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Ideas / Diary / T
The diary of a female Japanese exchange student at university in London
August 2001
Fountain Pen (c) Hemera Technologies Inc
  September 2001
  October 2001
  November 2001
  December 2001
  January 2002
  February 2002
  March 2002
  April 2002
  May 2002
  June 2002

August 2001

Hi, how are you?

I arrived in London on 22 August. It's been a week since then!

A huge typhoon was approaching Japan but luckily didn't affect my flight very much. I arrived in London on time. I had a bit of a problem at the immigration desk and I couldn't find my host mother for 15 minutes, but I had a really good time with my friend's family. I stayed with them in Wimbledon. My host father took me to Southall and Brixton and I found them really interesting. They were not like England. I felt as if I were in India and Africa!! I actually got jetlag, so took a nap when I went back home. I went for a walk in the morning and enjoyed lovely gardens. I also met many of my friend's family and friends and had a barbecue each night. They love barbecues!

I came to the hall on Monday and have been self-catering since then. I'm getting used to it. I've still got loads to learn but somehow feel as if I have been here for ages. Now I am taking the pre-sessional course at SOAS (University of London), but half of the students are Japanese and I sometimes feel as if I were in Japan. However, the majority of the students are
Post-graduates, so the atmosphere will definitely change when the real course starts.

The class starts at 10:00am and finishes at 3pm. I've got to work on 2 essays every week. Today I just learnt how to use the computer room! I have to submit an essay tomorrow, so must go now.


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September 2001

Hello everyone, how are you?

This week was really hard, because I had to submit a 1500-word essay on Friday. I only had two days to complete it but I managed!

Yesterday I met my e-mail friend for the first time. (I came to know him after I posted a message to Dave's ESL Cafe as an assignment of the Workshop class at my university in Japan). We had promised not to send photos and not to talk to each other, so I was really nervous until I actually met him. He looked a bit like the home room teacher when I was in the last year at primary school. He was such a nice person and didn't break the image I had had of him. We went for afternoon tea at the Dorchester Hotel (a luxurious hotel which is in the guidebook 'chikyu-no arukikata'). The atmosphere made me a bit nervous, but I had a really good time. I was an Eliza in My Fair Lady. He taught me manners, some polite English, and how to be escorted! :) I really enjoyed his company, but every experience was new to me, which seemed to make me tired. I woke up at 10:30 this morning.

Next week is the last week of the pre-sessional course. I'll need to re-write the final essay and do a presentation. The course finishes on the 21st. I'll have orientation from the 22nd to the 24th. Then the induction week starts, which I suppose is like a holiday(?). I'm looking forward to the start of the course.

Regards, T

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October 2001

Hello, everyone! How are you doing?

I've been doing alright. There have been many things I've got to think about ...but all of them are part of my growing up... (many things seem to be changing, which actually started just before I left Japan...).

Anyway, the course has finally started. I could register for all the courses I wanted to take. Compared to the number of lessons I was taking at my Japanese University, my timetable seems to show lots of free time... Monday is the hardest day for me, I've got to go to school by 9.00 and be there until 4.00. It's alright, though, as I have a day off on Tuesdays. I've got only one class on Wednesdays and Fridays. I have to take an English support class. I'm mainly taking courses from the linguistics department, but I'm also studying Korean. It's a bit hard for me now to keep up with the lesson, as I've never studied the language, whereas some of the others have already learnt the basics. I'm struggling to memorise the Korean alphabet at the moment...

Well, as I expected, there are so many Japanese students at SOAS. I actually have to seek opportunities to speak English! For this term, I'm taking Korean, Japanese linguistics, and Sociolinguistics. The first two are taught by non-native teachers, so it's quite easy for me to follow what they say. Only one class is taught by an English teacher. (Many of my friends studying abroad right now might be having difficulty keeping up with their lectures, but it seems I don't need to worry about it too much). The Japanese exchange students are treated in a special way here. Exceptionally, we belong to the East Asian Department and each of us is given an advisor. They'll sometimes hold a party with the first year Japanese students, and we'll be invited. I'm also thinking of applying for a Japanese assistant.

I visited Cambridge to see a friend. (She was fine! ). I couldn't get together with some of you in Cambridge, but I'm sure to visit again sometime! Of course, I'll come to Oxford and other places, too! Cambridge was a small city, but I liked it a lot. I stayed there for two days and could already get a rough idea of the city! I tried the punting tour as well!! It must be lovely to study in such a beautiful place...

London has loads of things to do and there are lots and lots of places I've got to visit! I know, I know...I still have plenty of time!! :) I'm going to visit Eton college this week! It's going to be my first time to visit it during my stay here this time!! I'm really looking forward to it! I'd better stop now. Please write back when you have time. :)

Goodbye for now, T

P.S. Dear my friends in the States...I hope you all feel safe there... This morning on the way to school, I saw an unusual plane in the sky, which didn't look like a passenger plane...It might be just a common thing here...I don't know...I just haven't noticed anything like that before...

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November 2001

Dear all,

Hello, how are you?

It's been three months since I arrived in London. I'm afraid I am not quite sure when was the last time I wrote to you... Well, I think I will talk about what I did during the last month. The first two months passed sort of slowly, I thought. But time flew for the next month... I feel a bit horrified that the day I'll leave London might come soon! Many things happened actually...hmm....what shall I write here?...

Let me start with school events... I did my first Japanese assistance in a class of some third year students. It was an interview session and they asked us some questions which we had to answer. Their Japanese was really good! It was very impressive!!...That made me realise that I must study English harder!! Since I arrived here, I often feel frustrated with my English level! It is good inspiration, though!!

I completed one essay in a linguistics class. It was a 2500-word essay. I had never written such a long essay, so I was horrified! I put too many ideas in my essay outline and ended up struggling to reduce the amount I had written!! I had a Reading Week (one-week holiday) before handing it in. I actually wanted to have fun by going for a trip etc, but couldn't. I spent almost every day working on the essay - although I was just sitting at my desk for the first few days...

I live in a university hall of residence. There are 7 people in my flat - each has their own bedroom and there's one shared kitchen. These days someone has been stealing food from the kitchen!! Especially bread!! I had my ham stolen as well! I actually have an idea who is doing it. The other day when our bread was stolen, I found lots of bread without crusts (not the other way round!!) in a dustbin. After a while, I saw a flatmate eating only crusts. Actually she eats only tuna from the can and ham from the package! I decided to lock my bread in my cupboard ever since. She doesn't steal anything which has to be cooked. No expensive food has been stolen, so I've been keeping secret what I saw.

There seem to be many false coins here. I once received a one pound coin as change which was darker and heavier than the others. I tried to use it in the laundrette, but it wasn't accepted by the machine. A friend of mine received a false one pound coin once. She didn't know it and used it on the bus. The bus driver was suspicious of her and she had a scary experience there. I haven't been able to use the coin. It could perhaps be a souvenir...

There was another serious incident. Some people were shot in the road beside our accommodation. I didn't hear anything, as it was early in the morning. However, I saw many policemen that day. A policeman even came into our flat and I was asked some questions. Now, there are many flowers in the street. It's actually a bit frightening to use the road.

I'm a member of the travel club and I went to the Cotswolds. We were supposed to meet at 8.30am. I decided to leave my room at 7.45 and woke up at 6.30! When it was 7.30am, I remembered something!! Yes, the summer time finished last night! Hmm... that means I woke up one hour earlier! I had actually remembered it until the previous evening... :( I loved the Cotswolds! The country houses were very pretty. I felt time passed slowly. In the vast fields, I could see sheep, cows, and horses grazing.

