First Friday at Osaka

Friday, June 5, 2009 – 10:37pm

Today I woke up at a even more normal time, 6:30am, and got ready to go to work. As I usually have been doing, I wrote my post about the day before, and then left to work. It was my first 雨の日 or day of rain (rainy day) at Osaka and I noticed that Japanese people bike while holding their umbrellas open with one hand much more frequently than people in America.

On the way to work I bought two rice balls wrapped in seaweed, and then kept going to work. Once I got to the kita-senri station I walked to the front of the station office and wondered if I should go in and ask about the monthly pass or not. I was a bit afraid, as usual, but finally gathered the strength when I thought about the money I would be saving. I walked in and said: “通勤定期を買いたいんですけど。。。” which translates to: “I want to buy a commuter pass but… (where would I do that?)”. I was quickly told to go to a young lady sitting next to the exit, and I proceeded to tell her that I needed a commuter pass. She gave me a form with a lot of Chinese characters all over the place, and I told her that I wasn’t good at reading kanji or rather, that I was weak at kanji. She proceeded to show me another form that had English stickers on it that indicated what I had to write. I wrote my name and birthday, and then I told her that I had to look up my address cause I hadn’t memorized it yet, and she just took the form and told me to not worry about it. She also asked me if I had a phone and I explained that I didn’t have one while I was here in Japan. I also told her that I wanted the one-month pass. After paying for it (the equivalent to ~$96) I left with my brand new monthly pass! I was so proud of myself that I wanted to just get on the train and go back home to try it out. I resisted the temptation and walked my 20 minutes to get to lab.

Today I took a nicer route from the train station to lab. Once I got to lab I got online and started checking my e-mail, facebook, etc. After an hour or so, my post-doc and I talked for a bit and then discussed what we were doing that day. I then proceeded to go back to my e-mail, etc. and then I read papers for a few hours.

I went to lunch at a small student center close to my lab. The food at the student’s center dining is delicious! I ate the 大学ランチ (University Lunch) which included a small miso soup, a bowl of rice, and a big plate of curry chicken (which was amazing!) all of 430 yen (that’s ~$4.50!). When I first started eating it I was so surprised! It felt like I was eating at a restaurant, but I was only paying a fraction of the cost! So good. That’s one of the best meals I’ve had in my life, especially when you factor in the price. Haha.

I went back to lab and kept reading papers. Then soon after we picked a few bacterial colonies from our E. coli plates and put them in 10 ml of medium so they grow a lot more. Then I went back to my desk to read more papers. While sitting there, I talked with a few other people in the lab, and it was great. They asked me many questions like where I study, where I’m from, if my classes were in English or Spanish, my age, etc. Then they said: “you’re 19?! so young!” which reminded me that I was among people that were probably 30 and looked 15. I kept talking to them, doing my best to communicate everything I wanted to say in correct Japanese. It was great, I even showed to them where Puerto Rico is on a map, etc. They were so nice. 🙂

After a few hours a few people started leaving, but mostly people who have a part-time job there, not scientists. I used that time to talk online for a bit, check some things I needed to check and then go to Bank of America and check my bank statements. I was then reminded that I had to pay my credit card, and that I couldn’t do that cause it had been blocked when I tried to get money from the ATM with it rather than with my ATM. I thought I’d had to pay just to call, but beautiful and amazing Kimさん told me that you could make free calls to 1-800 numbers through Skype! I had just downloaded Skype a few minutes before, so I took that as a sign from God and took my laptop with me to the seminar room next door and called the bank. They pretty much asked me the story of my life, and then decided to unblock my account so I could actually pay. I went back to online banking and paid my account. 🙂

A few hours after, at around 8:00pm, I decided to head home. I didn’t fully decided if I wanted to go to lab Saturday, but I decided to just go home and make that decision on my own. After all, I was told I could do an American schedule (9-5 Monday through Friday) if I wanted, and I’ve been working from ~9:30am until after 7:30pm every day. I might take it off tomorrow or not, not sure yet. Anyway, what I did decide was that instead of getting something off the street at any place and take it home and eat there, I would stop at the ramen shop by the train station exit and have my dinner there. That ramen shop only has tall chairs around the service counter/dining counter.

When I got to my station, I got off and walked towards the ramen shop. I stood in front of the door and just looked at the plates outside and what they said. I couldn’t read the Chinese characters so I just stood there and contemplated different ways in which to order and let them understand what I wanted. While I stood there I looked in for a bit after being there for like 5 minutes, and saw someone looking towards the door and smiling or laughing, and I thought “omg they are making fun of me for just standing here.” I walked away from the ramen shop, but then realized that I had to face the fear if I wanted to eat the damn ramen. I went back and went into the store and sat near an area where there were a few images with dishes that I wanted. I then ordered “that thing over there… the miso ramen, and this other thing what is it called?

After a few minutes I had my dinner in front of me. A large bowl of ramen and a side dish of 6 pan fried dumplings. It was delicious, and both things together were less than $8. While I ate two women were drinking beer and sharing some appetizers, and there was a man working in the ramen shop that seemed not to like them. They kept laughing every time he did something and he just kept a serious face. It was funny to watch. I then walked outside and decided that since it was Friday night, and I was still contemplating the idea of working Saturday, I would reward myself with a donut from Mr. Donuts across the street. I must say though, that although tasty, $1.30 for a donut is a bit much.

Anyway, that was it for today. I’m tired, so I’m going to sleep now. I walked really fast on the way back from lab to the station, and I think it didn’t take me more than 15 minutes when last time it had taken me a bit over 20 minutes. That was nice.

Anything else I haven’t mentioned? Oh, people smoke at small ramen shops and at Mr. Donuts (which is like a Dunking Donuts, but more delicious).

2 thoughts on “First Friday at Osaka

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