Sunday, December 23, 2018

Fall into Winter

I got quite busy, but I've been meaning to post about several things so I will make a master post of sorts for the past few weeks. I am officially on break, so I've got the time now.

Fall here is absolutely incredible. Paired with temples, day trips are stunning. I went to Nagahama on the last Sunday in November and then to Kyoto on Tuesday. Both trips involves several miles of walking, but the scenery makes it worth it. I absolutely love trees and the temples. The sheer size of the temples is astounding. I feel so small when visiting. The trees make fall one of my favorite times of year, except for the cooler weather. I will add only a few of the many pictures I took.

It's definitely starting to get cold here, but the temperature is far less volatile than both my hometown in Texas and Columbia. It's snowed in both places, but have warmed up drastically after that. The temperature here has just steadily declined. There is a chance for snow next week though. The mornings are quite chilly and there is some snow on the mountains already. It makes them look them visually appealing, but I cannot get a good picture unfortunately.

We went to Koka City for one of my classes two weekends ago. We had a booth at an international festival about SDGs. It was quite interesting. After lunch there were performances from the many cultures that live in Koka. There were dances and other performances from all over the world, and it was really cool to watch. I will add a short clip and I apologize for the poor quality.

Last weekend, my German friend Flo and I did a sort of homestay thing in Nagahama. We got to both experience four star hospitality and how such a hotel is maintained. We did dishes after lunch, and I don't know if I have ever seen so many different kinds of dishes. It was incredible really. They put a lot of focus on presentation. We worked with two high school boys who were going to graduate soon that worked there part time. They were really nice and helpful. I didn't count on having to take my shoes off a hundred time though. The system they had for how they stored the dishes was cool. I don't even know how to begin trying to describe this system, so I will leave you with only that it is cool. They had a separate hotel for those with pets, and I have never seen any place so much accommodate to pets. They had kennels and even a menu for pets. They had baby gates in place and many latches so the dogs wouldn't bolt when the owner was closing the door. They also had cameras in the elevators and screens on each floor so people could see if there were pets in the elevator already that might cause issues. Fun fact: Mercedes-Benz makes dog carriages. I didn't know this, but I will provide photo evidence. I also got to experience an onsen, which is a hot spring. I didn't know if I would be able to since tattoos are taboo here and I have several. I asked the owner and he let me use the private one rather than the public one. It was fabulous. The tubs are made locally and they're beautiful. They had some indoor and outdoor. The water was 40 degrees Celsius inside and 44 outside. I really liked the outside because it was 5 degrees and dark, so it was so so relaxing. I loved it. We also made beds the next day, which is a lot more difficult than you would think. I'm pretty sure I ate more in those two days than I had in the whole week before. After lunch on Sunday, we went to a bird sanctuary where we got to see an eagle that had migrated to the same spot every year for the past 21 years. Then we went to a traditional doll puppet school. It was really cold in the building. It takes three people to do one doll. We got to try and it's really interesting. We also got to see the closet where the dolls are assembled. There were heads that were hundreds of years old that had their original hair. I will add a photo of the doll heads.

That concludes this post I believe. I plan to have a pretty chill break, maybe go on a day trip or two. New Years will be spent with Ayame and her family and I look forward to that.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The 3 Things I Will Miss Most (Sequel)

I began this series with the three things I will miss most from home. I'm excited about home, but there are definitely things I will miss from Canterbury too, so I made another little list -

Walking. I love going on long walks, and it has been so great being able to walk everywhere. Most of the other Americans say they miss driving and are looking forward to having their cars back, but I've enjoyed having long walks as an integral part of my day. Instead of having to make time for a walk at home, it's just my primary mode of transportation. And I've gotten to explore a lot more of the city and become more familiar with it because I walk everywhere.

Travel. This is actually rather two part: the location and the public transport.

