Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Be Arisa, be International

Arisa is my name. My parents chose this name for Japanese and non-Japanese to pronounce it easily. The "r" sound seems to make my name "international." My sister name also has the "international r" sound.

They obviously wanted me to be international. I can now easily imagine that what they expected from me was to become fluent in English and to merge into the western world. I don't know if they included Asian, African or the Latin American countries when they said "international."

They also expected or expect me to be "Japanese", too. It meant to be ( in their point of view) fluent in Japanese( can use Keigo fluently), respect the parents and the older, be conservative, be a "girl", and stick with the flow. Those are really difficult to achieve once you have experienced the outside world. Being international in the means of communicating with non-Japanese cannot connect with the idea of being  Japanese at the same time.

So whenever I introduce my name to someone mostly to non-Japanese, because I rarely introduce my First name to a Japanese when I met him/her the first time. Look at their eyes, stretch my hand to shake their hands, and clearly pronounce "Arisa" with a big smile. They will sometimes say if it is a English name which some Asians have. I say no. Other times they tell me Arisa is a common name in their own country, Italy, Indonesia, France(well, may be the name of the sauce, "Harissa") and so on. At the same time,

 I feel "who am I?" International, Japanese, or neither or both.

I actually love my name including my surname because in the end it doesn't define me at all. It is my name. And that is all.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Long time no see...

Hello, I knew that my blog would not continue constantly, but his frequency was horrible. So I will start o write bits by bits so that there will be no pressure on me to continue this.

Today I will write about what kind of courses I've decided to take.

Introduction to Global Forced Migration- I've always wanted to take a course about migration and refugees, so his was a perfect course for me. Although I have to write 5000 words essay in the end of the course, I thought this would be my chance to deepen my knowledge.

Chinese 1- Yes, I've taken Chinese already for a year, so it would be really easy for me at first but I couldn't fit Chinese 2 in my time schedule so I had to take this course. But hopefully SOAS is really famous for language so it will take to a much higher level.

People, States, and Power in Asia and Africa- In Hitotsubashi University, I did a lot of theoretical studies, so  this time I wanted to take some courses specified on fields, and topics. This is a basic course for political department but I liked the fact that it focuses on every region and do it for 3 weeks on the topic.

Ethnography of South East Asia-I was always interested in Southeast Asia since I was brought up in Indonesia and my family is now living in Burma. The approach is from an anthropological point of view which  differs from other courses.

These are my courses for the year. Very different from my Japanese uni, in each unit, it contains lecture and tutorials which is like Zemi in Japan. So I have a very good opportunity to widen my knowledge with friends and professors. The members also look very interesting for having different backgrounds.

I will talk about the contents of these courses later.
So finally my school year began!!!!!

My favorite phrase from my professor
"Knowledge is not neutral. It is a product of power and it can be used as power."

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Can you imagine a life without...


One of the greatest points about UK is that the museums are free. I took the advantage of it and so far visited several museums. You will see so many paintings and art works that appeared in your text books, however, they are for all the people. Whether you are rich or poor, people have the right to embrace the treasure of history, and have the right to educate themselves with the art pieces.

It's hard for me to think that the government just let people go there for free. As Japanese, museums are the places you have to pay for, moreover need some energy and background information to go. Of course it is better to learn some of the art works before you go, but the important thing is that you really want to go there. It makes it much easier for us(not knowing so much about art people) to visit museums and appreciate the masterpieces also to catch up with contemporary arts. To tell the truth, I don't want to be the person who just can't help showing off their knowledge about art, but I merely want to enjoy the pieces and make my life fruitful.

So today I want to talk about some of the museums that I visited.

I always wanted to visit here, because I love contemporary art!!! And also I recently learned about British contemporary art in my afternoon pre-sessional class, so I wanted to see with my own eyes. Sadly, it ended last week, but the special exhibition done by Damien Hirst was one the most exciting ones(although, you had to pay for that one) I will talk about him next time. TATE MODERN is the place you need to visit before you die, I guess. The building itself is just incredible. It's huge and you feel like you are in a different world, sometimes there some art performances. This time, suddenly the people on the ground started to walk backwards slowly. It was creepy to watch but made a strange feeling towards human. Some people think that contemporary art is very complicated and hard to observe, but actually it is quite fun. Just ignore the meaning and purpose of the creator and enjoy your time with it. I think that is the hint to see contemporary art. Contemporary art is not popular in Japan, but I guess without knowing it, you cannot "see" what is going on this modern world.

