Now it’s time for what everything has been culminating towards the big international week. Technos will be hosting over 30 students and faculty from many of its sister schools located around the world.
things started off rocky for me personally with my broken glasses and sim card bugging out. Ended up having to go to shinjuku for the sim card and at every glasses shop I went to my head was too big for the glasses. After that was all settled the first official day of international week had me and a bunch of other students help in bussing the sister school students to their hotel near the school and we got some ramen that night. The next day there was an orientation going over the next two weeks of the program which is basically gonna consist of a sightseeing tour, scavenger hunt, sports festival, and a retreat near Mount fuji.
first up was the Tokyo scavenger hunt around 6 different stations. This had sort of a competitive element to it, as teams were supposed to take pictures at each of the locations they were assigned. There were some basic places like convenience stores, trash boxes and mail boxes. Some more interesting things were the starbucks where you can order in sign language, a shrine, the gdzilla head in shinjuku. We had a group dinner where I got to try cold udon and horse sashimi.
Next up was the sightseeing tour around Tokyo station. We all went in a big group and walked around the imperial palace seeing the Hanzo-mon gate, meganebashi bridge, and then disbanded into groups to get lunch. There were some hiccups like losing track of some people, getting a little lost, and some cases of food poisoning, but everybody ha fun in the end.
Me and Henry did not get to participte in the retreat near Mt. Fuji so all I can comment on from now on are the class visits and some non program activities. The final weekend we had together got a little wild especially with the fellow students. I got to experience many things a tourist typically couldn’t do like staying up the whole night and taking the first train from shibuya at 5 am. Also the last train from shinjuku after a karaoke night.
I really wish I could’ve gone to Mt. Fuji, but the students did a good job with rest of the on campus events. My favorite of the class visits was the bridal course’s rendition of a tea ceremony where I got to put on a yukata and learn some traditional tea customs even though I butchered it. The sports festival also went pretty wild with a mini scavenger hunt, giant bowling, tug of war and a relay race sort of game with a giant ball.
Aside from International week I got to do some of my own travelling. At Shinjuku when I had to fix my glasses and sim card I ended up going to Ichiran ramen which is a chain everyone talks about, but it didn’t really amaze me compared to the hole in the wall places I’ve been to. After getting my stuff sorted out I ended up going to Shinjuku Gyoen national park which is definitely worth your while. Tons of gardens with different themese, ponds, and a vintage looking starbucks.
After school one day I went to Yokohoma to check out the akarenga department stores. these places have some good lighting at night and give a vibe I haven’t felt in other places in Japan. It’s also located near the coast which gives a good scenic vibe. I also got to eat some spicy ramen that was actually decent with some good chili oil. There was also an amusement park where I got to go on a ferris wheel and see the entire city at night from 100 meters up in the air. It did feel a bit lonely because there was a lot of couples and friends taking pictures which made me feel a bit homesick.
Finally there was the trip to Odaiba which is an island that is just barely off the shore of Tokyo. We got to see the mini statue of liberty and giant Gundam which are major attractions in the area. This whole place just felt a bit off to me since it was just a bunch of malls and as soon as you stepped off the pier it was just a bunch of roads leading back to the mainland. Afterwards we went to get something to eat and I’m pretty sure we went to a sort of tourist trap since it was a shinkansen themed conveyer belt sushi.
Me and Henry definitely needed a break after international week, so we decided to take a trip around Japan with our given vacation days. Something we learned was that you can buy a JR rail pass for 33000 yen which is about 200 bucks. This gives you unlimited usage of the shinkansen and all JR trains for about a week. To put this in perspective the 3 hour shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto is about 15,000 yen and that takes you about 600 kilometers which is just insane when you think about things like Amtrak in the states.
To start off we had a trip to Kyoto where we got to try some meatbuns and steamed riceballs at a popular fast food restaurant near the station. We then checked out the Kiyo mizudera temple and then had some dango and sakura macha ice cream. I even bought a tea cup for my mom as a gift. We then checked into a capsule hotel for the next two days and I was surprised by the 2000 yen price ($13.82). The next day we climbed up mount Inari to see Fushimi Inari shrine with the thousand tori gates. This was a brutal multi hour trek through the rain, but I got to see so many beautiful sites. We went Osaka and got some Okonomiyaki which is what the area is known for. One cool thing that happened was we went to a Starbucks and I talked with the cashier who was in college studying English and she gave me a voucher for a free drink up to 1000 yen.
