Keio Exchange - Arrival and First Day at School
We arrived on Sunday in the evening at Narita airport, Tokyo. We were met by our host families and their exchange coordinate, Mr Kitashiro. After introductions, we split up and went our separate ways with our host families. During the 90 minute drive from the airport to my hosts’ house, I got to know them and practice my Japanese. They were surprisingly fluent English speakers and I found I had no trouble communicating with them with a mix of Japanese and English. The drive home also gave me some great views of various landmarks, including the Skytree, the world’s second tallest building.
When we arrived home I unpacked my bags and then we went out for sushi. It was the only I ate sushi the entire time I was there, Japanese people don’t seem to eat sushi as often as you might expect. The meal was really good. The restaurant was a sushi-go-round, where sushi was brought out on a conveyor belt, and you get charged for your meal based on the number of plates you have accumulated. Each plate had 2 or 3 pieces of sushi. They also had a huge variety of different flavours, but unlike western sushi, nearly all of the sushi were made from sea creatures. I had several types of fish, squid, octopus, eel, shrimp and crab, but there wasn’t any sushi with chicken, as one would often find in New Zealand. The meal was excellent, and we ate a huge amount of it. In the end, between Yuma, his brother and parents and I, we finished 50 plates.
In Japan, many people sleep on thin mattresses on the floor called futons. In my opinion, they’re not as good as a proper bed, but they were quite comfortable. They’re also extremely compact, folding up to be stored in cupboards, which is important because in Japan, space comes at a premium, and everything is small and efficient.
The next morning we had school. I got up at 6am to get ready. I was served a delicious breakfast with bread freshly baked by my host mother, with sausages, vegetables and soup. At seven Yuma and I set out on the one-hour journey to the Keio Shonan Fujisawa campus. We walked to the nearest train station, before catching a train to the next station, followed by a subway to the station nearest the school. From there, we caught a bus to school. In Japan, the public transportation is very crowded, and most people end up standing.
When we arrived at school, we were introduced to people and we were shown to the international office where we would spend most of our out-of-class time while at Keio. We got a chance to chat with the other exchanges before going out and taking a group photo. We were extremely fortunate to have arrived at that time, as the sakura blossoms were still in full bloom.
Then we accompanied our host students to their homeroom classes, where there were introductions (as it was the first day of the school year) and the teachers talked about their hobbies, about club options and about the curriculum for the year. Then school ended at midday. This was a special event, as it was the first day of school, but I soon discovered that although Keio students attend school 6 days each week, some of those days are shorter than normal school days. After that, I went home with Yuma and I went with him, his mother Takako and his younger brother Ryoma to Sankeien garden.
By Will Cooper