I need to try and remember what I have and have not written, things have been so crazy busy here. I find it amazing that I have only been here for a week. So much has been crammed into this one week I can hardly remember what I have done.
After Thursdays crash course in Japanese living I slept a bit better. Still didn't sleep perfectly. I think I woke up once at 5 and then every hour after that till 6:40, at which point I said screw it and stayed awake. Got ready and went down stairs.
Yesterday I walked ALL OVER THE PLACE.
We woke up pretty early and walked down to Ookayama station. Our buddies were supposed to meet us at the Dorms, but some of us got texts asking if we could meet them in the station. I figure it meant that they were running late too, but it made us really really late in starting the day. We rode the train from Ookayama to Shirokanedai, which is where the school is. The walk to the school is very nice. It's a straight shot all the way down from the station to the school. Campus is VERY pretty! There are big trees, and cherry blossoms. There is a very pretty Church right when you walk in. The architecture is a mix between really modern and kinda old, leaning toward the modern. Really the only piece of old style architecture is the church. Which is really pretty inside and out. The main building where all the classes are is nice but REEEALLY tall, like 10 levels and the floor plan is a little weird. It looks very cool though, I will take pictures and post as soon as possible.
When we got to the main building we went up a few floors to a classroom. There we were given a quick orientation on life in Tokyo and the surrounding area. Joe was there explaining things, I still haven't read the packet we got all the way through, I might do that later tonight. There are some phone numbers that I want to program into my phone for emergencies and stuff. We also met this guy who graduated from the MGU program a long time ago but liked Japan so much he came back and is now working in Japan teaching English. His name was Rudie and he was really nice. Once the orientation was over we came up to the front of the class and introduced ourselves. By this time the back of the room was FULL of our MGU Buddies. There must have been like 30 people... there probably were because that are about two for each of us and there are like 20 of us...
I went up to the podium like 5th. And said my name, and at that point your buddy is supposed to come get you and talk to you and take you on on a tour of the school. After I was done saying mine, my buddy wasn't there, so I went over to someone elses buddies whose person had an appointment and couldn't come. My buddy did come over after a few seconds, like I barely got to finish introducing myself to the other girls. I went off with my Buddy and we introduced ourselves. Her name is K and she is an english major who used to be at the Yokohama campus of our school. She is really nice and speaks almost perfect english which is great for me cause my Japanese sucks.
I can tell K and I are going to get along great, she and I have a lot in common, from guy problems, to shopping addiction, to music and dancing. Then we started the tour of the school. The library is a little ridiculous. It is huge and very high tech and nice. Such a big place, but it is really pretty. I will probably go there a lot. Then I think we just wondered around and saw like the student affairs office and the clinic and the Center for the International Cooperation in Education, which is Joes office, and some other places. Last we went to the dinning hall, which is awesome and huge. It has two floors and an interesting payment system. They have like a case of examples of food you can buy and a price with a colored tag. You go over to these little coin machines on the wall by them. You put the amount of Yen for your meal in the machine and the dishes you can afford light up, then you press the button corresponding to the number you want and a ticket pops out. You grab a tray and go up to this counter and give them your ticket and they make you your food. You have to go up to the right counter though, cause the specific cooking stations are written on plaques about the counter. I haven't gotten that part down yet but I like the food, and the system is really easy and convenient to use.
We sat and talked for a really long time. It was a lot of fun. I had this tasty spicy curry chicken. I love the dinning hall and it was awesome to sit and talk to K, we talked about so much. After a while all the other kids started showing up. We sat with them for a bit. It was a lot of fun. We went outside to the HUGE courtyard in front of the cafeteria and sat at a table with some other ISP students. We just talked about music and stuff.It was a lot of fun. After lunch we all convened at the gates to the school to take a giant trip to a bank to open an account. Rudie knew about this pretty darn cool place that had English services, which is awesome and helpful, they also let you pick the color of your bank card. He suggested going there, but all of the other buddies didn't seem up for it.
So it ended up being him, me and my buddie Kei, and another of the ISP students and their buddy. Sadly, you have to be 20 to open a bank account, and I am not so I wasn't able to anyways. But it was a very nice convinient bank a short walk from campus. After that, Rudie, Kei and I took a walk over to this close by mall with a train hub under it.
There I used my newly acquired travel fund to by a Pasmo. It's kinda like the smart trip cards in D.C. you can use them on trains and busses. They also have Suica, which you can kinda use like a charge cards at Convinies (convienience stores). Anyways, the paper work wasn't that bad. I just had Rudie and Kei translate for me, since both of them speak their non native language perfectly (Rudie speaks perfect japanese, and Kei speaks perfect English).
After that was done Kei and I went to Harajuku for shopping, because I told her I wanted to go there. Apparently she goes there a lot. So we wandered around there for a bit. There are so many awesome stores there. One of my new favorites is the San-qu Yen Store (pronounced Tsuank You, like thank you, it's a play on words, the Japanese seem to love that.) But every thing is 390 Yen or under (San-qu is 3-9, add a 0). I got a pair of black and red striped suspenders for 300 Yen and a face towel with the suites of cards on it. It's really cheep and good there. There were a lot of other stores I want to go to again. Like I found this cute outfit at one little hole in the wall store. It was a black and white stripe dress with little buckle straps and pockets on the sides, with a bubble hem. It was cute, but didn't look that great by it's self. I had to put this awesome waist sincher belt in red with pyrimade studs down the front on. Then it gaves me the best hour glass shape. I still don't think it showed enough curves for dance wear though, so I didn't get it, despite the good price. Little tired mini skirts with random patterns seem to be very popular here. I kinda want one of those, and harajuku has them very cheap.
