Friday, August 22, 2014

July and August 2014

Hello! Sorry I have not posted in a while, but I just finished the Master's section of my study here in Kyushu University. So, for the past few weeks I have been working extremely hard on finished my Master's thesis, Master's presentation, as well as working two part-time jobs. It has not been easy, but it has been quite rewarding.

So, in this post, I would like to briefly summarize what fun, or interesting things I have been up to for the past eight weeks or so.

In the beginning of July I held a Independence Day BBQ with a few lab members and several international students. The 4th of July is my favorite holiday in the USA, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some American culture, as well as enjoy my favorite holiday here in Japan. However, it is really difficult setting up a barbecue in Japan, since they have very strict restrictions on where you can have an open fire. Most places do not have portable grills, or you have to go to a restaurant which specializes in barbecue. Neither is inexpensive and convenient when you have over 5 people, so I ended up having the party at the school's dormitory.

We had many people from all different places come attend, so it was quite a cosmopolitan event. Everyone seemed to have a good time, playing games, eating, and drinking together (excluding myself on the drinking part).

After dinner, we broke off into teams and played several games. Everyone really tried their best, and had a lot of fun. At the end of the party, everyone was nice enough to help clean up. It was a good holiday, though I still miss having a good old-fashioned grilled burger with potato salad (not to mention cherry pie).

The following week in July was also the end-of-the-year party for my laboratory. Not much is different from our other parties: people drink a lot, people do dumb things, and everyone over eats.  However, these parties are never dull. Usually you are able to get to see the more playful side of the lab members and teachers, and of course we generally just have a good time. I am quite fortunate in that my lab is not particularly unfriendly, and that most of our parties are over by 9 p.m.

Next week, we had another lab event, the 'Yamahon Challenge'. I have mentioned this twice before on previous posts, but basically the Yamahon Challenge is where we have a sushi eating contest among the lab members. We break off into our respective project teams, then have 2 hours to eat as many plates of sushi as possible. Each plate consists of two pieces of nigiri sushi, and the total dishes for each team are summed up. The team with the most plates wins the challenge (though there is no prize). Some people ate dessert afterwards.... I do not know how Japanese stay so small.

I took a series of photos from start to finish, so you can slowly see how the stacks of plates begin to accumulate on each table. Not to mention, everyone goes from a happy expression to one of pain.

No fun things happened in August, other than I started a part-time job. I found an English Summer Camp program on Nokonoshima island, where native English speakers act as camp counselors to Japanese children. For 3-4 days you do various activities with an assigned group of children, usually only speaking English (the kids usually do not understand you, but the point of the camp is for them to learn more English skills). This was a really fun part-time job! However, it is also extremely exhausting, especially in the summer humidity and heat. Luckily, the kids are also tired after the second day, but I have a new profound respect for parents. Keeping up with children is tough! Sadly, I have no pictures of any of kids (you need permission from the parents to take a photo together), but I hope to be able to attend next summer! It really depends on how busy I am in the lab, but it's a fun part-time job.
Speaking of lab-work, I was able to complete my Master Course!! Hooray! That means I am able to move onto the Doctorate level course and continue my own personal research. It's really hard to believe that I have been in Japan nearly two years, already! Next thing you know, my five years may be up!

I'm not expecting anything exciting in September, but if it does happen, I shall post again.

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