I have been in Japan for about a week now. Wow. While I have been struggling with jetlag, it hasn’t been too terrible. I’ve managed to still enjoy myself! On 1/11/19, we began orientation for Nanzan University. However, we spent a few days in Inuyama (犬山) for an IES Abroad Orientation.
IES ABROAD ORIENTATION
Last time, I mentioned how I was nervous to interact with Japanese people in Japanese. Going through U.S. Customs sucks, but imagine how I felt as I realized that I would have to do it in Japanese. Well, I didn’t panic, but I also nodded my head to…well, mostly everything. Well, despite it being extremely nerve-wracking, I managed to make it through!
From the beginning, IES Abroad staff was waiting for us at the exit and, to facilitate our entrance, they helped us with money exchange and luggage. See, in Japan, it is customary to mail your luggage to your address because it would be too crowded and difficult to take it with you. That’s why they have an extremely efficient and sent-by-the-gods service right by exits.
From there we made our way to the hotel and stayed the night. The following morning, we left for Inuyama, a beautiful and clean city. Inuyama is located in central Japan in the Aichi Prefecture. It is famous for the Inuyama Castle seen in one of the featured pictures. The castle has been standing for centuries. For any American readers, it is older than the U.S.
On our second day, we were given tours of Inuyama by kindhearted volunteer tour guides and we were taken inside the castle. We went all the way to the top! The view was breathtaking! (P.S. – Before taking any photos at historical sites, ask if it is okay to take photos! It is not always allowed!)
In addition to the Inuyama Castle, we were also invited to see a traditional Japanese garden which contained a teahouse built by one of Oda Nobunaga’s younger brothers – Oda Uraku! We were also invited inside another teahouse and served tea. This was an honor because they don’t usually allow visitors in the teahouse.
Finally, we also visited a calligrapher, a master of her trade. After much consideration, we all were presented with a kanji. I decided on 龍（りゅう). It means dragon. Even though I didn’t really understand everything she told me, I believe the phrase she chose meant something along the lines of “the dragon that sits atop of the heavens”. Since dragons “zoom across the sky”, she drew the kanji as though it was a dragon’s flight path.
It was a long, but great, day. By the end of the day, I was ready to eat dinner and fall asleep! However, despite the jetlag, I appreciated the opportunity to walk around Inuyama, because it made Japan a little less daunting.
Let me begin with my immense gratitude to Reisa (IES Abroad Program coordinator for the Nagoya program) and IES Abroad for bringing phone company representatives to us. Not only was it a lot more intimate, but Reisa was an immense help. All my nerves about buying a SIM card melted away. The company had previous experience with study abroad students and had specific plans made for study abroad students.
I ended up purchasing a 3GB four-month data-only plan (January included, but for free) for just around 114 U.S. dollars. I think it’s a pretty decent plan and the service so far has been great. It helps that they are part of one of Japan’s largest phone companies with good coverage.
If you’re studying abroad with IES Abroad, don’t worry about your cellphone too much if you don’t have a plan that covers usage in Japan! You’ll be fine!
Tune in next time when I try to tackle my initial feelings on my identity in Japan. It’s kind of complicated with some tears, anxiety, but also a firm resolve to be confident in my identity.
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<p>I like rainy days. Once I saw a triple rainbow. I'm just a female Latinx low-income student studying abroad in Japan, learning to navigate an environment completely different from home. Let's get this パン.</p>