Next up was Okayama to visit Taiju, an international student we met in IWU. He promised to give us a tour of his hometown which I had been looking forward. First though we went to Fukuyama castle, and I got to see a katana for the first time in my life at the museum they had inside. Then we took the train to Kurashiki where we met up with Taiju. He took us on a walk around where we got to eat at a parfait restaurant and a miso tonkatsu restaurant. We even got to go on a mini boat ride through a little shopping district. I also got to buy a bunch of souvenirs like a cat plushie and a daruma. Last thing we did though was visit Okayama castle before saying our goodbyes. On the way to the capsule hotel I did notice the stations in Okayama had a bunch of momotaro related snacks and figurines. Apparently the area is known for peaches and he is the literal peach boy. Finally though we made it to Fukuoka and got lost on our way to the capsule hotel. It was all good though since I got to eat some yaki ramen. I am proud about getting to eat yaki soba, yaki udon, and yaki ramen during this trip. Overall though my impression of Fukuoka was just that it seemed like a Shinjuku with a stream going through it. It was just as sketchy during the night with a suprising amount of street preformers
On the last day of the trip me and Henry split up. He didn’t wanna risk missing work the next day while I wanted to go to Oita in Southern Japan, and was fine with taking the overnight train back. I had to be smart about this though, and right after getting up I made my way to the station. I got see a shrine on the way to the station, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Apparently my rail pass doesn’t let me reserve a seat on the sunrise train using the machines. Instead I had to wait in a line for 2 hours to get a staff member to do it manually since there were about 20 people in front of me. In the end it took the worker about 2 minutes to get me the ticket which was mildly annoying. The ride to Oita was really cool though since I got to see the mountain from season 1 of demon slayer, and when we hit the last stop I got to flip the seats on the shinkansen. I ended up in a very small town and got a lot of stares and a couple kids ran away from me when I tried to eat lunch in the park. It was surprising to see a halal vending machine though. Sadly this was my last day and I had to get on the overnight train in order to make it back on time at 9 am for work. I ended up getting to tokyo station at 8:30 am and made it to work barely 5 minutes late and carrying all my suitcases in.
My last week was a sad one as I had to say goodbye to many of the people I grew close. I got to share lots of laughs, exchange lots of gifts, and said goodbye to all the people I needed to. I went back to the old lady from the restaurant who gave me her bike to return it and said goodbye to her too. I had the last meal in Japan at her restaurant.
So far one of the best weeks I have had so far with lots of mishappening and the exact type of spontaneity I had been craving.
To start off I got placed with the sightseeing group for the international week and one of my tasks help guide some people through Chiyoda which is the city that has the Imperial Palace. It’ll be fun to learn about that stuff since after all I am also an international. I also found out that one of my neuroscience professors is gonna be one of the participants. After work, I joined Henry with the swim club and they started to teach me how to swim since all I can really do right now is float. I made some progress and now I can take breaths while swimming which is something I could never get the hang of. A very nice teacher who was a former Olympian and the club was very encouraging. After that, we hit up a Chinese restaurant since I had been desperately craving spicy food.
Today I got invited by some students to do some karaoke. It is something I had never done before, so I was a little scared but I was also sure I would have a good time. Today was also another meeting for international week mainly about the logistics of the Chiyoda trip. I found out that there are a couple guests who follow a vegan diet and some that must abide by halal practices. Neither students nor teachers had experience with these sorts of restrictions, so I taught them what I could about the term halal and did some googling. I then found them a couple options near Tokyo station, but the best I could get was a halal bento place and vegetarian restaurant.
After that me and Henry walked to Fuchu station and I got a spicy ramen recommended by some students which was sadly not that spicy. The place was called Sio Ramen and they specialized in salt ramen and it was a decent restaurant. After that we got some hello kitty taiyaki cause why not
Craziest day so far since I finally got the bike I have been asking for, but not the way I expected it. To give some context the college has some bikes they give to faculty which I tried to request, but about after I did that they informed me that I can’t since I’m not under the school’s insurance plan.
