Despite the week winding down to a close, the finals days of my first week in Japan presented all new experiences and obstacles to overcome.
The day before the Japanese language placement test, we spent the day with the buddies, exploring Yokohama. With the exception of a 30-minute train ride, we walked to all of our destinations— something I'm not used to doing back home. As a result, I ended up straining my ankle halfway through our excursion... My advice: bring good shoes to walk in— Birkenstock sandals, arch support/comfortable soles in tennis shoes, whatever! I was wearing Converse, which definitely aren't good walk-about shoes for me... ouch.
I mainly just window-shopped around Yokohama, consulting my buddies to determine what items were absolutely essential to everyday living— the usual detergent, soaps, stationery, etc. Everyone split up to get lunch at the mall's food court and spend time with their buddies before meeting at a nearby park to play frisbee. I didn't end up playing frisbee because of my ankle, so Kelsi and my buddy and I reviewed kanji for the upcoming placement test.
Generally, the trains really aren't that crowded—though perhaps by American standards, one might consider it "crowded"— but for a few hours each day in the morning and evening, train cars and stations are teeming with people. We headed back to the dormitory by train in the heat of rush hour, rushing to squeeze onto the earliest train. With the flow of the crowd on the platform, it's hard not to be swept onto the train. Still, in the hustle and bustle of it all, I was separated from my buddy and the rest of the groups filing onto the train, and couldn't board the then-full train ("full" as in crowded according to Japanese standards— yes, there really are station guards to help passengers pack into train cars).
Once the platform emptied out a bit more, I found one other buddy who didn't make it onto the train, and we boarded the next train together. Keep calm and carry on!