So yes, after a summer of preparing and planning, I am finally here in Japan!
I flew from Heathrow on 6th September at 1.30pm, and arrived at Narita on the 7th at 9.05am. I met one of my course mates there as we had just happened to book the same flight, and after a teary good bye with my parents (the tears coming from them of course 😉 ) we made our through security and got on the plane. The flight was as good as a long haul can be, and despite being sat next to a slightly eccentric Chemist guy who was a spit talker and didn’t quite understand that when I fell silent it meant ‘I want to watch The Avengers now which I’ve had on pause for about 45 minutes’, it was fairly chilled. Didn’t sleep at all, but I never do. I watched about four films on the way (The Avengers = good, Brave = good, Dark Shadows = wasn’t overly impressed, Five Year Engagement = didn’t get to watch the end, but it was okay).
I was met at the airport by my friend Yuki’s mum, Shizuka, and having been warned by Yuki that her mum couldn’t speak a word of English, I was all prepared to start talking in Japanese. Despite having had no sleep for over 12 hours, I was quite awake and for the first hour or so managed okay. My Japanese is still fairly broken, and I haven’t done much revision this summer but I managed to make myself understood. Around 11.00 thought, I started to crash and found it much more difficult, but Shizuka didn’t seem to mind and let me just sit quitely for the rest of the journey. She was very kind to me, she paid for all my train tickets, and even bought me a top up rail card, which she had already put about 5000 yen on me, and took me right to the dorm, helping me with all my stuff, and then took me out for lunch.
Nothing could have prepared me for the heat though. Everyone had said ‘make sure you pack light and cool clothes’, so I threw all my summer things into my suitcase, but I didn’t understand just how hot it was going to be. It’s roughly 32 degrees outside and incredibly humid. Even if I wear skirts and shorts with strappy tops, you feel like you’re wearing a full body of clothes as the heat just envelopes you. Also because of the humidity you just feel sticky, which is horrible. Because I wasn’t used to it, I ended up feeling a bit ill on my first day, and I could barely eat my lunch. I felt really bad, but Shizuka didn’t seem to mind.
She took me back to the dorm, and I gave her the tea cosy we’d got her as a thank you gift. She then went home, and I thought I’d start unpacking. However, a couple of girls came to my door and introduced themselves. I can’t remember one of their names as I haven’t really seen her since, but the other was Arielle, a very bubbly and cheery American, and they both helped me sort out my bedding and then we went up to Arielle’s room to have a chat. After that, me and Arielle decided to go for a stroll around Kasai. She showed me a shop where I got a ‘hanko’, which is a Japanese name stamp which you use for all sorts of official documents (it sort of replaces a signature) and then we decided to walk through a pachinko parlour as we’d never been in one before. It was the loudest place I had ever been in, and I don’t know how the Japanese can do it! We got some odd looks as we went through, but I guess we were being a bit strange for just walking through like that!
We then had a look in a book store that was just down the street and got blinded by the manga section so we made a hasty retreat. After strolling around a bit more we headed back to the dorm, and I had a proper unpack. By that point I was feeling a tad overwhelmed and I did get a bit teary, so I finished unpacking and lay down on my bed and had an unintentional nap. I woke up and realised it was time to go and have some tea so made my way to the dorm food hall. Due to the nap I was feeling a lot better but I was still pretty tired. Also, the food, not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s free so I guess I can’t complain too much. I finished my food and went back to my room and skyped mum and dad to see if they were okay. After that I watched Doctor Who and went to sleep. I only woke up once during the night which was surprising and I managed to get to sleep again fairly easy.
Breakfast was much nicer than the tea, and after getting very confused over how to eat a croquette with chopsticks I asked the girls sitting next to me (in Japanese!) how to and they showed me. Later I met up with Dane, my course mate who was also placed at Hosei, and we went on another exploration around Kasai. We found a really good store where everything upstairs was 100 yen and the man at the till was really friendly and helpful. He clearly wanted to have a go at speaking in English so we ended up having a conversation where he’d speak to me in English and I’d reply in Japanese. Well, I’m here for a reason!
We decided to be really brave and try the local McDonalds, which was very nice, and then continued our exploration. We found a little park and looked at a memorial thing, which we then realised was one for Hiroshima. As we tend to be asked if we’re American, we thought that perhaps we should move. Don’t want no awkward arguments now.
After an long walk around town, we went our separate ways as the boy’s dormitory is in Minami Kasai. I headed back and collapsed on my bed until the dormitory mum knocked for me to say tea was ready and that there were some more exchange students for me to meet. So I wandered down and introduced myself, and hurrah! We have another Brit! After chatting for a bit we took ourselves off to our rooms and went to Bedfordshire. Aka, bed 😉