That was a couple days ago, so when I went on my lunch break I thought nothing special would happen. I spent about half an hour wandering around until I came across a dingy-looking restaurant. Nothing else seemed to be open, so I walked and there was this old lady watching tv on one of the stools. I asked her if the place was open and she said yes then I asked what was good and she asked if I liked fish or meat. I said fish since I’m in Japan and wanna try as much seafood as I can. It was about a fifteen-minute wait as she cooked and just watched what was on tv and she was apparently just watching the news. I got the meal which was a full set of fish, rice, tofu, soup, and pickled fruit.
We started talking for the next 20 minutes about where I was from, what I’m doing in Japan, and what the food even was. I told her I was loving the pickles and she even handed me an extra plate of them for free. Apparently, her nephew spent about a year studying abroad. We then moved on to the topic of where I was living which is a town about 40 minutes from the school by bus. I told her I missed riding my bike, and then she told me to keep eating and to wait. Then about ten minutes later I see her bring a couple bikes out to the front of the restaurant. She explained that it was her old friend’s bike and that she was giving it to me. I obviously tried to refuse multiple times, but she kept handing me the keys and saying daijoubu ageru (it’s fine I’m giving it to you) after like 5 minutes of this I came out of the restaurant like she said and we went on a ride for about half an hour through a bunch of side streets. Turns out she was taking me to her friend’s bike shop and paid for it to be registered for me. Apparently, laws are pretty strict around here when it comes to bikes, and they needed my address and name which was hard to do since both of them could only read and speak Japanese. I tried to get them to take a picture with me, but they refused and she rode with me back to the school which she lives right next to. Now I guess I have a bike which I am very happy about especially since it’ll be saving me about 800 yen a day on commuting from the sharehouse to the school. I just wish I had the vocabulary to express my thanks to her cause all I could say was Arigatou gozaimasu, hountou Arigatou gozaimasu, and when it came to saying bye I just said jane since that’s what she said to me. Overall an amazing person since all the meals she makes are 500 yen (about 3 dollars).
Nothing that eventful besides my gopro camera battery breaking. I do have a portion of my morning commute. I also got a group picture of dinner at a donburi restaurant with one of the students who ran after me and Henry on our way back home
was feeling a little homesick and had a lot of logistical stuff to get done for the solar panel project I’m a part of back in the states. For breakfast I decided to try a spaghetti and hamburger sando which tasted like a meaty uncrustable and would not recommend
The only interesting thing I had was going to a Mexican restaurant in Japan which was kind of a let down with stuff like a Cobb salad taco.
today was the day of the Peru lunch trip with the Spanish club. Before getting to the restaurant me and Henry stopped by a Uniqlo where I bought some gifts for people back home. The restaurant itself was pretty interesting with an interior design that I loved. Food was reminiscent of things I grew up with but obviously different in many. Many of the spices were different and I even had a corn-based drink called chicha morada.
Henry took me to Ueno this day which is where you go if you want to go to a park museum or anything like that since this place is packed with them. We went to the Ueno Zoo and a shrine for most of the day. The big draw of the zoo is the pandas which we made sure to see along with many other animals. Afterward we went to Akihabara where we visited a maid Cafe. I was limited in the pictures I could take due to the policies but it was definitely an experience. I didn’t really have money to spend and Henry had a panic attack over eating a cherry so it could have been better. Finally, we went to Chinatown in Yokohama and ate some food and did some walking around. Very cool architecture but we got home at like 2 am and had work in the morning at 9 which was terrible.
Weeks are getting a bit repetitive at work, so I think I’ll switch to a weekly recap rather than day by day.
This was a pretty tough week for me because I had two Zoom meetings to attend hosted by people living in America. This meant I had to wake up a like 1 AM which had me grumpy for two days at work. All in all, though there’s not much for me to complain about since students are always nice to me and Henry even though they don’t show up to our office hours. Apparently, students are the same no matter what country you’re in.
This week I didn’t go out of the way for food, but I did go to Mcdonald’s and got a melon soda float and samurai mac from McDonald’s. On a walk around me and henry found a burger king sign advertising some pretty interesting burgers. Apparently, they have a bunch of “Mexican” whoppers and a giant whopper with multiple patties. On our trip to Shinjuku which is a popular area for clubs and bars, I tried souffle pancakes, tonkatsu, grilled squid, and takoyaki. A lot of it was by this shrine that and Henry visited that had a bunch of food stands. On our trip to Kawagoe, we got some udon and then I also got some eel which has been my favorite thing to eat so far.
