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AIU ni Yokosou


*dusts off Destructoid account*

Hey guys, Harris Hatsworth/The Mad March Harris/Undetermined new username here. I havenít been around for a while and this blog series is going to be a summary of what Iíve been doing the past few months. ďBut why would we care about some guy who doesnít write blogs and didnít even really notice he was gone?Ē First, ouch. Second, because Iíve been living in Japan! As part of my university I decided to spend a year abroad and I chose Japan. Therefore Iíve been living here since late August and Iím moving back to Canada in early March (not technically a year, I know. Semester system; credit transfer blah blah blah).

I think this first entry will just be a bunch of points about my experience at large rather than any stories or events. This is just so that thereís an easy reference for future entries and because I will be abusing the shit out of brackets to clarify things otherwise. I will probably still make esoteric points and abuse brackets but this should hopefully lessen that. This will also be very stream of consciousness since it has simply been the events of my life and on top of having a rather spotty memory I drink heavily. This particularly made my two Sendai trips, Tokyo, and the two times groups of friends went back home blurry memories.

And without further ado, hereís the first in my series of blogs begging with a series of random bullet points that may or may not have a solid logical progression within them.

1. A/S/L/Etc
a. 20/M/Akita City, Japan.
b. Iím finishing my third year of university in 6 days.
c. Iím Canadian and from Toronto.
d. I have been taking Japanese lessons here. Dunno if that makes my title sound less weeaboo.

2. Akita City
a. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akita,_Akita
b. In reality itís pretty bumblefuck. Thereís a sports complex/arcade/karaoke place across town from the train station and a few shopping malls, bars, and one club within 15 minutes of it as well and thatís about it.
c. Getting here from school is a kind of a pain and the last bus back from Wada station (the train station about an hour walk from campus) is 10:30pm so staying out all night means staying out until 8:30am or paying about $30 a person for a packed cab ride home.

The suicide, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, depression, poverty capital of Japan. It's actually really nice aside from being boring.

3. Akita International University
a. http://www.aiu.ac.jp/en/
b. Basically, a small liberal arts/business school in the middle of nowhere Japan that teaches in English first (and only for many classes) which makes it really difficult by Japanese standards. By North American standards the work load is hilariously light. ďEssayĒ questions are like 8 sentences long.
c. As mentioned above, public transit sucks and taxis are expensive as hell so the university is its own universe. This has the advantage of making social groups incredibly tight. Conversely, it breeds problems with alcoholism (one of the nicknames for the school is Alcoholics International University), gossip, and stir-craziness. Sounds like those donít balance out but unless you are utterly broken as a human being and are incapable of being around others you will make some of the best friends of your entire life at this school.

This is the centre of campus. I didn't take the picture but that's basically how it looks right now minus a few inches of snow.

4. Student Population
a. The total student population here is maybe 1000 at most. During the Fall semester (Sept Ė December) the population is around half internationals because lots of the senior students live off campus or are doing their required year abroad.
b. During the Spring and Fall most of the internationals are American. From all over America, but generally in clusters (there was the Minnesota group, a few Southerners, Oregon/Washington is popular too).
c. People do come from everywhere though. At a 15-20 person party (usual attendance for my group right now) there are usually at least 5-6 different languages that could be spoken fluently.
d. There are lots of girls and there are lots of gay/bi men (and a few women) at the school. Hence the nickname GayIU. Itís not really in your face, there was only one queen at the school (with the second gayest person being the ďIím a vegan and all my friends are girls and I love school related community building tripsĒ stereotype), but itís something that sort of seeps in. Actually, at this point making gay jokes (such as grinding on a dude for a second during a party) is so commonplace that the hilarity just comes from how commonplace it is.

Just finished playing a drinking game to The Room. Even the people cheating on their drinks and drinking coolers were drunk by the time this photo was taken.

5. Japanese Culture
a. Living in Japan is different from a regular Western country. It sounds obvious but it takes a month or two to really notice that thereís a significant difference between how Japanese and North American people interact
b. At first you notice the differences by the fact that people stare and point at you. Little kids point the most but high school girls are the worst since they are unafraid to stare, giggle, point, and assume you donít understand anything theyíre saying.
c. Once you start living a normal sort of life though you can see that there is an unwelcome borderline (or maybe fully) racist manifestation of this in that gaijin are ďsotoĒ. Meaning that weíre outside and if we donít get their customs then itís alright to basically treat us like those people in high school that hung around with groups but didnít realize they werenít really wanted or included in anything. A Japanese person can hate you and will treat you like a good friend until the point where they canít take it and will go Ned Flanders crazy on you out of nowhere.
d. Generally the coolest Japanese people are the ones who have gone abroad. If nothing else, once they go abroad they learn that it wonít cause themselves or the person theyíre talking to to burst into flames by expressing emotions and speaking directly.

This is already starting off kind of directionless and long-winded but itís put a few memories into my mind so it should at least help my find my feet. Iíll try to keep regular entries less than 1000 words to avoid tl;dr nonsense. Iíll try and set up context by making the first two or three chronologically first. Then Iíll do the most recent stuff since itís both fresh in my mind and important. Iíll put out my next one within the next few days and then decide on an actual schedule from there.
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About Harris Hatsworthone of us since 6:43 PM on 03.28.2009

I'm a 20 year-old degenerate Canadian currently studying Political Science at University of Toronto. I'm about to finish my third year and I'm doing so abroad in Japan (and as far as I can think that time is going to be all I use this blog for for a while).

I own a PS3, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP, and a SNES and have a considerable gaming collection. I only brought the PS3 with me to Japan and I don't really use it all that much. In fact, I'm not really sure if I plan to keep gaming in the future. At least, not nearly as much as I used to.