I think Dr. McCoy said it best in Star Trek 4: "The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the Universe". The Japanese definitely seem to have taken it to an art form. In the past few days, I had to fill out more forms than I think in my entire prior life (ok, probably not really, but you get the point).
Forms for the dormitory, for alien registration, for health insurance, for the University, for the internet account, for the Japanese courses... it's gotten so bad I pretty much know how to write my own address by heart. In Kanji.
But at least it's almost over. I think there's just one more major form-signage session coming up, which should be for a mobile phone. Unfortunately Dutch mobile phones don't work here at all, so mine is currently serving as a glorified alarm clock. I've been given two different explanations for this; the first is that the networks in Japan all use 3G, so regular GSM phones don't work, and the second is that foreign providers are banned from the Japanese network. I don't know which is true; it might be both. At least all the phones I've seen in shops are 3G.
Not having a mobile (or "keitai" as the Japanese call them) is a bit of a bother since I also don't have a phone on my room or anything so the only way for people to contact me is by e-mail or postal mail.
Yesterday I signed up for the Japanese courses. I just barely made it to the sign-up office in time because I got lost on the Hongo campus. It's just huge. According to the placement tests I'm level "pre-3", which is what I signed up for. I hope that's okay since the test was just a simple "if you can read this, you can enter level X", and my reading skills are better than my conversation skills. But we'll see; worst case I'll have to work a bit harder the first few weeks. The classes are three times a week at the Hongo campus, which is about one hour travel from here. Fortunately the classes start at 13:10 so I can avoid the morning rush hour.
All this travel is getting quite expensive though. At least when I get a bike I'll be able to get rid of the bus fare everyday. As for the rest, I wonder if they have something like a monthly pass (this is however made more difficult by all the different railway companies in Japan). If not, I'll just have to deal with it. In that case I should at least get a "pasmo", a new type of electronic, rechargable ticket that works for almost all trains and buses. It's not cheaper, but at least it would be easier.
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