Not the end

This semester went by so quickly! Especially with the work I have been doing for my digital communications class, where we made our own blogs and group projects, where we filmed and edited a video and recorded a podcast. Before starting this class I have never thought I would be able to do any of this. However if you start with wanting to improve yourself and learn new skills, I found that nothing is impossible. We are in age where everything is becoming digital and we have to adapt to it. Taking this course definitely helped me become a digital person.

Blog

My blog I made for digital communication

I created this blog with the intent to show the differences I have encountered here at Furman. I have never written a blog before and didn’t know if I could even make a relevant one. However after doing multiple readings on how to become a better writer and learning tricks like hyperlinking and adding images to make it more aesthetically pleasing, it gave me the confidence to write and publish something on the internet!

Videos and Podcasts

Editing videos was something I have never thought of doing. I loved watching youtube and seeing the cool videos they make, but I never thought I could be able to edit one myself. Same with podcasts. I would listen to many podcasts but never thought of making one myself. Learning the editing software and making little changes like the audio and transitions was something that made me realize that these little things is what makes a GOOD video and a not so good video. Here is the video and podcast our group worked very hard on.

I really enjoyed learning these new skills and am confident to say that I can use all of these skills. I am now able to edit photos on photoshop, edit videos on Adobe premier elements, and edit podcast on audacity. After learning these skills and producing content of my own, I realized that nothing can be finished. There are so many things you can improve on that nothing is really fully perfect. I will continue to post on this blog as well as polish up my personal website, so I can use it in the future!

 

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DH hacks

The food at the dining hall can become mundane. People have different tricks and tips they have to spice up their meals! We asked a couple students and a DH worker to tell us some of their dining hall hacks!

The Power of Cell Phones

As a college student I do not know anyone in my generation that does not have a cell phone. Everyone that I know has a cell phone and I am 100% sure that all those people use it on a daily basis. Whether that is to call or text message some one, play games, or update their social media, the cell phone is a device that we all need in todays world.

Almost everyone in our generation uses the cell phone. Photo Credit: Clipartfest

In the article “The Cell Phone As An Agent Of Social Change” by Abu Sadat Nurullah it talks about the impact cell phones have had on our society and how it has become a sub culture of its own. He states that adolescents are the main users of cell phones. Especially our generation, where the smart phone (iPhone and Androids) was introduced and we had access of doing much more than a regular cell phone that the older generation had, it has made it where we can almost be inseparable of  our cell phones. It has made our lives much more easier and has become more entertainable to use cell phones. That is one of the main reasons why I believe the cell phone has become a big aspect of our lives.

The increase in cell phones had a major impact in cell phone usage. Photo Credit: US News & World Report

He also states how the cell phones has changed the social norms of how we communicate. With everyone having a cell phone, this means that anyone can be reached 24/7. They are available at all times. He called this the “technosocial situation”. Although having the ability to contact anyone anywhere at any time can be useful, it has some negative aspects such as affecting the way we communicate face to face. Texting can also affect the standards of writing and language. Texting has shaped the way young peoples use of language has changed over time.

Texting has made it possible for anyone to contact anyone at any time. Photo Credit: Brigham Young University

Cell phones cannot be separated from our lives and with the increase of social media, it  will continue to be apart of our lives. Although it plays a helpful role in our society we cannot say that it does not have any negative aspects to our society.

Thinking about the user

Why it is important to think about the user experience. Photo Credit: LinkedIn

We live in a world with so many useful products. We have things that we didn’t think we would have 20 years ago that will make our lives much easier. Could you have imagined we would be able to talk to someone across the world face to face on a cell phone 20 years ago? I don’t think so. With all of the products available at our finger tips, it wouldn’t make sense if it wasn’t helpful for the users. This is what we call user experience. According to Jesse James Garrett in “The Elements of User Experience” he states that the user experience is the experience the products create for the people who use it in the real world.

Businesses and companies are constantly thinking about how they can make their products useful and friendly for the users. This is not only for products. User experience can be taken into account for websites as well. If your website is not easy to look at or is clustered with a lot of information, nobody is going to stay on your site. You have to think about the users that come to you web site and think about how their experience would be like if you want to build a successful website.

Some ways to improve user experience on a web site. Photo Credit: kleurvision

An easy way to see if your website is doing well in terms of user experience is to look at the conversion rate. For example if your websites ells products and you sold to one customer when there were 20 people visiting your website, your conversion rate would be 5%. If the percentage is higher you can see that your web site is doing well in terms of user experience.

How to get the conversion rate. Photo Credit: Xtreme UX

If you want to build anything successful that offers something to people you have to keep in mind the experience of the user. If you do, there is no doubt that your product (or website) will succeed!

