Saturday, June 30, 2012

The First donation!!!

Just a quick little chirp to thank Wolf Lover for donating to my study abroad fund! The meter will be updated soon!

Image from

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thank Goodness for Senpai and Tomodachi

A day or two ago I began the arduous task of searching out and purchasing the perfect denshi jisho (electronic dictionary). Being completely new to this strange completely kanji filled world I was lost. How do you choose a product when you can't read the descriptions? How do you know which model is what.

Of course, I was over and under thinking things. My first instinct was to hit the Japanese Amazon. However, I was quickly lost in a sea of question marks.

My awesome senpai who will also be studying abroad soon.

So yesterday (was it yesterday?) I asked my せんぱい(senpai) or senior classmate for some help. She managed to find a site in English (why didn't I think of that?) that had a lot of the newer models and allowed for searching based on just about everything. Long story short, we picked out my denshi jisho. The site we used for research purposes (I'm a penny pincher!) was Denshi-Jisho. According to the website it's designed for English speakers who are learning Japanese. I'll give you the low-down on it once it arrives.

Casio Ex-Word XD-D9800GM

Which brings me to my second point. My awesome 友達(tomodachi), or friend. In the fall of 2011 I hosted my second of three exchange students. She's completely awesome. Anyways, she's recently moved back to Tokyo and, since it's roughly $135 cheaper to buy this beauty from Japanese Amazon (see, my instincts weren't that bad) than from the other site, shipping included, she has agreed to once more be my savior. So my awesome friend will be mailing me my denshi jisho and in exchange I'll be sending money to her in Japan. More on that once I figure out how I'm going to do that.

My awesome tomodachi.
Other than wrangling with how to enter a Japanese address (what goes where?) on Japanese Amazon and a few mishaps with fraud prevention (they call me every time I order something, haha) things are fairly smooth. My advice for everyone, make some awesome senpais and tomodachis to help you out! They're life savers! 

Edit: Here's some information on hosting students for the University of Oregon. You can host a student from near about any country. The program is usually 5-14 days long and you can make some seriously awesome friends. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Going to be out for a little bit.

Hey everyone! Hope you're enoying your summer vacation so far. Mine's only a week long so I'm taking advantage of every moment of it!! Anyways just wanted to let you know that I won't be around for the rest of the week.

In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions about study abroad in general or more specifically that you would like answered and I will do my best!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Study Abroad paperwork never ends

So just another short update! Last week I told you all about my acceptance into the post-interview section of my study abroad application. Since then I've done a little bit of the legwork, well, as much as I can for now anyways. Now completed are:
  • Academic Advising form and meeting. Basically I had to meet with my academic advisor and together we looked over my progress so far and what I need to complete in order to graduate. Easy, nothing to worry about, but the deadline was tight. I had only 2 weeks before the due date (which is tomorrow!). 
  • Study Abroad Health Evaluation form. This one was a bit more tricky. Well, not tricky, just a bit more leg work. First there was a two page self evaluation survey. Do you have diabetes, allergies, medications, etc. After that was a doctors appointment for a physical. Fortunately I completed one back in February (for you ladies out there your yearly pap counts as a physical, so no need to for extra appointments if you've done it recently.). Then the doctor signs off and you're good to go. This one had a longer deadline, three weeks from interview. But it's taken care of now.
All that's left for the moment is an appointment with my campus travel clinic. No deadline on this one and unfortunately you have to wait until the term prior to leaving to do this. So bummer there, can't get it taken care of. The wait is good however since it will allow the clinic to give me the most up to date information on travel advisories, required and recommended immunizations, etc.

Advice for the day is to read your paperwork. I think I may have said this already, but read them carefully the moment you receive any form. I would have known to wait if I'd read them immediately.

Photo by Illaura Rossiter. Copyright 2012. Seriously, please don't steal it.

