Naomi at Akita Week 12: 黒い舌

November 28, 2016

It was a beautiful day and I had an hour break before my next class so I decided to go on a walk. I’ve noticed we only get about two nice days per week here in Akita. The other days it’s either pouring rain, constantly pouring, or simply cloudy. I walked off campus, passing Banafi (the only convenience store for miles), and headed to a bridge that overlooked some rice fields. It took only about 5-10 minutes to walk to the bridge. I was listening to Chance and enjoying the cold wind hitting my face. While I was looking over the bridge I heard someone call my name. My friends Toshi and Ria were driving past me. Ria stuck her head out the window and kept yelling my name. Toshi messaged me immediately on LINE afterwards asking me how the weather was. It was a good way to start the week. I’m glad I ended up going on a walk because, as expected, it rained the next few days.

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Here’s a selfie I took on my walk. My friends always get mad at me for making this face: the Nomi face. I don’t like smiling in pictures so I always end up making this face. I would also like to mention my mom sent me that FILA sweater I’m wearing in the picture and I can’t emphasize how thankful I am. It’s only November and it’s already so cold here that you need all the sweaters you can get.

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After my walk, I still had time to spare so I went to the IT lab and kept Patrik some company. He goes there a lot since his laptop is broken. I know in the picture he’s obviously scrolling through YouTube but he was actually working on his five haikus for Japanese literature class. Listening to music inspired him to come up with some haikus. He wanted to write them in Japanese and translate them into English. I helped him with one of the haikus – the squid ink one, you can see it in the picture. I ate a squid ink riceball for the first time in Okinawa a while ago and wow, it was delicious. My tongue was super black afterwards. I told Patrik when we go this winter break that I would make sure he tries one. The other picture is of one of the haikus he came up with. I couldn’t stop laughing because I’m not kidding when I say Patrik has had a constant cold since he first got here. He gets sick all the time and carries nasal spray around him because his nose is never unstuffed. Poor guy. It makes for a great haiku though!

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Patrik and I went to the IT lab again to print out our third draft for the ポスター発表 (poster speech). At the end of the semester, all students in JPL300 have to give a 5-7 minute speech about anything they wish. I’m tremendously nervous for it because it’s just a lot to remember in just Japanese. I’m talking about Okinawa though so it should be fun! Anyways, I snapped this picture of a girl passed out at the computer – a good representation of the life of an AIU student. Just kidding, people here are so lively, full of energy and on top of their studies at the same time. It’s a wonderful community, really.

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I Facetimed Madison, my friend from UR, this week! I’m not good at keeping in contact but she is, thankfully. She messages me and makes sure we Facetime biweekly to update each other on our lives. She’s studying abroad in Madrid right now so the time difference isn’t too bad, only 8 hours. We give each other advice on our dilemmas, of course. Unfortunately, she’s studying abroad in Spain for the entire year so I don’t get to see her when I return back to Richmond this January BUT I might visit her in the summer and travel around Europe with her for a bit. I’m not sure though, it’s up in the air. I miss her!

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Annabelle and Isabella are both in JPL101 and they had to give a short speech in Japanese for class. They talked about their vacation to Korea this past summer. I listened to them and corrected them when they made a mistake. The participles threw them off a bit but they went over it about 5-10 times and had it all down by the end. Annabelle made a PowerPoint full of pictures from their vacation and it was fun to look through. They went to a Dog Café while they were in Korea and there was a picture of Annabelle with a huge smile spread across her face next to a pug. The pug looked terrified and its eyes looked like they were about to pop out of its head. It was wonderful.

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Oh man, don’t get me started on Japanese Reading class. I don’t remember if I have mentioned but with our JPL300 class we are able to take supplemental classes, such as reading and kanji – I’m in both. Well, for Reading class, we are assigned a reading per week and have to answer questions based on the reading. Recently, the readings have been getting increasingly hard with all of the vocabulary and grammar. This week we read a story about an old man calling for a priest, monk, and minister to pray for him before he passes so he can go to heaven. He gave each of them ¥10,000 ($100) to come and pray for him. However, before he dies, he asks each of them to place ¥2,000 ($20) in his coffin so he has money in heaven. At his funeral, the priest and minister each place the ¥2,000. The story ends with the monk taking the ¥4,000 from the coffin and placing a check inside for ¥6,000 ($60)….do you get it?

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Patrik and I took a while to finally understand the story. Our friend Sandy who is also in our class helped us translate it. When we finally understood what the monk had done we cried full of joy. Not really, but it felt like we were about to…we were so relieved to finally understand the story and answer the questions. Sandy, from Taiwan, comes to my LDIC sessions to improve her English so I’ve gotten close to her. She comes every week now and it’s great. I can tell she’s improving in her English and becoming more confident in speaking it!

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Michelle, another friend from Richmond, sent me a postcard this week. We wanted to be pen pals but after our first letters she stopped because she became too busy to write a letter. Instead she sent me this postcard, which is totally fine because I love postcards as well. She actually just started working at the gym on campus so I’m glad I still get to see her often despite her graduating this past year!

