Category Archives: English


Fruit is very expensive!

Well the biggest part of the day I spent as usual – deciding where to shop – and going there. We heard about some supermarket which is a bit far from campus but we went there on foot. We bought various supplies and we found fresh fruit. My god that is expensive. An orange costs more than one US dollar… I hope I will find something cheaper. Strawberries are also expensive, watermelons too… I bought the mixed fruit from the above picture for 398 yen – it’s around 4USD – that is too much for the amount of fruit I eat in five seconds. In Serbia I used to consume kilograms of fruit – but now it seems that I will consume grams of fruit here.
In the evening we went to a party which was organized by student support organization. It was a chance to meet everyone. On party you could meet not only students who just arrived but also the ones from past years. Tutors also introduced themselves at the end of the party – and after them also students had to take a microphone and introduce themselves. During party there was various food available to taste and also a lots of drinks. We were warned that legal drinking age in Japan is 20 years and after that we were pointed to the beer – but only for us, adults ;). We adults later also drank sake and some plum liqueur. When they gave me plum liqueur I expected to drink something like rakija – and was eager to try it. When I did it – I was disappointed – it was very weak – only 8% of alcohol – also sake was very weak… Food was delicious – we ate some japanese food and some food was prepared by people from USSR – it was very nice – but hard to eat with chopsticks.
After returning home I felt one more earthquake – it seems that this one was stronger than the one before because this was registered on japanese meteorological site – couple of minutes after the quake a friend sent me a link to it by jabber… he says that he tracks earthquakes in the world… what a guy ; )


First class of hiragana

I didn’t mention that my room has a view on some stadium. When I woke up this morning I just saw a very big smoke from it. It turned out that it was not smoke but it was cloud of dust that was carried by the wind. The wind that blew in circular motion – just like tornado – but miniature one. It then moved 20 meters and disappeared.

My friends and I gathered to have for the first time breakfast together. We went to cafeteria in the campus to check it out.  Prices are OK – you can have a meal for 3USD and all you can drink of green tea. I found the meals rather small and you don’t have a big variety of meals. From now on I will it there only when I have to – there is a Chinese restaurant near which has so big portions that only one is enough for whole day and it costs 8USD. Well – it is not exactly Chinese food because Japanese like to adapt the food to their tastes – but still it is delicious and servings are very big.

We had a first class of hiragana – only for those of us who didn’t learn it. Fujimori-sensei succeeded in explaining whole basic hiragana character set (46 symbols) in just one class. She is an optimist if she thinks that people have memorized it – but it will all be easier as time passes and as we read hiragana texts. The one thing I noticed in all Japanese – including the teacher – is that they are very polite and pleasant to others. The class was very relaxed and not boring. The way she taught us was very good – it was very interactive – so it can not happen that someone falls asleep during class. I hope that all teachers will be like she is.

After hiragana class we had PC orientation class where I finally got an account on campus network. We were explained what we can do – and most importantly what is strictly forbidden to do on the Internet. What use is broadband if you can’t illegally download movies? The teacher that gave us accounts has no clue about PC’s. We were not allowed to use computers than, but I managed to write couple of emails and I hope that my folks will read them on time so that I can go and buy laptop tomorrow. One good thing I found out is that Internet access in rooms is free – so as soon as I get a laptop – Internet – here I come!

During PC orientation class I met with another Russian girl called Marita but she told me I can simply call her Mara. She heard that I can talk russian so we chatted a bit. We even talked about Kosovo, about Serbian president, government (on her initiative) – and you know my opinion about those persons… Now I am being introduced to other soviet brothers and sisters as the one who knows Russian ; )

Please don’t make assumption that I only hang out with soviet people – today I met a guy from Sri Lanka – and he thought that I am from South Africa… He explained me later that he thought I was from there because he met earlier a guy from there who has the same hairstyle and dresses like me. So I guess that the guy from SA listens to good music? I met him later – he is my next door neighbor. Cool guy. Arnu is his name. Today I heard many complicated names… no way to memorize them all… people from Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Korea, Vietnam, Uganda, Guam…

After class I went to dorm with Jana and Marta and we met that girl from Kyrgyzstan. She was learning to ride a bicycle.  And she was planning to buy one. Those city bikes are not expensive here – only 100USD – maybe I’ll buy one. There are a lot of bicycles parker in the campus – and they are not being stolen. They are not chained to anything – just their rear wheel is blocked and that’s it from protection. When I made a remark about that, and that I couldn’t let my bicycle that way – I was just given reply that we are in Japan! Anyway – I was talking to her and she also introduced me to another two people – I was introduced with the line “he knows Russian”, while talking with them I stopped paying attention to my friends and they left without me noticing. I hope that they are not too mad at me.

