Friday, September 30, 2005

Nature Around Us

Let me talk about how awesome this campus is. You might think that Carthage Campus is very natural and great because of all of the flowers and sparkling clean sidewalks. Well I might say it is good in the sense of an English Garden, but Hirodai's campus is like a Japanese Garden. The whole thing is amazing. Just look at the walk I took to get to campus today...

Pond Posted by Picasa
Path to Hirodai Campus Posted by Picasa

It really feels like I'm living in a forest, or at least closer to nature than ever possible in the US. Dense foliage, birds, trees, ponds, streams, rivers, fish, shrubs, insects. Outside is actually very noisy because of all of these animals. Let me tell you, that there signs to beware of snakes. I haven't found any snakes yet, but I have spotted myriads of species of grasshopper and crickets, at least 6 species of butterfly, swarms of dragonflies, two praying mantis (one dead and one live), spiders tucked into every open crotch of a tree. Oh, and did I mention there were 3 Japanese guys chasing after a small lizard in the middle of campus?!

One web near the pond is above my head. The main part of the web is 2ft in diameter, but two of the main supporting web lines are connected roughly 4ft away across the path. Overall, I expected many more bothersome insects like mosquitoes, but I guess having this true ecosystem alive on campus (SPIDERS!!!) keeps many of the pests at bay.

Let me just show you the picture of the spiders so you can understand how amazing these creatures are, and why I can never walk through the woody area on campus....

Spidey-Man Posted by Picasa

Jeez, those things give me the willys. These aren't run-of-the-mill house spiders like we have in the US, small and brown, but thriving wild spiders, yellow and up to 4 inches long if you stretch out their legs. No, I didn't touch it. It's just my guess. The smallest one of that kind I've seen is just 1 inch long.

I'm sure my Dad would be lost for hours on campus here. Well, it's not that he would be lost, but that he would be feasting on Japanese wild berries and fruits. Yea, they are here, I wonder if they are edible. There is one fruit tree on campus so far, I guess it might be a citrus fruit kind of like a lemon or orange.

I've been blogging pretty well so far, tomorrow I don't have much of a plan. Maybe Takoyuan is going to pick me up. I've still got to buy some things to get settled in. Let's see, cell phone, futon...That could be the last of my big purchases for a while. Ah! I'm going to the Yoshiura Autumn Festival on Sunday. I'll bring my camera with me, don't worry so much~

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My Japanese Tutor

My tutor Takuto. His nickname is Takuyan. At least I think that it is, I am having a hard time remembering this name even though we are always hanging out together. He is 23 and a graduate student of Hiroshima University studying Civil Engineering. Currently he has no classes, but is just doing research and experiments on Super Ultra Strength Cement. He said it was something about being able to create cement beams for buildings. Sounds interesting :) Originally Takuyan is from Hyougo, which is near Kyoto. Actually I have been to Hyougo before when I came to Japan last time to see Himeji Castle. Unfortunately, the traffic was so bad last time, I did not get to tour the castle. He does play sports, rugby, but he also smokes, Aki and I had a nice joke about this. Takuyan has studied English for just two years, but he studied very hard this summer to be able to help me better as a tutor. Still his English must be better than my Japanese. I am trying to speak in Japanese as much as possible and he helps me with it always, like trying to teach me how to say "choukyoukoudo konkuriito" (super ultra strength cement). He is also helping me with all of the applications I have to do like setting up a bank account, alien registration, buying a cell phone, and temporary hiroshima prefecture cultural activities card. This activities card could be most useful to me. Whenever I go to a public museum, park, temple, shrine it will either be completely free with this card or for a discounted price. ::greedily grabs camera and runs out the door::

Oh, you're still here? Takuyan and I gotta go now, Peace out!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Day 1 - Not so Lost in Translation

Wow, I woke up so early. It must have been around 7am. I guess the disadvantage of living around so much nature is that the birds and insects get pretty unruly when it's sleepy time. I took my shower in the morning and had my breakfast that I bought from Lawson Station the night before. Egg sandwich and vegetable juice never tasted so good. Then, I decided to start my trek around campus. Fortunately, I was not the only one alone walking. When I got to the pond at Harada Park, I met up with this guy Luca, from Alberta, Canada, and Sheng, from Minnesota. So once we met up we were just all hanging out walking around campus. We went to Nafco, a spin-off from Wal-mart I guess. They have a little bit of everything there. Then we went to Deodeo the electronics boutique. I never really expected the dorm not to have a 3-prong outlet, but my dorm has only 2-prong outlets! So I ended up having to buy a power strip that had a 3-prong slot to it and now I don't have to sweat TH3 dying on me (Oh, my laptop is TH3. Thurston Howell the Third). My tutor had to do some experiment with cement today so I went to the 100 yen shop with Luca with his tutor Yasu and Mabi, from Philippines, with her tutor Kana. I crashed at 4 after 7 hours of walking. Then woke up to meet some other friends David, Eve, Danny and Danny's tutor. We ended up going to McDonald's! I didn't eat anything because I'm in protest of USA food and because I had sushi for dinner [=]. After that we hit up a CD store where there is also old VHS tapes. We found stuff like Terminator, Star Wars and all the James Bond movies all with Japanese titles. I wonder if they are dubbed or subtitled, I want to hear the Japanese Schwarzenegger.
Well orientation begins tomorrow for we international students, I had better hit the sack! Oyasuminasai!

