Thursday, September 19, 2019

Prague - Returning Home

My two months in Prague were probably some of the most transformative months I have had over the past year or two. I have been able to learn A LOT about myself as a growing adult and as someone who was physically disconnected from their home and everyone they know. Sometimes it felt like the end would never come and all I wanted to do was go home, other times I wish time would freeze and I could just stay in a few choice moments for as long as I could. Now, reflecting back on my time in Prague, I have the following advice to give to any future travelers.

  • Always try to walk if you can. Prague is a walking city and you get to see lots of dogs on your walk (they really like dogs there).
  • Don't just be friends with your roommates. There are so many great people coming from other places around the world as well as the local people. Try your best to talk to someone you normally wouldn't. 
  • Yes... you are legal to drink, but don't do it all the time. Some of my classmates would go out almost every night and well, it just looked exhausting. The club scene can be pretty active but you can also buy CHEAP drinks at the grocery store and do a night in with your friends. 
  • Bring any snacks with you that you REALLY love. I love hot Cheetos. Does anyone in the city carry hot Cheetos? The answer is no :( 
  • Go to Sunset Hill. It is this great park near Vinohradska that always brings the prettiest sunsets. 
  • Travel to a country on the weekend. There are 3 or 4 within a 4 hour bus ride of you. 
  • You don't have to keep in close contact with your friends back home. They are doing there thing and you are doing yours. You will be together again eventually, so don't get distracted trying to keep in touch and just enjoy where you are in the moment
  • There are cat cafes and a dog bar! If you are an animal lover, you should definitely go to those. 
  • Don't forget to travel to the other cities in the Czech Republic. Brno is supposed to have a beautiful Library. Decin has a beautiful hike and the place where they filmed part of Narnia. Cesky Krumlov is the fairytale city for a reason. 
  • Just remember you are in a different place and to treat everything with respect. 
  • When people stare, its not weird, it is just a normal thing to do
  • Frowning is also normal. The general culture is more negative. 
  • Eat Czech food! Its pretty good so step out of your comfort level! 
  • Mlovite Anglicky? (mloveeteh anglisky) Do you know English?
  • Hesky pez. Muzu si ho pohladit (hesky pez. mudgu see hoe pole-lah-dit)Nice dog, Can I pet it
I hope these tips help! Coming home wasn't too bad of a transition except I would want to say things in Czech lol. Here are some pictures from my snapchat memories of my travels ◡̈  they are really random, sorry.

Korea University International Summer Campus Weekend Activitites

What I enjoyed about the summer program were all weekly activities they planned for the students. As classes, only last from Monday through Thursday, on Fridays the school offers different excursion and activities in which students can participate. Since the program is a total of six weeks, there were six activities, unfortunately, I was only there for four weeks and I was only able to attend two. 
            For our first weekend, the school offered all student free admission to Lotte World. It is known to be one of the biggest indoor theme parks with an outdoor amusement park. Inside had many calm rides such the merry-go-round, automated hot air balloon rides, and even a haunted house trail. The outside amusement park is where one can find the more daring and adventures ride such as different rollercoaster rides, drop tower, swing trees and many more. There were many rides and activities to choose from that everyone stayed at the park all day. Outside the Lotte World, Is actually a bigger department store and Hotel. The park itself leads to shopping areas and even an ice rink.
            The second event that I got to go two was in the third week, which included a trip to a VR gaming world and a tour of SM Town, one of the biggest entertainment industry in Korea. VR theme park is located on the 10th floor of the Lotte Department Store, located near Konkuk University, Seoul and has over 60 attractions and ride. There are VR gaming areas, one with archery, car racing and various rooms dedicated to shooting VR. There are also different rides experiences, like a bungee jump experience, a boat ride through a forest, a roller coaster experience, and my favorite was a jet pack experience. The only downside of this VR game is the limited spacing. It is only one floor and out school brought in over 500 students, and the lines got really long.
            After the VR places we headed to Gangnam Area to see SM Town, we got to experience a holographic show. School OZ, was a musical holographic show, which consisted of various famous Korean artist in the company. The holographic show is basically a four dimension experience, this gave the effect of making it seem like real live artists were actually on stage, when they really weren’t. After the hour and a half musical, we also got the chance to tour around SM Town museum. This area consisted of the history of the company and the evolution of the different KPOP groups they produce. Each group also had its own corner and room that dedicated their different concepts in which they performed. There were many videos and props and customs that were used by the groups in music videos and performances. The Kpop fan I am, I geeked out and enjoyed every wall I saw.
            I’ve posted about the different actives, they had planned throughout the program. There was the Kpop flash mob, where Korea University flooded the central area of the campus and learned a Kpop dance.  On my last week there, they offered two different choices, one was a cooking lesson, where students got to learn how to make traditional Korean pancakes. They also offered a Nanta show, which is nonverbal theatrical comedy show. The school ended with the Taekwondo lesson classes. My friends posted pictures of them in their GI’s and they even said they got a certificate for participating.
            Having these weekly activities were really fun for many students and a great way for international students and actual Korea University to interact with each other. This also allowed us to see different places in Seoul, we would not have gone too and getting us to go out and explore the city, and to even learning a little about the Korean culture.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ariving at Korea University

