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Hello all!

My name is Hana Rudolph; I'm an East Asian Studies (EAS) and Political Science major from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. はじめまして!Nice to meet you!

As a sophomore, I only recently switched my major to EAS this past summer-- and with that, decided I would study abroad in Japan the following spring semester. Since my mother is Japanese, I've always had a somewhat obvious interest in Japan. My grandparents live here, and I try to visit every summer for three to four weeks. I even lived in Japan for a year when I was in elementary school. Unfortunately though, I didn't become fluent, and despite a couple years of high school and college courses in Japanese language and grammar, I'm still far from proficient in the language. 

A family reunion a couple years ago in Okayama prefecture, where my grandparents live.

Beyond simply communicating with family and identifying with my country (I'm very grateful to hold dual citizenship), I want to be involved in internation relations beween the United States and Japan upon graduation, so becoming fluent is really important to me. While classes at Sophia University are taught in English, the Japanese language program is known to be amazing, so I'm excited to learn a lot! 

Out of the 60-some students that came to Tokyo for the CIEE Spring program, I'm one of the 20 that are staying in the dorms. It's so much fun! It's actually a guesthouse, so there are people staying in the same building who aren't foreign  students but everyday Japanese people. It's really great to be together with people in the CIEE program--especially when classes begin, studying will be so much more enjoyable!--while also having a chance to interact with people from all over Japan. Later today we're all going to hana-mi (花見; literally, see flowers) at a local park,  because the sakura flowers are just starting to bloom all over Tokyo. 

The cherry blossom trees are simply gorgeous-- it's really crazy to see them all over the busy Tokyo metropolis.

Unfortunately, the downside to dorms is cooking. I'm kind of awful at it, so it's been somewhat difficult and expensive to keep myself fed, but this is a chance to get better at cooking, right? Last Sunday I made gyoza with some other kids in the dorm (for pictures, see Cherise's post!). Everyone was so nice and made it with beef instead of pork, which is what most gyoza is typically made of, since I keep kosher. (Another reason why I decided to dorm-- Passover just started last night, and I couldn't ask a host family to not make bread or rice for a week.) It tasted absolutely amazing. We're all going to make okonomiyaki next! 

The huge dining hall of DK House!

I've done so much since arriving in Tokyo that it's absolutely impossible to recount what's happened in just a week, but here's a few pictorial highlights:

A group photo with a rabbit (?) advertising a blood drive in Harajuku for our Orientation scavenger hunt.

Looking to go karaoke-ing in Shinjuku!

Anyone who doesn't know what this wooden cutout is, needs to watch the Miyazaki animation My Neighbor Totoro

Another Orientation group photo, in front of the giant Buddha in Kamakura!

Some purikura (decorated photo booth stickers) from our first night in Tokyo.

A super delicious kaiten-sushi (回転寿司) place: the sushi goes around the restaurant on a revolving belt, providing a cheaper way to eat my favorite Japanese food.

A bunch of the dorm students at our station platform, Fujimidai (富士見台), before we head out for the night.

There's always so much to do in Tokyo, so I'll keep you all posted with stories and photos! Classes [finally!] start Thursday, so we're all excited here to see how the teachers and courseloads will be like. またね!'Till next time~


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