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First week of Japanese language school and living abroad in Fukuoka, done! As expected, it went by in a snap. I’ve found my classes at GenkiJacs to be enjoyable – all the teachers are very nice and encouraging, and it has been fun to get to know the other students in my class (most of whom are other Americans or Europeans.) As for my studies, right now things are a bit of a review, giving me time to slowly dust off the Japanese gears and get them turning again. The four hours of class each day go by surprisingly fast, and it’s encouraging that I understand more now than when I was last trying to learn Japanese. Though homework has been relatively light (just a page a day on a new grammar topic), I’m trying to stay ahead both in the textbook and in my kanji studies. (We’ll see how long this lasts).
I can attest that living in a foreign country truly helps facilitate the learning of that country’s language. By challenging myself to read the kanji on street signs and listening to the Japanese all around, I’ve found that everything I learn in the classroom is further reinforced.
The 40 minute commute to school every day has been enjoyable – I busy myself with an audiobook or Japanese Podcasts (Japanese Pod 101) during the walk, and kanji flashcards on the train. (Thank you Wanikani!)
Once classes are over, I’ve been able to slowly start exploring the area around my school- each day finding a new restaurant, mall, or nearby shrine. So far I’ve sampled Hakata Ramen, tempura, mizutaki (read more here!), sushi, curry, oysters, and teppanyaki from local restaurants. ?
The cold weather took me (and locals here as well) by surprise as temperatures haven’t been this low in years. Every morning requires bundling up in many layers, and I’m often caught outside with freezing hands or ears. This past weekend it snowed heavily and I got to enjoy making a cute Olaf snowman with my host sister.
My goal right now is to soak in the newness of everything around me while the novelty is still strong. I’m still figuring out how to balance studying, exploring, documenting adventures, spending time with new friends, and just resting. As always there’s a lot going on, but it would surprising if my life was any less hectic.
Some observations thus far:
- Restaurants don’t have napkins! (If they do, there are just tissues. Japanese people must be super clean eaters…)
- Hakata Station is huge and sprawling- I’ve wandered it every day trying to piece together a map in my mind, but it is still so convoluted and confusing.
- There are barely any trash cans out in public. If you have trash, expect to pack it with you and throw it away (in the right container) at home.
- I enjoy public transportation when it is reliable and accessible.
- The trains have heaters below the seats that keep your legs warm when riding in the winter!
- Most Japanese houses don’t have central heating or great insulation so they get REALLY cold in the winter.
- The documents you acquire and the procedures you have to go through to stay long term are very confusing.
- There is lots of free wifi available (stations, conveni stores, etc…) This saved me before I got a data plan.
That’s all for now, back to the fun!