Posted by: Darrell | September 2, 2008

Orientation Week Part 1

Hirakata City

Hirakata City

Culture shock. I didn’t really experience the full brunt of the shock until coming to KGU. In Tokyo, I was often guided by Ben and also thoroughly explained the differences I often observed. However, upon arriving at KGU I was immediately inundated with having to determine and decipher all of the cultural shock I was experiencing. Even at the airport, the procedures for domestic arrivals vary quite differently from international arrivals. There were no directions to the luggage, there were no customer or immigration inspection, nor were there anyone waiting at the arrival gate. There is a perfectly logical explanation for these observed differences; however, being half excited and nervous didn’t quite afford me with the clear head to determine the explanation.
In a way, coming to KGU was an even greater leap for me in comparison to other students as I had never been away from home for more than a week. Even then, it was often within the same province so there was always an escape clause. Furthermore, the only other time I have ever been in a dormitory was during SFU Orientation Leader training.

Another view of Hirakata City

Another view of Hirakata City

The shock is one thing; another is having such a large gathering of people with immensely varied backgrounds. There were 435 international exchange students representing 39 different countries. Every single international student always had something new to offer and share and dispeled most preconceived notions. Well, expect for the Americans; they are everything we know and love to make fun of.

Most days are very busy, but often in manageable chunks. The most draining exercise would be the banking session due to sheer frustration. Most of the briefings and lectures are well executed although it may lack excitement. Generally the most pointless and drawn out part of these meetings are the questions that stupid people ask. No question is ever stupid, but the stupidity of the question can be attributed to the questioner.
The placement test is quite challenging especially the listening exercise. And to my delight, I managed to get into level 2 Japanese even without any formal university/college instruction. Although, it remains to be seen if I will be kept there, as they will reassess in two weeks time.
As for the lottery, I unfortunately got 411 which is one of the last numbers. So I will see if my poor placing will have a significantly detrimental effect on my registration. However, I still firmly believe in being one of the first to pick the lottery as you will always statistically have a greater chance of drawing a lower number…



  1. Ooh, got to say I’m a little hurt by the American comment, no worries though. I’ve just fully read your blogs (the last time I commented I had not read all of your posts). Reading makes me want to go there so badly. I cannot wait until I get there. Though, your experience in Tokyo and the surrounding area sounds priceless. You now have me thinking about going there before KGU too. Only problem, I need to find myself a “Ben”. Anyways, I enjoy reading — even the parts about Americans not being interesting — can’t wait for more posts! =)

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