…And finally I’m sharing some photos of the place I’m going to to school for the next two months!
My home university is Carnegie Mellon, which is kind of a city campus. We have green things, but not lots of it, and the campus is in a pretty busy area. In comparison, Himeji Dokkyo University it a paradise! There are so many beautiful flowers and trees, and even a little pond on the campus. The buildings are also all really nice looking (in my opinion), and in traditional Japanese style, the place is very well-kept. I was totally amazed when we first arrived for our campus orientation!
This last picture is of the school’s mascot (not a pokemon!). This little guy is on signs and posters all over campus. Everything in Japan has a cute anime mascot.
Despite how wonderful the campus is, I’m not going to lie, the last few days have been really, really tough. This is definitely not going to be an easy two months. We have two classes per day, a morning and an afternoon class, for a total of 4 hours of Japanese instruction each day (20 hours per week!). In the morning we have オーラル, in which we practice conversing in Japanese in various real-life situations. Right now we’re on the transportation unit, which includes how to ask directions from a stranger, and how to understand their response. It’s much harder and more complicated than it sounds from my description. In the afternoon we have 読み書き which is reading and writing in Japanese. So far all we’ve done is written a 自己紹介 (self-introduction) and attempted to read a pamphlet about what to do in the case that an earthquake happens, so I don’t have much insight as to what that class is really like, at this point. But it’s no joke! This program is truly shaping up to be intensive, as advertised.
Before we left for Japan we were warned about culture shock, and it’s really turning out to be true! On one hand, I love being here because I am learning new things literally every second of every day. There is so much to see and do, and just listening to Japanese speak helps me to improve. On the other hand, sometimes I feel like giving up. Sometimes, when I make mistakes or other cultural faux pas, I feel really embarrassed. Himeji is not a big city like Tokyo or Kyoto, so people here don’t see foreigners as much. Our group of CLSers sticks out a lot, and sometimes the stares from native Japanese people really bother me. The other thing is that I only speak in Japanese, all day, everyday, except for when I Skype my parents (which is about ~20 minutes per day). It’s a lot harder than it sounds, and it’s incredibly mentally taxing. It’s also really hot outside, and since we have to walk around all day, I feel physically exhausted by about 6pm each day. I’ll definitely get used to it as time goes on (I’ve only been here for a few days!), but right now it is pretty overwhelming.
Luckily my fellow CLSers and my バディー (my language buddy) have been helping me out a lot and keeping me afloat. I’ll be posting more soon.