It has only been just over a month since I moved to Japan and while I do like to think that I know a bit of the culture, actually just living in the country itself is completely different from simply learning about it. Here’s what I’ve been up to recently and what I have discovered.
- CASH CASH EVERYWHERE
I expected Japan to be a cash-oriented society, but I had no idea that it would be this extent. Most of the things are generally paid by cash. Heck you even pay your bills by cash at a convenient store. I would carry a relatively large amount of money, but it’s safe. It’s really inconvenient when you are getting changes. Be prepared to stack all those 1 yens!
Another form of payment is with an IC card. The name varies depending on where in Japan you are situated in, so for me it’s called the Suica card. Think of this as an Opal card back in Sydney, but with the added benefit of using funds from the card to pay in convenient stores. Getting one is not that hard. You just need to head to a machine at the train station and deposit an amount of yen into the card to start off. I don’t really use this card often, but I got it in case I want to take the train to Tokyo (which I’ve yet to go….).
- BIKES EVERYWHERE
I rarely ride a bike in Australia. Mainly it’s because my only way to get to uni is by taking a train which takes about 50 minutes. However, in Japan, bikes are so important, especially when you are living in the countryside. I haven’t ride a bike for quite a long time, but ever since I bought a bike in Japan, it’s my main transport to go around Kofu. Since Yamanashi is a countryside, just riding a bike around the area is very relaxing, and I love it! On a really good day, you’ll be able to see Mt. Fuji, which is fantastic! Seriously, if you haven’t ride a bike before, I suggest you learn it before coming to Japan. Trust me, it will be very, VERY HELPFUL AND FUN!
- UNIVERSITY LIFE
I have yet to add a section to my UTS Yamanashi category, where I’ll be writing about the university. In short, university life has been intense (OF COURSE IT IS!). I’m technically not in any clubs as most of my classes finish at around 6pm, which is when club activities usually start. I haven’t been able to find a club that I can go to as there isn’t a day like UTS Clubs Day, where all the clubs try to get new members. Another reason why is because of the classes I’m taking. I have a feeling that I’m the only ICS student who is taking faculty subjects (in this case, economics). Seriously, I’m just an exchange student and I’m expected to be able to do OKAY in these classes. BUT, there is an added benefit to taking such intense subjects. Firstly, it’s certainly an experience to take classes along with Japanese students. However, I’ve been mistaken as a Japanese student several times in my Macroeconomics lecture and honestly, it felt really strange… Secondly, learn a crazy amount of words, which I may or may not use during casual conversations. Lastly, being able to barely understand what people are talking about during seminars. Heck, even for self-introductions, I can safely say this:
生命環境学部の地域社会システム三年生のトンと申します。(I’m Ton and I’m a 3rd year student in the Department of Regional Social Management under the Faculty of Life and Environmental Science)
*SUCH A BADASS*
It is insanely crazy for an exchange student like myself to do this kind of subjects, on top of the assignments that I get from UTS. But somehow, I’m doing okay.
- PLEASE TEACH ME ENGLISH!
You will certainly be asked by a Japanese student to help them with their English skills. That’s the point of being an exchange student. You are learning Japanese from the Japanese people, while they learn English or other languages from you. Only 2 days after arriving in Japan, I got asked by a Japanese student to check her English writing for her Engineering report. Also been asked by another Japanese student to practice her interviewing skills in English, while also providing feedbacks. While she wasn’t able to pass the real interview, she felt some improvements and thanked me for it. Keep in mind, I’m only in my first semester here in the University of Yamanashi, and I’ve already been called a 先輩(せんぱい) by a lot of Japanese students. At this point, I want to be able to continue improving my Japanese, so that I can provide clearer explanations to them, and hopefully, they’ll feel some improvements too!
- VIDEO CALL AND CHITTY CHAT!!
Apart from getting constant calls from my Mum, I was able to get in touch with the Japanese students I met last year. I MISS THEM SO MUCH!!
Ayami and Yuna are the teachers for the JASS advanced class and I wished I could go to their classes!
I talked to Shoko quite a lot compare to last year. It’s so funny to just show photos of food that I bought in Japan to her, and she would always say that she wants to go back to Japan.
Mizu was really excited when I asked her to do a video call. Even gave me some feedback on my improvements in Japanese.
Overall, I was able to do half hour (or longer) conversations with these people in a language which I’m still pretty bad at. Definitely an improvement, regardless!
I could just go on and on about all the things I’ve done, but I’ll leave it here for now. Already a bit over one month into Japan, and there is usually something to do in Kofu, as long as you are willing to keep exploring! I love the lifestyle in the countryside and if you are coming to Yamanashi for exchange, you’ll love seeing nature EVERYWHERE!
Look forward to more of my posts in the near future!