Ok, since I have been here for more than 3 months now, one would think that I have accumulated SOME kind of knowledge by now, so I will try to give you some advice, and this advice is especially directed towards you who are thinking about coming up to Japan to study Japanese. So let's start!
So, one of the first things that come to mind is "Yay! I am at the airport! Now how the hell am I supposed to go to my new Japanese home?!" Well, there are different ways to go, and the most convenient (but also the most expensive!!!! Be warned!) is to book a transfer, which is basically a chauffeur that picks you up at the airport and then drives you to your home by taxi. It costs 30 000 yen, and trust me, you can buy other, nicer things for that money! So unless, you have a very bad back or bad health or something, please choose another alternative. Well, the other two I know about is the Narita Express train, which will take you to major city parts such as Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Yokohama, Omiya, Ofuna, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Totsuka and Takao. With this train you have to have a reserved seat, so make sure you order a seat beforehand. You can do it at the airport before the train leaves, but you shoud probably order beforehand to make sure that you get a seat, because it wouldn't be fun to have to wait at the airport for the next Narita express, as these trains only leave once an hour! I don't know how to book tickets from abroad, but for more info, you can just google Narita Express, and you will now what to do ;)
The second alternative is to use the trains that go on the Keisei line. This is the cheapest alternative, and it is not too tiring, or what do you think, Basma and David? ;)
There are a lot of signs that lead you to the platform, which is, as I remember it, one floor down from the arrival halls, and if you don't find it, just ask for Keisei Line at the information desk! They will definitely know where it is!
But maybe you won't live at one of the big stations =O
Then you will have to change trains at one of those stations, and this might be very difficult as a newbeginner, but just use this site:
This website is great and will show you how you can use the trains and subway to go from one station to another, and how much it will cost you. When you know the name of the line you have to use (make sure of which direction it goes!) and where to get off to change trains, it is actually quite easy to get around =) If you have questions, just ask me! Because I don't know how bad my explanations are ;P
Ok, so now you have arrived to your home! But what kind of home is it? Is it an apartment? Guesthouse? Host family? Dormitory? I can start by saying that the most expensive alternative is living with a host family, but this is good because you get to know the Japanese culture. However, be careful! If you don't like your host family, tell the school immediately! And if you are thinking of prolonging your stay with the family, wait a bit and see how the family REALLY is before you make any hasty decisions! I learned this the hard way =P At first, I thought my host family was great, so I quickly changed my stay from 1 month to 3 (idiotic!), then after half a month or so, I began to realize how bad my food actually was, and how my host family, which was just one woman, was just trying to get as much money from me as she could. Not good, and not ok! And if you get in this situation, tell the school about it, and make sure that you don't have to depend on your family for something, because then you might be afraid that the family will make things difficult for you if you tell the school! For example, I didn't want Seiko-san (my host family) to cancel all the hotel reservations she had made for Basma and David when they came to Japan, so I decided to wait until they had already gone home before I said anything to the school, and by now it is too late to change anything for me as I have already moved out, but I can at least keep other students from living with her. So, in other words, be careful, don't be rash, and THINK PROPERLY BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR DECISIONS! They will tell you that you have to tell the school quickly where you want to live after your host family so that they will have the time to find you somewhere to live, but I don't think it's that important. In fact, I found my house on my own, the school only looked for vacancies at the school dormitories, and as they said that these rooms were only for long term students, I had to find another place to live by myself. Basically, they just recommended Oak House and Sakura House, two organisations that offer places to live, and then they wanted me to come by the office when I found where I wanted to move to, and when I did, they asked me to call the organisation and talk to them. So in other words, I had to do it all myself, and all the school did was recommend these two organisations =P I thought they would help me book it and everything, but they didn't, so don't feel stressed about not telling the school in time ;)
The apartments are also quite expensive, but then you will live on your own, with your own bath room, toilet, kitchen etc. I got my apartment fully furnitured too from Sakura House, and it costs 79 000 yen per month to live here. I know, it is a LOT, but it is an apartment in Tokyo after all, what would you expect? If you find this too pricey, I would suggest living in a dormitory or guest house. The dormitories might be tiring as you have to share a room with many other people (think school trip with bunk beds =S), and you will have a common shower, toilet, kitchen etc. That is to say, you will have nothing that is yours only, no privacy! This is the cheapest alternative, but it is very exhausting, and a lack pf privacy might be too much if you plan to stay for a long time. So maybe a guest house? This is actually a very good alternative, as you will have your own room with your own bed, but the kitchen and living room area will be shared. If I remeber correctly, you will also have your own toilet and bath room, but I might be wrong, so check it up before you decide! ;)
A guest house is then almost like a big family, and depending on the people living there, you might get a good insight into Japanese culture and get help with the language! I have some friends from school who live at a guest house in Warabi, and they really like it! They say that they can sit in the common room area and do their homework, and the other tenants are more than happy to help =) They also say the manager is awesome and nice, so this is a good alternative to both a host family and an apartment as it is cheaper, and if you go to the right place, you might still get some of the social aspects of staying with a hist family.
And then school will start! What to do about books and dictionaries? My advice? BUY THEM HERE!!!! They are cheaper here, and you have more, and MUCH better books to choose from! You can even buy an electronic dictionary here which will allow you to look up both words and kanji. And when it comes to grammar and learning kanji, the books here are still better. They also have guide books here, so you don't even have to buy that before you come! And to be honest, I haven't used my guide book once =P But maybe you will want one for your explorations, and this is even a bigger reason for why you should wait. You don't know now how much you will need it...
So, you are getting hungry, aren't you? Well, there are a lot of restaurants that serve cheap, good Japanese fast food, but if you want to make your own food, you can buy food at conbinis (convenient stores), but they usually have ready-made food and onigiris, not so muce fruits and veggies if you're looking for that! Grocery stores, and the basement floor of big department stores such as Ito Yokado, Corso, Parco... Some drug stores might even have food, so you will have no problems finding it! =) I would say that the grocery stores and basement floors of the department stores have the most food to offer. Oh yeah, you might even be able to find 100 yen-stores that only sell food! So look around I am sure that you will find something!
Ok, I feel like I've written down a few things now, but if you wonder about something not listed, or something is inclear, leave a question for me! =)
Good luck! =D

