Konnichi Wa, Fort Collins: Introduction and First Impressions

Konnichi wa, Fort Collins!

My name is Zach and I’m a CSU student currently studying abroad in Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. For those of you without an extensive knowledge of Japanese geography (read: all of you, including me), Hirakata is on the southwest side of Japan, and is about an hour away from cultural capitals Osaka and Kyoto. Kansai Gaidai is known for its huge Asian Studies Program, bringing college students all around the world to its 15,000-student campus.

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Throughout this fall semester, I’ll be blogging about my time here for you beautiful Collegian readers back in the States. I’ll not only be talking about some of my more interesting cultural experiences; I’ll also dive into the topics of getting the most out of an experience studying abroad and how you (yes, you!) can make your dreams of schooling overseas come true. Remember: I’m a silly American with no travel experience living in a country that speaks a language I’m completely incompetent at. If I can study abroad, anyone can!

I’ve only been here five days, but I’ve already learned a lot and had many interesting experiences. I’ve learned prefectures (essentially the Japanese equivalent of states) have their own sports team-style mascots that have relay races for charity. I’ve watched a policeman chase down a car on foot while manically blowing on a whistle. I’ve slept through an earthquake. I’ve seen rows of cartoon pornography proudly displayed at an establishment named the Family Mart. I’ve learned what humidity is, a concept foreign to a native Coloradoan such as I. And I’m sure I’m about to see and learn a whole lot more.

Anyways, I’ll be back every Wednesday (technically Thursday here because of the 15-hour time difference) with a new story to tell. I hope you’ll join me for a once-in-a-lifetime semester. And if you have any questions about Japan or study abroad, or have a topic you would like me to explore, I would love for you to leave a comment!

P.S.: Contrary to popular belief, ‘konnichi wa‘ does not actually mean “hello” in Japanese, it instead means “good afternoon” and you can sound decently stupid (though I’ve already become used to looking, sounding and acting completely moronic here) if you say it in the early morning or late at night. So, unless you read my column in the afternoon, the title of my blog isn’t quite correct. I still think it has a ring to it.