Posts By: yuhei

Welcome to America with a suspended degree

January 13th 2014, Monday

It was first time to come to campus after the year-end. I met a friend and her research colleague and had lunch together. She was in the same cohort during the first semester and also an international student from China. We were struggling with terrible classes and exams every week, but it’s almost one-year before and now we can just laugh on it.

Yes, it’s over. I’ve done all the program last month, and should receive MPH degree soon. But, here’s America, things don’t go smoothly. The reason why I came to campus today was, to talk with Dean of Students on a issue of my registration and tuition status which prevents my degree certificate. Last month on 19th, while I’m working on finals, suddenly the Office of Student Affairs emailed me “You owe school $16,754 in tuition, and cannot get a degree until you pay” “What!? I took all the course necessary to graduate and paid tuition each semester as billed!” After emails and phone calls now I figured out what happened on me. Columbia MPH Health Policy Management Department has choices of 16-month and 2-year programs, but most of us take 16-month one as default. But I was mistakenly registered as 2-year program as default, and neither I and my department faculties knew that, cos the office of Student Affairs never told or warned that. Tuition is based on flat rate, not per credit base for our school, and 2-year and 16-month programs have different rate per semester. So, accumulated difference of tuition per semester is now billed at one time, at the end of the year. OK, now I understand the official correct tuition for my 16-month program was higher than I paid, and agree I need to pay the remaining for graduation. But who expects $16,754 is billed at one time? If I was correctly placed on the 16-month program and told the correct tuition per semester, I could have taken actions to prepare money earlier.

The office closed from the week of Christmas. I checked all the previous document and email related to registration and tuition, and confirmed I had no fault. Then, today I met with the Dean of Students. They admitted their fault and gave me apology, but told they can nothing to do that happened. Because of segmented departments, Office of Student Affairs cannot compensate anything or discount anymore. They confirmed me to write any documentation to prove my academic qualification if necessary anytime, but an “official” MPH degree will be never issued unless I pay extra. I gave up cos it’s waste of time and needs further stress and energy if I sue them. Hopefully I can prepare money within a year by working hard.

年末急に降ってきたトラブル。プログラムの登録ミスで、僕に請求されていた学費の額が間違えており、正しく登録されていれば支払うべき学費に$16,000ほど足りない、支払うまで学位は出せないという通知が突然学生課の方から来た。僕は入学を一年延期したのだけど、その合格・延期・入学の間に学部のプログラムが変わり、そのとばっちりで登録ミスがあったのだけど、見落とされていたようだ。こちらにミスはなく、請求された額を遅滞なく払っており、過去のメールからもその違いを認識する余地はなかった。正規の額を払う分には文句ないが、いくらなんでも突然年末に言い渡され(謝罪もなく)、あと2ヶ月で用意しろと言われても無理がある。そりゃおかしいでしょ、なんでそんなことが起こったんですかと、学部・学生課の担当者に聞いてもお互い「分からない、あっちに聞け」となすりつけ合うばかり。結局今日、Dean of Studentsと話すことになった。結論から言うと、誤ってはくれたけど、支払いと学位の件は、担当部署が違うからどうにもならないと。ちゃんと学業を収めてMPHに値する能力がある旨を説明する書類は、必要となったらいつでも発行してくれるとのことだが、正式なMPH学位は支払いが終わるまでペンディング。Late feeは取られないし、まぁ4月からの勤め先も理解あるところなので、学位なんぞの紙切れがなくても人生に支障ないのだけど、それにしても納得がいかない。お金はまぁ、1年働けば用意できる、と思う。しかし今回被った迷惑に対する慰謝料とか、減免措置とかは無し。日本でお金を稼ぐから、支払う際もアメリカの口座への振替手数料かかるのだけど、そういうのも負担してくれるわけでもなし。訴訟とか面倒だから、これで我慢するしかないけど。なんだかなぁ。NY暮らしが長い友人には、Welcome to Americaって言われた(笑)

