Asia

Soju Think You Can Dance?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By: Julie Dickinson, Foster Undergraduate

Korean drinking culture is intense…and I could write about it forever. It’s one of the most unique and highly ritualized drinking cultures in the world but in addition to being highly alcohol fueled, the practices really do say a lot about Korean culture as a whole. Drinking in groups (which is the preferred way of drinking in Korea) is really all about respect. It reminds me a lot of ballroom dancing…there are certain ways of doing everything and certain mannerisms, which translate into much larger meanings. I’m not going to attempt to tell you all of the rules because I would butcher them but I can convey the general gist of what I gathered.  As like most things in Korea, age is everything. Your age relative to the other members of your group will tell you who’s buying the drinks, who’s pouring the drinks, and who’s going to need to tap out first (usually involuntarily). It is very common for colleagues to go out together after work and I was lucky enough to be invited on some of these outings. Work is not discussed but rather jokes are told and games are played and everyone needs to have as much fun as the boss is having (which is quite often an exceptional amount of fun). One must never pour ones own drink, one must never let the other drinks at the table become empty, and one must never drink in a group without buying a meal for the table. The drink of choice is Soju: the most widely sold alcohol in the world (almost exclusively sold in Korea if that tells you anything) and in my opinion one of the worst tasting things you’ll ever encounter. The best (and I would say 90%) of drinking outings end in Karaoke. The only shame in Karaoke is holding back, one must go all out in one’s Celine Dion impersonation. And the number one rule in drinking with one’s colleagues? One must show up to work the next day looking impeccably fresh and pretend that one did not see one’s boss dancing on the tables the night before.

 

Why Psy?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By: Julie Dickinson, Foster Undergraduate

At the time of this writing the video “Gangnam Style” by PSY has over 1 Billion views, making it by far the most viewed video in the history of Youtube. PSY’s antics are hilarious and the video is truly unique, but I’ve seen videos of cats trying to stuff themselves into too small boxes that rival the comedic value…so why PSY? Koreans are wondering the exact same thing. Living in Korea during the Gangnam Style phenomenon was bizarre to say the least because honestly Koreans didn’t understand the popularity and would frequently ask me if as a westerner I could provide insight. That being said, PSY is a national hero for the popularity he’s brought to the country and to KPOP. It makes me a little sad that this video is what 99% of the world population associates with Korea but at the same time it really is an excellent opportunity to open the world up to Korean culture. In October, PSY decided to give a free concert in Seoul to thank the people of Korea for their part in his success. I decided to attend and it was an experience that really very drastically changed my outlook on life and that I will never forget. The population of Seoul is around 10 million and I would hazard to guess that 9,999,999 of these people were at the PSY concert. I have lived in big cities my entire life and I thought I had some sort of concept for what that many people in one place looked like but I had no idea. Needless to say I arrived at the PSY concert 2hrs early and I probably moved about 3 feet between where I got off the subway and where I ended up. I couldn’t see or hear PSY but that was irrelevant. Seeing the massive amount of Koreans ranging in age from infants to the extremely elderly was an experience I’ll never forget.  To Koreans, PSY represents so much more than a silly horse dance, he represents hope for the country. As I said, to me its somewhat of a shame that PSY is the only exposure that most people will get to Korea because honestly if you think PSY’s funny or unique or quirky…he’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Kimchi for Breakfast…Lunch and Dinner

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By: Julie Dickinson, Foster Undergraduate

I wouldn’t be doing Korea justice if I didn’t pay homage to one of the countries greatest delicacies…its cuisine. Before going to Korea I had never tried Korean food…not even once. I had heard it was incredible and quite honestly I’ve never met a food I didn’t like (except quiche) so I was very much looking forward to trying out a new thing. However, Korea presented three realities that I was extraordinarily underprepared for: 1. In Korea, you only eat Korean food 2. There are thousands of different Korean dishes but they basically all consist of the same four ingredients 3. This last one is embarrassing but…Korean’s use chopsticks…exclusively. Needless to say upon arrival I was like a fish out of water, or rather a white girl without her beloved fork and knife. My lack of chopstick knowledge is absolutely pathetic but honestly I’ve spent hours on end trying to perfect the art (I can’t hold a pencil correctly either so I suspect there is a high correlation between the two). Not only are fork and knife not used in Korea, they are unheard of. My amused but gracious Korean friend suggested I buy a bag of forks and keep them in my purse at all times. Luckily for me, my western tendencies amused the Koreans to such a great extent that I was able to make fast friends by bonding over my lack of knowhow. I digress…the point of the story is that Korean food is out of this world and if you’ve never tried it I highly suggest you embark upon trying it ASAP. Kimchi (fermented cabbage) is served with literally everything and by everything I mean everything… Upon leaving Korea I was having such bad Kimchi withdrawals and unfortunately unless you know how to make it yourself its hard to come by in the States.  Not only does Kimchi taste amazing (in my humble opinion) it’s also one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Not to mention Kimchi is so steeped in Korean history that there are entire museums dedicated to the art of fermenting the cabbage. Needless to say, if I had to spend the rest of my life eating one cuisine I would be more than ok with that cuisine consisting of spicy, fermented, sticky Korean food…even if I did have to fumble around with chopsticks.

