Sunday, April 7, 2013

Busy as a bee

For those of you who didn’t already know, I hurt my foot somehow on the second day of my Osaka trip. Being as I was travelling, I couldn’t quite make it to the doctor and when I got back packing, etc. kept me from going. After about 4 hours in three separate offices to change my resident card and national health insurance addresses and receive my new card. So waiting and waiting later, I left with necessities only to find that the clock had struck six meaning the doctor’s office had already closed for the day.

しょうがなかった (there was nothing I could do), as they say so I headed over for a brief stop at a game center on the way back to the station. I won a box from one of the machines. Totally happy to actually win one of those things. Even if it was a One Piece figurine. The fun for me was in winning it and one of the girls on my floor is a big time fan, so I gifted the Nami One Piece figurine to her. I also won a couple small stuffed animals. There was a panda holding his unattached head like he was about to put it on (gifted to Briana) and a red bear thing with its head upside down that went to Chelsea. Mind, I didn’t realize they were weird bears until after I won them.

That finished I headed home and the next day made my way over to the local clinic. I’m going to say, I was fairly proud of myself. While the paperwork ended up being in English, I was able to communicate well enough without hitting a “I don’t understand you at all” point. Of course, that was probably mostly due to the fact that the staff was being super nice!

Overall my trip to the doctor included an exam on my foot, an x-ray and a trip over to their physical therapy room where they taped my foot and gave me the proper type of insole to help my foot get better. Any ideas on how much it cost me? Guesses even? I’ll tell you at the end.

On to today, today was this big club event day at the school. Basically they take all the clubs and circles (pretty much clubs) and everyone is assigned rooms and they try to recruit first years to their clubs. While Japan Women’s University probably wasn’t as crowded as some bigger schools like Waseda probably get, it was still the most crowded I had seen the place. There were many people with arm bands that said their club’s name (yes, just like in the animes, only made of paper) who were passing out flyers and directing people to their club’s room for the day. If you go to the room you’ll sit down with one of the club members who will run down the who, what, where and whens with you and answer any questions you might have. They also all seemed to provide refreshments.

Oh, and I was a bit surprised walking into the campus event and club rooms today. Japan Women’s University is, well, a Women’s University after all. So naturally I assumed the clubs would be the same. As it turns out, most of the clubs have members from other universities which include male members. I was definitely startled upon discovering this, but it doesn’t really matter much either way to me.

Since I had picked up a club book (picture to come) a bit before the event I had time to sit down and look and see what Japan Women’s University offers. There are a range of clubs from movie club, to an international club, to soccer and koto clubs. Being as I like to be the man with the plan so to speak I sat down with my book and felt out what I had an interest in so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed at the event. As of next week I will be joining the volleyball, field archery, tea ceremony and ikebana (flower arrangement) clubs. Oh boy, I should definitely keep busy this year.

I feel like now is also a good time to mention that when you join a club in Japan it seems that more often than not there are fees associated with joining the club. I think it’s to pay for stuff like materials and in general to pay to keep the club going and buy what it needs to buy. My volleyball club has no fees, while the tea ceremony club has a 5,000 fee for spring term and 6,000for fall. Ikebana is free for the first two meetings and, since it’s a go as much or little as you want club which also requires non-storable materials (i.e. flowers) it costs 2,000 per meeting. I plan on doing that one once or twice a month. I’m not sure about the archery club, I’ll let you know when I know, but they said a year will probably be around 10,000 or $100. So not too expensive.

Last thing I want to touch on is class registration. Back home we look up classes and register online, generally around a month or so before term starts. Here, we are two days before the start of classes and nobody is registered. Why you might ask? On top of it being ridiculous (you need like 10 different books to be able to look up and find the information on the classes offered here) you also go to your first week of classes, see if you like or don’t like the classes and then register the Monday of week 2. Since Japan works on a semester system and not a trimester system like the UO, I guess it works out. In any case, classes start Monday. Advice to those studying abroad at JWU, utilize your tutor or floor mates. Ask for help, otherwise you’ll get lost in this.

Speaking of floor mates, I guess I lied. This is the last thing. I’ve mentioned before (I think) that my floor mates are really great, really. I don’t think I’ve mentioned however that this is my first time living in a dormitory. So far all the rules haven’t really been a problem. I’ll keep you updated on that. But, seeing as they haven’t been a problem I just want to mention that I’m absolutely loving the dormitories so far. Seriously. The girls on my floor are amazingly awesome and friendly. I feel like the second years have made me a part of their group to some extent and the first years are starting to come out of their shells and not be so shy. I’ll be taking a couple classes (American literature and American Culture) with a couple of the girls in the spring and an apparel making class (jackets) in the fall with another. I also happen to be joining the ikebana club the later is already a member of.

Moral of the story, I think I’m really going to like it here in the dorms.

And here it is, I didn’t forget! My trip to the doctor cost a grand total of approximately $15 or 1,500. I’m in love with the Japanese national health insurance system thus far.


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