Shinjuku is basically the place to be if you wanna be clubbing and reminded me a lot of downtown Chicago, but way nicer. It can a bit sketchy though if you don’t know what you’re doing since me and Henry took a couple wrong turns and ended up in some alleyways with some dingey-looking bars and people trying to talk to us about hostess clubs. The rest of the city felt like any other part of Tokyo, but with bigger buildings, lots of people, and a very lively nightlife. There is the main city with tons of buildings, but not as many stores as maybe Shibuya, but a lot of restaurants. off to the sides, you’ll find a lot of clubs and bars, especially on this one street called golden Gai. Then there is the Hanazono shrine with mask shops and tons of street vendors where you can try takoyaki, yakitori, and all sorts of street food. I even got some stuff from a gacha machine
Kawagoe was a place we went to, as it has all of the stuff tourists would wanna. Students said it was like a little Edo and a bigger Asakusa and that’s exactly what it felt like. People walk around in Yukata, tons of old-fashioned restaurants with tatami mats and lots of shrines. Of course, there were also tons of newer-looking buildings, and me and Henry even went to the arcade where I went crazy for the gacha and claw machines. We even played this one game called taiko no tatsujin which is a rhythm game where you play by hitting two big drums. Very fun week.
This was me and Henry’s first official week of work, so I was both scared and filled with anticipation
During our time here in Japan, Henry and I work as TAs at the Technos College. Our responsibilities typically include attending a couple classes a day and sitting in a community space the rest of the time. Today, I had 3 classes and I was surprised by the diversity of the staff. The teachers I helped today were from many different places like New York, England, and Bangladesh. All the classrooms were also very lively and a lot of students bombarded me with questions about America and myself and I had my questions about Japan answered too, in particular, I finally got an answer for where I can get a good cooking knife, so that will be a trip eventually. Being inside from 9 AM to 7 PM on top of the 30-minute bus ride from the sharehouse had Henry and I drained. Even the teachers were a bit shocked by these hours and said they would look into it. On the way back through Henry and I ran into a stand selling lacquerware items at the bus station which I may look into buying the next time I pass by.
Getting into work today I was welcomed with good news as Henry and I only needed to be in the building for 7 hours a day. The college also provided us with iPhones to use throughout the day. Today, we had to attend two classes and attend a welcoming from the English career students that Henry and I will be working closely with in the future. We got to meet all of them and we played charades, and Kahoot. After that we got to work on editing several students’ scripts they were preparing for the international week – a 2-week long event where people from Technos’s sister schools including IWU are taught about Japanese culture by members of the student body. About 60 people will be coming and will be escorted by students mainly through the Tokyo prefecture. The students we helped, in particular, will be leading them through the Yukata practice and also public bathing etiquette.
After preparing for the international week, we all headed to the international Week planning session. Henry and I were assigned to the sightseeing and scavenger hunt groups respectively. Only one person in my group was an English student, so things were a little tough, but we got a lot of work done. The sightseeing will mainly be taking place in the Akihabara area and we will visit a couple parks, statues, and a temple.
Finally, there was a reconvening of all the groups and a funny thing as one group confused Jackson 5 with Maroon 5 during their presentation. Everyone was dismissed at around 8 PM, so looks like I put in a bit of overtime today
Today I attended two classes – a basic grammar and a conversation one. The conversation one was the interesting one as I got put in a separate room with a student to talk one on one for the full hour. We talked about some grammar points, good food in the area, as well as a bit about our hometowns.
After that, Henry and I decided to take our lunch break at a cafe called Gusto the student I had the one on one with recommended. I ordered the Mentai cream pasta which I am still not sure I even know what it is.
After lunch all there was to do was go to the badminton club which a couple students helped me join. People here were really good and not a single one at the time was an English student which was a scary experience. I never really learned the rules of badminton so they all had to teach me by mainly just pointing at where to move. I also learned of it the day off so I had to play in my work clothes which is a big no-no in Japanese culture. I was let off the hook though since it was my first time and it’s not like I could play in my socks. We went for 2 hours and everyone in the club was very nice and understanding with me. I then checked out a Chinese place near the school and had the best boba of my life and for the first time some mapo tofu.
