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Journals from Tokyo, Japan, Rikkyo University

2012-09-19 New year, new beginnings

Hello, this is Steven Crowder.  Here is my monthly log for September of 2012.  This has been an interesting month in Japan, even though I have technically been here for only two weeks.  I arrived in Japan a day later than I had hoped, due to a set-back with Alaskan Airlines.  Those who have read the previous log know what I am talking about.  However difficult the journey was, I made it to my destination with everything intact and no misplaced items of value. 

            Japan, as far as I can tell, is a very organized and physically active society.  When people commute to the train station, there is a line of people going one way and another line going the other way.  When they are on the escalators, those that stand are on the left and allow those who are in a hurry to pass on the right.  When it comes to taking the train, depending on which one you take and what time of the day it is, it can be very crowded or not so crowded.    Needless to say, I felt like a sardine in a can because it was so crowded.  After getting off of the express train to Ikebukuro, you can head to the West Exit and walk the rest of the way to get to where you need to go.  Thanks to this, I find Japan to be very convenient in meeting the needs of other people.

When speaking to someone of higher standing or older than you, it is necessary to remember to speak politely and show respect. One time, after some exchange students and I went to Sunshine city, I gave up my seat to an elderly woman so that she could sit down.  I said it all in Japanese, and she was surprised that I could speak the language and use the correct terms for the situation.  When talking with someone you know as a friend, you can loosen up a bit, but make sure to not be rude.  Also, not every student there is proficient in English, so you have to speak clearly.  If you don’t know a word, you can describe it and they can do their best to translate it for you.  I am so surprised to see how polite Japanese people are.  It’s amazing.

            The buildings that one can see in Tokyo are often narrow, but tall.  One store called Bic Camera is an electronics store that consists of seven floors with narrow aisles.  The bottom floor contains items that pertain to mobile phones.  I bought myself a mobile phone on September 19.  However, if you are under twenty years of age, you will need the help of someone who is twenty or older.  Since I am 19 currently, one of the students from Rikkyo University assisted me in purchasing my mobile phone and translated the paperwork for me.  Thanks, Mika-san!

            Registering at Rikkyo University consists of several meetings that are spread out over several days of the week.  At these meetings, you must make sure that you have everything at the ready when you get there, or you will not be up to speed.  In order to take certain classes, you have to fill out some forms because the classes have a limited enrollment policy.  Some classes even require that you have a certain level of Japanese proficiency.  Since I am at J3 currently, which is Intermediate-mid level according to Linfield standards, I was able to register for a seminar on Japanese culture.  This shows how well Japan’s educational system is organized. 

            I can honestly say that the food in Japan contains the major food groups.  Breakfasts consist of a little bit of protein (some pieces of fish or other meats), vegetables, and either rice or noodles.  Dinners at my dorm consist primarily of meat and vegetables served over rice or noodles, a small cup of soup, and water or hot green tea.  Since I arrived in Japan, I think I have lost a lot of weight due to an improved diet and constant exercise.  That and not eating rice all the time helps with this.  I’m kind of on a diet.

            The wondrous country of Japan holds new surprises for me every day.  Every day makes me feel like I am actually becoming part of the Japanese society.  I can’t wait to see what my remaining time brings me.  This is Steven Crowder signing off.  Until next time, dear readers!

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