  • With Scotland above, Wales on the side, Ireland a hope away, and the Continent just over the Channel, it is so easy to travel. For one of my classes, we went to Bruges for a day. Basically everyone here has been to at least 3 other countries. When you talk to British people, they casually talk about weekends in France or holidays in Germany, Spain, Italy. You don't even have to fly if you don't want to. Like I said in an earlier post, the US is like the whole of mainland Europe, so people travel to different countries like we travel to different states. 
  • I know it sounds crazy, but I actually quite like the public transportation here. There are so many trains and buses, and they're  actually pretty nice, because so many people depend on them. Unlike in the US, lots of students and adults don't have licenses, and some never get them. Having a car isn't such a priority here. There are so many more pedestrians, and, in fact, the traffic light system is entirely based on pedestrian crossings, not other four-way stops. As someone who vastly prefers walking to driving (purely as a method of transportation, not because of other, more pragmatic factors like time, independence, etc.), I appreciate being able to walk everywhere, and I think the rides are nice. 
The Cathedral. The Cathedral is the big thing in Canterbury and has been for centuries. Even Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which is what we think of, is really about pilgrimaging to the Cathedral for healing from St. Thomas Becket. As a student, I can visit the Cathedral for free, and I've definitely been taking advantage of that privilege. Both the interior and the grounds are breathtaking, but I also love that they still use it as a Cathedral and place of worship. In addition to Sunday services and special ceremonies, they read out the Lord's Prayer every day to remind people that it's a holy place. They hold evensong each evening, and Sacred Space is the Wednesday night worship in the Crypt. Cathedrals are cool, but the Canterbury Cathedral is something special.

I began this series with the three things I will miss most, but I also said that I want to appreciate everything I have while I have it. Canterbury has been an invaluable experience. Home is always in my heart. Instead of longing for something else, I want to cherish what is. I'll hold the memories fondly, anticipate the future boldly, and be happy in the present. It sounds easy because we're so used to hearing it, but it's not really an intuitive practice. You have to be intentional and mean it

Saturday, December 8, 2018

I'll Be Home for Christmas

In one week, I'll be back in the United States. It's much easier to leave something when you're going to something else. I don't really think about it as leaving Canterbury so much as going home to Christmas with my family.

Again, it's not really something I'd been thinking about when choosing to study abroad during fall term (actually, I'd initially been intending to make next semester, my final semester, the one abroad), but I'm happy, once more, that I came this term. The weather has been amazing; I've met great people; and I'm going home for Christmas, so it's easier to leave. Don't get me wrong, I am going to miss being here. I'm anticipating going home, while also enjoying being away. I'm so glad to be here for the Christmas season - it's truly special - and I wouldn't have had this if I'd chosen spring semester. I'm getting the best of both worlds by getting to a taste of Christmas here, but then going home to have it there too.

I know the house is already being decorated, which will make it even more lovely to return to. Home and family are always full of love and warmth, and then there will be the extra glow of Christmas to enhance everything. I live out in the country, where we have the most beautiful view and a cozy fireplace, and I've been hearing that there's quite a bit of snow, so I'll be home for Christmas, and I'm dreaming of a White Christmas!

PS - Can you tell that I love Christmas songs? I especially enjoy Josh Groban's version, not just because it's Josh Goban (though he's phenomenal and a definite favorite!), but because it's a tribute to those who are separated from their family for Christmas in service.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Christmastime is Here!

I didn't think Christmas would be all that different here, but there are a few things. Perhaps everyone else knew about them, but I didn't.

Christmas Markets
I'd never seen Christmas market before coming here. Apparently we do them in the US but only in the major cities. Here, they're set up everywhere, even in small towns. They're actual shops set up out in the street, and they're beautifully decorated. The streets are lined with lights up and down the stores and across the roofs. In the US, most companies just put out a single strand of lights bordering their building, but, here, they have several strands of glittering lights. And they also have holly, trees, glitter, gifts, ribbons, everything decorating their windows. It's really exciting! We do the same thing but on smaller scales.

Christmas Cakes
They also do Christmas cakes. I thought these were just cakes with Christmas decorations, but they're traditional cakes specially made for Christmas. They actually make the cake several weeks or even months before Christmas, with fruit and nuts, and then the preserve it all the time with alcohol. 

