Month: March 2019

~Honduran & Japanese students share experiences of the United States ~ by Chisato Hashimoto and Shirley Benítez

Hi and welcome! We are international students from Honduras and Japan!

Chisato Hashimoto (Left) I’m a sophomore and Global studies major. I came to Castleton last year in late August. This is my last semeste here.

Shirley Benítez (Right) I’m a junior student in the career of Medicine in my country. I came to Castleton University this year for the Spring semester by being a part of the UGRAD program.  



As international students, we talked about the life of studying abroad in the U.S. we usually compare it with our home country. Surprisingly, we can really empathize with each other, especially about the local students actions that are unbelievable in our country, differences in student life, professors, etc. We want to share with you about our experiences at Castleton and some pictures that will illustrate what we are talking about.



Shirley Benítez

When I arrived Castleton I had a very warm welcoming from two students that were waiting for me, I was surprised because I didn’t expect that. That week we met people that work in different departments on Campus and everybody was very kind, I was impressed.

Honduran people are also very warm and welcoming, when we greet somebody, for saying “hello” or “goodbye” women greet men and other women with a kiss on the cheek, but men do not usually greet other men with a kiss on a cheek, they do hand shakes.

I am so glad for my experience at Castleton, especially because of the professors and all the resources they have for the students. It surprised me that every student has an advisor specific to their major, and how helpful they have been with their guidance. I also find the Academic Support Center resources helpful, as I take advantage of it. That is a resource we do not have at my university, probably because we have many students, about 90,000 compared to Castleton’s 2,000. So far, Castleton has felt more like a close community than my university back home.

It was interesting to see that people take off their shoes when entering a home, because back at home we do not do that. I thought it was typically a tradition in China and nowhere else.



  Chisato Hashimoto

  1.  Warm welcome

I won’t never forget the day in August 19th. That was a long journey to get here. On my trip to Castleton from Osaka, I transited 3 times and it took more 24 hours to arrive at Albany airport. Usually, it doesn’t take so long to get here but I had a trouble and had to wait 5 hours in Dallas airport for the next flight. So I arrived at Albany around 1:00 AM. However, even though it was late at night, the Castleton staff came to pick me up by car. I was really really happy because they greeted me with a big smile. At that moment, I forgot that I was exhausted from my trip to Castleton and at the same time I’m glad chose Castleton University!

  1. U.S. Restroom

I still don’t feel at ease when I use the bathroom in the U.S because there is a wide gap at the bottom of the door and my legs can seen from outside also the door is small so whenever I enter the bathroom with carrying my backpack, I hit my arm on the door.

  1. Burp

Basically, a burp is a sound you make after eating and it goes against eating manners in Japan and seen as disrespectful. When I came to Vermont I saw many people burping after eating a meal and sometimes not during meal at all. I feel so strange when I hear someone’s burp. However, it was interesting for me to know that in China, Burping is a polite action with the meaning of gratitude that it was very delicious.






 National Autonomous University of Honduras                                                                                                                                                    









Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts




















DEAR READER                      

 Thank you for taking the time to read our blog! We hope you enjoyed reading it! We have really enjoyed our wonderful experiences here at Castleton.

WE LOVE CASTLETON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





China Image by Lina Liu




China Image  



What is your first impression, when speaking of China? What image or word would you immediately have in your mind? The Great wall, the ancient palace, the historical cities, the aesthetic calligraphy, the delicate porcelain, the vibrantly colored silk scarf, the faint scent given by a cup of green tea, the simple-looking dumplings? Some interesting things about China are the followings below.

Southerners and Northerners:

There are two largest rivers in China, Yangtze River and Yellow River , which are cradle of the Chinese civilization, also form the boundary line between the southerners and northerners in China. There are some key differences in the flavor of cuisines and oral languages. One striking feature is that the food in the south tends to be sweet, and the southerners speak the soft tone language of Wu nong, which is also reflected on the different singing styles among various Chinese operas. Since there’s standard Chinese required to learn in school, there’s no barriers in communication among people from different places.


Sparsely populated areas and densely populated areas:

China is a multi-ethnic country, 56 nationalities in total now, the history of which can date back to Qing dynasty (the first united empire in China ( 221B.C.). The Han nationality is the largest one in China. Ethnic groups live together and gradually integrate. However, the population is unbalanced distributed between the east and the west because many people live in the flat and open plains and hilly areas in the east, where are also the first areas to be influenced by the economy reform policy.


Religious and Non-religious:

The majority of the population is non-religious, but Confucianism forms the basis of the traditional culture of China, which emphasizes human morality and correct personal behavior. The founder, Confucius (551-479B.C.), gives high value to learning, peace, justice,etc. which are handed down from generation to generation, and fill the descendants with priceless treasure of wisdom. Diligence and courage, hard work and plain living, respecting the old and cherishing the young, striving for self-improvement are all our fine traditions.


Agricultural and non-agricultural Economy:

China has a long history as an agricultural foundation economy. Nowadays the economical growth relies more increasingly on the development of science and technology. Ma Yun opened the first unattended hotel in Hang zhou one or two month ago. All the attendants there are computerized robots. Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge, a huge cross-harbor bridge and tunnel project, was put to use at the end of 2018. To say that it is closely related to people’s daily, we have to mention the internet. Mobile phones are often used to pay for everything in China as long as you’re connected to the internet. We usually use Alipay and Wechat payment systems to complete the payment instead of cash, which brings people much convenience since there’s no need to take cash, especially change with you.



Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge:

The total length is 35 kilometers, with 6.7 kilometers of tunnels underseas, 22.9 kilometers of bridge, beginning in 2009, finished in 2018, worth of 126.9 billion yuan of the total investment, equal to 18.4 billion dollars.


