Marissa’s Japan Adventure blog post #3

COIL Day!!! Today was the entire reason for our trip to Japan- the COIL International Symposium hosted at Kansai University in Osaka. Japanese people really have a way of making you feel important. When we arrived in Osaka, they had sent someone from the travel agency to pick us up from the train station- sign and all! And then when we got to the University on the morning of the symposium, they had a conference room for us with gift bags, name tags and coffee!

A warm welcome from Kansai University!

A warm welcome from Kansai University!


COIL Symposium

Reserved seating for the Americans!

Reserved seating for the Americans!


The day started off with a couple of talks about Japan and the COIL program in the morning, followed by a Japanese style lunch. In the afternoon portion, it was our turn to present all of our hard work and show the audience of university administrators, professors, and business men and women what COIL is all about. Our professor and the Kansai professor that we worked with spoke about the COIL program we used in our class, the assignments we had and how they were able to incorporate it in to their coursework. During this part, myself, Ally, and some of the Kansai students got up to explain the benefits and personal challenges we had experienced over the semester. Originally, our student testimonials we not supposed to be very long, but it turns out that the audience had the most questions for us out of anyone speaking all day! They really wanted to hear from the students and what we honestly thought of the program. They asked us about each of the assignments, how we stayed motivated to do it, whether or not we think what we learned would help us in the future business world. It was great to feel like people wanted our perspective the most, because if they decided to incorporate the COIL program into their classes and universities, then they wanted to know how students would react and feel about it.

COIL Presentation

Oswego/Kansai teams after our presentation


The cross-cultural competence class we worked with at Kansai was made up of students from Japan, and teaching assistants from the U.K. and Australia, so this really was a completely intercultural experience. After we finished the presentation the Kansai students gave us a full tour around the campus and then took us on the train to Shinsiabashi, a huge shopping area that is basically the Times Square of Osaka. We had pan fried Japanese noodles called “yakisoba,” which I have discovered is one of my favorite things to eat here. I also love the shrimp tempura and dumplings! Some of the girls got “Takoyacki” which is fried octopus! Tacko means octopus and yacki means fried. So there you go. I was truly too full from dinner but I will definitely try one soon! They are also really big into fish here, way more than us, which I like, but I have yet to try “shashimi” or raw fish. Surprisingly, they don’t really eat any sushi here, as the foreign exchange students we have met say it’s more of a special occasion food! And here I am thinking they eat sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner over here in Japan, boy was I misled. But they do like to have fish with breakfast… quite a bit of it.


Shrimp Tempura

I really like to try different foods, and love what they offer for lunch and dinner, but as for breakfast? Well, I really need my American food, as do the rest of the people in our group it seems. So I’ve been acting in true college student form and making do with what I have. Every morning before we get on the train to go somewhere, we stop to get food for breakfast, and I buy pancakes in a plastic package, and a small syrup container. I get a tiny ice cream spoon and pour the syrup in the pancake package. And you’re good to go! Now I realize how desperate this sounds (and looks), but a girl needs her pancakes in the morning.

Stay tuned…

-Marissa Sarbak  

Marissa’s Japan adventure Blog post #2

Day 2: Osaka

Everyone. is. so. nice. SERIOUSLY EVERYONE. Take our waitress for example- I asked her how to say “water” in Japanese and because she wasn’t too sure of her English, she found someone to help her and she drew a picture to explain it to me! She really went out of her way to try and help me, something I’ve noticed many people here do, especially in Osaka. We are also having a difficult time with the trains here because everything is basically written in Japanese characters… and no one in our group can read any of it. Problematic, yes I know. Every single person I have asked directions from on the trains can’t speak a word of English, yet they all go completely out of their way to try and help you! We have had people walk us right over to the platform we needed because they couldn’t figure out how to say it in English. Slightly different from the train stations in New York, huh?!

photo 2

Now today was the day we got to actually meet the Japanese students, so needless to say I was pretty excited! In all honestly, I was kind of nervous as well, because I didn’t know what they thought of our students, or Americans in general. As a culture, Japanese people are pretty polite and they are not blatant at all in what they say (generally unlike many Americans). Sometimes this is kind of nerve-racking because you aren’t sure whether they actually like you or if they are just being nice… I am much more equipped to deal with people who tell it like it is I think! However, I could not get over the overwhelmingly positive response we got from the Kansai students!! It was such a relief. They aren’t really a hugging kind of culture… it is actually part of their culture to bow when they meet people. But after we introduced ourselves formally they came running over to meet us and hug us! I physically couldn’t stop smiling because it was such a warm feeling. Everyone was also so excited to talk to us and practice their English!