During the reading week, I went for a one-day trip to Hastings and Eastbourne, on the south coast of England. It was a stormy day, but I thought it suited the atmosphere of the ruined castle in Hastings. It was a very cold day (at night we had the first snow!!) but it was nice to see the sea. I was getting a bit tired because of the essay etc, so looking at the sea made me feel better. The Seven Sisters (chalky cliffs) in Eastbourne were lovely. To get there, we had to walk in a field where lots of sheep were grazing. They all looked at us. My friend said, 'It's like they are saying "Who are these idiots? We haven't seen tourists for such a long time!!" (because of the foot-and-mouth disease)'!!!! I loved walking in the fields surrounded by nature. It gave me a warm feeling to be in a quiet field with the sound of a stream.

I went to see fireworks on Guy Fawkes night. Unlike Japan, where summer is the season for fireworks, winter (autumn??) is the season for fireworks here. There were many fireworks all over London. I went to Primrose Hill. I could see London from there, which was so beautiful. Looking at the big city from above where I'm living made me think how small I am... I realised any worries which I have are just small things in this big world.

I saw the musical Lion King. It is very popular, so it's difficult to get tickets on the same day. The only ticket left was a standing ticket. Well... it wasn't a good ticket for a small person like me. There was a wall up to my neck, so I had to stand still during the musical, which was quite tiring! The musical was very nice!

I also went to the Royal Albert Hall for the concert Classical Spectacular! It was very interesting. Colourful lights were dancing to the typical British music. They were using guns, fireworks, and balloons as well! We bought the national flag and waved it to some music. It was interesting to see the audience waving flags all over the hall! English people were even singing some songs! The Royal Albert Hall is near Hyde Park, which means it is close to Harrods. I saw the illuminations of Harrods as well. It was lovely! The day is becoming shorter and shorter. The weather isn't so nice. I actually started to feel a bit homesick, or some kind of depression. Well, but I'll be alright. I was crying everyday for the last couple of weeks...but I started to feel alright recently. Of course, I'll enjoy my stay here from now as well!! :)

Yours, T

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December 2001

Dear friends,

Hello, how are you? This is T's fourth mammoth e-mail! It's already been a month since I sent the last one. I cannot believe it!! Time is passing more and more quickly. Hmm... that makes me a bit upset. I love living in London. It might be especially because I can make my own decisions or do things by myself. I always lived with my parents and they did everything for me. When I came here, everything was new to me (even small things such as going shopping for groceries and using the laundrette) and I couldn't feel at ease. Now that I've got used to all those things, I've started having confidence in myself! Studying abroad is wonderful! It's not only for you to improve your language skills or gain knowledge of your field of study, but also to develop yourself! Though I say it, I think I've become stronger. Well, let me tell you what I did during the last month. There might be a lot more to tell you than ever!

At school... I did my second class as a volunteer assistant teacher for Japanese. The topic was a comparison between American and Japanese universities. The text they were reading was talking about Japanese students who study really hard to enter university but play around without studying once they get there. Mmm... well, it is really the case with some people...but not all! Anyway, the students' Japanese was very nice. I must study English harder, too!

I joined a Korean seminar. It was about the Korean writing system. The lecture was actually done in Korean, so how could I understand it? I just managed to catch some words. But I really enjoyed joining it, as I love listening to the sounds of foreign languages. For me it was like a one-and-a-half hour Korean language concert! The Korean class is my favourite! We all got together and had a party in a Korean restaurant before the holidays started. The teachers also joined us! We had a really good time! The food was very nice, too. There are some people who speak a bit of Japanese in the class, so we chatted in English, Korean, and Japanese, which was fun! There are various races at SOAS. Besides, you cannot tell who speaks which language! For example, you find a European student who speaks Chinese very fluently, or an Asian student speaking Spanish!

I saw the film Harry Potter. I liked it. I read the book in English when I was in Japan. I really liked the book, because although it was written in a foreign language, I could still imagine each scene vividly. So when I saw the film, although it was my first time to see it, I often found myself thinking 'mm?? I've seen this scene before'! It was very interesting! Harry Potter's Hogwart's Express leaves King's Cross station, which the station nearest to me! I saw platform 9 3/4! There is a sign indicating where platform 9 3/4 is, and there are also some notices on the ground, such as 'Always keep your owls in a cage' or something like that.

My dear family friends kindly invited to me to a carol service at Eton College! I really enjoyed it. I always like the feeling that I am learning about English culture!!! There was a choir. I love the choir's voice. My friend was a member and he was excellent!! There were some verses during which we joined in the singing. I've already learnt the melody. Now I've got to memorise the words!!

The Christmas illuminations are very beautiful in London now. I saw those in Regent Street, Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, Knightsbridge and Pentonville Road (in front of my hall). I like the Knightsbridge one and the Pentonville one best. They are more discreet and elegant. The others are too much for me. I really want to see the big tree in Trafalgar Square. I only saw it during the daytime.

My friend took me to Oriental City, where they deal in Asian things. We tried Japanese food, which I really liked! The shop was very interesting. There was a Japanese bookshop, too. I really felt as if I were in Japan! I could shop in Japanese!

I went outside of England to Amsterdam, Holland!! This city The scenery was nice. The canals run all over the city, which was lovely! Everyone spoke very good English, which was amazing! Van Gogh Museum, Rijiks Museum, Anne Frank's House, and cruising on the canal were very enjoyable. Anne Frank's house was very touching. It was actually the place where she hid, terrified. The Van Gogh Museum was interesting, too. But unfortunately I couldn't see 'Sunflowers' because it is being exhibited in another country. Well, you might want to say, 'Why is the city so-so, when you had such a good time?' I can explain why. I really liked those things written above, but was really upset with the red-light district and drugs. If it had been a private trip, I wouldn't have gone to such places. It was actually a trip organised by ISH (International Student House). And the guide was terrible! He didn't know about the place at all, and we had to walk in the red-light area of prostitutes for about 2 hours! I felt like crying!!! The smell of drugs in the air made me more upset! I almost walked into a drug shop. I didn't know they use the real meaning of the word 'coffee shop' on the sign!

One of my best friends from university, who is now studying in America, came to see me! On the first day we went to the Horse Guards' Parade, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Thames, before going to see the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. It wasn't the tourist season but there were still many people. The guards weren't wearing the red clothes...they were wearing a grey coat! Then we went to Trafalgar Square and to the National Gallery. Then, do you know what I saw there? I found 'Sunflowers' by Van Gogh, which I couldn't see in Amsterdam!!! But it seems there are many copies of it. I wonder which one is the real one. We tried a pub lunch in Leicester Square. We ordered roast chicken and fish & chips and shared them. They were nice! Then I took my friend to Piccadilly Circus and then to Covent Garden. We went shopping in Oxford Street.

On the second day we went for a one day trip to Oxford. It was my second visit to the town but was the first time for me to look at things properly. We went up to the top of the Carfax Tower, which had a very nice view of the town and its church spires. The university buildings look very different from Japanese ones. I prefer the style here with bricks! I thought Oxford was colder than London! After we got back, my flatmate took us to a bar. I don't drink, so didn't really fancy the idea of going there. But the place was interesting. It is called 'Babooshka' and the atmosphere was like an old castle. There were thick curtains and big sofas but they were worn out.

