Today was our official School orientation. We received our textbooks and tons of information about classes and what to expect for the next month.
Then came the scary bit: meeting our conversation partners. The CPs are Japanese students who have volunteered to practice conversing with us, show us around and generally help out. Some of them are “Lunchtime Partners” who will meet us around lunchtime for conversation practice, and others are “Classroom Partners” who will participate in our afternoon classes. Everyone’s great, friendly and very patient.
I only say “the Scary Part”, because it’s ME who was scared. Studying, doing Japanese in my head, learning lots of Kanji and all that is fine—but when the rubber meets the road and it’s time to actually converse with real Japanese people, that’s a different story. I’m generally pretty reserved as it is around strangers, but especially so in a language I’m not very good at speaking. It was all pretty taxing on me, but it’s what I’m here for.
Anyway, I went with my two lunchtime partners—Yasu and Keiko—and had a stroll around campus. They showed me where all my classrooms were, where the clinic, library and student center were and so forth. Then we all returned to the I-house for our welcome party!
The party was a lot of fun, and I was detailed to give a speech on behalf of the International Students (in English, thankfully). We played a lot of games and had some great Chinese food and generally had a good time. I finally started feeling a bit more comfortable once I began sort of polishing my little “stock phrases” so that I could speak a bit—but again, everyone was really patient and helpful. I’m glad for that, especially as the token “old guy” of the group. But in the end, I was still exhausted. It’s just gonna get better and easier from here on out, though!
Tomorrow’s our walking tour of Kyoto, so I’m gonna get to bed early…