Spring Break in Japan!

皆さんこんにちは!Spring break has finally arrived! This past week consisted of nothing but vigorous studying in order to pass my exams. I have already received my mid term grade from my Japanese speaking class and I was very satisfied by my grade. I am almost positive I got an A on my Japanese reading and writing class but have not heard from my Sensei yet. The hardest test I had was for one of the English classes I am taking…who would have thought? I am actually a little worried about my score on that test but I am hoping that it will be a B. But, enough of school for now, I am on spring break!
I actually arrived in Niigata last night and am planning on doing some sightseeing. Here is a picture of the sunset last night:

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I attended a friends college graduation ceremony in Kanagawa the other day and I was surprised to say the least. First off, at Japanese graduations all of the girls wear Kimonos or Hakamas which are very beautifully designed outfits. All of the men wear suits and ties. The actually ceremony lasted 1 hour and had 1,200 graduating students. However during the ceremony, we only saw about 30 students receive their diploma. I was trying to understand what the speaker was saying but he was using a lot of vocabulary I do not know and speaking very fast. From what I could understand, for each student who received their diploma, he was talking about their college achievements and the kind of student they were. When a student walks on stage, they bowed three times, first to the administrators on the right, then the left and finally the announcer. Some of the students, after receiving their diploma, took two steps back, extended their arms holding the diploma and gave another bow to the spokesman. After 55 minutes or so passed, all of the college’s professors/administrators left the ceremony hall. I was confused so I asked my friends mother what was going on and she informed me that it was over…What? What I figured out later that night is that during the college graduation they recognize the students who have had a stellar performance throughout their college life. After the ceremony, the students who were not called to the stage would attend the after party where they would receive their diploma. I found this graduation system very unusual and somehow refreshing.
Unfortunately, the cherry blossom season in Niigata starts next week so I will not be able to see them here. It is still very cold in Niigata and there is a lot of snow in the mountains. When I return to Osaka on Sunday, I am planning a trip to Kyoto to see and take a lot of photos of the cherry blossoms! Which reminds me, I still have not posted the pictures from 2 weeks ago when I went to Kyoto. I was able to visit a lot of really nice places and the 梅の木 plum blossoms were in bloom. I thought some of the temples were very beautiful. Below are some of my favorite shots from Kyoto:

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I hope everyone at USF is having a great semester as well. I will be back next week sometime with a new blog. Until then, 皆んな頑張って!

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