On the third day I took my friend to SOAS and then made her experience an English queue at a post office! Then we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, as she likes collecting the T-shirts. I went into the shop for the first time. Then we went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, which wasn't so interesting for us. But we enjoyed seeing the Italian sculptures from the Renaissance period. The building itself was attractive, too. We had cream tea in Harrods. It was her first time to have it. She was thinking that she should put jams and clotted cream in the middle of the scone, like a sandwich! It was my third time, so I could teach her, which was good! I love afternoon tea! We went to see King's College Choir in the Royal Albert Hall. I like this hall very much. In the first half, there weren't many carols which I knew. But in the latter half there were many. I couldn't join it because I didn't remember the words and I hadn't bought the programme, but many people were singing carols together! I will learn the words by heart!

On the fourth day I took my friend to the Tower of London and to Tower Bridge. Then we went to St Paul's Cathedral. It was my first time too. The cathedral was magnificent. I really liked the Whispering Gallery. You can hear voices coming from places where there isn't anybody! You can hear everyone's whispers. There was an Englishman who was speaking continuously and his voice was very low and echoing there, which was really scary! We went up the spiral stairs and enjoyed a really nice view of London from there. It would be lovely to go there on a summer night! Her host family happened to visit London, too. So, we went to an Ethiopian restaurant. It was a new experience for me. Well...I didn't really like the taste. It was OK though. The bread was too sour. I was surrounded by American English for the first time in months! I found myself having difficulty listening to their accent! Now it seems British English is easier for me to understand. They said my English was British. It was an interesting comment, as everyone said my English was American when I was in Japan! My friend also said my accent had changed completely. I cannot tell that myself! I tried to remember the American accent I used to have, but I failed. Well...but I'm sure my accent will change again if I listen to American English more. Anyway, whether it is true or not, I was happy to hear their comment, as I like the sound of British English very much!

On the last day, we went to the British Library and saw the Magna Carta etc etc. It was really interesting. My friend left at 11.00am. I was really nervous taking the tube or bus alone 4 months ago! Now I can show my friend around the city! She said I became a city girl! She seemed to be very tired being surrounded by many people in London - I didn't care much, although I used to. It has been very cold and the weather hasn't been so good. There's something I have been wondering about .... black coats and black umbrellas. Why do English people wear black things so much? Everyone is in black... and the sky is grey. It is like a black and white film! My mum sent me a red coat which I was wearing in Japan, but I don't feel like wearing it! I also bought a black coat here!!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! T

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January 2002

Dear friends,

Hello, everyone! How are you? It has been 5 months since I arrived in England, which means I am half way through... I feel a bit sad actually. The other day a friend of mine told me that for a cup of tea which has been half drunk, pessimistic people will describe it as half empty but optimistic people will describe it as half full. I will try to look at the rest of my stay as half full and cherish each day. I will talk about Christmas, New Year, University etc etc this time!

22nd December: The weather was very nice. I finished wrapping presents (I didn't know people wrap presents themselves here! Very different from Japan, where shop assisstants do everything for us!) and packing in the morning, and I went to Wimbledon to stay with my English family friends. It was in the late afternoon and the sky was a lovely orange and beautiful. I was looking outside the train window absent-mindedly, when I heard someone say to me, 'hanguk puniseyo?' It was an old Korean lady. It was so sudden that I didn't understand what she said and I was just shaking my head. We chatted in English for a while, but then I finally understood that she said, 'Are you Korean?' It is still difficult for me to understand spoken Korean immediately! My friend was at the station to meet me. Two of his friends from university were also there and we went to some pubs at night. When I entered the room which the family let me use, I found some cards and a present. They were from the friends the family had introduced to me previously. It was such a pleasant surprise! Thank you very much.

23rd December: I went to a drinks party around lunch time. There were so many people in the house and it was hard to move around. People were talking everywhere. I have seen that kind of scene in films or TV dramas, but it was my first time to experience it. It was very interesting. Because I said I would like to experience the whole English Christmas, the family kindly left the decorations for me to put up. It was interesting and enjoyable to decorate the house and the tree and also to make a nativity scene. I went to the church in the evening for the Festival of Lessons and Carols. After the service, people were having mulled wine and mince pies. I wonder if people in other Christian countries also have these?

24th December: Christmas Eve. In the evening, I went to church again! Crib Service was held there. This was for children. Girls were wearing clothes like angels and boys were like shepherds. We sang lots of carols again. There was a service by candlelight, too. We went back home and had cold food for dinner. At around 11pm, we walked to the church again for the Midnight Service. We sang carols again. We shook hands with one another and said, 'Peace be with you', even if we did not know each other. It gave me a warm feeling. By the time the service was over, it was past midnight. That means Christmas Day! We said to one another, 'Happy Christmas!'

25th December: Christmas Day. The morning greeting was 'Happy Christmas!' My friend's father said, 'Let's see if Father Christmas came', and took me to the fireplace. There were lots of huge stockings there, and each had a name tag. Mine was very big! After every member of the family got up, we all took our stockings up to the parents' bedroom and opened the stockings there. It was very exciting to see what was in my own stocking and also in the others! Then, we had something like English breakfast for brunch and then we all gathered in the drawing room to exchange family presents. It was exciting, too!! I put my presents for the family under the tree in the morning. After we had all sat down, the youngest boy delivered each present for us. It was lots of fun to open my presents, to see what the others received, and to see the reactions towards the presents I gave them! Then we just relaxed for a while. The boys were watching a film, but I went into the kitchen, because I wanted to see Christmas cooking. A huge goose was there. It had legs and a body but no face and looked a bit grotesque to me! Around 4.30 was tea-time. It was fun cracking walnuts with nut-crackers! I liked mince pies, too. The dining table was already set. We had both goose and turkey for dinner, which I found really good! I will definitely tell my friends back in Japan that English people are having delicious food! Before having dessert, we pulled crackers. There was a small present and a piece of paper with a joke on and a paper crown inside. I liked it when everyone wore the crowns! We exchanged the jokes we got from the crackers, but it was hard for me to understand them. I wish I could learn to understand jokes in English. The dessert was Christmas pudding, which came into the dining room in flames! The pudding looked like a black lump of earth when it was served on the plate, but I liked it!

Many more things happened there until 29th, when I left, but I will leave Christmas here and move on to New Year! From 30th December to 2nd January, I visited another English family in Shrewsbury. My friend kindly gave me such a clear set of instructions for the journey, so I made the trip succesfully on my own. As I had to change trains, I was a bit nervous, but the journey went very well. It is funny that people say, 'You were lucky!', when I tell them my trains ran on time, but I am getting used to it! When I came to England for the first time, I found some English people were not punctual and always used the trains as an excuse for their delay, and I was wondering why... now I know what they mean. In Japan, it is a big problem if trains do not run on time, and when they do not, an apologetic announcement is made again and again on the platform. But here trains are supposed not to run on time! Shrewsbury is further north than London. I could see some snow on the ground while looking through the window. The town is small, unlike London. It was quiet and cosy. It seems the usage of some English words are different in London and in the countryside. I learnt the different usage of the words like dinner, supper, and high tea. Dinner is a main dish of the day and is often used to describe an evening meal in London, I think. And it is a bigger meal than supper... But in Shrewsbury, dinner is usually lunch, and supper is things like sweets and tea or coffee which they have before going to bed! For them, evening meals are high teas!

On 31st, they planned a trip to Wales for me. We went to Montgomery and Welshpool and saw castles and towns. As I heard before, the road signs were really written in both Welsh and English. But I couldn't hear anyone speaking Welsh. Maybe I should go further inland. In England, they don't celebrate New Year as much as in Japan. It seems they celebrate a lot in Scotland. We had some drink and sweets, and watched Big Ben in London chime 12 o'clock on TV. Then we said, 'Happy New Year' to each other.