Studying and Interning in Tokyo

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

By: Keith Pratt; Foster Undergraduate

Part 1: If you’re considering studying/living in Japan, you’ve probably read blogs and watched Youtube videos about Japan’s ancient tourist sites, amazing convenience stores, extremely packed but convenient train systems and somewhat eerie robotic toilets, but you probably haven’t heard very much about what its companies, called kaisha, are like. So, in this blog post, I will “humbly receive your letting me write,” as they say in formal business Japanese, about my experience interning at a company in Japan. (I won’t list the name of the company in this blog.)

When I entered the company, a Japanese multinational corporation with over a hundred billion dollars in assets, I was taught a little about what the company does and the basics of customer interaction including the ritual of exchanging business cards (which is an entire topic of its own), and then I was sent off to the division I would be interning at. Most of the content of the internship involved shadowing various eigyou-man (somewhat of a slang term), who perform the extremely critical tasks of maintaining customer relationships, making sales/negotiating business transactions, and drinking with customers (I wish I were joking). The company opted to spare me the last function “since you’re still a student.”

The people I worked with—and the company as a whole—were very hospitable and helpful, and I felt like they did their best to make me feel comfortable at the company. Having said that, while I won’t go into the details of my every day, there were some memorable moments one might describe as culture shocks…

Experience 1: Eigyou-man (plural) in Japan meet with clients. A lot. And while my Japanese wasn’t perfect, I knew enough of it to understand that a lot of what the conversations were about had absolutely nothing to do with business. In fact, one day after the team I was with took well over an hour to get to one of our customers’ offices out in a more rural part of Japan, we met with our client, a slightly older gentleman, and for the first forty-five minutes did nothing but talk of the exquisite splendor of Japan’s rich history and other such topics relating to the greatness of Japan. After taking about a half-hour talking about actual business, he proceeded to offer me advice about how to deepen my understanding of what it means to be Japanese through a range of different

methods, and then inquired as to whether one of the other eigyou-man, a girl only a few years older than I, had read the book he recommended to her the last time they met. (It turns out she had bought it but hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet.) We then made the one-hour plus trip back to the office. This kind of experience wasn’t that far from normal.

Experience 2: Another day, an eigyou-man in his mid-twenties and I visited a traditional Japanese electronics company that made about forty billion dollars/year in revenue. The eigyou-man I was with had a fairly close relationship with the company we were visiting, and after briefly talking about some business the eigyou-man on my side changed the topic and bluntly said to the person from the other company, “Please buy these baseball tickets.” And he replied, “okay.” I could not believe my ears—baseball tickets had nothing to do with the electronics company, but he agreed to buy them regardless. I later learned that this type of purchase was normal in order to maintain good relationships between companies (*facepalm). We then bowed, exited the room, and entered the elevator to go down to the first floor… but the man from the other company was still with us. Upon reaching the first floor, we exited the elevator, bowed again, said goodbye and thank-you, and headed towards the set of three sliding doors we would walk through. Before passing through the first sliding door, we turned around, made eye contact with the man who was still standing there, bowed again, and then passed through the first door. This happened twice more, every time we passed through a set of sliding doors, until we were completely out of sight. When it comes to traditional Japanese companies, this is supposedly normal as well.

These are only a couple of my many experiences of visiting Japanese companies.

Part 2: Only a little bit of my time in Japan was actually spent interning, so I’m going to write out some of my thoughts and bits of advice for those of you considering/planning an exchange program in Japan such as one at Gakushuin University.

