Monthly Archives: May 2016

Starting Classes and Making Friends


IMG_0519Since my last post, I was finally able to get a full tour of Temple Japan’s campus. Temple Japan consists of just two buildings, much smaller than Temple’s main campus. Each building is a few blocks away from each other, but I personally enjoy that because it motivates me to explore the area more when going between the buildings. There’s also a bridge along the way that has a great view!


On Friday, I went to a Temple-sponsored party for all the new students on campus. It was great to meet other people outside of my dorm. I even made a few new friends that I later found out were taking some of the same classes as me. At the party, we played some games and then were presented with a delicious meal. Overall, it was a fun time.


I also saw Tokyo Tower lit up for the first time on my way home.

The next day, a few of my friends showed me a hidden trail just a minute or two away from our dorm. Apparently Alan found the trail last Thursday and had been using it ever since for his run. It was a nice day out, so I decided to join my friends in their run. It was a nice, quiet trail with a lot of nature and a pretty stream alongside it. There were also one or two interesting buildings as well. I’m not sure how much I’ll personally use this trail, but it was very cool to see.


My classes officially started this Monday. I picked some enjoyable classes, so I wasn’t too nervous about them. The only class that may give me some trouble this summer is Elements I, the beginner course for learning Japanese. I don’t need to take this course, but I chose to take it not only because I want to better understand people here, but also because I’ve had an interest in learning Japanese for years but never knew where to start. The course seems difficult with a quiz nearly every class, but honestly, I’m prepared for the challenge. Since I’m motivated to learn Japanese anyway, I should have no problem preparing myself for the workload ahead. For anyone reading this who wants to learn Japanese but isn’t sure about taking the course, don’t feel intimidated. If you’re really passionate about learning the language, it’ll be worth the effort.


This is the Video Gaming Club room.

Classes starting also means it’s time to choose what club I want to join. There are about 13 clubs in Temple Japan. Some are simple, fun clubs like the Video Gaming Club and the Volleyball Club, and others are clubs I’ve never heard of before like the Historical European Martial Arts Club. A lot of the clubs intrigued me, but I’ve narrowed it down to the Video Gaming Club and the Go Club. For those of you who don’t know what Go is, it is an ancient Chinese board game where players play on a 19 x 19 board and try to surround more territory than their opponents. I’ve never played it before and don’t know a lot of the rules, but it sounds fun with all of the strategy behind the game. I’ll probably end up choosing the Video Gaming Club though because I really enjoy video games and feel like I’ll connect with people more in that club. Either way, I’ll be sure to talk about my new club in my next blog. Until then, Sayōnara from Japan!


First few days in Tokyo


IMG_1591The Tokyo Tower at night. It is easy to see on the way back home.


IMG_3455My home sister Amanda was trying to practice kanji pronunciation in a Japanese bookstore.


IMG_3301 copyThe very first day of school. We were waiting for the orientation.


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People were so excited to explore Tokyo! Emily, Julie, and Amanda were discussing which activity they should attend.


Now I have to take this crowded train every morning as what salarymen do. Like now, I used to take early morning trains(subway) to school when I was in middle school in China. But we did not have a woman-only train at that time as Japan does.


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Students took a tour on campus, and here is the study room.

IMG_3450 copyThe crowd of salary men and women are definitely one of the sights of Tokyo.


FullSizeRender 3 copyA jisou in the chief temple of Jodo-Buddhist (Zojoji).


IMG_3530 copyFinally we had a full view of Tokyo in the Tokyo Tower.



Sinozaki-san and I

My host mother took me to a sushi restaurant. And this is when I noticed that matcha is commonly served in Japan. Thanks Amanda for taking this picture for me.


My host mother made mochi (rice cake) for me this morning. She said this is what they eat during New Year.


First Days in Tokyo


As the hours wound down until it was time for me to head to Philadelphia International airport to begin my travels, I was unable to sleep. I was feeling a mixed bag of emotions. I was both nervous and very excited to experience Japan. When I got to the gate at the early hour of 4 am, I met my friend Alan. As we were getting ready for our flight, I was glad to hear that Alan shared similar emotions as me. It occurred to me that many other students about to study abroad were feeling nervous as well, and that’s okay. What matters is trying to slowly shake off that nervousness and have fun.