Shovel again / 昼夜逆転、長い1日

January 5th-6th 2014, Sunday-Monday

It’s getting colder and colder. Snow keeps mounting. Owner of the building told me it was not enough that I shoveled snow yesterday. Yes, sorry, I wrote I did snow shoveling yesterday, but actually I never knew enough what is snow shoveling. Yesterday I saw other community residents just moderately shoveled snow so people at least managed to walk through, so I did the same. But it’s not enough. If I left small amount of snow on surface of the street, it would ice up during the night and cause people slipping, that’s too dangerous. A senior man in the same building taught and helped me shoveling again, asking me “Where’s your hometown?” I answered Kobe, west side of Japan where snow rarely piles, and he said “that’s why you don’t know how.”

This is how I should have done.

Even just for living a day, there is a plenty of learning.

In the afternoon, I worked at our new gallery, J-LABO Brooklyn. I painted pipes by white paint. It looks easy and simple job, but still needs some knowledge about accurate mix of paint and water to paint smoothly each material at each situation, without letting color splattered on clothes, walls and the floor. After struggling with Sunday DIY job, the owner gave us warm and delicious soup for dinner. Outside is still awful cold.

先月に大学院が一段落ついてから、調査研究の仕事にようやく本腰を入れられるようになり、年末からほとんど机に向かって過ごしている。日本の人と一緒にやっていて、あちらの1月7日にけっこう大事な中間報告のタイミングとして検討会があるから、ここ数日は特に激しい追い込み。だんだんと昼夜逆転気味になってくる。5日と6日は2日間というより長い1日だったという感覚がある。ともあれ、こちらの6日夕方、あちらの7日朝には一段落ついた。精度の国際比較というのは難しい。まずもって言語の壁がある。英語ならまだ良いのだけど、僕が担当している国のひとつはスウェーデンだから、なかなか大変。Google Translateにお世話になっている。また、一次データの収集方法も違うから、相互に比較分析可能なようにデータを整理するのが重要だ。最後に資料や報告書をまとめる段階には、脚注をしっかり示さなければならないのだけど、普段からの整理整頓を怠っていると、メモ書きの引用元がどこにあったかと探すのにまた時間がかかる。振り返ると色々もう少し効率的に早くできたなと反省することもしばしば。調査事業は3月までで、現地調査は昨年秋に行った。あとは本当に報告書をまとめるペーパーワークの段階。緻密に、丁寧に、調べてまとめてのプロセス。しっかりやろう。

Snow and Latte

January 4th 2014, Saturday

Little earlier than last year, winter storm has come. My town Brooklyn are filled with snow, of course in front of my building. Maybe it is just the second or third time for me to shovel out.

Chilly cold, but it’s ok, good exercise. Street is brighter than usual, thanks to snow reflecting the sunlight.

All the trash, refuse, recyclable materials that I and other residents threw at night, are covered with white.

After that, I went to my favorite cafe near my house. When I stand by the counter to order, the cafe master, a dandy middle aged man, quiet with little words, asked me “Latte?,” and I found that he’s remembered everytime I ordered latte. Unfortunately, today I took a cup of regular coffee! But it was still happy to know that my life in this town is peacefully continuing from 2013 to now, 2014.


Snow allows me breathe / 心のヒマ

雪降りて 閑のとまりし メトロかな
Train easily stops or delays in this town, especially a day with such a weather. Today NY had the third snow this winter. These days I’m packed with many final papers, presentations and exams for the semester end (and for graduation), and my research and writing works, and I’m gradually losing a room to breathe. It was also the case for today’s morning. I rushed out my home in Brooklyn, and got on the train. But, as expected, train never starts, because of snow. I and other passengers waited for more than 10 minutes, and finally changed a train from R to F line. First I felt worried to be late to the class (it takes more than an hour from Park Slope in Brooklyn to my campus at Washington Heights in Upper West Manhattan), but soon I found my mind changed. Who in the world has to be in hurry in so much in life? What is so much important? I decided, to just enjoy this train trouble, and let it go slowly. I open a book of a my favorite writer’s novel and poem and enjoyed it for a while, and when a dance performance on the train by a group of boys suddenly started, I closed the book, without feeling irritated, and just enjoyed their dance (it was good than I expected).



