Today was our first day on campus. They finally decided that we didn't have swine flu. We won't tell them that I had a sore throat the first 3 days I was here... hehehe
Today we finally got access to computers. The rest our stay will be conducted on campus, thank god.
There is an AM PM conbini (convenience store) built into the building our classes are held in. Odd.
Oh, I dropped down to level 2 because 3 was way too hard. 8 hours of homework plus 16 kanji per day? No thanks.
The 2nd level class is too easy, for sure, but it is going way fast so it is probably paced right for my learning ability. I think that I will focus on JLPT 3 stuff since they will be giving us the same test at the end, so that will give me a pretty good marker for what I need to learn by December.
So this past weekend we went to Tokyo. Chris and Kim and Debbie are here.
Me and Jack Daniels (Josh) and Jose Cuervo (Christian) left the dorms at about 6:40AM on Saturday morning. We had to get over to Osaka station and walk to Chris' hotel (Osaka Hilton).
First we had to get to Fujidera station, so we hopped a bus over... we have been doing that all week so that wasn't an issue. Next, we had to go from Fujidera to Tennoji station. Keep in mind that none of us had ever been farther than Tennoji station on our own.
I had already asked someone if the Kansai bus passes would work on the train, and we were told they would, so I showed Jack and Jose how to get a Kansai pass. Then we proceeded to attempt to figure out which train to get on. I spoke some Nihonglish (Or Janglish, if you prefer) to the gate guard and he told us which platform to wait on, but we missed the train, so I had to ask someone on the platform (in Japanese) if we could catch the next train to Tennoji. They said we could (I think).
So we got on the train, and made it to Tennoji. Next we had to make it to Osaka. The Osaka JR loop goes to Osaka, but I didn't know anything about it before we got there, so I went to the JR ticket office to ask them how to get there. Fortunately the guy spoke some english. Jack and Jose sat outside waiting for me. I was able to buy 3 1-way tickets to Osaka station.
We wandered around the station looking four our platform, and found it. 8 or so stops later and we were at Osaka. I had already told Chris we were going to be running a little late (We had wanted to meet up at about 8:15). We got to Osaka station at about 8:15, but we had to get to the Osaka Hilton, which according to Google Maps was a few blocks away so we wandered down the street and got ourselves lost looking for it.
It turns out that the Osaka Hilton is literally across the street from Osaka station. We had to get a crudely drawn map from a construction worker that didn't speak any English to realize that it was back the way we came.
So we finally met up with Chris, Debbie, and Kim. The lot of us got our JR passes and reserved seats on the train to Tokyo. About 20 minutes before we were supposed to leave, we decided to go find our gate, only to discover in our horror that we actually had to transfer to Shin-Osaka (New Osaka) station to catch the train. I asked the way to Shin Osaka in frantic Japanese and one of the train ushers showed us the way. Once we got to the platform it was totally not apparent which train to take, so I talked to an old man in Japanese trying to ask him which train to take.
The problem with the Japanese train system is that the stops listed on the train are generally the last stop on the line, and if you aren't familiar with the line it is hard to tell which direction you need to go. Since we were in such a hurry I was frantically trying to sort it all out but my Japanese understanding is really limited even though I can form somewhat coherent questions.
We jumped on a train and I was watching the old man for any hint that we had made a mistake, but he didn't show any signs, so we shrugged and rode the train hoping that Shin-Osaka wasn't far.
We got lucky. The next stop or two (I wasn't paying enough attention) was our stop and the Shinkansen was already there. We managed to board right before it left.
It was a crazy trip to Tokyo and my brain shut down on me that night. I seriously could not think straight. Too much Japanese.
I'll write more about the Tokyo trip and post pictures later. Updates should be more frequent now that I have Internet access.