After almost a full day of flights and bus rides, we finally made it to Tokyo, Japan! Alan and I are both dorm students, and we made our way to the Takadanobaba Dorm. As you can see, my dorm room is a little on the small side, but seeing how it’s a single room, I have no complaints. My room has everything I need from a mini desk to a microwave, a mini fridge, and even a shower. I was even given pots, a rice cooker, and other cooking equipment to cook my meals. I’m not much of a cook, so figuring out how to cook my meals properly will be a process for me. I feel like I should be able to figure it out if I put my mind to it.


Besides me, there are 13 other TUJ residents in Takadanobaba. I know two of them from my classes on Temple’s main campus, but the remaining 11 I have never met before. Some of them aren’t even Temple students. I’m trying my best to reach out to these new faces and make some new friends early. Our first night here, a few of my dorm mates and I got together to explore our surroundings and check out the 7/11 near the dorm. We also found a basketball court just a short walk away from our dorm, so we’re planning on getting a game together as soon as one of us finds out where to buy a ball.

The next day was the first day of orientation. Everyone in the dorm was escorted to the subway, where we were shown the cheapest route to campus. My family is notorious for being bad with directions, and I am no exception, so I paid close attention to the stops we were taking to make sure I would be able to do this on my own once classes start next week. Luckily, the stop names are easy to remember because the stop at campus has the same name as the main hall, and the name of the stop getting home has the same name as my dorm. As long as I remember the stop in between where I switch trains, I shouldn’t have a problem.

Today’s part of the orientation was interesting. There were a lot of speakers over the course of a little over two hours. It was great to meet some of Temple Japan’s main staff as well as learn about some of the activities and clubs on campus. It was also a good chance to meet some of the other study abroad students not in Takadanobaba. I am much more excited for today’s part of the orientation, where we will get a full tour of campus, and I will have a better grasp at moving around. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take some pictures of the campus tomorrow to share in my next post. Until then, Sayōnara from Japan!


Japan: The Journey Starts Here!


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Before coming to Temple this past August, I lived a fairly sheltered life. I grew up in Washington Township, New Jersey, which is pretty much a small town when compared to a big city like Philadelphia. For most of my life, I had rarely ventured outside of my quiet township, and I was quite happy living within my little bubble. So the prospect of moving to the Temple dorms and living in a big city with kids I had never met before was a bit terrifying to say the least.

When I first toured Temple’s campus as a high school student, our tour guide spoke about Temple’s Study Abroad Program as if it were the opportunity of a lifetime. I remember thinking there was no way I would ever consider taking such a huge journey.  I was wondering how I would ever learn to make it safely across Broad  Street. . .  there was certainly no way I would ever be brave enough to study abroad.

As I settled into my freshmen year in the Honors dorm, I found myself doing things I never thought I’d do. I was joining clubs such as the BHSA, GAMMA, and even the Anime club, where I joined the group on a bus trip to New York City this past fall – a place I never thought I’d venture alone.  This year, I also became a Committee Member for the BHSA Fundraising Committee. This position has forced me to really put myself in situations I never thought I’d be in. Just recently, I had to go around campus to local businesses, asking them to donate prizes for our last fundraiser.  With each new experience, my confidence in myself has grown.  Along the way I have also made many new friends and truly learned how to live on my own. So when I found out Temple had a campus in Japan, a country whose culture has always fascinated me, the prospect of studying abroad suddenly seemed much less scary to me.

Now as I prepare for my program, I am excited to embark on this amazing journey. My hope is that I will not only learn about the Japanese culture but that I will also make even more friendships along the way. I realize now that this summer semester in Japan is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, and I intend to take full advantage of all that Temple Japan has to offer. This blog will be my way of documenting my journey, so that one day, I can share it not only with  my family and friends, but also with other students, who might be afraid to travel abroad like I was.


Goodbye Tokyo


Well I’m actually staying during summer semester in Tokyo, but the Spring semester has ended and all the Temple students are going back home to America.


The cherry blossomed during the end of our semester abroad. Poetically speaking, we have blossomed at the end.

