Well I’m back from the good ol’ USA and ready to crack down for finals. Yesterday I had to turn in my kanji book about fashion which was super simple. Tomorrow I have final for Japanese Society and a final paper due for my Japanese topics class that has to be partially in Japanese. Friday I have a report due on a 10 page book read, don’t judge me lol! Next week I only have like 4 classes but I work 50 hours for a family visiting Japan. The following and final week of classes I have a 2 presentations, 1 book report and 3 final test. I promise I will never complain when I get back to Spelman for taking 5 classes (20 credits)!
One of the joys of studying in Japan is this 8 week spring break I’m about to have. I plan on taking an intensive Japanese course in Shibuya with ARC for the month of february, a women’s conference in Dubai, hopefully trips to India and Thailand in March. I also plan on working since as many of you know I’m trying to rid myself of student debt.
I will try to update you all more since I surely hated when following a blog and they just fall off the blogwagon. yes for the MAC lipstick
My first sumo match ever
First family picture in many, many years
Well let me tell you now that that is a myth, well at least it is here at Tsuda. I am drowning in homework. Kanji test with 25 new Kanji and 80 vocab each week, 2 work sheets, 1 essay, reading 5 pages and meeting with a tutor once a week for 1.5 hours. The benefit is that my Japanese should be amazing when I leave next year.
Luckily I can escape on weekends but with curfew even that is hard. I spend my weekends eating crepes in Harajuku, shopping in Shibuya and karaoke in Kokubunji. I went to see the movie Hafu which is an excellent document about Biracial Japanese people. Check it out if you get a chance. It’s being released in cities around the world in the upcoming weeks. I also got to meet with a professional sumo wrestler this past week! Winter festival is coming up and I have a gymnastics meet that same weekend. Life is busy but better than the last time I blogged. I’m erasing people that cause me stress and focusing on enjoying my time abroad.
Life has been very hectic here in Japan. I think I have already went through the 2 phases of culture shock (honeymoom phase and the debbie downer phase) so now I’ve reached the acceptance phase. This means that I accept Japan for what it has and doesn’t have. I recognize that I will never find Welch’s fruit snacks, colby jack cheese, pepperoni or lawry salt seasoning. I’ve come to an understanding that carbs will make up 80% of my daily diet and that having 9 classes is normal here.
I’ve been filling up my days to stay busy. Trying not to thing about him (not so happy breakup before I left to Japan). I’ve been quite successful I must say. Gymnastics 3x a week and badminton 2x a week and maybe a boxing class here or there. Nothing beats throwing yourself into fitness regardless of the underlying reasons. Plus I have homework in 5-6 of my classes usually. I learn about 25 kanji a week and that is very stressful. Weekends I shop in Shibuya, sing karaoke for hours on end or go out to eat. All in all that equals a large chunk of money but it offers me piece of mind if that makes any sense.
I’ve attached a few pics of my new cell phone, boxing class and from the welcome party at Tsuda. I have no idea why one of my friends covered herself with that thing lol
I started my first semester of classes of what will be a year long exchange here at Tsuda College for the semester. I must say that it is very intense compared to the 3-5 classes and average student in the US might have. I have 9 classes! I’m currently taking Kanji, Grammar, Reading, Conversation, Japanese Society, Japanese Modern History, Japanese seminar, Australian studies and Spanish 3 (random I know). They are all very interesting classes although my Spanish class is review of things I learned in in 201. They meet once a week.
I also joined the gymnastics club which is very intensive a most Japanese clubs are. Clubs in Japan meet 5-10 hours a week while circles are more social and may meet 1-2 hours a week. I practice on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 4-7pm. No one speaks much english and I am definitely the awkward girl at practice but maybe that’ll change over the course of the next year. The have legit competitions and are even ordering a uniform for me. I may join the boxing club or samba club which practices twice a week at 7pm. Weight loss is on the horizon! It is the best way to form friendships with people my age so far.
My cooking has not improved and I mainly eat rice made with my lovely rice maker and curry packets. I supplement this with the occasional pancakes, cereal or eggs with green peppers. I attempted to make a hamburger and with only salt and pepper it turned into a giant breakfast sausage. I added syrup to make up for no ketchup. I’ve brought some vegetables and meat to make stew so I’ll let you know how that all goes. Fruit is very expensive in Japan due to the importation taxes so unfortunately I don’t eat many vegetables. I have found a new vegan restaurant in Tokyo that I plan to try out in the next couple of weeks. I need a cell phone to get around and use these train lines!
No pictures today but I promise to be more proactive in documenting my experience through photos 🙂
Yesterday was my last day of the two day orientation and I also finally got the chance to pick my classes. I’m taking 4 Japanese classes (Kanji, reading, grammar and conversation), Spanish 3, Japanese society, seminar on Japanese studies, European History and Australian History. Hopefully next semester I will be able to enroll in some classes taught completely in Japanese. Each class is once a week for 1.5 hours a day which is why I’m in so many classes for those who are wondering.
I’m adjusting very well to life here at Tsuda College and there are definitely some differences when comparing it to my home school, Spelman College. There are public showers with no privacy so it is still quite awkward for me sitting on a container near the ground showering with 10 other girls. Also, there’s no mall nearby and all the shops are at least a 20 minute walk. Luckily I rented a bike with a nice little basket and bell so hopefully I can get around a little smoother. And lastly, transportation in Japan is so expensive and all my favorite shops are 40 minutes away by train in Shibuya, Tokyo so I will be one broke college student!
Yesterday I arrived to Tsuda College which is about 40 minutes from Tokyo but trust me, it was not easy. I arrived at Nagoya airport about 2 hours early thankfully and paid $40 for my 75lb suitcase which if you’re from America, you know is a pretty good deal. That took about 1 hour since I guess no one travels with overweight luggage so they weren’t sure what to do.
Once I arrived in Tokyo I was greeted by my 2 “big sisters” which are basically part of the foreign student exchange friendship group or something like that. I felt like death dragging my two heavy suitcases through rush hour in Tokyo, 4 transfers and 3 hours later to Kodaira, where the school is located. With my broken Japanese I tried to tell them I’d like to take the express route but obviously that was lost in translation.
After we arrived we were able to get some delicious Indian curry near the station and another 20 minute walk to the dorms. I shed a few silent tears as I was sure my arms were somehow dislocated (I know I’m dramatic). Lugging it up 2 flights of stairs I arrived to the room a hot sweaty mess only to find out that my airconditioner didn’t work and I needed a chord for internet. Needless to say I bawled my eyes and finally dragged myself into the showers. The showers are very different. You go in, get naked, step behind a curtain and sit on a 6 inch basket type chair near the ground and wash yourself. There is also a onsen type tub that you can get into AFTER you shower. It was only a little strange to see everyone talking and having conversations while completely naked only a few feet away from each other. I got in and out as quickly as possible!
Things are looking brighter today. Although I had to walk around for a few hours in attempt to find an ATM to get money out of I was able to buy the cord for internet and food for groceries. I’ve met a few of my neighbors and even had a few broken conversations in Japanese although the consist of me saying “hai” or “unnnn” since I don’t know what exactly is being said lol.
So today I brought my ticket to Japan and I’m going to pick up my visa from the consulate. It’s all becoming so real that I won’t be home for a year! I have been studying like crazy but I know I will be very far behind the other exchange students as far as Japanese speaking ability is concerned. I’m headed to Japan early to attend a 3 week course at Yamasa Institute in Okazaki! It will be about 60 hours of intensive learning. Still have no idea how I can get from Okazaki to Tokyo so if any of you know please share the details!