expectation vs. reality

Authored by:
Rachel F.

I have officially been in Japan for one week today! Hooray!

It feels like it has been simultaneously longer and shorter than that. Weird.

Settling into a daily routine hasn’t officially begun since things have been hectic since I arrived. My language classes only started today and last week I had CIEE activities on top of moving into my homestay. I was meant to be at different places at different times each day which does not make for the creation of some sort of routine. SO! With the beginning of classes today, I think my routine will begin to solidify.

The night I arrived in Japan I got a full night’s sleep. I thought I had somehow escaped jet lag…. boy was I wrong. Every day, I get tired around 6 pm, often going to bed between 8:30 and 9:30 pm. I can’t help myself; sleep is just so good. I know it’s normal to take a while to become fully adjusted to such a new timezone, so I am not very worried. Still, it surprised me how jet lag can creep up on you at any time.

When I was shown the train lines I would be taking every day from my house to school, I was very surprised to find that the train ride is quite short! Personally, I like riding the train, but I admit sometimes it isn’t the most comfortable (ahem, rush hour). Having a short commute via train allows me to get some more sleep in the morning before school which I like. Maybe when I can actually sleep until my alarm goes off I’ll like it even better. Additionally, I was surprised to find out how close I am to a major train station. The availability of such a station allows for the convenience of being able to access essentially anywhere in the greater Tokyo area from almost any train line and even further away with the shinkansen (bullet train)!

Tokyo is really great about being foreigner-friendly, especially when it comes to the railway. However, for the first couple of times when you take the train, it’s really important to make notes about where you have to transfer (if you have to transfer) and (and this is the important part) how to get there. On my route to school, I transfer at a rather small station from a JR line train to a Tokyo Metro line. I am still getting used to where I have to go when switching trains, which tunnel to take and which platform I should stand on. Until I am completely comfortable with my daily route, I will certainly have to watch out for my transfer and get used to where I am supposed to go in the station.

Today was the first day of school and I think it went really well! I am very excited to learn a lot during class and use what I have been taught outside in the city and with my host family. While I knew most of the material today, this week’s course is basic and should help me solidify my understanding of sentence structure which I know I struggle with when speaking. In addition to speaking, I think it will help me grasp some more basic words I should probably know but maybe might have overlooked in my previous self-study because I thought they weren’t as relevant or used as often. (Spoiler alert: I was wrong. You use a lot more words than you think about on a daily basis). The class was very fast-paced, so I think that within the next week or two I will be much more challenged which I am looking forward to!

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