I’m not dead…

I’ve had some really busy months – overall this has been a busy year.

While I was in Japan I decided to use my little free time I might have had on making youtube, which resulted in me neglecting this blog. This semester back at my home university has proven to be the most busy one I’ve ever experienced, with huge burdens of home works and smaller assignments each week, plus to major reports I have to work. I do want to return being an active blogger and I hope to be able to do that soon… or else, there’s always the future.

Best wishes to all.

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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.

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 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.

Japan sweet home?

So, I’ve returned to Denmark, which has brought some sad and confused feelings upon me. Of course the main reason is that I’m once again forced to be apart from my husband for the next six weeks, another reason is the fact that I’ve returned to a country that doesn’t feel like home. I’ve felt out of place here in Europe, since I was very young. At first I didn’t know where I wanted to be instead, but I had many ideas. Though when I was around 14 years old Japan started to become a big part of my life. Here I am, almost 8 years later and 8 visits to Japan later feeling that I’ve once again returned from the country that feels more like my rightful home.

I know there are many types of Japan lovers. I’m not fully sure which type I am, but I know I’ve not spent my nights in Japan only in hotels or hostels, I know I’ve talked to a lot more Japanese people, than just those working in the supermarket, convenience store, hotel lobby or restaurant and I know that I wont declare Japan to be a perfect country. (Unfortunately my university class is full of those exact types.) I believe that there is no such thing as a perfect country and to be honest, Japan often seems farther from being that than many other countries.

I have many things I dislike about Japan and there’s even things that, no matter have books I read I will still not fully understand it. There’s even things that the Japanese don’t understand nor like, but their only answer is “that’s how it’s always been, we can’t change it”. Even my husband and I have been through countless of fight due to our cultural differences.

There seems to be too many things the Japanese dislike themselves, but no one dares to speak up and due to the way there’re brought up most don’t even seem to have the hope of change. It’s like Japan needed a proper civil revolution, but they never got it and now the world has become too modern and civilized for it to happen.

Even before I met my husband I did not sleep in hotels during my trips in Japan. I stayed with various Japanese families (homestay), I met their friends, I saw and observed their daily life, visited schools, hospitals and parties. I listened to their dreams and problems about things they didn’t seem to be able to tell their Japanese friends. In the end I got to be part of my own Japanese family and have now inherited their happy stories as well as their dark ones.

But, even despite what may sound like overwhelming negativity, Japan is the country I feel home. I don’t just miss Japan when I’m not there – I feel homesick. Which is why I’ve started to think about what I really want. I could live in Japan without much stopping me. I don’t’ have to worry about visa (I’m qualified for a spouse visa), my husband is willing to support me in what I wish to do (also financially) guess my main worry is education. I’m not happy in my current university, but I get good grades and have already finished one year which I why I hate the thought of giving it up. I just wonder if there isn’t something I could do. Our exchange program next year is only around 4 months, too short. Guess I need to talk with a professional advisor in my university next week. Well… when it comes about my last unblogged time in Japan… I got too busy with things, but I did experience various things I wish to blog about soon. Like: Disneyland, road trips, family visits and etc.

Goals and dreams.

Lately I’ve been thinking about life goals and dreams, whether mine is too small or too big, too boring or too unrealistic. Have I reached them or do they even exist at this point? It seems like it’s in the basic human nature to create goals and dreams for oneself, even from a very early age. Which probably comes from being affected from the people around us. That might be, parents, friends, school, family or others. Who did not hear the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We actually seem forced from a young age to consider a future career, even though we don’t even have developed a realistic view of what money and work actually is.

