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Japan Days 8-10: Orientation Week 2

Day 8. I have officially been in Japan for more than one week. After this point I think it will start setting in that I am not on vacation and that this is permanent for the next three and a half months. But for now, either my mind has accepted that fact, or I am so overwhelmed that it is blocked from my consciousness because it really isn’t freaking me out whatsoever.

Not much happened today that was worth writing about—at least not picture worthy and probably not interesting to anyone but me! Basically the day revolved around the entrance ceremony, a few more informational sessions, and most importantly: the Japanese level placement test. I didn’t really think it was too hard, but I guess we will see when we get the results on Thursday! 😉 (Also, sorry if this is confusing anyone, but I am writing these blog posts as they happen to me, and then I am usually posting them several days later due to the lack of internet at my house and difficult to access internet a shops and such. So please excuse the fluctuating tenses and bizarre timeline!)

A large group of us did go out for lunch between the ceremony and the test, which is always fun. I think people are starting to think it is weird that I take pictures of everything and everyone, so I refrained this once. Everyone had some sort of ramen from a really interesting restaurant where you get a ticket at the beginning of the line, and as you go down you grab things you want the chef to put in your ramen. Then at the cashier you give them the ramen ticket along with your tray full of ingredients, which are then cooked up and ready to go minutes later.

Many people also went over to Mister Donut, and though I didn’t buy any I did sample some that other people got. All I have to say is: delicious. I have never particularly been a donut person (probably because my mom never let me… T_T) but these were fantastic. One of them seemed to be made of mochi—rice flour—because of its light yet chewy texture, and another was like an old fashioned donut but was honey flavored with a thick honey glaze. Fortunately or unfortunately, this store is directly in the path to and from school to obaachan’s house… >.<

Also in this large grocery/stuff/department store is a crepe store. But that is not all—they have bubble tea! 😀 Bubble tea is not really a big thing in Japan, but I love it so much that no matter how it tastes I am happy that I know where to go when I need my fix. I definitely want to go back and explore. I love all places that sell food, but this place was definitely interesting. I could seriously spend an hour just in the snack area!

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At the end of the day, many students went to a school festival, but obaachan was already planning on making me tonkatsu for dinner so I felt like I needed to return. Why tonkatsu? Well, the word for win is “katsu” and apparently it is a thing in Japan to eat it before tests and competitions and such because of this “lucky” double meaning. It was super delicious, and I definitely want to learn how to make it!

Day 9.

What started out as quite a normal day almost hurtled off course into dreadfulness, but at the last moment made an unforeseen adjustment and was fabulous.

OK, it wasn’t THAT dramatic, but at the time it sure seemed like it!

Today was just another day of orientation, though with a speaking and online test. The morning went fairly quickly and we soon arrived at my favorite past time: eating. Today I went to a place called Coco’s with several IES friends for some delicious lunch and dessert.

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After that we were introduced to an area of the school called SALC, which is sort of like a library/learning center/English Only Zone/….everything else. Seriously, it is FABULOUS and I wish SO MUCH that St. Kate’s had something similar. We then headed over to learn about the PCs on campus, only to realize….

The computer test would be the J-CAT test! :O

Why is this horrible? Well, we all had to take this last June before coming here…and it was basically the comprehensive, ACT like test of Japanese language. A serious day ruiner.

We all openly complained—rightfully so—because you are only supposed to be able to take the test once every 6 months, and apparently there was a miscommunication and we weren’t supposed to take it before we got to Japan… T_T

Just then, one of the teachers came in and said some people didn’t have to take it. Everyone got excited and relieved, but then we all realized it was probably just the kids who had never studied Japanese before and literally couldn’t take the test and once again all got moody and disappointed. (At this point we are all ready to say goodbye to orientation forever, and are all anxious to just start classes already. Not to mention we had already taken two tests for Japanese in the last day).

However, and this is a big however, when the teacher called out the names, MINE WAS ON THE LIST! 😀 I DIDN’T HAVE TO TAKE THE TEST AGAIN!!! 😀

Somehow 5 other students and I “correctly” uploaded/emailed in our test results, which allowed us to skip out on the test this time. THANK GOODNESS. So we ran out of there as fast as we could, then sat outside a convenience store drinking tea for about an hour while the other students were taking the test.

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Before heading home most of the IES students and several of the epals hung out in the lounge area of the SALC; partially waiting for people to finish their tests and then because it was too early to eat dinner or head home. I passed on this evenings festivities because obaachan was babysitting a 3-year-old neighbor who I desperately wanted to meet.

Although the little girl—Rina—was incredibly shy with me, she was adorable and the three of us watched Totoro and talked while eating dinner, then obaachan read her Japanese children’s stories after dinner until her mom came to pick her up.

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Day 10.

Originally I had planned on going into Tokyo to Shibuya with some friends after going to the ward office for my resident registration, but I have been on the go so much that I decided I needed a day off. Before I left for Japan, one of my friends who had already studied abroad told me that one of the important things to remember about studying abroad is that you are not just “on vacation” – you are living there. Because of this, it is okay—and necessary—to go home and take a nap, read a book, or do something else that is not tourist-y all the time.

On the way back home from the ward office, obaachan and I went to a grocery store. She was explaining that she likes this one because it is cheap, and I think it is probably the equivalent of a Cub or Rainbow in the US. It was quite entertaining, though obaachan kept asking me what I wanted to eat and I am still having a hard time telling her “yes” or “no” to things. The store also had this silly “bag it yourself” area where you brought your groceries after they had been rung up.

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Then I headed over to school for some quality internet time in the SALC—the place I was yesterday. It was really great; I was able to skype my mom, catch up with friends in and outside of Japan…and I met some random guy and talked to him about Japan for about an hour! >.<

I finished off the day going out to dinner with IES friends. If you are wondering why I take so many similar pictures of eating out with friends, it is because we always have such memorable experiences together that I want to remember. This group of people is so great, and we all have a common interest in Japan, that we can talk about literally anything together. Yes, we talk about our personal lives and the weather and such, but we also have deep discussions about issues like earthquakes and social disparities in Japan, the fishing industry in Asia, the positive and negative aspects of holding the Olympics in Tokyo for the economy and for the people… Not to mention much more awkward topics I am not going to go into online! 😉

We went to the most fabulous restaurant at Lalaport, and we all decided that we need to go back for another girls night asap! For about $15 you could use the all you can eat buffet for 70 minutes… and they had savory foods like pasta, udon, salad, which were great, but the highlight was the CAKE BAR! Seriously there were around 100 cakes and desserts, along with shaved ice, ice cream, and a drink bar.

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After that we ended the night doing purikura, which is a type of photo booth. There is nothing like this in the US, and it automatically does all sorts of special effects to your skin, eyes, etc.

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Thanks for reading!

じゃ、また明日!

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