The other day I got my Japanese Visa in the mail! It wasn't as complicated to get as I figured it'd be--the process was actually very smooth. I was super nervous about sending my passport in the mail to the Japanese Consulate in Chicago (even using UPS), but I got it back in just 2 days with this shiny new thang stamped inside.
Check out them cherry blossoms:
It's probably not a big deal to most people to get a visa, but I think it's way sweet! And sorry for the bad quality, right now I'm stuck taking pictures with my phone, as it looks as though my digital camera has called it quits for good. Oh well, it served me for a good 4 years, which I consider legit for electronic devices. I thought about asking for a new one for my birthday this summer, but then remembered that I'm going to pretty much the motherland of all things electronic pretty soon! It'll have to be one of my first purchases when I get there!
On August 18, I'm going to fly to Tokyo alone and meet up with Kayoko, then hit the town. I'm actually not too nervous about flying--though I've never flown alone, I've been in a few airports in my time, and last year I negotiated several Amtrak terminals by myself (including the Chicago depot, which was a little crazy). These of course are much smaller than airports, but I think as long as I ask around and be careful I should be fine!
I've been looking up videos and blogs made by other KGU exchange students lately to try and get a feel for what I'm in for. There's a girl who goes by Brother Annie who was over there last year and makes both Youtube vlogs and keeps a blog. Her videos are pretty awesome and cover a wide range of topics dealing with Japanese life.
There are also some great videos on Youtube showing off the seminar houses (which I will be staying in) and the university campus. This is a pretty cool video tour of seminar house 4; I found it surprising that we have a place to put our shoes outside of our rooms! I guess it makes sense, being all in Japan and stuff. But still, don't students ever have their shoes stolen? I really like the setup of the kitchen, with the lockers and shared fridges--I plan on using the kitchen often, partially to save money by cooking my own stuff, and to learn to cook Japanese food. The rooms look very simple and cozy--is it sad that I'm excited to sleep on a Japanese-style futon? I hope I get a good roommate. I signed up for seminar house 2 as my first choice, and 1, 4, and 3 after that in order of preference; seminar house 3 is actually an apartment-style dorm you live in with several people to an apartment, and while that could be cool, it also costs more per semester. If I'm put there though I won't complain!
Here's a video showing off KGU's campus. It looks super nice and the students are so fashionable! (Is it strange that that was one of the first things I noticed?) The cafeteria definitely looks like it has better food than at UNI (though you can't really beat hot wing and crab ragoon Fridays or crepe day in the Rialto...). But in all seriousness, I'm really glad that it appears that black tights were in style last fall, and I can only hope they still will be at least a little bit this fall. I'm a big fan of leggings/tights+skirts+layers! In the video they also mention the breakdancers performing in the amphitheater--my friend Masa is part of the KGU breakdance team, and I'm wondering if I will see him perform there this fall! He's way good, I've seen him dance at UNI. I think street dancing is popular in Japan, I know a guy from my high school who lived in Tokyo for a few years working as a street performer.
In my video search, I came across an interesting interview with a female KGU student regarding gender and Japanese society. I find it fascinating that although you always hear certain ideas and takes on Japanese society from westerners, it seems like they have a lot of the same problems and ideals that we have over here. This girl's thoughts aren't too different from what I may have answered if asked the same questions about being a female in society...and her comments on fashion are interesting as well. I think that I will maybe have more to say on this once I've experienced living there, and living there as an American, at that. I think it's funny that she talks about Nicole Richie; sure, many people here know who she is, but that isn't the first celebrity that would spring into my mind to talk about (especially if we're talking about fashion icons)! I guess that her fashion line (which I believe is House of Harlow, though I could be wrong) is pushed more there. Maybe it is here too, but I just haven't noticed it living in Iowa. Anyway, I'm going to try and embed the video here.
Well, I'm getting tired tonight, and it doesn't look like Kayoko's going to get on before I go to bed--after all, it's 4:30 pm there, and she's getting back home from a trip today, and is probably not home yet. I hope these videos informed or entertained someone, or at least killed some boredom! :)