{Shaun in Japan}

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011 7am JST

Posted by Shaun

I’m not a fan of jet leg or of Typhoon 14.

I’m awake at 7am, even though we don’t actually have to meet for anything today until 10:30. I wanted to get in an extra hour or so, in hopes that maybe I won’t want to crash at around 8pm. Oh well. I’ll adjust to this time zone eventually.

As for Typhoon 14, it’s absurdly humid here right now. Due to the earthquake and the resulting power shortages, there are a lot of efforts to conserve electricity.  At Waseda and at our hostel, that means curtailing the air conditioning. The recommended setting is 28 degrees Celsius. I’m not sure what that translates to in Fahrenheit, other than “not cold enough to make a difference.” It would be one thing if we had an electric fan instead, but we don’t. At least the Waseda energy-saving information came printed on an uchiwa paper fan, so I have to take breaks from my typing to fan myself. I took a hot bath last night, which I totally don’t regret because nothing drains the worries away like a hot bath, but I feel like I haven’t been dry since then, thanks to the humidity.

Yesterday was so busy. We were literally thrown into the beginnings of our college lives here. We left the hostel at 8:30 to take the train to Waseda, and then we planted ourselves in Building 22 and went over program rules and what to prepare for our homestay interviews. At noon we had a break for lunch, during which I ate cheese naan and drank a mango lassi with boba in it at a nearby Indian restaurant. The lassi was amazing. I wish I had another one right now, but I’ll make do with the remains of the Calpis I bought last night after my bath. We do have a mini-fridge in our room, and the cold bottle feels amazing resting against my ankle.

After lunch, we met up with some Waseda students to go explore campus. There are a lot of Japanese students that are helping us, which is awesome. Some of them are our program assistants, so they’re with us all the time. Sunday night after we got to our hostel, me and another guy ended up having dinner with one of our program assistants and she was really friendly. They were all given our pictures and names to learn ahead of time, but even knowing that, I’m still surprised whenever one of them calls me by name. They’re really good at keeping track of us and making sure we don’t get lost in the train stations, though.

The two students that were directing our group were also really friendly, but it was so hard to talk with them. Listening to Japanese drains my energy so quickly even when I can understand it. They also knew some English, so that was helpful, but I just felt bad that I wasn’t more talkative. All day long people kept asking me thinks like “大丈夫?(daijoubu)” and 疲れている? (tsukareteiru)”
(“Are you okay?” And “Are you tired?”) I didn’t really get why people kept asking me this, but when I finally saw my face in the mirror when I went to the bathroom before dinner, I understood. Man, I didn’t look good at all. But like I said, I’ll adjust eventually.

Waseda campus is very pretty, but I was literally too tired to take pictures. I have plenty of time though, since I’ll be there almost every day for the next year.

After our tour, my group went back to our home base in Building 22 to for homestay interviews. Mine made me really nervous for some reason. I feel like I really don’t know what I want, so I’m not sure how the staff can choose a family for me. I have faith that they know what they’re doing, but I don’t envy their job. I find out my host family on Friday. On Saturday we ship our big suitcases to them, and on Monday we move in. Classes don’t start until Monday the 26th I think.

Although I’m definitely anxious about it, in some ways I can’t wait to move in with my host family. I’m already tired of living out of a suitcase. That was what I didn’t like on Japan Term, and it’s still true. I want more time to sit down and connect with people, and we haven’t really had that yet. I feel like it takes me a while to make friends and social connections, and I’ve been too tired to socialize well. Not  to say that I’m not on good terms with most of the people from my program. I like them all and they seem really driven to be successful here. It’s just hard to bond with people when you’re exhausted. 

Last, I had to take the Japanese placement test. It was SO HARD. I didn’t do nearly as well as I wanted to. I got into level 2, and I’ve taken 2 years of college Japanese. I suppose I should have expected it, but it was still frustrating. Thankfully, they changed the regulations this year and we can switch to any level we want, but if it’s hard, we can’t drop it. I got a 164 and I needed 171 to get into level 3, so I think I’ll probably try level 3, because I’m tired of Japanese classes that aren’t challenging… I’ll have to work really hard and I won’t be expecting an A, though.

Today we have a day trip to Yokohama. I have no idea what we’ll be doing there, but we’ll be there until 5pm.

One Response so far.

  1. Now we`re on typhoon 15!
    I can`t wait til fall. The summer is starting to get to me, too.

    It sounds like they`re putting you right to work. How stressful! I hope it`s getting better!

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