The second day was a little hectic, but I am so very blessed to have my friend Taylor. She was a former international student at HPU and I could not have been more grateful in meeting her and becoming good friends with her. Not only did she welcome me to her home in Korea, but helped me travel to Korea University and get settled.  I couldn’t get much footage, as we travelled far to get to my dorm campus. It took us three different transportations to arrive at Korea Universities Anam Dormitory. After getting settled to my first ever dorm, Taylor and I explored the area and store within the University and we ended up eating in one of her favorite childhood restaurants.  Again, Mahalo Taylor for all your help

Arrival to Seoul, South Korea

            After a year of debating and months of preparation, on a sunny Thursday morning, June 21, 2019 my dream of flying to Korea had finally arrived. I was excited yet nervous. Traveling outside the country was no new adventure for me, but studying abroad and being away by myself was definitely a first for me. Thankfully I made Korean friends prior to my trip, they were actually Korean exchange students who attended HPU last fall. As I grew up on Oahu and they were new to the island, I was glad to be their tour guide and show them the ins and out of the island. Throughout the semester we built a strong bond that stretches out across the ocean. It was actually thanks to them that push me to study abroad in the summer.
            My biggest fear when getting to Seoul was transportation and accommodation. Because I arrived one day earlier than my initial program start date, I had no idea where I would stay or even travel outside of the airport, plus I knew the bare minimum of the Korean language, so my fear of getting lost was high up there. Thankfully I was able to reach out to my friends in Korea and they were excited for me to visit their country. Their kind generosity led, to meeting me at the airport, showing me a little bit around Seoul, treating me to my first meal in Korea and even staying the night with them at their home. They even bought me a cake and sang a song for me. Not only did they meet me on my first day, but also taught me how to take the subway and how to travel around town. Sadly we could not meet up with each other as much as we would have liked to as they did not live in Seoul, and they too were busy with their schooling, they still provided me with helpful information to make my trip in Korea fun and memorable.
            So, if you are unsure of studying abroad I really recommend that you make friends with the international students, we have at HPU, whether they are exchange students who are only their for a semester, or full-time student. HPU has a wide variety of students from around the world and getting to them and creating a strong bond who knows may eventually lead to them also inviting you to their home country. Also, it is also nice to know that there are people we already know in the country you wish to travel too.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The almighty classroom registration that everyone…loves…がっこうはだいすきですねー (I love school right?...)

