Two free checked suitcases, yes please!

The one week mark approaches.

I was talking about studying abroad with my brother the other day on our drive to the post office (because no one can physically reach my mailbox with all this snow) to pick up my visa and other various forms of junk mail. If you had asked me months ago how I felt about studying abroad, I would have told you, “Shush, it’s not happening yet. I’ve got months. Calm down.”

Well, now I have almost a week left.

All my documents are in order. And the visa for Japan is gorgeous, it is pretty in pink with cherry blossoms making me long for spring & to go and see and take all the pictures of 花見 hanami (which translates to flower viewing)! I called up Bank of America to let them know that I will be out of the country so they don’t shut off the money flow thinking there is fraudulent activity afoot. Went to the doctors & dentist. Shopping for essentials like clothes and hygiene products and plug adapters. The essentials.

Took a trip up to New Paltz, saw friends before I left. Had a family dinner and said my goodbyes for five months.

New Paltz Reunion!

Surreal? Yes, sir.

Pressed for time? Hell yeah.

I am trying to shovel work (and snow), reading, language studies, and all the sleep that I can get into a short amount of days. And it’s kind of freaking me out. In a good way. But my stomach flip-flops when I think about getting on that 14 hour plane ride next week. Work does wonders in keeping me preoccupied and help feed the “Courtney Needs Money for Travel (and Food)” fund.

I have everything all booked with Japan Airlines, and this is my first international flight (2nd plane ride in my entire life). One of the things that is different from other study abroad experiences, is that Meiji does not send anyone to pick you up from the airport and show you where you are going to live for the next 5 months. Real life just hits you in the face once you touch down in Tokyo, Japan. But luckily, my dad and brother are taking the trip with me and staying in Shinjuku for a week. So I won’t get lost alone, at least.

Through Japan Airlines, I get two free checked bags and a free carry-on. Which is great because I have clothes galore to bring, and it gives me enough storage space for bringing back souvenirs and gifts and even more clothes that I buy throughout the duration of my trip! So A+ to Japan Airlines for being so awesome!

And another added bonus with JAL: Not only is alcohol served, it is free! 

Now I am left to count the days with that nervous/excited feeling taking root in my stomach for another week. It’s worth every moment. More pictures to come prior to departure~!

First Week in Tokyo

I am so glad that my friend picked me up from the airport. By staying overnight at his house in Kawagoe, I got to know what life was like in a Japanese family as well as the countryside area of Japan.

Souvenir from Kawagoe

Souvenir from Kawagoe that my friend’s mom gave me. Sweets from Bakery

The following day I checked into Izumi International House. Living here is comfortable and has been a good experience. Not only do I get my own room, bathroom, and balcony, there is an well equipped kitchen and small laundry room in the common room of every suite here. However, I also have to prepay for my electricity, and water. This system will surely change me for the better.

In my suite, there are 4 people total. Two of them come from Korea and the other one is from Canada. After our orientations, we have all finally gotten along well together.

Being an international student at Meiji has allowed me to understand what life is like for international students at New Paltz. For example. although international students cannot understand everything we native English speakers say sometimes, they really listen and try to make the most of what they understood. Because my Japanese is terrible I would say, I am trying my best to improve every single day here like they did in America. Also, since there are only a few American students here, I get to interact with many other international students from countries more so than as a native student at New Paltz.

So more about Japan:

There are many more variety shows here as well as more colorful commercials. I really enjoy Japanese television.

Sakura flowers had just recently bloomed, but will disappear soon. That is why around this time, people attend “flower viewing” sessions to appreciate its beauty while they are still can.

At Shinjuku Gyoen, or National Park
At Shinjuku Gyoen, or National Park

Inkan or seals are needed for legal documents because they act like signatures. I just made mine yesterday!

Tokyo is well connected by subway lines. You pay for your ticket by the distance. You also have to adjust your ticket fare if you need to transfer trains at a station. However, you can reduce the trouble by using either Pasmon or Suica cards which are similar to Metro Cards in NYC. Pasmon’s usefulness is limited to within Tokyo while Suica can be used to access the greater Tokyo area. With a Suica card, you can even use it as a debit card to buy merchandises if you have enough points!

Similar to a monthly Metro Card in NYC, there are commuter passes in Tokyo. To obtain one, you would need a student ID, as well as document from the school stating where you live and the school’s nearby station. However, unlike a month Metro Card where you can go wherever you want in NYC, you are limited to only using the commuter pass to stations in between your route to school.

I still have 2 weeks before school starts!