Day 3: The first day of school

Once again, I woke up too early and stayed in bed as late as I could.  I got up around 7, even though I didn't plan to leave until 8:30.  Today's breakfast consisted of half a piece of toast with some butter and possibly sugar on top, or at least something sugary, along with some milk, a strudel-type pastry, and a yellow kiwi.  All very normal food.  They're not making it special for me, since Ranmaru was having the same thing, too, and seemed used to it.  I haven't had the so-called "golden kiwi" (kiniro kiwi) before, but it tasted basically the same.

I found out today as I was preparing for school that I apparently forgot one of my textbooks back at home.  I brought 2 more that weren't required, but left one I was supposed to have.  However, I've worked out an arrangement with a friend that should let me get everything done just fine anyway.  I think that book is only used for at-home journal entries, so it's not a big deal.

On the way to school, I got lost for about 5 minutes, but I left with 35 minutes to get there, because I kind of expected that to happen.  I only realized I missed a turn when I saw a huge hill in front of me that I was sure I hadn't biked up before.  Then I backtracked and after one more wrong turn, I found the right one.  The rest of the way was fine, and the total trip, counting the time I was lost, was only about 20 minutes.

Once at school, I found out that I've been placed in the upper level class, due to my placement test score.  However, the textbook I was told to bring (and did bring - we were supposed to have 2 different ones) was the one for the lower level class, because that's the level I'm getting credit for at my school.  It's a messed up system.  The class I get credit for is based on what's next on the list of courses I have to take, and the class I'm put in is based on how well I tested.  So... apparently I'm going to need to buy the other textbook here.  Unfortunately, it's sold out at the bookstore, and they won't be getting it in for another week, so I'll have to wait until then.  In the meantime, I'm taking pictures of the relevant pages in other people's books so I can do the assignments.  Good thing I have a high quality camera with me.

The class itself started out just fine, and I understood everything the teacher said.  That lasted for about an hour.  The next two hours I mostly understood, except for a few words here and there that I had to look up.  That's to be expected.  Also, there's a grammar point that I completely haven't learned, and she was going over it as a brief review.  I'm going to have to find some way to study that on my own.  After lunch, though, it got really bad.  We studied kanji, which was mostly fine (except that I didn't have the book), but after that we went over several more grammar points and phrases that were all completely new to me, and I had no idea what half the vocab or grammar was.  One or the other, I can handle, but when I don't know either, it makes it hard to learn anything.  I was feeling completely overwhelmed by the end of the sixth hour (three before lunch, three after).

Afterwards, I asked people in the other class, and they said it was super easy, basic reviews.  I could transfer into that class if I wanted to, and it would probably be really easy, but then I probably wouldn't learn anything new for a couple weeks.  Or, I can stay in my current class and struggle for at least a week or two while I try to find ways to catch up to where everyone else already is, and be learning a lot the whole time (assuming I can manage to learn anything at all).  There's also the possibility that if I do well in this class, then when I get back home I can test out of one or both of the remaining classes, and effectively get up to 12 credits instead of 6.  That would be awesome.  For the time being, I plan to stay in the hard class.  I hope it works out.

And now, pictures.  I still don't have wi-fi access, but I'm going to make do with what's available.

Looking down at a street and some hills from the plane on the way in.

A set of snow-covered mountaintops.  I tried to get a better picture, but it got covered with clouds a few seconds later.

At the airport.  Most of the people here are either fellow study abroad students or students from Momoyama.

Of course, what do we see when we get to the train station?  McDonalds.  And a KFC, but I didn't manage to get a picture of that.

An interesting-looking building we drove by.  One of the first that looked like a traditional Japanese building rather than the mostly Western architecture that I saw closer to the airport.

Ranmaru at his softball game, getting instructions from the coach.  He's the one in the middle.

Practicing picking up grounders.

Ranmaru playing around during the game.

And again.

A street near where I'm living.  Typical in the neighborhood.

The door to my room.

The staircase.

Each step is very tall, and very narrow.  My foot doesn't fit entirely on a step when I'm walking.

The staircase from the bottom, and the door to the toilet next to it.
I'll have more pictures of the rest of the house, and my room, later.

Anyway, it's still before dinner, so I'm not sure what I'll be having tonight.  I should go study and do my homework soon, though.  I've spent long enough on here.


  1. Great post, I'm enjoying reading it a lot.
    That's pretty rough, about the textbooks. I'm not sure about the logistics, but you could have that textbook that you needed mailed to you. What did "studying kanji" in the class entail, btw?

  2. Great detail! Thanks for sharing so much. It seems to me you were going to have a student mentor there. No? If not, perhaps your host family could help you understand the grammar if not the vocab. Do your best! Whatever it takes...!

  3. I talked to the teacher from my home college some more, and she talked with the teachers here, and they've worked out a different arrangement for me and a couple others in the class who are getting the same level credit I am. We'll be using the same book I brought and just learn different kanji from the others. That's fine with me. For the other book I didn't bring, I've already got what I need out of a borrowed copy for at least a week, and I'll just borrow it again when I need to, so everything should work out fine.

    I don't have a student mentor; it's just supposed to be a buddy. He mostly speaks English around me (very well, generally), and I only really see him for a little while at lunch. Still, I think I'll manage everything one way or another.

    Now it's time to bike home in the pouring rain. This should be fun.

    1. Oh, I didn't talk about what kanji studying is. It's very similar to what we did for it in the US, but basically the teacher goes over the list of kanji for the day (we're on an accellerated track, so it's a chapter's worth of kanji each day), writing it on the board once or twice, explaining the various pronunciations in different compound words. We only get about 5 minutes per kanji. Then we have a test the next day on all of them.

      At least, that was yesterday. Today, since I'm not learning the same kanji as everyone else, I was basically just doing a bunch of worksheets. :/ Still, it's better than getting completely lost in what they're doing. This is all still supposed to be review, and I don't think I could manage learning 40-50 entirely new kanji by the end of the week, which I would have to do if I went with what they're doing. Instead, I just need to review an entire textbook's worth, and learn any new kanji and pronunciations that I don't already know, or ones I missed the first time.