"Are you ok? Did you burn your tongue?" I ask my host father, concerned. He's staring at his short coffee, pouting slightly.
"It's just neko-jita," my host mother explains, patting his back.
"Neko-jita?" I ask, confused. "Did he burn his tongue?"
"No, he just has a weak tongue. Like a cat. Cats avoid hot liquids, because they have weak tongues."
"Sou desu ka," I muse.
My host family is adorable. My host mother, at age twenty-eight, is like the older sister I never had, with a great sense of humor and a caring heart. My host-father, at thirty-seven, is very laid-back and has a great command of English. They have a five-year-old son who is in Switzerland, and knows French and English besides Japanese. They live in a beautiful house in Tokyo prefecture, only three stations away from my classes.
So far, Japan has been amazing. When I met Lea, Ellie, Evan and Anna, my other Intercult classmates, I was really touched how fast they accepted me, and I'm sure we're all going to become great friends. Lea and I roomed together in the hotel, and we bonded together with a Girl's Talk at two in the morning. It was definitely a great beginning to this experience.
Orientation was very helpful, providing us with maps and giving us a guideline to cultural differences. One of the new things I learned is that there are sometimes toilet slippers. Toilet slippers were basically invented because in traditional Japanese toilets (aka you squat over a fixture embedded in the ground), sometimes there was "spray" and you didn't want to get that all over your feet. But if you accidentally forgot to take the toilet slippers off...well, that would be a major faux pas!
I managed to already forget to remove my shoes once yesterday. I was carting in my luggage, and so intent on getting it up the stairs with my host mom, when halfway up she gasped.
"Oh no, I'm so sorry! I completely forgot!"
"Well it can't be helped. It's ok, Westerners forget sometimes."
We also had the chance to visit Harajuku after getting our new phones. Evan, Lea and I met some of the Sophia University semester students who were very good natured, and very funny. Somehow, in the crowd, we became separated. So Lea and I ate our first Japanese style crepes. Mine was overloaded with whipped cream, and Lea's had adzuki bean paste, which she wasn't a fan of, and we both scraped off our respective grievances.
Then all three of us took Purikura. Evan was less than amused, however, when he realized the extent to which Purikura photoshops your face. The purikura machines enlarge users eyes, elongates their bodies, and erases any semblance of pores. With the right facial structure, this can look very cute. Unfortunately, if you don't have the right facial structure you either look like an anime character or an alien.
My first "test" is on Monday. It's a placement test for Intercult and I'm slightly nervous, although I know I shouldn't be. I'll be spending some time on Sunday reviewing conjugations and practicing reading hiragana and katakana. I don't have any hope for reading kanji so I won't focus on that, but I'm rather excited for classes to start.