I am in Japan!
The plane ride was excruciatingly long, we were traveling for almost 24 hours! I wrote letters to my USA pen pals on the flight to California, but I didn't have time to mail them, so I'll have to get on that once I find a place to buy stamps.
But, the flight had its good points! One of the high-lights was seeing Mount Fuji popping out of the clouds on the way in. I was looking out the window and saw a silouette I recognized instantly. I turned around saying "Hey guys! It's Mount Fuji!". I couldn't believe it was that big! I took a bunch of pictures of it in the clouds. I'll try to upload my photo album after I finish this entry.
The hotel is very, very nice. The rooms are huge and it has an amazing view of the city and the mountains. The breakfast was packed with both Western and Japanese breakfast foods and was quite delicious.
I am jet-lagged though. My roommate and I woke up at 4 AM and watched Japanese music videos until it was time to get ready for breakfast at 6:45. It was pouring cats and dogs in the early morning, but it cleared up for our trip.
We had our first day of orientation today. We took two trains and walked about 20 minutes to get to the school. The school is so wonderful! It has gorgeous landscaping and very nice buildings. It even has free cell phone charger machines!
It's right by the mountains too.
After introductions and speeches from our new professors, we got a tour of the school by the students themselves! We actually had conversations in Japanese! I was really surprised by how much I understood what they were saying and how relatively easy it was to talk. Of course, we didn't stray much from the basics like where we come from and hobbies, so that's probably why we didn't hit my vocab and grammar barriers too many times. It was very fun though, no matter what. Yay understanding!
We had some more orientation things after that - how to access email and print from the computer lab and things like that. Then some of the clubs on campus gave us demonstrations. Konishi-sensei, an English teacher here, performed a "jyuutama" dance for us. It was a very elegant dance that was very expressive in a very controlled way. I was very impressed.
The kendo (sword fighting) and kenpo (mixed martial arts) clubs demonstrated their sports for us. Then there was a concert by a club of cover band musicians. They had us make a mosh pit at the front of the hall. It was pretty funny. I don't know what club I'll join, but I want to join one!
We had free time to run around the campus then. I took LOTS of pictures. We ran into a lot of students too and they were all very welcoming and nice. Very playful too - we got into a dance-off (I am not kidding). It was the ryuugakusei (foreign exchange students) versus the Konan kids. It was hilarious watching everyone dance. I never dreamed I'd see my first dance-off on my first full day in Japan. I guess you never know :).
The staff took us all out to dinner at a restaurant called Amataro. It was a very strange meal. They had lots and lots of courses - from nabe (chicken, cabbage, bean sprouts and other things cooked in a hot pot at the table) to french fries to mini-shrimp and corn sprinkled flat bread to pizza to yakisoba. It was very varied, to say the least.
It has been an amazing experience so far and I've only been here one day!!!
I'll write again soon!
I miss and love you all!