Exam-oriented or Quality Education:

Imperial examination system has existed in China for 1300 years, beginning in Sui Dynasty(605 A.D.), ending in Qing Dynasty (1905A.D.). It emphasizes on the grasp of textbook knowledge about classic Chinese, law, math, etc. In the past, people believe that an intellect must be proficient in all kinds of music, chess, calligraphy and painting. Modern education emphasizes individual ideological and moral quality, ability cultivation, personality development, physical and mental health education.



Taiji quan and Kong fu:
You must have seen a lot of Chinese martial arts films and think the Chinese Kong fu in them is wonderful. But do you know a slow moving Kong fu called Taiji quan? Taiji quan has developed based on the traditional Chinese philosophy of Confucianism and Taoism. It is said that it was created by Zhang Sanfeng in end of Yuan Dynasty(1271- 1368A.D.)and the beginning of Ming Dynasty(1368-1644A.D.). It stresses introspection and implicitness, combines rigidness and softness, overcomes rigidness with softness, reconcile Yin and Yang. It is popular among people because of its functions of cultivating temperament, building up physical fitness and practicing fighting skills. It is the most characteristic representative of Chinese Kong fu.






Japanese Milestones and Special Events by Shione Nishimura and Rurika Fujita

We are studying abroad here for a year as exchange students from Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Japan. This is the last semester for us, so we would like to spread Japanese culture as much as possible and we are glad that many people here know about Japan. Today, we would like to introduce about some Japanese traditional events.

In this part, Shione Nishimura will talk about Japanese milestones in life. In Japan, there are some specific events through life. One of the examples is Shichi-Go-San. This is one of Japanese traditional ceremonies to celebrate children’s growth and pray for their future health. Shichi-Go-San literally means 7,5,3 in Japanese. This is a festival for three- and five-year-old boys, and three- and seven-year-old girls. Usually, children dress up in a kimono which is very traditional clothing in Japan. They take pictures in commemoration and go to a shrine with their parents for a ritual. They are given Chitose candy during the festival. Chitose means a long life, so they eat it to pray for live longer.


A 3-year-old girl, a 5-year-old boy, and a 7-year-old girl in the shrine



Chitose candy

When Japanese children become 20 years old, there is Coming of Age Day in January. In Japan, the age of becoming an adult is 20. Once you become 20 years old, you can drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. The second Monday in January is a national holiday known as Coming of Age Day, and people who are 20 years old attend the ceremony as a ritual. Girls wear a kind of kimono which is traditional clothing called Furisode. The difference from other kimonos are the long sleeves, and it gives the most spectacular impression out of all kimono types. On the day of the ceremony, girls go to a beauty salon to help them put on their kimono because the way of wearing kimono is very difficult. They also do their hair up gorgeously in the beauty salon. Most boys wear suits, but some boys also were men’s kimono. Normally, they attend the ceremony at a public hall in their home town. At the ceremony, one of the 20-year-olds in the ceremony presents his/her goals as a representative of the new adults, and mayor of the city gives a speech to them. Sort of like an alumni gathering, they have the chance to meet some friends they haven’t seen for a long time. After the ceremony, it is common for them to go drinking alcohol with their friends like party. Then, they change their clothing from kimono to western dress. Actually, it was time for us to attend the ceremony this winter because we all are 20 years old. However, we couldn’t attend it because of studying abroad here now. I felt a trifle sad, but I was glad to see pictures of my friends looking grown up and beautiful.


Furisode (kind of Japanese kimono)


Hair styles


After the ceremony


Next, Rurika Fujita will introduce some traditional annual events in Japan. We have some events depending on the month. For example, in February, we have an event which is called ‘Setubun’ and this event is held on February 3rd every year. On this day, we buy a lot of soybeans, because we throw these soybeans to ‘oni’. ‘Oni’ is like a monster human body, which has a red or blue face. The reason why we throw soybeans is that there is a theory that on February 3 ‘Oni’ come to us and they bring evil spirits. That’s why people buy many soybeans and they throw to ‘Oni’. Generally, someone in the family puts on the mask of ‘Oni’ and they pretend to be an ‘Oni’. After we throw soybeans, we eat soybeans of a number of our ages. It is said that if you eat soybeans of a number of your age, you can be healthy without getting sick. In addition to this February event, we have Valentine’s day on February 14. Certainly, this event is famous in the United State, but in Japan, it is a little different compared to in the United States, because generally, a girl gives chocolate to a boy. It is the opposite of America.


Setubun February 3, Soybeans and Oni


Secondly, I will introduce the event of July. On July 7, we have an event which is called ‘Tanabata’. On this day we write our wish on paper and we put the paper on bamboo grass. Besides the paper which we write wish, we decorate bamboo grass with colorful origami.


Tanabata July 7

Finally, I will introduce the New Year’s Eve and new year events. On December 31, most people spend time with family and they celebrate the new year together. Before the new year comes, we eat Toshi-Koshi soba. There are three reasons why we eat soba. The first reason is that if you eat soba, you can live longer because soba is thin and long. The second reason is we can cut the bad fate of last year because soba is easier to cut than other noodles. The final reason is that it is said that if you eat soba, you can collect money because a craftsman who handles gold and silver collects powder of gold and silver by using soba flour. From these three reasons, Japanese people eat soba before New Year’s Day arrives. After the New Year arrives, on January 1st, we go to a shrine to wish for our wish. Moreover, on the same day, we eat ‘Oseti’. It is a very traditional food and its appearance is really cool.

Besides these traditional events, we have a lot of other special events! So, visit Japan and please experience these Japanese events!

Toshi-Koshi soba December 31


Oseti January 1