Luca - Sheng - Me Posted by Picasa
Hirodai (Hiroshima Daigaku) Tower Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Flight to Japan!

Well my flight was no so bad, just 13 hours. Well that is, 13 hours to Tokyo, then I have another 2 hour flight to Hiroshima after that! I'm wondering where all my fellow HUSA students are. There were supposed to be three of us on the flight from O'Hare, but there are so many people on that flight it was too hard to tell. Now I'm waiting in the terminal for my Hiroshima flight. I'm wearing my USAC shirt, which all of us received. I thought that would be a big enough give-away as to my participation in this program, but they are either MIA or just too shy to come up and ask me my name. One guy David said that I should be able to find him because he is gonna wear some goofy hunting hat, but still unable to find him as of late. I wonder when my partners will join me...

Now, I'll tell you a story of how I met Pharrell. Yes, that Pharrell. The one that works with David Banner and Snoop Dogg. Well I was going through immigration, when I noticed these 4 black people all together. Well, just noticing black people is not enough, but when you see a 350lb 6'6" black man carrying a genuine Louis Vuitton suitcase, which I believe couldn't possibly fit even this guys boxers. He was big to say the least. He was led by a another guy jamming to some music, decked out in shades and what not, very pimp. Then Pharrell had on this sweet hoody, you could tell he was trying to stay on the down low, but to no avail. So while we wound through the line, I would catch a peek to see if I could confirm his identity, when suddenly there was a dead give-away. The neck tattoo! So we wound around one more time, then I went up to him

"I gotta ask...Pharrell, right?"


"I just want to say I love what you do. I love your music," while shaking his hand.

"Yeh, Yeh."

It's too bad we were standing in the line, or I would have asked him to get a picture as evidence of our encounter. :) But hopefully this blog post will be enough. To all those who are studying abroad, did you meet any famous rap/hip-hop artists yet? I know I have [=]

Saturday, September 24, 2005

This is my brother's new kitty! It's awesome!! The kitten's name is Patch because of a white
spot on its underside.
Yes...the cuteness is too much for you...give in....jackpot!

playing space-ship WOOOO! Posted by Picasa
shoe-size kitty Posted by Picasa
on the prowl... Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 23, 2005

pix from Fargo, ND

philmiho Posted by Picasa
mihochan Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

T minus 3 days and counting...

I leave on Sunday!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Life in Fargo cont.

So what else was there to do in North Dakota? Well, there was a techno party downtown, but
it didn't seem like such a good idea. Miho and I both didn't know enough people to go there safely, when there would be alcohol there. She was worried about the police showing up. I guess the downtown is pretty cool though, even if I didn't get to see it. I imagine it can't be as bad as Rockford.

We met up with her friends Taylor and Mark. They are such a weird duo. Taylor is very vocal and always doing something, then Mark who is Japanese, but with USA parents, is so quiet. When Miho and I met up with them, just Taylor and I were speaking, while Miho and Mark listened trying to catch up with our slang-filled English. They are both pretty cool guys, too bad we couldn't have anything better to do than just to go to the Dining Center with Taylor. I did get to hang out with Mark for a while though because Miho, Mark and I went to the grocery store (its so small!!! Their selection was very limited) We picked up some ingredients for Nikujyaga. It is a Japanese dish of potatoes, beef, onion, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, seasonal green vegetables. When making Nikujyaga, you add water to the pot to cook down and cover the ingredients with a salty-sweet coating, but for some reason our pot had too much water..cough cough..and it started to turn into more of a stew than what I remember Nikujyaga to be. Miho and Mark said it was a good job though, and it did taste good. I have to remember this recipe for my senior year living off campus. Make a giant pot of Nikujyaga and just dig in!!

