Plane Hopping – DoHa I Did It

At Doha Airport right now waiting for my connecting flight to Tokyo. Its been a little crazy morning because I totally messed up. Luckily I stayed calm and things worked out. I wont go into detail, lets just say I’m stupid.

Its going to be hard wrapping up these past 3 months. I saw, met, drank, talked, thought, and walked a lot. I think I will reflect back to it in a when I get back home or on the flight to Tokyo. Well in the mean time I think I will post late post from about a weeks ago when I was traveling around Switzerland.

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Late post: Nov. 16

IMG_3074It is rare that I over sleep when I commit, even for class or something I necessarily do not want to do. Regardless of the night before or the state I am in the morning, I can get up and make it in time. Today I overslept and I had  plans to travel with a friend. My apologies to Utkrash for being late. The good thing is that he left without me because me being late should not alter your travel plans.

Okie with that being said today is a day of train rides across Switzerland. Pretty much I’m going coast to coast from east to west back to east. Over and through the mountains, by the lakes, rivers and cows. I’m taking the Golden Pass from Montreux to Luzern. The shitty part is I forgot something to read so these long train rides, when I don’t have the view, is going be rough. To add to that, I don’t have my headphones. I guess I’m off to a great start this morning.

Because I don’t have anything to entertain me I have been sitting and thinking on the train while looking at the gorgeous view. Then I noticed that I would check my phone every once in a while even though I don’t have wifi. Its sad but at this day in age many are very reliant on their phones. Don’t get me wrong I am guilty of it too. Whenever there is no internet, I try to find wifi. I feel like I do some what of a good job not being on my phone the whole time. This reminds me of the conversation I had with Marco, my Italian friend who was a staff member when I studied abroad in Rome. He told me that the students now are too reliant on their phones/the Internet that they are too afraid to step out of their comfort zone. And this is the sad truth. With information just at the tap of the screen, you are scared when you don’t know things.

5 years back when I was in Rome, I wanted to get lost in the city. I maybe used my map (a physical map) or I would ask around if I really got lost. Students now apparently are scare to even ask for help. Makes me wonder how sheltered they are. Being abroad now, I know things will be fine with it doesn’t go accordingly. Unlike Italy there aren’t strikes here (Switzerland) and I know less of the language but I know that things will be ok in the end. Having traveled a bit before maybe I have more “street smarts” compared to others but I know how not to be in a bad or life threatening situation. Over all I guess what I want to say is it’s sad to see this happen. I know not all people are like that but things are shifting. This does lead to more people who cannot interact socially (I know personality matters). I just want to make sure when/if I have kids, I want them to be curious, adventurous and well travelled. I want them to get lost and feel uncomfortable. Because sometimes you stumble upon some great things when you are lost.

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Oh I’m Traveling (late post a – And Olma Happened

– Late post –

DSC_1770I never had that much interest in France/Paris before. Its not because of any particular reason, but maybe it could be because everyone was raving about it and wanting to go. I remember my sister going crazy saying she is going to Paris to see this and do this and that. She was going to sit at this coffee house and be a Parisian…even though she doesn’t drink coffee. Without my expectation I made my way to spend a few days in France. And these few days were enjoyable. Seeing the sites, drinking the wine, eating the cheese and most importantly hanging out with friends. I learned a lot while my stay, like the French language, champagnes and some historical facts. If I had a chance I would definitely come back to see some more, chill and meet up with the people I couldn’t this time around. I can make a list of things I did but it will just be boring to the 5 readers of this blog so I would say just look at the pictures I posted.

There is one thing that caught my eye and made me think and thats they subway. I took note while on the train. All the subways I’ve been on the past few weeks are unique in their own way. You can tell when it was made, how used the public transportation is, and what kind of ticketing system they use. The subway in Paris has history, it’s well structured, maybe not the cleanest and safest. But what makes me happy is that not everyone are on their phones. In Japan when you catch the train you see everyone, old to young, on their cell phones. A few years back peoIMG_2655ple read their newspaper, the books or just slept. Yea maybe they are reading on their tablets/phones but I doubt that’s everyone. I might be guilty in not reading a book or newspaper sometimes. Either way it’s sad to see that this is happening especially in the younger generation. Nothing hotter than a well dressed lady reading. 