Thursdays are my busiest days because I have four classes. Two of them were Spanish classes which I had never TA’d for before. It was interesting to hear Spanish spoken with a Japanese accent and I got to learn some of the differences between Peru and Mexican Spanish since the teacher was from Peru. One surprising thing I have learned is that Japan has a surprisingly large Peruvian population. The teacher was nice and even reserved a Peruvian restaurant for everyone in the class that was interested in trying it. Nothing really noticeable happened besides that though.
Today all I had to do was to attend a two-hour public speaking class which was a bit scary for both myself and the other students. Being put on the spot and speaking in front of groups is something I get very anxious about. Besides my anxiety, it was a fun experience overall and the students were very talkative. They even suggested that Henry and I try Okonomiyaki, so we did just that after the end of class. We went to a small shop near the school and they gave me a weird look when I tried to order mochi and mentai in it. I guess it’s some sort of trend with young people since the lady who made mine said that is not real okonomiyaki. On the way back we also found a little display of a soba doll in a station
Henry and I went to Saitama today which is a prefecture north of Tokyo. I wanted to check out the Totoro forest which was huge according to google maps, and there was also supposed to be a beautiful lake there. Getting there was a bit tricky for us, Henry and I got on the wrong train a couple of times. I learned that this place is the highest producer of wheat in Japan, but sadly we weren’t able to find a place that sold udon noodles.
I wanted to go to Tokorozawa in particular which is a city that’s known for its nature. Right outside the station was a place that sold Sobakawa pillows which I had been looking for.
We also ran into a shrine while wandering around the area. It took us about an hour to walk to the forest but eventually, we made it. We spent at least 3 hours walking on the hiking trail, and now I get why this place is known for its nature. There were so many people jogging and biking. I did make the mistake though of not getting breakfast, so my energy was not where it needed to be.
We eventually made it to Tama Lake which took a lot of stairs to get to and it also had some monuments and sculptures around it. Me and Henry decided it was time for food so we got on a walking trail. We were on this for a couple of hours and each time we came across a restaurant it turned out to be closed. Eventually, we made it to a shrine with some restaurants around it, but they were all very expensive.
A while later, we found an Italian restaurant in the middle of a highway and settled for that. This was my only meal of the day, so I accepted the 40-dollar price tag for pasta, soup, and a slice of tira misu I got. By this time it was already 8 PM and there was not much lighting on the way back home. Things felt pretty creepy especially when going through the shrine.
We made it back to a station and I found a FC Tokyo statue thing which my friend is a fan of, so he got a kick out of it. Sleeping on the pillow was a weird experience since it felt like sleeping on a bunch of pellets. It didn’t feel good, but it also didn’t give me any back pain or soreness or anything. It also felt cool and never got warm.
Henry and I planned to meet up with a Japanese international student, Taiju, that went to Illinois Wesleyan University last year. He wanted to meet up in Nihonbashi which meant Henry and I had to make a transfer to Shibuya, so we planned for that. I tore my sneakers during our walk through Tokorozawa, so we started making our way to a discount shoe store. On the way, I stumbled upon a Thai festival with a bunch of people, but my feet were killing me, so I knew that I needed new sneakers ASAP.
Taiju suggested I go to an ABC Mart where I picked up some sneakers. I headed back to the Thai festival but now there were almost double the people and I could barely walk around. Lines were like twenty minutes at least at each stall, so I asked my friends what Thai food was worth getting. They suggested mango sticky rice, anything spicy, and papaya, but no papaya was in sight so I got the mango sticky rice, spicy chicken, and some shaved ice. This took me over an hour of just standing in line.
After this, it was time to go to Nihonbashi. I stepped out of the station and was surprised by how big the city was. I met Taiju at a convenience store where we stood around for like 20 minutes waiting for Henry so we just decided to walk around for a little. There were a bunch of expensive stores around here like Gucci and all of the malls felt fancy and even had elevator attendants and other people walking around dressed fancy.
