My first blog, titled Bright Green Gaijin Pants, was a chronicle of my time as an exchange student in Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan. I’ve decided to repost its contents on this blog. For a full list of all these posts, click Bright Green Gaijin Pants on the menu, above.
The first blog post of any real worth that I published from Japan was far larger than it had any right to be. It was actually several posts combined and posted at the same time because I didn’t have internet access when I first got to Japan. I will be reposting them seperately, as they were meant to be.
Haha! Finally in Kushiro!
Originally published on October 16, 2005.
So anyway, when we landed I was sadly reminded of my lack of baggage. I went past the baggage claim and out to where you meet people and started looking for a piece of paper with my name on it. Before I saw it, I heard “Lena-san!” from my left. Lo! It was Utsuki-san! She lived in my dorm building at UAF last school year, though my shy-ness with the Japanese language meant that I didn’t talk to her nearly as much as I should have. Still, seeing a familiar face was so much more awesome than I could have imagined, even if I’d put two and two together and thought that maybe Utsuki might be there to meet me at the airport.
Utsuki-san wasn’t the only one, of course. There were Hiruta-sensei, a biology teacher, and Sayaka-san, a second year English major who is to be my tutor while I’m here. The fact that all three knew some English helped at first, ’cause my brain wasn’t exactly working very well. I have forgotten basic words and some grammatical structures (though I am picking them up again very quickly).
As Hiruta-sensei drove us from the airport to the college, we talked about the sort of things people chat about when going from airport to wherever. Where did I stay last night? What did I know about Kushiro? Hey, what bird is that? General stuff. I also found out that an apartment was not already found for me, and that that was the goal of the day. They found out that I hadn’t had breakfast.
So we got to the college. Hiruta-sensei went to his office while Sayaka-san and Utsuki-san took me to a room for students of English and foreign students — a place where I could drop off my stuff temporarily. We then crossed the street from the college to go to the convenience store right across the street (how convenient!) and I got breakfast. There were some things that looked like doughnut holes that I grabbed, along with some apple juice. 210 yen total, 105 yen each. We took it back to the room where we dropped my stuff off so I could eat.
Japanese Sunkist Apple Juice: 4
It’s not like American apple juice, though. I don’t know if it’s a lack of preservatives or what, but the apple juice itself is not quite clear, and actually tastes more like apple flesh than its American counterpart.
Japanese Doughnut Holes: 4
They actually turned out to taste like cake doughnut holes, which rate a 4 at home, too.
Operation: Find Lena A Home, Yo
Originally published on October 16, 2005.
After that, we went to talk to Hiruta-sensei in his office. We went over the fact that I wasn’t too particular about where I live as long as I have room to sleep and the fact that I can cook. Turns out that Sayaka’s landlord owns multiple buildings, and had a couple of places open in a building about two blocks from the college. We hoofed it over to Parkside Q to check the places out. One room was on the second floor, the other on the third; generally I prefer to be lower to the ground because I’m a lazy bastard who doesn’t like steps, but the third floor room was nicer. It was almost identical, really, but it came with a shelf/rack thing on wheels (hereafter referred to as the shlack) and the second window faces out with a nice view instead of looking at the stairs on the building. The apartments are both the same size, and both bigger than I expected. A bit bigger than I need, perhaps, but not unwelcome. (Haha! A place for Conrad, Jordan, and their friends to sleep when they visit!)
Once I’d decided on that, we headed back to the school, then past it, to the landlord’s office — which I think was actually in his home. I wouldn’t swear by that, though, as I didn’t try to poke my nose around and we were taken to an office right off the entryway. As a foreigner, I needed a guarantor. My sponsoring teacher is to be one Hideo Ishida-sensei, I have been told, but I was not to meet him until the next day. Hiruta sensei arranged to sign for him somehow (legal lingo in Japanese — I didn’t really understand it), and we fill out paperwork.
My monthly fee is to be 29,000 yen for the room, plus 3,000 yen for water, plus whatever I work up in gas and electricity. Better than I expected; I figured it’d be about 10,000 yen higher than that. I was given a key and instructed to take my payment to that office once a month. The landlord also called someone in my building, a Korean named Kim. At the time, I thought she was calling someone in charge of the building, but I have since met a Korean named Kim who’s another exchange student at the school and also lives in my building so… I dunno. Either way, she told the Kim person that I only understand basic Japanese.
:'( I’m just out of practice! There are so many words I’ve encountered that I just need to recall, and I’ve noticed that any time I say, “Please say that again,” the person I am talking to assumes that the way they said it was too complicated, rather than that my brain is just not used to processing Japanese and I didn’t actually quite pick up what they were saying. That’ll change soon, I figure, but for now I may as well just let them think that. It’ll certainly help impress them if I perform above expectations.
Anyway, after that we returned to the University. Back in Hiruta-sensei’s office, I was told that information on classes and the scholarship and such would come the next day, when I met Ishida-sensei. Sayaka-san used her cell phone to call United about my baggage, and I found out it’d get here in two days. I am to meet again with Hiruta-sensei, Utsuki-san, and Sayaka-san in Hiruta-sensei’s office at 9:00. Given that, Utsuki-san, Sayaka-san and I left. The three of us went to the cafeteria; I didn’t eat anything, but they had lunch. Then Sayaka-san left us to go to class. I asked Utsuki-san about dropping my baggage off at my new place (get this heavy stuff off my back!), and she said that she had a friend coming.