– Late post –

 In Barcelona now for my 3rd multiday trip (Lugano/Milano, France/Netherlands, and Now). Taking a 5 day adventure to Barcelona then to London. This trip is going to be interesting because I will have one travel companion the whole time, Risto and a lot others joining in along the trip. Risto is my Finnish friend who can to IUJ for his exchange last winter. We spent many days on the mountain boarding/skiing, enjoying the food beers and onsen afterwards. Since I cant make it out to Finland to see him, he decided to join me on this trip. In Barca, Mitsu-san will be hosting us despite being busy with classes. In addition, Ryu-chan and Anu will be join us from wherever they were before. Ryusuke will be concluding his long travel around Europe here.

DSC_1942On Friday we will part ways, then Risto and I will make our way to London. There we will meet up with Yuki-san, Thuy and my home boy Hiro-chan. The original plan was to go watch the Arsenal v Everton Match on Saturday but…sadly the tickets were all sold out. However that will not stop me from watch the game somewhere and visiting the Emirates. On this travel, I will be flying around instead of using the train. Yea its going to hurt my wallet but I think its worth it (thank god for LCCs).

Since I haven’t posted in a while, I missed a few things. Classes are going…accordingly. The courses can get a little intenseIMG_2754 with the time frame its in, but somehow we are managing. The group work is hard to do when everyone is traveling at different times and places. The good thing about traveling is that you can crank out some readings/writings during the transport time. I got a lot of readings done on the train for sure.

While many from our program were traveling, myself included, the big Olma Festival was happening in St. Gallen for 10 days. The 10 days were many are in St. Gallen, usually drunk, regardless of the day. I was able to walk aroun d the festival a few times and go inside once. The surrounding was very festive with all the food vendors and different attractions. There was one risotto stand which was sooooo good that its still haunting me.

I went inside Olma the day Yuki-san and Tsuyoshi-san came to visit. We tasted a ton of wine and ended up buying 3. Wish we could have tried more and bought more. It was great that the two came and visited me. Many want to come to Switzerland but being so expensive and a little far, its not high in their priority list to visit. Hopefully I was a good host to them both and they had a relaxing enjoyable time.


Its about a month till I have to head back to Japan and leave Europe. Its sad to think about being so comfortable here now. The people are good to me, the food (cheese, wine/beer, pasta, bread) are good, although I miss my Japanese food. 10+ weeks is a little too short but I guess I should be happy about that fact that I can travel. I will probably not get this kind of chance anytime soon…UNLESS I move out here… a little far fetched I guess.

West West Y’all – To France

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As another rainy Sunday in St. Gallen came, I packed in a rush for my week trip to France and Netherlands. I got on the train in time to Zurich and successfully made my transfer to the train bound for Paris. I booked 1st class tickets from Zurich and Paris for a little addition and I think it was worth it. Not only was the seat larger and comfortable, we got a meal with wine for free (well I guess the we pay for it in the ticket). Since I didn’t know it was getting a meal, it was definitely a pleasant surprise.

IMG_2560So I was able to read a case for class next week and also get some other small tasks done on the train as I chilled and looked outside. Using the time in the train (traveling) to study is the way to do as an exchange student. Although I like traveling with people, at times, traveling alone is also awesome. I actually prefer to travel alone, so that you can be on my own pace and not have to worry about the person joining me in the travel. But, don’t get me wrong, company is great too.

I reunited in Paris with Yuki-san, an IUJ student studying abroad in Reims, and Timothee, a student who came to IUJ as an exchange. The few hours I was in Paris, I was able to visit the Louvre and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Both very beautiful but since the Louvre was a free day, it was packed with people. I’m just glad I got to see some artwork. We got some dinner after that which was delicious then rushed onto the train to Reims. Now its a new day and time to explore the champagne city. 🙂 

Little Late Post – Back from Munich

IMG_2423I’m in the bus on the way home from Munich. This weekend has been a blast. Started off with Lugano then Milan (as you know). Then to Munich for a BMW visit and Oktoberfest.

