Today was a true adventure.
We took our placement exams this morning, and most people here seem to be on a similar level, give or take. I, personally, was able to answer probably half of the questions, total. The exam was three parts: 45 min, 35 min, and 30 min each. Our placements will be posted tomorrow morning right before classes start.
After the test we all broke into groups and got a library tour and then a full campus tour. The library seemed simple enough; just the average tour: how to find books, how to print, how to check in and out, and… how the underground machine brings up requested books from the basement into the main office automatically??
Our guide then proceeds to tell us that we should never try to enter that room uninvited, because if we try to open it and the door is locked, the entire room fills with CO2 automatically, and there are people who work down below the machine and they will all die. Yeah, moving on to the next part of our tour….
WHAT THE HECK, JAPAN?!
Turns out our library also has a room for children’s books in Japanese, so that those of us who want to read something to practice, but aren’t fluent, can look at them. I found quite a few books I knew, including “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Goodnight Moon,” “Little Black Sambo,” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”
The campus tour was mainly to show us where various buildings are, but the campus is so large that I don’t remember how to get to any of them. But there were a few things on campus that I didn’t catch in my video, but wanted to post. There is this small path leading through some trees (as most of the sidewalks do around here, anyway) but this one is marked differently. One of the girls touring us told me “they are not dating,” in reference to the sign. I don’t know why she felt the need to clarify that these two alien-like creatures are not in a relationship, but she did, and it amused me quite a lot.
There are also a whole lot of stray cats (“neko” in Japanese) on campus. This one let me take it’s picture, so here it is, a Japanese cat! Oh, so very different from an American one, right? Don’t judge me, I thought it was cute.
Anyway, after we finished our tour I met up with Eduardo (who I came with, from UCSB) and a girl named Melissa, who I met outside of the placement exam. We were planning to go to the town where she is staying (she is doing homestay, not dorms) but we met up with another group that wanted to go shopping (our plans, also) and walked (and walked, and walked, and walked) to a store right outside the campus. We saw this on the way. Your guess is as good as mine.
I got eggs, milk, Calpico (a milky sweet beverage), three types of onigiri (triangular rice balls covered in seaweed and filled with various things), and body wash at the store, and then we all headed back. After I dropped my stuff off, Melissa, Eduardo, and I continued with our original plan and took a bus and a train into her town, where she directed us around to her homestay apartment complex and to a cheaper store.
I got vegetables, rice, a bigger milk, and a hand towel here. For some reason, Japanese bathrooms do not provide towels to dry your hands, nor do they provide toilet seat covers; two things I was not prepared for.
Then Eduardo and I headed back to campus. I know the way and everything! This is how you navigate the train stations in Japan. There are a few minutes of waiting at the end of the video, but not too much, and you can see how during rush hours before and after work they really do stuff the trains with people (I’ve been unable to move while on a few, but have been told that it can get much, much worse). When I walk through the little aisle thing the doors in front of me were supposed to be closed, so when I swiped my card, the machine got confused and I had to redo it. But, the way it’s supposed to work is everyone can keep moving (stopping is Tokyo’s worst enemy) and just slide their SUICO card across a sensor as they pass and it will deduct your ticket price. The SUICO card is a prepaid card that costs a 500 yen (about $6) deposit, but that you can add money to so you don’t have to buy a ticket for each train. I bought one today.
We took the Chuo Line train to Musashisakai station, where we got off and waited at bus stop 2 for bus 93. However, our bus left right as we were walking up and they come every 20ish minutes, so we had some time to kill and neither of us had eaten. I got the chance to use my Japanese, and only ended up proving my incompetence when it took us about 10 of our 20 minutes to explain to a police officer standing nearby that we wanted to go somewhere to buy something small and cheap to eat. But he finally directed us to what was sort of like a small Macy’s, and told us to go downstairs. Low and behold, there was a whole grocery store down there. I got some sort of dish that, after eating it, seemed to be pieces of pastrami on shredded onion and lettuce, and it included a lemon sauce to put on it. It was pretty good. I also got a green tea.
In Japan at night, the stores knock down the prices on all of their prepared foods because (I think) they have to get rid of them. So, I was able to get some of my stuff during my three grocery visits for 30-50% off.
After we each bought a marked down dinner, we got on the bus, and it takes us straight to campus, where it stops (very easy!). Now, I’m back at my dorm room and I’m EXHAUSTED. At least I’m still awake, though. The last two nights I’ve passed out at 8:00 due to ridiculous jet lag. Tonight seems to be the night I get on track. Maybe I will wake up later than 5:00 AM finally!
P.S. You are probably wondering about my room mate. She’s nice. She’s the charismatic, popular, girly type, but truly nice and conversational. We don’t spend time together, since she has a few friends already (she knows some Japanese people and has a few people here from her college in Clairmont, as well as a friend from Hawaii, where she is from). Her name is Kristin.
I will do a room tour and a dorm tour sometime soon, hopefully. Our schedules are really busy right now.
“P.P.S. <– That’s funny” – Tow Mater
This is for you, Sean.