Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nagaoka National College Of Technology

Short note: It has been almost two years since I started my studies in Japan, and not a single time that I have given a proper mention regarding the place I am studying currently. In this post which is quite a lengthy one, I will give a better insight about the course and the college.
Nagaoka National College of Technology (NNCT), is where I am currently studying in Japan.
The entrance to NNCT.
Just like what the name of the college suggests, the college is situated in Nagaoka city in Niigata prefecture, one of the 47 prefectures in Japan. Here in Japan, there are no states, instead the region are divided into prefectures. Niigata prefecture is the fifth largest in terms of area, after Hokkaido, Iwate, Fukushima and Nagano. Nagaoka is located about 400 kilometers north of Tokyo, and it takes about two hours by shinkansen (bullet train). However, riding a shinkansen cost a bomb (RM 260) and I usually travel by normal train whenever I go down to Tokyo.
On average, I travel down to Tokyo about three to four times in a year.
nagaoka kosen1
The location of Nagaoka (taken from Google Earth).
This should silent people who always claim that Nagaoka is small and ulu like a kampung.
Nagaoka is the second largest city in Niigata prefecture, but the college is located about five kilometers from the city center. It will take roughly fifteen minutes of bus ride from Nagaoka Station to the college. There was one time after the Nagaoka Fireworks Festival that we decided to walk all the way back to our college. That took us nearly an hour, including the time we spend chit chatting away along the way.
Compared to other national colleges around the country, I would say NNCT is one of the newest in terms of facilities, if not the best. One of the attributing factor is that there was a huge earthquake in 2004 and most section of the buildings was either destroyed or damaged and was too dangerous to be used anymore. So, they renovate and rebuilt those buildings after the catastrophe and now, the lucky bunch of us get to enjoy new facilities in the college.
The view of Nagaoka's city center in the far background from my college.
Despite that, one thing that I wish it could be changed is the location of the college, which is situated on top of a hill. There is a steep slope that leads to my college, which stands proudly on top of the hill.
This is the slope I loath very much. The nearest post office (orange board) from my college is on the right.
After that slope, this is another slope we have to climb before reaching my college.
Same location, different season.
The nearest bus station is at the bottom of the slope and every time, we have to climb up the slopes to get to our college. It is even worse when we are cycling because it is almost impossible to cycle up the steep slopes. I tried once, but I gave up midway through the slope.
Coming to this point, you may be wondering why am I still studying in a college, instead of a university. I will briefly explain it here. Around March 2005, I was offered a diploma course for Engineering by the Public Service Department, or more commonly known as JPA after I finished my SPM. I had second thought whether to accept the scholarship because it was just a diploma course. However, we have an option to continue as a third year undergraduate for Bachelor's degree in the local university here in Japan after we complete our diploma. Also, by accepting this scholarship, I will help to ease a lot of burden of my parents in terms of supporting me for my tertiary studies, as I only come from a middle-class family.
The main building to NNCT.
The parking lot is mostly meant for the lecturers and academics staffs.
This will be the place for students who come in their bikes to park the bikes.
Hence, I enter the technical college here as a third year student, and if everything goes smoothly, I will graduate after my fifth year in the college before spring 2010. Subsequently, I will continue my Bachelor's degree for another couple of years. On what university will I be doing my Bachelor's degree, that will be another question that need to be decided very soon - by myself. In total, it is a freaking seven-long years, just to obtain a degree.
Now, I am halfway through my diploma course in this college. Although I sometimes think that I should have done something else, I have nothing much to complain for accepting this chance of getting to study in Japan, and being surrounded with a totally different environment, and also all the experiences I have gained throughout my journey so far. It never crosses in my mind that I will even get to hop onto a plane when I was still a small kid; if you don't consider the promotional tickets many budget-airlines are offering nowadays.
Trees without leaves near the school field.
Yet, there is still a long way for me to go from here.
Just to give a slight change of tone here, let me introduce some of the facilities which I come across almost everyday. I will start off with the library. As ironic as it may sound, I have only stepped into the library for less than ten times all this while, and there is only one occasion that I had borrowed books from the library. There is two reasons here; one is because I do not read, the second is because almost all the books here are in Japanese.
The entrance to the library, which on the first floor.
The interior of the library.
On the ground floor of the same building would be the computer lab, the place where I usually spend most of the time doing my reports. You might wonder why don't I just do my reports in my room, instead of going to the computer lab.
Prior to this, I didn't have Microsoft Office installed in my laptop and it made me went to the library to do my reports back then. From then on, I started to go to the lab to do my reports until today, even thought I already have the software installed in my laptop already. Furthermore, doing reports in the lab avoid me being distracted from others things like going online to chat and stuff like that. That is because I find indiscipline person like myself easily succumbs to all these things when I do my reports in my room.
The computer lab, with a printer at the end corner.