I just want to take a moment to say this university was very lush. It is quite a small campus, but personally for me I enjoyed that a lot. The universities cafeteria also is very cheap and useful. I used it especially in the beginning of my stay because it was a great place to meet up with my newfound Japanese buddies. In the beginning of your semester, they will assign you 3 buddies that you can befriend to stay in touch with to ask any questions. Luckily, mine were really great! They would come over into the dorm in the common room and we would play switch together! The cafeteria can cost you about 800 yen max for say a Katsudon bowl. I highly recommend eating here especially if you are on a budget! Once you have settled in, gone to all the orientations, taking the placement testing for Japanese Grammar and Kanji courses, you will be told how the registration processing works for signing up for your courses. Here’s a briefing on how it’ll work:
            When you register for your courses on the day, they tell you, keep in mind just because you sign up for that course, you aren’t guaranteed a spot in that class. How NUFS registration process works is you are basically put into a lottery system, if too many people sign up for a class, they do a lottery run and you won’t be able to know your schedule until a few days before the semester starts. The only courses you will almost have a secured spot in will be the language courses since the school believes that is one of your main purposes for studying abroad in the first place. If you need a full semester of courses, at HPU that is 15 credits, each class being typically 3 credits, right? At NUFS, the equivalent to 15 credits at HPU will be 18-20 credits, each class being worth 2 credits each, EXCEPT for Japanese grammar class. There are 3 Japanese language classes you can take: Intensive, Semi-Intensive, and Introductory. My first semester I did semi-intensive Japanese grammar 112, which is basically 1200 and HPU. This class was worth 8 credits. With that plus the 2 credits from my Kanji 902 class, I had 8-10 credits left to take in the regular culture courses. Because this was my final year to finish my bachelor’s degree, I took the full load, but some courses I needed approval from back at HPU from the Department Dean to count for upper-level division requirements. Luckily, everything worked out! Then second semester came, I wanted to challenge myself to do a harder level of Japanese, therefore I decided to take Intensive Japanese Grammar level 200. This class on its own, was worth 16 credits. 16 whole credits! If you just wanted to take one more class at 2 credits, you’d be full time. But for me, because I still had 2 courses to fulfill for my upper-level division courses to complete my degree back at HPU, I took 24 credits. I didn’t take Kanji 903, I decided to drop it because I knew it would be too much for me. Luckily, the school requires you to take Kanji class but once you hit that level 903, you have the option to not take Kanji class, so this worked out for me. All in all, they aren’t kidding when they call it ‘Intensive’. You are in class from 9 am – 12:20 pm Monday – Thursday and you have a quiz every single class period. Make sure to bring snacks because you only get a 10-minute break in between the two periods from 10:40-10:50 am every day! It really isn’t enough honestly but you can do it! It alternates between Grammar quizzes to Vocabulary quizzes. You also will have 4 different teachers, each on one day of the week, then repeating every week the same on each day. This class was challenging, lots of studying required. If you can’t manage to put in studying every day, maybe Intensive isn’t for you. However, if you take Semi-intensive, you still have class every day, Monday- Thursday, it just only last for one period each day, 9 am – 10:40 am). You do what you think you can manage but I got through it, it was difficult and stressful for me because I always stress when it comes to school, but I made it through! I passed everything and completed my degree abroad which is pretty unusual of a situation that students put themselves into! My year abroad at NUFS gave me my Minor in Japanese, accompanied by my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Where will I go now? Honestly, still figuring that out, but I definitely know I want to go back to Japan, especially the Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture area. This was such an amazing experience for me, I learned so much and faced so many obstacles, it taught me a lot about myself and where I want to be in my life. If you have the opportunity to study here, please take the chance and remember, at least you also get a Monthly Stipend that pays for your dorm rental fee and still gives you around an extra $250 each month to spend on whatever you want! I used mine to travel to places such as Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Gifu! Take this opportunity no matter what, and don’t worry about the language barrier! It isn’t that bad at all! Goodluck! (Ganbattene!/頑張ってね!) I truly loved Japan with all my heart. 
My last trip outside of Nagoya was a few days before returning home, I went with a friend to Nara, to go to Nara park one more time to capture this deer-ly adorable bambi gratefully receiving my biscuit! She sure was Kawaii! (かわいい!)

Housing Arrangement + Some of my Favourite Shops!

