Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

The start of our second week marked the temporary end to our stay in Tokyo and the start of our stay in Osaka. But before we could go to Osaka, we had the opportunity to meet with our fellow Spartans at the annual MSU Alumni Lunch at a nice little venue whose name I forget. I’ll be honest and say that my shyness once again stood in the way of making any friends/contacts, and that I also forget the names of the speakers. Overall, it was fun talking (or for the most part, in my case, listening) to the the other MSU students and speakers about their experiences at MSU and about their lives. While our group was mostly CAS students, we still had a more diverse group of students than the other groups. My favorite part of the experience? Well let’s put it this way: I always find it fun to be in a room full of fellow Spartans when “Go GREEN” is yelled, because I always find it fun to respond “Go WHITE”! There were talks about hanging out with the other students, from the business group I think, but those plans fell through and we never saw them again the rest of our stay there. Too bad, would have been cool to make new friends from MSU, but while in another country.

Parfaits

My final meal in Japan was Pizza from a pasta place in the Aoyama-Itchome subway station. I know, I know, pizza in Japan, especially as my last meal, isn’t very adventurous. When we got there, there it was full, and we sort of had a little trouble communicating with the hostess. But we were able to let her know we were willing to wait for a table to open up and she seated us pretty quickly afterward. ANYWAY, I wish I had known about this place before. There was so much on the menu I wanted to try. But I settled for pizza and a beer. The pizza itself was really good. My favorite part of it had to be the sauce, which I felt was very rich. Had I known it was a thin crust (as Vida put it: “paper thin”), I would have gotten a larger size. Regardless, it was good. Dessert was just as good. The restaurant had three flavors of parfaits: Chocolate Banana, Strawberry, and Caramel. So Vida, Bryce, and I all chose different flavors. Everything was well worth it and I’m glad I was able to enjoy my last meal in Japan. Couldn’t have picked a better place.

Group Photo!!

Twice during our final week, we visited Waseda University, the Princeton of Japan. Our first contact was an American professor who attended UofM. He made getting around and getting set up with his students less complicated. That doesn’t mean, however, that communicating with the Japanese students was easy. It was actually pretty hard. While all of the students knew some English (they were English classes afterall), it was hard for us all to understand each other. Sometimes they didn’t know what I was saying and sometimes I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

Inter-group mingling!!!

Another challenge was shyness. I don’t usually start conversations with strangers right off the bat so this was different for me. I also noticed that out of all the students I talked to, I was the one to initiate the conversation, except when I was with classmates, then my classmates were the ones to initiate the conversation, but none of the students I talked to initiated the conversation. This was very different from the Keio University students (who are their rivals might I add). However, I did have a few good conversations with some of the students. A sidenote would be to mention that these students helped us in our research projects by taking the surveys used to gather research for said projects. We met with at least 4 groups of students over a 2 day period and I’m sure the data collected from them will be very beneficial to our project.

Group picture with some of the Keio students!

At the end of our first week, we visited Keio University. It was a small, but impressive looking campus. Almost immediately we were taken to meet the class in which two of our students were to present in front of. First, one of their students presented on the use of Twitter in Japan. It was well presented and you could tell a lot of hard work and research went into it. It also helped that the presenter spoke English fluently as she had studied in the United States before. Afterwards, Nicholas presented and his presentation was equally impressive as he worked hard on it. If he was nervous, it didn’t show. Our class was all spread apart and mixed in with the Keio students. For me at least, it was easy to make conversation with the students at our table. They were very friendly and curious to know more about us and there were at least three students in our group who spoke fluent or near-fluent English.

I was very grateful to the students who helped us order food in the cafeteria as well. It was fun getting to know them and letting them get to know us during, and after lunch. Overall, it was fun to meet students from another country, in their own country. They were all very friendly and if it was possible, I wouldn’t have mind hanging out with them outside of class.

One of the most negative points of my trip include the “businessmen” who stand at street corners waiting to prey on tourists and passerby’s. “Come to my club”, “Going shopping?”, “Hey ladies/fellas” are a few of the phrases I’ve heard out of their mouths. Quite frankly, it aggravated me the way they invaded my personal space the moment I made eye contact. Which is why I made a point not to let them know I acknowledge their existence. Regardless, they approached me anyway. The other night, one guy was less than an arm’s length away from me trying to find out where I was going. It was irritating, but I got a sense of satisfaction by denying his existence. It’s weird how there are signs every few feet in Roppongi telling people that it’s illegal for them to do what they do, but it’s not enforced, even by the cops I see walking down the street.

Harajuku

Today, we traveled to two districts. The first was Harajuku, known for the “different” style of clothing that can be seen there. I wasn’t able to get as many pictures as I wanted to because it was raining there, but I still enjoyed it. First, there was a band recording/performing on the first floor in a studio. I liked their singing. Next, we went to a KDDI store and viewed their selection of mobile phones. I didn’t really take a deep look at the phones because the interfaces were, of course, in Japanese and I didn’t feel like examining them to figure out which feature did what. On third floor were several interesting technologies, two of which caught me eye.

FEELINK

The first was a tiny robot-like machine that actually functioned as a speaker. I don’t know the specifics behind it but it was interesting to watch and enjoyable to hear “Beat It” by Michael Jackson coming from it. The second technology, FEELINK,  was a room with two chairs that monitored the heartbeat of the people sitting in them. The people sitting in the chairs (the players) played a “game” in which the chair vibrated in sync with the opposite player’s heartbeat. The player had to press the button at the same time as the vibration. The purpose was to test relationship compatibility of the two players. Results included Twins, A newly married couple, Lovers, Best Friends, Parent and Child, Acquaintances, Others, Strangers, Rivals, and Earth People ↔ Space Alien. We were encouraged not to take the results seriously. My results included Best Friends (w/ Kevin). Other results included Parent and Child (Meri & Jared), and Lovers (Sharnise & Bryce). I thought it was a fun game to play and it was interesting how it could monitor your heart rate through your finger. Afterward, I won a free post card at a slot machine on the computer on the first floor.

Afterward I went to this clothing store that had all kinds of clothes. I like the style of the majority of the clothes and picked up two shirts. I would have bought more but clothes in Japan run really small and it was a miracle I found XL’s in those shirts. Too bad, they had alot of nice clothes.