Getting strategic on social media

Nowadays mostly anyone who has access to the internet has some sort of social media account. Especially young people, like me! Whether that is Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, people around the age as me have these accounts. And when we use these accounts we see business’s or brands using these platforms as well to market their products. In the article “The Social Strategy: A Five-Step Process For Social Media Marketing Success”   by Kimberlee Morrison she gives us 5 tips on how to successfully brand ourselves on these social media platforms. So, what kinds of tips are these?

Many of the social media platforms that are used today. Photo Credit: Marketingland

  1. Social Identity: She first states that having the right social identity is “the root from which your social strategy will develop.” You have to know who you are. You have to know the right things to say and what not to say. If you don’t have a legit social identity, nobody will even care to look at your stuff!

    Knowing who you are on social media is important. Photo Credit: 123rf

  2. Community activation: On social media most of the time, people are coming to you! You have to know who your audience is and understand that the content you are producing is matching the audiences expectation.

    Know your audience and who is expecting things from you! Photo Credit: Qwaya Blog

  3. Content Strategy: Content strategy is an important step for building your brand. However in order to create a good content strategy you need to know who YOU are and who your AUDIENCE are. This shows how important steps 1 and 2 are. Morrison states that people tend to build on their social media without really thinking about the first 2 steps which can be problematic.

    Understanding content strategy can help you develop your social media. Photo Credit: Zest Media

  4. Social Campaigns: This is also similar with step 3, if you don’t have the former steps down there is no strong effect on doing any social campaigns in the long run.

    Many brands use social campaigns, but you need to understand how to use it properly. Photo Credit: Marketing Land

  5. Social Intelligence: This simply means being smart in how you use your platforms. She states that it is more tactical than strategic. Know how you can use the platforms to your advantage!

    You have to be intelligent on your social media! Photo Credit: Inc.com

Although all of these steps seem to be common sense for anyone trying to brand themselves on social media, it is important to understand these steps and reassuring yourself that you can successfully use these social media platforms to your advantage!

Student Life, Whats the difference?

When comparing two universities from different countries there are so much we can compare. From the past couple blog posts you can see that I have talked about the differences in campus life and the food. However I believe the most interesting and biggest difference is the student life.

Studying! Which ones harder?

The biggest difference between Japanese universities and American universities is the amount of work and studying they do. In Japan most of the students work very hard during their high school days so they can get into a good university. The entrance exams for Japanese universities is very hard and most of the students study hard before college so they can actually pass this test. After they have passed the test and entered a university, they will most likely not do as much studying as they did in high school. Compared to American universities and the amount of reading and studying they do, Japanese universities is NOTHING! (Depends on some people and schools, of course, but most!) Most Japanese students barely study when they enter university and focus more on having fun and doing what they like!

Students in Japan taking the entrance exam. Photo Credit: Mainichi

Student activity

One reason why Japanese students barely focus on work is because their is a thing called Circles you can join once you enter a University. Circles are much more relaxed than clubs and student organizations and cover a wider variety of subjects. There is almost a circle for anything! If you like playing games their is a game circle, if you like fashion there is a fashion circle, and if you like playing sports there are different sports circles. Through these circles you can meet people with the same interest and you can submerge your whole university life in hanging out with the people of your circle. This is what takes up most Japanese university students time. This is similar to the greek life at Furman. You are able to find friends that you can spend your 4 years with and have a connection like a brotherhood. Since In Japan they do not have sororities or fraternities, the Japanese students make a connection with friends through circles!

Members from a Circle in Waseda University. Photo Credit: Sports.Geocities

In American universities, although student organizations are popular and many students are involved, their main focus is academics. The amount of work students do in universities is incomparable to Japanese students. Especially Furman University. Now I know why it was ranked the 2nd most rigorous school in the United States.

Here is a video of students and teachers from Furman University who have experienced both Japanese and American Universities tell what kind of differences they have encountered and what surprised them! Check it out!

What to eat?

“What do you wanna eat?” Thats a question we college students all ask to our friends on a daily basis. When you are in college you have the freedom to eat whatever you want without your parents telling you anything. You can eat as much junk food as you wish! In an American university most schools have a place like a dining hall where there is a variety of food and you can eat as much as you want, similar to a cafeteria, and also a place where there are some fast food chains on campus. At Furman University, we have a Dining Hall and the PDen, similar to a food court where you can find fast food chains such as Chik-fil-A and Moe’s, and a restaurant called Tupelo Honey, which is also located in downtown Greenville. There are so many options to eat on campus.

This is not the same in Japanese universities. Since we don’t live on campus there aren’t as many places where we can get food on campus. Most Japanese universities have a small cafeteria and a convenience store on campus. However because there aren’t as many options to eat on campus there are more than a lot of options to eat off campus. When you step outside of campus there are cheap restaurants and fast food chains surrounding the campus in a walking distance. Especially outside of Waseda University, you can find any type of food you are looking for for a student friendly price.

You can find convenience stores like this in academic buildings in Japanese Universities. Photo Credit: You can pass

Which ones better?

