Sunday, January 27, 2013

Akita: A snowman's paradise

I admit that when I first saw snow at Akita International University (AIU) I was so happy to see it. Coming from Hawaii, I am used to warm weather, beautiful beaches, and the laid-back culture. I have seen snow in Japan a few times before coming to AIU, but this is my first time living in it. This is my fourth time in Japan and during those other three times, I had seen snow at Mt.Fuji three years ago and at some other part of Japan I do remember when I was eight-years old.

After living in the snow for several weeks, I realized how much I miss Hawaii's warm weather, and how much I dislike the snow. I find it frustrating how the snow blows at my face when there is a blizzard and how cold my room gets when I stay in my room for too long. In addition, most of the campus except for the library is cold so I usually go to the library to stay warm and save money for heating. According to my friends, the two worst months for snow at Akita are January and February. Below are pictures of the snow at AIU.
Snow outside of the library

Snow near my apartment: University Village

The first day I returned to AIU for the winter semester was very difficult for me because I was carrying several suit cases from my trip in Sapporo and there was so much snow at my apartment that I had to literally carry my suitcases over three feet of snow for several minutes because there was no walkway for me to drag my suit cases.

If there is one thing I like about snow, it is being able to do winter activities such as snow ball fights, skiing, and making a snow man. There are also no bugs during the winter. Recently there was a school sponsored ski trip that allowed students to ski at a ski park for a reduced price. However, because of a class I am taking this semester, I was unable to go to the ski trip because of a scheduled field trip on that day. Unfortunately my field trip for class got canceled and the seats for the ski trip were already filled up so I just missed a great skiing opportunity.

Due to the cold, I need to wear more warm clothing at night such as socks and more sweaters while sleeping with the blankets in order to prevent myself from turning on the heater at night. In addition, because of the cold I realized that it is better to leave food outside of the refrigerator because the room is cold enough where I can leave a warm soda in my room for a few hours and the drink will become cold.

Besides dealing with the cold recently, I have started cooking more. Recently I made both Hawaiian and Japanese food such as meat jun, lomi-lomi salmon, and beef sukiyaki don buri. I find cooking to be relaxing because it prevents me from missing food back home, and it allows me to do something productive. Later on I want to make other food such as Haupia Pie and Shoyu Chicken. I do not think I am a good cook, but I think the food that I make is not bad because my roommate and some of other friends like the food I make. I still burn pots occasionally, and I usually have trouble finding ingredients, but I feel more comfortable cooking now than I did last semester.
Home-made meat-jun
Home-made lomi-lomi salmon
Home-made beef sukiyaki donburi
Lastly my friend that is also from Hawaii and the University of Hawaii, and fellow blogger Keli'i had to quit his classes at the start of the Winter semester because he got really sick. Keli'i missed some of the first few days of class and because the winter semester is shorter and more intense compared to the regular school year, Keli'i quit his classes this semester and decided to travel instead and live with his Japanese relatives in order to practice Japanese. Keli'i will be here for spring semester and will try to take an exam to skip the class I am currently taking so he can be in the same class that I will be in next semester.

As for me, I probably need to continue working on plans for Spring Break and studying Japanese. According to the Japanese students my speaking has approved because I sound like a Japanese person.  They also noticed my increased vocabulary. Unfortunately I still need to spend a lot of time studying the writing system, reading comprehension, and listening.

At AIU, I also noticed that a lot of the Japanese students that will be graduating within a year are wearing black suits and skirts. The reason is because Spring is job hunting season for Japanese students, and new employees start their jobs around April: one-year after being hired. For Japanese students, it is very important for them to find a good company to work for because if they quit, they will have a difficult time finding a new job in Japan because Japanese companies seems to hire young people only regardless of their college degree. In addition, I also heard that promotion in Japanese companies is determined by the amount of time someone has been with the company, not just their skill-set only.