Thursday, September 6, 2012

Calm Before the Storm

The title of this is dramatic. Classes start tomorrow, cue the tears.

It's been a whirlwind since I got here. Every single day is a new learning experience. Whether it's just trying to understand someone you're having a conversation with or trying to find the route between your friend's house and your dorm (notice the word trying), it's all so new and overwhelming. However, I can say that I successfully (not totally alone all the time, but it still counts) have found my way walking to school and into Tokyo twice now! That's about an hour long trip by train and if you think it's not a huge accomplishment, you're wrong.

Since we haven't had classes, we've been in extremely painful and terribly difficult placement tests all week. There were 3 parts to our placement: a written exam, interview, and computer test. Let me tell you, that's how you fry some brain cells. But I survived! Today we got our placements and though I'm not in the level of schooling I should be at, I am in the level I believe I perform at. So hopefully it's a good fit and the first couple of weeks prove that I'm in the right place. But when we weren't sitting in a classroom trying to remember every japanese word we ever learned, we went on a few adventures!

The first was to a mall a few stops over on the train (forgetting the name currently). It was huge! Like King of Prussia status. The clothing is adorable too. I didn't look at too many price tags (it seems smart to budget for the first two weeks) but I haven't noticed any crazy prices for things. There were a few American stores like Banana Republic and Tommy Hilfiger but other than that the stores all seemed like unique little boutiques to me. Definitely a place I might have to run away to after a bad week. We ate lunch at a place where you cook your own food on hibachi-like burners. Ours was low-maintenance, described to us as "barbecue pancakes" by Mari. Honestly it tasted a little like a hashbrown. But we loitered around the mall until we exhausted ourselves and then came home. Here's a picture of a hilarious sign in a store window we saw. We're 99% sure the phrase they were going for was "unisex" but instead it says, "It is vailable by a man and woman combined use." Wait, what...?
The second adventure we went on was yesterday on our day off. We asked some staff members in the IES office where to go and, naturally, did exactly what they told us to do. Therefore, we ended up at Tokyo Tower (first official successful train trip to Tokyo). We went in the evening so we could walk around a little before it got dark. Once the sun set, the tower illuminated and it was beautiful. It was modeled after the eiffel tower, and I'm sure Katie Wiseman is swooning right now at it's orange color. We only went up to the main observation deck, so it wasn't that high. When we make our way to sky tree, which is the highest building in Tokyo, we'll be sure to go to the top. Here are some of the good pictures I got.

In other news, I've officially registered as an alien in the country of Japan, I've already sprinted home from the train station to make my 11pm curfew, and I found Frosted Flakes. So far, success! 

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