AGU in America 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

Heat Wave Coming -- and Bon Voyage!

Just in time for your arrival in the DC area, we are expecting temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (almost 39 degrees Celsius) over the next few days. Inside it will be cool, but outside, it will be scorching! Be prepared.

Remember to refer to July 12's post on changing time zones: it has some advice about minimizing the effects of jet lag.

I want to wish you all a very nice flight. See you VERY SOON!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What Should I Wear?

Americans, especially college students, tend to dress quite casually. You won't need to bring fancy clothes to Maryland. Since it will be hot, you will probably want to wear shorts or very light slacks, or casual dresses or skirts in cool fabrics, such as cotton. The only time you may want to dress up a little bit is for our closing reception on August 14. Still, even for that, men need not have jackets and ties, and women could still dress fairly informally. You may want a light sweater or jacket because it can be quite cold indoors due to the air-conditioning.

If you like to swim, you should definitely bring your swimsuit, and a coverup to wear while walking from your hotel room to the pool. You may want a hat to shield yourself from the sun. You can bring sunblock or buy it here. There is a weight room in the hotel too, so if you plan to work out there, bring appropriate clothing.

It could rain any day, so don't forget a folding umbrella.

Bring comfortable shoes (athletic shoes are fine)--we'll be walking a lot on our various field trips! For around campus, sandals or flipflops are cool and comfortable. Remember, Americans wear the same shoes indoors and out!

There is a public laundromat just up the street from your hotel, so you will be able to wash your clothes while you are here.

If you have any questions about what to bring, just leave a comment here.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Maryland's Sister State

While surfing the web this morning, I discovered that Maryland has a sister state in Japan: Kanagawa Prefecture. Did you know this? I didn't! I am learning something new every day while preparing your program!

Our weather here is beautiful again. On my outside thermometer, it is 89 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius), and the humidity is low. However, according to the weather forecast, the heat and humidity will be back tomorrow. :-(

Here is a photo of Holzapfel Hall, where the Maryland English Institute offices and classrooms are. The front of the building faces McKeldin Mall, a broad expanse of green bisected by the ODK fountain, which you can see behind the turtle in the second picture in my previous post, Mentors and Turtles. (Click on "May" in the Archives (sidebar) to access the post.)

I am always very pleased when one of you leaves a comment on the blog. I have now heard from Yuiko, Maiko, Seri, Ryo, Mimaki, and Fuminori. I hope the rest of you will post a message before you leave for Maryland next week!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cultural Imports

American culture has had a lot of influence around the world. MacDonald's and Coca-Cola, American movies, and American popular music are just some of the many American cultural exports. We are used to exporting our culture to other countries.

Nevertheless, we have recently seen a large influx of cultural imports from Japan. Karaoke, sushi, anime and manga seem to be everywhere. My husband and I have started doing (or trying to do) the daily sudoku puzzles in the Washington Post. (We are not very good, although he is much better than I am!) Our almost-14-year-old daughter, Vicki, is a devotee of Sailor Moon, Sailor Stars, and Inuyasha. It's amazing to me to hear her singing along in Japanese to her Sailor Moon videos! She watches some of them in Japanese and has learned a few Japanese words from the captions. When I give her something, she now says, "Arigato!"

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Visit to the National Geographic Museum

Today I went to the headquarters of National Geographic with my husband and daughter. (AGU in America will be going there on August 7!) My husband wanted to see the model of a crusader castle which is on display there. It was awesome! We also enjoyed two photography exhibits. This picture of a Turkish dervish is part of a marvelous outdoor exhibit of the photographs of Reza, an Iranian-born National Geographic photographer.

I discovered that the first language other than English in which the National Geographic was published was Japanese. Did you know that?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Black-eyed Susans

Each state in the Union has an official state flower. Maryland's state flower is the Black-eyed Susan, or rudbeckia. It's like a yellow daisy with a dark center. Black-eyed Susans grow wild here, and many people also plant them in their yards. My Black-eyed Susans are blooming like crazy now!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Changing Time Zones and Jet Lag

When you travel from Asia to America, you find yourself on a different day and at a different hour. The clock on this blog shows you the time it is here. During the summer in Maryland, we are on Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4). How many hours' difference are there between EDT and Tokyo time?

Jet lag is the name for the disrupted sleep patterns and feelings of tiredness, irritation, and disorientation which can affect international travelers. Since you have only two weeks to spend in the U.S., you will want to avoid the effects of jet lag as much as possible. Here are some tips:

On the plane:

o Set your watch to EDT as soon as you board.

o Drink lots of water (not alcohol!)

o Sleep if you can. Consider using earplugs, a neck support pillow, or an eyemask, but avoid using sleeping pills on the plane.

o Walk around the plane as much as possible.

When you arrive:

o Immediately start eating and sleeping according to the new time zone.

o Exercising in the early morning and late afternoon may help re-synchronize your internal clock.

Source: DeAnne Musolf Crouch, “Beating Jet Lag: Travel Tips”

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Beautiful Weather

Washington summers are famous for being "hazy, hot, and humid," but so far this summer, the weather has been wonderful (except for all that rain we had). This weekend has been particularly lovely: temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is very comfortable, and low humidity. I love to sit outside on my deck and read. What's the weather like in Tokyo?

Even though the weather is pleasant here now, don't count on it being so nice when you are here in August. You should come prepared for very hot, humid weather. However, buildings, buses, and the metro are air-conditioned and can be quite cold, so you will need a sweater for inside wear. Don't forget a folding umbrella, because we often have thunderstorms in the afternoon or evening.

I took this picture of the red begonia "M" on the University of Maryland campus. It's in the center of a traffic circle, just down the street from Holzapfel Hall, where our classes will meet. It faces the campus Main Gate on Route One (Baltimore Avenue), where your hotel is located. Cheer the Turtle!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth of July!

Today is Independence Day, aka the Fourth of July. On the street where I live, neighborhood parents and kids got together for a little parade, complete with red, white, and blue decorations, "tattoos," streamers, leis and even doughnuts. The kids were so cute! I wish you could have seen them. Here are a few snapshots to give you an idea of what it all looked like. Click on any picture to enlarge it. (You can see my house in the background of the second picture.)

Like many other Americans, we will celebrate the Fourth of July with a cookout at some friends' home. Afterwards, we will watch the local fireworks display. You can watch some fireworks too, by clicking on the Fourth of July link in the sidebar!

Thanks to my neighbor, JoAnn Schimke, for sharing her photos.