So it’s been a while since my last update. I’ve been busy but it’s also been pretty boring around here since my weeks are basically either going to school or doing homework. I figured you didn’t want the details of my classes day-by-day or the homework I was working on. So I will highlight the most interesting/important events of the last four weeks.
January 20th (Saturday) Steph was leaving the apartment in the late morning and suddenly rushed back inside to tell me that it was snowing! We immediately opened the window and leaned outside. Sure enough there were some flurries coming down. It was so light that by the time they hit the ground they melted, but it was snowing and we were both really excited. (The only other time I’ve seen snowfall was in Yosemite when I was about 12.) Since then it hasn’t been cold enough here to snow and I doubt it will again; we’ve been having relatively warm weather here, averaging in the high 40’s – low 50’s.
The next day we got another bike from someone from church. She’s letting us use her mountain bike (read: a bike that can actually change gears) until we leave. So now we have two bikes, neither of which we had to pay for which is a real blessing. Unfortunately Steph’s bike (the other one) has a hole in the back tire so it’s currently out of commission. But with the bikes we’ve been able to get to the station a lot quicker. And Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings we don’t have to worry about any crowds of people on our way to the station and when we get back, it’s all downhill so getting home is very quick.
Saturday the 27th I had to go back to Shinjuku to pick up more art supplies. Steph and I met up with Matt and we checked out the Krispy Kreme again and found that the line was still about an hour and a half wait. So instead we went to a Mister Donut, found that there were no seats, walked around Shinjuku and ended up back in the Krispy Kreme area where there is a Starbucks. After buying more junk food/drinks we sat outside and started making plans for a road trip this summer. We would all like to see each other’s houses and meet each other’s families and friends, so we were trying to plan the best way to do that. We decided it would probably be about 2 weeks and we started thinking of things we could do at each other’s houses and on the way. Matt lives up in Seattle and Steph lives in San Diego. The original plan was for Steph and I to drive straight up to Seattle and then come back down with Matt. But if he were to go with us, he wouldn’t be able to go on a road trip with his friend, which they have wanted to do for a long time. So at this point I’m not sure what our plans are. We are definitely going to do something to see each other during the summer but I’m not sure about the specific plans.
A week later, Saturday the 3rd, I had to go back to Shinjuku to get more art supplies. This time we met up with Matt and his new housemate, Bobby who is also from the States. Bobby had gotten here just the previous Thursday and will be here until the end of February. He’s here to see Japan so Matt had been showing him around Shinjuku. After we picked up the art supplies we headed over to Shibuya and ate at Ichiran Ramen. It’s a really interesting restaurant because you chose the flavor strength, tenderness of the noodles, the fat content, etc. It was delicious. After eating we walked around Shibuya a bit and ended up at the world’s busiest Starbucks (we’ve decided it’s required that we visit the Starbucks every time we go to Shibuya). Being the busiest in the world we had a wait a while for seats to open up, when they finally did we didn’t leave until about 11.
Yesterday (Saturday) I had to go to an art museum in Ueno. Steph, Matt and Bobby came with me and while I was in the museum they explored the area. Afterward we were planning on visiting Akihabara, another part of Tokyo a few minutes away. The exhibit I visited had paintings from the French museum, Musee d’Orsay that included original Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh paintings. It was so amazing to be able to view the real thing, to see each brush stoke less than two feet away. Unfortunately so many people were in line for the exhibit that when I finally met up with Steph and the guys we didn’t have enough time to go to Akihabara. Shigeko had invited Steph and I to dinner at her house so we had to leave to meet her. About 10 other people were also there and we had a wonderful time eating and talking until about 10. And tonight Steph and I went with a group after church to a steak house and then to Mister Donuts. It’s always wonderful to be with the people from church.
Things at school are going well. I’m currently enjoying a four-day weekend that lasts until Tuesday. I’m enjoying all my classes and Shinya even asked me to work for the Art department. So starting next week I’ll be monitoring the Art rooms and the Mac lab on Tuesdays and Saturdays every other week for a total of four hours each week. Not a whole lot of money but it’s better than what I’m getting now.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been worried about what I’m going to do next semester. I had wanted to take a semester off of Temple and stay in the States during the Fall and return here in the Spring. But due to Visa complications that wouldn’t have worked out for the school or the immigration office. And I recently decided that while I enjoy photography, I’m not really an “artsy” person. So I’m changing my major…but I don’t know what I’m changing it to. Since I’m changing my major that means I won’t be attending Temple anymore because the Japan campus doesn’t offer any other majors that I’m interested in. And I don’t want to transfer to main campus in Philadelphia because the location is in the worst part of town (there was a shooting in front of the school).
So next semester I’ll either attend the community college I was at before and finish my GE (General Education classes) while deciding where I want to transfer to and what I want my major to be. Or I want to help with the African Children’s Choir. If I were to help with the Choir I’d be committed for a whole year. The Choir is a group of orphaned African children ages 7 to 11 that tours around North America and the UK. If I were accepted into the program I would need to raise money for any extra expenses since everything else is taken care of. But even if I weren’t able to do it next semester I know I want to do it sometime. It’s exactly the kind of organization and program I want to get involved with.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it here despite missing my family and friends. But being here as a student has really limited my time to explore (though I’m going to visit Fukuoka before I leave). When I have the means I’m going to come back with a tourist visa and explore for the full 90 days. And of course I’m going to miss everyone here and a lot of little things involved with the culture. But coming back for school would be a waste of time and mony. It is a relief to have plans for next semester. I guess that’s it for now.