Western Illinois University to be participating in this program. This meant that I had no idea if I would be getting anything that would be applicable to my general credits that I need to graduate. I talked with both my advisor and the Study Abroad office and, if I pass all of the necessary classes, will be receiving 8 humanities credits. I will be doing my best in all of my classes!

5. Purchase plane tickets.

I went with my mother to the travel agent in Macomb. They helped with purchasing plane tickets and booking my hotel room for the first night. I'm very grateful for their help and would go to them in the future.

6. Gather all necessary supplies.

 This includes textbooks. I had to make sure that I'm getting the right stuff.

7. Pack up everything.

I made extra sure that I did not put my passport in my suitcase and put it in my backpack instead. You need your passport to be able to get past airport security, but you have to hand your suitcase over to luggage first, so always make doubly sure that you have your passport on you BEFORE you give your suitcase over.

I can't wait to board that plane and go to Japan. I also hope that if you are going to an overseas country for study abroad that this list helps you out as well.

Pre travel
Week 1 Part 1
Week 1 Part 2
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7