Courtney A. Griffin ~ Writer | Designer| Social Media Junkie | Soon to be entrepreneur

The life of a Michigan State University College Girl, turned Chicago Native. Continue the journey with me!

Strasbourg, France… Week one from my perspective!

First arrival in Strasbourg arriving at about 5pm, I thought to myself “This is a cute little town!” After dinner, going to explore, around 7pm, I’m confused; “Why does everything close so early?” Still unable to answer that question… I have grown to accept it. If you want dinner, it better be before 7pm, if you want to shop, it better be before 7pm if you want to stop by the grocery store, it better be before 7pm. Actually, I am growing to like these ideas, it is better to eat meals before 7pm. This also causes families to bond, if everyone’s home by 8pm (allowing for shut-down and traffic), it allows for family time. Time to help children with homework, having family talks and encourages togetherness.

There was also this “Alsace” place people spoke of. There were bags,hats and even umbrellas with Alsace on them. “What is this place?” I wondered. After talking with my professor and asking a gazillion questions (lol). I understand. Alsace is one of the regions Europe spilt into during war. It includes multiple cities just as other countries.

Overall, I am looking to learn much more, and I guess loose a few pounds along the way during my next week here. If anything exciting happens, I’ll be sure to write about it. In the least, Continue my journey with me…


Filed under: Culture, , , , ,

I’m back in America. Now what?

Leaving Japan was bittersweet. I was happy to be coming home, but sad to be leaving one of the greatest adventures of my life. I was happy that I was no longer going to be considered a foreigner and although I am still not a majority, I see more people that look like me in America then in Japan.

As soon as I came home, I started to miss the food. I was enjoying sushi, nothing like the kind I eat in East Lansing. I missed the curry especially and even Mos Burger. Those were just the starters.

I missed the clean streets! No trash, no debris but, do not get me wrong I was excited to be driving. Taking the subway was just a little hectic for me.

I was also shocked, usually when I return from a trip I get sick and I didn’t! Boy, was I surprised! I think it was the fact that, people who felt like they were just a little sick wore a mask. They did not want to make anyone else sick.

I even missed something I thought that didn’t even phase me; The Toilets! I went to  a public restroom and realized that the bathrooms were nothing like the ones in Japan. No special toilets with special buttons, and they were even cleaner.

All in All, I definitely enjoyed my experience. It was more than I could ask for. If I spoke Japanese, I could see myself living there.

Filed under: Assignments, Culture, Technology

Oh, Shopping!

Going to Japan I was super excited to shop.  Before I left, I told myself I just wanted a pair of shoes and a purse. When I got to Japan I realized that task would be harder than expected.

One thing that went in my favor in Japan is that I am short. The length of things was no problem. Sizing although brought up a entirely different concern.  I am not the average Japanese girl size, majority of the items that I saw that I liked were One Size. One Size in America I can fit, in Japan not really. That was obstacle number 1.

Obstacle number 2, was shoes. In America, I typically wear an 8, which is an average size. Japan shoe sizes, do not go by numbers, they go Small, Medium, Large and Large Large. Similar to T-shirts in America. Amazing right? Imagine how amazed I was to find out that my average 8 was a Large Large in Japan. Wow! My next question, which I never got an answer to was, people who wear over a size 8 in shoes… what do they do? This still remains a mystery.

Filed under: Assignments, Culture

Princeton vs Yale of Japan

Visiting both Keio University and Wasaeda University was definitely a shock for me.  I had no idea of what to expect. I didn’t know if there students were going to speak English, and I knew I didn’t speak Japanese. I did although feel bad coming to them and not knowing how to communicate, I thought it was kind of disrespectful. I then realized that we were interacting with the English classes and it kind of made me feel better.

The students at both universities were totally different. I feel like the students at Wasaeda were more friendly and willing to interact. The campuses were different too. Keio university seemed more rich in history, there were tall brick buildings and it seemed to me like it told a story. Even though I do know that Waseada campus is newer, it definitely felt that way, it was very contemporary and crisp in my opinion.

I also found it interesting that we visited both Keio and Wasadea considering they are rivalries similar to MSU and UofM. I guess if one was to visit, UofM and MSU they would have the same things to say. Like how different the students and campuses both are.

Filed under: Assignments, Culture

Maybe it is more Convenient

Going to Japan was definitely an experience. There way of doing things is completely different. I think in away it’s better.

Usually when you think of vending machines, you think of them on office buildings and schools. Or at least I do, in Japan though. They’re everywhere! On the corner, in the subway, honestly I don’t think I saw them in any buildings. The vending machines are very convenient. And what makes them
Even better is the fact, that you can use your pasmo card at the machines. Almost everyone in Japan uses the subway, therefore they have a pasmo. The vending machines have everything, light meals, snacks and of course drinks.