Christmas Carolling
One of my favourite parts of Christmas is the carols. I love the real, traditional Christmas songs, not so much the modern-day tunes. Since they have gospel choirs and choirs at the Cathedral, they do more Christmas carolling, and this is going to be my first time going! 

Christmas isn't really so different here, and they do a lot of the same things we do, but they seem to celebrate Christmas more. They have more tradition than commercialisation. Of course, both places have both, and England is one of the most secular countries in the world, but Christmas is still Christmas. Despite religious and cultural differences, Christmas unites people and countries as we all celebrate joy, peace, and love

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Soba Making

 It's been a busy past few weeks with school work. Luckily, some of that school work required some adventures.

We went to Nagahama a few weeks ago to experience the process of making soba noodles. I say process, but it was pretty close to art. They follow a very specific process. It's pretty incredible to watch, and really fun to participate in. Some of the chefs had been making soba noodles for upwards of twenty years. One of the chefs even grew his own soba on a nearby mountain. Not to brag or anything, but the chef helping my group said that I should teach him to cut noodles. Soba is a pretty common dish and it can be done several ways, by adding meat and other things, but we just dipped the noodles in soy sauce. It's quite good.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Remember to Give Thanks

I used to think we started celebrating Christmas early, but they don't have Thanksgiving to ease them into the holidays. There were already advertisements before Halloween was even over. Thanksgiving is an American holiday, so I nearly forgot about it and let it pass me by this year.

But I did remember Thanksgiving, and this was the first Thanksgiving away from home. Everyone says they're thankful for friends and family, but I especially was this year - precisely because I was spending it away from them. I felt their absence. I'm so grateful for the people at home, and I'm grateful for the people I've met here. I've come to appreciate a lot of things from both places. It's been a huge privilege to be able to cross the ocean and come to another country to live for several months. I really do appreciate the opportunity and everyone who helped make it possible. I'm grateful for the people I've met and the experiences I've had. And I'm also grateful for home. I realise all the things I took for granted and how important they were for me (not the least of which was my mother's cooking!). It makes me grateful that they're not gone, that I'm going back to those things soon. I'm recognising all the things I have right now to appreciate and all the things I've had and will have that I should be mindful of. Once you start to count your blessings, you realise how countless they are

Sunday, November 18, 2018

1 Month

Photo Credit: 123Calendars

It seems like having an entire semester to study abroad is a lot of time. You have a long list of things you want to do and places you want to go, and then the time passes pretty quickly. I thought coming for a semester was a long time - since lots of study abroad trips are only a couple of weeks - but so many people here are commenting on how short it is. Most students are here for at least a year.

Photo Credit: 123Calendars
Sometimes three months seems like quite a duration and sometimes it seems so short. It depends on what you're focusing on. It seems like a long time when you think of the separation from family and friends, etc., but it seems short when you think of how much there is to do, especially when most of the time is really spent on classes. Most people say that the time flies - some say it's too long, and they couldn't wait to get back - but I think it's both.
Photo Credit: 123Calendars

Photo Credit: 123Calendars
I've lived here for months, and it's already become quite familiar; my time here seems to be waning so quickly. At the same time, I anticipate going home and enjoying Christmas with family, etc.

People make everything all-or-nothing, but it's really a mix. It's good to look forward to what's coming and remember what's happened, but it's important to be notice the present and appreciate it too. I have to remind myself to enjoy where I am and what I have. If I don't appreciate now, the memories of the past become bitter and the anticipations for the future become grey, and they all lose their values. It's not a new idea, but that doesn't make it any less real or true

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Poppy

Photo Credit: Oatcakes

Veteran's Day. Remembrance Day. Armistice Day. There are various names and various traditions for the date, but the world is united by commemoration.

Photo Credit: csfotoimages on iStock

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the day World War I ended: 11 November 1918. It was called the "Great War" and supposed to be the "war to end all wars."
Photo Credit: lufer(REPUBLICA DE CALIFORNIA) on Pinterest
In England, they wear the poppy flower to commemorate the soldiers. The tradition developed from the poem "In Flanders Field," written by the Canadian doctor Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae when he saw poppies burgeon from the battlefield wasteland

Photo Credit: Sam P. on Flickr

This is the power of art - when words and images coalesce to touch the world

Sunday, November 4, 2018

One Hundred Years Ago...