For those of you studying Japanese, you’ve probably already had some level of exposure to keigo, and you’re probably concerned about not being able to use it properly. But here’s my advice: relax, since just about all the college students in Japan are feeling the same way. In fact, I’ve heard some Japanese people comment on how gaijin (foreigners) are often better than many Japanese at keigo because the Japanese aren’t taught it in school like gaijin are—so don’t worry about it too much. Just make sure you know the basics really well.

For those of you concerned about the smoke in Japan, yes—it is a lot worse than it is in Seattle. However, it’s not nearly as bad as it was in the past; in fact, it’s outlawed in most public places in Tokyo as well as in many restaurants and cafes. Also, I’d like to note that not once was I ever pressured to drink; people were very understanding, to my pleasant surprise.

One of the greatest inconveniences of Japan is the difficulty to get free wifi—not even Starbucks offers free wifi. You can get wifi boxes from service providers like Softbank, but don’t expect to be connected to the internet unless you enter into some kind of contract with a company.

I was pleasantly surprised was to see how lively and energetic the churches I visited in Tokyo were. I often hear how few people in Japan are religious, but I was actually able to make many deep friendships with the locals, especially college students in Tokyo, through the different churches here.

A few other words of advice would be to keep track of when the last trains of the day are; to be active in making friends in your classes, “circles”(clubs), churches, student groups or whatever other organizations you may choose to join since your time in Japan will fly by before you know it; and to make a lot of Japanese friends before leaving for Japan, not only to gain practice speaking, but also since they can help you out once you’re in Japan.

Going to Japan is definitely the best way to improve your Japanese, but in order to make the most of it, you have to speak Japanese. Don’t worry about whether your Japanese isn’t good enough—go for it anyway! I’m not saying you have to hang out with only Japanese people, but having conversations in Japanese with your friends will go a long way in improving your ability to communicate, especially if you own a denshi jisho, an electronic dictionary. Denshi jisho are excellent for intermediate and advanced learners of Japanese, and I think they’re indispensable for understanding lectures in school and learning words while watching TV or talking with friends because you can find words with them far more efficiently than you can with a paper dictionary. Some advantages over using smartphone dictionary apps include longer battery life, better dictionaries/ word lists, and easier word input.

Lastly, I highly, highly recommend finding a host family if at all possible. The quality of my stay in Tokyo was doubled, both in getting to create valuable relationships and in practical ways such as being able to practice my Japanese over dinner, because I was able to stay with my host families.

As I write this, I’m actually in Kyoto studying at Kyoto University, which is quite an experience in of itself. After this semester ends, I will head back to Tokyo where I will do one last internship before returning to Seattle. Since I’ll have experienced living in both Tokyo and Kyoto, if you have questions about what they’re like—or any questions about studying in Japan in general—I’d be happy to answer them!

I hope you make the most of your time abroad, and happy travels!

Technology, Business & Students in China

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Written by Kathleen Hatch, Assistant Director, Global Business Center

Huskies on the Great Wall

Each year during the month before the University of Washington starts, groups of students led by UW Faculty travel to all parts of the world to explore a topic and a world region. This fall, I was really lucky to co-lead a program focused on how internet and technology businesses are transforming in China. We spent three and a half weeks meeting with companies and learning about Chinese culture in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guilin.

Our group at Microsoft's campus in Beijing

China is moving fast. Walking around in Beijing for just 8 days is enough time to notice that the whole city seems to be lurching forward. Our hotel was located near the center of Beijing, and when we arrived they were remodeling a store on our block – the sidewalk was completely torn up and the store was gutted. By the time we left Beijing to take the high-speed train to Shanghai, the store was open for business with merchandise hanging in the window. The growth and development of the city is not just something that you can feel, you can actually see it happening.

This was my first trip to China, and it was an incredible experience to meet with company executives and hear firsthand about their challenges and opportunities. We met with Sina Weibo, a microblogging platform that has taken off in China and is now expanding internationally. Our group visited Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group in Beijing – the second largest Microsoft campus next to Redmond. Their mission is “Innovation in China, innovation for the world.” Each year Microsoft invests two billion dollars just in Research and Development. Our speaker, Sam Zhong, Group Program Manager of the Strategic Partnership Group, talked with us about how innovative and entrepreneurial the Chinese are. He said Beijing feels like Silicon Valley in its height.