雪降りて 閑のとまりし メトロかな


Close to the year end / 思い出す間もなく

8th December, Sunday, 2013

As early as November, NYC had already been filled with Christmas illumination, but now December, after Thanksgiving holidays, it is the season at last. M&Ms chocolate sold with a christmas package, L’Occitane and Sabon feature christmas special gift sets (soap, oil, perfume etc.) Performers at train, platform, and street play seasonal set lists. In the afternoon today, I met a group of four middle aged guys on a Manhattan bound R train. They sang a christmas song, which I must have heard before but don’t know the name of. They had a paper bag colored with red and green, I mean christmas color, to gather tips. I felt happy to know such a tiny, but seasonal work. Every time what impress me is such train performers clearly know the time from station to station. So they start singing a song at some point between the two stations so they can timely end the one when we get to the next station. Today was also the case, and ah, genius! they got off the train and immediately rode on the next car of the same train!
While I’m lining for the skating rink at the Rockefeller Plaza with her, suddenly people cheered out. I looked the rink and found a man gave an engage ring to his girlfriend, and made the marriage proposal. Everyone and I cheered and crapped hands loudly, and the chilly ring was filled with a full of joy. こういう公開プロポーズの類は、日本でもyou tubeの動画などで話題になり、また実際実行に移す人もちらほらいるのだろうが、どうなのだろう、公開プロポーズをその場に居合わせた人々が即座にかつ自然に受け入れ賞賛するだけの文化的素地というか、空気がこの街にはあり、実際周りの我々もハッピーな気分になるのだが、日本で実行に移すとなると少しズレがあるように思う。居酒屋でのサプライズ暗転&バースデーソング&ケーキのコンボはもはや定番となっており店員のテンションとアルコールも手伝って別に抵抗はないのだが、プロポーズとなると我々大和民族が実施するにはどこか気恥ずかしさやぎこちなさが伴うのではなかろうか。リップダブプロポーズなどは一時期ソーシャルメディアでも話題になっていて、どちらかというと男性が「こういうのやりたい!」とポジティブな反応をしていたのに対し、女性の反応は半々であった印象がある。「私もこういうプロポーズしてもらいたい…!」と感動している子もいれば「まじそういう男の自己満みたいなプロポーズ無理…」みたいなこと言ってる子もいた。男性諸氏は要注意であろう。

When I was waiting for an F train back to my home, I looked a different train car from usual one the other side of the platform. A man standing next to me said to his friend, “that is an original train, only this time every year running.” When I’m back home, I googled “MTA special train” and found it here. The Vintage train runs on the M line, every Sunday, November 25 to December 30. The classic style train matched well with dim lights and dirty railways of MTA.


Leaders coming to NYC from Tohoku / 希望も可能性もまだまだそこかしこにあるなということとか

13th November, Wednesday 2013

Still having lots of work, packing materials for that works, I rushed out Brooklyn in the afternoon, and went to Midtown East, Japan Society. It’s also chilly cold today. I’ll take a overnight bus to Boston tonight. Boston must be much colder, I don’t wanna think about it. Anyway, today, 5 leaders who are dedicating themselves to business and community development in Northern East of Japan after the disaster in 2011 came to Japan Society, and talked about their projects and stories to New Yorkers. I was invited to the meeting and had discussion with them. It is as usual and no longer I surprise, but we had lots of mutual friends in near fields. Also a person who guided the leaders was my friend from college. Well, it still needs time, money and man powers to reconstruct cities damaged by tsunami as a whole, but if we work from a micro, specific issue or field, we can make a good project or business quickly and flexible. People, products and stories can spread across countries over the sea, and we can collaborate together. Still not enough, and still it looks like tiny changes, but every time, social or structural renovation starts from small changes. Today, I also had good conversations and made new relationships. Further ideas are already floating in my head.