Which one is better though? From a health perspective eating on campus at the dining hall is much more better than spending money and eating off campus. At Furman University, Bon Appetit Management Company provides us with the delicious food and uses some ingredients from the local Furman Farm.  They try to make all of the foods healthy and nutritious for college students who tend to eat unhealthy.

Locally grown vegetables on the Furman Farm. Photo Credit: Furman University

Eating off campus at Furman is better for you, compared to eating off campus at Waseda as well. Many of the restaurants located around Waseda are cheap quick foods that tend to not be concerned with organic or healthy foods. On the other hand, near Furman University you can find many places that offer healthy nutritious restaurants that also use local foods. Check here for some cool spots to eat! This is probably due to the culture difference where the United States are more sensitive to organic and healthy foods.

 

Campus life: Yay or Nay?

Live on campus?

“Whats it like living on campus?” Thats the first thing that my Japanese friend asked me when I got to Furman. The biggest difference I encountered was being able to live on campus. Back home in Japan, I would take the train for about an hour just to get to campus. There is nothing but academic buildings and a cafeteria on Waseda’s campus. Nobody lives on campus. Nobody. So, being able to live on campus and be 5 minutes away from my classroom is a change that I love. Being able to live on campus with everyone else and live independently has given me a great sense of responsibility. Here are my top 5 things about living on campus

  1. You can WALK to class.
  2. You don’t need public transportation to get to campus.
  3. You can use the facilities that the university offers any time.
  4. You can hang out with your friends all day.
  5. Its just fun!!
Living independently is one of the best parts of living on campus

Living independently is one of the best parts of living on campus. Photo Credit: How To Adult

As you can see living on campus can be a great aspect for your 4 years of university life! But, after living on campus for a couple of months there is something I found out. Because it is so useful you rarely go out off campus. You stay on campus and do not explore off campus, because you can find everything on campus! This leads to another problem. Public transportation.

The beautiful campus of Furman University. Being able to live on campus here and study is a blessing! As you can see cars are an essential part of studying at Furman.

Got a car?

Although living on campus can be enjoyable you can findanything on campus, there are times when you want to go off campus and have fun outside. But how do Furman students go off campus? They have to have a car. Furman is a big campus and you need a car to get to places off campus since there is nothing in walking distance. For international students or exchange students it is hard getting off campus because most of us do not have cars. Another problem is that there is barely any public transportation here at Furman. There are buses in Greenville, but do not stop inside the campus. In Japan you are able to go almost anywhere without having a car because of the amazing public transportation system we have.

Cars are essential at Furman

Cars are essential at Furman. Photo Credit: Redshift Autodesk

This is one of the biggest problems, I experienced when I came to Furman. Without having a good public transportation system it is hard for me to even buy groceries, or go out on a Friday night. Just having a bus that goes to certain places in Greenville on an hourly schedule will help students without cars. There are shuttles that take you downtown, but it is very inconvenient and most students do not know what time the shuttle is running.

Overall, living on campus is great! You have your friends, class, and anything you need where you live! However if you want to go off campus it’ll be a little hassle if you dont have a car. So, for anyone who will be living on campus: Go buy a CAR.

Photo Collage Credits: Apartment (Top Left) – Shuntaro Yoshida/ Cars (Top Right) – Shuntaro Yoshida/ Rose garden (Bottom Left) – TeenLife/ Bell Tower (Bottom Right) – Omicron Delta Kappa

 

The power of images

When we look at pictures do we all see the story or meaning it wants us to see? I don’t think so. The way images are seen are different from one person to another. Why? Well, its because none of us have the same exact experience or life as anyone else.

Different ads in Times Square

Different ads in Times Square

According to Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright in the book, “Practices of looking”, it states that the way we interpret or view an image is different according to our experiences or the setting in which we see that image. This is similar to what we view as beautiful and what we do not. These aesthetics are different according to culture and can also change our taste. So, what it is saying is that nobody can understand the initial meaning the producer connected to the image because everyone who sees it has lived a different life than others.

Stop smoking gum ad part 1

Stop smoking gum ad part 1

Stop smoking gum part 2

Stop smoking gum part 2

 

 

 

 

 

For example these 2 different ads from the same company, Nicomild chewing gum, shows a picture of gum trying to stick together the two things we need when we smoke a cigarette, our fingers and a lighter. Although I do not smoke, I can see that these images are referring to smoking. However when someone who has not seen anyone smoking or does not know what these two pictures are related to, they cannot make the same interpretation that I made. These differences occur because of our different life experiences. Even though I interpreted the picture as the gum holding together the finger and the lighter so people can quit smoking use their gum, the creator of the image may have put a different meaning in it. We never know.

There is never a right or wrong answer when we see an image. The way one individual sees an image will be different from someone else. Like the saying, a picture paints a thousand words, the power a picture has to tell a story is incredible.