Anyway, we get to use the printer for free inside the computer lab. But there is a limit of course. One hundred pages per year, which I find it insufficient when we need about five to eight pages per report, and in one year, we have no less than thirty reports. To overcome that problem, we are required to apply for additions for printing quota when we have exceeded the limit.
Chikyu Lab.
Just opposite to the computer lab is the Chikyu Lab, the place which is supposed to serve as a place for cultural exchange related activities between the Japanese and the international students. I consider us to be very lucky, because we get to utilise the facilities here, which include photostat machine, wide-screen desktops, huge plasma TV and many others more. Well, there is a fund coming from the Japanese Education Ministry for the setting up of this place, and we are encourage to utilise the facilities here.
So, why should we let go the opportunity, isn't it?
Sports facilities also come aplenty in my college. There are two indoor gymnasiums - the first one is for basketball, handball and futsal, while the second is for badminton and volleyball; two fields - one is synthetic, while the other is just a ground with plain soil; one mini-sized swimming pool and three tennis courts.
Gymnasium 1.
How the interior of the gymnasium looks like.
Synthetic field and the running tracks.
Come winter, the tracks and school field cannot be used anymore.
Five-lane swimming pool.
Tennis court covered with snow last winter. Those writings were done by a bunch of us on that morning, as it was our first experience with snow.

There are six blocks in my college, in which I used to get lost during my first few weeks in my college. However, after more than a year, I have got used to them and even know all the short-cuts when I am rushing to my lectures. Yet again, there are still times where I make mistakes and ended up somewhere where I am not supposed to go.
You know, I sometimes can be really blur.
This doesn't look like a notice board for a research lab at all, does it?

One section of the college's compound.
One of the block in NNCT, which is used for research rooms and lecturer's office.
A monument to commemorate the earthquake in 2004, surrounded with benches.
The kiosk in my college, which also has an ATM machine on the right.
For the convenience of the students who are staying far from Nagaoka, and also the international students, there is a dormitory for us.
The main entrance to the dormitory.
The dormitory is located just within the college's compound. Usually, I will need only five to eight minutes to get to my class, depending on the time I wake up. There was several occasions, in which I had only five minutes to go before my class starts when I just opened my eyes. The next thing I did was grab my bag and dashed out immediately to my class.
When it comes to punctuality, not many people can beat the Japanese.
No matter whether I am late or not to the class, I will walk pass this lockers of shoes every single day. I guess I don't have to mention how nice the smell is in this section of the block.

The second building out of four in my dormitory. My room is on the first floor, at the near-end of the block.
The pond in front of the girl's block during the winter.
A view from my window during the winter. That is the bicycle shade.
One thing about staying in Nagaoka is that it snows really heavily. That is almost one-meter thick snow covering the roof of the dormitory block.
During my first year here, I ate at the dormitory's canteen. We pay 30,000 yen (RM 1,000) every month for three meals daily. But after one year, I decided to stop eating at the canteen and cook myself. It was not that simple though. The dormitory people kept insisting us to eat at the canteen, because according to them, it would be an opportunity for us to forge better relationship with the Japanese students. How smart that theory is.
We however, stood firm and they allowed us to cook by ourselves in the end.
The canteen in the dormitory.
This is one example of what I used to eat last time.
Even though I am living in Japan, that doesn't mean that I get to eat sushi, tempura and ramen all the while. So, after getting bored with those Japanese food everyday, I decided to cook on my own and it was from there that I began to work wonders with whatever ingredients I brought from home.
New Folder
Clockwise from top left: Lor mai kai, chicken rice, okonomiyaki, curry puffs, nasi lemak, corn pudding and wantan mee.
Crap, even looking at those pictures is making me hungry.
Back to the college, most of the classrooms are located in the sixth building, which comprises of five floors. Basically, the classrooms are divided according to the grades. The fifth year students occupies the tallest floor, the forth year students have their classrooms on the third floor and so on. On each floor, they are again divided according to the course - Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical and Electronics, Electronics Control and Civil Engineering.
The 6th block.
The corridor which has benches and a water cooler for students.
This is how a classroom looks like. Note that we still use blackboard, instead of whiteboard.
The seats of each students in my class. Try spot my seat.
Although most of the lectures are done in classrooms, there are also lab work which require us to do it in the computer labs, drawing labs or the factory.
This was during the design drawing class last year.
This year onwards, we started using Solidworks during our drawing class.
One of my lecturer explaining the process of cutting a block of metal to make a gear at the factory.
Engineers have to be flexible when it comes to conducting experiments. Here, we used the empty boxes of stopwatch, voltmeter and ammeter, plus a pocket computer (multi-function calculator) and the lunch box and its bag to hang the thermometer.
Physics experiment lecture.
Mathematics class.
German class with my oh-so-blur Aihara sensei.
Well, you would expect to see scenes like the last three pictures in a classroom, wouldn't you? However, more often than not, that is not the case. When the lecturer is explaining in front, the students behind will have their very own activities, ranging from playing games with their PSP or Nintendo, chit chatting, sms-ing, online-ing from their cellphone, or merely stare at their textbook on their table without knowing anything about what's going on.
The best of all is that some can even sleep with their eyes opened. Super scary, can.
One of my classmate, playing with his cellphone.
But the favourite past-time among them would be no other than sleeping during lectures.
Various positions of dozing off.
Sometimes, I sleep in the class like them as well. On other time, I will scribble stuff on my notebook while copying the lecturer's note. At the end of the day, I find my notes look better being decorated with these drawings. At least I won't get boring as I have companions to accompany me when I am revising.
My mata terbeliak puppy.
Need I say more?


