YOUTUBE: My City Aarhus.

So, I have 4 days left in Denmark before I leave for 6 months – first starting out with a 3 weeks travel in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and then 5 months of study at Kobe University in Japan. I have tried to spend time with friends and people I might come to miss during the upcoming 6 months. Then I also got a request on youtube, asking me to introduce my city – which is a Danish city called Aarhus. It’s the second largest city of Denmark and it’s where Aarhus University – which I attend, is located. I grew up in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen and moved to Aarhus one and a half year ago to attend the university, so I’m still a bit new in the city. Though I do know my way around, know the famous places and I don’t really see getting lost as a possibility.

I also have become quite fluent in the Aarhus-dialect, even though I swore I would do anything to keep my Copenhagen-dialect, guess it didn’t work out. I do seem to suck up dialects like a sponge, which explains why I often can speak Japanese with a touch of at least 4 different dialects/speech patterns (for an example: Osaka, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Tokyo …). I think my Japanese husband finds it a bit weird that I still haven’t picked up anything from Miyazaki and I still have trouble understanding that dialect – even though I have been to Miyazaki several times.

Well, I just decided I would share my newest youtube video – like I did the last time. I have already said my goodbyes to the city of Aarhus, since I for my remaining few days in Denmark have returned home to Copenhagen and spend time with my mother and friends, before my adventures starts in the far east. I hope to keep updating as I go along. I hope everyone had a nice weekend.


Updating Youtube.

So I haven’t updated in almost two weeks and the reason for that is that I’ve been focusing a bit more on my YouTube channel lately. Normally there can easily go months between new videos at my channel, but since I’ll be off to South Asia and Japan soon, I thought it was about time to get more active, since I do hope to use my youtube channel as a vlog – at least during my months in Japan. So if you’re interested in Japan, I hope you’ll watch my future videos.

About a week ago I made a vlog video updating people on my travel plans in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and my study plans at Kobe university in Japan. I also including clips of my husband and I trying to move out some things from my apartment, since I’ll be rented out during the six months I’m gone. The above screen capture is taken from that video – which is subtitled in Japanese.

Then I made a new video today. I decided to to a new self introduction, since the last time I did that was over two years ago and a lot of things have changed. Mostly I answer often asked questions, such as:

– Do you speak Japanese?
– Have you been to Japan?
– Where have you been in Japan?
– What is your favorite Japanese things?
– What is your future goal?
– What is the aim of your channel?

Because I have many Japanese viewers I decided to do this video in Japanese (except the first 50 seconds or something.) I then provided English subtitles.

I guess I just felt like writing about what I’ve been up to. Feel free to watch my newest video – which I’ve included in the entry or check out my YouTube channel HERE.

Then I hope that have everyone is having a nice weekend.

Travel plans for South Asia in progress

Taking time to make plans for making plans is not that easy when you’re lazy – which is quite problematic since I actually have to plan a lot of things.
So from the end of February I’m traveling around in Asia, which I also mentioned in a previous post. My flight tickets are bought; I’ll spend around 3 weeks in South Asia and 5 months in Japan where I’ll be an exchange student at Kobe University. My husband and I have pretty much found the apartment we need in Kobe, but our 3 weeks of travel in South Asia are far from planned.
(The outline)

So far we do have flight tickets to and from Bangkok and we’ve also reserved a hotel for the first night in Bangkok. Then the plan was to rent a weekly apartment in that lively city, go on a day trip to Pattaya and spend a night at a hotel. Then we hope to go to Cambodia, first spending around two nights in Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and then get on a bus going to the capital Phnom Penh where we’ll aso spend two nights.

Then our travel continues to Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam, followed by stops in Du Nang and Hanoi. Like Cambodia we’ll probably spend two or three nights in each of the 3 cities and we’re also aware of the huge amount of travel time, which is also one of the reasons I decided to add Du Nang to the trip, so we didn’t have to travel the very long journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi in one stretch, which would either a 2-day train journey or a more expensive flight ticket. So far we have not really planned out our means of transport in Vietnam and how to get to both Du Nang and Hanoi as things are now, trains seems like the best option. We also need to sort out our dates of travel to both reserve transport and hotel as well in both Cambodia and Vietnam. We also have to look into flight tickets from Hanoi and back to Bangkok. My husband wanted to go back to Bangkok through Laos, but I, as a Danish citizen need a visa to get into Laos. We need a visa in Cambodia as well, but that can easily be bought at the border for 20USD. Both my husband and I (as Danish and Japanese citizen) are allowed to stay in Vietnam for max. 15 days without a visa. So in the end we plan to take a plane back to Bangkok, spend a night on a hotel and then the next day go to the airport and get on a flight to Osaka and there start my exchange student life in Kobe city.

