Mazu wa…

2 Sep

September 2, 2010

So, officially immersed in Japanese life!  I guess that’s the point of an exchange, and an excellent lesson in that whole “be careful what you wish for” thing.  I got here two days ago and I feel exhausted!

It’s been pretty good but pretty overwhelming.  I’m so flustered and busy just trying to communicate during the day that I don’t have time to think about anything else!  In the evening when I have downtime I get pretty lonely for the people back at home.  (Homework might extend the flustered and busy period!!)

I’m already very fond of the host family.  The mom, Yuko, is very nice, and I spend most of my time at home chitchatting with her.  Oh, and also getting to eat large amounts of delicious homemade Japanese food.  The little girl, Miyabi, is hysterical, and likes to hide from me and laugh.  We also watch children’s television together because, honestly, it’s about my level!  Don’t see too much of Kenji, the dad, because his schedule at work has been a little crazy and I’m so tired out in the evening that I’ve been laying down by 9:00.  Not necessarily sleeping, but in bed.

I have a pretty awful commute from the apartment to school.  Okay, it’s really not BAD qualitatively, but it’s very loo-oong.  About 90 minutes on a good day.  Did the commute by myself for the first time today, had absolutely no problem on the way out but made lots of mistakes on the way home and added probably an hour and some to my commute, by boarding the wrong train when I transfered and repeatedly getting turned around on my bike.  I’m very grateful that Yuko took me around the route yesterday and I had a hand-drawn map with landmarks, or else I would never have made it!

The orientation at Nanzan University today was a little disappointing to me.  I hadn’t realized that I’d be lumped together into a department with 150 other gaijin (foreigners) and kind of be forced into an intimidating (and loud!) flock.  I’ve actually been kind of separating myself and sitting away from them – which seems to be working because I have been approached on the campus for conversations by Japanese people a couple of times.  I mean, the other students seem like nice, hardworking people, but I don’t want to hang out with a bunch of other Americans speaking English all the time!  That would be a pointless waste of a lot of money and effort!  I’m hoping to join a club or two to make sure I’m still social, and have lots of opportunites to use Japanese with native speakers.

I’m a little uncomfortable on the train because I get those out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye glances.  I was doing okay mostly, but on the subway on the way home today there were lots of elemetary school students and one girl was giving me this look like I had tentacles!  It was a very steady, very fearful, very hateful stare, almost bug-eyed, and she didn’t care at all that I noticed.  I wanted to ask her to stop because it was rude and embarassing for me, but I think Japanese coming out of the mouth of this alien would not have improved the situation.

One other pleasant item I’m trying to adjust to is my constant sheen of sweat.  I never stop, not even at night!  The heat has just been astounding.  I guess it’s a record-setting summer with the highest daily temperatures since before World War II.  I joked with Yuko today that I haven’t stopped sweating since Narita Airport, although it’s kind of true!

More orientation tomorrow, and then three more days of it next week.  I can’t wait until it’s over and I actually start the school portion of this thing.  Hoping I tested into 600 level Japanese, because the 500 level actually uses the same textbook as 301 and 302 at Purdue…

I actually feel like I’m getting used to life here pretty quickly, with just little bumps here and there.  I’d kind of like a Japanese buddy my age, but I can work on that once classes start.

I miss and love everybody!  I think I’ll try to find a cheap digital camera sometime soon so that I can share some pictures.

Jaaaa…  I think that’s it.

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