Today is the first actual day of orientation! That ultimately means it is the first day we actually get to go to the University campus and sit in a classroom while filling out paperwork that will help get us through our time here. We have to be in the classroom at 9am, so our RAs (the Japanese natives who live in our apartment building and serve as kind of coordinators and guides for us) had us meet in the lobby at 830 am. The walk to the university is perhaps about 10 minutes, so we were there rather early. But it is said that the Japanese are a very punctual people, so always better to be early than late.
As we sit in the classroom, waiting not only for the instructors, but even the other people from I-House (where we had the welcome party). I was pretty glad for the party as everyone finally wandered into the room after about 10 minutes, since I was able to actually put some names to faces, as well as able to talk to some of the people I had met at the party. It was much preferred over watching a mass of people I wouldn’t have a clue who they were, though I don’t have much of any difficulty conversing with new people. 🙂
As everyone was working on getting settled in, finally some of the instructors began to ease into the classroom. As we would find out, these were not actually instructors, but people that were involved in the study abroad program. The Japanese gentleman is the person in charge of the whole foreign exchange program, and the other more obviously foreign individual is the translator who works for the school (I believe he’s from Europe). They would be the people walking us through the majority of our paperwork, to make sure everything was in order for our stay in Japan. He doesn’t look it in the picture (because I caught him at the wrong moment) but the Exchange program leader was actually a very animated and humorous individual… it just makes me feel bad that I can’t actually remember his name. 😦
Together, they would be explaining a lot of things to us, some of them being rules, some introducing cultural differences, as well as talking us through some paperwork that we would have to check and sign for various things. I took pictures of numerous things that we dealt with, though some of them I won’t be posting on here (feel free to message me on Facebook to see some of them). But this is the point that we would actually get our university student cards (works much the way our K-State IDs do), as well as actually having to give them our passports and citizenship cards, which was a humorous moment, given that when you travel to another country, giving anyone else these two items is the first thing you are told NEVER to do. But there was stuff that would have to be filled out at the local city office in regards to some paperwork (ie telling them where we live, work permits, etc) that the school would be doing on our behalf, so that is why they needed it. But we got copies of our visas and citizenship cards for the days that we wouldn’t have them (I took pictures to have on my phone, just to be a little more safe).
Some of the paperwork we filled out would have little circle areas that we had to sign our signature. In japan, they are very big into having little stamps that take place of a signature, but being foreigners, we obviously didn’t have this. So regardless of your style of handwriting, we had to try and write fully our signatures in these little circles (as best we could). We were also given paperwork in regards to our rent and expenses during our stay in Japan. The prices of rent between I-House and Proxy Friends is easy to see, though there are advantages and disadvantages to both. But on the plus side, the very last month of rent is free, meaning that any scholarship money we get there is actually directly into our pocket, which I find very delightful (who hates free money right?).
At this point, the majority of the paperwork that needn’t to be taken care of was, so we would begin to be shown around the campus a little more. Not the entirety of the campus, but some of the major things, such as a lost-and-found, library, media center and cafeteria. It was nice to see a lot of the University, though the weather was a bit dreary, having just rained and with some rather brisk wind. Here are some random pictures I took along the jovial little tour of the University I would be attending while in Japan. In some of the pictures, you can see I was trailing behind…. but I was working on taking pictures, so yeah. 😛
This is essentially just going to be a giant mass of pictures, which I should likely separate out, but I won’t be doing so. At some point, I’ll be doing a video of the walk to school, as well as a rough walk around the area that all these pictures show, so that will be in a future post. But for the time being, the areas shown in this pictures are the lost and found office (I’m sure they do more, but that was what we were told we’d go there for), a bunch of pictures of the large plaza area, as well as walking towards other buildings, the library, the communication plaza (which is essentially a giant 3 story building that is kind of a get together area with a ton of tables and bookstore), the OISE office (the foreign exchange program peoples office), and one of the cafeterias. They actually have a 7-11 on campus that you can get food and stuff at, and in one of the pictures, they even have a mini 7-11 in that particular cafeteria for purchasing stuff. Yeah, convenience stores are a big thing in Japan.