Anonymous said...

u are a very humble person , especially when u talk about ur course.

Anonymous said...

study laa... still blog...

anyway, that sakamichi is kacang rebus hangus goreng compared to the sakamichi we have here...

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
thanks :)

calvin said...

@ kh:
you go solve my dream lah... still read my blog...

the sakamichi is much more steep than how it's portrayed in the picture. you'll you when you see it yourself with your naked eyes.

Kae Vin said...

So much of a uni life.

I could never blog something like this.

Good post though.

and rm1000 per month is way too much. But I thought gahmen paid for you? :P

mg said...

karubin seat no 45!!! hahaha :P
so fun leh.. studying in classroom.. but also looks boring. im sure my mind would wonder off and i'd be drawing too just not 'mata terbeliak' cartoons. =P

mg said...

oh and i like this post alot!! well done.. lol.. but still got some errors ;)

calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
i stress once again, it is not a uni, but just a technical college.

if you disregard the direct conversion of currency, then rm 1000 a month for food is quite standard. and by the way, please don't always think that the government pays everything for us, 'coz that's not the case >.<

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
haha, this time they spelled my name as 'karuvin'. by the way, that #45 is my number in the name list of the class.

yea, you won't draw 'mata terbeliak' cartoons, but 'mata tertanam' ones =P

and it will not be a complete post wihtout some errors, right? xD

Anonymous said...

nagaoka kosen asked u to take those pro pictures for them to put on their homepage or magazine?

kiwi for canteen!?!?
loh mai kai in japan!!??
and wantan mee?!?!
calvin u plan to go what uni?
i will try to go somewhere near by or same as yours and ask u to make some for me..

Endoru said...

Nice classroom.
The tables and chairs looks new.
Must be the renovation after the earthquake right ?
Anyway, you guys have a nice library as well.

syaza said...

nagaoka kosen lagi lawa drpd fukshima....sigh~

calvin said...

@ ns29:
yes, in fact they paid me a few thousands yen for my effort :)

it doesn't matter which uni i am going to because you would only get to eat those kind of food once in a blue moon and i don't make such nice food everyday xD

calvin said...

@ endoru:
yup, i suppose most of the facilities were given several uplifts after the earthquake in 2004 :)

calvin said...

@ syaza:
here is an open challenge. who wish to claim that their kosen is nicer and better-looking than nagaoka kosen? from what i've heard so far, suzuka kosen is not bad ;)

=chuan guan= said...

wow wow.......cant imagine u r still in exam to post such lengthy post..haha

Kelly said...

Nice post.Wonder if I should start taking pictures of my kosen now that I'm going to graduate soon..

I also make one of those nice Malaysian food once in awhile when I'm in the mood.=)

calvin said...

@ =chuan guan=:
this was a pre-written post ;)

calvin said...

@ kelly:
i guess you should, and you would appreciate it more years after you'd left the place :)

yann ni said...

Hello.. I will be having my first trip to Japan on 27th April, is under internship programme between NUT and USM (university that I belong to). I will be staying in Nagaoka for 1 weeks before leaving to my training place. My frens and I were requested to present to students in NUT about Malaysia too. Hope we will meet over there. Then, you can share your experience and tell me some do and don't in Japan. Thanks in advance. Ohh.. Forget to introduce myself. I am yann Ni, from KL, M'sia.

calvin said...

@ yann ni:
i guess you'd made a mix-up between nagaoka national college of technology (nnct) and nagaoka university of technology (nut) because both are different although they are located in the same city, i.e. nagaoka. i'm currently studying in nnct, but i have quite a number of seniors who are studying at nut, the university you are having you internship.

anyway, a meeting-up is still possible over the weekends or something like that. keep me contacted, okay?

enjoy your stay in japan =)