One hundred years ago, World War I ended.

It was a war that shook the entire world and demonstrated how devastating wars can be. It revealed advances in warfare that no one was prepared for. Dan Carlin has an excellent podcast series on World War I called Blueprint for Armaggedon, and he discusses, in detail, how shocking the war was - unlike anything that had come before; no one could have imagined it. (The series has 6 episodes, each 3-4 hours long, and the introduction is fairly lengthy, but they really are extremely impressive and worth the time - highly recommend). It was an absolute, unprecedented, inconceivable horror. 

We know it was a terrible war - we heard about it; we read about it - but the British experienced it. We were touched by it, but we didn't live through it like they did. We came in late, and we were at a safe distance. For the British, they were in almost immediately from the beginning, and they suffered massively in every way. It was felt sorely by the entire country, and the country still mourns the losses today. There are memorials all over the country - on roadsides, within churches, in city centres, schools, parks. They are integrated into daily life. You will pass by memorials several times a day wherever you go, in any city, and people still talk about them; they aren't just ignored or forgotten. It was only one hundred years ago, and it shook the nation to the core. The effects are still visible today. You can see how houses have been rebuilt and major buildings are still being restored, more commemorations are still being built. World War I was a world war, and it shook the entire world, but it wasn't the same for us, for the US

Birthday weekend

My birthday was on Thursday, so that night Ayame, Yuuka, Yuka, and Rei came over with food and I made pancakes. We hung out for a while, and it was an enjoyable end to my birthday. On Friday came the real fun. Yuuka went with me to Moriyama to get my latest tattoo. I was sort of hoping it would be done in the traditional Japanese tattooing method, but it was done with a gun. I'm happy with it none the less. That evening, a group of the international students went out to a restaurant, and later karaoke. It was a good time. The people here are wonderful.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


My latest adventure was to Nagahama, which is about half an hour by train. It was for one of my classes, but it was fun none the less. The whole class is a project basically advertising Nagahama which is interesting. Our topic is old structures, and we set out with the intention of visiting four specific temples and shrines and stopping at Soba 8 for lunch. As we were wandering the city to get to each of our destinations, we stumbled across four more temples and shrines. They are scattered literally everywhere. I think it's absolutely fascinating because they're just tucked into the city. They're in the middle of neighborhoods, hiding in a back corner on a street lined with shops, and even right beside a cemetery and a playground.

It was a beautiful day for the most part. You can definitely feel fall, and the trees are starting to show it as well. I am really excited for the trees to be in full fall status, but not for the weather that comes with it. Winter has always been my least favorite season. I don't take kindly to cold at all. It'll be more difficult with bicycle being my only mode of transportation, but it'll work out.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A Total Tourist

People ask me how I like England, and sometimes they're shocked by how much I like it. They aren't impressed with the beauty or history or any of the things I find so fascinating; they think it's boring - because it's so normal to them. Meanwhile, I'm a complete tourist, taking pictures of everything - streets, signs, buildings, statues, scenes - at every turn (thank God for Google Photos!).
Yes, I really am that tourist...
It's pretty fantastic here, but it's actually making me appreciate home more too. Because home is just as fascinating to other people as here is to me. Some people travel to other places, like England, and think it's so marvelous and never want to go back home to where it's boring, but that's how the English feel about their country, and that's how Italians and French and Spanish feel about their countries. We're so used to our cities and countries that we don't appreciate them, and the most amazing things are taken for granted to us. And then, here, somewhere new, the most mundane things seem absolutely amazing.
From the Oxford Botanical Gardens
When I walk down the streets and see amazing sunsets, I pause to relish the sight and feel uplifted. I notice more here, and it just seems better here sometimes. Autumn changes colours, and I get so excited, like I'm a child who's never seen it happen before. But it's just that I'm noticing and appreciating it here. And I should do the same at home and anywhere I go. There is beauty everywhere - sometimes it's a beauty transcending borders (like a sunset or oncoming autumn), and sometimes it's local beauty unique to that place (like the Canterbury Cathedral), and sometimes (usually) it's both - but there is beauty, so much beauty, everywhere. I'm loving it here - I really am - and I'm very glad to be a tourist. I embrace it, because tourist means I find absurd delight in what others take for granted
Just outside Canterbury, past Westgate