It's located a little far from TATE MODERN. When I visited there, it was still renovating some parts. The museum is famous for Turner art works. Personally I don't enjoy his works, it makes me sleepy with the blurry atmosphere, sorry. However the special exhibition of photography was just wonderful. ANOTHER LONDON, is the photograph collections of 41photographers who took pictures of London. There were only black and white photos, but they succeeded in sharply expressing many faces of the city. I got interested in photos from last year so it gave me some inspirations of photography. Bruce Davidson was my favorite photographer.

The huge gallery containing historical paintings since 12th century. I went there today, but because of its size, we decided to choose only 2 sections to go. I personally loved the works of Vincent Van Gogh so chose Impressionism.  The famous picture called Sunflower was on the wall. There were too many people surrounding the picture, though. It's better to go there in three days or so since it contains soooo many art works. Also I felt that you need some basic knowledge of religious before visiting there because without it, you just be exhausted of man with dripping blood from his body.

I thought I went more, but it was three. Still three is enough for 2 weeks. I will try to write more when I visited the others.

Before I close my computer, I want to introduce some of the contemporary Japanese museums.

This is not really popular, but it is worth going. The price is not bad. If you need some basic idea of Japanese contemporary art, just go here.

Located on the top floor of Roppongi Hills. It is worth going with a lover since the view is beautiful. There was ONEPIECE exhibition and they always have the latest trends of Japanese art. The price is quite high, so save some money and go with some you like:)

One of the favorite artists in Japan. His personality the way of thinking are something different and respectful. Most Japanese would once heard about him because he was the designer of the TAIYOU NO TOU in Osaka. The museum was originally his house near Omotesando. Once a month, there is a museum staff explaining some of his art works so you better search on the internet about the date and go there. It is a small museum but I really recommend you to go there.

Last but not least....
Of course!!!!

The famous director Hayao Miyazaki created the museum. It is very cute and worth visiting at least once. But don't forget that you need to reserve the ticket. There is a big park next to the museum so enjoy the nature, too. If you like his movies, why didn't you go there? Just book the ticket online and rush to it:)

Ok, so I hope some information was useful. I will sleep now, I walked too much today. Good night and have a nice weekend!!!!

Friday, 14 September 2012

There should be....

A meaning and reason to stay here.

I was writing my essay(1500words) last night until 4 and during that time, I was thinking about my exchange year.

An email came from my mother. A very short one.

"You have to think carefully why you have chosen to study there and spend the time without regret."

It stroke my heart. Since I knew this but never wanted to think about it. It's already more than 2 weeks staying here. I went to many places in London, ate delicious food, made many friends, settled down so far, and satisfied with them. But is that life going to continue for the whole year and suddenly I have to face the reality going back to Japan??Is that what I really wanted to do?

No and Yes. I cannot take out all those parts from my exchange year, although I don't want to spend just to enjoy the lifestyle. Then I will be ending up a mere tourist in London.
I need to drag myself out from the comfort zone.
Before I came here, a lot of people gave me some advice for studying abroad.
My senpai(senior who I respected since high school) told me there is no meaning to  study abroad if it ended up just having fun or having good experience because you can have those even though you were living in Japan.
My professor told me to choose more difficult decisions during my stay. Taking difficult classes, making friends who hate Japan or Asia, talking with different kinds of people, different classes of people, (It's very easy to talk with people, the point is, with whom are you talking) and going to places where people usually don't go.

I always need to question myself for dong this. If I ask myself now, I will admit to say "I haven't followed my professors words." It's not an easy thing but this will enrich my life.

I will not expect to have fun since I guess  no matter what I do here, in the end, I will enjoy the most of it. It's too easy to have fun(Or may be not, we still don't know) However, as my professor said, I want to challenge and give it a try in any kinds of things even though it's not my taste.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Softer than Evian, Harder than Volvic

Long time no see. Back to my blog today.

My stay in London is going to be almost 2 weeks. I found myself pretty settled here. My room looks like a human is actually living here finally. (before, it was like "why are there stuffs in this new room??")  Compared to Kodaira, (the previous dorm I was staying in Japan) it's about three times as big as that. So it usually looks empty and clean. 