     When I arrived in Japan, the university allowed for us to schedule for a shuttle pick up, which was very kind of them. Upon arrival to the dorm I was going to be living in (Global Village), I had to get a few students to help me take all my luggage up to my dorm room. The dorm has two elevators and I was on the top floor, floor 8. Once that was done, I started unpacking so much to make my room nice and cozy. To be honest, I was very happy to be living in this dorm because it only just recently opened so it was fresh, clean, completely new. The group I studied alongside; we were all the first ones to live in this dorm! It was super neat! My first day after that night of pondering “Oh wow, I’m really in Japan this isn’t a dream” was to check out the area and everything nearby the school campus. 
     All of the dorm choices you have (I-House, Global Village, Residence) are all within about a 5 minutes’ walk from the university which I found to be super convenient! A few shops nearby that I shopped at a lot were Aoki Supermarket, Kanesue Supermarket, Daiso, Edion, Aeon Mall, Apita Mall, 2nd Street and Off House. A few restaurants nearby that I’d recommend would have to be: Hamazushi, Gusto and Sanrokugo!

  •  Aoki Super and Kanesue: These are the supermarkets that are closest by to the dormitory/university. When I first arrived in Japan, I shopped at Aoki first because it is a bit closer to the dorm. This supermarket I will say has lots to offer but be wary that fruits/veggies can be pricey in Japan. A small bag of grapes can cost you potentially 500 yen (~about $5). The meat selection here is tasty, especially the seasoned beef portions for around 500 yen! Now after a while, when I first went to Kanesue, I noticed they had a bit more of a selection when it came to snacks, drinks, and meat/dairy products. I decided it was worth the extra 10-minute walk doing big shopping here because I could buy all the meats, I’d need to last me the week for cheaper, especially chicken breasts! They’re super cheap, around 300 yen for two breasts! I bought a lot of drinks to keep in the refrigerator in my floor’s kitchen so that way I could grab one on the go in the morning to keep me awake during Japanese class. Especially in my second semester, I took Intensive Japanese 200 level, meaning I had Japanese class Monday-Thursday from 9 am till 12:20 pm. So…I really needed some energy drinks/tea in the mornings, it was a necessity!

  •  Daiso: Daiso is the remarkable 100-yen shop! Now not everything is 100 yen however, but you will find things in 100-yen increments, most expensive being I want to say maybe around 700 yen. In Daiso, you can buy all of your stationary needs on the go, hair/cosmetic products, craft work if you enjoy making cards/letters (which I did a lot of in my free time), snacks, beverages, soaps/hygienic products, kitchen ware, and bathroom products such as laundry detergent and toiletry items. I shopped there way too frequently because it was such a good deal. Highly recommended, it is about a 5-minute walk from Global Village also!

  • Edion: This is basically a giant electronic shop with a stationary department as well, which I will say…. was glorious! I would mostly go into Edion to look at the stationary but also at the Nintendo Switch games because most of the new games came out in Japan while I was there before they did in the States, so I could get a hand on them before my friends. :D For example, I bought Mario Party and Super Smash Brothers. The stationary department in Edion has everything you’d need binding from notebooks, pen/pencil selections in many aisles, painting craft work, letters, boxes to use for shipping, and even really neat Japanese themed paper/key-chains to buy as souvenirs!

  • Aeon Mall: Aeon Mall is everywhere in Japan, but luckily there in one close to the dorm, I’d say within about a 20-minute walking distance. The school bus actually has one that goes to Aeon Mall as well in case you prefer to do that, or if you do big shopping and don’t want to lug it all back by foot, this is an option for you! Aeon has many shops, ranging from clothing to kitchen ware to cosmetic to even great bakery’s and restaurants. They also have their own cinema and if you purchase your ticket online, it says you the hassle if you’re afraid of the language barrier! It is super easy to do, and it will tell you if they support the film with English Subtitles, or if it is being shown in English itself with of course Japanese subtitles for the locals.

