Minna-san Ohayo Gozaimasu!
Good Morning Everyone!
I actually woke up much earlier than I expected after such a long day yesterday. It's nine o'clock and I'm already showered and eating and studying for today's Japanese Placement test. Japan's use of early productivity has influenced me already! Today's test is at two o'clock and I'm meeting some friends for lunch around noon.
Yesterday was Orientation Day and it was from 9:30 to 5:30 with a Welcome Ceremony and dinner that went until 9. It was a long day full of paperwork and talking and rules and introductions. We register for classes the eighth, so I still have plenty of time to panic.
I think the best part of the day was when Dr. Konda, the Dean of Students gave a speech about APU. He mentioned to us two specific topics that he wanted to stress importance on. The first was drinking alcohol and the expectations of overseas students to represent APU in a positive manner. He shared some funny stories about the misconduct of alcohol from students of previous years, and how the public community does not tolerate drunken behavior on an obnoxious level, mainly to the point of unconsciously stealing and falling asleep in parks.
The next topic was about natural disasters. Basically, he pointed out that we live next to an active volcano. A VOLCANO. He quickly reassured us that it wasn't about to blow up in flames anytime soon, but I think we were all pretty much taken by surprise when he starting talking about procedures for earthquakes and so on. He then eased us all by laughing and saying, "Welcome to Volcano Land, everyone. Please try not to be anywhere dangerous when an earthquake happens."
He then went on to say that since it is the spring and summer seasons, we could be expecting heavy rainfall and typhoons. If we were lucky.
Oh dear lord.
Some friends and I joked around that knowing our luck, there would be a typhoon coming in from the coast while hot, molten lava raced down the backyard volcano behind us, while we were on the bridge holding on for dear life in the middle of an earthquake.
We had a brief interview yesterday about which test each student should take to see which Japanese level class they can get into. All 85 exchange students were placed into four different groups based on a small background questionarre on our Japanese proficiency. Stephanie and I were placed into group B, while most students were placed in group A, and even less who were in C and D.
The lady who interviewed me spoke only in Japanese, but she was still very nice and only asked me a few questions. She basically asked me which college I studied Japanese at and how many kanji I thought I could read and write. I told her I could read only about fifty kanji and write even less. Then she asked me if I was Korean or Chinese or something else, and I replied that I was American. She laughed and rephrased her question as to which race I was. I laughed nervously and replied that I was Korean. She filled out some paperwork and told me to bring it to the test tomorrow.
We were introduced to all the RAs and some of the staff. They put on a few performances for us, some traditional dances and then some funny modern line dancing. They are all so cute.
Here is a picture of some of my fellow floor-mates. The one on the left is from Thailand and the one sitting next to her with the blond hair is one of my RAs. I think in the back they are Japanese, and I think a couple are Korean, and of course, I can't remember anybody's name.
This is actually a keychain that one of the Thailand girls brought for all of us. She didn't make them, but I thought it was so sweet of her to do that. I thought I could make good use out of it by connecting it with my room key, because it even has a little bell on the beads, so I won't lose my key! Everyone here is so kind!
Other than that, I've been really enjoying myself here. The people are so different and the behavior is so warm and friendly, its kind of hard to tell if they are being genuine or superficial. I have not met one person who I have not been able to converse with, whether its in broken english, or broken Japanese. Its very refreshing. Everyone greets each other, even if they are complete strangers. They nod their head and say Good Morning, or Good Evening, or Hello, even if they do not speak English.
I've got to remember to by a handkerchief because they don't use paper towel or air dryers in the bathrooms, everyone brings their own personal cloth with them. As far as cafeteria food goes, I enjoyed the tempura udon and the constant chunks of pineapple they serve. The pineapple here is so good. I don't particularly care for the chicken they serve, but its okay because I've tasted enough chicken back at home to know what it tastes like. They serve free hot tea and cold water which I get several servings of. Everything seems cheap here, although I know that it probably really isn't. I can get more than enough food for about 410 yen, and my wallet is constantly overflowing with coins.
Well, I should get back to studying since I'm not to proficient in my reading and writing. I shall let you know how the test goes.
P.S. My address is:
AP House 1 Room #E-533
1-2 Jumonjibaru, Beppu-shi
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University