Arrival to Japan, First Days

I arrived on the afternoon of May 10th at Haneda Airport, where I was greeted by the previous TA Devesh Mondal, who showed me the ropes on my first few days in Japan. The flight was smooth and not as long as I thought it would be. My fellow TA, Alexis, Devesh and I traveled to our sharehouse in Hanakoganei (花小金井) via train, and after getting lost a few times and some backtracking, we made it to our destination around 7:00. Since we didn’t know anything at the time, our first dinner consisted of items from the convenience store (コンビニ) across the street. I was pleasantly surprised to see that convenience stores here are very different than those in the U.S.

Sandwich bread is very different here, it is sweeter with a milky texture, and without the crust. Onigiri, the stuffed rice/seaweed triangle, is a versatile snack food that is perfect on-the-go.

The first day of work was mostly introductions. I met with my supervisors, teachers and a few of the English students. Everyone that I have met here has been polite and friendly, even if they have to put up with my barely comprehensible Japanese. This extends to outside the college as well, as people are always ready to answer my questions whenever I have needed assistance in public spaces. After my short day at work, I visited Shibuya (渋谷) with Alexis, where we walked around and saw the famous Shibuya Scramble Square. We tried to get sushi in the city, but it was peak rush hour, and the lines to get in were unbearably long. Due to the population density, rush hour can get very hectic with the sheer volume of people in the area. Shibuya, Shinjuku (新宿), and Takadanobaba (高田馬場) stations were among the most crowded during this time.

On the second day, we had a nice party for us coming to the school, where we introduced ourselves to a larger body of students, played games and asked questions. We were also given an assortment of Japanese snacks, I would show a picture, but I was so excited to try them, I ate them already!

On Saturday, I visited Mitaka (三鷹) and Inokashira (井の頭公園) Park. Inside the park was the Ghibli museum (which needed a reservation so I will go back at a later date). It was very nice to see Japanese families having fun in the park.

The first day of school went well I think. For the most part, I think both the students and myself are pretty shy, so hopefully, if I get to know them, they may open up a bit more to me.

I am still getting used to having Japanese being spoken to me, and it sometimes seems like I am a toddler. I have to remind myself that I am still learning, and that mastery over language does not happen overnight. I will continue to try to get better at speaking and understanding. Plus, the students learning English are probably thinking the same thing when I talk to them, so I feel as though I can relate better to them in this way.

I will be back this Sunday with another blog post, I will have updates on what I have done and seen!

Signing off -Henry

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