The year abroad adventures of a Scottish otaku in the North of Japan

Tag Archives: great british bake off

As easy as it might be to believe that, especially as a student, I have just been living off instant ramen (noodles), I can fight against that! In my tiny kitchen, with its one rubbish IH hot plate and my tiny fridge with a freezer the size of a small lunchbox, I have actually managed to cook proper food in the last few months.

Sometimes I’ve been cooking food that I know: pasta, bolognaise, teriyaki (yeah, I know it’s Japanese but I’ve been making it from scratch at home for a while), carbonara.

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Other times I have made new things: Hokkaido Shichu (a kind of creamy stew), Japanese curry, etc.

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Spot the plaster – this is what happens when you try to chop up pumpkin with a sharp knife….

I have also managed to prove that you don’t need fancy tools to make food. I managed to make a couple of batches of English muffins (cooking them in a frying pan) – this was inspired by watching The Great British Bake Off. I also managed to make a passable soup (pumpkin and sweet potato) using a sieve to puree it. Ok, so the last one didn’t taste as food as I’d hoped, but it was ok.

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Sorry, this post is a bit of an interlude. Nothing very interesting has happened lately. Although I will hopefully come up with something knew for next week – maybe the fact that the small British colony here will be celebrating Bonfire Night tonight with a total of 8 sparklers, aren’t we awesome? If we can find some decent fireworks, we’ll have a proper bonfire, but these are yet to be found 😦 Well until next time, 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!

Home Comforts
Ok, so even though I’ve only been here a few weeks, things that remind me of home are still a godsend.
First is this shop: Kaldi

This store is basically a foreign import’s store, where you can find the likes of Digestives and Nutella (for a price).
Next is this guy:

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: 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!

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