On 1st and 2nd, they gave me a tour of the town. There were many buildings which had white walls with black lines of timber, which reminded me of Stratford-upon-Avon. The place looked historic and the buildings were so old as to be leaning to one side.

My three week winter holiday was over and the 2nd term started. I am studying Japanese linguistics, psycholinguistics, and Korean this term. Just after the holiday, I had to submit an essay on Japanese linguistics. As my two outlines which I had to hand in last year were not so good, and I was not studying during the holiday, I was a bit nervous. But a few days before the deadline, a good idea came to mind, so I could finish my essay within 3 days! In fact I received the result today, which was really good! My tutor gave me lots of compliments!! The English university gives us lots of essay assignments. I completed two essays last week, but now I already have to start working on another one! There are not so many classes, but the time to spend studying is much more than in Japan, I think. It is not really my case, though. I am actually thinking of the 10 months like a long holiday!! I study a lot and play a lot! There are so many foreign students in this university. It is also hard to find pure British people. Many of them are offspring of immigrants, so it is not easy to tell people's nationalities just by looking. I actually felt as if I experienced England a lot for the first time during the holiday by spending time with my English family friends!! I had a sushi party with my Korean classmates and some of their friends. We actually made sushi ourselves. My family do not normally make 'nigirizushi' or 'maki zushi' (rolled one), so it was my first time to make those! I found it quite fun!

My friend who is studying in Cambridge visited me in London. I really enjoyed seeing her for the first time in 4 months. She also said my English accent has changed. According to her, 4 months ago when we met in Cambridge, I was still speaking with an American accent, but now it has disappeared. I always find it interesting when people give me this comment, because I cannot see the change at all myself. Together we went to Madame Tussaud's, the British Museum, Tate Britain and so on.

These are the main things which happened to me in the last month! I will make the rest of my stay more fruitful!! T

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February 2002

Dear Friends,

Hello, how are you? This is a belated 6th month's e-mail. I had to submit two essays last week, so I could not have written this summary until now. Anyway, I have been enjoying my life in London as usual!!:) I will talk about 22nd January to 21st February here.

Actually, nothing so special happened during the past month... I was studying most of the time. As I had two essays to do, I have been terribly busy. After I finished the essays, I was thinking of buying ISH (International Student House) travel tickets to Wales and Stratford... However, when I finally handed them in and went to ISH, I was told the tickets were both sold out! I was really shocked! :( I might not be able to travel much this month, either. I have to submit two essay outlines and one essay before the Easter holiday. There is one more just after the holiday, too. I would like to study during the term as hard as I can, and enjoy the holiday a lot, because it is going to be the last holiday I will have during this time of my stay! I am now thinking of taking an intensive French course for the latter half of the holiday and I want to make some trips during the first half. I have already applied for a trip to Wales. I would also like to go to Ireland or maybe to the Continent, if I can.

I didn't go outside of London, but saw some stage productions: Onegin (a ballet), The Last Empress (a musical), and The Mikado (an opera). To buy a ticket for Onegin, I queued up with some friends from early in the morning at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. The door opened at 10 o'clock, but we went there at 8!! It was my first experience of queuing up like that to buy a ticket. There seem to be some people who queue there regularly. They were friendly and we had a short conversation. We bought tickets for 11 pounds, so our seats were quite near the back. The dancers were very small, but I could have a full view. The stage was like a little box and I felt as if I were watching a puppet play. My Korean class teacher recommended The Last Empress. It was about Queen Min in Korea, who was assassinated by Japanese. It was based on history, but I am ashamed to say that I didn't know about the story at all. We do not learn about her in the history class at school. It was anti-Japanese but was a good opportunity to learn a bit of Korean history. I liked the stage costumes and singing voices, and I really enjoyed it. Most of the audience were Korean people and there were a lot of empty seats... The Mikado was the first opera I have seen. To be honest, I had no idea what they were saying! Judging from the fact that people were laughing, it seemed they were saying something funny... :P. I hope I can improve my English enough to laugh at English jokes some day!! I studied the plot in advance, so I could understand the plot well and above all I really enjoyed the music!

Talking of difficulty in listening English, it seems there are various English accents here and it is not always easy to understand what they say! For example, the maintenance man in my hall of residence ... he is very friendly but it is hard to hear what he says! The other day, he fixed the drainpipe of our kitchen and kept talking to me while doing so. When he finally finished it, he seemed to say, 'Is that better?' but to my ear, it sounded like 'Is that bad?' He often doesn't pronounce the 't' sound, and 'a' sounds like 'ai' not 'ei'. My male English flatmate's English seems to be a typical London accent, according to another of my flatmates. His English is hard to understand for me, too. Also, the Cypriot English accent of my other flatmate is also difficult! I thought 'Aaaah it is too difficult!!!' last year, but I have finally got used to them and started to understand that they are teasing me! :P

I visited some parks: Hampstead Heath and Regent's Park. Hampstead is a pretty place. Compared to the centre of London, it is much more quiet and peaceful(!). There is a French crepe shop, which often seems to appear in magazines, and there is always a queue there. I love their crepes. They opened another shop near Knightsbridge recently, so I would like to go there sometime. Hampstead Heath is a park in Hampstead and the top of Parliament Hill commands a fine view of London. There are people who are flying kites. It is a nice place to relax. Regent's Park is located in front of International Student House. The park is the closest one to my hall, but it takes some time to walk there, and I had never been there before! As I did not have much time, I only saw a part of the park called the English Garden. There were lots of newly planted flowers and it was nice to see the fresh buds. There were many squirrels, too. When I squatted down, they came up close to me. Unfortunately, I did not have anything to feed them. I saw a robin for the first time. Robins are small birds with a red chest, which are often shown on Christmas cards. It was singing beautifully.

A friend of mine introduced his Korean friend to me, and we spent one day together in London. We went to the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St James's Park, Buckingham Palace, Green Park, the Royal Academy of Arts, Fortnum & Mason's (for afternoon tea), Somerset House, King's College, Lincoln's Inn Fields, Hatton Gardens, the Monument, St Katharine's Docks, Tower Bridge, and Rules (an English restaurant). What a plan! We visited all of them within just one day. I have seem the London Eye several times, but I haven't actually got on it yet. I must try it before leaving here. I love walking along the water in Saint James's Park. I love afternoon tea! It is fun to walk in the fountain of Somerset House. Lincoln's Inn Fields is a quiet, nice place, unlike most other bustling parts of London. Hatton Gardens is a street full of jewellery shops. I love Saint Katherine Docks at sunset, which is beautiful! Of course, Tower Bridge is my favourite! I went to an English Restaurant for the first time. It was actually surprising that English restaurants exist!! I often see Italian restaurants, French restaurants, and Chinese restaurants, but I have never seen an English restaurant!! Rules is the oldest restaurant in London, and is located in Covent Garden. We ordered a steak and kidney pie and a roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, and shared these. They were delicious. Who said English food is terrible? I like English dishes! The restaurant had a cosy atmosphere. There were many portraits on the wall and stuffed animals. For dessert, we ordered an apple & rhubarb crumble and a trifle. I really liked the restaurant.

I thought it was getting warmer here, but it has started to get cold again. The weather is not so good and we have had lots of rain. When it rained, the wind was also strong and my umbrella was broken! I am still using it, though...because even if I buy another one, it will be broken soon. I am just looking for a reasonably priced umbrella. I would like to read in a park when it becomes warm...

Regards, T

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March 2002

Dear friends,

Hello everyone, how are you?
It has already 7 months since I arrived in London! I was supposed to write this on 23 March, when my holiday started, but as I have been away I couldn't write it until now.