I hope to update this blog a lot while I travel, but I’ll probably also have days where I’m too tired, but I’ll do my best. Traveling was actually one of the purposes I made this blog for. I’ve also created a twitter account so I can update on the “small and short stuff” so if you have twitter please follow me. The link is both in the sidebar and in the end of this blog entry.

I hope you all had a merry Christmas and happy new year. As things seems now I’ll at least spend half of 2012 abroad, which is an experience I’m very excited about. Please follow me on this adventure!  Either on this blog or on Twitter. – > My Twitter (Isabella Kayashima)

I got my Japanese spouse visa.

In order to study for one semester in Japan and because I for certain reasons do not go for the student visa offered, my husband and I went to the Japanese embassy located in Copenhagen to start the ”spouse visa” progress.

Besides the obvious fact that you need to be married to a Japanese, there are some paper work when applying for a spouse visa. In Denmark the needed documents for obtaining a spouse visa are the following:

  • Visa application form (English) – 2 copies.
  • 査証発給申請書2通 (Visa application form – 2 copies)
  • 写真2葉 (Two pasport pictures)
  • 旅券 (Pasport)
  • 戸籍謄本1通 (Family registration – 1 copy)
  • 住民票の写し (Prove of residence)
  • 納税証明書 (Tax certificate)

Overall, there was a lot less paperwork than I expected, especially considering the fact that only the two documents we had to fill out were the two visa application forms. The rest were papers my husband obtained at his city hall in Japan.

Then we gathered the papers and went to the embassy on the 20th this month and already the next day, less than 24 hours later, I got a call saying that my visa was done and ready to be picked up.

I never expected it to be progressed that fast and without much work and above all the embassy charged no money for the visa. So now I have a one-year visa for Japan.

(Yes, I don’t really like the photo in the visa, which is why I decided to hide it. –  I have shown my face numerous times in other posts)

The part the flash is covering says: Spouse, Child of Japanese.

The passport is a “single entry” passport, which means that if I leave Japan, without having applied for a re-entry the visa is “cancelled”. Though, I’ll only need this visa for 5 months and not a year, but it’s nice to know that obtaining a one-year visa is not as complicated as I feared and we can easily do the procedure in a near future again, when I really need to be in Japan for longer periods. Since my plan is to move to Japan after I graduate university, then I guess we apply for the one-year visa and then when in Japan, we’ll have to apply to get that visa renewed.

My first name disappeared.

Today I received my acceptance letter from Kobe University, which means I’m officially an exchange student for the spring semester in 2012. The acceptance letter came as an attached document in a e-mail. The e-mail was also sent to two of my other class mates who have been accepted into Kobe University as well and reading that e-mail reminded me of another thing – the fact that I didn’t just change my last name when I married a Japanese, I also lost my first name.

 The e-mail said: Dear, Nicolai-san, Anton-san and Kayashima-san.

 The first two were addressed by their first name, but I was addressed by my last name.

Later on in the e-mail my class mates were mentioned by their last and first names, where I once again was only mentioned by my last name.

This is not an one time incident. It’s actually something I’ve gotten used to when it comes to most Japan-related aspects of my life.

Ever since I got married my Japanese teachers stopped calling me by my first name and are now only using my my last name when they address me in class.

This is quite unusual in Denmark, where you rarely use your last name and now after marrying I get called by it all the time. Of course if I married any other nationality nothing would have changed, but since I married a Japanese, it seems like my new last name has caught the interest of other Japanese people and now they refuse to call me by anything else.

 I guess Japanese people are just more familiar with a Japanese last name rather than the name Isabella, but what about my teachers who has known me and called me by my first name for almost a year before I married last spring?

Why is it that my first name suddenly disappeared as soon as I changed my last name? Of course there is not really any problems when coming to non-Japanese speaking people, since they prefer to not having to pronounce my last name.

My husband thinks that Japanese feels more “safe” by using my Japanese last name, rather than my first name, since it avoids confusion and possible mistakes, but what about my teachers?

“Maybe they just feel like saying it” my husband answered.

