It is really just dawning on me that I’ve nearly been in Japan for a whole month now. It almost feels surreal. So many things have happened, and I’ve made so many memories (both good and bad) in such a short time span. As stated in my first blogpost, the first week in Japan was pretty close to being a total disaster and was really rough on me in various ways. I really struggled a lot more than I was comfortable with in the beginning, but I wanted to keep moving forward so as to not ruin my new life adventure.
It’s been a slow progression, but everything is starting to get better, easier, more comfortable and fun.
Surprisingly, I am picking up the language a little better right now, and by that I mean that when I go to the convenience store (konbini) I can understand when they are asking me if I would like my things bagged or not. Baby steps.
On the daily, I take the train either in the morning (yes, rush-hour traffic time) or in the afternoon, depending on which classes I have for that day. The commute hasn’t gotten easier, but rather I’ve grown more accustomed to the daily rush hour. The hordes of people, the heat in the room due to humidity and too many bodies in one walkway, that one stench that never goes away — all that makes up the daily grind to school. Lovely.
One thing that I do fear I may never grow accustomed to is the humidity in Japan. It is SO humid, and this is only the beginning. It is not even monsoon season here yet, and I am already low-key dying from the humidity. San Diego was pretty humid for this NorCal body, but San Diego’s got nothing on Japanese humidity.
Something interesting I’ve found since coming here is that class dynamics in Japan are a whole lot different than in America. For example, most of my classes in Japan are pretty small, with most averaging about 10-15 people. My “big” classes have around a max of 45 students. Safe to say that class sizes here are comparably smaller than those in SDSU, where most of the lectures other than language classes are 100-plus students in a massive lecture hall.
Also, a lot of my professors like to make the desks form a circle in order to facilitate more interaction and class discussion and, honestly, I kind of like that idea. It makes it easier to break the ice between classmates, especially the barrier between international students and Japanese students. The only time a class in SDSU did this was in my ASL class.
Interactions between students and teachers are also a bit different as well. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of my teachers really love class discussions. Since the class sizes are a lot smaller in general, having class discussions is a little easier and less intimidating than classes I’ve had back at State. Most of my teachers here also really want their students to be comfortable with one another but also with them as well. My Japanese linguistics teacher is holding a class dinner at a pub after class and is even offering to buy each of us one drink each, which I think is insanely cool. He thought the class dinner party would be a really good ice-breaker for the students, and I couldn’t agree more! Such a fun way for everyone to get comfortable and really get to know one another.
I really like my classes and professors, and I am super excited for everything that is to come during my stay here in Japan!
Teri Handa is a second-year speech, language and hearing sciences major who is studying in Tokyo for the spring semester. She has never traveled out of the country before and is excited to share her journey.