I will talk about what I did from 22 February to 21 March in this message!

*A Day Trip to Isle of Wight*

I went on a day trip with a friend to Isle of Wight, which is on the south coast of England. The weather forcast said, 'Although it is sunny in the morning, don't be deceived!' Well, but we didn't care and went there as we had planned. We managed to catch our train at Waterloo Station and headed for Isle of Wight by South West Trains. I used this line for the first time. Big Ben and Battersea Park could be seen from the train. I saw Battersea Park for the first time, too! It seemed to be a power plant and has a nickname 'Dead Sheep' because of the way it looks!
When we went out of London, we could see a vast expanse of grassland. Green was vivid in the sun, which was very pleasant. Horses and sheep were grazing in the field. This seems to be the common scenery which can be found when you get out of London! I like it very much!!
From Portsmouth Harbour we took a ship. The waves were high and the ship pitched a lot, which made me feel a bit sick! Then we took a train which used to be used as an underground train in London, so the shape was familiar! I found a local policeman walking along the street. My friend told me he has got a nickname of 'Bobby'. How sweet!
As it wasn't a tourist season, it seemed we were the only tourists there! We went to the tarminal station 'Shanklin'. The town was very quiet - Most shops were closed. We decided to have lunch in an English restaurant - Traditional Roast Lunch (Steak & Kidney Pie and Roast Beef). Side dishes were some boiled carrots, peas, runner beans, and potatoes, "as usual"! We also had some trifle as dessert!
It started raining while we were in the restaurant. The weather forcast was right! On the way to the place called 'Chine', we found a sweet shop. They had rocks, gingerbread man, humbugs, Kendal mintcakes, marzipans, etc. Then we went to see the sea, but because of the weather I could hardly tell the horizon! Both the sky and the sea were white or grey!
Everything was very English, I thought, from the weather to food! I really enjoyed myself!


I saw some films and stage performances: Gosford Park (film), Captain Corelli's Mandolin (film), Cats and Dogs (film), La Bayadere (ballet), and Twelfth Night (play).
'Gosford Park' was very difficult for me to understand. It was confusing! I enjoyed the contrast between Above Stairs and Below Stairs, though.
I saw 'Captain Corelli's Mandolin' and 'Cats and Dogs' at the Sunday free cinema of the International Student House. I enjoy the Sunday cinema from time to time. All you need to do is show your school ID at the reception and you can see films for free, although of course your school has to be a member of ISH.
I normally do not walk around at night, but as I was with some male friends, we walked to ISH for the film. King's Cross, where I live, is a dodgy area and we found some bloodstains on the street, which lasted quite long as footmarks. I was a bit scared!
'La Bayadere' was at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. We went there early in the morning to queue for day stand tickets. There was already a long queue when we got there, so we were worried if we could buy the tickets. Most people seemed to be queueing for the tickets for the opera, so we could get what we wanted. Before it started, we went for a walk. I like the street from Covent Garden to Trafalgar Square. There are a lot of pretty shops. We found a very nice French bakery 'Paul' on the way to Trafalgar Square. They sell several kinds of bread and pastries. I felt like trying everything! They are reasonable and taste terrific!
'Twelfth Night' is a Shakespeare's play. I read it at university and had wanted to see the play since then. It was performed in Barbican Theatre by Royal Shakespeare Company. I could have a big discount by showing my NUS card. They were selling lots of Shakespeare goods inside. The play was very interesting. Although I couldn't catch every single word, but as I knew the plot, I could easily follow. But still I could not laugh where the others laughed. It was becuase of the level of my English, I know, but there were actually some cases where I had no idea what was funny!!


Two of my essays were returned. I'm glad they were both good!!

We gave our Korean teacher a little surprise on his birthday. One of the classmates prepared a card and we all wrote a message on it. She also brought some Korean sweets, sweet bean paste, and we had them together during the class! She often brings some Korean sweets to the class. Every time we all enjoy having them including our teacher! What a lovely class! The atmosphere is very different from that of typical Japanese class that I know.
We also sang 'Happy Birthday' in Korean!

An election was held at school. Exchange students also had a right to vote. Well, but of course I do not know any candidates! I wasn't going to vote, but then I happened to meet my friend whose friend's boyfriend stood for it, so I voted for him!


I had so-called a rice pudding! The idea doesn't sound very nice, but I liked it, though I don't feel like eating a lot! I made some of my friends try some, but none of them liked it!

There is a place called Angel, which is close to the place where I live. Angel has lots of nice restaurants, although I haven't tried many yet. As term 2 already finished, which means formal lectures for this accademic year have finished, I went out for dinner with some of my friends from the Japanese linguistics class. We were going to try an Afghan restaurant. However, since they lost our reservation, we couldn't eat there. The restaurant seems to be popular and there were no table available! Well, we looked for another restaurant and had some Mediterranean dishes, which were good!
There are a lot of restaurants from various countries in London, which is fun!

One of the readers of my monthly summary came to London and I met her in Covent Garden. My friend who is learning ballet also joined us. We had lunch together in a Mexican Restaurant. The price was reasonable and I enjoyed the meal.

My best friend I made here used to make dumplings in her part-time job. She showed to me how to make delicious dumplings! I really enjoyed making them. They were delicious!


17 March was St Patrick's Day. I wanted to go to Ireland, but instead I went to an event held at Trafalgar Square. There were many people in green clothes and people were drinking a lot of beer like Guiness! Usually there are loads of pigeons there but I wondered where they had gone - Trafalgar Square was occupied with lots of drunk people! There was a long queue for the toilets!!! I wanted to see Irish dance, but I had no idea where they were dancing. I was there for a while but then went for a walk in Hyde Park. It was my first time to walk in the park, although I often passed by the park. Many people were roller-blading. It was lovely walking by the water. I like walking in a park. There are many parks I haven't been to. I would like to visit as many parks as I can before I leave!!

I went for a walk in Regent's Park, too. I was there for one and half hours!! There were lots of flowers in the part called English gardens. When I went further, I found a vast green area. I saw some animals like camels in London Zoo. I didn't go in to the zoo, but could see some animals from the park. I found some robins, too. It was nice to walk along the pond. There were many mothers and their little children walking there. Many types of birds were there, too. An Indian tourist came to talk to me and we walked together for a while. He made me take lots of pictures of him. He was a bit demanding! It is rare for strangers to talk to each other friendly in London, which is a pity, I think.

I saw Crufts on TV, which was interesting. It is a competition to choose the finnest dog! All dogs were immaculate(!) and had beautiful shiny hair. They ran, jamped, danced... I really enjoyed it!

Now I am on holiday. I decided to go to South Wales and learn French in the French Institute in South Kensington. Well, I have actually already been to South Wales. I will talk about it in the next message. I also stayed with my family friends in Wimbledon, which will be written in the next message, too!

I must write two essays during the holiday. I would like to finish them before the French course starts...but maybe it is impossible!

Bye for now.


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April 2002

Hello everyone! This is my 8 month mail. I have only 2 months left in London... :(

I'll talk about what happened to me between 22 March and 21 April. From 23 March and 21 April I didn't go to school. It was the Easter holiday!

*Foreign Languages*

I started a Korean-Japanese languae exchange with a person introduced by my friend, who was living in the same flat during the presessional period. My language exchange partner is a Korean person who is doind PhD at SOAS, University of London. He is a gentle and patient person. He's been studying Japanese by himself for about a year, but he can already manage daily conversation. His pronunciation is also good! I'm so surprised! I must work harder!!! We chat in Japanese for one hour and study Korean using my textbook for one hour.
Well, this is just an excuse, but I have been busy with a lot of things and haven't had time to memorise vocabulary, so I'm not good at conversation. But now that the test is coming soon, I'm revising at an amazingly high speed, so...well...I can speak Korean a bit now.

