Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Life at Kansai Gaidai thus far

My time so far at Kansai Gaidai has been pretty eventful. My first couple weeks were composed almost entirely of paperwork for the school and communicating (arguing) with the three airlines that were supposedly responsible for my lost baggage. Though all the paperwork got completed and my baggage has been returned, it was definitely a hectic start. The CIE office was amazingly helpful. They helped me deal with the language barrier by talking to the one Japanese airline involved, as well as the various Japanese airports on my behalf. One of the best pieces of advice I have for people experiencing difficulties is for them to ask the people in charge of their program to help. Ask however many people from your program you need until you find one who can, and makes sure that they understand what you need (especially if there is a language barrier).

Kansai Gaidai student area/ food court 
Kansai Gaidai Center for International Education
After this rough start was over, I was really able to take time to appreciate Kansai Gaidai's campus. It is really very beautiful.  A majority of my classes are contained in the CIE building (shown below, behind the flags), though there is one other building I have a class in. That building has multiple levels, and a terrace with skylights, and greenery growing out of the concrete. The entirety of campus is just so well thought out.

Through campus sponsored events and from my own trips, I've seen a fair bit of both Osaka and Kyoto. I've seen the Yasukuni Shrine, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Kiyomizudera Temple so far. All three were lovely, but Kiyomizudera is the most beautiful place I've been to yet. When travelling, I think it's best to see as much as you can (within your budget, of course). I've attended a events that didn't even particularly interest me, just to me able to go see a new location with a group.

Fushimi Inari

Kiyomizu dera temple
Some cats in Makino City
Not all the things I've seen have been grandiose either. Sometimes it's good to look at the area around you, to see what life is like in the city you're staying in. If I hadn't, I'd never have found these kitties in the neighboring city. I've found adorable cafes, lovely walkways, beautiful parks, and adorable old ladies who give out candy ( That's a thing in Japan, apparently.  Little old ladies just carry around candy to give to kids and people who stop to chat.). Always take the time to appreciate your surroundings, especially since you never know when you'll be able to go back. 

I especially like exploring now that the leaves are changing. In Japan, the period in which the maples (momiji) turn red is called kōyō( 紅葉 ). The kōyō period is famously beautiful in Kyoto. Japanese maples have slightly different leaves than the ones we have in the states. They almost look like a certain kind of illegal plant leaf, but with slight differences in the shape of the arms of the leaf. They turn a very bright purpley red. They are often quite a bit smaller than American maple leaves, and so when you look up at a canopy of them the leaves look like little stars.

Leaves turning red at Kansai Gaidai
This is also the Halloween season, and though trick or treating is pretty uncommon, decorations,candies, costumes, and parties are. And, because this is Japan, all of the food items are absolutely adorable. They make your heart sing and your wallet cry.
Halloween ghost bread
By: Ray Cleavenger