Monday was my last day in Fargo...
I went with Miho to her Chem 121 and Acting class. I'm sure now that these classes are too easy for Miho, well, because they are too easy for me. I suspected that I might not be able to understand anything in Chemistry, but actually it was a review of Mr. Mena's class. They were just talking about Molar Mass and the Law of Conservation of Matter. The only part that Miho is gonna have trouble with is the English. Then in Acting class I participated with their exercises then I watched as they did their assignments. It was fun to watch these acting exercises :) Then after classes Miho and I went to the airport and said our goodbyes...until we can meet again...

週末の思い出すは僕の心を気持ち良く暖かくなる。  愛してるみほちゃん。

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Multifaceted Life in Fargo, ND

Yatta!!!! I made it to see Miho, and we are both having such a good time. We first went to a car wash for her international students` organization. It was funny because Miho is such a quiet person up here, I actually introduced myself to people just because Miho actually didn`t know who they were, let`s see I met Deji, Bola, Stan, Nini, Neggie. Maybe a few more. Then even funnier, I was seeing these people around campus the next day and they were all like "Hey Phil!!," then I`m like, "Sup, Stan!!" Nobody was even saying much to Miho...I must just be that popular, hehehe. OK, I`ll make an update on the situation up here in Fargo tomorrow when I return to R-town.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ein Woche und Zwei Tagen

yea..that's how much time I have left in the States, just a week and two days for those of you who don't comprehend the elegance of the German language.
This week was clean-up at Magic Waters, collecting and cleaning garbage cans, cleaning the entire Dippin Dots building...finding out just how deep the grime has become at Magic this year. I logged 37.3 hrs over the week, so I can have a little bit more money for the time being. I've still got to work on Wednesday and Thursday. How funny would it be if I forgot to return my keys to Magic...hrm let's see, outer gate key, inner park key, dippin dots keys, all food outlet keys :)
Tomorrow is gonna be a long day. I'm going to Fargo to see my girlfriend. I can just see how much
there is to do in Fargo, ND. I'll make detailed reports for those who are interested. I mean seriously, it can't be that deserted right?

Thursday, September 15, 2005


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Monday, September 12, 2005

saishuuteki ni

Finally! I received the itinerary from about my flight. Yes, it's true. I'm going to see Miho in Fargo. I'll be there from the 17th until the 19th.
My mom asked me why I wanted to see Miho when I had just seen her barely one month ago. My reply was that I hadn't seen Miho for one and a half years and now that we are in the same country, the distance and cost is so much less. My mom replied that since I had been able to wait one and a half years already I should be OK until February, when I have the chance to see Miho again. Well, I don't like to be such an idle person waiting for the opportunity to arrise, it has to be created, especially with my experience in my relationship with Miho. Time is too precious. Money is not. I guess it must be my answer to "Would you rather be broke and happy, or rich and miserable." I choose to be happy, because I decide it.
I'm looking forward to spending time with you Miho, even if it's for a very short time. :)

Friday, September 09, 2005

To See Miho-chan

I have just one more chance to see my sweet girlfriend Miho Kaneko. She is a biotechnology major for the time being. It's great to have such an amazingly smart girlfriend who is so smoking hot at the same time. Also hard because im the jealous type of guy.

For some reason she decided to go to school in Fargo, ND. This is such an isolated town. It is so difficult to try and travel there. It isn't as difficult as trying to go to Japan, but the plane ticket is gonna be something like $180, but that is if I can get a ticket from Madison to Chicago to Fargo. If I try to buy a direct flight from Chicago to Fargo, it's $240...pretty crazy. So my day was spent searching other airports..Des Moines, Cedar Point, Milwaukee, Midway, even Rockford...but still this Madison flight is the cheapest. Then I tried to see how much a bus would cost to go to Madison...but there is no direct bus route to Madison from Rockford, I would have to be dropped off in Janesville and ride the bus from there, then walk to the airport. It's so hard to be so much closer to Miho but not being able to see her just the same...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

First Post

Yesterday, I returned from Kenosha. My last time to visit my friends from Carthage for a long time. I used to think that it would not bother me to leave everything here behind, but hanging out and seeing all of my old friends brought back some great memories that I don't want to fade away. Just the time that I've spent during my college life has been great because of my friends there, making each day a little more exciting than just going to class and studying alone.
I left many jobs for people to do while I'm away. They are not small ones either. Setting up an essay competition for students who have studied abroad, founding a Japanese club, keeping certain people in line so that they don't stress out when I'm not there to whip them into line...I can't help but feel a little guilty for leaving them these jobs, because they truly are my brain-children and to just leave the country, unable to finish it, motivating others to succeed in the time while I'm gone. I hope it's not too much work for them and that they keep in contact with me, so I can keep my grasp on the alternate reality which takes place on Carthage Campus.

Phil Posted by Picasa