kiel hamm, M.D.
As the semester quickly came to a close toward the end of January, things became kind of hectic. Sayonara-parties, farewell-parties, and just plain partying-for-the-last-time-together-parties were in full force. Of course, this was all around our school schedule as well, what with studying, papers, quizzes, and final exams. Top that off with packing, shipping boxes homes, and moving-out of the dorms, and you have quite the busy month. It was especially so for those of us going home after the end of the semester in February. This was only a handful of us though, most of the students would be returning for the Spring semester. Unfortunately, I would not.
Did I mention I got rather sick as well? Perhaps it was the cold weather in Tokyo
snow in tokyo. as seen from the 6th floor of building 11 at sophia.
..perhaps it was the partying and staying up late studying. Hard to say. Anyway, I decided to sport the surgical mask while I was sick. Everyone does it in Japan, and I always get asked by friends back home why they see the Japanese running around in their business suits and surgical masks. It's simple really: when you lose all personal space, like you tend to do in Japan because it's so crowded, there needs to be some form of disease control when everyone is sick and coughing. The mask is not only stylish and trendy, but it helps to cover your cough and sneeze when you can't move your hand to cover it (because your hand is temporarily immobile when you're stuffed into the trains). BTW, there is no over-the-counter cold medicine in Japan like there is in America. Only cough drops and vitamin drinks.
If you catch the common cold, you go to the hospital and see the doctor to get medicine. It's just what everyone does. Public. Health. Care. In it's purest form.
It did snow a few times in Tokyo. It was really peaceful when it did. Seemed like the city kind of slowed down and became much quieter for a bit. Another thing that seems strange to foreigners is to see people walking around with umbrellas while it's snowing. I'm not sure why it is so strange, I mean, I think it makes sense...afterall snow is still water. Just one of those Japanese oddities I guess though.
Anyway, this blog contains some photos from all of the above mentioned, but it's mostly photos of me and the people that I met while here on the program - some of the best, funniest, most enjoyable people I've met in my life.