Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 8 (Friday)

Looooong loooooong day today (yesterday actually, I think I'll go sleep and continue this later).
Aha nothing like a good breakfast of some kind of ramen with a big omelet on top to start the day :)

So yesterday, donned my suit and went to uni at around 8:20 in the morning. Got there and had a nice entrance ceremony for all the scholarship students that will study Japanese. The university president, along with other important people were there, so where all our Japanese teachers.

Some speeches and couple of photos later, the boooooooring part of the day began. The orientation for new international students... Good thing is that I was able to catch up on some well-needed sleep. I had thought that the classes back at LAU, with the lights off and projector on, where the ideal place for a nap. I stand corrected! The Hokkudai (Hokkaido University) theater, with the lights off, projectors on and orientation people reading the PowerPoint presentation word for word, then repeating it in Japanese, is definitely the ideal place to take a nap! Even better than our meetings back at CCT haha (sorry don't know what it is about me and getting sleepy). I really felt sorry for Michael from Australia who understands Japanese... so he was hearing them talk in English, then AGAIN in Japanese... 7aram.

Not all the orientation was boring though. During the last break, a nice and very funny Japanese man came up to me and asked me where I was. I told him I'm from Lebanon. So he started singing "Take Me Home Country Roads" by John Denver haha. Very impressive singing too. After a short chat I pointed our my friends from other countries. When he reached a Russian girl, he started singing "From Russia With Love". Turns out this funny fan of 007 movies was a police inspector, and the translator for the police first inspector, and other officers giving the orientation about bicycle (and other) safety rules. He was also MCing during the safety video they showed us, that had clips on what to do and what not to; adding sound effects like "Oh, oh!" when a car nearly hits a cycler! That was funny.

It surprised me to see that Japanese people here don't really follow a lot of these rules, which is a relief to a Lebanese like me haha.

Final part was the International Students Organizations. There are two it seems, and they introduced themselves, and announced the parties they are holding to welcome new students, one of which was the same day, from 18:30 to 21:00. Now keep in mind that I did not know about it, and was wearing my suit, and nothing over it, since the weather was nice and I was planning on being back home by 17:00... More on that later.

After finishing with that, ran to our lab, where we had a meeting to discuss the activities for the next semester. Well they were discussing, I was pretending to be listening (it was all in Japanese). First, I introduced myself, then they took turns to speak about stuff. At some point everyone started raising their hands, I wouldn't let them leave me out just because I had no idea why they were raising them, seems I raised my hand in agreement to "Ohanami" or cherry blossom viewing in May. The lab members and professors all go on a picnic and appreciate the views yay :) the second time I raised my hand wasn't a good idea, since I agreed to participating in buying a magazine haha.

After the meeting, we had a welcome party for yours truly (MOI!). It was a pizza party hehe. With beer and sake and juice and stuff. Talked about manga, me trying to say the names in English, and them trying to figure out the names in Japanese hehe. Very nice guys (and 2 girls). We have 3 guitars in the lab, next to the sleeping area (YES!), but noone that knows how to play haha.

After the pizza party, ran back to the building with the orientation for the party. More amazing people! So I got there just in time for the games. We were divided into 4 groups, from A to D. Each round 4 of each team go up to the center, and the announcer takes a paper with a name on it (Tiger Woods, ninja, ...) and each one has to act out the first thing that comes to their mind, and then the team gets a score according to how many people did the same thing. Very funny, especially when team C got Marylin Monroe! The only one that really got it right turned out to be an Israeli girl. Was interesting how we were introduced during the second game.
The second game was Country Bingo. Each one gets a 3x3 grid, in which they need to write down countries. So basically you go around and ask people where they're from and jot it down. Was telling a Korean girl that I'm from Lebanon, so she said "Oh! Come meet *insert name here* (forgot it OK!? Leave me alone...)! So I go and say "hi I'm Salah from Lebanon", she says "hi I'm from Israel" haha. So I go and make a silly joke and say "oh we're enemies!". Thankfully she has a silly sense of humor like me and just laughed (or is just really polite). In hindsight, probably not a good way to break the ice hehe.

After the party, there was an after-party, in a bar somewhere off campus. So we got there at around 21:30 and had to wait half an hour to get in. Remember I wasn't wearing much, so it was... interesting to say the least. Also got confused for a business man in my suit more than once haha. Me... Silly people. Finally inside, the place was great. Will take photos when I have a camera. You go up stairs, take off your shoes (like most everywhere else), and walk to your section, which is 2 tables just above ground level, separated from the other sections by bamboo curtains. There are cushions you sit on around the table (8 at each table). So I walk over to the table, and fall into the empty space under the table! So instead of making the table higher, the ground under it is just lower. I love it! So the formula was (I don't remember the exact numbers since we paid in a real big big hurry...) something like 2,000 yen for all you can drink in 2 hours or so. I, along with most of the people on my table, chose beer. Then we ordered small plates that had squid with wasabe (mmmm...), snails, different things, with soy bean sprouts.
Was also disappointed to see more light-weight drinkers, but it would seem I finally found a drinking buddy. She's from Malaysia and is really cool. Found a couple minutes of fame for my ability to gulp down 2 cups of beer haha (small cups too), they should see someone that can really drink...

All in all it was really amazing though. Everyone is so nice and interesting. And it's great to see so many people with different nationalities: Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea (they were the crushing majority last night hehe), Spain, USA, Russia (only Russian I know that doesn't drink!), Lebanon (ME!), and probably others. Just like it was so nice to go to LAU where there were so many new accents and dialects, people from other regions in Lebanon, but only much much cooler hehe.

So what is the best way to end such a nice party? I was counting on a Japanese girl (who also needed to use the subway to get home) to tell me when we should leave before the subways stopped (which is early here, around 1AM or so, depending on the line). And naturally, we were late. So we paid really really quickly and starting running to the subway station. The entrance that was closest to the bar was in the mall, which was of course closed haha. So we ran a block or two, and met a guy also running to the same entrance! So now we were 2 girls and 2 guys running to make the last subway. We got to the gates as the last one for me was stopping, they were already too late. Since I had no time to go buy a ticket, she gave me her card (another extremely nice Japanese person!) and I was able to get home easily. Will return her card next week at university.

The last chapter (we're not done yet!) was the arrival. As I got to the building, I heard noise, and directly knew it was from the 8th floor (the cool floor hehe). So I went up and found my Chinese and Polish friends drinking. Said hi, went back to my [mini] flat, took off my jacket and tie, grabbed my 6-pack of huge (I think 1L) beer cans and joined them. Got back a bit before 4AM. I'd say my first (not including first night) Friday night was really cool! Good thing I have nothing important to do this weekend :)

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