More Orientation and Other Fun

Happy April Fool’s Day! Thankfully I managed to avoid any pranks this year. Does Japan even celebrate April Fool’s Day?

Anyway, on Wednesday I had a Life Safety Learning Seminar that talked about fire and earthquake safety. That was actually quite cool. Then on Thursday we had an orientation for the dorm and for the JASSO and RUI scholarships. Then today we got our placement test results.

But things weren’t all work and no play. On Wednesday I decided to stop by Anime Plaza and Animate. Then yesterday night I made my way down to Kuromegawa (a river near Asakadai dorm) to check out the cherry blossoms before heading out for karaoke!

I think the Life Safety Learning seminar was geared more towards kids (because some of the videos they showed us were a little childish), but it was still enjoyable. They started off by showing us a video about the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. The earthquake was a magnitude 9 (the highest on the scale), and seeing the damage done by the earthquake and proceeding tsunami were just heartbreaking. Although at the same time you can’t help think, why are you recording this? Why aren’t you running for your life?

Next we were taken to another room where we learned how to use the fire extinguisher (since they might be a little different depending on the country). They actually had a screen that showed a kitchen where a trash can had caught fire. We had to grab the fire extinguisher and spray it at the screen, and the fire wouldn’t go out until we hit the correct part of the screen with the water. It’s kind of ironic because in the United States they mention that there are fire extinguishers in case of emergencies, but I don’t think we were actually taught how to use them.

From there we talked about cases where a fire is too big for a fire extinguisher and we need to evacuate the building. They actually had a room filled with smoke that we had to make our way through, and a buzzer went off if we didn’t do something correctly (such as closing a door behind us or staying low enough to the ground).

Lastly we went on an earthquake simulator. It was a platform with a dining room table and a few chairs surrounded by a big screen. While we sat at the dining room table, the screen had a kitchen setting. Then when a siren went off on the kitchen television (because Japan has an alert system for earthquakes that register as a magnitude of 5 or higher), we had to crawl under the table. They gave us a simulation for a magnitude 9 earthquake! It was absolutely insane. Despite the fact that I was holding onto the leg of the table, I was still getting thrown around pretty badly. I can’t imagine having lived through the actual earthquake that struck five years ago.

Then in the evening I was off to explore more of Ikebukuro. After spending some time at Book-Off (because where else would you ever find me, haha), I went over to a place called anime plaza. I was a little disappointed in that they pretty much just had crane games. The top floor had an anime cafe, but I decided to check that out a different day because I couldn’t understand what the people were trying to tell me, haha. After that we went to Animate where they had all sorts of anime related stuff. Unfortunately though I didn’t recognize a lot of the anime stuff they had, so I didn’t find anything worth buying. When it comes to anime, I think I’ll find a lot more stuff in Akihabara.

On Thursday morning we had an orientation for our dorms. Don’t ask why our dorm orientation was on campus and not in our dorms. I know. It doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, they just basically went over general dorm rules and procedures such as meal plans and what form to fill out if you will be staying somewhere else for the night.

For lunch we went to this place called 「A」Pizza. It’s a super cheap pizza place. I had a 4 piece pizza for ¥318 (about $3). My pizza ended up being cheaper than my drink! My coca-cola was ¥389 or something like that. I’ll definitely be going back there, although I think I’ll just order water from now on, haha.

After lunch we had orientations for the JASSO and RUI scholarships. Unfortunately the JASSO scholarship hasn’t been decided yet, but the people from the international office at Rikkyo said that every student they’ve ever nominated has received the scholarship, so they were like 99.9% sure that we were going to receive the scholarship, but they couldn’t say for 100% just yet. The other part that sucks is that you can only receive one scholarship. It’s understandable why you can only receive one, and that’s not the part I have a complaint against. I don’t like it because I’ve already been offered the RUI scholarship. If I accept the JASSO scholarship (which I would because it’s worth more), I have to turn down the RUI scholarship. There are some people who were only eligible for the RUI and didn’t get it. I feel bad that it was offered to me and I am going to turn it down. I guess it just can’t be helped.

After the scholarship orientations, we met up with the buddies that were assigned to us for a campus tour. When we got back, we played a few games and did a few ice breakers to get to know one another. However, most of the people in my buddy group already knew each other since a lot of us live in the Asakadai dorm, so it was pretty nice.

I only stopped back at the dorm for a little while before I was out of the door again. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom down at the river by our dorm, so I grabbed my camera and made my way there. Unfortunately by the time I got there the sun had pretty much gone down, but they had some lanterns to light things up. Unfortunately the pictures came out a little dark, so it doesn’t do it justice, but just know that it was super beautiful.

In the evening, I FINALLY got to go to KARAOKE! Whenever anybody asked me what I wanted to do most in Japan, I always answered that I wanted to go to karaoke because I love to sing. Well I finally got to go, and it was absolutely awesome. It took me a little bit to work up the courage. I usually don’t get nervous when it comes to singing (I’ll start singing in the middle of a grocery store or wherever) but I think singing in a foreign language was a little intimidating. The hard part is that the lyrics for all the Japanese songs are written in Japanese too, so despite the fact that there are lyrics, I often can’t read fast enough to keep up with the song. Still I did have a few Japanese songs I could do, and they had a surprising amount of English songs, so I was able to sing to my heart’s content. By the end of the night, my throat hurt so bad! We left the dorm for karaoke around 10PM and didn’t get back home until 3:30AM. Suffice to say that waking up Saturday morning for an orientation that started at 10:15 was not easy.

This morning we got the results for our placement test. I ended up in J3, which is what I expected and what I wanted. For the rest of the scheduled time they talked about what our placement meant and informed us of the different things we could and couldn’t do depending on what level we got.

In the afternoon we had orientation for course registration and it was SUPER long and boring. The orientation was scheduled for an hour and a half, but ended up being two hours. Their PowerPoint presentation had 70 slides, and she practically read directly from the slide for the entire presentation! It was completely uneccesary. So much of it could have been cut out. Instead of talking about every single course available to international students, they could have simply said, here is a list of courses available by college. I am perfectly capable of reading.

Tonight I went to go see the the movie Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It was super cool because the movie was in English with Japanese subtitles, so I was still able to understand everything that was going on. Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but this blog isn’t about my opinion of movies, so I won’t go into too much detail, haha. Really, Japanese theaters aren’t much different from the ones in America. The only major difference is that after buying the tickets we actually had to go around to the side of the building to get to the theater. Also, they didn’t seem to mind if we walked in with our own snacks and drinks.

For the most part, today was our last day of orientation. I have a meeting with my advisor next week, but other than that the only thing I have to do next week is turn in my registration forms. Hopefully I’ll be able to use the time to do lots of exploring.

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