Saturday, April 9, 2011

One of us, One of us, One of us

Today marks the ninth day living in Kimitsu-Shi, Chiba and also marks the seventeenth day of living in Japan.

Yesterday, I took the Uchibo rail line to Chiba City to receive my school calendar; pick up keys to my company car; give my bank note card and international drivers license to the office to photocopy; and pick up example lesson plans for the schools I am scheduled to teach. Those schools are Kururi Elementary, Obitsu Elementary, and Matuoka Junior High School. I spend three out of the five workdays at the Junior High. I googled the two elementary schools and found that they exist in the mountain areas and take a good 35 min to drive to (lol so I'm glad I dont bike like I initially hoped).

Several of the other intake spring 2011 alts reported already meeting their Boards of Education; meeting fellow teachers; and even partying with their coworkers. lol I feel like I am missing out and going stir crazy waiting for April 14th when Kimitsu schoolkids resume classes after spring break. Anyway, I need regular access to a computer ASAP. I intend to give the kids and their parents their money's worth of an introductory class. lol hopefully.

Oh! I drove yesterday! In Japan! Granted I only took two turns, one left turn and one right turn, I drove without much stress down route 16(?) from Chiba to Kimitsu. I noticed I spaced out while driving: even the possibility of horribly dying while driving topsy turvy English style could not hold my attention.

Today I sat in for Japanese class at Kimitsu International Exchange Society (KIES). Their building lies behind the Kimitsu library, stands beside the train tracks, and has close proximity to Kimitsu City Hall. The organization exists partly to fulfill Kimitsu's goal of becoming an international city. The Saturday class I attends had only one other non-Japanese from what I could tell. So the lesson proved very personalized. Two people Shimitsu-san and Shibata-san gauged my level of Japanese. LOL my Japanese level deteriorated within a year of no practice. They pegged me for kore, sore, are level. Back to basics. LOL I remember second year Japanese at university with all the conjugations and if I correctly remember my last lesson was about politely addressing a superior's/inferior's possession. Anyway that is all moot. I later bought the two textbooks they use: Minna no Nihongo regular and translated version for about ¥4800 total (50ish US dollars). lol buying the two expensive books reminded me of a nagging suspicion I had in college: that learning comes at an obscenely whorish premium. Still, emo griping aside, I look forward to working towards Japanese proficiency.

This taking a class thing also is a conscious effort to integrate myself into community life. The past few days of downtime and accompanying boredom impressed upon me how susceptible I am to becoming a shut-in/recluse/crazy cat lady. So I eat out to feel normal and part of the community (and partially because I can't cook jack). I also jog around town. And for the time being, bike when I do errands. In short, I plan days around maximizing seeing people and being among people.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I intend to drive around the country side.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Strong Virile Update

I'm too lazy and forgetful to sum up everything that happened since the last post; but here goes a weak attempt:

I landed in Narita International; spent a night there at the Narita View Hotel;following day rode Shinkansen to Osaka; spent seven days in Osaka going through orientation; spent seven nights in Osaka touring landmarks like Osaka Castle, Shinsaibashi, and sampling its famous food from several restaurants; met and befriended amazing people; rode Osaka's enviable subway; lived in the smallest four-star hotel room ever; walked countless meters; soberingly realized how fleeting our individual lives are (the international nature of orientation impressed upon me the idea that people live intriguing lives, meet and bond with intriguing people, and eventually must part); rode the Shinkansen back to Tokyo; split with Chiba Alts to Chiba to spend night at forgettable hotel; split with fellow Kimitsu alt to meet IC (alt helper) and buy futon, register with city, get national health insurance card, and cell phone; moved into apartment; frequent local department store and Sukiya curry shop; bike around Kimitsu, Shojo, and Ahori; EAT OUT EVERY NIGHT PAST TWO WEEKS (LOSING MY MIND); and now writing this blog.

That I've been in Japan for about 15 days or so jars me. The first week felt more like a vacation. The second week feels like a slow slow dawning realization that I'm in a totally different country.

I unfortunately could not take any pictures during orientation (I came to Japan completely analog); so I am more than making up for it by inundating the interwebz with another video about a person's apartment and riding a bike and seeing a train crossing.