Monday, January 4, 2016

The most exciting things I did in 2015!

It's already 2016 and I hardly can believe it. In a little over a year, I will already be coming back to the United States. While it has probably seemed like a long time for my family and friends, it has gone quite quickly for me.

Anyways, I wanted to sum up the two most exciting events that happened to me in 2015. First was my trip to Kagoshima/Yakushima, and secondly was my annual Halloween Party.

In early September I took a short trip down to Kagoshima to see my Japanese family again. I had not seen them in quite some time, which is really a shame, because Kagoshima is only an hour away by shinkansen. Also, since this was the last opportunity for me to travel with one of my Chinese friends, we wanted to do a big trip. The first two days we spent in Kagoshima, with my relatives graciously hosting us. I really would like to thank my Japanese relatives for being so kind. I always have such an amazing time with them, and get to visit some amazing places.

After an amazing two days of sight-seeing, we next took a ferry to the southern island of Yakushima. Originally we wanted to go to Okinawa, but since the travel time was limited we decided for a closer location.

Yakushima by far was the most amazing place I have visited so far in my life. From the ecological, biological, geological, and sociological perspective, this unique island has something for everyone. We were also particularly lucky in that we were there when it did not rain. Yakushima usually has a 90% chance of rain, so we just managed to be there during the best time! One of the coolest things is that the island's fresh water is so pure that it can be drunk straight from the streams and rivers.

We managed to a great tour package with a tourist company called Yes Yakushima ( and our tour guide Mr. Steve was such a great guide! He knew all about the history, culture, and natural beauty of Yakushima. We were able to go to a lot of spots not known to tourists, and with little to no people other than us. It was a really magical experience. We even managed to see some of the natural fauna of the island.

I hope I can go back another time! Overall, it was probably the best vacation I've had since coming to Japan, but I still have another year and a half to have an even better one.

A month later, the summer heat finally subsided and school had started once more. This time of the year I always prepare for my annual Halloween Party, which is one of the few events where I ask both the Japanese students and International students to come and have fun together. Thank you to my parents and family who sent me candy and decorations all the way from the USA to Japan just for this party. It really made a difference, and I know my friends really enjoyed it.

We had some usual games and some new ones to enjoy Halloween Night! While the turn out wasn't nearly as much as last year (thank goodness) we had a really good time. However, I am not sure if I will do it next year or not, as most of my friends will have already graduated! It's a shame, but we will have to see.

Here's hoping 2016 will be an even better year! Happy 2016 everyone!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Summer 2015

Sadly, it seems as I get further into my Doctor's course for my P.H.D. I have less and less time to do interesting things. Also, since my scholarship money ended in March of 2014, financially I have been unable to travel or go places as easily as I use to. So, I apologize to the few readers of my blog if you have been waiting anxiously for me to post something... but unless you would like to hear about the hours I spend doing experiments, or crocheting at home, there is just not much to report. So, in this post, I will summarize what I did most of the summer.

In June, the school semester is starting to end, as classes will be finishing so students can prepare for their final exams in July. The Engineering department always has undergraduate juniors (3rd year students) come  tour the various departments during this time period. This is so when undergraduate students enter their senior year (4th year) of undergraduate school they can go ahead and enter the laboratory of their choosing. 'Laboratory' in this sense doesn't necessarily mean research or science experiments, but rather the group of students and Professors a student will be studying with when they enter Graduate school. I think this is a good system if a student intends to enter Graduate level at the same school, but it's often difficult for them to choose a good laboratory. So, to help these students the Engineering Department holds a 'nomikai' to have the students introduce their own labs. The combination of alcohol and showmanship can often have a comical result.

During this time period, I held an 'English Nomikai' at a local pub in order to promote Japanese students and International students to interact. There are very few events provided by the school to promote this kind of interaction, so I usually try to make one or two parties a year to help this. The owner of the restaurant where we held the event at is also an English teacher, so she was very supportive in allowing us to have this party at her business. While we didn't have the best turn-out, the few people who did come seemed to have a very good time. We played several easy word games and finished off with a classic game of Charades, or in Japan it is known as the 'Gesture Game'.

I hope I am able to get some more people for another one of these parties! I think it would be a good opportunity for domestic and international students to talk and just enjoy themselves.

In July, most of the students are in examination season, so the laboratory was nearly empty. I did most of my experimentation during this time period, so I wasn't expecting to do much during the month of July. However, one of Japanese friends had a request that was rather interesting: "Jane, do you want to be in a fashion show?" There was a yukata (summer kimono) fashion show happening in the second week of July. My friend was participating, but some of the girls who were also supposed to be part of this show dropped out suddenly, so he was short two members. He asked one other Taiwanese girl, and me to help him out in his yukata show 'skit'.  I agreed, but I severely misjudged how complex this show was! I was thinking something rather informal, since the whole event is organized by college students. However, this was not the case! This was a very well-planned professional event, and lasted nearly 8-hours from start to finish. Also, my friend, was dressing as a girl in this show, and not as a boy! Sadly, I think he was probably the most cute out of the group... can you guess which one he is?

As for August, there is nothing to report. Again, since most people are gone from the laboratory during this time period, this is when I like to do experiments the most. I also did some part-time work at an English Summer camp, so most of my weekends were spent doing this.

Hopefully my next post about my vacation in Yakushima will be posted shortly! Thanks for waiting!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Trip to Korea

In early April, a group of older friends and myself took a three day trip to Korea. This had long been planned by some of the older ladies, but I just happen to be lucky enough to return to Busan a second time. I was also particularly fortunate that this particular group of friends is an enthusiastic group when it comes to food.
This trip really was three days of non-stop shopping, eating, shopping, eating, and eating while shopping. I most enjoyed going through the Korean markets, and eating the traditional Korean-style set meals. Korean traditional meals have so many dishes! Maybe for our one lunch, you are able to eat between 30-40 different types of food in one sitting.

After eating every meal, we would walk around and visit local historical landmarks, or walk around the local parks to watch the end of the cherry blossom season. We also made several stops to local shopping districts where you can see hundreds of small shops all lined up next to each other.

Since this was only a three-day trip, there is not much to post about. It was nevertheless, a fairly fun trip! I hope I am able to go back to Korea someday soon.