With some of the Kansai students today at the university!

Kansai University

Kansai University

Ally and I were invited to stay and have dinner with the students on campus, and they were so awesome that we ended up staying for two hours talking, getting to know one another and our cultures, and just having a good time. Best part of the day? The Kansai students wrote my name for me in Japanese characters!! What I didn’t know is that there are actually two different ways to write it in Japanese, and a third way to write it in Chinese Kanji. (what they call the characters.) So here is a picture of all three! COOL RIGHT?!?! They made my day!


It was pretty incredible to see how infectious all of the smiling and laughing was as we got to know each other and the different things about our cultures. It really goes to show that no matter what language you speak, some emotions are just universally understood! Stay tuned…


Marissa Sarbak

Marissa’s Japan trip Dec. 4th, 2014

Hi everybody!

WE MADE IT. WE ARE ACTUALLY IN JAPAN!!! (That deserves three exclamation points because it has been quite the journey.) A 45 minute drive to Syracuse, an hour flight to Detroit, a 13 hour flight to Tokyo (where the lovely little child next to me spilt his entire cup of apple juice on my yoga pants to begin the trip), but it’s okay, I wasn’t mad because he was pretty adorable and slept almost the whole flight (lucky him), an hour trip on the train into the city of Tokyo, a night’s rest, and a 3 hour train ride to Osaka early this morning before we FINALLY made it. But let me tell you- it was totally worth it.

If you are reading this blog, you probably would like a little bit of a background about me first (and why I’m missing finals week!) so here you go:

My name is Marissa Sarbak and I’m a senior studying Communication and Social Interaction at SUNY Oswego. I LOVE to travel and experience different cultures and meet people from all over! I’m studying in school to be a reporter, and would love to work for the Travel Channel at some point in the future. I’ve been really fortunate enough to do some traveling in my life already, and I’ve been to parts of Europe, but this is my first time ever to Asia!

I’m currently taking the COM 422/Intercultural Communication COIL class this semester, (which stands for Collaborative Online International Learning). We teamed up with students at Kansai University in Osaka, Japan, to work on a project focused on global issues, and were consequently invited to present our work and our experiences with the COIL program at an International Symposium at the University in Japan! After a long process of trying to get everything figured out, myself, my friend Ally (also in the class), our professor Amy, and all of our mom’s (who wanted to join us for the experience!) made it.

Like I said, we landed in Tokyo last night, and by the time we actually got into the city and got settled in the hotel, everyone was ready to pass out. Amy and myself were really hungry so we headed out to the streets to see if we could grab something quick to eat. After walking around aimlessly and unsuccessfully for about 30 minutes, we finally came to the realization that takeout food doesn’t seem to be a thing in Japan. So we actually went to the corner store and bought cups of noodles in a package. Yes, the first food I had in Japan was actually the same $1 packaged noodles we get in U.S. grocery stores. Not exactly authentic Japanese cuisine… (I am not proud of this choice, trust me) but we were just so hungry!

We didn’t really get to see Tokyo at all yet because we had to catch an early train this morning to Osaka, but we will be going back there for the end portion of our trip so I’m not worried. I’m still a little jetlagged but I’m about to head out for dinner (real Japanese food this time I promise), so I’ll post a blog about today’s adventures when I get back. As we say in the broadcasting world, stay tuned!

PassportPictures from the flight!

Liberty in North Korea

There are refugees that escaped North Korea looking to find a better place to live. Many refugees are our age or even younger, and they all want to avoid being caught and deported back to North Korea where they could face death. The refugees all have different stories about how they lived/ are living before some being saved by LiNK. “We need everyone to stand and face this problem together” You can check up on the video here and help donate to fund a rescue! Give what you can to help. I find this something we can all relate to because we have international students here who get the chance to experience college, so why cant these refugees can? We need to give them the chance to be free and safe from North Korea. Check out the website to LiNK as well.

Mays lane

May avenue in Sydney has some of the most beautiful street art.The first time I went I didn’t have my camera so I took pictures with my phone. He are better photos along with miscellaneous photos taking throughout the walk.




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Let’s go Lakers!

Let’s go Lakers

                It’s been one of my many times watching a hockey game up close. These last 2 home games have been rather fun and enjoyable to be a fan for. From the aggressive game play to the crowd’s creative chants, I would never find myself in the midst of boredom during these games. The game looked really intense and I guess I always looked forward to the music being played after we score a goal and blame the opponent goalie.