It turned out that they were not. We had a dinner together and while eating we felt our first earthquake in Japan!!!  Unfortunately it was weak… We are really in Tokyo!!! After diner we went back to the rooms and I started writing this and then I will go to bed. It is a bit chilly currently. In Japan they don’t heat the flats… but luckily we have air conditioners… I am not going to use it… It’s a lot easier to decide not to turn it on when you are the one who is paying the bills. I will just get into my sleeping bag and everything will be perfect.


I finally bought a laptop

Yesterday on PC orientation class I also managed to get information where I can buy a MacBook. So after having breakfast with Jana and Marta we were on our way to Apple Store in Shinjuku. Shinjuku is the center of the Tokyo – it has a lot of tall buildings, a lot of shopping centers with worlds trade marks – it is the Tokyo as we imagine it is. Somewhere in Shinjuku should also be a red light district – or as Japanese call it – “pink district”. It is said that gaijins are not welcome there – but they will not have problems if they go there. We arrived to the world’s busiest train station – daily it serves around 3 million people. It is not exactly one train station – it is a complex of train stations – one above the other, next to another… It is not an easy task to go there and to take a right train. Ok – it is easy if you are a regular. There is plenty of people on the station always – they say that in the morning at 8AM it is impossible to get into a train. There you can be alone – but you will never walk alone.

First I wanted to check the balance on the card to see if I am able to purchase MacBook today – but it was a very hard thing to do. A lot of ATM’s only accept cards of two japanese banks, others don’t accept visa cards, some of them have only Japanese menus… In the end I wasn’t able to check the balance as that service is not available but I tried to withdraw how much I need and I succeeded – so now I had a lots of cash with me. I wasn’t scared that I will be robbed – this is Tokyo. Now we started searching for the street where Apple store is – but we can not find it. We look for it on the public map – there is no such street. That’s when I realized that we should have gone to Shibuya and not to Shinjuku. Shibuya is the part of the city we usually see when we see Tokyo on TV. It is Shibuya where movies “Lost in Translation” and “Tokyo Drift” were shot. When you walk those streets among bunch of people you really feel small – especially when you go beside those really high buildings. Intersection is organized so that pedestrians cross the street in all directions at once – even diagonal. And there are a lots of pedestrians. I was so sad because I forgot my camera in the dorm. When you are in correct region it is not hard to find a street you are looking for and so we went to Apple store and I got a very good deal for MacBook and iPod. After that we headed straight home and I was on the internet until late at night.


Bad memories

After good night rest I was waken up with a siren sound. It turned out to be just a fire truck but it has a different sound than the ones in Serbia. The siren sounds exactly like a siren in Serbia that was announcing that enemy aircraft are approaching Serbian air space and that bombing will begin shortly. That brought up some memories.
There was obligatory talk with student counsel, Komatsu-sensei which I decided to do first thing in the morning. We had a talk about how I was feeling, why I came to Japan, what do I expect, do I have some problems and stuff like that. I mentioned the thing from yesterday in city hall when there was a problem about country name and citizenship. She apologized to me for that and said that the clerk must be to uninformed since they read everyday in newspapers about Serbia. Wow… is it good or bad thing when your small country is so often in newspapers?
I went shopping with my new friends – we went to center of this “city” – better said this part of Tokyo – Fuchu. We visited the famous hyaku yen shop – shop where everything costs 100 yen and 5% tax. You can buy everything there – as we would say from a needle to locomotive – and everything costs 100 yen.
I met a lot of people of slavic origin – it is a lot of fun to speak Russian – I like it as much as I didn’t like to learn it in school.
I finally succeeded in calling home – for 10USD I could speak with my mom for a whole 3 minutes and 30 seconds! Isn’t that cheap!


Arrival to TUFS

The beginning of the trip had to be rough – but it is better to be rough on the start than somewhere in the middle. After disconnecting from the gate we had to wait a bit before taking off because mechanics didn’t do their job as they should have so because of technical problems flight was a bit delayed. Mechanics arrived, solved the problem and soon we were on our way for Munich. Landing was also a bit rough – it felt like we hit a speed bump on a highway going 80 mph.

