The placement exam went well. I placed into Calculus which is very surprising because I thought I did horribly on the math portion. The English part went smoothly as well, I had to write an essay and ended up getting the topic I was hoping for.
After the test was over Dad and I waited for my host mother to meet us. She had tried sending us a picture of her and her family but it didn’t work so we didn’t know what she looked like. Fortunately Dad was able to send her a picture of us so she knew what we looked like. After we met, she showed me three different ways of getting to the school from her house. She wanted me to pick one of them so that I could get a pass. The subway systems are ingenious but difficult to figure out. While she was explaining, a woman who works at the school (Junko) saw us and started speaking in Japanese to Ayumi. Junko helped explain to us what Ayumi was saying. We eventually left and I got my first subway experience.
There is a whole subway culture. Ayumi explained to me that the Japanese value their subway rides (she said it was precious to them) because they work very hard during the day and the ride on the subway is their “down time.” I noticed that everyone seemed to be sleeping or reading or texting on their phones. I found out that it is very rude to talk on the phone; even when walking around Tokyo I haven’t seen many people talking on their phones. I wish it was like that in the U.S. On the escalators if people want to stay put, they move to the left and leave space on the right for those who want to walk up.
The first day I went to school on the subway was during rush hour. When I first got on the subway, it wasn’t very crowded but on the second stop, many people boarded. I thought it was crowded until the third stop when even more people came on. I’m very glad I’m not claustrophobic because the people around me were very close. Every time the subway rocked, the people swayed against each other. Dad and I have made a few mistakes in the past several days but I think we’re getting a hang of the system.
On Tuesday I had orientation from 9 am to 5:30 pm. The first speaker, Jonathan Wu was very entertaining. He was born in the States and had a big, booming voice and a long, bushy beard. All the speakers through out the day were good, but as the day wore on everyone’s energy level dropped. By 5:30 I was ready to get out of there. But I did make two friends (Seyia and Victoria from New York), their pictures are on the site. Before I met them I was talking with a staff from the school, Eric. I had noticed that since almost everyone else was staying in an apartment, there were groups already formed. I told him how I felt a bit left out and he assured me that I was in a better situation. He told me how many of them won’t stay friends since after this semester they will probably move out. He introduced me to Roary (I don’t know if that’s the right spelling) who now lives independently. I felt much better after talking with Eric and I didn’t feel so alone. The next day I met several other people. All of the students I’ve met have been really friendly which I’m very thankful for.
Wednesday I went to an orientation for people interested in Art or Communication majors. The head of the art department spoke to us and after he viewed my file, he told me he wanted to speak with me later. It turns out 43 of my credits transfer which means I’m basically half-way through my sophomore year. That was surprising. I figured I would be considered a sophomore but I didn’t realize that many credits would transfer. After waiting for a while, I met with him and he set up my classes for me. I only have to go to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday but I don’t get out until 7:00 pm. My first Monday class starts at 1:40 though. I’m taking Drawing, Digital Art, Art History and Japanese 2.
Today Ayumi took Dad and me to the Ward’s office so I could get an alien registration card and national health insurance. Afterward we went to a very nice bakery for lunch. It’s been amazing and wonderful to be able to share with Ayumi American culture and customs and have her answer our questions as well. She is such a willing listener and her desire to learn is very strong. When I told her that I’m going to a Christian church on Sunday, she told me she’s never been to a church and she would like to come at least once! God has set me up with the perfect family.
As far as food goes, it’s been an adventure. The first night with my family, they took Dad and me out to a Japanese restaurant. I tried eel, it wasn’t bad but I had to focus on the taste and not let what I was eating get to me. I also had salmon it too was really good. Before we eat we put our hands together, bow and say “itedakimasu” which is something I’ve forgotten to do several times. Ayumi is very understanding though.
Tomorrow is another orientation and afterward there is a campus tour. The tour shouldn’t be too long since the campus is six floors of an office building. But I’m looking forward to seeing my new school. Classes start Monday. I’m starting to get that jittery, nervous feeling that comes with the beginning of every semester.