We received a presentation and toured the manufacturing floor of Tektronix. We toured UPS – their Shanghai offices are the largest in China, and they are located right next to DHL. When asked about their competition, our speaker responded that they embrace the competition and hope that this will help to further develop the system of logistics in China. Our group visited Lenovo which represents 36% of the PC market share in China with HP and Dell as their major competitors.

Visit to Hyundai in Shanghai

We watched cars being assembled at Hyundai, and our group crammed into the apartment of the founder of an internet start-up called Wodache.com, where computer programmers sat at the kitchen table on their MacBooks. Between all of our company visits we also found the time to attend a National Chinese Orchestra performance, hike the Great Wall, and eat a lot of delicious noodles and dumplings.

Over and over again, we heard about the culture of innovation, the challenges of growth, the new trends in technology, and the need to respond to consumer demands quickly. I could not help but think that China really is the place to be – things are happening here, fast. The whole country is growing quickly with enthusiasm, a strong work ethic, and a passion for technology and innovation. All of our company visits also made me think about how important it is for our business students to come to China – it is not enough to read about it. China is really something to experience.

Forever Lasting Memories

Monday, December 12th, 2011

By: Eve Churaisin, Foster Undergraduate

Today marks the last day of my exchange program in Singapore! I just took my last final and I’ve honestly never been this happy to be done. Words just aren’t enough to express my happiness at the moment. I’ll admit that this was my toughest quarter, or in this case, semester, ever.  I would not say that the classes were incredibly difficult, but the material we were tested on the exam were much more dense and we were not allotted a lot of time to think through each problem.  This was the case for the business classes I chose to take, but my final for my Southeast Asian studies class did not to appear to be very difficult. The exam environment is different at NUS than at the UW. At the UW, most exams took place where lectures took place. However, at NUS, we took our exams somewhere other than where lectures took place. Most of our exams took place in a giant multi-purpose room where there was assigned seating and we were required to place our student ID on our desk so the proctors can walk by and verify that it was actually us taking the exam.

Even though it was clearly a tough semester, it was truly a rewarding one. Having the opportunity to go to Singapore on exchange was an amazing and unforgettable experience. I got to put myself in the shoes of these locals and engage myself in an Asian culture that I was never exposed to growing up in the states. I got to observe the work ethics of these locals through the long, dreadful group meetings for my business projects that lasted about 7 hours each time. For one of the meetings, we spent all that time just to edit a group paper that had already been compiled. These locals really strive to be on the top and competition has been defined as a large part of their culture. I thought that taking classes at Foster was competitive enough, but it’s even more intense here!

Apart from getting a taste of the Asian education system, I got to experience the true “Singaporean” culture that makes Singapore a truly unique nation of its own. Even though English is the official language here, Singlish, an English based creole with its vocabulary originating from Chinese, Malay and Hokkien, is still widely used. Even though the use of Singlish is discouraged by the government, I think it’s a very unique part of their culture.  Also, even when Singaporeans speak standard British English, they end a lot of their phrases with “lah.” They even use it in text messaging and in e-mails.  I even started using it whenever I text my Singaporean friends.  Lastly, Singapore is a nation that blends different cultures from Southeast Asia into one. Besides celebrating Chinese holidays, a lot of Malay and Indian holidays are recognized as national holidays in Singapore as well.

Studying in Singapore as an exchange student did not just allow me to get a grasp of the Singaporean culture, but I also got to learn about the cultural differences from the different parts of the world. A majority of the exchange students are from European countries so they introduced me to bits and pieces of their culture. One of my European friends introduced me to the different types of cheese they eat back home and real bread that is hardly found here or back in the states.  I’ve also learned that in Germany, telling someone “happy birthday” before that person’s actual birthday means bad luck and that was something I actually never knew before.

Since Singapore is the gateway to Asia, all the traveling that I got to do enhanced my exchange experience.  Roughly a month ago, my friends and I went on a weekend trip to Tioman Island that is located off the coast of Malaysia. Getting to Malaysia from Singapore was just one bus ride away and getting to the ferry terminal was another bus ride away.  While we were in Tioman, we relaxed at the beach and went snorkeling. The snorkeling was amazing and I got to swim through a school of bright colored fish. The water was so clear that we did not even need to be in the water to see everything!