So that's it for the day. This term is winding down and I finished my Japanese final today with only one more to go! And just a heads up, updates might be sparse for a while as there is not much I can do in preparation for studying abroad during the summer term. I'll keep you updated though, don't worry. On the other hand you can look forward to a view ups and downs of taking summer classes for the first time in my life.

In lieu of my missed summer vacation I went to the coast with my family this past weekend! Here's a picture for your amusement since I don't have images for anything else!

My whole family, mom, brothers, sisters, dad, grandparents and me!

Until next time!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I love my (volunteer) job!

Some days I really do love my volunteer job. Unfortunately today was my last day for this school year as there are only 5 more days. For those of you who are new, I volunteer at 友人学園 (Yujin Gakuen) Elementary School.

So anyways, today was my last day at Yujin Gakuen. Everything happened as usual except that my fellow volunteer taught part of the day's class. There was no homework to help the students correct so it felt like I milled around a lot helping where I could and making sure everyone understood.

After math and Kanji, it was about time for the kids to go to their next class, but instead Jemei Sensei had me come up to the front of the classroom. I assumed I was just going to say goodbye, but instead the class presented me with a packet of thank you letters they had written for me.

Letter from Heidi.

After that they sang a couple of songs for me, one was the song for the teachers at YG another was a song called Believe at the end and lastly a goodbye friend song. It was very amazing and I was completely blown away (4th graders rock at singing by the way!). I was literally at a loss for words.

Letter from Jeremie, a student I worked in particular with to help teach hiragana.
His was the only letter to contain English since he transferred into the school late.
He was also the first elementary school student to use my worksheets from

One of the students, who didn't quite like to pay attention in class, presented me with a bouncy ball and Pokemon card and another student gave me a drawing she had made for me. Overall, I was entirely overwhelmed. I don't think I can explain how much so.

Picture by Marion
You're probably wondering what this has to do with study abroad. Well, it doesn't this time. Not really anyways. I started volunteering to get some practice speaking Japanese, but the overall experience has more than confirmed that I really want to become a teacher.

On another note, I'm working on the post-interview process of my study abroad application. Today I learned that I have an academic adviser who has been assigned to me since I declared my major and I met with her. She was very friendly and we went over what I need to graduate. 55 credits left to go until graduation, given that all of my classes fill one requirement or another, about year and a half of school before I go onto the graduate stuff. Moving on, that's all done now and I'll have an appointment with my doctor soon for a physical to complete the documents due soon.

The view from the 4th floor window of Friendly Hall waiting for my advising appointment.

One piece of advice for those of you thinking about going abroad, read your forms before you take them in! I didn't read my travel clinic form and found out that, unlike the other documents, it will not be due until a week or so before I go abroad. The receptionist kindly had to turn me down and tell me to wait to come back until the term before I go abroad so that I will be given the most up to date information.

Last note, if you're looking into go abroad look into your vaccinations in advance. Insurance doesn't cover many of them and they can be VERY expensive. There are many sites online which can give you a general outline, but don't base your facts on the internet alone. Make sure to schedule an appointment with a travel clinic before you go abroad. They can advise you on all the latest and greatest in preventative immunizations before going abroad. Also, shop around, or at least know where you can get your vaccinations and how long a period is needed to administer them. One of the possible vaccines I will need (more on this after my travel clinic appointment in September!) will cost, if I were to get it right now, around $500 for the two shots which takes about a month to be administered.

That's my advice for the day. And I'm still floating up on cloud nine and reading through those thank you letters! In the meantime if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail! If I can't answer them, I will find someone who can in order to give you the best facts and advice I can!

Until next time!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Committed to Japan

So, today it is official. I am now committed to my study abroad program. Seriously, I clicked the button that said so.

Anyways, the next steps are an academic advising appointment, visit with a doctor and I need to go over the vaccinations and things I need to know before going to Japan. ^^ Unfortunately I only have a week and a half to two weeks to get it done. Time to get to work. >.<

Hope your week is going fantastic! I'll update you as soon as anything new happens!