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Awesome Accident of Autumn

Everyone said England was going to be cold and drizzly, but the weather has been sensational! We have had rain, and it does get chilly but never terrible. Weather isn't something I normally give much consideration to, but it's such an important factor when travelling. It's very influential and determinative for the mood of a trip - drink hot chocolate or iced tea? go to museums or open markets? visit building or walk the grounds? I like doing it all, and autumn is the perfect blend.

I hadn't even really considered the seasons when deciding which semester to study abroad, but I'm now so grateful it's fall semester, because the weather is so fine as I'm exploring, and I get to see the country transition from summer to winter. I got to see the trees and flowers in their most vibrant dressing, and now I get to see them arrayed in another beautiful set of colors. And I walk a lot, so I'm very grateful for good weather every day. I'm trying to take advantage of being outdoors and able to walk around as much as possible before it gets too cold and less enjoyable. England is so beautiful, and I'm learning to appreciate the power of nature the way the British Romantics did (after all, I am an English major)

I'm learning how to use Adobe Photoshop for one of my classes. I'm quite a novice, but I thought I'd show off my skills and Canterbury at the same time ;P


We went to Kobe as a class trip to learn more about SDGs, sustainable growth development. It was an interesting and informative presentation. Japan is doing quite a bit to achieve the goals, and they're ranked 15 out of 156 currently. They've accomplished the goal of quality education. America ranks 35, and hasn't accomplished any of the goals. Here is the website to check it out for anyone who's curious; There was also a room with artifacts from all over the world that we could touch. It was my inner child's dream.

After the presentation, we had a bit of free time to explore. Kobe is a port city, so we were right on the waterfront. The architecture is quite interesting, having a mix between very modern buildings, but having some traditional style as well. Very beautiful. We wandered the mall for a bit, which was also neat because it was partially indoors and partially outdoors.

Monday, October 15, 2018


I finally got to travel outside of Hikone! Kyoto is about an hour away by train, so it's not too bad. I went with a German friend, Alex. We didn't set out with any super specific goals, just the bamboo forest and the Golden Pavillion. That left us with plenty of time to just wander and explore.

We found some temples and a lovely path that led us to the bamboo forest. Now I had never even thought about what a bamboo forest would be like, so I was delighted at their spooky vibe. I don't know any other way to describe it, but it was wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though my phone camera would never do it justice. After the forest we stumbled upon a large set of stairs that led to a hiking trail. Neither of us were prepared to hike so we continued to wander.

We found more temples and paths that led us further up a mountain. It was absolutely stunning. A beautiful as it is green, I want to go back in the fall. It will be incredible. I also saw a cat for the first time since arriving! I love cats, so this was very exciting to me. At the top of this path, we could look over the entire city. It was really cool.

Then we made our way to the Golden Pavillion, which was quite impressive. It was also much more crowded than the other places we'd been. We then got lost and just wandered around the city hoping to find something cool before things started closing.

We found a castle that we barely made it too before they stopped allowing people to enter the actual castle. The artwork was mesmerizing though we weren't allowed to take photos. The grounds inside the walls surrounding the castle were also really nice. I love that they have these spaces reserved within the cities. It's quiet and peaceful, but you can still see the city around it.

It was a really great end to the day. I was quite exhausted by the time we got back. I fell asleep with all the lights still on. Definitely worth it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Just Say "Hi"

Before I left for England, I was talking to a friend and mentor who had recently returned from traveling through Europe for several weeks. She was telling me about their trip and the lovely people they met; she told me, "just say 'hi.'" That little opening led her to some great conversations, and she made some amazing friends on the trip whom she was keeping in contact with, even after returning to the US.