Tomorrow is class for an entrapranuership class and there is a lot of reading. I got most of it done but I hope I’m good for class. This week will be hardcore but after that I’m off to France for a few days then to Netherlands to see some awesome people. Anyways that’s for next week.

First off I have to thank my friends for my time at Lugano and Milano. Rebecca who hosted us at Lugano was awesome. I would have never gone there unless she was there. Her mom was so kind to us with everything she did for us. I would love to go back just to hang out with them. Then Milano was dope as well  because of Vincenzo, Michela and Ryusuke. It always good seeing friends and nothing better than them taking you around the city they live. Although we didn’t do that much it was va bene. I miss being in Italy.
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After a short stay at home in St. Galen I made my way to BMW which was sick. I got to see things that most won’t. Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures. After a night stay in Munich, i met up with some people for Oktoberfest. I’m so happy to be able to go and with some good friends. We have already planned for next year. Which I’m excited for.

Next week is going to be France and Netherlands. Going to see classmates and old friends. One friend is someone I haven’t seen in close to 10 years. He is a childhood friend of mine and timing had just been shit for us to meet. I am very excited to see him and hang it again. He isn’t the only reason to be excited but also everyone else who I will see. I’m grateful for all the friends around the world.

Well not to focus on the course which is ahead of me. After this is the fun. On that note I will read for class then crash. Ciao people.

Going Down South – Lugano/Milano

View from Mat's house near campus

View from Mat’s house near campus

I woke up this morning not in St. Gallen but a city in the southern part of Switzerland called Lugano. A friend was gracious enough to let us stay at her place for the night. When I say us, it is me and my awesome weird traveling companion Mathieu from Quebec and the gracious friend is the lovely Rebecca. So at the moment the plan is to check out Lugano today and leave for Milano tomorrow, then kick it there for a night and come back Sunday evening. Then actually on Monday I’m going to Munich for a company visit and staying a night to try to experience the famous Oktoberfest on Tuesday. So for the next 5 days is going to moving around, see things and experiencing being a full time exchange student.

On the way to Lugano. Nice sunset picture

On the way to Lugano. Nice sunset picture

Its been 3 weeks today since I arrived to Switzerland and I feel like I’m adjusting well. My flatmates are cool and we get along. I am making good friends at school, both in and out of my program. Now I am slowly making friends outside of the school and that is exactly what I wanted to do. Not only be a student of St. Gallen but try to become some who really lives in town. Language is obviously a big barrier but there is always a way around it.

Classes are good as well.  They only last one week but its a jam packed week for sure. We just finished 2 classes and next week will be the third. What we learn is refreshing and different from IUJ. I guess thats the perk to be studying out here.

Well my day in Lugano is about to begin so I will be posting some more soon.

One Week in – The Usual Settling In

Its been a week since arriving in St. Gallen. I have settled in nicely and I believe I’ve figured out for the most part how things are in town. I’ve met some very interesting and fun people and befriended some solid guys. Classes started last week but not in full swing. Things will get real this coming week.
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I’ve noticed that most of my schooling have taken place in the suburbs or what most people say, middle of nowhere. St. Gallen is somewhat the same. A university town which is 1 hour away from Zurich. The deep long history of this city attracted and attracts many here but without the students it is pretty dead. Nothing functions on Sundays, so things like shopping should be taken care before Saturday 5pm. But I don’t dislike it at all. What makes a place great is what you make out of the situation (of course with the friends you make).

12011263_10153529671909566_9176099041614557220_nI’ve also been planning my excursions the past few days. A Barcelona flight has been booked and set. Plans for London, Netherlands, Paris and Reims are locking down. Italy is also on the list but I am trying to figure out some details. Financially it may…I mean it will become tough but it is something I am accepting. Being smart with cash flow is the key to my 3 months here.

Being in a separate program from the rest of the university, at the start I met mostly the people in my program (International Student Program, ISP). The people in the program are great and come from all over the world. Now that some events and parties have been held, I made some new friends outside the program which is awesome. The more diverse the people I get to meet, the better and more comfortable I get.

