So today marks my first week in Japan and, not to sound cliché or anything, it has flown by.
Stepping off the plane and making my way to the Kansai Gaidai University Seminar Houses I couldn?t help but be relieved to have some Japanese under my belt, rest assured pointing at maps and a friendly smile probably would have got me here nonetheless. Transport here is a whole different experience to back home, unusually silent, heated chairs that are moveable to suit the individual passengers? preferred position, on time?definitely not Connex.
Despite the paper work, orientation has been straightforward and there is no shortage of assistance, the Center for International Education holds the answers to any queries and the realization that you are not alone in this experience is a real comfort. So far I have made friends from Germany, Brazil, Hungary, France, New York?.OK so from pretty much everywhere, no surprises there given that it?s an International Exchange.
There is no snow in Osaka but it is mecha samui (really cold!). The cold doesn?t seem to stop the local uni students from walking around in skirts and stockings looking gorgeous - I look like the Michelin tyre man comparatively. The University itself is enormous, a McDonalds, two cafeterias, coffee lounge and convenience store are all located within the grounds as are two large ovals and numerous ground space.
Although it?s only been a week it hasn?t taken long for us to find places to go out and have a good time. Big Wave is a karaoke bar where 22 exchange students can cram into a room and sing like pop stars, if only we sounded as good, and at ten dollars you can drink as much as you like for the hour. There are plenty of shopping centers around with every girls dream items. 99 is a favourite amongst us all, be it food, stationery or random merchandise, nothing costs more than a dollar, totally beats Australia?s $2+ shops in stock and standards.
Nearby is ?Beer Park? so named for the fact that alcohol can be bought from the vending machine. Though in down-town Hirakata city no-one seems to abuse this and the park is really peaceful. Getting from place to place is easy enough where bikes are the preferred mode of transport, no helmets is the norm. Even without your bike everything is within 30 minutes and, I?ll emphasise it again, public transport is unbelievable.
Yesterday?s journey to Kyoto has been the week?s highlight, to know that we can travel to one of Japan?s cultural hubs anytime in half an hour puts a smile on all our faces not to mention that finding ancient temples and shrines is as easy as finding 7/11s in Melbourne?s CBD. Today we will catch the train to Namba, a place renowned for its fashionable shopping and popular amongst students everywhere in Osaka.
While there are definitely mixed emotions about being here I know I only have four months to make the most of this opportunity. Already my Japanese, cultural understanding and self-awareness are growing in so many more ways than if I had stayed at home, which removes any doubt about my decision to study abroad.
Until next week?