Thanks to the Japanese couple for capturing this great photo. These were cherry blossoms at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.


Take in the beautiful sight of cherry blossoms.


The best cultural experience I had was being a part of a society that fosters a group mentality system. This means always waiting in lines for anything, including the busiest trains in the world.

Seriously, Japan holds the busiest train stations in the whole world. Shinjuku and Shibuya stations are the top two. Shinjuku station sees about 1.26 billion commuters per year and Shibuya station sees about 1.09 billion (based on a 2013 study).

So lets have some fun in Tokyo while we still can on our last days together in Tokyo!


Fighting ninjas will be missed in Tokyo! Just kidding. This was at the trick museum in Odaiba.


Sneak attack from the ninja under the tatami mat! Me: “Go back!”

Thanks to the employee working that day for capturing the moments.


A huge architecture goal! To see the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza.


It was Opalia’s last day and she wished to see the Nakagin Capsule Tower, so I surprised her with its address #SmallFriendshipGift 🙂


That’s me wearing a Temple cap cheering for the architecture masterpiece.


Tokyo Plaza Omotesando Harajuku by Hiroshi Nakamura.


Tommy buying a soda from the vending machine. Having a vending beverage machine that sells hot coffee and cold beverages in almost all the streets is something everyone is going to miss.


Opalia’s in Ginza, last day exploring Tokyo.



Tokyo celebrates many cultures cuisines. Our new favorite obsession: Indian butter curry (which is basically sweet sauce.) It’s served with salad, rice, drink choice, and all you can eat naan! Pro Tip: Having lunch is better eaten out then dinner because the restaurants are very competitive during lunchtime and offer amazing deals.


I’ll toast to that! Gresham drinking mango lassi, which is a fusion of an Indian and Japanese drink.


Julie Kress who studied in Rome and Japan during her junior year is saying “But I don’t want to leave”


What a better way to end a Tokyo study abroad experience then to have a last prayer. Thank you Tokyo for all the personal, profession, and academic growth you have provided us!


TUJ Architecture Program


We made it! The architecture students completed their studio. We didn’t know what to expect with the TUJ architecture program and Tokyo overall because there weren’t any upperclassmen to advise us. So here I am going to provide an account of TUJ architecture program.

Our class consisted of 8 junior architecture students from Temple main campus, 1 Temple main campus grad, and a 4th year student from Illinois Institute of Technology. Our studio professor was James Lambiasi (Jim), who helped all the students, that requested, receive an architecture internship. So if you’re an architecture student that wants to locate an architecture internship, reach out to him (even before you arrive to Tokyo)!

The program was well-rounded. The focus was urban planning and architecture. For the first month and 1/2, we analyzed the city of Tokyo. We were given areas, stations, structures, buildings, and much more to explore and analyze. This was a great aspect of the program because we got to explore the city, get familiarized with it, and become comfortable traveling. We also become more aware of Japanese architectural design and culture, and we learned so much more than we expected. We presented our observations and analysis through an architectural presentation of maps and diagrams.


After analyzing the city, we focused on Roppongi for it’s rapid development and art charge implemented to the area.


Our two jurors were Daishi Yoshimoto and Bala Bognor along with our professor James Lambiasi.

Jim was very selective on choosing the jurors. Our jurors were highly knowledgeable about the area, which created strong conversations.

Gresham Smith presenting his project

Gresham Smith presenting his project

Gresham Smith proudly holds his study models after presenting

Gresham Smith proudly holds his study models after presenting


Opalia Meade presenting her project


Opalia happily holds her study models after presenting


Caleb Baldwin’s perfectly crisp final model!


Jazzmynn Hong final sleek model!


Caleb Baldwin presentation board!


Jazzmynn Hong presenting


Liangchi Zhang caught his mistake. It’s always good to laugh at the small things.


Kya Kerner model and presentation.


Lourdes Monje and juror Balaz Bognar discussing the presentation.


and that’s a wrap! Final Presentation are DONE! (sign of relief)


After Presentation, we gather in a circle and discuss our opinions and thoughts.


After the anxiety of presentation, we get rewarded ice cream treats. Now that’s what I’m talking about!


Lourdes Monje and Julie Kress are as happy as can be!