Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Moved - New Dorm, New Place!

Hi Guys, it's been quite the hectic move, but I've finally moved into the Mitaka Dorms today! (Kinda forgot about this, but I'll be entering Tokyo University!) The dorm is about an hour away from the Komaba Campus, but it's a really cheap place considering that it's Tokyo! The rent is 11500 yen, excluding electricity and water and what not, nearly half of the Minoo Dorms! (It's even bigger than the Dorm 2 rooms yay owo)

Here's some pictures!

So much space owo
(but there's no curtains and mattress (at first) you can get them at the nearby home center)

There's a mini kitchen inside! Have to make sure pots and pans are suited for electrical heating!

Toilet + Shower! Sink's movable owo so space-efficient owo

All the documents and fliers from admin .___. Went with an empty bag, came back with 3 full bags .__.

Cool river with Nanohana and ducks! On the way from the bus stop to the dorms!

Shall do a post about the moving admin next time! There'll be orientation events + admin the next few days so look out for a post around end next week!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Moving Day - Sending Stuff

Today I've finally packed finished and sent my luggage + boxes of stuff! Was supposed to send them earlier but oops .__. (If you're moving in March, do try to pack and send them early as it's the peak period!)

Sent a total of 4 boxes + a big suitcase for around 7,600 yen via Yu-Packゆうパック, a postal service by Japan Post. It's cheaper than using a moving company and renting a truck/van which can cost around 20,000 ~ 30,000 yen or more depending on the distance. The cost of using Yu-Pack depends on the distance and size of the package (Length + Breadth + Height).

Displaying DSC_0485.JPG
The cost shown here is from Kinki Region to the rest of Japan

The dorm sells cardboard boxes at 320 yen for the large size (140cm) and at 220 yen for the small size (around 110cm *since it's over 100cm, it's charged at the 120cm size price). The large size boxes sold out during this week, so yup, do buy them early. Or, you can get free cardboard boxes from the Supermarket but they're are mostly within 100cm... Or, you can use a giant plastic bag to hold a small box, and add on to it! Then at the end, you wrap it up with other plastic bags (or a rice sack which I'd say is thicker) The downside is the end package isn't very sturdy, so pack only non-fragile stuff there (shoes, books, clothes, etc.).

Desperate times call for desperate measures

NOTE: Don't pack in aerosols, batteries, lighters, stuff that don't go into your luggage when you check in for flights! The Post Office won't accept parcels with those and it'll get sent back to your old address... 

On a side note, two more days left in Osaka and 5 more till uni entrance administration starts .__.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Getting Essentials in Osaka

I remember my first week in Osaka, gathering essentials: toilet paper (pack one roll along first cause there wasn't any in the room! You can get them subsequently from the Dorm Manager actually, don't need to buy them!), food supplies, cooking tools and appliances.

On our 2nd day here, after admin stuff, my friend and I went to the nearby Garden Mall (15min walk away).
There's a path next to Dorm 2 along a tennis court. Walk on that path out of the campus and go to the end until a zebra crossing. Cross that and walk along the path with apartments to your right. You'll see a bridge. Cross the bridge and turn right at the end of it. Walk straight and you'll pass a post office, Rikuro Ojisan (nice Japanese fluffy cheese egg cake). Then you'll see the Family Mart Signboard and head towards that direction! There's a fancy but pricey furniture shop called Francfranc and walk pass it to reach Saitonishi Monorail Station. Garden Mall is a little further from there!

Garden Mall mainly has a supermarket called Friend Mart, a Seria (a 100 yen store) and a drugstore, to stock up. While Seria and the drugstore are quite decent, the supermarket is on the pricey side.
BUT on Tuesdays and Wednesday, Friend Mart has a sale on vegetables(mainly carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, onions) and meat in general, and you can check out the offers here
Only then, do I find it worth buying from there! And whenever you need something immediately.

There are cheaper options at Apro and Maruyasu down the hill 25min away, but the vegetables are more expensive than Friend Mart on its sale day. The uphill climb back is tiring/good exercise depending on how you see it.