  •  Apita Mall: This mall is close-by to Book-off and the Linimo station! Maybe about also a 20-minute walk from the dorm! I went here more frequently then to Aeon mostly because of this lovely Bakery on the bottom floor. Now, I can’t remember the name, but it was French for sure! They have really good deals on cakes and amazing bread buns. I went here so often! This mall has lots of clothing, stationery and kitchen departments to offer also and a supermarket!

  • 2nd Street: This is a high-end thrift shop within about a 12-minute walk of the dorm. I went here to buy lots of stockings mostly and dresses during the spring and winter seasons in Japan. Everything is pretty decently priced, with some items say name brand backpack pricing around $150. I would still check it out every so often for the deals on smaller clothing items. 😊

  • Off-House: ONE OF MY FAVORITE SHOPS BY FAR! You can find so many clothes here during all seasons, especially winter coats for super cheap! I can count past both my hands probably more than 5 times how many items I bought from this thrift shop; I absolutely adore thrifting and think it is so much more appealing than going to stores like Forever 21 etc. You can also buy kitchenware, electronics, jewelry, handbags, and even bathroom accessories. Things range in price here heavily though considering they sell things such as Dyson Fans here which could cost you around $300 to mini refrigerators for around $80. You can also bring things to donate here also! The language barrier isn’t that difficult to manage around either, so if your Japanese isn’t too great don’t worry!

Restaurants around the Dormitory:
  • Hamazushi: If you’re form the states, then you can consider this to be similar to Genki Sushi…but honestly, 100% better in my opinion! Most of the places are 100 yen and everything is so freshly made it is amazing! If you aren’t a raw fish lover like me, they also sell pasta/noodle dishes, meat sushi dishes, desserts, and even the all American knowing French fries! :D I went here AT LEAST once a week because it was just so cheap to eat here if I didn’t feel like cooking lunch/dinner for myself. It is also very comfy to eat with your friends here as well!

I went to Hamazushi frequently with Japanese friends I made at the university, here is my Friend Mako enjoying the fabulous mini-hamburger sushi’s I loved so much! 😊

  •  Gusto: Gusto is similar to Denny's in the States (they have Denny’s in Japan as well) but tastes fresher and the service is very quick! The one that is near the dorm is about a 15 minute walk away, and I believe is open till 2 am, so if you want a late night snack that isn’t from the convenience store (Konbini’s as they call them), I’d recommend this restaurant for sure. I would always get the Tonkatsu set meal for about 1100 yen and it comes with a drink bar that you can use for as long as you’re in there! Lots of students use this place to study late at night as well, like how in America Starbucks is the designated study store.

  • SanRokuGo: This is about 2 minutes away from the dorm, just recently opened up around May 2019. It is a coffee/tea based little French inspired store that also has delicious bakery goodies and fabulous cakes to offer. I would go here so often that the barista knew my order every single time. This would also be used as a good place to study with your friend’s upstairs (if you can land the big table, score for you!). I believe they are open until 8 pm but around 6 they probably start to run out of bakery goodies, so don’t push it too late if you really need that coffee and strawberry shortcake fix!

     There is so much to do in this area just around the dormitory and University, but obviously once you go into the main part of Nagoya (that being Nagoya Station or Sakae), you have so much more shops to adventure into, cafes to try (cat, bunny, owl, hedgehog, etc), you won’t ever be bored on the weekends because you can explore into the different cities nearby Takenoyama area. If you take the bus from Hongo bus stop, you can buy a day pass for about 600 yen, which is cheaper than taking the Takenoyama bus stop (being 550 yen per trip) or taking say the bus to Fujigaoka station (220 yen) + then taking the train to another station (if you want to go into Sakae or Nagoya for instance, I believe that train ticket will cost you about 300 yen). You can also buy a Manaka card to load money onto so you can easily pay on the bus’s and trains at ease versus taking a ticket and paying when you get off! The Manaka card for me cost 500 yen because I wanted my name on mine. :D I think that’s it for this blog post, I hope it was super helpful information and always feel free to contact me if you have any questions, I’m all ears!