Archive for September 2009

In Tokyo, Magic Does Happen

September 24, 2009

I had a crazy awesome evening out the other day when my friend’s mother offered to take me and another guy from Georgetown out for dinner. We met at the Grand Hyatt in Roppongi (not too shabby!) before heading to Ganchan, a hole-in-the-wall yakitori restaurant where they let you choose your menu by having you pick out the actual vegetables for your meal. Definitely authentic Japanese food:

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Afterward she took us to, get this, a bar:

We got to meet KiLa

We got to meet KiLa!

It’s called the Magic Bar Issey. They have magicians! They do a magic show, and then, afterward, come up to you individually and do tricks just for you. It was crazy! The guy we met has been on TV several times and even performed in Las Vegas. What these people do is an art, for sure. They have to perform it just so. I have one friend who does card tricks and it’s just insane!!

Anyway, that was a very fun night. People say it a lot, but it definitely is true — in order to really see what Tokyo has to offer, you need to seek out the lesser-known areas, the places only someone “in-the-know” can find. Definitely grateful to my friend’s mom. Nights like this just make me so excited for the rest of the year. Here’s hoping I can get to know Tokyo just as well!

Japanese CLASSES!?

September 18, 2009

So I took my placement test on Wednesday and got the result yesterday…

It turns out I am level SIX, which is pretty awesome, because it means that I won’t have to take any intensive Japanese language classes – in fact, I don’t have to take any at all! Anyone from level 6-8 can take 6 credits of regular SILS classes, which are taught in English (ew), random Japanese electives (like kanji, newspaper reading, etc.,) or… drum roll please…

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Classes taught IN Japanese !!!!!

This makes me SUPER DUPER excited because this is exactly the type of program I had been looking for when signing up for study abroad – but unfortunately, unlike Spanish and French study abroad programs, there aren’t really any Japanese ones that let you take classes taught in Japanese (presumably because no one really gets to that level, since Japanese isn’t as popular as Spanish or French). And in the end I guess I got sucked into the belief that Japanese is soooo difficult that taking classes in it would be absolutely impossible for me…

I guess Waseda doesn’t think so!

That’s crazy! But really there is no better way to learn than to take classes in it, I think… so I might be thrown to the wolves but it should end up being a good thing.

The only catch?

I can’t drop a course once I sign up for it. I MUST take it. Which has me pretty freaked out…

But I’ve decided to try to take 1 or 2 classes in Japanese. Someone I met at the nomikai the other night offered to show me the book of classes at Waseda – basically a Japanese RateMyProfessor – so my goal? Choose the easiest classes possible!

I am so pumped!

And Uni Life Begins

September 14, 2009

I’ve had a CRAZY few days!!

A couple days ago I left Haruka’s place to go meet my really awesome friend from Kyoto at Tokyo Disney Sea. She was here for 48 hours and in those two days we did SOOO much walking and had a ton of fun.

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Disney Sea

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Tempura dinner at Disney Sea

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Purikura - typical Japanese fun =)

I finally bid her adieu two days before moving into my dorm and spent one day at a random ancient Egyptian exhibit in Yokohama. At night I met up with an old friend in Shimokitazawa for dinner, where we had natto curry (i.e., fermented soy beans – most people really like it or really hate it… and it smells pretty bad):

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It tasted good!

Finally on the 14th I made my way to my new dorm after meeting some Waseda students at Shinjuku Station. I met the girl next door to me and we spent the day scrounging around Shibuya for things for our rooms – i.e., bathmats, pillows, mirrors… That sort of thing. Anyway, I was absolutely exhausted that night. So was my room:

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Thankfully it doesn’t look like that anymore, but it’s still really, super messy. I really haven’t had any free time at all to do anything. Since I got here it’s been a whirlwind of activity and meeting people and craziness. Last night there was a welcome party for us in our dorm that the main international student circle organized for us, so I was able to meet a bunch of people. At first I was mostly talking to exchange students (from all over the place – France, Australia, Germany… it’s really interesting!). Then, afterward, we all went to a park nearby and I got a chance to speak more with the Japanese students. That was FUN! I made some friends and it’s really made me want to join that group. The key word here is “nomikai”…….

