September 17th (and finally caught up!)
I woke up at 10:30, even though I intended to take the 11:49 train to Mita Station for the results of the the placement exam. Even with all that time, I was still just on time for the train. And I wasn’t even sure it was the right one. *Advice point: download navitime before you come to Japan – or get used to using Hyperdia before leaving your room. I don’t know how to use the Hyperdia app, so it’s useless to me. Hyperdia and Navitime are both train apps and super helpful.
But I got to Mita Station safely ヾ(＠゜▽゜＠）ノ. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the way from the station to Keio, so I followed some people who looked like foreigners. And, luckily, they were Keio students. Hopefully they didn’t think I was stalking them, since I followed them all the way to the test results. Results were posted on a wall in South Building 5th floor and were in order of Student ID number. So it took a while for me to find mine.
And, well, I was disappointed. I didn’t place anywhere close to where I thought I would be and needed to be. And trust me, it was a super low level. For all you future study abroaders – make sure to study and review before these placement tests, because they will come to bite you in the butt if you don’t. And Keio makes it super tough and annoying to move levels.
We had orientation on how to sign up for classes afterwards, and then had time for lunch. I plucked up my courage and talked to two other exchange students, and yay – they invited me to eat together! Outside, we met up with another student (a research student), who I had actually seen many times. She only remembers me by my nails though, which I find kind of funny. I guess my face isn’t very memorable. My nails are Sanrio characters, by the way (my hobby is nail art).
You know that Keio Power Don I mentioned in like three posts back? I intended to buy it, BUT THEY WERE SOLD OUT. GAHHHH. Gotta try it another time. Sadly, it meant that I had to use money on another entree – chicken and fries. It was okay. Not really worth the 302円 I spent on it. At least I got to make new friends! …who placed into higher levels than me (I am a complainer, so get ready for that in this post).
At 3 pm, we had to go back to South Building to go to our study level orientations. I finally saw my roommate (who had gone travelling with her boyfriend the whole weekend and didn’t come back until today evening) and talked to the two friends I had made at second orientation. They all were in pretty high levels. One, in particular, scored into the highest level of Japanese.
You can tell how I felt.
Anyways, individual orientations, yada yada, and yes, a bunch of people were disappointed with where they placed. Luckily, there’s a test you can take to try to get into one higher level. Sadly, the professor totally didn’t think I could do it – since my speaking is pretty bad and I asked her a question she answered in her speech about the program. That makes me worried.
Misery loves company though – and I found more new friends through our mutual dislike of our placement. And all from Taiwan, too (ie my parents are from Taiwan, ergo I am ethnically Taiwanese)! We all decided to have hot pot at Shimoda Student Village, where they all lived. Thus, we made a stop at a grocery store on the way. George, one of the friends I made, also knew a bubble tea shop in the Hiyoshi area, so we got to go there.
You know I love my bubble tea.
It was about 340円 per drink – and considering the size, it’s more expensive than in America. I got the jasmine milk tea, which I don’t really recommend because it’s too fragrant and overpowers the milk aspect. The better choice would probably be Oolong or regular Taiwanese milk tea. The owner of the restaurant is also Chinese, so, if you happen to be able to speak Chinese and not Japanese, can do!
The store was called Ta Ta Tea, by the way – if you happen to want to Google it. It was kind of difficult to find, since it wasn’t on a road I usually travel on. But it was still pretty close to the station.
Then to the grocery store, where we bought ingredients for nabe (hot pot). Lots of meat, of course (which probably actually spiked up the total price of our dish – we split the price after). I’m not sure what the name of the grocery store was, but it wasn’t too bad. I think Union and My Basket might be cheaper, though. I bought a pack of Shirataki from them for ～100円. Shirataki is basically a noodle substitute, which, I believe, is made from the same substance as konnyaku. It’s super low in calories, but needs a lot of flavoring to make it taste like anything. They sell it in Chinese markets back in the States.
After we finished buying ingredients, we embarked on the long journey to Shimoda. And I mean long, as it takes like twice as long to get there from Hiyoshi Station as it does to Hiyoshi International House. Also, a lot of cars seem to go that way, since I was constantly trying to get out of their way.
At Shimoda, you get a key card to enter the building and the halls, which I found interesting. Hiyoshi really doesn’t have much. At the other dorms, they have indoor rooms, as well as provide pots and pans for cooking. In Hiyoshi, you have to buy everything but your bedding. Also at Shimoda, there is no kitchen in the rooms, but there is a shared kitchen and lounge [on each hall?] It’s actually quite nice, since that makes it easy to make friends when you see the same faces every day. Japanese students also live in Shimoda, whereas they do not in Hiyoshi. There are also some shared ingredients, spices, dishwash, sponges, pots, and pans in the kitchen that anyone is free to use.
And we embarked on our nabe journey. Which. Was the first time I ever washed onions. I know negi has sand in it, so it must be washed thoroughly. Hopefully, I did fine.
It was edible.
We also put oden ingredients, meat, cabbage, and mushrooms into the dish. And Juu brought sasa jiang to remind everyone of the taste of Taiwan. So good! We spent about an hour eating and talking in Chinese and Japanese and had a ton of fun.
To anyone intending on making their own nabe or oden, definitely buy some of the tofu pouches with mochi inside. So yummy! They literally look like pouches since they seem like they are tied at the top. Konnyaku is also good – it’s like a firm jelly. And low in calories.
We also made rice, which, funnily enough, not everyone wanted to eat.
I helped clean the dishes, and then Juu, Kyuu, and Ching prepared to walk me back to the station (so nice! But seriously, I don’t think I’d ever be able to walk to Shimoda by myself. I don’t get how to get there). Before leaving, though, I met another member of KOSMIC – the international group at Keio. He said I looked like a dancer *0*. Yes, I was elated, because I don’t think I do….but I like dancing
lol. He recommended Revolve (dance group at Keio), but said it is kind of difficult. Hopefully it isn’t too bad, though I heard you have to dedicate A LOT of time if you want to join a club. I want to travel still…
We said our goodbyes at the station, and I ended my day back at my dorm, with my roommate already asleep. Sadly, after that distraction of hot pot, I started getting depressed again because of my test result. I know I’m supposed to pick myself up and try my best to study for the next placement test, but it’s tough to do when you’re naturally a pessimistic person.
And special mention to Erika, my friend who studied abroad last year, for being such a good emotional support and for giving me a ton of encouragement and help throughout this whole process. Thank you!