First Week in Japan

I have only been a week in Japan, but I am more or less settled here, facing one year of studying at Kobe University. Of course there are things that are difficult to understand (misunderstandings about culture or language) or hard to get used to (walking at the left side of the road in my case) but the most important thing is that I already like living here. My Japanese adventure up till now in a nutshell:

volunteer abroad Japan

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Kokui Residence

Having spent two days in a hotel in Sannomiya, I packed my bags again to move into my dorm in the district of Nada (Kokui residence 国維寮). Every exchange student at Kobe University is appointed a Japanese tutor, who helps you finding the way to the dorm and university, dealing with many procedures and answers all your questions. On the first day of April, we met with our tutors and set off, heavily loaded, to our dorm. It was raining cats and dogs, and of course I did not buy an umbrella yet… Aside from the weather, everything went smoothly. First we had the procedures for the dorm, then we went for lunch, we spent the afternoon at the city hall for immigration registration and health security, went to buy a futon 布団 afterwards and shopped at the supermarket for food and other essentials.

The next day, we were guided around on university campus and opened a bank account. On Friday 3 April, I had a meeting with my teacher and went to see a Belgian friend who is living on Port Island. The tutors had organised ohanami (お花見 “watching the flowers”) on Saturday, something like a picnic in the park under the cherry blossoms, and we played games, ate snacks, and had a lot of fun.

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Today was Easter, so I went with some other foreign students to a Catholic Church in Kobe. The mass was half in Japanese, half in English. Except for the Japanese songs it was pretty much the same as in Belgium. Chocolate eggs were missing though. I compensated by treating myself on a “Belgium hot chocolate” at a coffee-house near the station.

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Some thoughts:

* My name appears to be quite difficult to remember, so most people shorten it to “An”, which makes up for a cute nickname: “An-chan”.

* The weather here is really unpredictable. One day it is so hot I get sun burnt, the next day it is raining and cold. And when it rains, it rains all day long. I am a bit worried about coming summer, though, because I am not so familiar with heat.

* The area I live in has tons of slopes. Guess I will be working out a lot. I am also glad I brought walking shoes.

From tomorrow on, university life starts. I normally will receive my (rental) phone tomorrow as well, so then I will be able to upload some nice pictures (thanks to Risa and Yonsu for the ohanami pictures in this post!). To be continued!

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