Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Japanese administration

During the first days of my scholarship I have had to fill out lots of forms and do administrative stuff. Fortunately, Nagoya University is well prepared to smooth all these procedures thanks to student volunteers, guides, international centres and several guidebooks in different languages.

Yesterday, two nice Japanese volunteer guides (please check out Kikuko Kosaki's website, it has lots of interesting information) accompanied me and a group of foreign students in the same situation to register ourselves in the ward office, open a bank account, apply for the National health insurance and hand in some documents in order to get the student ID card and the monthly stipend.

We took the subway from Nagoya Daigaku to Ikeshita (literally: under the pond) where the ward office is. At the subway, they explained us how to save money by using different prepaid cards (I will explain this more in detail in another post). I prefer London's Oyster card system but I must admit that the machines to get the tickets are cool. Bicycles are also very popular here and I'm thinking about buying one in a bazar event that is going to take place here in a few days.

On the way to the ward office I saw the first McDonald restaurant in Nagoya so far. On the sign it says: makudonarudo hanbaagaa (McDonald hamburger). There are lots of people wearing a mask on their face. I think that the reason is that they are alergic to the cherry blossom or that they are ill and they don't want to be contagious.

Update thanks to Kikuko-san: it seems that now more than 20-30% of Japanese have allergy to the pollen of Japanese cedar and/or cypress, which is called "kafunsho". In autumn, allergy to butakusa, karukaya, etc is also common. That's why people wear a mask.

Doing administrative tasks in a Japanese office would be difficult without our helpful guides. Japanese administration staff are very hard working but not very flexible. If your case is not the typical one, you can expect some complains. Actually, I felt a bit uncomfortable with some questions where I wanted to answer either a) "I don't know" or b) "this is not applicable to me" or c) "for god sake, it's my privacy!". At least they didn't ask me for the color of my pants yet :P.

Opening a bank account was a bit surrealistic. First, our bank is actually the post office! (it seems that private banks don't want to give money accounts so easily). And second, the post office had an amazing look of the 80's age. Workers were in suits, machines were old, lots of paper everywhere.. and the best, a funny 80's music in the background. By the way, being a small post office I counted more than 8 different cameras on the ceiling.

After eating a burger in a place called MOS burger, we went to the ECIS International centre. Nearby I took these pictures of the cherry blossom, which is very popular in Japan. By the way, those stones over there are a zen garden.

Finally, after a long day I went back to the residence. The picture above is taken from the entrance to my residence. I have been very lucky because it is a very quiet and nice area and also close to my laboratory (the gray building on the background of the picture).


Yvon said...

The residence looks quite cool. It doesn't look like a resident at all.
You seem to be busy every day. That's good so you won't get bored the first days.

Sangorrin said...

It is not the residence but what i see from the entrance. The residence looks like a residence, ill put pictures soon. Im not bored at all for the moment :)

Vnesa said...

boredom? what is boredom?