Weekend again =)

Hello everybody! Long time no see!
Sorry for neglecting my blog, but I will make it up by providing you all with a looong description of my last weekend =)
So, this Friday, I went home to Robin with Lova =) He is now living in a new apartment close to Shinjuku, which is very convenient and central. I have to say that I love his new apartment! (I haven't seen his previous apartment, which was his host family's place, so I can't compare). We have already had numerous movie nights there with a lot of fatty fat food and nice movies ^^
Anyway, this time, we went to the supermarket and bought ingredients for kimchi-nabe! (It is, as I have mentioned earlier, a kind of pot with vegetables, tofu and, if you would like, meat =)) Robin made the food, he likes to cook, and it was SOOO delicious! A bit spicy, but hey, that's kimchi-nabe for you! =)
After this, me and Lova went to Takadanobaba where we were supposed to meet two of her Japanese friends, Robin said he would come after us because he needed time to get ready. In the end he never came =P Haha, he had to meet someone else =)
So, we were really late because we stayed at Robin's plave for so long and we had such a nice time that we left tooooo late, and then Lova also had to go back to her home (which is a 15 minute walk from Takadanobaba, so it was very close) to put on some make-up and get ready, and then I took this opportunity to leave my school stuff at her place and borrow a small bag where I could put the more important stuff, like, for example, my wallet and commuter pass =P Oh yeah, I have a Suica card now! I am really happy, it is very convenient, because now I don't have to think about fare adjustments anymore as you fill the card with money, and then they take away any extra charges immediately =) So you just have to go and not worry! =D
Anyway, moving on, hehe, the guys weren't there by the time we arrived =O Apparently, they had met up with some other friends who wanted to go out, and they didn't like new people (what kind of a lame excuse is that? =P), so they had gone away somewhere, and when we tried to call them, they didn't answer, haha, Lova was a bit annoyed, haha.
So we went to a bar called the Hub in Takadanobaba where we went to discuss what to do now, whom to meet instead, where to go etc, and we got there, we found the guys! Haha, it was such a coincidence! And they were really sorry (and drunk =P) and sat down with us, and I got a free coke, hehe ^^
But they were actually really nice, and they were probably too drunk, and the bar too crowded for them to hear the phone ring, so it was all ok in the end =)
We sat there and had a nice time talking, and it was so embarrassing when they taught Lova bad words (she asked them to teach her Japanese bad words, so it's not like it was their fault or anything ;)), and when I say bad words I mean bad words connected to sex =P Thank god I don't remember any of them! Hahahaa XD And she wrote them down! Hahaahah =P I know that she won't use them, she probably just thinks it's funny, so need to think badly of her, she is really nice and funny =)
After the bar, the guys really wanted to eat ramen, and one of the guys wanted to go home. But me and Lova didn't feel like eating ramen, and Lova didn't want him to go home, so, she took the guy's wallet, gave him 1000 yen for one bowl of ramen, and then we went to an izakaya where we waited for the guys to come, hahaha XD
Poor guy, so whipped! Hehe... ^^
So we were out until the first trains started leaving, but before I went home, I went to Lova's place where I took my things, but I stayed for a while before I went home, and then when I got home, I had to get ready for Satoru's gig (Satoru is a Japanese friend that I, Basma and David made when they were here. We celebrated New Year's with him and Jien, a Japanese girl that David befriended over the internet), and when I got home I was really stressed, because I didn't have as much time as I would have liked =P I had to take a shower and straighten my hair, and then I also put on some make-up, which for me always makes me late as I am not used to take these extra 30-something minutes into consideration when getting ready to go out =P Haha, so I hurried, and I was 10 minutes late in the end, but I actually made it just in time as the gig started just when I came =) Lucky! Haha ^^
The girl who sang, it was actually her gig, but Satoru helped her by playing the guitar, had a really nice voice! And the songs were really nice too =) Apparently, she was also very funny as she made the audience laugh all the time, but I didn't always (ok, most of the time =P) understand why, but I understood a few things, hahah =)
So, she sang and a band called Lili was there playing with her. In the beginning she was alone, singing and playing the piano (really good!), and then Lili came up with her playing the piano, bass, drums etc, and then they left the stage. I was really surprised! This is because at this time, Satoru still hadn't played anything, and I thought the gig was over, but then the girl came up again, and then he came too =)
So, then it was his turn, and he was really good! And the guy playing the piano with them was amazing! After the gig I stayed and talked with the people who had played, and he said that he has palyed the piano for 20 years (!). No wonder he was so good that he could play anything without even looking at his fingers =P
As I said, I stayed after the gig and talked to the people there, and they were all very nice and fun! Satoru introduced me to the other people, and we talked, and I listened to the guy playing the piano (I feel bad just calling him the guy, but I am soo bad with names that I seriously feel ashamed =O I will ask Satoru later and give this poor man an identity =O), and we showed each other pictures, and they were surprised that I had learned as much Japanese as I had in only 3 months, haha =)
And Sunday, well, nothing happened today, because it was a resting day (no, not in a religious sense for the love of god!!!! ;P) I just stayed at home, watching a drama called "Gakkou ja oshierarenai!", which is very funny, then I wrote this pot, and now I am going to listen to some music and go to sleep!
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I am sorry if it's weird or doesn't make any sense, but to my dfence, I am sleepy ;)
Oyasumi minna-san! Ja ne! =D