The game against Cortland was pretty hilarious, but we won. This being my second game, it was funny to me how dirty the Cortland team was playing. This game had the crowd laughing and chanting “You can’t do that!” and we once said “He’s a freshman!” finally ever since last semester a freshman scored. I’m glad to be a part of such a supportive crowd. As a recent Laker fan and a sophomore, I had too much fun watching this game. This game seemed to be a really good one and I had fun watching seeing that we went 9-1.

Lakers vs. Nazareth? Yeah, OK. We won with such a lead and my friends all had fun watching this game go. These 3 games were all fun in general and I grew to like the sport of hockey, at least in Oswego. We were so into the game as a crowd and that’s something I really didn’t expect. The interaction of the crowd wow’d me because I’m only used to going to Baseball games in Yankee Stadium. Overall, I’m thankful with all the fun time I had and will be enjoying from Oswego.

Thanksgiving break

Thanksgiving Break

                Hello all, I’m here to write about how excited I am to head back home and have a great time with the family. I’ve lately been having a little homesickness recently. I haven’t felt too much of it when I first arrived to SUNY Oswego, but now I can’t wait to go home for a while then come back of course! The friends I made here are awesome so I wouldn’t want to stay home forever. You have to be lucky to be in such a university and I’ll never take that for granted. Everyone who has a welcoming family at home should have an amazing time going home. It’s a great thing, too. You will be seeing them again so soon in the middle of December!

To those who don’t have a welcoming family at home, I really hope you have a great thanksgiving break whichever way you plan to spend it. I would totally spend that time with friends at least. Always keep in mind that your college friends will most likely be your lifelong friends. Friendship is also a thing I would never take for granted, it’s awesome to be social even though I myself can be awkward, and I have some pretty chill friends to support having me around. I’m sure everyone has one or two friends that will support them if you’re seeing a not-so-enjoyable Thanksgiving break. Overall, this Thanksgiving break should be fun and enjoyable for everyone and I hope you all have safe travels.

Comida Criolla – Creole Food

During this IST approved presentation, Lissette presented to us about modern Spanish cooking with examples of popular dishes eaten within many Hispanic households. These dishes ranging from alcapurrias to pastels; there was also flan that was prepared for us to try out.  She explained how the cooking was done and how it tastes much better with sofrito, a sauce of tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, and herbs, as preparation to start cooking many Latin American dishes.

This program relates to current events where people now are cooking in this style. The preparation and the use of seasoning products like Adobo, an enhancing flavor used on steak or chicken, is very popular in the United States now. This is because the Spanish Language is becoming more spoken as well as its culture’s growth.  Many people share their recipes and how they prepare their cooking, making food taste better as more people discover new ways to find better tastes. Lissette’s presentation relates the food to both street food and home food around the world when she brought up examples of alcapurrias and pasteles. Alcapurrias are street food when going to or from work, and pasteles are mostly eaten at home with the family for holidays or a get together.

This event relates to my personal experience by a large amount seeing that I come from a Latino family.  When Lissette mentioned every example of food and cooking preparations used in a Latin family home, I could relate to it very much. My mother and grandmother have always prepared their cooking with sofrito and adobo seasoning for steak and chicken every other day. I even remember going walking home after class in middle school where my mother would buy me an alcapurria if I was ever hungry. The presentation was a summary of most of the food I’ve eaten in my childhood. There were many instances where I even wanted to learn how to make pasteles every time I see my mom make them and sell them.

Humans vs. Zombies: Second Half of the Week

This game is just loads of fun when you can just message your friends who are zombies as well within the game. You guys can meet up in the middle of campus and look for blue headbands. We sometimes have misinterpreted people thinking they were playing. For example, some people would be wearing blue headbands for design to hold up their hair or have their hair dyed in blue. As zombies we had to think up of strategies on how to tag a human. It is estimated that it takes two zombies working together in order to tag one human. However, we had some poor communication, seeing as most of my friends are playing this game as their first time. Many humans outsmarted us, even one human was able to stun four zombies, so I suggest giving that man an award. Another human even posted on YikYak, a mobile app where you can post messages anonymously to people nearby your location. He posted, telling every zombie to meet him in the quad and for everyone to watch the show. He took on so many of us, roughly seven or eight zombies until two zombies distracted him to have one run by and tag him from the back.