I'm not a very assertive person by any means - I'm shy and introverted, and I tend to keep to myself, even when I'm not being shy and embarrassed - but her words resonated with me, and I've been putting them into practice more these past few days. It's just a simple, "hello" - nothing fancy or difficult. Sometimes conversations develop and sometimes they don't, but it's just a small amount of effort, that doesn't really cost anything, in exchange for some unimaginable possibilities.

As reserved as I am, I love meeting new people, and I'm very happy with the people I've met. And I'm happy to be initiating conversation, rather than passively standing by and being passed over so much. Every person we interact with has so much to them - they bring their unique ideas, perspectives, opinions, knowledge, talents - and we bring our own, and the combination can be quite powerful. You never know how fascinating the person beside you can be and how much you're missing by not saying "hi." Maybe it's just a polite smile or maybe it's a brief exchange, but it's usually very pleasant and sometimes exceeds expectations. Maybe it's actually nothing, and there's just an awkward pause that follows or a stiff reaction, but it's still worth it; at least you still gave it a try, and it didn't hurt. I don't say "hi" to every person I pass by, but I try not to pass by every person I come across either
Photo Credit: Heather Goffrier

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Oct. 11, 2018

Second week of classes almost over. I like the way classes are set up here; once a week, except my Japanese language class which meets three times, for hour and a half time slots. I also enjoy the project based classes. The entire class is for a single, extensive project. It's quite interesting. There's also the lecture/seminar that I've come to like. There's a lecture one week, and a seminar the next based on the lecture and some extra reading.

The two most difficult things about being here are eating and sleeping. I recently went on a vegan diet, but discovered I would likely starve here because meat based meals are very prevalent. Even vegetarian has been difficult, but I'm managing. Not being able to bake is a slight inconvenience because I love baking. As for sleeping, it's taken a while for my body to even start adjusting to sleeping on a futon set on the ground. Well technically loft, but still, ground. I can slowly feel it being less uncomfortable, but I have definitely had to adjust the way I sleep.

Hikone and the campus are both beautiful. It's really cool to have a moat with ducks that I get to see everyday. As for the spiders, I'm not too big of a fan. I usually don't have an issue with spiders, but these are easily an inch across and their webs are right at my face level... I have been told they aren't dangerous, but regardless, I do not want one on me or my face.

When I first got here, I was falling asleep at 8 or 9 pm and waking up at 5 am. I didn't mind the waking up that early, but falling asleep that early was very different. I have finally adjusted to a schedule I can work with, which is going to sleep later, but still waking up between 5 and 6. The sun rises at this hour, so I kind of like it. It's peaceful.

The international community here is delightful. I've met many wonderful people from all over. We have a group chat that includes everyone, and they often invite everyone or anyone to go out to eat or hang out. It's very inclusive.

And lastly, two random things that wouldn't fit in a paragraph on their own. Apparently there was a small earthquake the other morning (I didn't realize it, but my neighbor told me about it), and it appears I've caught a cold. Not ideal, but it happens.

Attached are a few photos from campus and Hikone and the spiders.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Seriously Though

Yesterday, a friend and I tried something new - something I'd never heard of, and she'd only tried once, a long time ago. We did mortifying badly and were teased about it endlessly, but it was fun. And I was glad to be mocked, because it reminded me not to take myself so seriously. My first reaction was to be embarrassed and bashful, but, funny enough, their laughing set me at ease. They made me able to laugh at myself and laugh it off. Making fun of us was the best way to make us feel better, rather than trying to be too conscientious and polite, overly sympathetic. It was all new and just for fun, and they kept it that way. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves, not take ourselves too seriously

They were laughing at us, but they were also impressed and remarked on our behaviour towards each other, because we didn't get upset or rude. We worked well together - in regards to compatibility, not effectiveness haha. And to me, that was the most important part. Being serious is a good thing, but being focused is more important. You are serious when you're focused, but, when you're too serious, you lose focus of what you're doing and what it's all about. 