Osaka and Kyoto and Tokyo!

So, what to do now that both Stephanie and Rebecca are gone?
Well, have fun with Basma and David that just came to Japan!
Haha, nice first trip abroad, eh David? ^^
I really liked Osaka where we saw Osaka castle and Umeda Sky Building. It was awesome! It was so high up, and the view was amazing! I have to post some pictures and show you ^^
Oh, and for you people who want to see pictures of the food here in Japan, just ask Basma and David, they took pictures of EVERYTHING they ate! I kid you not! Hahaha, we must have looked like real tourists ;P
Before we went to Osaka, we went to Jump Festa in Makuhari Messe, and it was nice to go, although they mostly had a lot of games with lines that were to long, so we never tried anything. There was even a line to enter the Jump Shop! Had to stand there for almost an hour =P But it was nice and worth it =)
So, after this we took the Shinkansen up to Osaka where we had ordered a hotel by the help of Seiko-san, and it wasn't really that good =O The air in the room was very allergenic, and it smelled like cigarettes, so we booked a new hotel and moved. Too bad we spent our first day on finding a new hotel, but the other day we went on a boat ride, visited Osaka castle, and we went to the top of Umeda Sky Building, so we still did a lot of nice stuff ^^
In Kyoto we saw the Nijo-castle with the nightingale-floor and Kinkakuji, the goldan pavillion. They were both really nice! After this I had to leave Basma and David to go to South Korea for one night, because I had to renew my visa, so I missed the last day in Kyoto, and Hiroshima, and of course, these days were the funniest days =P
Basma and David climbed a mountain where monkeys roamed freely, and they also saw Hiroshima Memorial Park. Would have been nice to see! Still, I can see it some other time I guess ^^ Oh, and the hotel in Hiroshima was appearantly really nice! =)
What I remember from these days is walking around and asking for directions to find different vegan restaurants, and finding the hotels, haha, we must have all gone down two sizes or something! I really think that the best way to exercise is to move to a country where there are large distances between everything =P
So, I met them in Tokyo again after South Korea, and we saw Harajuku, Shibuya, Shinjuku and more! Haha, we really got to feel and see ourselves that Shinjuku station is the biggest station in Tokyo! It is a nightmare to meet here! Gah! I like smaller stations =)
Oh yeah, and we met a lot of nice Japanese people! David was mostly the one talking to them, and thanks to that we found a Japanese guy whose Swedish was actually better than his English =O He was interested in Sweden, loved Swedish music, and was going to visit Sweden next year XD What a coincidence! Really amazing =)
So now Basma and David have some new Japanese friends to whom they can show Sweden =)
Nice! ^^

Stephanie and Rebecca

Not too long ago both Stephanie and Rebecca went back to their countries =(
It was very sad, and I will miss them both, even though we have internet and Skype, it's not really the same thing =(
I had a very nice time with Stephanie and her host family on her last day in Japan, I can see she has been living with wonderful people! I also had a nice time with Rebecca and Robin on Rebecca's last day, haha, you two were so drunk after all that wine! XD I hope you two enjoyed Japan, and next time we will go around Europe together!
Yakusoku desu yo! ^^

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