Anyway, I will update with pictures of my room when it is finally decent – which might be awhile – but I am SOO busy. Really, though, I am just loving settling into my new home for the next year. Buying random things like magnets for my fridge, moving the furniture around (not sure if I was supposed to do that)… it’s all really satisfying! I also love that the train station is only a 3 minute walk away, my room has an interesting view, and that I’m in a single room. I can really just come and go as I please. I’m less than 15 minutes away without any train line transfers from Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Harajuku, basically all of western Tokyo… it’s pretty awesome.

PS, this is all  because of the new train line, the Fukutoshin line, that was made last year when I was actually in Tokyo — I visited the Shibuya train station the day the line opened, and thank god it did open, because that’s the reason I’m so close to everything! Otherwise I’d be walking 15 minutes to the closest station to get around.

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My little train station

Japanese Italian Food

September 8, 2009

Today I met Haruka at her part time job!

She is waitressing at an Italian restaurant… something those of us who know her totally laughed at when we heard about, especially since she’s going to be a full time business woman starting next year. So, who here can imagine Haruka as a waitress? I think most of can, actually… and that’s the joke.

Bread madam?

Bread madam?

Waiting attentively

I had bread, a huge salad, spaghetti with crab sauce, capuccino, creme brulee AND the chef gave me another complementary dessert at the end and they gave me a free drink too! Everything was delicious and everyone was so nice! And I am extremely full right now.

Dogs, Cell Phones, and my Softbank 934SH

September 7, 2009

I have a phone!

Not only is it a phone, but it is also has:

  • 8.0 megapixel camera
  • video recorder
  • television (with all popular channels)
  • 3G connection = fast Internet
  • pedometer
  • UV ray sensor
  • calendar, alarm clock, etc.
  • mirror
  • dictionary
  • 3 inch subdisplay
  • infrared
  • barcode reader
  • kanji reader
  • water proof ability
  • credit and metro card capabilities

And of course there’s a lot more. This craziness is a far cry from my simple, elegant iPhone. My Softbank 934SH (a Sharp phone) is the epitomy of one word: CLUTTER. There are so many things to do with it and it’s going to take me ages to figure it all out. Oh, and let’s not mention the price… I’m trying to forget about that one. But I’m loving it. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Pictures I’ve taken with it (hopefully I’ll be able to use this is as my camera all year long):

The view from my roommates kitchen

The view from Haruka's kitchen

Haruka's dog Axel

Let me tell you a story about this dog. He actually is very sweet and cute. I really like him. But he is fifteen years old and is incapable of holding his bladder. So it has been my duty to make sure to take him out every hour or so when no one else is here.

You would think this would be a simple thing to do, right? And admittedly I’ve been getting better at it. But the first few times I went to take him out I was a complete failure. First, just as I was about to open the door, he peed right in front of me!! Arghhh!!! You can imagine my horror!

Then, this morning, I actually managed to get him out the door… in front of which he promptly let loose. ONE FOOT away from where he was supposed to be. Oh, Axel. Just now I finally managed to get him out without any more mishaps. I hope it will stay that way. But he really is cute.

Harukas train station

Haruka's train station

Tokyo or Bust

September 5, 2009

Well, I’m here! After a grueling day of travel, travel, travel, I managed to make it to my roommate’s house and sort of wander around in a daze for a couple hours before SLEEP. And of course I woke up super early at 5:30 AM… thanks, jet lag.

My flight was pretty uneventful, and I made it through immigration and customs in no time. I bought a bus ticket to where I was supposed to meet my roommate, found a payphone to call her, and also shipped the bulk of my luggage to my dorm so I don’t have to lug it around the next 10 days. I finally met Haruka at 8 PM, which means I had been travelling since 1 PM my time = 5 AM Tokyo time = ALL DAY. But I am so glad to be back!  And it’s crazy to think that the last time I saw Haruka was in DC, before my whirlwind of a summer. That all seems so far away now!

Today I am hopefully going to get my cell phone and a camera. I really need a camera (hence the lack of pictures so far). Once that’s settled this blog should get a little more interesting.