October 2009

Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Japan—As some of my students will attest, I have been known to drink a Diet Coke “on occasion.” I drank Coca-Cola Light in Europe, Asia and Australia in the past, and was expecting to do the same here in Japan, but Coca-Cola Light seems to have gone the way of Tab . . . at least over here. The current brand name is Coca-Cola Zero, which was introduced in Japan in 2007.

The adjustment to Coca-Cola Zero was not an issue, but I have not partaken in some of the derivatives. I saw Coca-Cola Plus Green Tea when we arrived in September and this afternoon I saw the latest release . . . Coca-Cola plus Fiber. Yes, fiber in Diet Coke. And, no, I have not tried it. The bottle in the photo remains sealed!

Learn more about Bill’s quarter in Japan

Read all of Bill’s Postcards dispatches.

Associate Professor Sian Davies-Vollum writes from an around-the-world voyage through the Semester at Sea program.

Chennai, India—I had spent time in India before my five-day stay in the Chennai area, so I knew what to expect from a country that "assaults all of the senses." However, I was not prepared for the experience I had as part of a work project at a school for Dalit (untouchable) children.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar during Autumn Quarter.

Okinawa—We are now in the second week of classes, but it is still difficult to have a firm grasp on the three classes that I am teaching at the University of the Ryukyus. Students seem to sample classes quite a bit before schedules are locked after two weeks, so there have been a number of students adding and dropping classes. This might relate to one of the differences between universities in the United States and Japan, where students tend to take more classes that meet less often. The classes I am teaching here meet once a week for 90 minutes. Each class is worth two credits.

The end result is that students tend to take eight to 12 classes a quarter, which means there is less contact time and less focus on a given class. It will be interesting to see the implications of these differences over the course of the semester.

Learn more about Bill’s quarter in Japan

Read all of Bill’s Postcards dispatches.

Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar during Autumn Quarter.

Nishihara-cho—As the earlier entries note, this is festival month in Okinawa. From what I have been told, there are groups that travel across Japan to put on the festivals, beginning in Hokkaido, the northernmost major island in Japan, in early summer. My wife, Miyuki, grew up outside of Sapporo and remembers the omasturi as a June event. We are now at the other end of Japan and it is very much an October event. This weekend it was Nishihara-cho, the town where Ryukyu Daigaku is located and where we now live. It is a much simpler affair then the Naha festival and is held every other year. The smaller size was welcomed as this was our third omasturi in as many weeks.

Learn more about Bill’s quarter in Japan

Read all of Bill’s Postcards dispatches.

Associate Professor Sian Davies-Vollum writes from an around-the-world voyage through the Semester at Sea program.

Port Louis, Mauritius—Mauritius is delicious! So say the posters inviting European tourists to enjoy the beautiful beaches of this tropical island paradise. It is true, the beaches are stunning, the most beautiful beaches I had ever seen, but Mauritius offers much more than sun, sea and sand; it is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, a combination of European, Creole and Indian influences.

Located in the East Indian Ocean, Mauritius is officially part of Africa, but it has a very East-Asian feel. The island was colonized by the Dutch, French and British. They brought slaves from Africa and then laborers from India, who now make up more than half of the population.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Naha, Okinawa—Another weekend, another festival. This weekend it was the annual omasturi in the city of Naha, which is the capital of Okinawa. This one was a three-day affair, with parades on Saturday and Sunday and a tug-of-war on Sunday as well. The festival ended at the park on Monday.

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Associate Professor Bill Kunz taught at the University of the Ryukyus as a Fulbright Scholar.

Okinawa—Student organizations are an important part of the Japanese university experience, which was quite evident this weekend at the annual Ryukyu Daigaku festival, the omatsuri. Various organizations had tents or rooms with games, food or other things, while university musical groups performed at various locations around campus.

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Associate Professor Sian Davies-Vollum writes from an around-the-world voyage through the Semester at Sea program.

South Africa—South African experience was quite different from most tourists, who arrive and immediately jet off on safari. With relatives in Durban, I opted for the more relaxing option of home-cooked food, good conversation and excellent South African wine with family not seen in a long time.

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