Day 3, Wednesday: Today started out on a funny note when I went to go eat lunch with friends and we sat alongside another group of people playing the game and they had blue headbands on. I noticed this, put my red headband on, and greeted them. It was funny how jokingly ironic that moment was: a zombie and human eating lunch on the same table. After lunch, I went to go play billiards with friends and I saw a friend walking by us, placing her headband on, then she saw mine. She then mentioned how she thinks it would be a better idea if she drove to class, which she did. However after she left after 2 seconds, I remembered the parking lot is still a considerable distance from Hart, so we ran until she reached the parking lot. I actually stopped running when I saw another zombie run passed me already trying to get her. That was probably the reason why she decided to switch paths from heading straight through campus center. I was upset we couldn’t tag her at the time since she didn’t have her NERF gun. Later on when the mission began, zombies had more of an advantage in both numbers and the fact that we had a super zombie in our team for the mission. This super zombie uses the swimming pool noodles to tag a human, however it only stuns the human for 5 seconds, thus giving the zombies a chance to tag that human. Also zombies had a shortened time period of being stunned, which was 60 seconds. The chances of humans winning were small, but possible and record breaking. The mission started with roughly 40 humans and 40 zombies and ended as too many humans abandoned and ran away due to many of them getting tagged. There were at least 10 humans left of the ones who participated. Zombies won the mission and thankfully I get to stay in the game because when zombies when, they don’t have to feed on humans the next day. The requirement was for humans to sign in at the campus center in order for them not to “starve” and zombies have to feed on a human every 48 hours so they don’t starve.

Day 4, Thursday: Oh my it’s been a year since the last time I got tagged walking out of campus center walking to a Shineman class. Time flies and so does this game when you’re having so much fun. Today is the day the humans have to sign in at campus center in order to stay alive. As a zombie, me and friend would hang around the center of campus by the field and spot humans after our classes end up until the next one starts. There was a point in the day when we found a human hiding at a corner and a couple of zombies were just surrounding her rather than just going in to try and tag her. I told them that the least she could do is stun you all, but me and about 5 other zombies came as backup. The human at the corner jokingly said “don’t underestimate me!” which was pretty hilarious to all of us seeing as some of us were by the wall, ready to run at her. It’s must be very scary to be a human in that situation to defend yourself with only socks and a NERF gun. That’s why you travel in groups! After that situation, we found some humans getting ready to leave Hart Hall by the side entrance and we just surrounded the area. They couldn’t stun us and we couldn’t go run at them since they were within 5 feet from the door. So we stalled and had them use up their darts until one of us walked up to be next to them at the door. When one of the humans suggested the other to go get the dart on the floor, he went to get it, stepping outside the 5 foot limit, and the zombie ran up behind to tag him! Oh he was very upset, but it was too funny. They eventually had backup and we zombies had split. The “mission” that night was perfect and imperfect. During the 5 minute briefing of the details of the mission, humans were told they have a mission as usual. When that was done, zombies were to follow a moderator, who then told us that in reality, there is no actual mission tonight and that an ambush is planned behind the campus center. We were excited and couldn’t wait to surprise attack them. However, the moderators had miscommunicated the location of the ambush. And so, once we spotted the humans, we ran up to them and caught them by surprise, but the original plan was to surround them, rather than having them run back the way they traveled. We still managed to tag VIP humans during that fake mission.

Day 5, Friday: The final day! Sadly to say, not many humans were really tagged on this day before the game officially ended. However there was a for fun mission at 6 p.m. where anyone can choose to be a human or zombie if they wanted to. Therefore, I chose to be a human! My zombie friends certainly hated me for it, but it was role play and I had the pleasure of stunning many of them with socks. In the end, many humans were turned, and eventually we came to a death match where humans can finally kill zombies due to the mission objective being that there’s a “bomb exploding” within the mission. So in the end, humans fell more and more, while I kept dodging and hitting zombies when I could. We were left with 4 humans and down to 1 zombie. Humans eventually chased down the zombie and credit goes to Xavier! A human who was tagged on Wednesday’s mission and received an “antidote” by random selection due to the mission being slightly in the zombies favor, thus becoming human again. Those who survived the 6 p.m. mark before the mission are the real winners of the game.

In conclusion, this game was awesome to participate in for charity to Child’s Play. It is $2 to sign up and the game comes by annually, once a year by Halloween week. I’m definitely playing next year as human. I will most likely have a NERF gun for the game in order to push zombies away. I highly recommend every student here at SUNY Oswego to try to participate in this game at least once in their four years here.