After the first week of coming to Japan, everything became a whir of trying to orientate myself here. There was a lot of paperwork we had to do for both the university and for Japan, not to mention I had to buy more groceries and the store near the bottom of the hill!

Still, between all of the work, there was a lot of time to go exploring with everyone. One of the places that we went to was “金閣寺,” or ‘Kinkaku-ji.’ It is one of the many World Heritage sites located in Kyoto and is only about 20 minutes away from where my dorm is by bus!

Kinkaku-ji from across the pond.

Because of the gold on the pavilion and its status as a World Heritage site, it is a very popular place for tourists to visit. It was nearly impossible for us to get close enough to take a picture among the many other tourists who were also there. But since I went with the other Utano dorm residents, everyone still had a lot of fun walking around.

Up close!

The view from higher up.

Though much later, we eventually also ended up going to Nijo Castle! It was amazing to be able to explore a palace with so much history. And though we weren’t able to take pictures inside the actual castle, we were able to take plenty of the garden and from the walls surrounding it.

Sadly, the Castle closes rather early, and because of how long it took us to walk there from the train station we didn’t have much time to fully appreciate its beauty. But it sounds as though all the other international students would like to go again in the spring when all the cherry blossom trees are in bloom!

View of the inner garden.

While sightseeing as a huge part of my first month here in Kyoto, I think that the food was also one of my favorite parts. In the dorm kitchen, everyone is always cooking something together. So there are a lot of different foods to try from around the world! Not to mention when everyone goes to eat out, we always find some of the best places to grab something to eat. My favorite, by far, is the ramen shop over by Kawaramachi!

Ichiran Ramen!

With classes just beginning, I’m really excited to see how everything will go! Hopefully I can eat more delicious food and visit even more places!