First Week, part one.

I arrived in Nagoya without incident, but as always, had things to do before I left right up until the end. I managed to get everything packed and ready, get Not Enough Sleep, and break my sunglasses on the trip to the airport, but that’s the worst that happened. Aside from the American Eagle jet from Pittsburgh to Chicago, I flew JAL the whole way. My in-flight movies were Battleship (entertaining fluff) and Safe House (action fluff), and the meals were the usual high-quality airplane food. I also managed to get aisle seating the whole way, which I preferred, and made sure to travel lightly — my carry-on was my backpack I bought last year with a handful of things inside, and I always stashed it above me.

After arriving at Centrair, I was greeted by Megumi Miyano, their international office’s main contact. We dragged my luggage to a train stop and rode for a while, then switched to a taxi to go the rest of the way. She’d apparently spent the whole day doing that for incoming students, which would certainly make for a long day.

I met the dorm caretakers when I arrived, and they showed me the shoe cabinets, mailboxes, and other things. I was also given a huge amount of paperwork to go with the stuff I’d already gotten in the mail. The second floor is home to a library room with direct-connect internet, and the third floor has the TV room/trash/kitchen at the top of the steps. My room was the closest to the stairs (and the router that sits in the hall). I opted for a single room when I registered, because it’s nice to have one’s own space (plus I snore). It’s much better than Yamasa’s dorm, since it’s a regular university; the room’s spacious, with lots of closet and cabinet space, a desk, shelf unit, and a bathroom-with-shower. It also has, against expectations, a fridge! I was really pleased, and set to work opening my luggage so I could get a shower and start putting stuff away.

Jaime, my predecessor from WVU, left me a lot of stuff. Some of it was useful, like mechanical pencil leads and push pins. Some was interesting, like part of a bottle of whiskey and a metal lighter. The rest was questionable, like an incense burner shaped like a Rastafarian and a hunter-orange sweatshirt. I separated a few things and stashed the rest in one of the massive closets for later. I also met the other guys on the floor: John from Norway (who’s starting his third year here), Tom from England, and Paku from Korea. Except for John and two others, we were all newcomers. I joined everyone downstairs to walk to the nearby supermarket — a Seiyu, as it turns out — and kindasorta met everyone else along the way. The two Japanese girls stationed here to help out led the procession, which passed by a Hard Off (Book Off’s hardware cousin) and a Softbank, as well as a Lawson’s Plus (which apparently means they sell vegetables or something). I bought a few necessities with the other guys, and headed back ahead of the girls for a much-needed shower.

Most everyone at ASU is female; guys apparently make up only about twenty percent here. When I arrived, ten of the fourteen of us were female (mostly Chinese with a couple Koreans), and I was told that we’re to get two more students from Korea (one male, one female). The Japanese tutors (as they called themselves) bought a bunch of snacks, which they’d spread on the table, along with a few beverages (including some Chu-Hi). It was an informal party, allowing everyone to get acquainted. I retrieved the whiskey Jaime left and shared a little to those who wanted it, participated in a few photos, and basically unwound. What I noticed was that the Asian students’ Japanese was far and above my own. I’m used to being above most everyone I know in ability — and no, I’m honestly not bragging — but these girls (and Paku) put me to shame. It was a pretty clear indication of just how little I learned at my own university. I realized at that point that I hadn’t really eaten since the plane, which had been hours before, and the snacks weren’t really cutting it. John told me there was a Sukiya (donburi place) down the road, so I headed out. It was pretty easy to find, even at night, and I bought a small chicken donburi to go. I shared a little with Kika, one of the Chinese girls I’d been talking to, as well as some of the whiskey.

After a while, everyone began to drift back to their rooms, and I followed suit. The internet here was spotty at best, but I was assured I’d get information later to make it work better. The bed — and it was a bed, not a futon — was made, and I was tired, so I unpacked everything but my clothes, then crashed.

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