Welcome to Japan! I hope you can live vicariously through me happily through all the struggles, adventures, and stressors (mainly from school haha).
I would like to start with the hardest experience I’ve had while being in this country: Getting Home From the Airport. (DUN DUN DUUUUUUNN)
Everything about my flight was amazing until I landed. Due to the power of Japanese weather and glorious timing from the universe, the largest typhoon of the year hit Tokyo during my flight, and while it didn’t delay anything flight wise, land was proving to be the harder challenge. The typhoon shut down the highways, stopped trains, and slowed every mode of transportation in and out of the airport. Someone fainted in line while we were waiting for customs to move, and due to the weather there were fewer employees able to get into work. Needless to say, after sitting on the airport floor for hours in front of a ‘closed-for-inventory Starbucks’ (the worst timing, truly) I was a shell of a human and my friends finally made it to the airport to pick me up.
My friends, Emi and Zeno, were both exchange students at Linfield. They were without a doubt the greatest gift I could’ve received in that moment — they were in the car for nine hours trying to get to me, and then drove me two more hours to my dorm so I wouldn’t have to worry about sleeping in the airport. Very simply I owe them everything 🙂
With that being my first experience with the country, I have a pretty good feeling that everything can go up. It was a really great bonding experience amongst people in my dorm to discuss the various ways we struggled with getting to the country.
The days following were pretty amazing. I made friends quickly and we’ve spent lots of time exploring around Tokyo. Akihabara is basically anime heaven, whereas Shinokubo is for everything K-pop. I live in Kanagawa prefecture, more specifically Musashikosugi. It’s a quieter part of the city, suburbs are still very crowded but you can very quickly recognize the craziness of Tokyo and the lack of noise (specifically in smaller areas).
A few things to take note of while here:
A store called SoapLand is a brothel so don’t go in there (whatever floats your boat but maybe just be aware of what you’re getting into). I thought it was really cool that there was a whole store dedicated to soap and when I suggested we go in my friend laughed really hard at me, so I would just stress the fact that its fun to experience things but at the same time do so with a friend that knows more about the city for a bit longer and can guide you.
There is an old woman in Shinjuku, I only mention this because she apparently has done this to multiple people, but she will ask you for money and when you refuse she gets very aggressive. In my situation, she asked for money and when I didn’t respond she cut me off from my friends, grabbed my arm and started shaking it. My friend then pulled my arm away because she was shouting a lot and we ran off. She then proceeded to yell “never come back to Japan” at me. A chaotic experience, but a learning moment definitely. (Also my teacher experienced the same thing, so what a bonding moment!)
Make sure you leave extra early for class, the commute could be anywhere from 30 min to an hour and 45 min.
If you’re a vegetarian, short statement: give up. Nearly every dish will have meat incorporated in it. THAT BEING SAID I am a vegetarian. It’s harder to find meals, but I have been forced to become a better cook (which I’m sure my parents are happy to hear).
Lastly, 7-11 in America is not 7-11 here. It is extremely fancy (and super healthy?!) most people will buy basic meals from there and they have everything from cup ramens, to pesto pasta, to salads, to sushi. All-in-all just a pretty good place, not just your everyday slurpee stop.
That’s it for now my lovely humans, thanks for hanging out!