During the holiday, I took a two-week intensive French course from 8 to 19 April. I studied French at Institut Francais in South Kensington.
As I went there for two weeks, I bought a Youth LT Card each week, using my Student Photocard that I bought in advance. With this pass, I could take bus and Tube as many times as I liked!
In London, people are using a pass case which is given for free when you buy a season ticket. Most people use a yellow one. I was beeing excited that I could also get a yellow one! :) ...However, they somehow gave me a gloomy black pass case! :'( (Well, but between you and me, I asked for another pass case the next week, and I got a yellow one, too! :D)
French was my second foreign language at university in Japan. I studied it for 2 years but all I learnt was its grammar and I had never studied speaking or listening to French. However, as I somehow did well in the written assessment test, so I was put in to a class of higher level than my level. It was really hard to keep up the class at first. There were many English people in the class and they were speaking in French, which was fluent from my point of view. The teachers spoke only French even when they explained grammar. My level was low from the beginning and even the knowledge was rusty, so I was overwhelmed on the first day... However, an interesting thing is I gradually got used to French, and by the start of the next week, I managed to understand what they were talking about and express myself a bit. I'd never studied a foreign language in the target language, so it was such an interesting experience. I didn't know it was so effective in improving communication skills to learn a language in the target language.

There are many French people in South Kensington. Many communities exist in London, and this place is France! I think I've talked about a crepe shop in Hampstead 'La Creperie de Hampstead' before, but the branch was built around this area last year. Their crepes are excellent!!! I went there 5 times in the two weeks!!! :P

On 21 and 21, since I had finished my essays by then, I explored London using the LT card. ((Please get ready a London map!)) Firstly, I wanted to go to the Korean Air to book a flight to Japan. The office is in Piccadilly, but I stupidly went to Oxford Street! I walked there for a while and realised that I was in a wrong place and then change the direction panicking! I finally reached Green Park station and visited the Korean was closed at weekend! Sooo shocking! Well...then I headed for Her Majesty's Theatre to see 'the Phantom of the Opera' from three o'clock. However, I took a wrong buss and went up Shaftesbury Avenue... :S I rushed out of the bus and took another one and went to the theatre just on time. But probably because it was at weekend, they didn't have a student price...and also they said my card couldn't be used...I had to give up seeing it! --;
Then, I went to Leicester Square to see the film 'Amelie'. Again, because it was at weekend, they didn't have a student price. But I was already so tired after achieving nothing, I decided to see it. There were only a few people in the cinema. 'Amelie' is a French film and it had an English subtitle. I really liked the film. It was sweet, amusing, and the music was pretty. I was really satisfied and forgot the nightmare I had been having. Then I went to Charing Cross and popped in to some book shops. There are second hand book shops, bargain book shops, huge book shops etc in this street. I was glad to find 'Pygmalion' by George Bernard Show in a second hand book shop. I love this story.
The opera 'Madam Butterfly' is coming soon, so I wanted to read the book before going to see it. I looked for it for a long time, but couldn't find it...

On 21, I again looked for 'Madam Butterfly'. But I couldn't find it and gave it up. Then I wen to La Creperie de Hampstead! :D I bought a take away, and went to the National History Museum and sat down on a bench. After that I popped in to the museum. There were dinosaurs and whales etc and it was such an interesting museum. I would like to go back there again when I have more time. Then I went to Notting Hill. I looked at the Portobello Market, but only briefly, because I was really tired after walking around so much. I found out that the bus 27 went to Regent's Park so I took it but it went the opposite way! --;
I got off the bus in Kensington High Street. There were a lot of shops here. It was like a bit high class version of Oxford Street, maybe! Then I took the 27 bus from the other side of the road and went to Regent's Park. I bought a Mr Softie at the entrance and walked in the park. I went to the lake.
It seems there are two big ice cream companies here: Mr Softie and Mr Whippy. They both sell ice creams in a sweet car. I wonder if the tastes are different. Maybe I should compare them!
I like Regent's Park the best among many parks in London. There are many kinds of birds around the lake, and flowers are beautiful. I like seeing squirrels, too. There is a Rose Garden but they haven't bloomed yet. This is such a beautiful park.
And I went home.


I stayed with my family friends in Wimbledon.
I made some pork dumplings, which I learnt how to make from my friend the other day. I made in by myself, but it was successful! I bought the ingredients in Loon Fung supermarket in China Town and also in a Korean supermarket which was opened recently near SOAS. I spoke a bit of Korean there! was just 'Komapusumunida (Thank you)'! The answer was 'Ne (Yes)'! :D
In Wimbledon we went to a film, shopping, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum...and they also took me to a Japanese restaurant 'Benihana'.
In Lawn Tennis Museum, I saw the Centre Court. There was an exhibition of the history of tennis. It was interesting to see the change of the uniform. They were playing tenniss in a long skirt or long trousers! I wonder how they played tennis like that! I saw Champion Cups, too. Being here made me feel like playing tennis again!
Benihana looked like a fancy restaurant! It is on guide books, I think. 'Teppan Yaki' restaurant. I had such and tempura! mmm....GOOD! They cook just before your eyes with showing some performance! They did juggling with the cans of salt and pepper, and threw them into the hat. They made Mount Fuji with an onion and made it a volcano. It was so much fun!
On the way back from Wimbledon, I saw two wild foxes from the train. There are foxes in London!

I wasn't selected to join the International Student House trip to Copenhagen... :'(

I went to South Wales from 30 March and 1 April. I booked this tour through the International Student House, but the tour was organised by the Magic Tour Company. The tour guide was very nice! The bus was big but there weren't many people, so we could enjoy a comfortable journey to Wales. To my surprise, I was the only Japanese person in the tour!
Crossing the River Seven, we went into Wales. Bristol could be seen in the distance. I was enjoying the view of the countryside and the vast green field, but suddently became sleepy and....slept!
The first destination was Chepstow. It is on the border of England and Wales. England could been seen across from the River Wye. During the tour, I was always with girls from France and HongKong I bacame friends with on the bus. Firstly, we went to Chepstow Castle. People were wearing the uniform of warriors. The castle was very different from the castles in London, and didn't have any. It was ruined. I didn't have time to read the explanations, so didn't understand much!
Then, we went to Tintern Abbey. This was a ruined abbey. The main part was left as it used to be, although things like glasses were all gone. It was a pretty abbey, I thought.
Then we went to Hay-on-Wye. There were many second hand book shops there. Hay-on-Wye is a mecca of second hand books. I could have been there all day but it was a pity that we didn't have much time. There was a section called Honesty Bookshop, which was part of the castle, and books were sold for 20p or so. The cash desk was a small box. They had Japanese books, too!
We stayed in a hotel in Builth Wells at night.

On the second day...
We had English breakfast: fried toast, baked beans, fried egg, crispy bacon, and sausage. Too oily from early in the morning :( I like having it from time to time, though.
We did a horse back riding on the Brecon Beacons. It was fun but my horse was mean... He started to run really fast towards the opposite way and tried to escape from the group! I was scared, but it was a good experience! I didn't fancy the idea of eloping with a horse, so gave it up in the afternoon. It was supposed to be a full day horse back riding, but there were some more horses behaving badly, and many people gave up in the afternoon.
We had lunch in the pub called Three Horseshoes. Many horses were waiting outside the pub, which was pretty. I chatted with the man of the pub, but it wasn't that easy to understand his Welsh accent. In the afternoon, I walked around the area. People are friendly here unlike in London and talked to me. It was a bit difficult to communicate because of the accent, but it was very interesting. I like listening to various accents of English.
After going back to Builth Wells, I went to a supermarket. Then I found something called Welsh Cake. It was like a thiner scone! I also walked along the river, which was pleasant!