It made a great shared experience and fun memory. Because of how silly we were, it made us relish it even better afterwards, rather than just doing it and being done. If it was easy, it wouldn't have meant as much. But it was hard, so we got more out of it in several ways 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Cathedral

Canterbury is famous for Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, but it's also famous for its Cathedral. So many tourists pay to visit that all students are given free, unlimited access - which is a major discount because of how many students are in Canterbury. It was one of the first local sites I visited, and I fell in love with it. I've gone back several times - nearly every day since. The building is beautiful, the inside is grand, and the grounds are beautiful. I've taken so many pictures, but I'm always a bit disappointed with them, because they truly cannot capture the intricate detail and vivid splendor. I'm not a photographer, by any means, but even the professional shots cannot compare the grandeur. Sometimes photos make something normal seem better than it really is, but sometimes the photographs simply cannot do justice. No picture, no matter how well it's portrayed and/or edited, can properly convey seeing the Cathedral. I've taken so many and sent them to people, but they can't truly begin to show what it's like. I've seen lots of pictures of grand structures - ones even more grand than the Canterbury Cathedral - but, even today, technology cannot surpass personal experience. I take pictures and share them with others, but they're really for memory, not accuracy. They're really for my personal memory that no one else can access

Monday, October 1, 2018

Accomplishing Appreciation: Lessons at Sunset

Canterbury is small, but, unlike Columbia, it's designed so that you can easily walk anywhere. They have good facilities and accommodations for pedestrians and public transport, so it contains perks of a big city, and then it also has the perks of a small town without bothersome traffic. I like being able to walk everywhere - because I've always enjoyed walking and because I dislike driving so - but it is time-consuming. I don't mind the walking, but the time it takes me to get to campus or City Centre really does affect how I block out activities and schedule my days. And sometimes I think it's such a shame that I spend so much time just walking, feeling unproductive. I hate waste, and wasting time is one of the worst types of waste.

But waste just means getting nothing out of the experience. Maybe I'm not accomplishing much on my walks - a bit of exercise, a bit of travel - but I think life is just as much, if not more, about appreciation as it is about accomplishment. As I was leaving campus for the night, I enjoyed the most beautiful sky. Unfortunately, I was walking away from it, but walking away from sunset was still absolutely lovely with soft clouds, pale gradients, and subtle textures. I stopped and took so many pictures on the way home. And every time I turned around to look back at receding sun, I was stunned, as if I hadn't see it before.

I see the sky every day. Nature is gorgeous, and the sky is one of my favorite features - sky and water. I live out in the country; one of my favorite things to do is work outside and enjoy the air and view. But even now, I am still amazed by the splendor. I still admire its breathtaking beauty and am swept away by it. Nature's beauty is everywhere - country and the city.

Life isn't just about what I can do or get done. It's about appreciating what already is

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Free Days

Sept. 24

Brett Clements, who studied abroad here at USP a few years ago, visited Hikone today, so Ayame, Rei and I went to dinner with him. It was a small CC reunion. We ate at an Indian restaurant down Bell Street. It's quite lovely at night with lights strung up in the shape of bells. I'm enjoying these last few free days though I am looking forward to having some structure and having something to do. Thursday is orientation and classes start Friday.
(Attached are photos from today. Photo credit goes to Ayame)

Sept. 25

We were taken to city hall to take care of a few things today. Though it should have been a fairly uneventful day, it wasn't so...
I went to the convenience store in the morning, and halfway home I realized I didn't have my phone. I searched frantically both retracing my steps twice and thoroughly searching my apartment. Not a great way to start the day, I must say. I have had this phone for three years and have never lost it. Wouldn't it just be my luck to lose it in another country? It never occurred to me to file a report that it was missing because in America I would have cut my losses and got a new phone, but the woman who took us to city hall took me to the police station to see if someone had turned it in or found it. Lo and behold, someone had turned it in. It was an emotional roller coaster of a day, and I missed out on taking a few pictures, but I'm so very glad to have my phone back.
Subscribe to our feed