Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'll smile more tomorrow than I did today

Today, started out terribly. I was feeling rather down facing what looked like it was going to be another boring day at school. There are times when I have absolutely nothing to do at school except study, alllllllll day long. All the second years (my grade) had exams today so I got kicked out of the classroom for the entire day.

But since the Japanese don't believe in central heating systems, only certain rooms in the school have heat. I was supposed to go the library, but since the windows are always open there, I decided to try out one of the study rooms. It was cold there too. So I killed two hours, while suffering through the chill, before heading to my cooking class. As this class started, I was ready to cry. I was so sick of cold rooms due to no heat, not understanding what is going on, not being able to have a normal conversation with my friends, and also being completely bored at school. Now that the initial excitement of my exchange as worn off and things are no longer new, I've been experiencing my first bout of culture shock. I'm afraid I've recently sunk into a depression like state. Nothing has able to catch my interest. I've started going to bed early and can barely get myself out of bed in the morning. No matter how much I sleep, I can shake feeling exhausted and I walk around in a fog. I've given up trying to speak in Japanese and barely talk to my friends at school. Things that are differently from the way they are done in the U.S.A. sometimes annoy me. I want my mom's cooking. I want to be warm. I miss my family and friends. I just want to go home. I can't remember why I came or can barely come up with a reason to stay. The only thing that makes me feel better is my nightly run.

My cooking group gave me things to do and I started to feel a little bit better. Plus, all the gas stoves running and the steam we produced while cooking warmed up the room and I finally got warm. But I still wasn't quite usual enthusiastic self.

After this class, one of the girls in my cooking group introduced me to a friend of hers who studied aboard in the U.S. This new friend and another girl from my cooking class, who has also studied aboard, went up to the roof to talk. I ended up telling them, in a mix of English and Japanese, what I've been experiencing lately. Not only did were they sympathetic, but they understood because they themselves have experienced the same thing. It was so refreshing to talk to people who truly understood what I am going through.

The next thing I know, I'm being invited to one of the girl's P.E. classes since I didn't have another class to go to today. We had to stop by the teacher’s room and get permission, before we dashed to my classroom to get my P.E. uniform. While I was changing in the bathroom, I realized that I'd forgotten to grab my gym shoes and my head band, but I couldn't go back to my classroom since the exams had resumed. My friend offered me her shoes so we ran up two flights of stairs to her classroom. These shoes ended up being at least two sizes too small, but I managed to jam my feet into them. My new friend also lent me her P.E. sweater since the air outside is currently rather chilly. We raced down four stories and eight flights of stairs while trying to beat the bell. No dice. The bell rang before we were even outside. I was carrying two school bags and my uniform wadded up in a messy bundle, all of which wasn't helping a speedy decent to the first floor. When we finally made it to the tennis courts, I had already missed the stretching session. The gym teacher immediately commented on my rumpled appearance. I had forgotten to tuck in my shirt and my pants were on backwards. Everyone got a good laugh about it, me included.

It was my first time playing tennis, but it turns out I'm not too bad at it. But the best part was talking to my new friend and her classmates. It was the most fun I've had at school in a while and brought me out of my sleepy state.
I studied in the library for the last hour of school before heading to English club for a while. I managed to leave school at the perfect time and found my bus waiting for me at the bus stop. As soon as I got home, I went for the longest run of my life. While I ran to an unknown portion of Nagoya, I realized I'm fine. Being an exchange student isn't easy, but it's worth it. The friends I've made here and the things I've gotten to experience make this difficult time completely worth it.

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