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Life of an exchange student at a Japanese university
Another Japanese style meal and party

By Nora Roberts -- Continued from:   Japanese festivals

When it was time to part, I thought it might be a good idea to catch the bus to Lillian's, as she had caught it before and her house was in my suburb. So we waited for the right bus, and when it came, we asked the driver if it stopped at Lillian's stop. We had to get on the bus through the back door, and get off at the front. Watching the changing numbers determined how much we would have to pay the driver. An LCD screen at the front of the bus showed the name of the next stop. When stopped, the bus driver called out the name of the current stop. Without this visual and aural help, it would have been close to impossible to find the correct stop at which to alight the bus.

Upon stopping, we put up our umbrellas and continued along the road, until Lillian told me she thought we were going the wrong way. We asked for directions at the convenience store, and it turned out that her house was directly opposite the bus stop. Talk about a sense of direction! Worse than me.. just. When I asked Lillian's Host Mother directions to my house, she took us next door to her mother's. Lillian explained that the mother was a master of directions; that she had given Lillian a bus timetable and drawn her a map. So I was hopeful. We were going to call my Host Mother and ask her for directions when I pulled out all three of my maps in hopes that I could make it on my on.

nabe, japanese cooking, chopsticksThe maps proved useful, as it was decided that both the Host Mother and her mother would accompany me home in the rain. On foot. Lillian and I looked at one another. We made our way through the streets and it took about 10 minutes to get home. I wrote backwards directions as we passed landmarks, e.g. Turn left before crossing orange bridge. My Host Mum happened to be outside when we arrived. I got the impression that she felt very guilty on my behalf. I felt as though I had done something a bit naughty. But I needed to get home, right??

That night, Vinny (a current exchange student who has been in Himeji for months already) invited us all to his apartment in the student village for Nabe. This is a dish not unlike sukiyaki that requires a pot and many fresh ingredients. It is often eaten with friends, as it can be cooked on the table in front of you. 

The idea is that there is time to talk while the food cooks, and then you eat until the pot is empty. More food is added, and again there is time to chat. Only Tegan, Fil, Lillian and I were there with Vinny. Unfortunately, Matt, Catherine, and Yenta were all busy.

We had a blast, listening to Japanese music, looking at Vinny's photos of Japan, eating nabe, and talking. I got to know them quite well, and was sad when the time came to leave. My Host Mother came to pick me up in her car, and we took Lillian. But when we arrived at Lillian's, she realized she had forgotten her umbrella. I had forgotten my bag. 

What a hopeless bunch we truly were. My Host Mother took me back to get my bag. The moment we arrived home, Chikako rang and asked to be picked up from the station. 10.30pm. So I went with Okaasan, feeling very bad yet again.

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