Festivals and Celebrations. Temples and Monks.

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

I am taken by surprise with just how many festivals and celebrations I’ve encountered in Japan, especially in Kyoto. You’re sure to find a couple a month, even sometimes a couple on the same day, and it’s not too uncommon to randomly get caught in the middle of one while walking down a street. The great part is, many of these celebrations are completely free and they make great opportunities for communities to bond, or even to just hang out …

In Pursuit of the Cherry Blossoms

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

Tadaima! I’m back! As I mentioned in my last post, I spent the last week traveling down to Okinawa, then up to Tokyo before returning on an overnight bus to Kyoto, arriving girigiri into Monday morning classes. It was nice having some time off before spiraling into these last few weeks of the semester, and luckily my program funds these kinds of trips for us. Although Kyoto is considered one of the best places to experience the cherry blossoms, they …

Six Unexpected Experiences in Amsterdam

posted in: Raizel in Madrid, Spain | 1

This past weekend I traveled to Amsterdam, my first trip out of the Iberian Peninsula this semester! I flew there by myself, and spent two days exploring the city on my own before meeting up with another friend for the rest of the trip. Amsterdam is famous for being a liberal city, full of new opportunities, and that certainly proved true of my trip! As a solo traveler in a foreign country, I ended up with several new and unexpected …

Occupying Spaces: Tradition vs Modernity

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

Hey guys! This week I’ll be writing a bit about forms of art I’ve encountered so far during my time in Japan. It’s forced me to reflect on gigabytes of pictures and a 6 page bucketlist I’m still working through, so bear with me! My general impression of art in Japan, be it through music/entertainment/performance or more traditional forms such as paintings/architecture/literature, is that works tend to live between two extremes: tradition and extreme modernism. They aren’t necessarily in total …

First Impressions (and the past 5 months)

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

Hello readers! My name’s Omar and I am currently studying abroad with the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP) at Doshisha University in Japan. I decided that I would be coming to Japan by the Fall of my first year, but I wasn’t completely sure of when, for how long, or which part of the country I wanted to come to. My interest in Japan began because of its language. I self-studied it a bit before coming to Amherst, and it was …

Japanese Cuisine: Innovation and a Hidden Diversity

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

Amherst’s Japanese department has an annual winter Curry party at Tawa-sensei’s home along with a sushi party in the spring, which I always made sure to take advantage of. Besides that, my experiences with Japanese food before coming here were limited. NYC restaurants can be pretty expensive for one, but finding one that is actually authentic has its own challenges. Amherst and the Northampton have a couple of restaurants too but selections there can be few and oversimplified. I wrote …

The Other in Japan

posted in: Omar in Kyoto, Japan | 0

I started learning Japanese for several reasons but one of my biggest motivations was a desire to learn more about a people that I had few interactions with. Language facilitates cultural exchange, especially in using it to communicate nuances that are otherwise lost in translation. You can learn a lot through language, but there are many things that can only be learned by actually being among its people. There are several phases in accustoming to new surroundings while studying abroad. …

On Language Barriers and Joining a Choir

posted in: Raizel in Madrid, Spain | 0

I came to Spain speaking almost none of the language. I took one semester of Spanish way back at the beginning of Freshman year, but that didn’t stick with me for very long. I figured, why not just go? I’d immerse myself in Spanish and come out, if not fluent, at least able to cobble together a coherent conversation.  I knew there would be a language barrier, but I thought that it would affect me in terms of my ability …

On Cafes and Just Sitting

posted in: Raizel in Madrid, Spain | 2

Back in the States I never drink coffee. Maybe it’s the terrible coffee served in Val, maybe it’s the excessive price of a latte at Rao’s or Starbucks, but coffee has never been my thing. Within three days of getting here though, I was addicted to café con leche. Café con leche is pretty similar to an American latte without the foam – espresso mixed with hot steamed milk. Typically it comes in a small ceramic mug, and the waiter …

Gringo Afroamericano: Reflecting on Race and Study Abroad

posted in: Matt in Chile | 3

Hey, reader! Did you miss me? (¿Me extrañaste?) I just got back from a weekend trip in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. It was my last chance to relax before I would have to begin attending orientations for the possible universities in which I could study. In Valparaíso, I visited the port, major monuments, and enjoyed some seafood. I also made sure to fit in a trip to Viña del Mar to spend some time on the beach. During my …

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