Reading Week took place two weeks ago and that was the week when locals would spend time studying for their final exams. Instead of “studying,” my friends and I had planned a trip to go to Macau and Hong Kong for five days. Macau was an interesting place, supposedly known as the Vegas of Asia, full of people walking down the streets dressed in their suits ready to enter a casino. At night, the buildings came to life with the bright, neon lights. Instead of spending our time gambling, we decided to explore the city on foot and visit the historical sites. We visited the St. Paul Ruins, the A-Ma Temple and the Monte Fort. Macau still had its Portuguese influence where the street signs and names of buildings were written in Portuguese, but I got the impression that people only spoke Cantonese.

Hong Kong, on the other hand, made me feel like I was really in Asia. I had expected Asia in general, to be full of crowded cities, traffic, street markets, and worn out buildings. This was actually Hong Kong. The city was full of excitement and full of people no matter what time of day. We got to explore Ladies’ Market and the Temple Night Market and while we were there, I got to work on my bargaining skills. On one of the days, we took the cable car to visit the Big Buddha. Another thing that made me feel like I was really in Asia was that a lot of people were not proficient in English and a lot of people would start talking to me in Cantonese whenever I entered a restaurant.

With the amount of traveling I’ve done outside of Singapore, I have been greatly exposed to the different Asian cultures and got to observe the major cultural differences between Singapore and the neighboring Asian countries. Now that I am officially on winter break, my friends and I will be leaving for the Philippines this weekend and going island hopping. The Philippines will be my last stop before returning to the states. Some of my friends already left Singapore and some others are leaving this week. Saying goodbye is probably one of the hardest things I have to do before I leave. I have met so many amazing people here and they have been here to keep me laughing and smiling and without their presence, my time in Singapore would not have been the same. As much as I enjoy being in Southeast Asia and eating the food that cannot be found back home, I’ve had enough of rice and noodles and I am more than ready to come home to eat a good sandwich for cheap and reunite with family and friends for the holidays.

A Tropical Getaway

Friday, September 30th, 2011

By: Eve Churaisin, Foster Undergraduate

Sawasdee kaa! In the Thai language, “Sawasdee” is “hello” and “kaa” is what females say at the end of a sentence to denote politeness.

I just returned from my trip to Thailand a few days ago, and all I can say is that I already miss it. It was a nice tropical getaway, and it was nice to get my mind off of school and bond with the other exchange students. We took the ferry from Krabi to Goh Phi Phi where we stayed for two nights, then we took the ferry from Krabi to Railay where we stayed in a resort for one night, and then we took a boat from Railay back to Krabi where we stayed in a hostel for one night.

Goh Phi Phi was very touristy. Besides the locals who resided on that island, it was filled with a college students on exchange. As quoted by one of my friends, the guys looked like they were dressed as if they were from SoCal wearing their plaid shorts. The girls were walking around in short shorts. On the island, restaurants and beach wear shops were all over the place. The nice thing about Thailand, in general, is that you can bargain on an item you would like to purchase. I was able to negotiate with the salesperson on a sarong that I wanted.

Beach parties took place every night on this island and was basically “party central.” There was an awesome fire show where the performers would perform their tricks with fire on the beach or they would walk on a rope and perform their tricks while trying to maintain their balance. Besides the fire show, this was the place where many people danced the night away to good music.

While we were in Goh Phi Phi, we got to take the speedboat to Maya Bay where the movie, “The Beach,” was filmed. Ever since the movie was filmed, it has been a major tourist attraction when visiting Thailand. This was where I got to go snorkeling for the first time! It was great swimming with the fish, enjoying the nice view of the pretty blue water, and walking on the soft white sand along the water.

On the other hand, Railay was more of what we would imagine a tropical getaway to be. It was more peaceful, and it was full of resorts that overlooked the beautiful view of the beaches. We were able to sit in a fancy resort restaurant, enjoy the gorgeous view of the beach, and feel the breeze coming towards us. Also, we were able to get a Thai massage right by the beach. Railay, overall, was very relaxing.

It would be nice if I can go back in time! Unfortunately, now it’s time to face reality. I already had a quiz today for my Southeast Asian studies course, and I hope I did well on it. Now, it’s time to study up for my midterm that takes place this Saturday morning. Wish me luck!

Until next time!

Welcome to Singapore, My Friends!