We exit from the airplane and enter the bus which will take us to the terminal. There I meet Biljana – a girl from Serbia who is going for master degree in Japan and Krsto who is going for PhD in physics. We had a conversation about living in Japan – I had to gather some info and Biljana was already in Japan. I wanted to buy a sleeping pillow for next long flight in duty free shop but because of very slow service – I decided not to. I later regretted that decision… We have sat around in the gate, Biljana went to have a smoke in some very small space for smoking, it was surrounded with glass – I think 5×5 meters. We didn’t have time to have a proper rest – and we realized that boarding is 30 minutes before what we thought. Krsto, Biljana and I grabbed our stuff and went into the queue full of Japanese – I really can not think of a reason why there was so many of them… In the plane I go to my seat and I was surprised that I am not sitting next to the wing – every other flight I had a seat next to the wing. Sitting right beside me was a Bulgarian guy who is 32 years old and he is also going to Japan for PhD in medicine. He says that 13 people got scholarship in Bulgaria and that two of them are going to TUFS also. This flight went smooth, the pilot knows his job. I succeed to take a nap during the flight but when I woke up I felt a little dizzy. After complaining about that to Biljana and Krsto they told me to ask the flight attendant to give some medicine – which I did. He gave me aspirin to thicken my blood, some water and coca cola – to bring up sugar level in my blood. As I was feeling better afterwards I realized that I was dehydrated… it was a classic case of a hangover. One suggestion to all of you – if you are sitting in a plane drinking wine, and you release some amount of liquid from you (you know what I mean), and as we know a person releases one liter of liquid trough invisible perspiration – you have to drink enough water before going to sleep.

When we landed to Tokyo Narita airport plane taxied for around 10-15 minutes – it is very large airport. After that we had passport control and then customs. And after leaving the gate there was a person with my name on a paper waiting for me. I approached to him and he told me to wait for others – the Bulgarians. The luggage had to be sent by company for that because we had to much luggage and it couldn’t fit into the taxi. The bill for sending one bag from Tokyo Narita to TUFS is 17 dollars. We were than taken by taxi to the TUFS – it was great that the fare was payed by Japanese government – the fare was around 300USD.

Around 13:10 we arrive to the campus, our tutors approach us, they try to take our backpacks to carry them for us. We entered the dorm and were handed keys of the rooms, magnet ID cards so that we can enter the dorm and an envelope with some written material. After visiting the room we have to go to some classroom to fill in some forms for Alien Registration Card – it is some form of ID for foreigners in Japan – for gaijins. They took us to city hall to hand over those forms and to apply for National Health Insurance. Applying for Alien Registration Card went kind of funny – when it was my turn I sat down, gave mine passport, forms and the lady at the other side looks at the documents. She looks at the forms – citizenship SRB, in passport – it is YU… she does not understand that and asks me about that and I explain to her that Serbia was Yugoslavia long time ago. Then she just went somewhere for 10 minutes and returns with a book and says – OK it’s Serbia and Montenegro. Sigh. I than had to give her a lecture about history of our country – FNRY, SRY, Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia… I just start laughing, and also my tutor who is translating al I am telling to Japanese. The lady on the other side does not understand why we don’t have Serbian passports, why Yugoslavia… she looks at her book again and tells me to return in 15 minutes. When I got back she told me that Japan only recognizes Serbia and Montenegro as a whole so I in forms I will have citizenship of Serbia and Montenegro. I explained that in couple of months we will get new passports – Serbian ones, but she remained with Serbia and Montenegro. I see that I will not be able to change anything so I agreed and we went further trough the forms. Now there was a problem in address and city name… in address I put “Novi Beograd” and in city name I put “Belgrade” – I shouldn’t have used an English name for Belgrade – it only confused her so she decided to put Serbia for the city. So in around a month I will get Alien Registration Card which will state that mine citizenship is of country that no longer exists and National Health Insurance will send me by mail ID card. After finally finishing the bureaucracy we were taken shopping. I had to buy some prepared food, some chopsticks, soy souse and some things that I needed in my room. The things which I thought that they won’t be available – bed linen, blanket and the other thing that is thicker than blanket used for covering in the winter, I don’t know the word – it was available – but I will use my own linen and my favorite sleeping bag. It is the best!

I made a beginners mistake. I started hanging out with our “brothers and sisters” – the people from USSR. They say that my Russian is really good. So I met people from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Leningrad, Russia… After shopping I went with my tutor to try to call Serbia – I bought some prepaid card for international calling – it is 10USD. We were trying and trying but without success. We asked in the shop what is wrong but the clerk just pointed us to the support number on the card. So we called support line and they tried to call Serbia but without any luck. After 45 minutes of trying we decided to forget about it since it was late in the evening, and we even succeeded in getting cash back, which as I realized is quiet unusual. I returned to room, eaten my meal, read the papers from the envelope and I am writing this…