As we got to the point of lunch, this is where our scheduled activities for the day were actually done. Once we ate, we were officially released for the day. Not really knowing what to do, I conversed with some of the guys I met from I-House who were actually talking about going to see Sakai, which is one of the larger entertainment areas of Nagoya, having plenty of stores and restaurants and such. Deciding that it sounded like fun (and glad to get out with some people who might know where they were going, to show me the ropes) we headed away from the University and down the street.
The closest bus stop to us was a nice little walk down one of the main roads that leads away from the University. It happens to be right next to a 7-11, so you can grab a drink or snack while waiting. A ticket from this bus stop to the Hango Station (the final destination of the bus) was 210 yen… less than 2 dollars US. It’s ultimately about a 10 or 15 minute bus ride, with a few stops on the way, so was a bit of time to just look at the buildings we passed. If nothing else, it afforded the opportunity to see more of the city we would be staying in that was further than could comfortably walk to.
One of the first things that you see when you get off the bus at the station is this rather nice little bakery, called Vie de France. The baked goods in the window looked rather delicious, though we were yet unsure when the train was on the way, so we passed it up (for now) to head inwards towards the ticket machines. Unlike some places, where you pay the price for the ticket, these subways you actually pay for the distance you intend to travel. They had a map with other stations that you could go to, along with numbers that would indicate how much you were paying to get there…. you can see the same numbers are used for the number of destinations away. But after paying for the tickets, and going into the station further, we found the right side of the track and simply waited for the train to appear!
We now had quite a little train ride waiting for us. We were in Hango, going to Sakai, which means we had to wait for something like 11 or 12 stops…. luckily, we were able to get seats on the relatively empty train, so we wouldn’t have to be on our feet the whole time. Having a bit of time, I decided to take some pictures of the ‘posse’, especially since we went through plenty of tunnels that didn’t afford much of a view to enjoy. When we actually got to Sakai, one of the guys named Will actually couldn’t seem to find his ticket… I was rather amused, and took a couple snaps…. he didn’t look so amused, even when he noticed me catching his dilemma on digital film!
But finally Will made his way through the check, and we began to make our way out of the station. No one really had any clear destination in mind, so we kind of just chose a random direction and began to walk. We found a rather visually interesting area that would lead us towards the street. And being from Salina as I am, definitely not used to being in a place that definitely looks like a city, compared to the town that Salina is (I’ve seen such in Korea, and in other places in the states when I was in the Military, but still). We actually found a rather uniquely shaped building that was tall enough to serve as a discernible landmark, so we decided to explore around the area where we could keep it in sight.
Taking a left at the corner, we came to an intersection. As we tried to decide which direction to go, we actually were distracted by a large screen on a building opposite of us. Unsure what the building was until we got closer, we decided to head towards it to investigate. Imagine our surprise when we found out it was actually a multi-story arcade! On the first floor were many games that gave you the chance to win some anime merchandise, while higher floors possessed more actual arcade videogames, like street fighter, guitar hero, and other games that I had never even seen before! The upper two floors we found were not actually video games. One just had pool tables, while the other actually looked like it was for karaoke. And as one of the pictures show, some of the games were so popular that there were lines of people waiting for their turn at them!
Eventually ,after a bit of playing games, we decided to head on our way from the arcade. Again, having no particular destination in mind, we simply headed in a random direction in search of things of interest! While we had no clear destination in mind, we actually got diverted down a side road that we came across, primarily because we had discovered a small temple on the corner! And after taking a few pictures, we would begin traveling down this small road, only to find another temple or two, which afforded more picture opportunities! It was rather interesting, to see these little temples, with rich plant life and spiritualism, surrounded by modern buildings… quite a visible contrast!
Eventually we would wander away from the area that seemed to hold numerous temples and onto more modern streets. There wasn’t a lot to really see, being mostly business buildings and such… though I happened to notice this neon sign above a set of vending machines. The sign itself isn’t really all that important, though what it spelled out actually reminded me of a close friend I have at home… so I literally took this just because it reminded me of her (<3 ya Rachel :P). And yes, she really likes fae and fairies and the like, so reminded me of her.
