01 October, 2012

Immpressions of my study abroad

What was my first ever study abroad? Now, I would like look back over the last 1 year.

I was thinking about many things whilst I was in Brighton. If I summarise these in one word, I would say 'difficulty'. And then probably these could be categorise to three or four types. A. about the course B. about people around me C. about Brighton and England, D. about Japan and Japanese things.

A. The course called MA Photography
I studied at the University of Brighton MA Photography. When it comes to MA, its content is apt to strictly academic unlike BA. At the beginning of this course, I didn't know anything about what academic is and what this course aims at. My main tutor noticed that I wasn't being understanding and as I wrote here, the tutor preached me about what contemporary photography is. 'If you want to do sports photography, you should take your money back and go to BA course' I clearly remember what she was saying to me at the extra tutorial.
As I attend to the seminars, I captured a sort of tendency of this course. In other words, how the course theoretical was.
I was able to understand the photographic theory to the extend which I am interested in. But elsewhere not really, in fact I wasn't able to understand properly so sometimes what I was doing was dreary enough. This is because of its contents and of course language. If the every single seminar was unfolded by my native language, it would be tremendously different. In reality, it wasn't, all in English obviously. We were forced to read massive readings every week, and these were too much academic which means it was difficult for even natives to digest them. Eventually, there were almost no spaces for me to partake in the discussion sessions every week. So, the massive reading tasks and the discussion were not necessarily pragmatic for me. It is not too much to say wasting of time. This situation could be applicable some other course mates because at the discussion sessions, students who say own opinions were almost the same students every time. Which might means the contents of semminar were too much and too difficult.
The point is that the photographic theory doesn't guarantee our photographic result. Although it is often helpful to think about concepts, it doesn't provide us with nice images.

Tutors were not too bad. They were helpful and basically kind to us. On the other hand, when it comes to looking and evaluating pictures, their viewpoints are biased. As this course is based on academic style, the way in which tutors see our images is also academic. And the academic style are composed of some genres, tutors look at and comment about our work with the preceding standpoints in the genres. In other words, their standpoints persist in the conventional spectrum. Presumably, this is because of empirical study which was born in the UK. Therefore unless there are certain precedents of photographic work, what you've done would not be recognised valuable things which means, out of the academic territory. In my case, as nobody has ever done contemporary sport photography before, my marks were awful.

One more thing that I have to mention is that unfairness of tuition fees. I am quite not sure the reason but, I have paid the tuition fees three times as much as students from the UK and the EU zone. This is completely unfair. Due to this gap, students from other areas have no choice to be reluctant to spend money all the time. Although exactly the same education, curriculum, facilities, whatever are provided, all the difference of the costs between those two are virtually three times. Ridiculous!!

B. Fucking people
I have been unlucky in terms of relationships between people around me. Of course I got to know good people too on the other hand though. When I was in the hall of residence, there was a childish British man who could not organise a party properly and broke a promise, and just bluffed me. And an untidy Africans who smoke everyday occupying a communal kitchen with his girlfriend who is also an idiot. First of all, basically the accommodation of the university was too far from my main campus which was too inaccessible.
After moving out, I was living in the city centre which is much better location than before. However, again the flatmate who is the landlord of the flat is absolute selfish. Even though the house is hers, she should have been tidy. Because she always leave dishes which is obstructive and frictions of food on the surface of the kitchen and makes it dirty. Nevertheless she doesn't clean it up soon. As a result, the dirt gets sticky and it tended to be hard to wipe out. And also she put dishes and other kitchen tools without rinse all the time and then the dirt on these still remains after wash. What's more is that she has got a fucking cat which always hanging around the house and makes everything hairy. And then its food inside of an automatic feeding machine extremely stinks. This was so destructive when I was writing my dissertation. Another problem was that she takes her friends in the flat even if it is obviously over capacity. A typical example was a friend of hers who has children with which I mentioned before. That was literally annoying and a nightmare. In conclusion, what I can say is that the common sense was completely different amongst the people.