Lucky for me, in the program I am in there are 4 students who are local students who take both ISP and the normal classes. They help us out with settling in to the HSG life and they surely have. I also have 2 other friends who were former (or soon to be) students of St.Gallen. They both came to IUJ for exchange and were awesome. I am glad I get to see them here and hang out with them again. Without all the support and friends I’ve made so far, this first week would have been not as interesting.

I know there is more to come and more pictures as well. Btw happy birthday shout-out to my boy in South Africa, Matt Markey. I know most of you don’t know him but its fine, just thought I would do this.

 

Going Abroad on Exchange なう

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NRT -> BKK

Waiting at Bangkok for the connecting flight to Zurich. It feel weird stopping by a country I am not used to. It’s my first time in Asia besides Japan. It’s funny that I’ve been around Japan for so long but never explored any of Asia.

Because of all the construction going on at the airport, I was a little lost at the start, not knowing where to go. This is why I don’t like transfers.

Well it’s been a while since I last posted something. I thought the start of my exchange program would be a good way to restart my blog. For those who did not know, I am on my second year of my MBA and was given the opportunity to go on exchange. I will be attending great university called St. Gallen in St. Gallen, Switzerland (about 1 hour from Zurich) for a 10-week program. I will be here from the starting of September till the mid/end of November.

It’s a privilege to be able to go abroad again in this kind of fashion and I am planning to make the best of out it. Last time I went abroad was in Roma, 5 years ago for a month program. It was truly too short but definitely super sweet. I made some amazing friends there. I know it will not be exactly the same this time around but I know it will be good. It also helps that I have some people I know there already.

So here is my short post from Bangkok… I want to shower… More to come when I am on Swiss soil.

Back In – Full Spring

–Repost from Saturday May 16th–

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On my way back to Minamiuonuma right now. I spent the Friday, Saturday in Tokyo to watch sumo and see family and friends. Good time for sure. Its been so long since I last went to go see sumo live (especially in a booth). The matches (取り組み) were obviously amazing.

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For most sumo just looks like fat people pushing and shoving each other, however this spiritual sport is a lot more than just that. The amount of training these wrestlers put in and the traditional/spiritual parts make this sport amazing. When I was in Tokyo, I would sit and watch the big dogs go with my brother and father during what we call “happy hour”. We would have our favorites and cheer them on. The more I watched, the more I learned and the more I liked the sport. If you get the chance, you should read more about sumo and actually try to go watch it live. Worth the money

I’ve been busy and lazy the past few weeks so I have not posted in a while. I kept on telling myself, this week this week but that “this week” never came. Have this time right now in the shinkansen without WiFi(internet) which gives me the best reason and motivation to write.

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I do not remember the last post I did but Im pretty sure it was before all the snow melted on campus. Spring did come to IUJ but it was short and sweet. The cherry blossoms bloomed and the weather became wonderful (warm and sunny). More time is spend outside just laying and playing on the grass. The “spring” that came, lasted about a week and now it feels like summer. Temperature is up in the 20s Celsius (close to 70 F) and we see more people wearing shorts and t-shirts.

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This spring term is busy with group works and studying but also with extra activity. Although a few were active in the snow, including myself, now that the snow is gone, people are doing more things. Golf, football, rugby, running, hiking and more. Also we have Open Day/International Festival coming up next week. People are practicing dancing and singing. Its nice but its getting rough trying to balance the studying and social life. Time management, I guess is becoming key here. Things have to be sacrificed and one that everyone is cutting first is sleep.


There are only a few weeks left so I hope people do not get sick or hurt especially with the lack of sleep. Stay healthy and rest properly or you cannot enjoy the fun activities. 🙂

I will should be back to posting regularly. enjoy some pictures at the mean time.

