[PSA: There are no pictures in this blog because that is tiresome work for what is basically word vomit. If you want to view my pictures, let's be friends on Facebook!]
So here's a fun story: I missed my third flight. The last of three. The lady back in Indianapolis said, "Oh don't worry, your luggage will arrive at the NGO airport and meet you there on your last flight!" She was wrong. I had to get my luggage from the Tokyo Haneda airport, then bring it over to my flight area, then pick it up in Chubu Centrair Airport.
Suffice to say, my first day in a foreign country alone was terrible.
However, my panicky wailing was heard by a very kind, English-speaking man name Mattias, and holy shit he saved my life. Almost literally. I had no idea how Japan works (still don't), especially the complicated but oh-so-convenient ground transportation systems, yet Mattias swooped in, literally drew me a map, and told me which trains, buses, and shinkansens to ride. The best part? This would take roughly three hours--I hadn't slept for 26 at this point, so HOO BOY was I in full panic mode. Can you imagine? Can you truly imagine the mindset I was in? I still get a little teary just thinking about it. Yeesh!
I digress. It's been two weeks now, and Japan is great. I live in Igaya-chou, a small and beautiful country side town. Aichi University of Education is a lot smaller than my school at home, and I love it. The rooms are nice, the food is delicious, and my dormmates (especially the two Japanese tutors) are just the nicest people. There's always something going on too--we've had two drinkig parties the past few days, went to a hookah bar yesterday, onsen last week, and today I plan to buy a delicious manjun bun and shop for a wallet at the Highway Oasis shopping center. It's been a nonstop ride of new experiences and buying way too many Japanese games.
Oh! Right! School. Yeah, I have that, too.
In Japan, college is much easier. In fact, my Japanese culture teacher last year joked that it's a four year vacation compared to primary school and the work life; people still work hard, mind you, and my personal Japanese tutor Kousuke is smart as a whip, but comparitively, Japanese college is a breeze. Classes meet once a week, for instance, and that was jarring. There are only four periods (called 限 gen) in a day, 90 minutes a piece, and on Wednesdays there's only two to make time for clubs and various other activities. Many students just take a few classes at a time, and the amount of free time from little-to-no homework is quite large. Me, however, being the scaredy little exchanged student I am, I'm taking 1-3 classes everyday, mostly exchange-student classes. Kinda like a supplementary language and culture course. I'm in the lower-tier advanced rank (I'm basically a first grader), so courses are tough but doable. Two classes, however, are actual Japanese classes and I maybe understand 4% of what's going. The first one, 剣道 kendou, is exactly what it sounds like and I'm a goddamned samurai right now. The other one is 書道 shodou, where I draw pretty pictures and say it's calligraphy and hope it's satisfactory. Suffice to say, I'm nervous as hell about not understanding everything, but that's why I'm here, right? It's only been two weeks, and I have twenty-two to go.
And that's that. Things are going smoothly, if quickly, and I still don't know jackshit about the language. Kanji is hard, man. Communication is often embarrasing but necessary. I do have a bicycle, though, and riding down Japanese hills on a warm day is the most calming thing this side of the country.