So today  I want to talk about water.....
Yes, water. Living in Japan, water is something you take it for granted. You can drink as much as you want at restaurants, bars, friends house, and of course at home. In UK, it's ok to drink the tap water, but sorry the taste is quite bad. Moreover, you need to pay for mineral water in restaurants. If you don't want to pay you can ask for tap water, though. It's sometimes cheaper to drink coke that to drink water.

So to drink a delicious water I have searched tesco (popular supermarket in UK) and tried to find the best.
Before telling you the answer, there was a problem. There are two kinds of water which are hard and soft water. People usually think of sparkling and still water but they are really easy to see the diference so I won't talk about it today. I guess even the British people didn't realize about this. There is hard and soft water. There is a measurement and classification for this, too. 
Usually Japanese water is soft or medium soft about 20 to 100. The mineral waters in UK is usually hard and the tap water is very hard. So I needed to check on the internet which water bottle is soft. 

VOLVIC was the answer!!!! It was only 60! It is a Japanese standard,lol
I thought evian was also soft because it is also sold every where in japan but it was 304 which is quite hard. 
Highland Spring which is popular in Tesco was 122.
And I just found out today that Aqua-pura (cheap in Tesco) was only 27!!! I thought it was hard. So I'll try it next time:)

I found also a good Japanese site that you can easily see the hardness of water. 
There is water which hardness is more than 1000!! All the minerals are for you...

Living in Japan, we forget the importance of water, but it is a serious problem in so many countries. 

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Money, Honey

Although, I can think of sooo many complains about this country, (for example, the elevator that is always out of order, the shower that suddenly stops, the food that I have never ever tasted before, the high transportation cost, and so on...) I am in love with this city, London.

Not only the view of the city but also how people are living their lives. So many kinds of people(more variety of people than in Japan!) are living in the same place and helping each other. So I don't feel like an outsider of foreigner at all. I quickly merged into the city( I hope!) Now I really need to focus on my British English,lol.

This is quite a different story but I learned something useful today. It may be an information that every body knows but I heard it for the first time so I will tell you secretly, haha. In UK, there are so many times that you need to pay online. The dorm, school fee, casual shopping, and even the laundry!! So isn't it quite dangerous to type in your credit number each time? There is a useful website that you can use.

It is called "PAY PAL." You only need to type in your credit card number here and then when you pay to other websites, you type your id number and password of pay pal and it will automatically pay it for you. So basically typing the credit number will only be once. This pay pal is a company connected to e-bay so it is not a small company.

However, I am sometimes surprised how people don't have any hesitation using their credit card or paying online. I will still try to stick with cash but after the exchange studies, nobody knows.... I might be bankrupt by using too many credit cards!!!

Berlusconi and Macau

The pre-sessional courses finally started today. We only did an orientation and introduced ourselves to the class. There was also a campus tour but SOAS is quite small so it didn't take that much time. Although, living in a different country, I was so tired in the end of the day.

There are morning class and afternoon class, each for 2 hours. The morning class is an usual English language course and the afternoon is a topic free class. I chose Literature and art instead of Development studies, because I knew that I will get so tired of studying it in the main course. I am looking forward to the courses from tmw:)

So I need to talk about what happened today.
We had lunch on the grass on a very unusual sunny day. There were about 6,7 people with different backgrounds and nationalities. First we talked about the Notting hill Carnival and moved on to the big demonstration that occured in Italy last year. The Italian girl started to talk about the election of the new President and every body suddenly started to state their opinion. It was a very unusual situation for me. Since in Japan, talking about politics is not a topic to discuss in a casual lunch. Instead, we tried to talk about TV shows, famous artists, gossips and school work( Maybe mostly this!!) The conversation moved on to Macau's social problem. I was already amazed and felt very happy to study and live abroad:)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Hello, Goodbye.

Today I am finally heading to London. I have to say good bye to Tokyo for a while. I have dreamed this day to come true since high school, so it was pretty long.   Although, thinking that I have already arrived in London after 24 hours, makes me feel that time flies.

"Where does the time go?"

My British friend taught me this English term last year.
I know that my exchange year will be very short and fast, but I hope that I will make the best and most of it.
So please check out my blog and make sure that I am doing my best:)

I will try to write my blog in English but as you know, I am not a native speaker so if you find any mistakes, tell me asap before I get really embarrassed...