Life in Tokyo Begins!

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Crosswalk at night in Shibuya (渋谷区).

Greetings from Tokyo, Japan! Since this is the first post for this blog, let me introduce myself quickly – Hi! I’m Molly, and I usually can be found lurking about at Temple University’s main campus. This semester, however, I’m studying abroad at the Japan Campus, located in one of Tokyo’s 23 wards, Minato (港区). For those of you who are interested in Temple’s study abroad program, I hope this blog will help give you some insight of what to expect! As for anyone else reading this, I promise to have something exciting and new each week to keep your interest piqued!

Let’s start off simply with some details about the arrival procedure, and what the first couple of days are like. I arrived here in Tokyo last Tuesday before the start of the semester with the rest of the study abroad group, and already it has been an exciting week and a half. Arriving and settling into the dorm was a long journey, but relatively simple. A group of us had arranged to meet at the airport, which is where we bought our bus tickets (¥3,000) to go to the Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo where the Temple official would meet us. The bus ride itself was about an hour and a half long, and from the hotel we took a cab to our housing (students doing homestay actually met their host families there and went home with them instead). Luckily I was able to split the fare with another girl in the Ontakesan dormitory, so I think the final cost for the taxi was roughly ¥1,000-1,500 a piece.

The Ontakesan dorm is located in another ward, Ota (大田区). It’s in a residential area, and the surrounding neighborhood is peaceful. Ontakesan station is only 10-15 minutes away from the dorm by walking, and there’s a strip of small restaurants and convenience stores (including a 7/11!) that makes shopping for food and necessities extremely easy.

This little street in Ota can quickly become quite busy in the morning.

The first few days were busy, starting with a dorm orientation the day after arrival, when students were also taken to apply for their alien registration card and national health insurance. Last Thursday and Friday were also orientation days for the study abroad students at TUJ.

So far, what I really like about TUJ are the different events they offer during the semester to get students involved. They host a cultural exchange night and a language partner program (both of which are free!), as well as trips that allow you to see different areas of Japan, such as the Nikko Day Trip (apparently home to beautiful shrines) and the Shikoku Trip (an area that contrasts with day-to-day life in Tokyo by allowing you to experience “old Japan”).  In fact, the facebook page gives more information on all the events, so make sure to check it out!

Between running around with orientations and classes, I’ve noticed one major cultural difference, and I’m going to close this first post by mentioning it: people are extremely polite towards others here in Tokyo. Morning and evening trains are quiet despite being overcrowded (really, really overcrowded), and at night in our residential area, there are never any loud disturbances. Also, just yesterday a high school student approached me to offer me help with my Suica card (train pass) when I was having trouble getting it to work. She even walked with me to the station office, and stayed with me until it was sorted out so that she could help me explain the issue to the officials. Even just a week and a half into the fall semester, I’m already astounded by how respectful everyone I’ve crossed so far seems to be. It certainly is different  than most other cities that I have had the experience of going to.

To finish wrapping up this first post, I would just like to say thank you for reading! I have a list of all the places I would like to explore in Tokyo, so stay tuned!

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