Day 2-3

My station, Takaragaike

My station, Takaragaike

Kyoto is surrounded by such mountains/hills

Kyoto is surrounded by such mountains/hills

So, let’s continue from yesterday. Before arriving I was already informed about the orientations I needed to attend. I had an appointment at Seika for Thursday while I could pick any time for the registration at the Kyoto University, so I decided to go to KyoDai on Wednesday. It took me very long to get up, get ready (it’s still taking much more time than at home), so I got there early in the afternoon. There was some paperwork for the registration, and I was told what else I would need to do to complete all the procedures, like registering my current address at the City Hall and enter the National Health Insurance, and finally, opening a bank account. Sure, I was give some guidance and examples of the forms I would need to fill, but I didn’t think I would need to go alone to handle all these things. But okay, I thought let’s get over with it and somehow it would work out anyway. I took the recommended bus and it was another new experience as I have only ridden the train before. It’s always exciting, because at first you just never know how you need to pay the fare, how to use the card, you extra pay attention to the stations and sometimes you’re not even sure what’s the basic etiquette.

The sakura outside of the City Hall

The sakura outside of the City Hall

Anyway, I got there fine, and thanks to that I made an exciting discovery. I forgot to write yesterday, but during our shopping tour on the first night my biggest worry was that I couldn’t find a shop that carries fruits and vegetable and other ingredients for cooking. I concluded you just can’t find those in the convenience stores, but then the question was, where to find them? I wasn’t exactly lazy when I spent the morning at my room, I was actually looking for all kinds of information. There I realized there’s a difference between convenience stores and supermarkets, so I would need the latter for my daily shoppings. I found some supermarket lines on the net, but it’s not always easy to locate the actual shops even with the shop finders on the websites. Luckily there was just one such supermarket, a Kyoto Coop where I got off the bus, so I decided to stop by after getting over the City Hall stuff. All the paperwork is actually quite troublesome, but I guess around this time many foreigners come in to register, so they decided to make it a bit more simple. They spoke some English, but not too much, while, to tell the truth, my readiness and ability to speak Japanese are still lacking, so it was fun – well, it’s still quite hard when I have some official things to do. But then a group of students arrived from Seika with the Dutch girl among them to do the same registration as me! That was some coincidence! It turned out that after the Seika orientation the students were brought here in a group for all the registration accompanied by a member of the international office at Seika. My registration was also done together with the others, and luckily everything went smoothly.

Tiny egg plants

Tiny egg plants

Cute mushrooms

Cute mushrooms

After that I guided the Dutch girl to the bus that would take her to KyoDai for the registration I did before, and then I was checking out the supermarket. Finally I got some ingredients here, fruits and vegetable, and I just felt my life was saved~ I got eggplant, they are really small here in Japan, very cheap, cute mushrooms, onions (they are huge here), apples, tangerine, yogurt, olive oil for cooking, eggs and such. Now I was sure I wouldn’t die of hunger XD The only problem was, I didn’t bring any bags and this is probably the only shop in Japan that doesn’t provide bags, so I was probably looking quite funny with all my stuff in my bag and hands ^^;

The riverside. It was cloudy and cold btw.

The riverside. It was cloudy and cold btw.

Then I went back to Hyakumanben, the crossing near the Kyoto Univ where I was told I could open a bank account – registered residence and a health insurance card are necessary for that. I found the post office (for the MEXT scholarship is compulsory to use the post bank), but I was probably late as they told me I should come back the next day between 9:00-16:00. Like that I just went to the 100 yen shop at the other side of the crossing to get a bag for my shoppings and headed home.

More sakura...

More sakura…

Ever since then I’m using the railway from Demachiyanagi to Takaragaike and back when I need to go to the uni or just to town. Although it’s 10 minutes walk from the station, it’s the best solution. There are two buses that could be better and even cheaper, but then go rarely, and I just didn’t manage to catch any of them. Actually the time to get to the uni from home is less than 30 minutes, so it’s all fine. I just have to figure out if I could buy a commuter pass, because it’s just too expensive with a simple pre-paid card when you have to pay for every trip. I guess I will need to ask at the station, though I’m afraid there will be some language problems. After a week I can say my language skills are slowly but surely getting better, though I make many mistakes of course, and the words just don’t come to my mind when needed. But well, I’m in a Japanese environment non-stop, so it has to get better.