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

 

By: Eve Churaisin, Foster Undergraduate

It’s been a little over a month and a half since my arrival in Singapore, and it’s been a great once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just to introduce myself, my name is Eve Churaisin, and I am going into my final year at the UW studying Finance and Information Systems. I chose to go to Singapore on exchange because Singapore is an English-speaking country, and it is the fourth largest financial center in the world. I would like to use this as an opportunity to build a network base in Southeast Asia. I am currently studying at the National University of Singapore where I am taking Financial Markets, Macro and International Economics, and Old and New Music in Southeast Asia. It’s already halfway through the semester so midterms are coming up quickly!

The class structure here is quite similar to the UW. There are about 40 people in my Financial Markets class, and exams and group projects primarily make up the final grade. For my Economics and Southeast Asian course, there is a lecture and discussion section since they are both larger classes. Lectures take place only once a week for two hours and discussion section takes place once a week for an hour. Lessons may take place less often, but that just means that more material is covered each session. The material taught in the classes at NUS is more dense and faster paced. Classes here are definitely very competitive, because students here study their hearts off and aim to be at the very top of the competitive pool.

We all know that Singapore is a “fine” country. There is $1000 fine for smoking on the train and a $500 fine for eating and drinking on the train. Durian is not even allowed on the train. Period. Gum has also been forever banned from the country. Even though the government imposes a lot of fines, there is one thing that they haven’t banned yet and that is drinking publicly on the streets. There is a bridge in this one area of Singapore, Clarke Quay, where many locals and foreigners enjoy drinking and enjoying the view of the Singapore River at night. In case you didn’t know, the legal drinking age here is 18. Singapore is known for its exciting nightlife where people enjoy dancing the night off at the clubs until 4am. Not only that, people enjoy wandering the busy streets at night just to go out for a late night meal, or a second dinner, known as “supper.” The exciting nightlife is one major aspect of the Singaporean culture.

Since it’s halfway through the semester, we get a mid-semester week-long break known as Recess Week. This is the time students should spend studying for midterms that are coming up. On the other hand, this is the week that exchange students explore the surrounding countries. Traveling to other countries in Southeast Asia from Singapore is relatively cheap. I will be heading off to the southern part of Thailand with the other exchange students where we will get to relax and enjoy the view of the beautiful beaches.

Until I return from Thailand, bye for now!

Experience India!

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Foster School 2010 study trip to India from Foster School of Business on Vimeo.

Hokkaido Bound!

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Akita, Diana5Another holiday weekend meant another adventure for my friends and me.  With our hearts set on the supposed snow and the promise of fresh powder for snowboarding we headed off to Hokkaido for 4 days and 3 nights.  Though we ended up coming when there was no snowfall, we still made lemons out of lemonade and made the most of our trip.  Going to Sapporo, we did what most AIU students have done; sightseeing at the major tourist attractions.  Some of the places we ended up going to was:

 Sapporo Beer Factory: Obviously the namesake of Sapporo beer came from the city it originated from back in 1876.  With a unique chance to see the history of the beer and to do a beer tasting we jumped at the opportunity and it definitely did not disappoint.  A great place for omiyage (souvenirs), a restaurant that makes Genghis Khan-styled lamb, and a variety of beer to try, I was glad to experience a part of the Sapporo culture.

 Shiroi Koibito Chocolate: Coming here was vaguely reminiscent of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when I was watching the factory workers make the cookies they let visitors taste. The best part was trying out the other sweets they make and going in a group is extremely beneficial because you get to try a little bit of everything. 

 Susukino: We actually stayed at a inn in this area, and it was definitely a contrast to AIU life and even what Susukino looks like during the day.  Restaurants, bars, and billboards lit up the night and there was a surprising amount of people on the streets past 10pm.  If you want to experience the nightlife in a place other than Tokyo then this is what Susukino is known for.Akita, Diana6

 All in all Sapporo was amazing and it didn’t feel as rushed as my Tokyo trip, so it was the relaxing type of trip I needed so I could get to know my international friends a little bit more and practice my Japanese.  With less than a month left, I’m definitely feeling the pang of having to leave all of the friends I’ve made and go back to UW and finish up what’s left of my degree, but I certainly wouldn’t have given this up for a second. With that said, do what I did and try something different and study abroad at Akita International University and experience what I’ve experienced in Japan. Try the sushi, go to an onsen, and interact with the people.