One fun thing about harajuku is the ridiculous amount of Creiperies. There is one at almost every corner. Just creips all the time. I don't know how the Japanese keep stay so thin when they have all these fatty foods hanging in front of them constantly. I hear that they diet (as in anorexia or close to it) a lot as a way to stay skinny. There were also a lot of nice pub type places around Harajuku.
Anyways, at some point we ran into Meghan (another girl from my school) and we hung around with her and her buddies for a while before heading home. We left the buddies at one of the stations. It was pretty awesome. A really good day to shop.
I feel lucky, because the weather here has been pretty much a perfect 68-70 for the last week. The weather makes me very happy and makes it hard to be lazy, you don't want to waiste days that are that nice so I have been trying to take advantage of them. No use crying over lazy days, just don't let them happen.
So that was my Fridays excursion. The weekend was also good.
I ended up going to Shirokane-dai, to the school to meet Kei for lunch. I got there a little early and just chilled for a while. It was funny, apparently the Freshmen were having their orientation, so there were probably hundreds of kids just chilling in the courtyard in front of the school as I walked to the cafeteria. They all kinda just stared at me as I walked by. It was a little freaky and a little cool too. It was blatent staring, none of the usual glance-up-glance-down stuff that you usually get when walking through places that Gaijin go. We had a nice lunch, just sitting and talking about the usual mindless girl stuff. But it was a lot of fun.
After lunch I went back to the dorm for a little and just tried to recouperate, going through some of the paper work I had recieved the day before. Did a bit of shopping for food and such, very important, and I seem to keep finding things that I really need, like shampoo and razors and milk and the like. I'm pretty good right now, but I want a piece of chicken to cook and maybe some rice. I also drink like a fish so some kinda pre-packaged drink would be great, especially in large quantities, which is really hard to find in Japan since most of them eat small amounts of every thing.
So at some point I go to this cool bar called Rude Boy. We wanted to see what there was to do in Jiyugaoka, and it's a short metro ride down there, it's actually just a short walk down there, so I might walk next time. But when we got there we were kinda just wandering around until I saw this causcasion guy at a Wendy's (yes they have them down here.) We walked up and asked him where the good places to hang out were. He said that he went to this Jamaican regge bar called the Rude Boy a lot. We took his word for it and headed over. It was a pretty awesome place, really mellow, pretty empty, nice atmosphre. Not a party place, just a place to hang out and talk. We stayed there and chilled for a few hours, but it was pretty early, we left around 9:20. Got back to the dorm and I pretty much just chilled the rest of night, not a busy day, but pleasent.
Sunday was the Hanami. Hana means flower, and miru is to watch, so a hanami is a flower watch, litterally. It was pretty awesome, we went to Harajuku for it. They have a huge park pretty close by, so we walked there after waiting for a while for the buddies to come collect us. We walked to the park, and oh my god there were far too many people. Like Harajuku is usually insaine, but today it was ridiculous. Like you had to move with the heard or face being trampled.
We finally got into the park and the sakura were so pretty. They looked very nice against the bright blue sky. It was very lovely. I got lots of good photos that can be seen on my facebook. It was awesome, the buddies set up this giant tarp and pilles of food, mostly junky stuff like pizza and chips.
Japanese pizza is very interesting. Most of it is regular pizza, but they really like mayonase, and not american mayo. It kinda tastes and looks like cheezewiz. It isn't my favorite topping, but other wise it was very pretty. The hanami also provided a good chance to talk to people in the dorm. It was a lot of fun. Nearing the end Danyelle and I took a strole through the park and found all of these pretty places. Like there was a huge pond with little islands with trees in the middle. There were lots of crows looking for scraps from all the drunk people at the hanami. It was nifty seeing the black birds in the pink flowers. I really love crows.
Danyelle and I found this nifty preformance that was about to start. But it wasn't going when we were there. Kinda disappointing, but we heard them later, it was a taiko drum demonstration I think. As we were making our way to the entrance of the park we cam across this drum circle and there were two belly dancers in the middle. I handed one of my friends my bags and kinda jumped in the circle. It was really awesome and fun and the first time I got to belly dance, REALLY BELLY DANCE, in a long time. I was pretty good, at some point they actually fell into rhythem with me. I was very happy about it.
When we got back the Hanami had kinda died down and everyone was leaving. We ended up going to Harajuku with some people to shop. It was so crowded we didn't really go anywhere and I didn't buy anything. We left kinda early I believe, every one was really tired after the Hanami, who knew looking at flowers and eating could take so much energy.
Anyways, I am very tired and have to wake up really early tomorrow. I am actually taking 2 classes at the Yokohama campus, which is a very long ways away. I am taking Religion and Society in Japan and Conflict in International Court System in Yokohama, both classes are at 9:15, which means I need to beon the train around 8 a.m. Keep in mind I am not a morning person, and you can see this will end badly. The other classes I am going to take are Kabuki and The Art of Tea, both of those are at the Shirokane campus, much shorter trip. And of course Japanese. I took the Japanese placement test on Monday. I will tell you about it in more detail next time I write, which may be tomorrow on the train, but long story short, it was pretty darn hard and I got into Japanese 1-1. This is both good and bad (though I think it is more good.)
I can now re-learn the language from scratch with out having to worry about much, and if I had gotten into a different class I couldn't have taken the classes I want at Yokohama. However I would have liked to do better. But I think it will be a good placement. And there are lots of people I know in that class. So not too bad all around.
Now I am going to take a shower and go to bed. I might try and look up the route to take to get from the dorms to Yokohama tomorrow morning. If I can't find it I am kinda of going to be in trouble.
Wish me luck.
Kompai (cheers, Japanese drinking cheers, I kinda like it)