We made our way to a rooftop garden which Taiju said was common in Japanese malls in bigger cities. Eventually, we went back to pick up Henry and went to a discount shoe store for my gym shoes. After that we went to a restaurant Taiju knew that had a good kaisen donburi- a rice bowl with seafood. We had to wait around 2 hours in line, but it was worth the wait cause we got some pretty high-quality sashimi, sea bream, and sea urchin for less than 15 dollars. After that, we went to an izakaya (Japanese bar with food) and I had some steak and taiyaki.
Today was a bit grueling given the jetlag as well as me and Henry having to report for work at 9 AM. Thankfully our apartment is located in front of 7 11 (which is way better than in America), so breakfast was no issue. The meeting was kinda basic and introductory with both of us being given our schedule, meeting some upper classmen, and learning that we apparently having work every weekday from 9::00 AM to 7:00 PM. It was way shorter than I expected, so with our free time me and Henry checked out a thrift store next to the school and on the advice of some students made our way to Shibuya even though we did get caught up in the rain.
The city was a bit intimidating to me, as it seemed far more intricate than any that I have been to in America. Every building was packed with stores and seemingly no empty floors. Me and Henry spent our time just walking aimlessly, but we did run into the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing. Honestly it wasn’t that confusing besides the tourist who were recording themselves running through the crosswalks. I didn’t wanna be like one of them, so I did not take a video, but going through it is definitely an experience. I do think that the trains are honestly more hectic though during peak hours.
Eventually we got hungry and texted some of the students asking where we should get some food. They suggested some conveyer belt sushi place, but by the time we got to them there were waits an hour long. We ended up just going to a restaurant near our sharehouse instead and it was my first time eating a fresh shrimp. It was crazy seeing the entire thing just slide out of the shell
Today all me and Henry had lined up for today was a welcoming party in the evening. I decided to do a little exploring around the sharehouse to do some much need shopping. All I had bought up to this point was some plushies and snacks from Shibuya, and I realized I forgot to pack stuff like conditioner. First up though was cleaning my room and since I woke up at like 4 AM I just organized my room.
After finishing up with my room I started my day by taking a walk in a park nearby. Here I saw a bunch of cool trees, plants, and even a mini shrine. Then I stumbled upon a grocery store and decided to check it out. The workers there were extremely nice and helped me find some stuff like natto. anman and nikuman which I had heard about from stuff like tiktok. I was hungry by then, so I also picked up a baked sweet potato which is apparently really popular here. They taste nothing like the ones from America and have a white color, creamy texture, and subtly sweet taste. On the way back home I found this drug store and was able to some conditioner and face wash which got a bit complicated since everything was in Japanese. My backpack was full at this point so I went back to the sharehouse and also ate the anman and nikuman that I bought at the store. These were sort of like huge dumplings that had a red bean or meat filling in them. Overall the taste was good and now Henry is pretty much addicted to them. I also tried the natto which is a type of fermented soy bean food. They were very sticky and had a taste reminiscent of blue cheese.
After finishing up eating I decided to look for a shop that rented out bikes and ended up getting lost for an hour since it was apparently under construction. During this time though I found a pretty cool trail that I can go to once I end up finding a bike. Next to the construction there was also this thrift store where I bought a couple ties and gifts for my family. There was also this market street I stumbled upon where I got some omurice and ended up talking to the owner and a grandma for like half an hour. Mostly it was just about family and also the owner who has been to like 8 different countries with photos of all of them on the wall. The grandma also even gave me a little red bean candy which tasted interesting. Further down the street I saw a little fruit shop and bought a melon as well which the guy told me were in season right now. Above you can find a picture of my haul.
After all of that me and Henry made our way to the school for our welcome party which ended up this mix of a pinata game as well as a gameshow with us answering questions. It was pretty strange and scary, but also fun since. In the end I was able to give them all sorts of Mexican candy that I had brought from home. They did not have any food though, so me and Henry went to a restaurant afterwards near the sharehouse.
Today me and Henry decided to explore a bit more of downtown and so we decided to head to the Ghibli museum near Tokyo station. It took about 2 hours for us to figure out where we were and where to go. We ended up not even being able to get in since you must reserve your tickets one month in advance. Instead we just explored the park around the museum which had a shrine, cool trees and a little pond. We also ate at some ramen at a shop we found in an alley
Today I just explored the town we are staying in. For breakfast I had some Nepali food at this place nearby. Apparently they give unlimeted naan and I talked with the owner for like 30 minutes and we bonded over being foreign and thankfully he spoke english which made things easier.
