1/26~1/28/2011: Arrival, Orientation and a Warm Welcoming (Tokyo, ICU, Tsuru)

Tokyo (Narita) on the 26th (Tuesday)

  • Plane ride from SF to Tokyo was about 11 hours. I took ANA, and it was a nice plane ride (aside from the woman next to me who kept sneezing and coughing without covering her mouth). Ended up sleeping a lot, being awake to eat the two cute bento boxes they gave, watched The Dark Knight, and most of a movie starring Aragaki Yui and Ikuta Toma.
  • Arrived in Narita, Cece (the other girl in the program) and I picked up our luggage and were able to figure out how to send luggage to Tsuru. It took a while to figure out which JR/Narita Express trains to take, but we had a lot of help from the people at the ticket counter. That was another 2? 3? hours on the train and bus, but we went without a hitch.
  • Japan transit is super efficient and super quiet, whether crowded or not!
  • We got to Hotel Mets easily. It’s actually right there at the station. Checked out the surrounding area after checking in around 6pm; Went to UNIQLO, a bakery nearby called Mermaid.

An evening detour to Shinjuku

  • After checking in, went with Cece to Shinjuku, where we met with some friends of hers. We ate at a place that serves a variety food and drinks, all with crazy names! I had a sweet, milky-looking (alcoholic) drink called Slim Slim Slim(?!)(スリムスリムスリム). Shared some cabbage, daikon salad, yakitori salad, and even had bits of manta ray! It was good, though really salty.
  • It feels so COOL to be of drinking age!!

ICU Orientation, Apt, and Kaimono

  • Checked out and ate at the cafe connected to the hotel. We ended up finding Thomas, the other guy in the program.
  • Took the bus to go to ICU (International Christian University), where we had a 2 hour orientation at the Tokyo Study Center. We then were taken by bus to Tsuru, where we met some of our tutors for the first time, as well as Fumi-san (host mother) and Takiguchi-san (program coordinator).
  • We’re shown our apartments. It’s really nice, with an ofuro, toilet, sink and laundry, the main room, and the closet-like area that you have to climb into where your futon is. There’s seriously nothing to worry about — the place has silverware, dishes, plug converter, desk, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • My place ended up having TONS of toilet paper and dish soap! (And I had bought those at Seria without even noticing them beforehand…)
  • Japanese vending machines are SO SUPER CONVENIENT! Hot milk tea in a bottle?? ♥
  • The tutors helped us go shopping at Serias (where everything is 100 yen!) and the grocery store.
  • Had dinner at one of those restaurants where all the choices are written on the wall. I had ebidon (shrimp tempura on rice). It was actually too much food for me, and I actually didn’t really like it too much (!!)
  • Back in the apartments, we played the word game, shiritori
  • Problems with ethernet, but then I found an open WiFi, which turned out to actually be ours (-_-;; )
  • I LOVE the futon. It’s SUPER warm!! Especially since it’s so COLD! It’s been 30~40 degrees F around here. Thank GOODNESS for the heater!
  • My tutor’s name is Miyaji Yurie. She’s actually the oldest among the tutors, and I was surprised! She looks so cute and young!! She is adorable.

Tsuru Orientation, City Hall, Drama Discussions… and YAKINIKU!

  • Had Tsuru’s orientation this morning with Takiguchi-san
  • Fumi-san took us to city hall to get our alien registration card! She is super helpful. When she found out that Cece and Thomas hadn’t eaten yet, she bought us some Meiji chocolate, senbei, and an donuts!
  • Fumi-san’s car is tiny, pink, and SO cute! Like an ichigo!
  • It feels so WEIRD being in such a tiny car, with the steering wheel on the right side, and because they drive on the left side of the street. It felt really, really odd when turning.
  • Had lunch at the cafeteria. It’s really efficient! There’s a visual menu near the doors right when you enter, and you pick which one you want. Then you go to machines inside, insert money, and a ticket pops out, which you take to a counter to receive your food. I ended up choosing karage.
  • While eating, Yurie told me that my face is chichai! Turns out chichai and chisaii mean the same thing (“small”). I took it as a sincere compliment, and it was very flattering, haha.
  • Surprisingly, Japanese food portions are sufficient for me! I’ve always heard about their small portions, but it’s definitely a good amount (especially the rice). I don’t get that really full, overstuffed feeling, but it’s enough to appease me. I also suppose it’s because I don’t eat as much lately.
  • Cece, Fumi (one of the tutors), and I  talked a lot about dramas and manga back in the apartments. I think I really keep surprising them with how much I know about dramas and jpop!
  • Fumi and Cece’s tutor (not remembering her name right now, but I really like her. She’s super friendly, and always seems happy) gave us a tour of campus, which was really short. This definitely is a tiny campus!
  • Went out to the field, where a group of guys were playing soccer. We ended up talking to them a bit. One of them was wearing a UCLA sweatshirt, and turns out he actually studied in UCLA last year!
  • Checked out the public gym, which looked kinda sketchy and old from outside, but once inside, it’s pretty nice! Two volleyball games were going on.
  • Checked out the cake shop that Yurie works part-time at. So many cute and great-looking sweets! Even some pastries shaped like turtles, bears, and snowmen!
  • While we were waiting around with Fumi and the still unnamable tutor of Cece, Thomas started dancing! Turns out he knows TONS of kpop dances (Wedding Dress, Super Junior and 2PM dances…). He did the Mirotic dance, but then started getting embarrassed about it, especially after Cece’s tutor, who LOVES Mirotic, got all excited about it! Haha.
  • Had GYU-KAKU for dinner! I was surprised when I saw it for the first time upon arrival in Tsuru! And it’s nearby too. The menu is TOTALLY different, with tons more selections of meat and drinks. The sitting arrangements, the fire, and presentation are definitely different. We had one of those rooms where you have to take off your shoes and step up before you can sit down at the table. Well, we definitely had a a large group (Me, Cece, Thomas, Madoka, Cece’s tutor, Hitomi, and Fumi)

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