C. People in Brighton and England
As a part of my objectives of study abroad, I was trying to find out something in common between Japan and the UK as both are an island country and Japan used to import some culture from the UK historically. But I noticed that the answer of this is almost nothing due to the difference of characteristics of the people in each nation. For me, people in Brighton or England seemed to be quite childish. Because whenever I came across local people, they are always either noisy or drunk (which are basically the same thing). They do what people in Japan don't in the same age. Competing about very micro things, boasting something, and so on. Their bad drinking habit makes every thing worse. And again, the natives seemed to me in a sense too wild. Japanese are basically silent, modest, humble, we don't forget a sense of respect. Hence you might be able to imagine the opposite way. Consequently, they have been annoying to be honest. Even women in Brighton and England seemed to me offensive. Firstly I was surprised at seeing their fatty shapes. British girls are basically fat, could see rarely slim ones. It helps to see the women much more strong and rough. Therefore, typical image of the UK for Japanese 'Ladies and Gentlemen' or 'traditional' was not there.
Even I was able to see the difference between Japan and Europe in terms of way of treating with objects. For European people, objects are objects so they sometimes handle these roughly even if these are objects which belong to someone else. For example, when I lent my pencil to my course mate, he used it in his way as if the pencil is his own. And then when he returned it to me, I found lots of scars on it. And then I refused collect it and asked him to buy an alternative. He brought a new one soon to me but actually he was not able to understand what I asked. Before finishing the course, I had a chat with him about this accident. According to he, he has been thinking about this unconvincing. And he explained about this story numbers of times, which implies how much he minded. But, the fact is that the pencil I lent to him has been returned with lots of scars, which he made. What he was saying was that I should have told him not to damage, otherwise he uses every thing as if it belongs to him. I suppose this is in a way an extreme example but it can be said that the difference of the sense is still remaining.

D. Longing for Japan
Just one year is not very long. Yet, a year without Japan is so long. As everybody knows, distance from the UK to Japan is absolutely far which is at least 12 hours by direct flight. People hardly come to visit this minor island. But this is where I am from, it's the truth.
What I found first of all was that there are lots of Japanese brands in the UK mainly electronics and cars. Meanwhile, people don't necessarily know where these from are. One day, I went haircut, and a hairdresser regarded Japan as a part of China. Despite Japanese are so curious about Europe, even some of them adore and worship it, Europeans are not familiar with Japan. If you are regarded as a Asian, you would be recognised as a Chinese since its population is the biggest at the moment and actually they are living everywhere in the world.
During my study abroad, I quite often thought about what Japan is and also what Japanese are from these background. In this case, it cannot help going back to the history in the past especially the age of WWII, which defined today's standard.
Generally speaking, Japanese education teaches that the country of Japan during the war was completely idiot and what everything the nation has done was incorrect. This is a sort of commonsense amongst Japanese. Therefore and consequently, it is still controversial to wave Japanese flags and mention if you like or love the nation (even patriotic or not). However, some people's standpoint don't agree with the typical idea that the nation teaches. As one of these, I found a video on Youtube about history of the world which focuses on WWII. And the video indicates the background how Japan has been involved in the war and also the purpose of it. According to this video, the colonialism by European countries has spread to Africa firstly and gradually to the east as well. For example, south east Asian countries were colonised by such as UK, Holland, France, US, and Hong Kong by the UK of course, and also Soviet was coming down from the north to the south. Not to mention, its objective is to dominate the native people, materials, everything in the country. In those days, Japan was surrounded by these power. Obviously, Japan is an island country and once it is surrounded by enemies, there are no ways to escape. Hence the aim of the war for Japan was to protect the nation, just for this. The contents of the video taught me tremendously different fact to what I used to study at schools. It was literally surprising. And I thought that I found the original temperament of Europeans and that I should be proud of Japan as a Japanese.
During I was away from Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea were provoking against Japan and the government of Japan didn't seem to me good, which is a shame. Also I was able to find large numbers of Korean products in the Europe particularly in Russia, meanwhile, Japanese companies have been suffering from depression due to strong yen. Having seen these facts, I have no choice but to support Japan and Japanese things. During the Olympics, I was with a Japanese flag which I bought for the first time in my life. Namely I re-discovered Japan in a way. In this way, over the last one year was totally meaningful for me even though it cost me a lot.


  1. Love your photos! especially the 3rd one.
    I believe that the academic way of thinking should not always be applied for art, after I have learnt about Pre-Raphaelites :) If we keep following instructions, nothing new will be born.
    As you might do, I'm also often made to be aware of myself as a Japanese. It is true that learning abroad gives you another perspective, and I think that's well worth spending money. BUT I know, the tuition fee of the international is such a fortune!

  2. Thanks. These are photos of Brighton. I know what you mean, it's true. So although my mark was completely bad, I believe myself that I was successful.

    Do you mean 'unfortunate' not fortune?

  3. Wish your success from now on too!
    I said fortune in meaning of huge amount of money. It moght be not proper use of the word, sorry!

  4. Got it. Thanks for your comment and reading this to the end despite this is very lengthy.