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Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm Here!

*NOTE: There is a delay in the posting because I had internet trouble in my dorm. This was mostly written yesterday after I arrived but I couldn’t post it at the time*

(10/07) DAMN that was a long day. I’ve been up for about 36-ish hours, maybe? The trip itself was pretty uneventful, and surprisingly leisurely. I should poke whoever got me worked up about whether a 2.5 hr connection in DFW would be enough though. As it turns out, I spent more time in the line at Starbucks than I did finding my terminal XD That skylink tram thing is efficient and quick. American Airlines forwarded my bags along, and the skylink dropped me off in the already-secure area of the terminals so I didn’t have to check in again. I took a nice little nap in that extra time. Turns out I needed it too because I couldn’t really fall asleep on the international flight. The best I could do was doze off, but all in all I got only a few hours of sleep. Now that I have some downtime I’m starting to feel it. When I’m running around being busy then it keeps me awake. It helped that I landed in the middle of the afternoon so the sun tricked my body into being awake.

When I arrived at Narita airport I made my way through passport control/immigration, and then customs. Was a breeze; didn’t have a single issue. I grabbed my bags before customs and then had to transport them and myself from terminal 2 (where I landed) to terminal 1 (where the KCP people were gathering everyone). That went really well too. Other than trying to manhandle my crap onto the bus without taking too long, I didn’t have a single problem. That’s surprising to me. I expected to have at least a mishap or two at the airports today, but it went smoothly. I think by the time I reached Narita though I was too drained overall to be concerned. There were lots of signs with arrows and I just followed them. We had to wait a few hours to collect the rest of the people who were flying in today, and then we started making our way to the train station located in the airport. WORD TO THE WISE: Just pay the extra damn money to ship your other bag if you have it (KCP pays to have one bag shipped to your residence in Japan) because dealing with luggage on the trains is a hassle. It’s like $20 to ship. DO IT. If it were just one train ride then it’d be fine, but we spend like 4/5 hrs on the trains and there were lots of transfers so we were all over the place. We also ended up squished together like sardines in a few of the trains, so having the luggage was a big hassle at that point. I think I got smushed up against an embarrassed businessman in a snappy suit. Was kinda funny. I was exhausted from that alone by the time we finally got off the train at my destination… to be followed by 25 min walking from the station to the dorm. My feet hurt and I’m tired. Otherwise in good spirits now, though.

One of the teachers at the school escorted myself and my dorm mate through a maze of trains to get us to this dorm. Not sure how I’ll replicate it tomorrow, but I’ll give it a shot… He was really nice though. Started chatting to us in Japanese and expected replies in Japanese. Gave me a chance to try to my rusty skills. Either I’ve grown bold or the flight just made me so tired/drained that I didn’t get too self-conscious about having to speak Japanese even though I got funny looks every once in a while when I said something in an awkward manner as I was trying to bash together a sentence.

Got myself checked into my dorm at about 8 pm—come to find out that the dorm manager doesn’t speak a lick of English (or at least pretends she doesn't. I bet the KCP people instructed her to use Japanese and minimal English) so that’ll be fun. She’s a sweet little old lady who seems really nice. It’s already forced me to use my Japanese skills though. I seem to be at least able to communicate the general idea to her. I had to go to her a while ago and try to explain that my internet isn’t working. I sat here looking up words for about 10 min to figure out what and how to say what I wanted. Can’t say that “LAN cable” or “broadband” is in my limited vocab. The little dorm room is great other than that. It’s small as far as such things go, but I have a small cooking area (electric burner and a sink), private bathroom with shower, desk, and closet. I also have a cool balcony. Did I happen to mention that I’m on the 11th floor (out of a total of 12)—has a great view lol (Pictures to come soon!). I get to overlook the area and see all the sparkly lights.

I’m now sitting in my dorm after a nice shower and a run to the Seven-Eleven for some breakfast stuff and trying not to doze off. I need to study some before the placement exam tomorrow. Here’s hoping I do well! I think I’ll procrastinate by doing some unpacking and hoping that my internet spontaneously starts working.

(10/08) 4:30 AM

Breakfast, day 1: Delicious tempura udon (fried things and thick noodles) and some coffee I just made in my life-saving French press. Yes, it’s in a water bottle. No, I don’t care. I didn’t have time to run to the walmart-like superstore thingy last night. It was just way too late and I was tired. So, I’ve repurposed this bottle of what once was green tea. Victory for me! I bought the udon at the Seven-Eleven last night. I have to say it’s damn delicious and was only about $3 (280).

I also find it funny that there’s 3 Seven-Elevens within about 10 min of my dorm. But that’s beside the point. They are the best thing ever :DI’ll be heading out in about an hour to go wander the train station and see if I can find my way to school. Got a long day ahead of me with the orientation, placement, and entrance stuff today and need to be there by 9:30 AM. I’ll update this evening if my internet is up. The dorm manager lady told me (I think) to come back and see her later today and she’ll she what she can do. At least, I think I caught those words among her speech. She speaks a bit quickly, but I can tell she was trying to dumb it down for me so that I could understand some. Last night when sensei was with us getting us set up she was just going a mile a minute since he was translating the core important parts for us.

6 PM: Well, I was going to come home from class and write an arrogant post about how awesome I am and how I navigated the trains without any issue, but turns out that’s not quite how it went. It was perfect this morning; had no issues, got to class early, and didn’t get lost at all. But on the way home later my dorm mate and I played musical trains for about an hour trying to get on the correct train that hits our stop. There are lots of trains on the particular line we needed to be on, and some of them are what’s called “express” which essentially means that they only hit a select number of stops and skip most of the others. I couldn’t see them being as clearly marked as I would have liked, so we ended up going a bit out of our way and then having to backtrack once the train reached its destination. Hind sight is 20/20, as they say. Other than that, it was a good day. The placement exam went well (I got the level I was expecting) even though it took all afternoon. We wandered around the area near the school to scope out nifty places and found the Japanese equivalent of a dollar store. Freaking awesome. This one happened to be tiny, but there are a few in Tokyo that are like 7 or 8 stories.

Well, I’m tired and need to finish unpacking now that my final piece of luggage has arrived. I’m gonna crash soon methinks. G’night!

P.S.: The rest of the photos I took are in the flickr stream at the top of the page. Click and go to them if you want. I'll upload more stuff later as I get around to taking the pics off my camera.


  1. How exciting. Have forwarded your blog to my brother Renz, sister Phyllis, and your cousins Robyn and Melody.
    Later..GrandPa Frank

  2. I am glad the air travel part when so well for you. Guess the plus side of learning about the express trains is that it happened on the RETURN home rather on the way to school :-) Thank you so much for the newsy update, very much looking forward to following your adventure. Much love!

  3. Mary just finished your blog. She thought it was quite interesting and well written. We are both looking forward to more stories. How do we send stuff to you that you might need, like BBQ sauce.