Monday, April 29, 2013

Start of the New School Semester

Here in Japan the real first month of school is in April. The fiscal year, classes, new jobs, etc. all start in April. Needless to say, this made this month a little bit busy for me. Of course, none of it was particularly interesting, there were some good experiences to come from this month.

First, a new school semester means new students! The laboratory received seven new students, including another foreign student, so I am no long the only exchange student, or only one of two girls. Of course, the first week or so was just orientation for them, so I didn't really get to see them much, however the laboratories always have a party to introduce the new senior to the graduate level students. This year, we had it at  a motsunabe restaurant. If you don't know what motsu is, it's basically pork organ fat... and while that sounds a little disgusting, it's delicious when in a stew with vegetables. Anyways, all our new students introduced themselves, and the lab (as usual) drank an incredible amount of alcohol...

 After that party, I have to say not much exciting happened. I had a lovely birthday party for one of my friends, but since it was a Sunday, it was rather informal. April is a busy time for most people, especially students who are getting adjusted to new classes and teachers, so few exciting events come during this time.

As far as experiments, we had our first official meeting of the year to display our data in front of the Professors. I still can't say difficult scientific terminology in science Japanese, so my presentation was in English... so only the professors understood. The worse part was that, even though English was okay, I only told them that my cells died twice. It's been extremely frustrating dealing with the cell-line I had been assigned. We had an infection of mycoplasm (microorganisms) in most of the cell-lines used in the lab. To remove the mycoplasma, you must treat them with special antibiotics for 3 weeks. The first time, I did this I noticed the cells were becoming fewer and fewer in number, and I expressed this problem to my lab mates. Two days before the antibiotic treatment was over, another microorganism (some sort of yeast) had taken over the culture and killed the cells. The second time we attempted this same treatment, almost the exact thing happened! My lab members are taking over the culturing for now, just in case I was doing something incorrect, but I find it odd both culture attempts, at the same time during treatment, died of the exact same thing. If it happens a third time, at least they know it wasn't me being a novice cell-mother.

Other than that, April has been a relatively uneventful, though beautiful month. Our weather has been unseasonably cool, but so far this has made the flowers much happier. After the cherry trees were gone, all these wild poppies and azalea bushes started blooming. While I have lived in places where there are plenty of azaleas, I haven't seen them quite as flourishing as I have here in Japan. I took a walk around my neighborhood, just to see them shrubs in bloom. There are so many of them on top of each other, you can actually smell them as you walk down the street.

It's sort of neat to see the old-style houses mixed in the new ones. In the US it's rare to see a really old-style house outside of maybe a historical district, but in Japan, many people build brand new houses in this very traditional style.

Until something else interesting happens, I hope these nice photos hold you over. Maybe something exciting will happen in May!

Monday, April 8, 2013

My Apartment

I don't know why, but several of my friends wanted to see my apartment. I know it's exciting to move into a new place, but really.... it's just  a place filled with my junk. I have to apologize for the lack of style or grandeur, but Japan is not known for their spacious apartment buildings.

I can't complain though, my new room is very nice, and the apartment building is new and clean. The actual company is also next door, so if I have any problems, I can just walk over to ask for help (this came in handy when my screen door popped out of place).

So here is the walk through of my apartment:

Doorway/Shoe closet

 Main Hallway with kitchen (on the left)

 My fancy Japanese toilet
 My laundry room and sink... full of junk

 The shower room/ bathtub. It's really too big for the apartment, but for some reason having a full size bathtub is important for the Japanese.
 More junk!
 Where I hide all my food.
 The kitchen, complete with drying dishes.
 Again, why is the bathroom so big?
 The main room/bedroom
 My tea set, which was hard to find!
 More kitchen... I love having that oven.
 My bed, and of course, a cat calendar.
 My desk, where I spend 90% of my time... please ignore the bag of donuts. I swear those aren't there all the time.
That's all there is to it. I wish there was more to show you, but I honestly don't think anything else would be that interesting. The area is mostly other apartment buildings and a gas station, so not much flora or fauna nearby.  I hope to get some more furniture for the room, so maybe it will change soon.

I hope to post more soon! School starts up again next week (new students arriving too) so maybe my life will become slightly more exciting.