Shocking, I Know

As I'm writing this, I'm actually working on a reflective essay for my uni, but it's got me thinking a little bit about culture shock. Prior to leaving for Japan, I was very anxious. I was told by lots of people that I would experience culture shock and, whilst that's totally ok, it was also something I should be prepared to experience. The truth is though, now that I think back, I don't think I ever really experienced culture shock.

If you do a bit of reading online, you will quickly see that culture shock is usually broken down into stages (thanks Wikipedia):

The Honeymoon Stage: Every little thing is amazing and exciting and life is as if you were looking through rose tinted glasses. You may remember this phase from your last relationshipThe Negotiation Stage: The honeymoon period is over and all those little quirks that you used to love now kind of piss you off and remind you of how they were better back at home. This is the phase most commonly referred to as cu…

It's Time For Some Constructive Criticism

So term has ended and, before long, I'll be heading back to England. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing my dog after what feels like forever, as well as his new little brother whom I can't wait meet, but I'm somewhat less excited about starting my third and final year at uni. When did that even happen? So, in true denial style, I've decided to do a little pros and cons comparison of England and Japan by listing what I think each country could learn from each other. Let me just say here and now that I love both England and Japan very much, and these are just little things that I think could make each country even better.

What England could learn from Japan:

Separate bag-packing areas at the checkout - I'm certainly not the only one who finds the process of packing your bags after you've paid at the checkout intensely stressful. You're trying to pack your bags properly whilst also taking the change and receipt from the checkout person whilst also bei…

There's a Lesson to be Learned Here

Whether I wanted to or not, it was inevitable that in my time studying abroad here in Japan I would compare my home university (UCA) and my host university (NUA). So today I thought I'd take a little look at how the classes differ between the two unis. Obviously, I can't compare everyone's timetables and lessons so I'm just going to compare my timetable in UCA with my friend Kato's timetable here at NUA. The reason I'm not comparing it with my timetable here at NUA is that I only had to take five classes in order to get enough credits to pass the year back in England and I wouldn't be able to take a lot of the classes due to my pretty shaky Japanese.

So here is Kato's timetable:
By comparison, my timetable at UCA goes as follows:
Monday       9.00-12.00 Illustration
                      12.00-1.00 Lunch
                      1.00-4.00 Illustration
Tuesday       9.00-12.00 Illustration
                      12.00-1.00 Lunch

Got Wood 4: It Got Smaller Again

Fresh off my door-sized print and inspired by my recent trip to the Nagoya City Science Museum (which kinda looks like that robot from The Incredibles), I decided to go a little outside my comfort zone by producing a three-colour print of a pattern (as opposed to any particular thing). I was still recovering from a pretty painful hand cramp and I was starting to worry about how I'd take all this work home, so I decided to go for a postcard-size print which, in hindsight, I think suits the design perfectly.

Unsurprisingly, this print took no time at all to finish, and I made a total of eight, whimsical little prints that I am very pleased with. When I get back to England, I'd really like to go back to this design and reprint it with different colour combinations, it could make for an interesting series!

I Guess I'm a Bit of an Exhibitionist

One thing I should probably tell you about NUA is that, in the middle of the campus, there is a large(ish) gallery space that has a weekly rotation of students' work. It's actually something I really love about this university and I honestly wish that UCA did this as well, because it's so awesome to look at everyone's work and support your friends and fellow students in the process. I think I'll suggest it when I get back to England...

Anyway, at our orientation at the beginning of the semester, we were told that there was going to be an International Students Exhibition and that this would be a chance for us to show off the work we'd produced during the term. Admittedly, this exhibition took place about a month before the end of term, so not all of our work would be finished, but the hope was that we would have enough work between us to show off the power of the foreigner (or something like that). Having just missed out on exhibiting my work with the rest of my…


So this is a bit of a strange one. Since coming to Japan, I've obviously noticed a whole bunch of differences between here and old blighty. Some of them were to be expected, such as the food, some of them were a surprise, such as how cheap eating out is, some of them were not a big deal, such as the train/subway system, and some of them were totally random and unimportant and yet somehow completely threw me.

This is a post about one of those things.

Now the majority of the eastern world uses the Roman alphabet (a, b, c...) and whilst the order of these 26 letters is fairly arbitrary, we never really think about it. It also makes sense that the vowels follow the same alphabetical order. Now Japan doesn't use the Roman alphabet. Instead, it uses Kanji (Chinese characters representing words), Hiragana (a set of 46 syllables, or sounds, used to construct words), and Katakana (the same 46 syllables but with different characters, mostly used for foreign words). Hiragana and Katakana…

Got Wood 3: It Got Bigger

So a few weeks ago, I was talking to my course leader here about the upcoming international students exhibition and what I was planning to exhibit. I showed her all of the work I'd done up until that point; my etchings, my first woodcut, my calligraphy etc. and she was a really big fan of the large, floor calligraphy that I'd done at the beginning of the term. She then came up with the idea that I should do a really large woodcut inspired by one of the kanji that I had drawn, with the goal of exhibiting them side by side in a few weeks time. Though hesitant at first due to the practicalities of taking a print that large home to England, I agreed, and she told me that she would have some wood ready for me to carve by that time next week. Blissfully ignorant of what I was getting into, I went about my business, and the next week I came to class with a design in one hand and my cutting tools in the other. People. This piece of wood was big. Like, the size of a large door big. I t…