I'd say the cheapest is Gyomu Supermarket, but it's nearly an hour away on foot. Usually I'd go there once a month and stock up with friends (having someone to talk to makes the journey feel shorter). You can also check out the food along the walk there! There's delicious stuff which I'll cover in some other post! Though some vegetables can't beat Friend Mart on sale day, nearly everything is cheaper there. Especially fruits!! Look out for 見切り品 too! They're priced cheaper as they're nearing expiry dates. If I remember correctly, I got those peaches for around 400 yen or even lesser!

                                            Peach Stock in June                               Mikan Stock in December

The downside is: food is packed in bulk; the least amount of meat you can get is around 1kg. With usually 2 hand carry bags and 1 backpack full, going back by bus is a must! (the bus fare is 220 yen, but the discounts make up for that).

For appliances, I remember the time my friend and I went to Umeda to get our electronics. It wasn’t the smartest move, lugging a rice cooker back, with an electric kettle each and what not back on a 1h+ journey. Neither was it the cheapest.
The nearer, cheaper option would be Recycle Shops, like 2nd Street and Peace. I've been to 2nd Street (got a bento box for around 500yen and a ceramic bowl for 200yen) but not Peace though but Recycle Shops usually sell a variety of things from appliances, pots and pans (there was a takoyaki pan for 200 yen), to used clothing, toys, and even yukatas at some shops, so I'm supposing Peace would have them too! Do check them out!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

U-Program in Handai - Looking Back

It has nearly been a year since I came to Osaka University (Handai) for a year of language preparation under MEXT. There were ups and downs, fun lessons and boring ones, and times where I wondered whether this was the right choice for me. But I'd have to say, this year was a very memorable one and overall, it was a great year!

I don't want to forget the times I've had here, so I've decided to start a blog to look back and to record future stuff. Hopefully, it'll be helpful for the future batches! (Before I came here, I was stalking Eustacia's blog about her experience and thought it was a really informative and interesting read! I always looked forward to new posts. But there was not much information about Osaka's side, so I kinda got inspired, but never got to it until now oops...)

So, first things first, let me introduce a post by my current floormate, Devangi! She wrote a really detailed post about the Undergraduate Program and Dorms here in Osaka! Do check it out!

Next, I'm not sure if this is in time for the deadline, but around this period of time, if you're going to Osaka's U-Program, there's an option to sign up for the Host Family Program. I signed up and was paired with a nice grandma who invited me over for dinner around once every 2 months. During some public holidays or weekends, we would travel around Osaka and Kyoto to sight-see! I'm really grateful for this program because you get to interact with the locals and learn about Japanese culture directly from them! Though I heard some friends didn't manage to meet up with their host family much, I'd recommend signing up!

Moving on to the recap! On the first day we reached Osaka, there was a bus to pick us up from the airport to Handai. If I remember correctly, it was about a 2h? drive, with a stop at a convenience store for a toilet break.
**You might want to get some food at the convenience store! The cafeteria wasn't open and the nearest food place is a 20min walk away (not sure if it was open too cause I went to the conbini 15min away for dinner)

When we reached, it was around 3.30pm? (my memory's a bit fuzzy) and we had a briefing about the dorms. 2 months of rent and a cleaning fee was to be paid upfront (total 53,800 yen). After putting our suitcases in our rooms, there was another briefing about administrative things like applying for a bank account, student ID, insurance and schedules. Everything ended around 6pm+. For the following days we went in small groups to settle the bank account and insurance, and went on orientations regarding the university and its facilities. There were also placement tests for Japanese and English for all. The following week, Japanese lessons started and there were placement tests for Economics + Politics and History for the Humanities Students, Chemistry and Biology/Physics for the Science Students.

The placement test for Japanese decides your class and for English, whether you'll take an additional class after lessons. I'm not too sure about the Science students, but the "placement tests" for Econs+Politics and History felt more like surveys; the classes were based on your Japanese language class.

So that's about it for the first two weeks! I'll cover more after our last exam on Monday!