APU Life

Few months in the culture, I have had time to adapt to the Japanese up-in-the-mountain way of life. Here are some characteristics I have gotten more or less familiar with.

Some of the Happy R3 residents
There can never be too many pictures. Some of the Happy R3 residents

When you are tired, you sleep. No matter if you’re in a train, in the cafeteria, or in class. The library is open until midnight, and people often stay up until the wee hours of morning. In APU, the classes can last until 7.30 pm. No wonder students doze off – usually sleeping is very obvious and not even tried to hide.

Modest nap in class
Modest nap in class

Birthdays are celebrated at midnight, when the birthday is beginning, rather than bringing breakfast in bed like sometimes in Finland.

Tatsuro got his piece of the cake
Tatsuro got his piece of the cake

The word “party” usually making dinner with more than 2 people, rather than going drinking and/or dancing. Parties may also include games, activities etc. This came as a surprise to some of the exchange students in the beginning of the semester.

Floor party: Japanese winter food Nabe.
Floor party: Japanese winter food Nabe.

Other things I’ve noticed in APU:

Unlike in Europe, where perm is equivalent to the hottest of hot 80’s style, in Japan getting a perm is popular. At least in APU, that is.

The Japanese never say no. When they mean no, they can say maybe, a little… or even yes – in a special tone that is supposed to give the hint. Sometimes this can be a bit challenging/frustrating or even annoying. Or maybe I should learn to not say no?

The myth of the healthy Japanese diet has nothing to do with the substances people consume here. And by substances I mean the more or less processes products people fill themselves with throughout the day. Besides the polished rice, pasta is a big hit!

Guess who is about to be eaten?
Look who is about to be eaten!

For most people, there is rarely such leisure as free time. If not in lectures, students go to their circles activities, do homework or prepare presentations etc. Also, the AP house residents are not that keen on leaving the house.

Stairway to campus
Stairway to campus from Ap House
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Halloween-ish

Halloween is not a big deal in Japan. The stores do have cute Halloween gear on sale, but the culture is not really popular, at least so I’ve heard. International students can make a difference, though!

Japanese Halloween: cute, scary or both?

We had a joined birthday party and Halloween in a rather interesting venue called Hit Parade. The place reminded me of a cruise boat, with the food buffet, all you can drink-offer and live band. This band was 50’s style, played swingin’ dancing music and there was kids running around, shy about the incarnations of their favorite anime characters.

We had our own balcony, which was strictly supervised by the manager the whole evening

The evening was a success, though we got the feeling that we were not really welcome to the place. However, Drinks were served and the night continued to our regular (the only) student bar, where we met up with more dressed up people.

He got at least 5 identical twins – playing in the same band!

Once again, we were asked to pose in many pictures. This time the costumes might have had some effect, though.

Drangonball and Anpanman dancing the night away

The night was a success, and the experience was definitely worth repeating! In Finland it would not be possible to have all you can eat and drink for 30 euros. Ever.

Sing it like you mean it

In addition to sushi, one simply must do karaoke in Japan. In Finland karaoke is highly popular, sung in pubs where everyone has to listen to the often very drunk, and very poorly skilled singers. In Japan, the promised land of karaoke, you gather your friends and go to a private room, where you can sing for a certain period of time – for extra price the drinks are included. Food and snacks can also be ordered for more satisfying experience.

Beppu may not have nightclubs, but there are several karaoke bars where you can shake that tambourine and pretend you’re the Black Eyes Peas. On the last weekend before school start, bunch of exchange students and few Japanese buddies gathered in a karaoke room in Beppu Tower for a few hours of singing and drinking drinks that were ordered mostly by pointing from the menu.

Eh sexy lady – Gangnam style!

In addition to Gangnam style (two Korean-savvy girls singing, many Scandinavians dancing), on the playlist were hits like I Will Survive, This Love from Maroon Five, some Coldplay, and many others. For next time, I need to make a list of the songs I want to sing – oh yes, there will be a next time. For 1600 yen you can sing for 2 hours, drink as much as you can, and apparently there is some kind of transportation from AP house as well. I wonder how much karaoke costs in bigger cities?

AP House ceremony

Exactly a week ago I finally got in to the AP house, tired of travelling and sleep deprived, too. What a week it has been, every day filled with new things, events, people and information!

Today we had AP House welcoming ceremony for all the new residents (I think there is over 1000 of us). First in the Millenium Hall, there was few speeches and an entertaining video about the AP House rules. After that, we went to the cafeteria to enjoy a buffet and performances by Yossha-Koi dance circle and the Japanese drum circle.

Impressive drumming

The RA (Resident assistants, two students on each floor who are responsible for, well, almost everything) had prepared many dance performances for us, all of which were surprisingly well practiced! In Finland, there is no way you’d see guys dance (6 dance routines in a row) – specially if the dance includes feminine or otherwise sexually charged moves. Vive les cultural differences!

Gagnam style, once again!

Today was the first time I ate pizza with chopsticks! The menu was international, like the residents in AP houses. We were truly welcomed to the house, and even though I’ve been here a week learning all the manners and everyday life, this event made the house seem even warmer and friendly, if possible.

Weekend activities

Mostly thanks to couchsurfing.org, I have been rather active (and social) the past few days.

On Friday, I went to a pole dancing lesson held by a fellow CS member. I met new people (random enough, there was one Finnish girl who happens to be classmates with one of my oldest friends, in another city where I lived), had fun, and learned that I do not have much muscular strength. I knew that already, but it is odd how easy it looks to be upside down hanging on a pole. The class definitely helped me loosen up. Don’t know, if me and the pole will have many encounters any time soon, but it was fun to try!

Saturday I went to Moma ps1 and 5 points in Long Island city. After that, I defied the laws of nature and walked 48 blocks north and 8 avenues east, in heels, to the biggest house party I have ever been. Rough estimate of attendants is around 500. I was in my element behind the bar counter making drinks. Got nice tip (that paid for the cab ride home!), met a lot of new people – win, win! I also wanted to go to a party on the Manhattan bridge, but since the weather was bad, I had the aforementioned uncomfortable shoes (and a mini skirt), the party was good, and I had no clue how to get from Upper East Side to the bridge fairly easily, I decided to hang out with the people I already was with.

Since there is no picture of the rooftop party, here’s the view from Webster’s rooftop.

Not bad for a view, eh?

Sunday activities: picnic in Central Park, followed by coffee and baguettes in a nice cafe, then to home and to NyQuil-spiked sleep at 8.30.