Sunday, October 1, 2017

College Life in Tokyo

Hello everyone,
The first month in Tokyo, Japan was awesome. I definitely love the hustle bustle in Tokyo. Especially, the location is right in the district of Shibuya which is known for its pop culture and fashion. Strongly suggest you do not just go back to dorm right after school if you got some time I recommend you to walk around Omotesando, Shibuya, and Harajuku there are tons of things to explore. For example, Line store that has so many cute characters, and Calbee Store that you can try their freshly fried potatoes.

Aoyama Gakuin University is great. Their International Center and tutor are really helpful. From where is ATM, where are the classrooms to how to get discount half-year pass for train etc. Also, there is a job on campus that we can apply for as an exchange student which is the chatroom leader. A chatroom leader at Aoyama is someone to help local Japanese student with their English speaking skills and it is a good chance get to know what are the trends among Japanese students. Moreover, the welcome party held by the student life office was awesome because it is free for new exchange students and dinner is included. The welcome party is the best timing to meet other students like exchange students and degree-seeking. 

Caption: Shibuya Crossing

The class size at Aoyama is quite different compared to what we have in Hawai'i. Many lectures in Japan have around at least 100 students so as you can see in the picture below they got multiple projectors to make sure everyone can see the slides clearly.

Monday, September 18, 2017

6 weeks in Madagascar.3 the end.

Week 5: This week, I have the best time. We go to Vakoana Forest Lodge Lemur Island.  I have so much opportunity to take photos with lemurs and camelinas. 
 Everyone in the program loves this island because of the lemurs.  They come to play with us very closely.  We also have opportunity to visit the national park.  We see one Indri lemur, a few common brown lemurs, and birds.  It is hard to say goodbye to my homestay at Andasibe.  They have tried as best as they can to take care of me.  I love my little five months baby boy so much and wish to steal him back to US with me.
Week 6: This week we are back to Antananarivo and our homestay for two nights.  My homestay family has made me feel warm to be back home at Tana.  We have a great dinner talk and laugh about my Andasibe trip.   
We also go to Morondava where we stay at the beach hotel.  I cannot explain how happy everyone is, including me.  As I come from Hawaii, Morondava has relieved my heavy homesick feeling. 
 We visit the baobab avenue and the love baobab.  It is such amazing experience.  Everyone has beautiful sunset baobab park photos to take back home. 
 I cannot take enough photos of the baobab. 
 They are so amazing.  I finally can do all my assignments here as well.  I am not sure if it is laziness or the cold that has made procrastinate so much at Antananarivo and Andasibe.  

Overall, I enjoyed the varieties of the course materials that Dr. Nat planned.  The course provides a great deal of lectures and field trips.  I learned history, culture, language, and traditional medicine in Madagascar.  In addition, the program provides lectures on health care policies and modern medicine in Madagascar.  I like that we have a chance to interview and interact with both traditional and modern medicine professions.   
 These interviews have shown us the difference between the theory and practice of health care in Madagascar.  For example, the doctor at the primary care center at Andasibe tells us that the center and himself do not charge patients for consulting.  However, the people and healers tell us that the center and doctor charge patients for consulting.  In theory, public health care should be free for the people though in reality corruption makes the system not work as well as it should.  I appreciated all the wonderful materials that the dedicated team provided.  I have learned and experienced so much and I will still keep continuing to learn as Dr. Nat says, “It is in listening that we hear, in hearing that we know, and in knowing that we understand.”