I then visited a store that was popular with students called donquixote. It reminded me of the Mexican fleamarkets that my family would go to and prices were absurdly cheap. In the middle of the town there were these giant mesh walls for a golf course that it was pretty crazy to see. Apparently golf is really big here especially among businessmen.
I came across a local co-op as well and had some milk which was very different than the stuff in the states. Tasted very fatty and a lot more variety in dairy as well like calpis soda which my friend from Uzbekistan used to tell me about.
Also stumbled upon this park with lots of animals like ducks, turtles, and fish. It was a little bit lonely though since I saw all these people playing volleyball and basketball and I was just alone.
Once it was time to get back home I hit the Soba place near home and had some for the first time. The shop also had some sea salt popsicle for like 50 cents so I got one since I never had one before.
Then I went to another thrift store for some gifts. I found a kids section, so I asked a mother there for some recommendations for my niece and she looked with me for 10 minutes and I got a couple
I’m not really sure what to put for this section since it’s a recap of our international flight that took like 17 hours.
The flight was scheduled for 6 AM, and my mom told me to make sure to get some sleep, but I ended up falling asleep like at 1 AM. The only reason this was an issue was because my family lives about an hour away from O’hare airport , and my sister wanted to get there about 3 hours early. The drive to O’hare was pretty quiet, and for such a big airport I was suprised how small This was my first flight since I was about 5 years old, and I am thankful she did this since we had issues with luggage for like an hour and it gave me time to settle in. Eventually I met up with Henry who I am doing this internship with, but pretty much all my pictures are unusable from this time. I actually forgot my gopro in the luggage and pretty ust had my passport, phone and switch with me.
For the flight we had a 3 hour layover in San Francisco, and on the way to there I pretty much slept the whole time. In the airport though I did some walking around, and it gave me sort of a surreal feeling. When I was about three years old my family moved to California and came back to Chicago when I was five years old. I always had these distant memories of mountains always either in the horizon or around and it was nice to sort of see them again. I also found a cool mural, but I was cutting it close to my flight at this point and went to walk back to the terminal. On the way there I got a juice that was like eight bucks for some reason and it was surprisingly spicy. It was worse for Henry though since apparently he was charged like 18 bucks for a salad and water.
I also slept for like half the flight to Japan, so I don’t have much to say about it. I was only really ever woken up when it was time to eat, and the food was surprisingly both included in the ticket and decent in quality. Other than that I just played my switch until we landed and took some videos of the coast and some other interesting like of how tiny the boats looked.
After we landed I was exhausted, but I still had to get my luggage go through customs and find the person picking us up. My phone no longer worked and just wanted to move into my room, but getting through all of this took close to an hour. Devesh, an IWU alumni, was still working at Technos College and guided us on our first afternoon in Japan. He took us by train to our apartment, and the chaotic nature of the public transportation is just something you can’t really explain in words. In the train everyone is all squished with no room to move especially since we were located so close to Tokyo city. At one point I was left behind staring at Devesh as the doors were closing. In the end I just got what was necessary out of my luggage left the rest on the floor and get some proper sleep (even though I had no blanket or pillow).
My names is Alexis and I’ll be participating in the Freeman Asia Program. Leaving the country much less Illinois has always seemed out of reach given my family’s socioeconomic disposition. This is why I am so grateful for the position I was awarded at Technos College in Tokyo, Japan. To start this off I thought that I would begin by thanking both Dr. Amoloza and Dr. Kojima for all the help they have given to me and other people pursuing the program in the past semester. I acknowledge that this program is some what of a privilege to be awarded at the undergrad level.
During my two month stay in Japan I will be a sort of teacher’s assistant for the English courses taught at the school. I have previous experience in sort of learning languages given my two minors in Japanese Studies as well as Hispanic Studies, but not really in teaching language. I was a TA for Japanese 101 last semester, but in that situation me and most of the students there grew up speaking English. Once I am at Technos I might not have the leeway I was given here. This has me both scared and excited for what is waiting for me in Japan