ところで今回の彼らのNY訪問をアテンドしていた財団勤務のスタッフがなんと学部時代からの友達で。Japan-ASEAN Student Conferenceという2010年の企画で一緒だった子。もはやこういう偶然の再会には驚かないので、自分のリアクションもだいぶ薄かったと思うけど、会合が終わって、それぞれの夕方の用事を済ませてから夕食を食べた。日本やASEANの友達の近況を知っている限り共有したり、お互いの久しぶりのアップデートをしながら、ジュニアーズでチーズケーキを食べた。


First snow in NYC, one year after / 海をまたいだいくつかのこと、一年前の雪のことなど

12th November, Tuesday 2013

When I woke up and saw outside, it’s snowing! Though tiny particles, and soon ended, it was the first snow this year I see in NYC. And, I realize, winter is really coming. Since I was in Europe last two weeks and these days were so busy (but exciting!), I didn’t enjoy enough autumn mood this year. And I realize, next month I will graduate Mailman. Almost one year ago, when I also saw the first snow in NYC in 2012, it was so hard time for me. Because of tough and intensive study in the first semester, and some other private issues, I was pretty depressed in that time. I could never imagine that I’m now enjoying the winter arrival in a rather moderate mind. Last year, I was overwhelmed with lots of new medical/clinical/biological terms and statistics. Also my English was not so good. Now, I see the points where my experience in field or issues in Japan can contribute to class discussion and give another perspective than other classmates have. Also, since each of us has shared foundation of public health theory and perspective, and experienced summer practicum in various place, I really enjoy learning from my classmates. Outside campus, gradually networks of those who are interested in northern east of Japan post-disaster activities are expanding, and I’m feeling seeds of further actions are growing. …School ends in December, and my time in NYC ends in March. I know the time and my capacity is limited, but I do strongly want, to do anything I can do for my friends, and my town NYC.

At late night I visited Dambo, before coming back to home in Park Slope, in Brooklyn, and met with Jake Price. We enjoyed one glass of beer and two plates of pizza at a nice bar, and then went back to his studio, and talked about his next trip plan to Fukushima, and his documentary project. Jake cannot speak Japanese well, but every time I met with him and saw how he communicate with local persons in Fukushima and Miyagi, I’m impressed with his passion, dedication, and sincerity to local persons and community. That’s why I feel like doing anything I can do to support him. Compassion connects people across countries over the sea, certainly.



海を越えての嬉しいことと言えば。他にも色々。夏に福島いわきでお世話になったおふたりが石巻・牡鹿旅行に行くということで、張り切ってオススメスポットを伝えたり、向こうの仲間を紹介したりして、無事会えて盛り上がったみたいで、それは本当に嬉しい。他方、学部の頃からずっとずっとお世話になっている人が、今の東北の諸々で協働している人と偶然会ったみたいで、首に下げているOCICAネックレスからmutual friendだということが分かって僕の話をしたようで、その旨双方からメールをくださって、これまたとにかく嬉しい。それから英語の方にも書いたけど、Jakeとブルックリンで久しぶりに会ってビールを飲み、彼の月末の福島の浪江訪問について相談に乗った。その時僕が身につけていたIIEの会津木綿ストールと、その物語をいたく気に入ってくれたらしく、是非会津にも行ってみたいと。会津の作りてさんが、世界に発信していきたいなんて言っていたけど、それは意外と早く本当のことになりそうだよ。



ちょうど一年前、同じように初雪をニューヨークで見たとき、僕はso depressedで。今こんな状態であることを当時の僕は想像もできないだろう。留学直後はやはり非常に大変であり、また個人的なことでも辛いことがあったので、雪を見ては涙を流してオロオロ生きていた。その時のことをどう整理して位置づけるか、というのは今はあまり意味がないことのように思う。ただとにかく、当時そんな状態の僕に対しても働きかけてくれた人々、向き合い言葉を交わしてくれた人々にはただただ頭が垂れ下がるような胸がぎゅっと締まるようなとにかく色んな思ひだ。

Float on the city / ベンチから眺める街

28th October, Monday to 2nd November, Saturday 2013

The first week of my trip, I stayed in London. Most of the visits to specialists and organizations related to our research on home nursing were in Hatfield, a beautiful country area 30 minutes north from London by train, but had also good times in London in the evenings.

