Below is the sharing from a foreign student who is moved to Kyoto recently. Let’s learn about the significant experience!
I'm happy to report that my first week in Kyoto has been excellent. Although the study abroad office at my university warned me that I would go through culture shock while abroad, it feels almost as though I've never left. There are undoubtedly some significant changes. I, for one, am unable to understand a word that is being spoken. One of my biggest problems in life has been trying to understand Japanese.
But fortunately, I have people to lean on. Even though it can be challenging to comprehend, many Japanese can speak and understand English, which can make conversations unpleasant. The Japan study abroad director can assist with translating for me. There are so many natural English speakers living in the international dorm where I am currently staying, and there are so many foreign tourists that I never feel too overwhelmed with Japanese.
My studies abroad involves a lot of communication. I have to do impromptu interviews with people on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and make a PowerPoint presentation about it. I can practice my Japanese inquiries with the program director's assistance and get a translation of their answers. I have spoken with seven people so far, including Japanese and foreigners. There will be more because the project is still being worked on.
My Georgian hamlet and a big city like Kyoto are very different in some important ways. People are everywhere. There are constantly a lot of people around. It can be a little annoying to gracefully maneuver around crowds of people, however it is not a significant drawback.
Kyoto is unfortunately not as accessible to English speakers as I had anticipated. It may require some imagination to determine where you are headed because some signs are written in kanji and do not have an English translation. The first time I had to figure out how to get back to the dorm, it was a little anxious because I thought I could just walk there to save money and I was afraid of getting completely lost while figuring out which train to take. To be clear, there are numerous trains in Kyoto that travel to various locations, so choosing the wrong one could be dangerous.
Furthermore, I did not believe that asking station staff would be helpful because I might interpret their responses incorrectly. My phone's battery was low, and the country of Japan does not support my cellular plan. Fortunately, I located a free Wi-Fi hotspot and used Google Maps to locate the JR Nara line train that I wanted to board. I discovered the correct train by asking a station staff where it was. Since then, I've grown more at ease visiting Kyoto, and I make sure to keep my phone charged at all times.
The good news is that Kyoto has a robust rail and metro infrastructure, making cars essentially redundant. I took the subway to Kuinabashi station earlier this week, traveled to the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and then took the metro home. It would have taken me more than an hour to walk there. There are also stores everywhere. There appears to be a food vendor on every corner. There's always something fresh to try as long as you have money.
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