Yeah, sorry for the cheesy title – if it helps, I now have ‘It’s Chico Time’ stuck in my head….penance I guess.
So as you can probably tell, I’m a little behind in my blogging…..I blame global warming, or possibly the rather large workload I recently been dumped with! However, I have finally managed to find time to get these next few posts up. This one: the AIU festival.
Now for those of you who have ever read manga, you know that inevitably a school festival will pop up somewhere – this is basically what it is. For those of you who have no idea what manga is, a school festival is like a fair/village fete crossed with a school concert – masses of food, masses of fun and a whole lot of organisation!
(I’m in the back left corner of this one, honestly…)
As I’ve said in my earlier posts, I became part of Campus Art and this is what we have been preparing for!
(Look, aren’t we lovely!)
The theme of the festival was ‘GalaXy: connect the dots’, which followed the idea that, as the universe is ever expanding, growing and changing, so are we. Very inspirational. It also meant we got to draw lots of aliens and spaceships 😀 The festival also celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Akita International University.
We had two days of celebrations that included live bands from the Rock Band club, EAP dances (these are 1st year classes) and a speed eating contest….
I have to say, my favourite bit was all the food stands:
– Yakitori (fried chicken)
– Taiyaki (fish shaped batter with red bean paste inside)
– Takoyaki (batter covered octopus)
– Yakisoba (fried noodles)
– Imomochi (fried potato with cheese in it)
and so much more….my purse was complaining after a while, my stomach not so much!
The best part of the festival was definitely the night time bit. On the first night we had a huge bonfire, which we all sat around while some of the bands played on stage. The second night (the closing ceremony), we had a display of Kanto (a traditional Akita display, as mentioned in my last post) by our University Kanto team….I felt very involved in this as I got landed on at one point by several members of the team when one of the lantern stands fell over!
This is my roommate, Chino, who is part of the drumming/fluting section of the Kanto team – only the men are allowed to hold the lanterns, so the women beat out complex rhythm for them.
After this spectacle, we walked back to the main stage (the paths were now lined with lots of tiny candles) to see the closing film – a very emotional production about wishes coming true, working hard and being a bit silly! Just as the video ended, what we think was a special effect (it was too well timed), a shooting star appeared! Even if it was a special effect, it still gave you an adrenaline rush! It was so cool! Then, just as were about to think all our hopes would be dashed, the announcers started a countdown and we got a lovely show of fireworks!! It was the perfect night for it – clear skies, very cold.
Unfortunately, after this we had to start the campus clear up, so Campus Art was taking down decorations until 3am. But do you know what made it worth it? These guys. They are nanaki, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen more screaming girls in my life than for these guys….
Well, hopefully soon I should be uploading a little bit about an adventure into the mountains 🙂 Until then, またね！
So today it’s really sunk in that I’m actually in Japan (and for a long time as well). I guess that’s what happens when you stay at a Campus University. The past week has been a bit hectic (when is it ever not?), so I’ll break this up into little sections 🙂
So classes begun this week and they got off to a flying start – especially Japanese. My teacher, Kamei-sensei (not Kame-sensei – turtle-sensei) and the lesson is solely in Japanese….we also have a very mixed group of students: several from Taiwan, a few Norwegians, a German, a couple of Americans, a couple of Singaporeans and me…..although the class is still a nice size.
Japanese Literature class is taught by a very monotonous Russian guy (Professor Dolin). He spent the first 10 minutes of the class telling us all the books he’d written/translated. He seems a little full of himself, but he knows what he’s talking about 🙂
Pronunciation class is taught by this tiny elderly Japanese lady called Ayusawa-sensei. She also teaches us mostly in Japanese, but she’s also teaching us the correct intonations and pronunciations.
Unfortunately I haven’t actually had my International Trade class yet since the teacher decided to be away (and not tell us….). Ach well, it meant I had a free afternoon on Thursday!
COS is our community outreach opportunity at AIU. They offer the chance to go out into the community (sometimes paid) and do activities. I had my first experience of this when I signed up to help a group of middle school students practice their English. They were so cute!!
This semester I’ve joined two clubs and one committee (although one of the clubs has yet to materialise). I have Aikido – a Japanese martial art – twice a week. It’s quite strenuous on the wrists (because of the self-defence we’re learning) and the legs….
My other club is supposed to be a Bible Study group (because the nearest church is too far away), but we haven’t got a venue yet 😦
I’ve also joined the ‘Campus Art’ group which is supposed to be doing all the decoration for the school festival we’ve got coming up in October. The group is mostly Japanese students, so I’m gonna have to get my casual Japanese up to scratch!
This is the postman, if you can believe it! He has a little red van like at home 🙂
Other homely comforts include BBC world news being on in the cafeteria, listening to BBC Radio 2 on my laptop (Last Night of the Proms tonight!) and being able to watch iPlayer. “How does she do this?” I hear you ask! Well, there’s a controversial programme called Expat Shield that enables you to create an artificial IP address. Now as I said, it’s controversial and the BBC have refused to comment on it (here’s the article about it, if anyone’s interested: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2010/11/03/software-cheat-lets-people-watch-bbc-iplayer-abroad-an-update/). For someone who’s away from the UK for a while, it’s a godsend – I can watch the Great British Bake Off and Sherlock Series 3 (when it starts).
This was where being in Japan really sunk in….we were put on a meal plan (where we get meals from the cafeteria) for the first two weeks. After that it’s pay for meals, or cook for yourself – unsurprisingly I chose the latter of the two. However that meant I had to go food shopping, as well as getting starter items like oil and seasonings, which meant I actually had to navigate a Japanese supermarket. Being immersed in solely Japanese products while trying to decide what you need to survive for the next few weeks was definitely overwhelming. I did make it out of there alive, though (with my sanity vaguely intact – they had the same song on a loop the entire time I was there).
Well, I’m surviving here and got a bus trip tomorrow to Kakunodate (an old samurai village), so I’ll be reporting on that during the week. Until then, またね！