Painfully Beautiful Spring

REPOST (3/31/15):
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Nose is stuffed and running at the same time. Been scratching my nose and eyes non-stop..its hay fever season. The crappy situation with my allergies means that spring is here. Being back in the snow-less city of Tokyo is nice. The temperature is warmer and it really does feel like spring is here, unlike Minamiuonuma. As of right now, the cherry blossom is full bloom and it is showing its spring beauty.
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1, maybe 2 weeks out of the year, the beautiful cherry blossoms bloom. I think the short lived beauty is what makes it amazing and worth seeing. The Japanese have a customary event when the sakura blooms called hanami. The direct translation of this is flower viewing and as it sounds, people sit around and enjoy the view as they eat and drink the whole day. I have not done this in close to 10 years so could not wait for spring (except for the damn hay fever) and hanami I did. Out of 6 days I was in Tokyo, I probably sat around and enjoyed the sun with a beer 3 times. Also got to enjoy the sakura at Meguro-gawa which is right near my house. Although the people walking around and the cars were annoying, the beauty made up for it. The great thing is Minamiuonuma’s sakura isn’t even close to blooming so we can have round 2 for hanami soon. It will probably be bbq and hanami with a bunch of friends.

IMG_1127Besides the cherry blossom, my stay in Tokyo was great. Got to spend some quality time with friends and family. I was able to catch up with someone which was also nice…which leads to this weekend (April 10th weekend). I will be back in Tokyo to catch up with my brother who is in Japan to pick up his fiancé to go back to California. Looking forward to seeing him again.

 

 

 

–Added Post– IMG_1180
Things are coming back to normal schedule. The school ground is prepping for spring and taking down its winter reinforcements. We (some of us) are trying to find any way possible to go back to the slopes to ski/board the last bit of snow left. All the students are back on campus so finding time to meet up with them so we can officially kick off the term.
This term is going to get busy with work and social events. I have to do whatever I can to balance it out. Taking it one step at a time. Fist is going back home to Tokyo for the weekend to see my mates, say bye to a few and celebrate a birthday.

Winter Term Done But Snow Isn’t Gone

With the last test on Friday, winter term finished. The past couple weeks have been…hectic. Sleep is something of low priority, while studying, drinking and other things have been bumped up. Hitting the books was definitely a priority last week (especially the start). I got help from some people who saved my neck for sure this semester, you know who you are :). So winter term is in the bag and looking back at it, it was an awesome term. People were freaking out that winter was coming but it came and it was dope as hell. I feel like I did not have enough time to do everything I wanted (and I didn’t even go to Tokyo).

 

 As soon as the term finished, the parties started. I was invited to an outing to an onsen on Friday night. What can be better than onsen, food, drinks and karaoke? Then Saturday I tried to take it easy but it didn’t really end that way. Nabe, drinks then I dont know… Sunday was half day on the slopes and then…not sure again but I tried to sleep early because Monday we had a little group of us heading to Nagano at 5 am.

Even though I’m a morning person, I don’t wake up at that time unless its for golf, surfing, ski/boarding or to catching a flight (I refrain from book a flight at that time). We got to Hakuba, Nagano around 8 and was on the slopes not too long after that. As tired as all 5 of us were, we were at it till 4 when it was closing. The condition was not good but it was still fun. We bought some groceries and drinks for the night and headed to an onsen. This onsen was unreal. This 露天(roten) or open air onsen was so nice and with timing was perfect as well. We got there just when the sun was setting, so we were able to enjoy it in the light and watch the the sky dim till we can see the stars. After that relaxing bath, we headed to Shinichi-san college mountain-cabin.
We parked at an empty lot and walked up for about 15 minutes (of course through snow). Once we got there we had to crawl in to the house because the snow covered half the door. After we settled in, we had food and started drinking (otoko-nabe and some real good sake). Since we were up since about 4am, we didn’t last long through the night. One by one, people dropped and I was out around 11.

 

 The next day started at a decent time with some coffee outside in the snow. Damn that felt good. It was like having coffee at the beach listening to the waves (like at Bath Lane). Then for the next few hours, we had food, drank, jumped/slid around, went on a walk, had more coffee and food. All of a sudden it was 2. We cleaned up and headed to another onsen before our long trip home. By the time we got to Minami Uonuma it was about 8:30 at night. Tired as hell, I washed my clothes and set things up to leave for Tokyo the next day.

Now I am in the train, chilling and typing away. I will be in Tokyo for about a week. Have to see people, do some hanami (cherry blossom viewing), spend quality time with friends and family. Just not excited for the hay fever that will kill me when I’m in the city. Winter is over down here in the Kanto region… Spring is here…or is it?