It’s already been 5 days since I’ve arrived in Japan, and the shock still hasn’t set in! It seems like I’ve been here for an eternity already. In the past (almost) week that I’ve been in Hirakata, I’ve been dealing with slight hindrances that I want to push past as soon as possible. The first being that my dorm is filled with other international students, so I expected the lingua franca to be Japanese, but everyone is mainly speaking English, which makes life a bit easier – EXCEPT for the fact that I came to Japan to improve my Japanese language skills! I’m only here for about four months so I’d like to get as much practice as possible, but when I surrounded by foreign exchange students, it’s not common to hear Japanese.
Another issue that I’ve been struggling with is the fact that I don’t know how to do basic functions in Japan. I didn’t realize how tiring it would be to have to ask for instructions on EVERYTHING. So far I’ve had to ask how to work the showers, air conditioning, doors, sidewalks, ovens, and even how to queue in line! I feel like a newborn baby in a 21 year old body. The language barrier is also a hindrance at the moment. For example, I went out to lunch with a friend and it took about five minutes if using our combined powers of broken Japanese and Google Translate to understand that our poor waiter was asking if we were done ordering our food. It was so embarrassing! On the flip side, we learned a new word that day 🙂
Yet despite these little frustrations, it’s so refreshing to have to learn everything all over again. Even though I feel embarrassed and childish, it also reflect how I can start my residence in Japan with a completely clean slate! I really do feel like its a fresh start. When I lived in Gainesville, I lived in an apartment next to noisy clubs and would have to deal with people drunkenly passing out outside of my door. Now, I live near a residential area and my room faces an elementary schools, where I get to wake up each morning to a bunch of children shouting “Ohayou gozaimasu” (good morning) to each other. Even as I write this, I am experiencing something I couldn’t do back in Florida; I’m currently on the school library’s roof! So far it’s my favorite spot to go and get away from the hustle and bustle of Kansai Gaidai’s orientation. The view of the town is so relaxing, and watching the train go along its route every three minutes on the dot is a reminder that the world is still going about its daily business, no matter how lost I feel right now, and I better get moving unless I want to get left behind!