Oct '12 - May '13
Since arriving in Tokyo Tuesday night, things have been going smoothly and I already feel quite comfortable here. I was lucky enough to gain acceptance to university subsidized housing in a facility know as UT Shirokanedai International Lodge. As the name suggests, it’s housing for international students. This aspect of the facility isn’t exactly what I would have preferred since I’m trying to get my Japanese language ability to at least a basic functioning level, but at $75 a month rent I’m not complaining. A similar sized 18m2 apartment would probably run closer to 800-1000 a month. The neighborhood is quite nice and roughly a 45min door-to-door commute by subway to my lab at the University of Tokyo Hongo Campus.
Starting Wednesday, I began meeting with my program tutor Ryo, a student in neighboring Manabu Chiba’s lab, who assisted me with my university registration, municipal registration, health insurance application, student commuting discount, application fee deferment, bank account opening, cell phone service inquiries, and a whole heap of other tasks necessary to begin study in a foreign country, especially one as bureaucracy laden as Japan. It seems a wise decision on part of the university to facilitate international students with a local student partner and not a bad idea for the US to adopt; perhaps some universities have. Though I don’t yet speak Japanese, I couldn’t help thinking how difficult the process would be even if I did.
This weekend I’ve spent catching up on a little R&R and doing some shopping for necessary items like bedding, cooking supplies, food, and going through the tome of forms, announcements, guidebooks, schedules, maps, and other information provided by the University.This afternoon I meet up in Yokohama with a former Japanese schoolmate and friend of mine, Yuki, (formally a schoolmate that is, not formally Japanese) for the Yokohama Octoberfest. All I can say is that I saw the most expensive beer of my life. A 1 liter Hofbrau Octoberfest beer would set you back 3000 yen or about $38 USD. I opted for the smaller and more reasonably priced 900 yen Yokohama Brewing Company Pale Ale. All in all though the weather was great and it was fun watching Japanese people shed some of their ubiquitous reserve.
Monday is the Japanese holiday “Health and Sports Day” which no Japanese person I asked seemed to have any idea what the hell it meant beyond no school, no work. Tuesday is our first official G30 meeting with Director Professor Yusuke Obuchi, and where I’ll meet my classmates for the next two years. I can hardly wait!
The G30 is an English language, architecture and urbanism course offered through the University of Tokyo for foreign students. Led by former AA Design Research Lab Co-Director, Associate Professor Yusuke Obuchi, the program seeks to collaboratively advance architectural and urban design research through the symbiosis of digital technologies and material development.