Friday, September 17, 2004

Orientation - Day One

Well everybody, i've now officially met everyone in the Japanese Language Programme who is starting this semester. Minus the couple who for some reason or other didn't turn up to the orientation this morning. The orientation started with the International Centre staff introducing themselves to us, but soon followed with us introducing ourselves to the international centre staff as well as the rest of the JLP students (and the couple of research students who were also there). Jikoushoukai anybody? It sort of felt like school again - and according to some of the more seasoned exchange students, that is kind of how you tend to feel at uni here in Japan.

Nevertheless, it was fun seeing how wide the spectrum of exchange students here is. There was plenty of laughing happening when some ppl decided to use their jikoshoukai to invite everybody to come play soccer and go hiking. The other thing was i met the other Aussies (go Australia!) today who are also starting this semester. The funny thing is all 3 of us are kind of 'oosutoraria-jin ni mienai hito' (not 'Australian' looking in the sense of being white-anglo-aussie). In fact all of us are asian haha. To make matters even better, the other dude from Melbourne Uni is actually Japanese (his family even lives here in Japan). He offered to help me with any Japanese homework i get (thanks Ryo~! hehehe).

The other oosutoraria-jin is a girl from Uni of NSW who's in 4th year this year (i think). Didn't really get much of a chance to talk but i'm sure we'll be bumping into each other often enough.

One thing that's starting to really annoy me is that everybody seems to be staying at Willing Setagaya which is another Keio subsidised housing place. Trouble is it's quite a trip from where I live. I think i've written this yesterday or the day before or something, because it's sounding quite familiar - but the fact that i'm writing it again today sort of emphasises the point. I think of the people i got to know today, 4 of the 6 were at Willing...

The orientation itself is very well designed and will be of great use for most people who are new to the country. For me, there was some useful stuff too - but because I had so much help from my aunty/dad/grandma it wasn't that relevant. They talked about stuff like getting your gaikokujin no touroku sho (foreign/alien registration papers) and things like that - which i'd already done. We all had to sign our housing agreements today too - which basically say that the Uni has the right to kick us out whenever they feel like it if we're naughty (and probably even if we're not too). Some of the people staying at one of the other dorms were quite unhappy by the sounds of things - one place has to share almost all their facilities except for their beds (which they aren't allowed to share at all lol). That's probably the other reason they're unhappy. There is one place which is a guys only dorm - and female visitors are not permitted at all. Not even your mother or your sister. I'm not talking over night - i mean just for a look around during the day time. Tight huh :(

At my place, i'm not allowed overnight visitors except immediate family, but at least i don't think they're that strict about enforcing the 'visitors must leave by 10:30pm curfew'. We shall see i guess :)

The other thing i found out was that file sharing programs are not allowed here at the dorms - and i can understand why (ehhe sorry guys, no web hosting for me ...). The connection here looks like it's about a 1.5mbps/256kbps dsl line or something - so it'll get maxed out pretty quickly using bittorrent. I have downloaded and set up Skype though, just so that i can talk to you guys every now and then hehe.

I've also decided that i will get a mobile phone while i'm here. They already have 3 megapixel camers on some of their phones....! Standard (or maybe it's minimum, i couldn't find anyhting with less) is 1 megapixel, and they all seem to take relatively ok video too. If you go with vodafone you can actually watch TV on your phone (properly. not the crap version we have in Australia). I think though i will probably end up with 'au by KDDI'; because they have a 50% discount off call rates and stuff for students...

As for call rates, they're not too bad. On the plan i'm looking at i'll be paying about 1,990 yen per month (which gives me 1,000 yen of free calls) and then calls are charged at 5 yen per 15 seconds. So that's like 20 yen a minute - and there's no flagfall (that i can see!). What's really cool though is their contracts are all 1 or 2 years long; but cancellation is something like 3,000 yen (that's about $40 australian lol). No prepaid for me hehe.

Bad news is that i can't actually get my phone until i receive my alien registration card - which is going to take till near the end of the month i tihnk. Oh and if you're wondering how i found out all this stuff about phones, it's because today i made a trip down to Akihabara (aka Electric City) to have a look around. They're selling oldish laptops from around 49,000 yen (about $650 AUD). And that's those ultra portable IBM ones too... My dad almost decided to buy one lol. But i suppose the processors and stuff aren't that great (some are only about celeron 500 or so). I saw a FX5900xt (128mb) for about 21,000 yen ($270 AUD) - is that cheap ??

The size of the place is still a bit hard for me to come to grips with - think Melbourne's CBD with the whole thing only selling electrical goods/computer software/games. That's sort of Akihabara. But then there's lights everywhere and most (major) shops are at least 4 stories high - the big ones are about 7 levels. There's lots of pretty girls promoting stuff and porn shops too haha.

The reason why you guys are only reading this now (Sat 18th Sep) and not yesterday when i actually wrote it, is because my dad is still finishing off some work on the laptop at the hotel, and i'm back at my accommodation. I'm really dying to catch up with everyone but i can't even send email atm (well not without catching a train to some other place and looking for an internet cafe). So this blog was written and planned 100% the good old fashion way: on paper!

I just realised that it's actually getting pretty long (and it's getting pretty late too) so i'll stop in a sec. The only other thing i wanted to write is that i remembered to time the walk from the station to my place today - it takes 12 minutes walking; and running (in the dark, with probably less people in the way than during the day when i timed the walking) it took about 4-5 minutes. It's not really that far afterall. My dad says i should go get a bike, but i don't think i can be bothered to try to park it/tie it up (actually though, come to think of it people seem to kind of just leave thei rbikes on the footpaths with no lock on them at all here). But still, i think i'll see how i go walking first :)

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