何?! 「What?!」

何?! 「What?!」

These are some things that surprised me, and made me go “NANI?!”

First day of class, and the minute you settle in the teacher tells you…”We’re going to have a pop quiz. If you fail it, you will be placed into the lower level class.” 「何?!」This was my first class of my Japanese school life, and this made my jaw dropped – sweat beading from my forehead at the sudden shock. As you know I’m bad at pressured tests, so when she told us ‘pop quiz’ I was putting my hopes down already. I am here in Japan to study Japanese, and with one year of American Japanese under my belt I thought I would be alright, but perhaps not so much as I thought. I glanced at the hiragana/katakana test, and mentally prepared myself for bad news as I handed her my quiz. She quickly graded the tests and after a few minutes I realized something silly, all the mistakes I’ve made – stupid silly mistakes. Out of the twenty questions, I had probably made at least seven mistakes – only because I accidentally placed a little つ mark where I should have placed a dash mark in the katakana area of the quiz, unconsciously on purpose. The class continued on, and at the end I was prepared for her to call my name for a ‘chat’…But miraculously she didn’t! I PASSED!! 「何?」

And I realized that I was an idiot for thinking that so enthusiastically. After one year of study I should have passed, if I didn’t pass it would have been a very very sad day in history for me. This goes to show that some things in life will turn out well, even when you’re thinking the worst of things will happen. But seriously, that was not the best way to start off my classes for the semester – not to mention I arrived “absent” the following day. Japan has this rule that when you arrive 30minutes after the class has started you are marked absent, but since you paid for the class you would stay through the whole thing anyways, right? In fact it would be better if you aren’t late! Hopefully, I’ll never forget to set my phone alarms again, since within the first 30minutes of Japanese class there is almost always a quiz. Yikes!

I am quite glad to have survived week one of my classes in Japan, super glad. But on Friday, I realized that there is a business class that is being offered that relates to my majors – Media Studies and Drama & Theatre. At first I didn’t think it would be related to anything that I would need, so I thought I would just see what it was all about, and it turns out to be quite related to my field of work. I didn’t think it was at first since it was just a business course! Later when I asked if I could register into the course the office told me I couldn’t, because the student enrollments were finalized. Nooo~! If only I knew earlier! A big heavy sigh left me as I wondered what I should do, it is such an interesting course – guess I’ll just have to sit in on it without being registered. Queens College is better in this aspect, at least you can over tally into a class during the first week [first days of classes].  It’s the little things like these that we take for granted, not to mention our 24Hr transportation system.

The transportation system in Japan works from 5AM in the morning until MIDNIGHT. So if you don’t plan to stay out until FIVE AM, it is best to catch the last train home – around MIDNIGHT. Now that would be all well if you understand what time your last train leaves. But if you happen to not understand the system well, you’ll find out, the hard way, that some trains stop short of your stop, and as it is the last train – it is totally not cool.

My friends and I went to Shibuya to hang out at night and attempted to catch our last train. We made it to Ikebukuro, the main place where we must go to catch our train home, and caught the very last train leaving the station at 12:35AM. We thought we were safe, but we were kicked off the train at Narimasu. 「何?!」 THREE stops away from our stop – that’s about 5-7 minutes by train. It was just about 1:00AM in the morning and we were not going to wait four hours for the trains to start running again. Our Japanese friends all told us to go to a PC place or a Karaoke place to stay the night, but we decided against it – no money on us, and we thought it wasn’t so far. So we started to walk…and walk…and walk…3 hours later we found our way home, 4:00AM. I was so happy to reach my room and sleep on my hard futon bed that night. Never take the train for granted, especially in Japan – and try not to miss your last train.

There was also the option of taking a taxi, but it is too expensive – and as I’ve mentioned we had just about no money on us anymore. Main moral of the week? Don’t be late, especially in Japan. And if you are going to be late…well…you’ll just have to do something else with your time and catch the next train.

ーJapanese Reviewー

何=なに=nani=what

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