Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Unpublished pictures from Japan

Three months to go to Japan with my scholarship and I'm starting to get excited. I'm watching lots of movies (not only Japanese but Asian in general, I like Korean films), reading blogs, studying and imagining my life there. I put here some pics from my trip to Japan last year that I didn't include in previous posts because they didn't have enough quality or because there were similar ones.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Japan to-do list

This post is a to-do list for my life in Japan as a Monbukagakusho student (April 2009 - 2011). I'll keep updating it whenever a new idea comes to my mind so I anchored it to the Permalinks menu.
  • Learn to speak and read Japanese fluently.
    • First 6 months, intensive Japanese language courses.
  • Improve technical skills on hardware, maths and physics.
  • Enjoy Japanese manga, anime, movies, music and live performances.
  • Join a club in the University.
    • Main candidates: manga, water color painting, zen and football club.
  • Travel:
    • Walk the 88 temple route in Shikoku.
  • Draw comics and illustrations.
  • Receive visits from my friends ;)

Songs I like

Probably it's the same with you. During a period of time there is a song that you listen to all the time and never get bored of it. In the next list, I will be updating all these songs that cross my life.
Note: If any link doesn't work, search the song for yourself :P

Things I like

Things that most people around me seem to like but I don't:
  • Going out at night to drink alcohol and listen to too loud music.
  • Watching football.
  • Driving a car.
  • Living in a fixed place.
  • Going downhill (take the easy path).
What I like to do instead:
  • Going out at night to see the stars or the lights of the city from the silence.
  • Playing football.
  • Walking.
  • Living all around the Globe.
  • Going uphill (take the difficult path).
I had to look for a new Label to tag this post with. At first I thought about something like "Personal" but then I realized that there could be future posts similar to this one where "Personal" wouldn't fit. In the end I decided to use "Thoughts". But the point is that the whole Label-hunting thing reminded me a lot of a "thinking pattern" that I repeat unconsciously all the time: the search for an abstraction. For instance, in object-oriented programming you always try to start from a very abstract class and then decompose it by inheritance into more specific ones. I'm learning C# at the moment and there is a very abstract class there, the root of all the classes, whose name is System.Object. It is an elegant and a very small class (I confess that I understood the meaning when I compared it to void * in C). Yes, it's small, but its the roots of the whole system and if it fails the whole system fails.
Final note: I realized that I started talking about programming so I extended my Thoughts class with the Technology interface ;P.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cambridge I and II

At the end of the post of my last trip to London I mentioned a night coach to Cambridge where I was going to meet my friend Simon. I only spent that night and the next morning in Cam but it was still very nice to meet him once again after our adventures in Bieszczady - Poland. Although Cambridge and Oxford (check out my posts here and here) have a lot of things in common like the colleges or the punting, I saw Cambridge from a totally different point of view compared to my stay in Oxford. I went to Oxford in Summer which means that most of regular students are gone and the town has become a touristic attraction full of students of English. On the other hand, I saw Cambridge from the point of view of the college students (Simon is doing his PhD in Cam and he lives in Magdalene college).

Although I don't have pictures from my first trip to Cambridge, two months later Simon, Maria, Magda (also friends from the trip to Bieszczady) and me met again in Cambridge and we took a lot of pics.

I was the first one meeting Simon and we went to this nice pub. I took a coke and he had a juice. He couldn't drink alcohol because the next day he had to row (which is very typical both in Cambridge and in Oxford). I like British pubs, they all look so cozy and local.

In the morning I learned to prepare Porridge, a typical British breakfast that looked like vomit haha (joking).

Of course, we did punting and saw the major Cambridge colleges (King's, Trinity, Saint Johns, Magdelene, etc). I get off the boat once to take a photo from a bridge. They told me it was private land and I couldn't do it, but I showed them that not being allowed is not the same as not being able to haha. Of course, one minute later a guy with an angry face told me off!

A College is the place where students live, eat and socialise (in the second pic above, I'm sitting in a room where we played scrabble that looked like in the Sherlock Holmes stories). It is also the place where they receive small group teaching sessions, known as supervisions. They have libraries (for example, in Magdalene they had the pepys library (pronnounced "peeps" :D) and all the facilities for a student to be integrated and make the most of his time in Cambridge.

And if you can't find something in the library you still have this great bookshop called Borders where they had loads of books. I couldn't resist to buy a book on Japanese literature. In Borders you could pick up a book, go to the cafe upstairs and read it for free while you had a coffee! I drew a bit while I was in the cafes as well :)

One evening we attended a service in St Johns cathedral. It was interesting although I said I was bored as hell to annoy Simon hehe.

There are very nice markets in Cambridge. In the pic above Simon is buying cheese in the general market (in Market Square). We also went to the Sunday Arts & Crafts and local produce market where Maria bought a stamp with the shape of a fairy.

My trip back to Spain was close to the Odyssey. I took the wrong train from Cambridge and instead of Stansted I ended up in King's Cross. I still tried to make it by taking the underground to Liverpool street and then the Stansted Express train which is the fastest way to go, but I arrived at the gate in the last minute and they didn't let me board. So I had to go back to the departures lounge and find a way to go back to Spain. Planes to Santander were fully booked and so were Easyjet planes to Bilbao so I ended up buying a plane to Asturias for 200 euros (sic). Then back to Cambridge for a little break.

Thanks to my friends I didn't get that sad and we enjoyed the night with a fantastic dinner in a Japanese restaurant where I had sake sushi and a delicious bowl of Ramen!! :D

The next day I went back to the airport, this time with Maria and Magda who were going back to Poland. There were protests.. their flights got cancelled.. lots of queuing.. costa cafe.. I said goodbye and took my flight to Asturias, then a coach to Oviedo, then a coach to Santander.. and FINALLY GOT HOME! ^_^U