Archive for March, 2012

Picture Tour of APU

Hajimemashou. APU wa Beppu ni daigaku no… ah. Suimasen? Ah, EIGO. Sou desu ne. You want English, huh? Fiiiine. This is the picture tour of APU that I promised. Are you ready? Let’s go! (the point of this is to introduce everyone to APU and to maybe help any new students find their way, as I was looost when I first got here) Anyway, it’s looong, folks, so fasten your safety belts and please keep all hands, arms, feet, legs, and tentacles down and inside the blog at all times.

First off, here is the “iconic” APU, the picture everyone takes. Seriously, they’ve even put little painted footprints where you should stand for this picture:

The feet look kind of like paws and are bright yellow. Stand, point, click. Easy-peasy.

These two buildings here make up the administrative section (left) and classrooms (right). They were the first to be built. The fountain is not on in this photo because it is only on from 11-4, and this was taken at 5, but it is pretty. Anyway, if you go right from this spot and then turn left, you will be here:

This is the bus stop, really nothing special. Bus fare to Beppu is 300 JPY one-way.

The bus stop, which is constantly busy with buses going everywhere from downtown Beppu (300 JPY for one-way with a CO-OP membership) to Oita City (fare varies based on day/sales). Now, from this picture, you turn left and see this:

This courtyard is behind the bus stop. You can see Millenium Hall in the background.

One of the courtyards. This courtyard in particular is in front of Millenium Hall, which you can see in the upper left corner of this picture. Millenium Hall is like an auditorium. Guest speakers come and presentations are given there. Now, if you go back to the first picture’s spot, the yellow feet, and turn left directly, you will see one of the most interesting buildings on campus:

A classroom building where Alien Registration took place and where the placement tests were held in 2012.

This is the classroom building known as “F Building.” Though the front is rather striking, the inside is just row after row of classrooms. Back at that same spot, turn around 180 degrees and you see the tiny rural town of Beppu:

Just a tiny little town, huh? Sleepy. Yes indeed. For Japan, anyway.

Also, if you look down from this spot, you see the amphitheatre and the sports field. Now then. Turn back around and walk to your right for about a minute, and you’ll see the cafeteria and money-exchange station:

This is just the cafeteria, not much to say here.

The cafeteria is behind this little shed where you can withdraw money from the ATM. I’ve checked, folks, and it accepts all major international credit cards. So, Visa, Mastercard, et cetera. Just check before you leave that your credit company is on the Visa or Mastercard network and you’ll be fine. Continue to your left from where this picture was taken and you will see the gymnasium, on your right-hand side:

The lighter building in the back is a basketball court.

Keep going and you’ll find the footbridge, from which this blog gets its header:

Following the footbridge, there are five flights of steep stairs. Be very careful, when it rains, the steps are extremely slippery. So be sure to either use the elevator or go slowly when the stairs are wet. Those stairs lead you directly to my home, AP House 1:

Ahh, home sweet home. In the bottom there you can see the AP House Fresh Market, which comes every Friday and some Wednesdays, and it offers all sorts of fresh produce, from bananas to broccoli to bok choy. All at very good prices too (about 80 JPY to 240 JPY). Highly recommended for convenience’ sake. Just be sure to say Arigatou Gozaimasu to the nice person selling you this food at such a great price!

Head inside and flash your ID Card or pink slip to the door guards, and they’ll buzz you in. You’ll immediately see the lobby, a pretty standard one at that, and if you turn right upon entering the doors you will find long hallways. And surprise surprise (we ARE in Japan, folks), a long line of vending machines:

Okay, so these aren’t really necessary for the tour. I just think they’re so cool. I highly recommend the Forever 17 products and the Milk Chocolate Salty Pocky. Yum, yum, yum. Now then. Ahem. Moving on. Proceed through the twisty hallway and up the stairs to the second floor, then turn right and keep going until you see the shared kitchens:

The APU shared kitchens are a little strange. A warning to the wise: The cooktops are IH, so they need special pans or you won’t be able to cook anything as the hotplates will refuse to get hot. Also, APU kitchens are not stocked with any supplies whatsoever, so if you have tools you really like to use at home (whisk, spatula, ladle et cetera), bring them with you. Also, always clean up the kitchen after you cook or the RA will give you that long, boring lecture about being responsible for one’s self and blah blah blah… (you get this ANYWAY even before you make a mess or even start cooking, but a repetition will occur and I imagine that it’s worse the second time around)

Dorm rooms line the hallways, and there are shower rooms and bathrooms on each floor (usually two rooms per floor). The laundry machines on my floor are in the shower room, and the machines can hold about four days’ worth of clothes, so they’re very small compared to American machines. Also, the washer takes twenty minutes but the dryer takes two hours, so plan accordingly (if you leave your laundry, it gets sent to Security, and I’m sure you don’t want them rifling through your delicates). The showers are pretty self-explanatory, right knob controls the pressure, left controls temperature. Don’t turn it up all the way or you’ll scorch your skin off. And the bathrooms are ‘normal,’ so don’t worry about that. Now then, a typical dorm room in APU looks like this:

Few things. One, the room key is needed to turn the lights on. Two, the chest of drawers tips over really easily, so put your heaviest clothes in the bottom drawer. Three, the shoebox that you can’t see, that is next to the desk, that’s for SHOES. Looks like a narrow bookcase but it’s for shoes only. The actual bookcase is to the left of the shoebox. While it’s not compulsory it’s recommended that you take off your shoes while in your room. Four, penultimately, the refrigerator has a small freezer and will stay on whether or not your key is in the slot next to the door… but things on the door of the fridge do not stay chilled as well as things inside the fridge, so keep this in mind. Lastly, and most importantly, the bed. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. The beds at APU are Traditional Japanese Futons. They are lower to the ground and the mattress is 2″-3″ thick. That pillow you see? That’s mine. I’d STRONGLY recommend you bring a pillow from home, as the one given to you at APU is a buckwheat shell pillow, and that can be difficult to get used to for newcomers to Japan. You will also get a comforter with a duvet (the duvet has a hole in the middle rather than the top, so you wrap it around the comforter) and a heavy quilt to keep you warm. Most new students use the comforter as extra padding at first, until you get used to the new sleeping surface. You will get used to it, I promise, but it may take up to a week.

So that’s APU. If you have any questions or if you want to see more pictures, comment below and I will gladly answer you.

But not now. Now, I’m going to bed. Oyasumi!


Orientation Suuuucks.

It suuuuuuccccckkkkksssss. Okay now I got that out of my system. So apparently at APU we have an eleven hour orientation… just got back from that. Lots of useful information but in a very very boring format. Best part of the day was, I made some new friends. Five new friends from five different countries, none of which are America. My roommate is from Hokkaido and gave me a Nippon-Ham Yu Darvis poster. Too bad I don’t know baseball, but it is still such a cool gift!

So orientation was interesting in one way; we got to go around playing “Tomodachi Bingo” which is like regular bingo but you have to find people and ask them questions to score points. The first three winners had to come up and introduce themselves and their friends. One of them later made a study group which I joined, so that’s a lot of fun. We all basically yell at each other in Japanese and get corrected alot, which is perfect.

I tested into Foundation II Japanese. Foundation II is chapters 8-14 of the Genki textbooks, and my last class stopped at chapter 7, so it’s really perfect. Class does not begin until April 11th, so until then I have many things to do. We’ve already arranged a cooking co-op on my floor and on Saturday, the six of us are going into Beppu City to buy groceries (fresh produce is not sold in the school food store). We had yakitori (noodles and sauce) and takoyaki (little dough balls with octopus in them) tonight, and yesterday night we had corn and Japanese sweet potato stew. I don’t know yet what I will cook when it’s my turn. I did buy a week’s worth of rice, some eggs, and milk from the APU store, so at least I have breakfast. Lunch I usually get at the cafeteria, as a brick of tofu and white rice is only 140 JPY. The tofu, I’ve found a cooked version, so it’s much better tasting than that chilled stuff.

I feel like I’m rambling but I don’t really know what to say. Tomorrow I will show you the APU House in pictures and explain each one, but I’m too tired to post them all tonight. Jaa, oyasumi!

