September 3rd, 2018
I am in Japan! I did it! Well, I mean like the plane and the pilot and the other workers did it (and of course my organization) but I mean you probably got it already. Due to the fact that it's been 4 days already that I've experienced Japan, its culture and language I have a lot to tell but not as much time. Obviously humans tend to prefer looking at pictures rather than reading long texts, but I will try to give you both by adding a photogallery but also writing a little.
Photogallery: from my departure at my hometown to Tokyo-Haneda Airport (August 29th/30th, 2018)
Flight and first day
I ended up so nervous the morning of the departure day that I woke up an hour early (this phenomenon has been occurring to me almost daily ever since - not that I really mind). Only the day before I had finished packing (I had to wrap presents for the hostfamilies, because at my Mum's place I couldn't find any wrapping paper (I'm sure we have lots though) so I had to do it at my Dad's place. Finding hostfamily presents was less harder than I thought because apparently my hometown sells many tourist stuff or interesting おみやげ (Omiyage - souvenir) that refer to the town or the region. I don't know why I had been waiting so long to wrap the presents. Anyway, my Dad's family (of course they are my family as well but just to make it clear ^^) kindly accompanied me to the airport in Munich (I've only flown once before with my aunt to England) and assisted me. Due to my lack of skill in the English language an airport employee misunderstood my question which resulted in me having a little trouble with assigning my second 23kg-luggage (it was actually a small bag with my laptop inside so I guess she thought I wanted to claim it as a second hand luggage (yes, that's the actual word for "Handgepäck", I looked it up, don't judge!) for which I would have had to pay a fee. I met with another Ayusa exchange student (N.) right at the airport but met the others only after I handled the luggage problem (which turned out to be none). The students were playing "UNO" and I gladly joined in before we boarded the plane (it was really big). I was really amazed by the obvious fact that most of them were Japanese! I sat next to a nice female student, who is - unlike me - quite skilled in Japanese conversation. We were flying for 11 hours and I had about 3 hours of sleep [Dear potential Japan travellers, please keep in mind that you will need sleep if you arrive in the morning so try to sleep the second you've taken a seat, because the earlier you start the more time you have to actually fall asleep!!]. The meals were neat (Lufthansa) and they offered using chopsticks (still struggling with those beasts!) and, being aware of the fact that proper chopstick-usage will take a lot of practice anyway, tried my best. My screen had made some trouble but over all, the flight was okay. I was stunned by how large the forest (they look really different from German ones), city and airport are (pictures in gallery) although I knew that, of course, Tokyo is gigantic. Our Area Coordinator (a nice (Japanese) lady, that seems extremely experienced but also understanding) fetched us at the airport and we drove to a decent hotel in Shin Yokohama. As a foreigner and especially as a (half-)black person, I guess, you really are almost the only one of your ethnicity there (and we were in the area of Tokyo, which is a tourist magnet). It feels a little strange and personally I felt also a tiny bit lost seeing no other black person and few European faces because that means that Japanese people are not used to it and I'm like really conspicuous to them. But it's fine since I expected that and I didn't notice a Japanese person to behave differently at my sight. I'll just list what we did on the first 3 days:
The atmosphere was good. We all got along well although I noticed that I mostly hang out with students that I've met before at preparation days with Ayusa Intrax in Stuttgart, Germany. I should've been more open, but the Stuttgart people are still fun to hang out with. In our rooms (I shared mine with A., a nice, a bit quiet girl) we had television (JAPANESE TELEVISION!) which is very different to the more serious and less attention-grabbing German one. Especially the commercials are sometimes weird and hard to understand. Oh, by the way, I could understand mostly what the Ayusa employees said or at least I mostly got the gist of it, which was a welcome relief.
Photogallery: Yokohama and stuff