Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Friggin' Pain in the Train

So. Today. I had to ride the train myself. Had to go to school. Had to be a grownup, lol. My host father took me to school at first. But he decided that, instead of driving or anything, we were gonna play follow-the-leader... with me in the lead, lol. Clutching a hand-drawn map, I guided us on the fifteen minute walk to Heiwadai Station. That part is easy. On the train, however, instead of going to school, we headed deep into Tokyo to try and get my alien registration card. I talked with the guy there as well as I could in Japanese, and realized half-way through that I was being too casual. Damn you, keigo. Damn you. Anyways, I finished up the forms, sat down next to an Indian family, and then the guy tells me... I'll get the card in two to three weeks. Sigh. But, I think with my forms and student ID, I should be able to get a cell phone and open a bank account. Hopefully, lol.

After that - lunch! What we've got here is a "mixed dish" of fried pork, shrimp, and a bit of beef, cooked in eggs and onions. Uuuuum... whatever oil they used was a bit too strong, honestly. But I shoveled it down anyways and quite enjoyed the tofu and miso soup ^_^

School! So, I arrived at Sophia and my host father was basically like "alright, see ya. Good luck. Don't get killed." So... I had an hour and a half with nothing to do. I found a 7/11 in the basement of one building. I watched cute birds looking for hand-outs. I looked around at all the Japanese people. That part was kinda intimidating. Everyone was Japanese. It wasn't until later that the "gaijin" started showing up. As you can see in the pictures below, the campus is pretty small (only 23 buildings, shoved tightly together. The road is in the shape of a cross) but the buildings are really, really tall.

Once I got to my orientation, I jumped into the elevator with a couple of gaijin. We all looked uneasily at each other, until one guy goes "soooo... I'm assuming you all speak English?" I was like "yyyyyyyyyyeah." He was from Montana, lol. The other student was the exchange student from McGill University in Canada. Anyways, I chit-chatted here and there with other gaijin, and found Maggie - the other exchange student from Madison. She seemed kinda exhausted. Doesn't sound like she's all that thrilled with her host family. I guess there's a 19 year old living with her, but he (she?) kinda ignores her. Oh well. Anyways, there were a TON of exchange students. 178, to be exact. I wound up chatting a lot with a guy from Berlin, Germany. He and I shared a common interest: total sarcasm. We pretty much just sat there sniggering at everything. Not very mature, but... eh. They tortured us with an hour and a half of "here, have five million pieces of paper and fill out a ton of stuff by the end of the week and hand it in and become completely integrated into the university overnight with very little instruction and discover a cure for cancer and fly to the moon." I'm STILL not quite sure what to do with myself, lol. Anyways... then we met our Japanese monitors. The system for setting us up with our monitors took almost a freaking hour. And I was almost last to go (thanks, Wisconsin, for starting with a "w"). The Japanese girls I'm paired up with are very nice. However, I watched herd after herd of cool gaijin go by and then my group got put together and... well, it was a couple of real creepy people. And they seemed to know each other. I was like, "so, you guys must be from Wisconsin, right? Where do you go?" UW White Water. Sigh. Thanks a lot, UW White Water, lol.

Anyways, I wasn't quite sure how to get to my station, but the Japanese girls walked me there and helped me get in. Then, I stood at the station looking for a train I could take (the rule was, it had to have these certain kanji in it, and it couldn't be express). Train after train went by, and nothing seemed right. Getting desperate, I started looking around miserably, unsure of what to do. Some of the Japanese were starting to give me pitying looks, lol. Then I realized... I was at the wrong goddamn platform. For twenty fucking minutes. I'm so stupid. I was standing by the trains going in the exact opposite direction of what I needed. Well, I finally got on the right platform, got on the right train, and made it back to Heiwadai Station. Then I had to walk home alone, and it was already too dark to read my map. I managed with some confusion, and found my host mother standing several minutes from the house, looking for me. She nearly died of relief when she saw me, lol. I think she thought she'd never see me again, lol.

Aaaaand, tomorrow I get to do it all over again, lol! Placement test tomorrow! Guess who isn't prepared?! Yyyyyyyyyyyyyyeah.