Like I said, we rarely use last names in Denmark, not even when we address our teachers, so I guess it just feels weird to me when my teachers suddenly starts calling me by my last name.

My newest travel computer.

So, normally I do not blog about computers, but decided to make a post about my newest laptop addition. People who know me would say that computers have a big importance in my life and have been ever since I got my first PC. I don’t play games and such things, but I my computer is the resource of Japanese tv dramas, music and other medias. It was through the computer I developed my passion for Japan and Asia. It was with the help from the downloaded dramas that I learned the Japanese language and without that I wouldn’t have been able to meet my husband. I use my computer a lot and therefore I also have certain expectations to the performance of my own computers. I do write “computers” because I don’t just have one computer. As from this week, I have three laptop computers. The newest addition is the Apple MacBook Air 11” which was released July this year.

I know many people will dislike me for saying this, but I own three MacBook computers and I have not used a windows computer since my last PC, which I stopped using around 3 years ago. I got my first Apply computer in my last year of high school, where I got the MacBook Pro 15” (2008 version). At that time it was considered a computer with a great sleek design and very portable with the weight of 2.5 kilos. Shortly after apple changed the line-up and the new MacBook Pros were released. I liked the new design a lot better, which resulted in my mother buying the new version for me around a year after I had gotten the first one. I got the MacBook Pro 13” (2010) with the weight of around 2 kilos. I was a lot faster than the first one and it became my main computer. I still now, almost 2 years later, love my MacBook Pro. I use it several hours everyday, have brought it with me on several travels and I’ve written all my university assignments on it. It’s silent, it’s fast and I haven’t experienced any crashes or freezes despite my heavy use.

Then my mother got the idea that I should get a more travel friendly computer, since I do travel several times of the year and especially because I’ll spend half of 2012 abroad, both studying in Japan, but also traveling around in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. She offered to buy me the newest MacBook Air. First I refused, because I already felt bad about the first MacBook Pro, just laying around and collecting dust. But, she took me along to an Apple shop, where I could take a better look at the computer and I must admit, it was love at first sight.
So now I have three Apple Macbooks:

 (From left: MacBook Pro 13”, MacBook Pro 15” and MacBook Air 11”)

An easier comparison:

I got the 128GB memory and 4GB RAM version, mostly because 64GB memory is just too small; especially considering my music collection is over 70GB. I decided to take the 11″ version (over the 13″), because I was looking for a computer as small as possible.

The MacBook Air is the perfect travel computer. It’s incredible thin, weights around 1 kilo and has a great design. Despite its’ size, this computer doesn’t lack in performance, both when it comes to speed, power and overall durance. It is a mini version of the MacBook Pro, of course with less memory and such things.

I have sometimes thought about buying a cheap Notebook computer for travel purposes, but in the end I knew such computer wouldn’t be able to live up to what I ask of it. What a Notebook computer lacks in size, it also lacks in speed and performance. Overall, a Notebook computer is not a laptop; it’s just a notebook. The size of the notebook computer also affects the size of the keyboard, which, at least for me, makes it less “writer-friendly” and certainly not a computer that expects you to write a 15 pages assignment on it.
The MacBook Air has a great designed keyboard as well, where the size doesn’t differ much from regular laptops, which makes it more enjoyable to write on. The new MacBook Air has also gotten the adjustable light in the keyboard (which MacBooks normally have.) so you’re able to clearly view the keyboard at dark places as well – such as onboard airplanes.
The MacBook Air is easy to stick down in it’s protective computer bag and doesn’t require much space in ones backpack.

Overall, it’s a perfect travel computer. Since it’s very thin and light, but at the same time the small size doesn’t affect its performance. The only thing speaking against this amazing computer is of course its’ price, since Apple products are without a doubt expensive – too expensive if you ask a lot of people.

The Apple computers doesn’t come with a writing program either, so back in 2009 I bought the very expensive Microsoft Office package for Mac that included Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Entourage and Messenger. I also installed the package on my MacBook Pro (2010), but since my MacBook Air doesn’t have a disc drive I haven’t installed the package this time around. Instead I decided to download the free “Open Office”, which offers a word-like writing program, presentation program, paint and etc. So now I’m all set for going away to Japan for a semester from February and bringing along my newest MacBook.

Bought my flight tickets.