Day 3 was also meant for orientations and registrations. This time I went to Seika at 10, where I got through the paperwork with other new students. They are all so young btw, or rather, I’m just too old compared to them. In Japan many official papers use the old calendar based on the rule of the emperors, so we were using it a lot as well. The turning year was 1989, and most of the kids there were all born in Heisei, the current era, while I was born in Showa ^^;;;;; Btw I’m Showa 56, it’s fun, because my parents were born in 1956 :D Anyway, I was thought to be German by some French guys there, because it seems I have a German accent when speaking English – well yeah, I like German better anyway. After the paperwork we got a guide tour around the campus. It’s really great, I will post some pics and shoot some more when I feel more comfortable about making pics at the uni ^^;;; There are many separate buildings designed by the architecture students there, it’s all in the green already, and very calm. The media center and the library are amazing! They have the most recent manga magazines, a small collection of manga (most of them are at the Manga Museum though, but we have free entrance with our student cards), many videos and anime, huge monitors and separate cubes with big TVs to watch them – just amazing! I guess I will spend more time at the campus than expected :D

Lunch at the cafeteria

Lunch at the cafeteria

Then we went to eat at the school cafeteria. Fortunately our guide was kinda vegetarian himself (not so strict though), so he recommended some stuff I could actually eat there. It wasn’t bad, and first of all, it was cheap, so I guess I have to battle it sometimes, but this menu made me realize that I probably won’t like Japanese food. It’s just… lacking seasoning, and my family’s and my cooking is quite spicy with a lot of seasoning. Or I will bring some spices… All in all this food wasn’t really good for my body. Anyway, while we were eating I met a German girl, who is also living in the same apartment as me, and was also a research student at Seika registered for the same language course as me and the Dutch girl. After the meal I said good-bye to the group as they were heading to the City Hall, but this wasn’t the last time I met the German girl either ^^

Pretty sakura

Pretty sakura

Sakura by the riverside

Sakura by the riverside

As for myself, I headed to the post office to get my bank account. Although there are tons of foreign students going there for a bank account the staff couldn’t really speak English, but they were nice and helpful. It was quite a battle, but I got my account with the typical Japanese bank book. My cash card would take a week they said, and indeed, I’ve just found a notice from the post in my mailbox about a registered mail. I will try to get it tomorrow from the post, but I’m afraid another battle is awaiting me. I could ask for a re-delivery via phone (phoning in Japanese – nooooo! Not to mention I don’t even have a phone), but I’m rather walking down to the post.

With this all said and done I hurried back to Seika for the orientation of the Manga Faculty. Here I met my professor again, who introduced me to people from the Manga Museum, who also had some similar research interests. The professors of the faculty held some presentations about themselves and their courses, and it was really interesting. Btw, Takemiya Keiko did so too, and after the orientation ended, my professor quickly introduced me to her as well, since my research is related to the time she started out as a mangaka – you can imagine that I was nearly dying there with my clumsy Japanese orz After a short break we had a welcome party for the Manga Faculty. First we had a short introduction with everyone – wah, it was hard to pull my Japanese together for that! And then there was a lot of food, but yeah, all Japanese with fish and meat so at first I didn’t think I could eat anything. But then some cakes arrived, and I finally tasted the famous strawberry shortcake. It was very yummy, fluffy and fruity <3 The fun part of the story, we had to eat the cakes with chopsticks as well, and I’m still learning how to eat with them, so it was quite adventurous XD;;; Currently I’m trying to save money, but I can’t wait to go to a cake shop and try more of the cakes in Japan~ And then pizza was delivered too!!! You know, pizza is very expensive in Japan, so I just gave up that I will be able to eat any here, so it was a pleasant surprise and totally saved my day, because there was Margherita – yay for veggie pizza~~~ Here we could socialize with others and I met some people with similar research interests. It was time to speak more Japanese and by the second time I was already tired as well, so I had my worst experience trying to speak Japanese >< I hope I can make it up to the other party later… It was a long day for me, so I didn’t even wait for the party to end, I just had to get home. It was an intense day, and it became clear that I would somewhat be part of Seika during the first 6 month already as well. My professor suggested that I should visit some classes, but since I didn’t know my KyoDai schedule yet, it wasn’t clear until this week if I could.

Okay, it’s getting late again, so let’s just stop here, and I will continue tomorrow on Saturday.

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