Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The First Day of Orientation

Today was difficult in a lot of ways, but easier in most than I could have imagined.

The day started off a little worse than I had expected. It was raining from the time I fell asleep until shortly before orientation ended at about 8:00 p.m. I woke up, got ready for the day, caught the bus, and made my way to school. It took about an hour to find the classroom where the placement exams would be held, but I ran into a group of English speaking students who were also lost. Together, we found our way to the classroom and took the placement exam.

First of all, I can't stress this enough: Kanji is so very important. I went in knowing that i was not prepared for the kanji portion of the exam, and I was right. Well, at least for the final part of the exam. The listening portion was way easier than I expected. Listening is the hardest part of Japanese for me because I cannot hear very well out of my left ear. Because the mouth is very relaxed when speaking Japanese, it is even harder to lip read, so I'm at a loss if I cannot hear. But when the orientation leaders gave out the second exam packet, the writing portion, they told us, "Oh, it gets progressively harder as you go along." My stomach sank. I put my mind to it that I would do my best and go as far as I could. I was fine for about seven and a half of the thirteen-page packet. We were permitted to leave after about thirty minutes, and once that time period had elapsed, about half of the room cleared. When I got to the eight page, I understood why. I could hardly read, not even understand, maybe 5% of the page, and that's saying a lot. I wrote a not at the top of the page saying, "PLEASE READ: I have no idea what I"m doing after this point in the packet, so I am just guessing." (I didn't know we were allowed to stop.) But I felt good about myself after turning in the entire packet. Even though I was guessing and trying to make grasp of unintelligible symbols, I turned in everything I had, and I was relieved. I had a headache afterward, but I felt pretty good about the test. (Knock on wood) I just hope that I can get into the class I want.

Tomorrow is the interview, and I'm a little nervous. While I made some English-speaking friends today, I also made a few Japanese speaking friends as well. At least, I think I did. I made friends with two of the SKP buddies, Eriko and Mari, as well as Natsumi, one of Mari's friends. I felt better realizing that communicating with them in Japanese was a little easier than I expected. There were a few times that I had to "cheat" and switch to English, but I tried my hardest in Japanese, and that's all that matters to me. That, and one of Mari's friends saw my Nyanpaiaa anime keychain of the Masamune Date Neko, and she started talking about Anime with me. When I said that i liked Masamune Date, she began freaking out. And when I said, "I like Basara (another anime), too," she showed me her cell phone keychain and talking to me in full on Japanese. I don't really remember her name, but she told me that it is a good thing to be interested in Japanese history. (In my head, thought: Finally! Someone that understands!)

Orientation was a little bittersweet. It means that I really will be here for a year, and that I'm not around my friends from home. I felt alone, but with other people at the same time. It made me realize that I am my own person, and ultimately, I am alone. I don't think of this as a negative thing. I feel that it means I am an individual. I realize that no one is exactly like me, and no one ever will be. I just havfe to be me. That's all that matters.

Tomorrow, I have to do my best, too. It's all I can do for myself. And it's what I owe to myself.

I'm more tired than I want to be when I have so much to write about. It's too hard to put into words, in English or Japanese. I'm not copping out. It's just, this feeling is too complex. Bittersweet. Happy. Excited. Anxious. Satisfying. Greedy. I like all of these. None of them are perfect, though.

Until next time.

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