Archive | August, 2010


29 Aug

Hi, everyone! I made it here safely and am really enjoying myself!

I don’t know where to begin–everything has been just amazing and crazy busy. I’ll just run through the last few days, I guess.

I arrived Monday evening, met my roommate, and stayed over in a hotel. In the morning, after a delicious breakfast, we went to school for orientation. Afterwards we got our luggage and took taxis to our apartments. Check out the view from the balcony!

As Chris said, you go outside and you’re like, “Crap, I’m in Japan!!”

And here’s the side street we take to get home:

These apartments are truly amazing and so efficient! They’re very small and pretty bad for tall people, but they work for me. I only just cleaned today, but now it looks really nice.

There’s a loft above where I’m standing to take the picture, and some closets to the right. Behind me is a little hallway with a fridge, two burners, a sink, and a washing machine. There’s also a bathroom, of course, with a toilet and separate room for a shower.

It’s super nifty, because the water only comes from one place and you choose whether it goes through the showerhead or the sink. Also, the sink tap switches over to fill the bath 🙂 Lots of ways to save water! On top of that, on top of the toilet there’s a small tap: when you flush and the tank refills, the clean water goes through the tap first so you can use it to wash your hands or take a drink. Japan is gleefully wonderful and clever.

We were very busy with orientation the next couple days. We went to get our foreign registration cards, which was a super long and not at all fruitful trek. We ended up coming home empty-handed. I pushed myself too hard that day and ended up going home and crashing for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately I missed the welcome dinner which was apparently the bomb 😦 But I got a lot more rest, so it’s all good.

The next day we went again to get our foreign registration cards. We had a few setbacks but we did get it done and got back to school just in time to take our placement tests. I was soooo tired that day, I could barely stay awake for the test. Not good at all.

Then it was Saturday, and we had nothing scheduled, so we went into Osaka proper to do some shopping. We went to two buildings, and each one had about 10 floors, each floor being a store. It was intense.

[photo removed]

First of all, GUNDAM. Second of all, if you look behind me you can see just how BUSY that place is. There’s stuff and signs and people everywhere!! I got so dizzy from it all. Anyway, I found a closet organizer, which I sorely needed. Without it I couldn’t do anything but dump my suitcase in my closet: there was nowhere to put anything. Now I’m in much better shape 🙂 I also got some amazingly cute school supplies. See, Japanese folders are thin, clear plastic, and they open on the top and the right only. I have one that has the silhouette of a squirrel on the back side and its skeleton on the front, so when there’s paper you just see one or the other. It’s super cool. I also have one with a few pockets: the front has clear bottles on an opaque background, and each layer of plastic has the contents of the jars, so depending on which pockets you have paper in the jars have something or nothing in them 🙂

Today everyone was really tired so we’re all chilling at home, which gives me time to take care of a zillion things. And now that I’ve gone over the first few days, I realize I’ve left out a few things, so I’m just going to list them in no particular order.

1. It is hot and humid. Really really hot and humid. Lots of people carry fans and handkerchiefs, myself now included.

2. I met a stray kitty. It was tiny and black. Sean tried to pet it but it batted his hand. Cute and scary 🙂

3. People here are so nice and helpful! When I was kind of lost on the way to the meeting spot the first day, this man noticed and offered to help me get my train ticket. Also, people rarely lock their bikes/motorbikes when they stop to shop or get food. And when a photo machine ate my 1000 yen, Shane’s roommate (who is a saint, by the way. He’s done so much for us!) called the help line and they are mailing me my money back. I didn’t even have to prove that it got eaten, they just believed it.

4. Conbini (convenience stores): there are two near me, and they have prepackaged meals and bread and stationary supplies, as well and magazines and manga. It’s really awesome.

5. The food is wonderful. I’ll try to post photos some time.

6. There is some WEIRD fashion here. I love it 🙂

7. Gasuto (Gusto) is a restaurant that’s seriously just like Denny’s… only it’s gone through the filter of Japan. It’s really interesting.

8. They sort their garbage between recyclable, burnable, and non-burnable. I still haven’t figured it all out. But when you recycle bottles you have to take off the wrapper, and get this: in Japan the wrappers are made to come off. I know it sounds trivial but it’s just one of those “Japan does it better” moments. I’ve been having a LOT of those lately.

9. Pocari Sweat: it’s like Gatorade, and it’s basically what kept me from passing out when we were running around the city.

10. Gaijin syndrome: you get some weird reactions, because everyone knows you’re a foreigner just by looking at you. Once a maintenance man came by about our tv, and as soon as I opened the door his face changed from normal to panic mode, and I had to reassure him that I spoke Japanese and he wasn’t going to have to try to speak English (of course after that I didn’t understand a word he said ^^;). Also, when we were shopping in Osaka, in the middle of the store a student came up to me, introduced herself, and asked me to help her edit a speech she had wrote in English. It was… just bizarre.

There are a ton more things to tell, but I’m running out of energy and ideas. This place is just super rad. I hope everyone is having a good time back in the states! Please keep in touch with me!