Realism is one of the things I definitely lacking when I think back on my childhood goals. When I in the age of 8 years old wanted to become a hairdresser, even though I had no interest in hair or fashion. A few years later my dream was to be a professional handball player, without even having touched a ball before. After that I decided to aim high and my new goal was to become a lawyer, which pretty much clashed with the fact that I disliked studying. I had many childhood dreams and goals, but it seems like that amount slowly disappeared when logic, realism and rationality started to develop and required space. During middle school I realized that I had no idea of what I wanted to do in the future I only had my main point of “interest” to hold on to, Japan. I started to set up goals and dreams around this country, some seemed more realistic that others. My goal became to enter high school in order to go to university and study Japanese, which of course would be doable as long as I studied well. My dream on the other hand, seemed out of reach even to myself, I probably saw it more as a fantasy than a plausible dream. That dream was to meet a Japanese guy, fall in love, get married and live in Japan. Not really something I could actually plan and work towards.

I went to Japan for the first time after having finished my second year in high school and I fell in love with the country even more. The year after I went to Japan three times (Feb, July & Oct.)  I graduated high school and applied for university. During my 3rd visit in Japan in July, I even wrote down my wish of getting accepted on a piece of paper during the Tanabata celebrations.

(Me, 2009)

I also had another goal for my future, the only one not involving Japan; I wished to lose weight. In late July a letter from the university told me that I had not made the cut, but was guaranteed entry next year (since my grade average was 0,1 from being accepted). I decided to travel around Japan the following spring, which is when I met the guy who would be my future husband. I started studying Japanese at university in September 2010, have been to Japan 8 times in 3 years and I got married to my Japanese fiancé in April 2011. I have even managed to lose 10 kilos (around 22 lbs) in less than a year.

So, in what feels like a blink of an eye, I managed to reach most of my set goals during my school time, seems like “living” in Japan is the only goal I haven’t reached. But, life is no game, when we reach our goals it doesn’t mean it’s over and we then can celebrate. Then we need to find new goals, which makes us move forward towards the next step. For some reason I didn’t even seem to notice that I had reached my goals and dreams, maybe they were accomplished too easily to feel like an actual victory. Now I feel left at a crossroad in my life, but feel sure that I’m going in a right direction – following steps of a university education, meeting new people and enjoying new experiences and I even found somebody to keep me company during this walk. Though I wonder if I have enough hopes and dreams for what is waiting for me farther down the road. Can we have too few dreams and goals? Is; “living in Japan, having children, but have no idea about future work or such” enough future goals? Well, guess I should not have too high expectations for future goals in the age of 21. Maybe I should just start to focus on the things that are currently visible and imaginable on my current path, follow the stream and  have goals such as “having fun at the next university party” and “do not fail your next test”. I guess this is just the ramblings of a girl who suddenly found most of her goals completed faster than she expected.

New Japanese books.

So, I’ve received my new Japanese books for the upcoming semester, where we apparently will go from Intermediate level to advanced. So the bunch consists of two grammar books. One of them, Tobira, (left) is an around 400 pages thick book, which seems to focus on overall language learning, where one of the key features is the use of multimedia. The content of the book is very close to being in all Japanese and only  very limited space is left to English – about 2% of the entire book. So this time around there is no long grammar of sentence explanations in English, just long texts in Japanese. Guess this book shows that my class is now headed for the advanced level.

(Tobira)

The second book, (the one in the middle) focuses on “200 Essential Japanese Expressions: A Guide to Correct Usage of Key Sentence Patterns”. It has around 235 pages, but like Tobira, English is also limited. Though in this book it might take up around 20%, with its’ grammar explanations.

The final book (right) is a Kanji book, our third book. With it’s 100 it’s not that big. Instead of teaching new Kanjis, it seems to focus more in the correct usage of the ones we have already learned, through various of drills and texts. This book is in 100 % Japanese.

Since I have not used these books, yet. I can’t do a prober review. Guess this is just a random rambling about my studies.

Busy university life.

I can’t update much in the moment since the exams are closing in and I’m in the moment spending most of my time on attending classes and writing my assignment for Japanese society class. I’ve chosen the subject “Women in Today’s Japan” which I find very interesting. Though there is also a lot to get through and now I need to piece all the newfound information together.