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July From Hell

August 12, 2009


Hey guys, well, here’s another long-awaited entry. Though I was busy for a while after that last entry, I’m not really sure why I haven’t written on here sooner. Maybe the relative lack of feedback is a bit of a motivation-killer… having to log in to do so is a real pain, maybe I can start looking for a new place to blog. At any rate, more comments would probably encourage me to write more! [Editor’s hint: leave more comments] And, in case you’re wondering, yes, I am my own editor.

So, I’m glad July is over. July was a nightmare of stress and trying to run around getting things done, get things learnt, and have a ridiculous number of “final” events with so many people – the exchange students who were going home, and the Japanese people who were getting ready to go overseas for their exchange. It was a fun time, but an expensive time, and I was glad I had the scholarship money coming in to cover me.

Only, I didn’t. To receive my scholarship every month, I must sign up for it by midday of a certain day of that month. The day changes each month, just to keep us in our toes. However, in July, I ended up signing up at about 1pm, meaning I missed the deadline. I was told that my payment would be slightly delayed, and I was OK with that – what, a day or so? – until I found out that it would actually be two weeks. Which means that even now, I still don’t have it.

Tokyo was recently rated the most expensive city in the world to live in, according to some study, and I’m not surprised. Sometimes I stop and think back to how much my nonchalant daily spending would equate to back home, and it always gives me a bit of a shock. This country has way more money than it knows what to do with, but that’s material for another entry (assuming I haven’t already done it – I can’t remember right now). But one thing’s for sure – if you suddenly find yourself without money that you were counting on for a couple of weeks, life gets tricky!

Even so, normally, I would have been able to make my previous month’s earnings stretch. However, last month was special. I’ve been thinking about moving ever since I arrived in this dormitory – in fact, I still haven’t unpacked. Visitors to my room are always kinda surprised to see the room lined with cardboard boxes, and an open suitcase on the floor, out of which I am living. I’m a very lazy person, and if I am going to be moving soon anyway, I see no point in unpacking while I’m here. I had a few criteria for my new place:

  • Close to school (since I spend all day there anyway, it’s a hassle to travel for an hour each way just to sleep. Also, being able to go home at lunchtime or whatever would be great)
  • Not excessively expensive (pretty much a hopeless hope, but still, I can at least avoid the places that cost 1,00,000 yen and up – which are plentiful)
  • Living with other people (time spent at home, especially in the evenings, can be pretty damn boring if you live in a tiny one-room apartment on your own. Japanese people make it a rule not to get to know their neighbours, and always having to go to a coffee shop or something if you want to meet people gets expensive. So for casual hanging-out, flatmates are by far the best option)
  • A local bar/something cool
  • A decent-sized room (my previous place was so tiny I could pretty much stretch out my arms and hit both walls. Japanese people are pretty diminutive, but these places are small even for them. But I guess since most people spend all day at the office or on a train, it doesn’t really bother them too much. But particularly, in that room, I wanted a double bed, and a space to do some artwork)

Ah…. How I miss a double bed. These tiny little feet-hang-off-the-end, narrow-as-anything, have-someone-stay-over-and-end-up-hating-them things are horrible. I remember when I was a student back in Dunedin, and had a double bed… nice winter days lounging around in piles of blankets…

Well, anyway, since I’m going to be here for a couple of years, I thought those were reasonable requests. And then I found a place, not too far from school (but still requiring a couple of stops on a train), living with other people (though older than me), big (plenty of room for a double-bed and a desk), and with a private rooftop with a great view over Shinjuku.  Also, as an added bonus, it was right close to another University, which from what I could tell from watching the students come and go, could only be described as Gyaru Uni… to anyone who doesn’t know what Gyaru is, I’ll probably get around to it in another post… just know that it definitely gave the place added appeal for a healthy young man. The rent was more than I wanted (over half of my monthly income), but I figured I could work around it. I signed up, and paid the deposit – 100,000 yen – cancelled my current rent contract, and was ready to move in at the start of August. This was a short while before I was due to sign up for my scholarship, so I figured I could bear to be poor as anything for a few weeks in preparation. I was just happy to finally be moving into a place that would make it feel like I was finally actually starting in Tokyo!

Then, I didn’t get my scholarship. I couldn’t even afford to pay the first month’s rent on my new place. I suddenly had a few hundred dollars to live in the most expensive city in the world, with no food, no place to live, and final exams. After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to cancel the moving-in plans after all, and go back to asking for my old room back at the dormitory (with rent less than half of what the new place was). Except by this point, I couldn’t even pay the rent for that. However, they listened to my situation and took me back, while bailing on the rent for my new place meant that my deposit was forfeit.

I spent most of the rest of the month in my room eating toast, and practicing for the upcoming concert while also finishing up my final reports for classes. Just to help matters, the forces of the Universe decided to disapparate my folder for Oral Communication, meaning that my entire survey and subsequent report and presentation for that class had to be recreated from scratch with less than a week to deadline. Also, for one Writing Communication class, I had to write an opinion piece on any topic, so I ended up writing a slightly-modified Japanese version of the “Lemmings” post I made a month or so ago. Was surprisingly well-received!

Then, exams finished, the students’ farewell parties blossomed (of which I went to less than I would have liked, thank you no-money), then most people left, and July finally came to sudden end. I sat in my room alone and in the dark with the power payment lacking, and breathed a sigh of relief.

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  1. August 14, 2009 12:21 pm

    this is depressing reading===alone and broke in tokyo does not seem the place to be ==you need to check out the soup kitchen equivalent in japan ,and make friends with the dinner lady ;-]
    hope your funds have materialized and you are no longer sitting in the dark shoebox with disconnected airconditioning===fingers crossed…..

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