My name is Steven Crowder. I am a junior at Linfield College of McMinnville, Oregon. For the entirety of my junior year, I will be studying at the prestegious university known as Rikkyo Daigaku in Ikebukuro, which is a part of Tokyo. I must honestly say that I am excited to be a part of this program, and I hope to make the most of my time in Japan.
On the day that I left for Japan, I decided to wake up early enough so that my family could say their goodbyes at Portland PDX. Once I boarded the plane for LA, I was placed next to a nice couple who I got to know a little bit about. Unfortunately, for all of us, our plane to Los Angeles got delayed for one hour, which made the three of us late for our flight to Japan on Singapore airlines. Luckily, our luggage was held at the airport overnight, so we didn't have to worry. I spent my night in Los Angeles at the Four Points hotel and met a delivery man who spoke Japanese as well. It made me realize that there are more people of non-Japanese descent who speak Japanese than I previously thought.
When I got to the airport I bumped into the nice couple that I talked about earlier. While we were waiting, I learned something: they are actually, in a sense, my neighbors from McMinnville. The husband worked at the hospital in the emergency room, and the wife was of Japanese descent. They were also heading for Japan because they are goingg to be staying there long-term. The wife was telling me about Japan, and what life in Tokyo is like (I will get to that later), and the husband is still learning the language, even though this is not his first visit to Japan. When we got onto the plane, they said I should visit Sapporo sometime and say hello, since they will be living there. Who knows, I just might do that.
When we boarded the plane, I got an aisle seat next to a Japanese woman in her twenties. Her English was pretty good, but I made sure to speak in Japanese so I wouldn't get rusty. I learned that she is from the same university as my Japanese roommate from my sophomore year, so I talked about him a little bit. It helped pass the time, but one thing I can say about my flight to Japan from Los Angeles is that you should get up and move around frequently. It takes thirteen hours to get to japan by plane, so get some exercise. If you don't, you will have a sore bottom. I am not kidding; mine went numb. Also, feel free to watch a movie on your I-pad or portable DVD player.
When I landed in Japan, I had to wait ten to twenty minutes to get a residency card from the airport, and then get through customs. I spent a night at the Narita Tobu Airport Hotel, which I can say is a lovely hotel. I didn't have any dinner there, nor did I eat breakfast. I just wasn't hungry since I ate on the plane, and I wanted to get to the airport so I could catch the next limousine bus to Asakadai station so I could move into the dorm. While I was at the airport, every person I talked to was surprised at how i was able to communicate clearly with them.
On the two hour ride to Asakadai station, i played around on my iPad and listened to some music so I wouldn't be too bored. I did take the time to view the country I will be living in for the next year. I am very surprised at the size of Tokyo in comparison with Portland. Once I arrived at Asakadai Station, I wandered around for about a half hour until I met up with the volunteers from Rikkyo university. When I recieved my dorm room, I did not have a mattress or a futon to sleep in, so the manager and his wife gave me one to use for the year without charge. We then went shopping with the volunteers and some of the other dorm residents, which include a student from Denmark and a couple from a university in Ohio.
Shopping in Japan is expensive, but the quality of their goods is excellent. I mainly bought myself some necessities (toothpaste, shaving cream, Toilet paper, etc.), as well as a neat little coffee cup. Saving money is key to surviving in Japan, so start saving up if you plan on going there, even if it is just for fun. I have yet to set up my bank account, as well as purchase a mobile phone, so I can't say anything about that as of yet. Until next time, dear readers!