The pasmo card is even better. It can be used at stores, the store that are everywhere uses them, like family mart and am/pm.

In addition to uses your pasmo at the convience store. You can get complete meals there, like pasta, sandwiches, and even fried foods. In my opinion it’s great, better than fast food and still just as convient.

Oh Japan, how America needs to adopt some of your tactics.

Filed under: Assignments, Culture, ,

You fat, lazy Americans…

Coming to Japan was definitely a culutural experience. A way to see how differently people live outside the US. I have learned it’s definitely different. I don’t even know were to start, portion size, recyling, no litter and even the amount of trash.

The portion sizes are much smaller. Although, I think they are more of the size portions should be. Just because in America we want a full plate and want to be extremely full does not mean that’s correct. I feel like Japanese eat to live, whereas Americans live to eat.

Majoriy of the places we visted, recycled. It wasn’t hard at all, there were just different bins for different items, all next to the trash cans.

There was no litter on the street, despite the scarcity of trash cans around the city of Tokyo. I think it’s absolutely great, that a place that resembles New York can be so clean. The amount of people and the city atomosphere does not affect them. They hold on to the trash until a trash can is found.

Filed under: Assignments, Culture

The Onsen experience

Oh wow! What an experience. The Onsen experience, my cousin who lived in Tokyo for a year told my friends and I to make sure we tried an Onsen. He failed to mention, that they were expensive and that you were completely naked in the process.

An onsen is a jacuzzi like bath, used for relaxation. The spa Vida and I went to, had a sauna and an option for massages, it was in Roppongi.

Of course, like Americans we attempted to wear swimsuits in the bath. A nice lady (who I made add was naked herself) explained to us that it was inappropriate to wear suits around the facility. It is a tranquil place used for relaxation and everyone should be free.

The hot springs bath was very nice, I especially appreciated it after 16 days of running around Japan. After the bath, Vida and I went into the sauna with the other women. I could have
Almost fell asleep then. They also had, the best massage chairs ever! The best 300 yen I had ever spent.

I am not sure if they have them in the Lansing area or not, but it would definitely be a place I would go for relaxation and a nap after class or work.

Filed under: Assignments, Culture

MSU Alumni Association of Japan

I think it is absolutely amazing that there is a MSU alumni association of Japan. I think it is even more amazing that they take the time and money to mingle and meet the current students at MSU.

I know that MSU has students from all over the world and their students get jobs/careers all over, but I never thought that i would be enought people to have their own chapter. The MSU alumni were very nice and I could tell that they wanted to interact with us and see how the society of MSU has changed.

I wanted to use the luncheon as an opportunity to network with the alumni and find out how they were able to find postions outside of the US. Many of the individuals i spoke with were communications, advertising or something of the other. Japan is so well known for their technology and marketing, that it makes sense that those degrees would be well used.

I also wanted to know if MSU was as renowned around the world.

Filed under: Assignments, Culture, , ,

Toyotas in Japan!

Cars in Japan are so much nicer then cars in America. I have seen so many nice cars, from the oldest Toyota to the newest Bentley. No matter what the car is, it is kept up. There are no dings, scratches or dents. I have only seen 1 car wash my entire trip but I yet to see a filthy car, or better yet, a dirty one.

Toyotas appealed to me because I own a Toyota and I know they come from Japan. Although, I did not see any of the Americanized Toyotas we have. No corollas, camrys, sequoias. I actually feel like I saw no SUVs the entire trip. I saw a few vans, but they were used for business use. I never even saw a taxi van for large travel groups.

I saw Toyota Crown Royals and Allion mostly. Toyotas that we do not have in the US. I also saw 1 Suzuki, a scion, many Nissan and even more luxury cars. I know Lexus and Scion are both under Toyota so I expected to see plenty of them. In reality, toyota and lexus definitely, scion not too much.

I also saw a Caddilac CTS and anyone who knows me, knows that’s my favorite car! 🙂

Filed under: Assignments, Culture

My first baseball experience!

I had never been to a baseball game before. I am usually not a sports person. I have been at MSU for 4 years and have only been to 1 game, a basketball game.

Going to the Tokyo dome for the baseball game was amazing. I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I knew was that US baseball games are usually boring but Japan games are more animated. I don’t know for sure or not that US games are boring but this game was definitely animated! Everyone in the stands were wearing Tokyo Giants attire, they had baseball bats, puppets, everything. They never stopped cheering, I couldn’t ask for more.

Even the staff was friendly, something not commonly seen in America. You could bring in your own food or beverage, and the staff would put it in an appropriate container. They even gave out pretz with a player on it! Great hospitality!

I also had someone to root for, #88 only because I was born in 1988.

Filed under: Assignments, Culture

Courtney A.Griffin

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