My Life As A Japanese College Student

Monday, October 15, 6:30am

Monday turned out to be quite the day, as expected. Waking up at 6:30, I quickly check out my door to see if the shower room is occupied. It was so I got some of my things together in my pack, picked my outfit, checked again… still occupied. It seems that no matter where I go, the ladies always like to take too long in the bathroom! (Although, I’m probably just impatient.) I go ahead and turn my hot water heater on for coffee and just then I hear the door opening up. At long last I go to hop in the shower. When I get in there, get undressed, get in the shower, and turn the water on, I’m faced with an eternally frigid stream of water. I wait and wait until I realize that it is not getting any warmer. So I brace myself for my painfully awakening shower. After 2 minutes I’m clean, awake, freezing cold, and ready for some breakfast and coffee!

I bring my coffee to the kitchen with me and I cook up my standard breakfast.

For all of the faults I could list about my local grocery store, at least they have good peanut butter! And yes, that is bacon you see there.

I leave shortly after I finish eating. I leave early for my 8.5 kilometer bike ride to the engineering campus so as to not risk being late for my first class with my research professor, Kii-sensei at 8:50. I arrive around 8:15. So with some time to spare, I head to the lab but don’t find anyone there and the lab door is locked. Not knowing where my classroom is yet, I sit on the stairs to dig through some of my documents to see if I can dig it up. Not 2 minutes later, Kii-sensei walks up the stairs and greets me. I greet him and ask him where his class is being held. He tells me, so I head off in that direction and he continues onward, to his office I suppose.

I arrive at the lecture hall and have a seat somewhere in the middle, near, but not too close to the front. I’ve learned in my years of not having assigned seats, that you can tell a lot about a person by where they choose to sit in a classroom. If I had to analyze myself from a non-objective 3rd-person perspective, I’d say that I am most likely a good student with decent grades, smart enough to do better, but since he is not sitting in the front row, he probably cares a little about what people think about him, so he doesn’t want to come off as too much of a nerd/teacher’s pet, and therefore also probably has a social life and that’s the reason he could do better. But that would just be speculation. Honestly, I just picked the only spot near the front that had and open 3 seats available so that I didn’t have to intrude on anyone else’s space. I guess one could read into that too, but I’ll let you do that, if you want.

8:49am

Kii-sensei walks in, turns on the projector, begins him powerpoint and begins speaking. Quickly the lecture hall becomes silent except for Kii-sensei’s amplified voice. Now, in regular conversation, it is difficult for me to glean the meanings out of sentences, but when the topic is Society Systems and your sensei is speaking at the speed of light and the slide show consists of 95% kanji characters with the occasional hiragana particle, I couldn’t understand a thing. I was dreading the fact that this class was going to go on until 10:20. But then, all of a sudden, everyone gets up to leave. I was saved! I guess syllabus day is the same everywhere in the world. Surprised and still in pain from the abundance of incomprehension, I go to my sensei an ask him what’s going on. He says that he was just explaining what the course will be about. Also, thankfully, he let me know that I will not be required to attend this class since it is impossible for me to understand it. He said that he will speak with me and possibly assign someone to help me with the notes and content. That was a big relief because as my schedule showed, I have more classes on Mondays, 1:00-4:10 at main campus, another 8 kilometers away from the engineering campus. After class I went up to the lab, took care of a little business on the computer, then went to grab food with some lab group members. After that, I made my way off to the next campus.

12:20pm

Sweaty, tired, hungry (again), thirsty, and hot, I arrive at main campus about 30 minutes later, a good time. I find myself a patch of shade after filling my water bottle at a fountain, and sit myself down to cool off and let my sweat-soaked shirt dry off so as to not appear disgusting. After a while I get up and move on to where I thought my class would be, but it was not there. So I go to ask some students, they didn’t know where my classroom was. So I go where I always go for questions nobody else can answer, the international student center. Turns out, there I ran into my sensei who was teaching the classes, Takamizu-sensei. He said that the class was two floors above where we were. Convenient. I move onward.

1:00pm

Class begins. For the first segment, for the rest of the semester, we will be practicing conversation and speaking tactics. The second segments will be writing and reading comprehension. As of now, there are four people in the class. It was tough, and once again my brain hurt, and I was hungry.

4:10pm

Class finally ended. I get out of there as fast as possible and get home, another 6.5 kilometers, 24 minutes. Needless to say, 23 kilometers, four hours of class, and 2 hours of biking later, I was exhausted. Unfortunately however, I needed to go to the grocery store. I call Jiji and invite her along for some company. We go and make a quick trip of it. I get home and begin my night of relaxation. Good day I’d say!

Tuesday & Wednesday, October 16 & 17

These days were used to take care of home business and personal Japanese study. Nothing too intense. I’ve also fallen back into a push-up routine. I use it to break up my study sessions.

Anyway, that’s that folks! Tune in again next time to hear about my rendezvous with my host father after Japanese class for lunch at a tiny little ramen shop named after a dog and an associated jazz concert later that night!

(…and by the way, in case you’re all wondering, I’m feeling much better now! Thanks for all the well-wishes 🙂 They were and are much appreciated!)

Goodnight/Goodmorning

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3 thoughts on “My Life As A Japanese College Student

  1. Dan, if you appetite is an indication, you are definitely feeling better–LOL!!!
    On a more serious note, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be take courses where lectures are given in a foreign language that you are not totally fluent in. I realize it is all part of the “experience” and admire you for embracing it as such.

  2. As for my appetite, I am back living with my host family for the rest of the weekend, and so therefore, am being very well fed! I am very nearly back to 100%.

    As for the class, well, we’ll see how it goes! I had to miss classes all this last week so now it is time to shift back into gear. Plus I’m traveling this week! Two different places!

  3. You are so fluent in writing…you make the stories so fun to read and the details all connected to the next thought. It feels like we who read it are there too. You don’t seem to panic when you can’t find the classrooms, etc. Even here at home, first days for classes in a new school can leave a person totally wrung out from stuff like this. Thanks for sharing.

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