And as promised, a picture!! Or, well, a screen shot anyways!

Until next time!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Study Abroad Interview Jitters and Relief

So around May 1st I finished the written application for study abroad. Every three or four days after that I would receive an e-mail "reminding" me to complete the interview portion. It was a little bit annoying, especially since I couldn't schedule an appointment until I received an e-mail from the study abroad office. The computerized system never seemed to catch onto the memo even after I was able to schedule the appointment.

Anyways, the messages finally stopped on May 21st and I'd long since had my appointment scheduled by then. But there wasn't much to do waiting around for my interview other than twiddle my thumbs and wait. So I waited, and waited and finally on May 29th I kicked into interview mode. I talked with some friends who had already completed their interviews, reviewed my application and Japan Women's University's information. I also asked my professors for some advice and they all pretty much said the same thing.
  1. Be yourself - They're sending you to Japan after all, they want to get to know you and if you can make it in abroad. Being fake will only hurt you in the long run.
  2. Think about your goals and why you want to study in Japan? Don't just say you want to travel! What do you want to do with your Japanese language abilities, how will studying abroad help you with your goals?
  3. Think about why you want to go to that school. Is it something about their curriculum, location or even just cost? Know the facts, don't go into your interview blind!
The day arrived, I was nervous from the moment I woke up though I really didn't need to be. I put on all my nice clothes and did my makeup (unusual for me). The butterflies were out in full force and I could hardly focus on class, racing to my interview as soon as it was over.

After checking in at the international affairs office I waited nervously. I knew it would be a solo interview, I'd asked about it in advance. So instead of competing for attention, trying to make myself stand out like my friends had had to do, I knew it would be very much focused on me and what I am like as a person. My interviewer, a very nice lady by the name of Shun, retrieved me and told me not to worry, that we were just going to have a nice chat.

Other than the fact it was mostly me dominating the conversation that is exactly what we did. She asked me about my academic and personal goals, why I wanted to attend JWU, what qualities make me a good candidate for the JWU exchange program and a good representative for the University of Oregon. She also asked about what got me interested in Japan (which if you've been following until now you know started with anime and Sailor Moon). Does my family approve of me studying abroad? What would I do in such and such type of situation?  What is the most important thing to do as an exchange student and a host student?

To be honest I can't remember a lot of the questions now because we talked about so many different things. The interview lasted for a little over and hour though and by the end of it I was very comfortable with her and openly expressing myself.

So, my advice for those of you getting ready to interview for study abroad would be (and I might update this later to include comments from my classmates):
  1. Be yourself. I completely agree with my senseis (or teachers). They want to get to know you and if you'll be happy during your study abroad experience. They don't want you to be miserable the whole time you're abroad and I hope you don't either! 
  2. Relax! I know that being a worry wort can get you through all that final cramming and make you stay up an hour later to earn that extra 5%. This is not the time to be nervous. You don't want to stumble over your words and make yourself seem less than you really are!
  3. Breath! After you're asked a question take a breath. Think about your answer for a moment and then respond. I'm guilty of this. I rushed into too many questions without thinking and wound up repeating myself or forgetting the original question entirely.
  4. Prepare. Look into your study abroad program if you haven't already. What kind of courses are offered? Where will you be staying? What do you like about the program? Why that one in specific? It's okay to say one of the reasons you chose it was price! Not everyone is rich!
  5. Think. Think about everything. Think about the challenges you are going to encounter. How you will overcome them. Think about situations you might be forced into such as loud and noisy neighbors or roommates and how you will deal with them. Think about what you want to do, now and in the future. 
  6. Be confident. Go in there knowing that this is what you want to do and be confident in yourself and your ability to make your goals a reality!
That's it for now! Good night! And more pictures next time. I promise.

Update: As always, if you have questions or I wasn't clear, please e-mail me or leave a comment and I will address it in an upcoming post!