But not everything was travelling to beautiful places. On the weekdays and every other weekend there was work to be done.
These are some pictures of the dormitory. Downstairs kitchen and the corridor leading to my room
On the weekdays everyone in the dorm whether had work or classes. To me, as a single daughter who lived and studied in the same city, this was like having a really big family. We would get up in the morning, shower, sometimes meet for breakfast then grab our bikes and cycle to our respective labs. At the end of the day, we would all meet in the kitchen, chat, watch movies and cook dinner or eat food from the convenience store.
Some of the amazing food moments with the family in the dorm
My room, was mostly a mess, there were just too many things to do and see. However, every two weeks there was, changing sheets’ day on which I would make and effort and clean the room. On these days we were supposed to get new sheets for our beds.
From my experience and what I heard, if you’re staying for more than 1 month wherever that might be, just get your own sheets! If you don’t wash them well, at least only you will have slept in them.
The average cleaning day
In my country Summer is usually hot and dry (although it’s getting more and more humid and rainy) but having arrived in Sptember I still experienced the Asian humid Summer.
I was surprised to discover that humidity in the room could make clothes mouldy and also that to prevent this, you were supposed to either use the dehumidifier feature in the air-conditioning, or to buy some magic thing in a shop.
Non electricity bill increasing dehumidifiers – highly recommended
These magic things were little plastic containers with silica that would slowly absorb humidity in the air. I went with these since the air conditioner option would just be too heavy on my monthly rent.
To get around the city, we could walk, cycle or take buses. In general, buses were completely unreliable. I am sorry Sendai Bus Company, but the way your buses are organized, it just doesn’t make sense.
I am not sure if I will be able to get my point across, but every bus line you take, goes to or from the bus station. Opposite sides of the city are not connected by a single bus line. To get there you must take one bus to station and from the station, get another bus to that place. It’s not a network of buses, it’s just, loose places, connected to the main station. Maybe it makes sense, but to me, getting a bus was never practical. For example there was no bus that connected the University dorm to my University campus.
So, the solution was to get a bicycle, the best way to get to places. In the city unofficially you can park anywhere, officially, you must park in the specific parking spaces. If you leave you bike in a wrong place and the police passes, they will put a red sticker on it and when they pass the second time they take all the bikes with red stickers.
Unofficial bicycle parkings
If you choose an official parking space you might find some that offer you one or two hours of parking for free. The city was increasing these parking spaces, especially in front of one of the supermarkets where illegal parking was really getting out of control.
I rented my bicycle for 7 months, it was a great company, one of the hardest things to leave behind, not because of the bike itself but because of the memories it witnessed.
I hear that you should have an official document to prove that a bicycle belongs to you, otherwise, if it gets confiscated, you will have no way of getting it back from the Police.
The covered area, one of the places you are not supposed to cycle
In general, you should cycle in the sidewalks closest to the road and the pedestrians will walk further from it. You must also have the light on during the night or you will get a ticket. Also, there are specific streets where you will have signs saying that you are not allowed to cycle there and yes grandmas will remind you in Japanese that you’re doing something wrong.
Cycling in Japan is a great experience, sidewalks are wide and streets are mostly flat – except if you want to go to the University campus at the top of the mountain. At the moment Sendai’s metro has been expanded and goes, I believe, to the Aobayama campus at the top of the mountain. It is really convenient since before, most students would either have scooters or take bicycles and leave them along the path at the point when they could no longer cycle uphill anymore.
The laboratory where I was working was in the Katahira campus, the only campus not on the top of the mountain (thank god!). I loved going there every day, I would experiment different paths trying to optimize it in order to stop in the least number of red lights. At the end I had it really optimised and I would never stop.
View from the door to the laboratory building
In the lab I was really well received, I did my best to be useful even though I didn’t have the necessary knowledge.
The lab building and my work desk
I loved going to the nearby cafeteria レストラン萩 and trying every dish. They had kabotcha (pumpkin) marinated in some delicious sauce, deep fried tofu, my favourite, katsu curry, curry with a deep fried piece of meat and rice, grilled mackerel and others. Then you could ask for a bowl of rice from one of the 5 different sizes of bowls. At the end you took your tray and payed for everything. I miss this cafeteria so much, the food was really delicious.
Pictures from the cafeteria
Working here was my first professional experience. My objectives as a software developer were to provide the team with some software alterations to enhance their applications and also to redesign their Webpage. I did my best at that time, but I wish I had done a better job.
On my day to day at work I faced the trickiest details that would make a simple task really difficult, such as having software, keyboards and manuals all in Japanese.
Documenting the daily struggles with programming in Japan
Going to a huge shopping center near Sendai
To the shopping
One day, we had the crazy idea of going to a huge shopping center near Sendai, I only have a vague recollection of this thanks to pictures. I know we took the train for there are pictures of the train tickets and I know we walked maybe 5/10 minutes from the Station.
Fast food that looks like fast food everywhere
Besides that, I remember the European shock of going to the food court. Generally speaking, wherever you are in the world, in a food court, you go the restaurant, you choose your meal and find a table. You may or may not select a friend whose job will be to keep a table and who will later get his/her food. Well, obviously not in Japan. We were utterly shocked to see that Japanese girls would leave their bags on the tables and then go find food. We sat there in the next table looking at their bags questioning if it was really happening. That my friends, is Japan and I hope from the bottom of my heart that never changes.
Well, this was a collection of some of my routine moments, maybe not as fun as traveling but still very dear to me, especially those moments at the end of the day in the kitchen. I really miss having everyone together like that.
Next there will be a trip to Hokkaido let’s hope I can write it as soon as possible!