Disclaimer: This will be a long entry. You may want to get a snack or a cold beverage. And also, Blogger sucks at entry formatting.
I know, I have a lot to tell you. And yes, I should have called. I know it isn't hard to just pick up a phone, but -- no, baby, please -- just listen.
Let me start off by saying I think this is the best day I've had so far on this trip. Good day at work (excluding the whole "nearly choking on a cup of water" thing), finally got internet at home, managed to set up my modem despite the Japanese instructions, and then I had gyoza and beer for dinner. How sweet it is.
Now let me start by saying from here on in I will be presented with a challenge of sorts. In addition to my periodic random musings or news flashes, I have two main goals for my entries:
1. To inform you as to what's going on in my life. Some of you may only be reading this blog for a little insight into my world (how sweet of you!).
2. To entertain my readers with interesting stories and perhaps attract new readers. Unfortunately, this means that I won't be able to blog that I had a banana and orange juice for breakfast, because who really cares. Ergo, I will have to be selective about what I post. If you're interested in learning more about something I mention, or you want to know how long it took me to get to school today, you can leave a comment or email me.
I'm aware that I have a lot to catch you up on, and I'll do so now that I have time. For now, please relax and be comforted that I am once again among the denizens of the internet.
I'll try to make this concise and will probably fail, but let me tell you what's been going on since I got here. Of course you know I arrived in Tokyo last month. I apparently got bit to hell at E's house, because on the plane I was plagued, all over my body, by the bites of a hundred tiny demons. And I think I had a mild fever, too. My immune system really fails whenever I come to this land. Anyway, I sucked it up and got through Tokyo orientation. Some minor stuff happened, but nothing really worth mentioning.
My first few days in Hyogo prefecture were kind of depressing. When I first got into my apartment and was left alone, I just walked around aimlessly for like 10 minutes, trying to figure out what to do with myself. Since then, things have picked up considerably. I still don't always know what to do with myself, but I now have the essentials of life: a bank account for my paycheck, a cellphone, internet at home, a foreigner ID card, and liquor on top of my fridge. And perhaps most importantly, I've been making friends (Awww...).
I'll be teaching at two schools: one of which is a normal, public, middle-upper level academic high school. The other is a special high school school for part-time students with special circumstances. I.E. they have rough family situations, were prior drop-outs, work full-time, etc. I start teaching on Friday, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least slightly nervous. I've been visiting some club activities at my base school (they meet over vacations, even summer), though, and have met and talked to a lot of students. I'm also friendly with a bunch of teachers at my base school, including the Judo coach, who is trying to convince me to join the club. Although the students at my visit school may be rough around the edges, I really like the staff-room setting. With the exception of a couple oddballs, all of the teachers seem really nice and approachable, and although I've only visited twice so far, I'm probably friendly with almost as many teachers there as at my base school. There's also another ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) at my visit school. That's his base. I'm not quite sure how to describe him - dry sense of humor, kind of sarcastic, pretty toned-down, nice enough but sometimes aloof. It'll be nice to work with another ALT every once in a while, though.
There are certain facts and experiences that I'd like to save and frame in their own topics, but let's see...what other mundane details can I give you about my life here?
Well, I live between Osaka and Kobe - two of Japan's major cities. Osaka takes about 40 minutes to an hour to get to, via bus and train. Kobe is a little farther and takes about an hour to an hour and a half. I've already discovered all the important places:
Expensive Mexican restaurant √
Catholic Church √
Recycle shop √
Grocery stores √
100 Yen shop √
Music store √
Uniqlo (see Japanese Old Navy equivalent) √
Liquor stores √
Convenience stores (1 per 3 square blocks) √√√
Creepy love hotel √
Well, maybe I don't have everything...but then, there don't seem to be any Taco Bells in Japan.
I'll end this post by saying my journey so far as been difficult, with challenges both forseen and un. However, I'm pretty certain that if I survive this I'll be all the better for it. I think in these 3 weeks of living on my own I've already gotten 10x better at cooking than I used to be.
This is me, reporting live from Japan.