On the last day...
Again we had English Breakfast...
Firstly, we went to Rhondda, which used to be a mining place. Now it was like a museum. The guide was a man who used to work there. I could again listen to Welsh English. I really enjoyed it!
Then we went to Cardiff, which is the capital city of Wales. I went to Cardiff Castle and joined a tour. It seemed to be a summer house, but was gorgeous and had a lot of paintings and sculptures.
Then I went to the City Hall and the National Museum. These buildings were pretty. I wanted to see more in the museum, but I didn't have time at all. After that I wanted to see souvenirs in the shop in front of the Cardiff Castle, but the shop was closed at 4 o'clock and couldn't see it!!!
And we headed back for London.
On the way back, we had a one-hour break in Oxford. I went to Oxford at the end of last year, and remembered the geography, so quickly explored the town and took photos!

In Wales, they had a lot of daffodils. They are the national flower of Wales.

*Other things*

Now, golden double deckers are running in London. It seems to be because of Golden Jubilee. I took one once! I think there are more and more golden buses these days. But I prefer the traditional red!

I saw the ballet 'Gisells'. I really liked it but the seat was horrible! It was in the furthest back. Besides, the woman sitting in front of tiny me was a huge person with fluffy long hair. If I had sat down, all I could have seen was her head, so I was standing all the time! Phew!

I crossed Milleniun Bridge. It is called 'Milleniun' but opened this year!

I didn't do much for Easter, but a beautiful Easter Egg came to me through the post! :) I also had Hot Cross Buns.

I watched the Grand National and Flora London Marathon on TV.

The exam timetable came out.
I would like to travel before going back. I was wondering whether to study French in France, travel around France, or visit some countries in Europe. Now I'm thinking of joining a tour which takes us to 3 countries in Europe. I also want to go to Scotland and Ireland!

I booked a flight to Japan. I'm going to leave London on the night of 18 June, and arrive in Japan on the night of 19.
I don't want to go back yet... :(


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May 2002

It's been almost one and half months since I got back to Japan. I'm sorry that I couldn't update my diary soon. I was very busy during the last two months of my stay in London and also after I get back to Japan.

I'd like to talk about my 9th month in London - 22 April to 21 May.

Soon after the Easter holiday, I rang an airline company. I had a one-year open ticket and I had to decide on the date of my return. At first, I wanted to be in London as long as possible and was thinking of going back on 19 June. However, most flights had a waiting list, and I had to wait for a cancelation. I guess it was because of the World Cup...
In the end I had myself put onto the waiting list for both 18th and 19th.
A few days later, I received a call that they could offer me a flight of 18th June. I was afraid that I might not be able to go back to Japan as I planned, so I decided to take the flight.

The last term started. But we didn't have proper lectures. This term was for the revision for the finals. I had classes only the first two weeks. After that, we had revision weeks, when we are supposed to prepare for the coming exams.
But I made a trip! :D

My first trip on my own! I'd never travelled by myself even in Japan. However, by seeing many of my friends travelling alone in Europe, I felt like doing that myself! I surfed the Internet a lot and planned my trip.
The destination was Scotland! I decided to stay in Edinburgh for 5 days and join some tours to the countryside. The first and the last day was mainly for the train journey, though.
I bought the cheapest train ticket I could find on the Internet. It was the return ticket of about 30 pounds. Rail fares are variable in England. You seem to be able to get the biggest discount if you get a ticket 2 weeks before your journey. Mine was a one week advance ticket. There are two routes to go to Scotaldn from London - eastward from King's Cross and westward from Euston. There is a direct servic from King's Cross, which takes only 4 hours. I chose the westward one that took 7 hours with a transfer. There are some people from Glasgow (They seem to have strong Scottish accent!) on the train and I could enjoy a bit of air of Scotland from the beginning!
It was early evening when I arrived in Edinburgh. Soon I headed for the Youth Hostel on foot. It was a lot further than I had expected! Carrying my heavy rucksack and walking a long way in the unfamiliar place, I felt a bit nervous. But I didn't get lost and finally got to the hostel! That was my first experience to stay in a youth hostel. I found it on the Internet, too.
There are about 5 bunk beds in the room. Most people were out then, but there was an Irish girl in the room. She seemed to be used to travelling and told me a lot of useful things about Edinburgh such as public transport etc. A little while later, the other people also came back. It was interesting to listen to their experiences!
I was surprised at how early they tend to go to bed in Youth Hostel!!

On the next morning, I had some light breakfast in the park in front of the youth hostel. Then I went to a hotel nearby. I joined a tour to Highlands that was organised by Gray Line. I found this tour on the Internet. Their website said there would be a picking-up service, but I was a bit worried if they would really come and pick me up. Soon, a friendly Scottish man came to pick me up by bus!

The Scottish driver in a tartan skirt also played the role of a guide. It was lovely to listen to Scottish English. It was of course hard to understand for me!
Most passengers were American. I was the only one who joined the tour alone, so I was a bit lonely. It was nice to be able to exchange some words with other passengers, though. Highlands was magnificent. We went to the Loch Ness also. I couldn't meet Nessy, though! Scotland was very hilly.

The next day, I went sighseeing in Edinburgh. This time I took a bus to the centre of the city. Getting off in Princes Street and walk along the street, I found a man in traditional Scottish clothes playing the bagpipe.
I bought a guide book in the Tourist Information Centre. It was a Pitkin City Guide. I like this seriese. I have the one of Oxford and Cambridge, too. It's got a recomended walking route on the back and if you follow it you can visit most of the tourist attractions of the city.
Edinburgh has The New Town and The Old Town. I went to The Old Town first.
Scott Monument, Floral Clock, Princes Street Garden, National Gallery... Passying by all those sites and I visited Edinburgh Castle first. This castle had a lot of exhibitions. I was visiting the corner to corner, so it took too much time! When I left the Castle, I found Tartan Weaving Mill on the left. They had many designs of tartans there, which was very interesting. I liked the sound of weaving.
Near a church, I found a tiny statue of Greyfriar's Bobby. That was sweet.
I was hungry, so decided to have lunch. I really wanted to try Haggis, so I looked for a shop where I could try it. However it wasn't so easy to find a place for it... In the end, I chose a pub and ordered a jacket potato with haggis. Haggis is made by putting some sheep's organs and oatmeal into a sheep's pluck and cooking it. Sounds awful! But it was spicy had an interesting taste and was much better than I had expected.
The top of Calton Hill commands a very fine view of Edinburgh. Edinburgh was such a lovely city. Just walking in the town was enjoyable.

On the following day, I joined another tour by GreyLine. At first I was going to join the tour to the Lake District, but the tour was cancelled, so I joined the tour to Loch Lomond. We had a brief tour of Glasgow first. It's an industrial city. I prefered Edinburgh in the sense of the prettiness of the town.
Loch Lomond was prettier than Loch Ness. Crusing the loch was lovely. There are many castles around the loch. Some of them are youth hostels now.
I saw a hair cow called Highlands Cow. We also visited Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle.
I was satisfied with the GreyLine tours. The guide is Scottish, they have a student discount, and the price is lower than others as far as I know!