6 weeks in Madagascar.2

Week 3: This week starts on the Madagascar Independence Day.  I take this long holiday weekend opportunity to work on my homework.  It is very interesting that Malagasy celebrate their independence day with bird-type animals such as chickens, ducks, etc.  My host family cooks geese.  There is the funniest moment at dinner table as well.  My host father is trying to cut the geese for me on the plate – surprisingly, my host family do not have or use a cutting board at home.  When he is trying to chop the meat and the bone, the liquid from the geese is spreading into my face.  I am trying very hard not to laugh and just keep eating.  This story could be one of my favorite moments that I will share when I go back to the USA.
We have great in-class lectures the same as last week.  I am so glad that Dadabe sent us the files of the lectures because I would like to re-read when I get back home as well.  For the field trips, we visit the traditional healer up on the mountain and the research center.    
As I am very out of shape, I feel tired a lot when we walk up the mountain.  Every time I want to stop, Dadabe’s quote from Martin Luther King come into my head, “If you cannot run, then walk.  If you cannot walk, then crawl.  Just keep moving.”   I feel my legs are shaking but I still want to keep moving as Dadabe has taught us.  I like how Dadabe’s team lays out the class material.  We have learned the traditional medicine and then back to learn modern medicine.  So, we can learn from both sides.  
Week 4: We come to stay with a new host family at Andasibe.  My host family is a young couple with two boys.  The houses at Andasibe are very different than Antananarivo because it is a more rural area.  We also have Malagasy pharmacology students as our brothers and sisters.  We have our lecture at the conference room at the Park which are about the health care policy, laws, and the history of traditional medicine in Madagascar. 
 We have a great chance to interview Traditional healers who live in Andasibe and are still practicing.  It is very interesting to realize how important traditional healers are in a rural area.   The most common challenge for traditional healers in Andasibe is the access to the medicine plants in the protected area.  The traditional healers, who are registered with the national association, have permits to access the protective area while those who are not registered cannot get into the forest.
We also visit the primary health center.  The facility has only 5 medical professionals while they have an average of 30 patients every day.  The biggest challenge of the health center is the lack of equipment. The most wonderful finding at Andasibe is how the traditional healers and the doctors at the primary health center are willing to work together. 
 They refer one another when there is the best benefit for the patients.  I am happy that both doctors and the traditional healers promote the prevention of sickness. As Mamabosi and Dadabe always say, “Prevention is better than cure!”.  While we learn so much with health care system, we learn how to cook Malagasy food and dessert at our home stay as well.

6 weeks in Madagascar

Hi everyone.  I go study abroad at Madagascar for 6 weeks. It is adventure and amazing time of my life.  Our academic director is Dr. Nat.  He calls him as Dadabe (grandpa in Malagasy).  Here is my 6 weeks journals. 

Week 1: The program schedule for the first week is much better than what I expected.  The resort where we stay is very peaceful. 
 It gives us such a warm welcoming feeling, the same as we feel from Dr. Nate and the SIT team.  I like that the program gives us time to slowly adjust to the Madagascar time zone, weather, and new lifestyle.  The surprising part of the first week is how quickly students in the program become friends.  I think it is because we shared the same situation about being bound together in a new place.  The materials of the program are well structured to introduce us to the program.  We had an introduction to the traditional medicine and health care systems in our Madagascar lecture.  We also started our Malagasy language class.  I feel we learned so much already in the first week. 
  Dr. Nat also took us to visit and interview traditional healers.  Although I like to be busy, I like that Dr. Nat give us the day off on Saturday.  Some students took this chance to visit the city.  I preferred to have a day off to take it easy and study.  I was worried about my English grammar.  However, Dr. Nat tells us “Being you, then you will be the best of you.  If you are trying to be as somebody else, you always can be the second of them.”  My English grammar may be not the best but I will try to be the best I can be with my writing.

Week 2: We moved to stay with our host family which turned out to be the most challenging thing for me.  I thought I am very easy going and would not have any problem with new people.  Surprisingly, I have a challenging time to adjust myself to my new family for a while.  However, the lovely words of Dr. Nat as Hakuna matata” – no worry, it is ok- keeps me positive even with all the challenges.  The class schedule is full of new knowledge and interesting material.  In addition, we have outside activities that include visiting historical sites and hospitals. 

 We have learned a history of Madagascar and Traditional healers.  There are many types of healers, not just for medicine.  We also have a fantastic opportunity to conduct interviews about the traditional medicine and health care system in Madagascar with the director of the public hospital and another physician.

The surprising part of visiting the public hospital is that the hospital could not give the medicine to a patient until they have agreement of payment.  If patients do not have money to pay, they get sent to another hospital or home.  This is so sad for me.  We also visit the private clinic that is founded by the church.  It makes me realize how important this service is to the healthcare for poor people.  This private clinic offers a service with a low cost because the clinic is founded by the church.
The program provides us transport from our houses to school, a tasty tea break, and delicious lunch.  While I enjoy learning such wonderful material, all students seem to enjoy visiting La City with free Wi-Fi too. On Saturday, we have a family picnic at the park.  It becomes such a fun day for me and everyone.  I feel very happy and relaxed from all the challenges that I have – the difficulty of my English ability and adjusting to homestay.  I have a chance to interact with Malagasy students who join the picnic with us as well.  We have lunch, play games, and dance together.  It is one of my favorite times of the trip.