Today I just wanted to write out another quick update on where my life is currently at since the last time I did this was about two months ago. I am currently living in an all-girls share house in Tokyo while I attend a Japanese language school for 3 months.
I’ll admit that when I first moved in it was pretty rough and I went through all the ranges of emotions. From being super happy at my decision to continue my Japanese language studies at a different school during the break between my own university semesters, to being so overwhelmed at going from being taken care of and spoiled living with a host family to suddenly living on my own for the first time in my life. I don’t count college because you’re living in a dorm with other students who are also going through the same things. Plus there’s a dining hall and residence staff to support you.
For the first time in my life I am having to grocery shop and decide what I am going to eat and then make it for 3 meals a day. Also, after having resisted for over 4 months I have finally succumbed by necessity to the Japanese way of drying laundry in which they air dry it.
I am getting my first experience to the infamous levels of passive-agressivity that some Japanese people have since my neighbor that I share a wall with in my share house with probably hates me. Within the first week of living here I had a note addressed to me that said “please excuse me for the noise. I don’t mean to hit the wall and be loud,” but according to most Japanese people I asked as well as other foreigners, this basically means that she is complaining about me. Then just last week I received an email from the share house manager who said: “I received a report from another resident that you have had a guest staying over. Could you please confirm?” This share house has a strict no-smoking and no-guest policy that could get you kicked out on the same day if you violate it. So I am pretty sure my neighbor was just reporting me to try and get me kicked out since I (obviously) didn’t bring a guest over (because I am not stupid). Ah, fun times with Itou-san.
For my language school I currently have classes Monday through Friday from 9-12:30. When I first joined I was the only new student in the class and moreover the only new student to the language school (in my class).vIt was actually really difficult for me in the beginning because I wasn’t familiar with the class style and I didn’t know anyone. My class has about 18 students. 2 are American (one is me), 2 are Korean, 3 are Vietnamese, 1 is Malaysian, and the rest are Chinese. Luckily all of them speak to each other in their own languages or speak to the other students in Japanese and since no one is speaking English then only the Japanese stays in my head. This is the first time I have had such an international class and it is really interesting. During class the teachers ask people to give examples using real answers pertaining to their country so I am learning a lot.
For the level that I am in, the grammar is mostly review but where I am having a hard time is with kanji. For the first time (many firsts if you’ve noticed), being able to read and write kanji is highly prioritized. I joined the class after they had already gone over 10 chapters worth of kanji which would continue to appear in our daily kanji tests. During my first week of language school I studied over 4 hours every single evening and caught up on the first ten chapters of kanji (about 280) in 4 days. Since realizing how behind I am in my knowledge of kanji I’ve tried to begin studying more every single day. Also, since most of the people in our class are Chinese, they are used to writing kanji and therefore their handwriting looks really neat and nice. I’m now pretty embarrassed with my handwriting and I am also taking pains to practice that while I learn kanji.
Nowadays I have a lot of free time but no money so it’s been conducive to my kanji studying. I also don’t currently have permission to get a part time due to my oversight in my planning before I came here. However, I am taking the steps to get that stamp on my residence card that says I can work up to 26 hours a week. To do that 5 minute process I had to travel to the Immigration Bureau and wait for 2 hours and 45 minutes. I am getting so many new experiences! Not all great, but all new and therefore I can learn from them.
Another great thing that came out of moving to Tokyo was the easy access to many different things. If I take the Yamanote Line I can get to so many places for less than $2 one way. Since I have a lot of time and not much money, as well as a lot of frustration and fear over what is happening in back home due to Trump taking office, I’ve found a way to productively combine all of those things through volunteering. I can’t do much to help those at home but I want to spread love and kindness is any way that I can. Since moving to Tokyo on January 4th I’ve already volunteered twice at a place called Second Harvest Japan, working their “pantry” shift. The first time I helped to measure and sort donated rice into individual bags to distribute to families. The second time I helped to sort donations by type so that they could be sorted into baskets for individual families. They also have another shift for “soup kitchen” which is cooking the food that will be distributed as hot meals in Ueno park. I have yet to experience those two things yet so I hope to sign up to do it a couple of times while I am living in Tokyo.
Besides Second Harvest I have also signed up to attend three different events with a group called Hands on Tokyo. They host a variety of different events throughout the week for different groups of people such as elderly, infants, sight and hearing impaired, single mothers, children’s homes, and children with Down’s Syndrome just to name some. I am super excited for the events that I signed up for throughout February. One of them is called “Motor Development Program” which will be doing exercises with those who have intellectual delays, the other one is called “The Futaba Association Soccer Game” which will be playing soccer alongside children with Down’s Syndrome, and the third is “Rice Ball Making” for single mother households and a children’s home. Although I have no interest in sports and exercising I signed up for those first two because they sounded like they would be really fun. Can’t wait for this! Hopefully I can write about my experience in a later post.
Besides that, since now all I do is go to class, study, and worry about what I am going to eat for my next meal there is nothing much new with me. I’m still trying hard to get up to date on my journal entries so I’ll work hard for that! Upcoming are two posts about my outing with my host family to the Tokyo Sky Tree and Rikugien Park that we took in November. I really miss my host family but luckily I will be going over to their house for dinner tomorrow for my host brother’s birthday. Looking forward to it!
If you read this post that was way longer than I expected, thank you!