The weather was excellent the last day. I looked around Edinburgh until the time for my train.
On the train back to London, I had a Scotch Pie which I bought in a bakery near the youth hostel. It says 'Scotch' so I thought it would be a typical Scottish food, but none of my English friends had heard about it!! It was a savery pie.

My first trip on my own was successful! I really enjoyed it!


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June 2002

This is my 10 month mail. I will talk about what happened to me from 22 May until I left London.

I went to a lot of places.
Taking advantage of being in the UK, I wanted to travel in continental Europe. At first I was collecting a lot of information for it, but in the end I decided to go only to Ireland. I couldn't find anyone to travel with, and Ireland sounded easier to travel in alone as they speak English. I joined a tour organised by 'Tir Na Nog'. It was a trip about a week.
The meeting place was Victoria Coach Station. It was really hard to find the representative of the tour there! At the place indicated on the letter, they showed me another place, where I was told to go to another place... Well, I thought it was a typical English thing to do! :D
Finally I found a tour representative. Most people who joined the tour were from Australia and NewZealand. I was the only Asian person. I felt a bit isolated. On the bus I sat next to a girl from South Africa, and we chatted on the way. We soon fell asleep, though. It was a night bus journey that took 12 hours to get to Dublin! We also took a ferry on the way.
It was early in the morning when we got to the capital of the Republic of Ireland, Dublin. We first went to the youth hostel, left our luggage and had a free time. With the map I got in the youth hostel, I found the Tourist Information Centre. I wanted to buy a little guidebook and walk around the city. However, I couldn't find what I wanted and instead decided to take the sightseeing bus 'Guide Friday'. I kept on the bus and planned where I would get off by listening to the guide and looking through the city. The guide was of course Irish! It was fun to listen to Irish English. I visited Dublin Castle, St Patrick's Cathedral, Trinity College etc. I was also interested in Guiness Factory, but the place was exhaling such a funny smell of hops, which made me feel as if I were drunk! So, I didn't go in. At night, I went to a pub where they have live Irish music and dance. I learnt about this pub in the Tourist Information Centre. I really enjoyed the evening. I had Irish stew at the night.
We had a three day tour of Ireland from the next day. We were divided into groups of about 10 people and got on a van. An Irish leader played a role of both a driver and a guide. He played some Irish music occasionally. We visited some ruined castles, saw fantastic landscape, Celtic Cross... We also went to Plarney Castle to kiss the lucky Blarney Stone! It was funny that people queue to kiss a stone on the top of the castle! I loved the coast of Ireland, which was magnifiscent. In Ireland there were so many ruined castle-like buildings here and there, which was interesting. When we stayed in a small village, we went to a local pub. People in the village were musician and we had a live Irish music there!

To farewell, I visited my friends in Shrewsbury again. They took me to Chester. Chester is surrounded by the Roman walls, on which we can walk. There were many shops in the city. There were two storey path between each shop and you can enjoy shopping even in the rain without getting wet!
I went bird watching for the first time, too!

There are still many places I couldn't visit just in London. I went to Greenwich and London Eye just before I left. I loved the view from the hill of Greenwich. It was a bit pity that I couldn't step on the longitude, as it was so late that the gate was closed.
I really enjoyed the flight of London Eye! I was right to try it at the end of my stay. As I knew what is where by then, it was fun pointing thing from the sky!

I was invited to a party by my Korean teacher. We got together at his house and had a lot of delicious Korean food that his wife made. We enjoyed chatting, using a bit of Korean occassionally. I loved the Korean class. I'm keeping in touch with some of the classmates and the teachers.

I went to Cambridge to see my friend again before I left. They were having a rowing race called 'Bumping Race'. It was interesting.

I had two exams at the end of the academic year: Korean and Psychology of Language. Both were successful. They weren't so difficult. As I love studying foreign languages, I 'enjoyed' even taking the Korean test! I loved the section of composition. I wrote as many things as I can until the bell rang.

It was hard to pack and find souvenirs to leave London. I looked around shops in London for two days to find souvenirs. As for packing, I used the card-board boxes that my mum had used to send things to me before. My friends told me that YAMATO offers the lowest price and I used the company. I think it was the right thing to do. They deliver boxes in 1 week. I sent some books through the post office. It took 8 weeks before they are delivered to me. The condition was good, though.
In the end, I had much more things to take back home with me than I had imagined. That made it so difficult to pack things before I left my room. I was struggling till the last minute.
I sold my desk lamp through the Internet. Someone bought it for the half price. It was a funny feeling to hand it to the next owner. That was the light I was using the whole time of my stay in London, you know. I was whispering in my mind and asking him to use it nicely! :)

The day before my departure was a very sunny day. I was staying in my friend's house in Wimbledon. (They are like my family in England!!) I took a train to the centre of London and walked around the city all day for the last time. I took many pictures, popped in some of my favourite places... I felt a bit sentimental. I love London...

My flight to Japan was a night flight. I spent the last day without doing much in Wimbledon. I didn't want the time to pass too quickly. I couldn't believe that I would leave until the last minute. I'd been saying that all day. 'Am I really going back?'...
My English mum took me to Heathrow. I still didn't realise that I was leaving. When I saw a lot of aeroplanes near the air port, I gradually started to understand that I was really leaving. When I had to say goodbye to her to go through the passport check, I couldn't stop crying.
I really didn't want to leave London.

I used Korean Air. There weren't many people from London to Korea. After studying Korean for a year in London, I found my self being able to read the Korean letters on the seat and ticket and understand some phrases. I was enjoying reading things like a little child who has learnt to read. From the gate at Heathrow, people around me were mostly Asian. From Korea I found many Japanese people. Gradually the language I could hear became only Japanese...

On the aeroplane, I asked for a document to declare that I had sent some boxes through YAMATO. I took a procedure at Nagoya airport and headed for the wayout...

My dad and mum were waiting for me!! I was glad to see them!!
They asked me soooo many questions about the flight, my stay in London etc etc...

Soon after I got back, it was a bit difficult to use Japanese. When I tried to say something, it often happened that the English word came to mind first and I struggled to find the Japanese equivalent. Now it is often hard to remember an English word, though... :'(
Many things looked so small such as glasses, cups, shower, taps...
People looked small, too. I myself is small, so they are bigger than me. But still they looked so small to me. Besides, everyone had the same face. I mean the same face! It was a bit scary. I don't feel that any more though.
I was surprised when I went to a restaurant after I got back to Japan. I took it for granted that they'd have separate tables for smokers and non-smokers, so I asked a non-smoking table. But then, I learnt they didn't have one! I even tried to wait for the waiter to come and pick up money instead of going to the cashe point myself.
Another difficulty I had was in a building. I wanted to go to the third floor but I ran up the stairs to the fourth floor!! It was sad to go back down! You know they have a Ground Floor in London, but we don't have it in Japan!
I've been having some reverse culture shock like that, but I'm getting used to the life in Japan again.

It was really good for me to study abroad. I learnt so many things. I cannot express that with one word. To put it simply, I learnt to know myself more, and I started to have self-confidence. I found it so fun to communicate with people from different backgrounds. It was nice that I could become friends with not only people from developed countries but also from developing countries, which is difficult to do when I'm in Japan. Wherever they are from, they are all such lovely people. It was great that I could experience it not just understand it in mind.
I learnt to be a bit assertive than before. Otherwise, English service doesn't move! ;)

I want to go back to England to study after graduating from the Japanese university. I would like to learn many things until then through the reverse culture shock that I have a chance to experience now, thanks to the year of my stay in England!

Thank you for reading my diary!


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