Dear New York

Dear New York,

Since starting school in Japan, I have not spotted a single rat, stray piece of garbage, or homeless man pissing in public, and I must say I really do miss it all. I enjoy this magically clean land where it is normal to eat ice cream in the morning and strange to hear someone talking on the train, but it’s really starting to get to me. I already find that I am not frowning all the time, and instead of giving someone a dirty look for walking where I am walking, I am constantly apologizing. Even the cars here are more polite than New Yorkers, as it is common to hear trucks play a recording along the lines of “Excuse me I am a truck and I am turning so please be careful” as I cross the street.

I would like to apologize to any visitors of NY that I teased for not immediately mastering the subway system. Here in Japan, it has taken me seven days to finally get down which trains to take to school and back home. My two-hour commute (with four different train transfers) makes my previous 45 minute commute to Manhattan from Brooklyn (with only one or two transfers) seem like nothing.

If you are wondering why I haven’t written sooner, it is because my homestay in Saitama has no internet. When I want to spew out a 140 character message or instagram a quick selfie, I have to walk a mile to the nearest phone store and connect to their wifi. It is worse than walking a mile to find fresh water, as I cannot last more than a few hours without internet, but I hear humans can go up to three or four days without good ol’ H2O. Now that I have internet access at my school, my next few posts will be all the TTL (Three Things Learned) lists I never got to release on their proper days.

I know you will be the same when I get back (except perhaps a bit more gentrified—I’m lookin’ at you Brooklyn), but I cannot help but miss you. It is nice to have no risk of strangers asking me loudly what time it is and proceeding to dance for money, no suspicious empty subway cars that smell like death, no homeless men telling me about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and no mystery liquids waiting to be sat in or dripped upon my unsuspecting head…..but I really do miss the grungy and overwhelming qualities of New York.

With all my love from Tokyo,

Stephie

 

And So It Begins…

I have just moved to HigashiOsawaKoshigayaSaitama, Japan…or to make that sound a lot less overwhelming– I have moved to Saitama (sort of like a US state) and more specifically, Koshigaya (sort of like a US city), Osawa (sort of like a NY borough), Higashi (sort of like a neighborhood inside of a borough). This is just outside of Tokyo, but Tokyo is insanely large, so my commute to school is about two hours by train (several trains). I have a host mother, two little sisters (10 and 12), and two grandparents. Only my mother (Megumi) speaks a bit of english; everyone else only speaks Japanese.

My room is very tiny, traditional, and about two Stephies long (I used myself to measure the room, so that means it’s about 11ft by 11ft). I sleep on a tatami floor on a roll out futon and have a “desk” which is a very short table with a legless chair. I also have two sets of sliding wooden doors that open up to the tiny upstairs kitchen. I am excited, but already overwhelmed, as everything is very different here– just little things  you wouldn’t think of, like how the light switches work or where the bathroom is.  I cannot write too much, as I do not have internet still. But here are some pictures of my room:

 

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