I’m here!! Finally!

So this is only about 6 weeks too late, but here’s me letting you all know that I made it!

Moving to Japan has been a rollercoaster of stress, emotion and incredulity. In all honesty, moving here was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and before I can start telling you all about the fun I’ve been having, I feel I’ve got to talk about how much fun I’ve not been having. This post is probably a bit of a downer, but I want to let you know why I haven’t been blogging and telling you about all the great stuff that’s been going on!

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So, imagine it. You’re going to uni for the first time. You don’t know anyone, you’re in a new place and everything is different. And now imagine that you’re doing that in a country that has an entirely different language and culture. You have a roommate from a different cultural and linguistic background.
It’s not necessarily the culture shock or homesickness that everyone has been telling you that you must be feeling which has made things so hard, it’s more about the fact you have to build yourself a whole new life here.

After being at Sheffield for a few years, it was easy to forget just how damned hard it was to acclimatise in those first few months. All too easy to forget that it took me a whole semester to find the friends that would become a lifelong family. Which is probably why I was so shocked that I wasn’t immediately having the time of my life here in Japan. After all this is what I’ve been working for, right?

So, not only are you somewhere new, everything is different. Cultural differences, language barriers and also shared experiences. When you first start University back at home, it’s easy enough to bond over that TV show you both watched as kids, or the way you had to do your GCSE’s in high school. These things aren’t necessarily true over here. Instead it’s way way too easy to focus on the way things are different
. This can be a good thing, I feel incredibly lucky to have learned so much from exchange students from all over the world, but at the same time it’s really easy to find these differences alienating and hard to relate to. Which is why it’s easy to see how many exchange students here have latched onto people from their own home countries.

So basically, what I’m trying to say is that no matter how much people shout culture shock, or homesickness at you- you don’t have to experience it in the way that they tell you it will happen. For me, it was difficult to merely fit in, push my boundaries and make friends.
(Heaven knows my friends from Sheffield were sick of me complaining about how much I miss them after only a week!)
It was hard, and some days it still is. But now I have some wonderful friends, an amazing room-mate and I’m slowly getting to know some great people in the clubs I’ve joined. Not only this, I’ve had a great time exploring Japan with people that I might never have had the chance to meet before. So in this sense, yes I am having the time of my life- but I do have to work for it! Which is why you haven’t heard from me too much in the whole 6 weeks I’ve been here.

So I’m going to round off this post with a few photos of the friends I’ve made and a promise to write more soon now that I’ve settled in a bit more! So, until next time~

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行ってきます!

So, that’s it. A whole summer of waiting, and I’m finally on my way. This flight is going to be a killer though! I’m leaving Manchester Airport at 10:50am, and arriving into Akita on the 26th (tomorrow) at around about 2:25pm local time (so that’s 8 hours ahead for you folks still in the UK).
This wondrous ‘adventure’ includes three flights, the longest of which is a whopping 11 hour and 20 minute flight from Munich to Tokyo Haneda. Yay.

This flight will be my first time flying alone and I am so so nervous. (What if I miss my flight? lose my bags??)
However, I’m not going to be alone for long. When I change at Munich I’ll be meeting Lizzie, who is also going to be studying at AIU with me this year! 
Even though I’m going to know someone from back home, I’m expecting the homesickness to hit me pretty hard. Living in another country will be difficult, and it’ll be strange not to have the same level of support from friends and family that I’m acclimatised to. That said, I’m trying to push myself further every day- do at LEAST one thing a day (okay… maybe once a week) that I don’t want to do. 

On top of this rather ambitious task, I’m going to set myself some more realistic and attainable goals.

1) Drink lots of water, it’ll help with the jet-lag.
2) Don’t panic if something goes wrong, ask someone for help.
3) Eat meals on time (they will be provided so EAT them!)
4) Get as much sleep as possible.

These are probably about the best I can do now, but with any luck it’ll be good enough. Of course I’m excited to be in Japan and do ALL the things, but for me at the moment nervousness outweighs the fun part. In any case, I’m looking forward to seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on the plane.

My next post should be from Japan!! So until next time, またね!

A student always pays their debts

Lannisters may always pay their debts, but what about students?
In my last post , I talked about exactly how much a year abroad will be costing me, and everything that needs to be considered when undertaking a year abroad. So how am I going to deal with it? In all honesty, with difficulty. However, there is plenty of help available for those who look. Continue reading

The weight of living

Summer is ticking on and it’s about time that I talk about something incredibly important- the cost of living.

It sounds boring, I know. However, it’s probably one of the most important things you absolutely need to know about for your year abroad. Since it’s something I’m worrying about a LOT at the moment, I thought I would walk you all through some of the things you need to consider if you’re thinking about living abroad. Continue reading

こんにちは!Introductions and salutations.

こんにち-ワッサップ! Hello there friends! Well, this is a little bit strange to be writing (especially at 5am when I have an essay to write, an interview to prep for and exams to revise for). Possibly the strangest part is that I’ve never actually written a blog before, so please bear with me. This is my quick intro post which hopefully should tell you a little bit of what I’m about, and also what you’ll find on my blog…. Well, that’s the aim anyway! So, I’m Fiona, a 21 year old lady (hah) with a love for Japan, horses, fantasy and sci-fi fiction. My hair colour seems to change with the seasons, but I don’t think any of those things are related. I’m a bit of a social butterfly that LOVES getting involved in everything I can- societies, circles, you name it! (see below for gratuitous photo of myself and some of the other wonderful members of the 2013-14 Japan Society Committee at the awards ceremony where we won Best National/Cultural Society of the year!) In addition to that, as the blog-title suggests, I’m pretty unknown in Japan…… but that’s just for now! I’m currently a second year undergraduate at the University of Sheffield, majoring in Japanese studies- funny that… But more excitingly, I’m going to be moving to Japan for my year abroad in August of this year. I’ll be studying at Akita International University (AIU / 国際教養大学)for an entire academic year!! So I’m hoping to be having way way too much fun to be crying about the snow: Copyright goes to original author- no infringement intended. Found at http://pinktentacle.com/2011/02/photos-snow-monsters-of-japan/ But anyway, I digress. So hopefully what you will see from me here is the entire process of my year abroad in Japan. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the more boring administrative points of getting to japan- and then onto the actual living there! There will probably be lots of photos of food (obviously a priority), snow and lots and lots of Japan’s culture, history and vibrancy, the more I travel the more you’ll get! Look out for bonus videos too- although that will have to wait until I get a shiny new camera~~ So, that wasn’t too painful now was it? Until next time, またね!