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We had another nice day this week so I asked Annabelle and Isabella to join me on a walk. My friend Isshin showed me this open space in the beginning of the semester so I decided to go there. The goofballs made me walk in the front just in case there were spider webs. I brought my camera with me and told them I would take photos of them. I guess they were so excited for a photo shoot that they even wore matching sweaters. I played some music from my iPhone and they just started doing random poses.


They did several cute poses, as you can see in the first picture. Isabella asked Annabelle if she could touch her toes for a picture and Annabelle couldn’t do it. She claimed to be inflexible and I kept telling her to straighten her legs for the picture. We all couldn’t stop laughing. Then, Isabella reached over and said, “Annabelle, I can touch your toes.” That’s when we all lost it. My stomach actually hurt from laughing so hard.

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My iPhone shut off because it was too cold outside so Isabella started playing music until her iPhone also shut off due to the cold. Annabelle pulled a weed from the ground and started playing with it so Isabella did the same. They both started practicing their dance for the dancing event next weekend. My mom and Tyler, my younger brother, are visiting next weekend so we’re all going to go and see them perform! We ended up walking back to campus as the sun was setting. We used the flashlight from Annabelle’s iPhone to make sure we wouldn’t walk into any spider webs and thorns. By the time we got to the cafeteria for dinner, our fingers were numb. We couldn’t even use our chopsticks correctly.

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I tried getting a nice picture of the sunset yesterday but my camera skills are lacking. I just wanted to say that a lot of us are starting to get upset knowing that the semester is coming to an end. After this weekend, we only have four weeks of classes left. It’s unbelievable how quickly the semester has gone. It feels like yesterday we were all meeting up at the beach, singing our hearts out at the karaoke place. Instead of getting upset over it, I’m going to enjoy the rest of the time I have here and make the best out of it.


Olivia in Scotland: The Deep Breath

September 9, 2016

Hello, everyone! My name is Olivia. I’m a junior, I’m an English major with a minor in Film Studies, and I am about to leave to study abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland for the fall semester!

A little bit about me and things that drew me to Edinburgh: Like pretty much all English majors, I love reading great books. My reading is part of what led me to apply to study at UoE (University of Edinburgh). Three of my favorite authors studied there: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the Sherlock Holmes novels), J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), and J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series!). Imagine getting to write in a coffeeshop where the author of Harry Potter often wrote. In preparation for my journey, I watched all eight of the Harry Potter movies again, this time paying special attention to the scenery. Most of the film locations are in Scotland so I am really hoping to go to some of these places!

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While there’s no castle up on the hill, the Black Lake in Harry Potter isa real place in scotland called Loch Shiel. 

Two of the other biggest things about me that will likely influence this blog are my identities as a musician and a Christian. Beyond analyzing literature and film, these two things are my life, and they greatly determine what I am drawn towards in my travels. I am very interested in the music and dance of Scotland and I plan to attend a ceilidh, or Scottish folk dance, during UoE’s Welcome Week. I have no idea how to do those kind of dances yet, but we’ll see if I can learn it! Scotland was also historically a stronghold of Presbyterianism; it was a place where Christianity informed the lives of every person and sometimes inspired uprisings, particularly towards the English when they tried to alter the way the Scottish Kirk, or Church of Scotland, operated. While much less of the Scottish population attends church today, this colorful religious background may still impact their culture today. I am excited to see how the churches in Scotland differ from my experience in American churches and to see how my own faith develops during my Scottish sojourn.

If you’re a student considering studying abroad at University of Edinburgh or many other UK institutions, be forewarned: the semesters start a few weeks later than the semesters at University of Richmond do. That might sound like an ideal situation to you; you get a longer summer that way, right? That’s certainly true, but I can now personally attest to the fact that a summer that is three weeks longer than everyone else’s can feel pretty strange. I’ve mostly been at home with very little to do for the past few weeks. Like many students in today’s world, I thrive on being busy and making sure that I’m not missing out on anything, so it has been a weird feeling. I have seen all of my friends, UR and otherwise, posting pictures and talking about their new semesters, whether they’re going abroad like me or just being back at their colleges with their friends. While I have treasured the extra time I was able to spend with my loved ones at home, I have also really wanted to be out there doing something with everybody else. I actually went back and visited UR for a day last week to help out with the activities fair; again, it was wonderful seeing my friends, but I definitely felt out of place.

Now, I’m going to very briefly quote from Lord of the Rings, but don’t let me lose you if you’re not a Tolkien fan!—In The Return of the King during the silent period before the big battle starts, Gandalf says to Pippin, “It’s the deep breath before the plunge.” That’s what the past few weeks have felt like to me. I’ve taken in a lot of information about Scotland, I’ve gotten plenty of lazy days, I’ve said goodbye to so many people multiple times, I’ve packed my suitcase so many different ways.

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Yes, I said “suitcase,” singular. Because I’m bringing my ukelele with me, I have to bring my backpack as my carry-on and fit everything else in my larger checked bag #thestruggle #musicianlife

The good thing about the extra time for a deep breath is, I think I’m ready to breathe out now. I’m still really scared about navigating a new place where I don’t really know anyone and I’m sad that my loved ones won’t be with me, but I’m excited, and I’ve done about as much as I can do to prepare. The next time I post, I will finally be in the city of Edinburgh and experiencing their orientation week. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. —now it’s time to dive into my Scottish adventure!

Wish me luck or keep me in your prayers!


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