So, today… I know this is the second post of the day, but I feel that a lot has happened that I should write about. After I got breakfast, I went to see what I needed to do in order to stay legally in Japan. I was told to visit room F106 to fill out forms to get my Alien Registration Card (ain’t that an awesome name?). So to kill some time until my appointment, I went ‘sploring and found the building where you can sign up for the APU Co-op, which offers lots of discounts on travel, food, books, et cetera. So I signed up and then bought some stuff I needed from the store right next door. Also, I discovered that my room was supposed to have an ice tray but that the last resident stole it. So I had to go to the Housing/Security Office and request a new one. I then got locked in for a brief period of time because I didn’t know how to get the door open (you have to flip a tiny switch that’s on the door), but luckily someone came along and helped me. I also found two pianos in the lobby of AP House 1 (I’ll have to ask about whether or not I can practice there).

After all that, I still had more time, so I checked out the cafeteria for lunch and got rice and a brick of chilled tofu for only 140 JPY (that’s about 1.65 USD). Note to Americans and those unaccustomed to the unique taste of tofu: it’s gross chilled. Really, unimaginably gross. Drown it in soy sauce and try to ignore the feeling of chomping on fermented slime. Don’t get me wrong, I love tofu, I eat it multiple times per week; it just was not meant to be eaten cold.

Something interesting about Japanese cafeterias which you may not have known: they have little sinks at the entrance/exit that you use to wash your hands both before and after eating. The hand soap at this one looked, smelled, even sprayed kind of like Windex, but it got the job done. Also, when you take your food from the line or request something from the cafeteria workers, you’re supposed to bow as you take it and humbly thank them. Not really deeply, or over-dramatically, just a quick bend of the shoulders and an “Arigatou gozaimasu.” And if you take something from someone or offer someone something, always offer with both hands if possible. See how much I learned today alone? xP

Today was the first move-in day for Japanese freshman, so I’m seeing a lot more people around campus. My roommate arrived, too, though we haven’t actually met yet since she literally just got here and is still unpacking. The actual campus itself is bustling away… did you know that in Japan, if you’re late, it’s perfectly fine or even expected that you run to get there faster? I saw many people running this way and that way, looking very intently busy.

I was all excited about the vending machines (have you seen them, who wouldn’t be?), but as it turns out most of the stuff offered in them are actually Coke products. No kiddin’. There is one Glico machine in AP House 1 that sells “Forever Seventeen,” a type of ice cream that’s actually more like a candy bar I think, since it looks like it’s a wafer shell stuffed with ice cream, chocolate, and toppings. I’ll have to try one eventually and get back to you on that.

After I had my lunch, I went on a mini-adventure quest type thing trying to find the designated classroom (there is no English on the building labels) and had a ball (can you sense me rolling my eyes right now?) filling out the mountains of paperwork that are needed to get a registration card. I got my kanji crossed and wrote four times that my birth year was 2012… This greatly amused those responsible for checking over the paperwork. I managed to get through it, though, and afterwards returned to my dorm and am now writing this.

I think I’m going to go wander around campus some more and find the library, maybe play some basketball. I’ll write more tomorrow.

I moved in last night but I was too tired to post anything, since my flights literally took twenty-two hours across thirteen timezones; however, I slept really well and now it’s morning. My room is about eight by ten feet, or maybe closer to two by three meters.

I’ve never kept a blog and don’t know quite what people expect me to write… but I’ll try to tell you about anything interesting that happens to me. The flights were mostly uneventful besides that, though we did fly over Siberia and its giant mountains of snow and ice. I couldn’t get any good pictures, unfortunately, as I was in the aisle seat. And on the second flight, I was adopted by the flight attendants once they figured out that I was going to Beppu to study Japanese. They were very kind to speak Japanese with me and to slow down when I asked. We also literally flew past Fujisan. It looked like a small hill with lots of snow on it from how high up we were. See?

Right now, I’m going to go get breakfast, since the cafeteria just opened up. I’ll write more on APU later–I took a lot of pictures. Oh, right. APU = Asia Pacific University = My home for the next four months.