Yesterday I decided to buy my flight tickets for my semester in Japan. This time around I had to put a little more planning into buying flight tickets than I normally do. First of all, I had to consider when my semester ends at the Japanese university and when my exams might start at my Danish university. My husband and I have also been talking about staying in Thailand for a few weeks before I enter Japan, which resulted in the fact that we also had to take his work schedule into consideration.

So after having fully discussed with my husband on the phone, I went ahead and started searching for the cheapest tickets. My husband wanted us both to arrive in Bangkok at the 26th of February (me from Denmark and him from Japan), but flights with departure on the 25th from Denmark cost around 30% more, so I chose to departure on the 24th and then arrive in Bangkok at the 25th.
Since the cheapest tickets were Air China I’ll transfer in Beijing. I e-mailed my husband my ticket information and he decided to then also book his flight with Air China, also with a transfer in Beijing. Then we’ll both board the same flight from Beijing to Bangkok. He also found the same tickets for going from Bangkok to Osaka, as mine.
I’ll enter Japan on the 16th of March and I’ll return back to Denmark on August 13th.
It felt a little weird ordering tickets with a return date so far away, since the longest I’ve been traveling yet is two and a half months. This time around it’ll be for six months.

So my overall flight plan:
[February 24th – 25th ]Copenhagen – Beijing – Bangkok.
[March 16th] Bangkok – Beijing – Osaka
[August 13th] Osaka – Beijing – Stockholm – Copenhagen.

I’m very much looking forward to experiencing South Asia, since I’ve so far only been able to visit Japan and China. My husband and I have also talked about visiting Vietnam and maybe Cambodia while we’re in Thailand – since these are also countries I’ve wanted to see for quite some time. I’m very exited about this opportunity to see interesting and unique countries and I’ve always wanted to explore more of Asia and experience so many new things.

I’ll also be my first time flying with Air China and transferring in Beijing. (When I went to China I went to Shanghai and Nanjing). I hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Becoming an exchange student. (an update)

So I haven’t updated this blog in ages. Mostly due the fact that I’m not in Japan in the moment, I find it therefore hard to come up with new ideas for a new post. The other reason is that I’ve been too busy. I spent October month and some of November with my husband, who has now gone back to Japan and to his work. We’ll see each other again in five weeks. In the mean time, the end of the semester is coming closer, which means lots of homework, boring assignments and exam preparation.  Another thing that is also adding to the stress is filling out application papers for our prospective Japanese university.

I’ve been accepted into Japan’s Kobe University for 6 months, starting this upcoming spring.  Which I’m really happy about, since studying in Kansai was my first priority. Now I just have to fill out all their required papers.

Required documents are ;

1. Kobe University Application Form

2. Your academic transcript

3. Application for Certificate of Eligibility

4. Financial Statement

5. Certificate of Health

6. Three passport –sized photos of you

7. A copy of your passport

8. Certification of Japanese Ability (if you have)

9. Certificate of enrollment of the Applicant for Student Exchange Support Program.

I also had to apply for a new passport, even though I had only used it for 10 months instead of 10 years, since I got married to my husband in the meantime and then got my new Japanese surname. Unfortunately I’m not too far into the process.

In the application form, I’m required to write about my study plan at Kobe University and then also write a self-introduction in Japanese (400-800 characters). It’s not that I can’t write a self-introduction in Japanese, it’s more that I have no idea of what to actually write. The same goes for the study plan.

I have not filled out the Application for Certificate of Eligibility, yet either. That is because I have not decided, yet, whether I’ll use my spouse visa or the offered student visa. There are problems with both. Since Kobe decides when documents will be sent out, I might not be able to receive my Certificate of Eligibility (which makes it possible for me to receive my visa from the Japanese embassy) before in February, which can result in my not receiving my visa before March. Since my semester in Japan doesn’t start before April, I have time enough, but due to my husbands work schedule, I wish to go to Japan already in the middle of February.

The problem with the Spouse visa is that I will then not be seen as an international student and I then will not be able to live in the international student dormitories. I’m requested to apply for the same dormitories as the Japanese students, without any priorities. I’ll talk this over with my husband once again, before making the final decision.

My husband have been kind enough to fill out the Financial Statement – which means he becomes obligated to support me financially during the whole semester. And then there’s the health certificate, I have booked a meeting with my doctor this week, so that’s progressing and then I need the copy of my passport and the small passport sized photos. So many things to do, so little time. I really need to figure out what to write in the self-introduction.