One significant characteristics of UK’s health system is that medical service, provided by NHS basically for free and social service, provided mainly by local authority are clearly divided. Home care, especially for elderly care is a point where both sector come across and contact the same person, an individual who live in their own home and community, and have various needs based on their daily life, which includes both medical services and domestic/personal services (bathing, cooking, washing etc.). Since our main focus was a nursing service, we visited related professionals and organizations, but at the same time, I had always paid attentions to other sectors and comprehensive systems, though it was too complicated. We met faculties of the University of Hertfordshire, and NHS hospitals/community services, the Royal College of Nursing (trade union for nurses), and the Queen’s Nursing Institute, a organization for support and advocate of home nursing. As I mentioned, there is a fragmentation of the overall health system in UK, and varieties across local districts, so even for specialists or organizations in UK, it was difficult to gain figures or materials of all the necessary information such as workforce, service delivery. Thus, it was important to know what is missing pieces and how to infer that. …Still my brain is storming after lots of visits and additional documents, I try to grasp the overall picture and build our final report to client.

Anyway, despite fragmentation of the system, and huge decrease in budgets and workforce, especially for district nurse, a key player of home care in community, I was impressed with lots of efforts by practitioners and organizations. A district nurse, with whom I visited several homes of local residents, who had various diseases and needs, showed me how she communicated with each of them, and also their relatives and other actors such as social workers. Her caseloads looked very large, and it sounded partly because of recently decrease in human resources (but still she worked so hard every day every week). The Queen’s Nursing Institute impressed me with how they made research by themselves such as surveys to practitioners, and advocate to policy makers to approach problems in the field. The quality of their reports and pamphlets were so high, and that told me their professionalism to fight to realize their goal, not just criticizing the government.


In the evening, though half of time I fell down asleep after back to the hotel, I could met my friends living and studying in UK. It was so happy for me, cos they showed me parts of their daily life here, what they see, what they love, how they feel and do, while walking around the town with them. Not only here, I always feel myself a foreigner, or drifter. I never imagine, so far now, to settle in one place for long time, say 5, 10, or 20 years. So wherever and whenever I visit some town, I look and walk around the town with an eye of observer, never a inhabitant. My thoughts and feelings tend to float, and that’s why I respect each of you, who settle in a community, keep your own rhythm and tempo of your life and work, and warmly welcome me, with happy smiles telling me what you love in our town. Though short stay every time, I never forget your kindness. Thanks a lot, and hope to see you someday somewhere again.











Need to settle on the ground / 夜を置き去りにして空かける

October 26th, Saturday to 27th, Sunday, 2013

October is passing so fast, I cannot. believe it’s almost the end of the month… Though it is fortunate, honorable, and exiting that both my works and studies go well, and thatI have lots to do, I worry my breath, and therefore thoughts being shallower. Thus it was so good for me that one of my friend invited me to a Japanese tea ceremony. In a tatami-mat room, taking every step to be in a polite manner in that world, and having delicious tea, gave me both tension and comfortableness. Quietly listening to sound of water, and tea processing, I realized, I as a Japanese do need such a time. I love New York, but this town has a too quick tempo and rhythm, and if I won’t be careful, I easily lose a time and opportunity for meditation.

But ironically, immediately after quiet and slow time at the tea room, I rushed to the Newark International Airport to get on an airplane to London, for the purpose of my research trip on home nursing services in UK and Sweden, as my research job…! I should have done all of my preparation and midterm papers at school before the departure so I can enjoy movies, but it never happened. I brought a bunch of copies of documents necessary both for my research trip and solving midterm assignments on the plane, and needed to read. Well, anyway, I should enjoy. I’m at the same time an easy-going New Yorker not only a Japanese.


木村カエラのSwinging Londonとか頭の中で流しながら街を歩いた。