But at this point, with the time that had passed and with all the walking, the urge to find some decent food had begun to rise up in everyone. So we began to look around for some food, though many of the places either didn’t look good enough for some people, or were perhaps too pricey for what they wished to spend. So even though we came across a handful of restraunts, we continued to wander in search of something more. But in doing so, we actually came across one of Nagoya’s more notable landmarks… the Nagoya TV Tower. And at the base of it, for quite a bit of distance, there was a rather nice park that I got a few pictures of. We didn’t go up Nagoya TV Tower, though its on the agenda for another day.
The large stairways actually led down into the subway system… but at this point, the idea of food was still ever growing. So again, we headed off in search of food. There was a good bit of walking around that took us past some multi-level stores… we investigated one building in particular that actually had a ferris wheel attached to it. One of the floors had some anime and such items, while some of the upper floors actually had some restaurants and even maid cafes… but we didn’t find anything in particular to hold our interest for too long, before we headed out again. After a bit more walking around, we eventually happened across this place… and at this point, one of the guys ultimately just threw down the ultimatum that it was here or nowhere, since we kept passing place after places for one reason or another. So it was decided this would be the place we would try.
Apparently the place is rather well known for its wings, as it was a big draw on the menu, though I aimed for something a little different personally. I took pictures of my meal, as well as a few of us at our table, and even the menu itself… so you have an idea of the type of things we had the options of. Too much stuff on the menu looked too good! It was pretty difficult to choose what I wanted… but the food did not disappoint! Everything looked good, and my meal was one of the better I’d had since I’d been in Japan. By the way, the clothe looking thing that is rolled up at the beginning? It’s a heated, moist towel that is used to ‘clean’ your hands off before your meal…. equivalent to washing your hands roughly.
The meal was -very- good. The chicken I got was actually a bit hotter than I anticipated, and I’m kind of a sissy when it comes to heat, admittedly. The gyoza were really good, and the pink drink was essentially white wine, cherry syrup and soda… not very alcoholic but damn good! OF course with the meal eventually reaching its end, we decided to head out again. We headed back towards the area of Nagoya TV Tower, and came across an interesting structure close to it. I would later find out that it was called Oasis 21, and the top most floor had a pool across nearly the entirety of it, as well as having a shopping mall type thing at the base of it. At night (as it was now long since dark) it was actually very pretty…. and Nagoya TV Tower as well, given that it was lit up at night. I got a picture or two of the TV Tower’s reflection in the pool of Oasis 21.. I though it looked damn good, personally.
After spending a bit of time looking around Oasis 21, we finally decided to head back home, as the hour was getting a little later, and we wanted to ensure we got back at a reasonable time. It would take roughly 45 minutes to an hour to get back home, especially as we had to wait on the bus. But all-in-all, it was a rather informative and enjoyable outing! (And would be one of my more busy days for the weeks to come, I think heh).
While we were waiting for the bus, since we didn’t think it’d be showing up for a good 20 minutes, we decided to actually pay a visit to the french bakery that we had seen earlier in the day. I got an apple and cream pastry, as well as what was essentially a more doughy hotdog…. the hotdog was good, the other was a lot of bread and seemingly little filling (or too little for me, really) which made it seem a little more dry than I think it really was intended to be. But after that, we found our right bus, though only after huddling out in the cold for what seemed like forEVER (maybe 10-20 minutes, as we mis-judged when the bus we needed would show up), and even had to form a ‘penguin circle’ to try and stay warm… it was amusing (and frikkin cold!).
Yet the bus we needed would finally show up, and we would enjoy the long ride back towards the 7-11, and then the seemingly longer walk back to I-House and Proxy. But when we finally got back to Proxy, I hit the hay like a ton of bricks. All the walking and checking stuff out really wore me out!
End of Day 4!
(ps – sorry this took so long…. as you could see, it was a sizable post… maybe should have shorted it and put it into a couple posts? hmmmm…)