Chloe

Name: Chloe
Major(s): English and Political Science

Program: Temple University Japan
Where: Tokyo, Japan
When: Fall 2007

Favorite Course: Japanese Elements 1

Highlight: Speaking Japanese

Best Excursion: Exploring Tokyo

Next Destination: Japan and Turkey

 

 

What was a typical day like for you while abroad?

Almost every morning I had an early class and consequently I was forced to take the train during rush hour.  Rush hour runs from about 7-9 am, and it is almost impossible to convey to people who have never been to Japan how crowded it gets on that train.  The train got so crowded sometimes that I literally could not move.  Even though I got upset sometimes about having to ride during rush hour I was simultaneously amazed at the fact that almost no one talked during this early commute.  People either read while sitting or standing, slept while sitting or standing, or used their phone to text message other people.  No one ever talks on his or her cell phones while on the train either, which was really surprising to me at first.  Everyday I got to campus around 9:30 am and before going to class I would go into this pet shop where the owner had a really cute dog.  At first I wasn’t able to talk to the owner that much but within a few weeks I began speaking to her, albeit slowly, in Japanese.  My classes ended around 3:30, and then I would go to the gym, which is right by Tamachi station.  After working out for an hour and a half or so I would take the train to Ontakesan where I lived.

Describe your best travel experience.

 My favorite travel experience was when 3 of my friends and I went to the Hakone Spa Resort.  We left around 9 in the morning and we weren’t really sure how to get there.  We had seen an advertisement for the resort a week before and we THOUGHT it would be easy to get to. 

We took the bullet train to Hakone, which was not a problem;, however, once we got to Hakone it was a different story. First of all, none of us (at that point) knew Japanese well so we had some difficulty communicating to people where we wanted to go. We finally figured out that we needed to take a bus to get to the resort and that’s where it started to become like a comedy.  We were the only Americans on the bus and we were not sure what stop we needed to get off.  We knew it started with a G but there were three stops that began with a G and they all sounded alike.  There was a button for people on the bus to push whenever your stop was coming up and we kept pushing the wrong button.  People started getting impatient with us and when we finally got to our right stop and were getting off the train people began clapping their hands.  It was so embarrassing but funny at the same time. 

The 3.5 hours it took to get there was totally worth it.  The resort had all kinds of spas, such as green tea, red wine, beer, coffee, Turkish bath, and even the Dead Sea. The Turkish Bath was my favorite because we sat around this pool and little fish nibbled at our feet.  Overall there were more than 20 spas.  It was one of the most amazing places I ever went to.

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?

Even though the subway systems may seem intimidating at first do not be afraid to travel by yourself. For the first few weeks I felt really intimidated to travel by myself because I didn’t know Japanese, but when I finally did start to travel by myself I realized that the subway system is easy.  Moreover, even if you do not know Japanese well there is always a foreigner or even a Japanese person who knows limited English.  I had the most interesting experiences when I traveled by myself and, personally, I felt like traveling alone helped me immerse myself in the culture more because it forced me to interact or at least try to interact with Japanese people in Japanese.