Monday, August 18, 2008

Let me remind you who I am again after all this time...

Sorry I haven't posted since I got here, I finally applied to get internet in my apartment today. It should be a week now (hopefully less, but that's pretty much a dream). Things seem to get better by the day, although I can’t really escape the rollercoaster of ups and downs. Some days I’m as happy as I think I could possibly be, and other days I wonder why in the heck I’m doing this. My time has been filled with making a bulletin board about myself, Minnesota, and the USA. I’ve also been trying to figure out little things like riding the bus, which seems so small, but is hard to figure out times and where a bus is going when it’s all in Japanese! Small successes like this and things like getting my phone bill paid and taking out the trash correctly can make a day be so good! On the other hand, things like dropping your bag on the way to school and losing your apartment key can make a day terrible. Luckily the school offered to change my locks for free as a “moving in” bonus because they get some sort of money when a new ALT moves in. And I definitely won’t be losing my keys again because now I’m paranoid!

This past Wednesday through Friday was prefectural orientation in Kakegawa, where all the area ALTs met to get our health checks, learn about the area, learn about what our job in the classroom is, and socialize with the people who will be close to us in the next year. A lot of information wasn’t necessarily that helpful considering I’ve written and taught entire units for English and Spanish, but I’m glad that I got to get my health check around people who actually spoke English. Last year all the ALTs had to go to their area hospitals for that, and it would have been a little unnerving doing things like that when I don’t speak Japanese! I picked up a few tidbits of helpful information about the levels of my students and my role as an assistant teacher, as well as bonded with some other ALTs. It’s comforting to have some people that I would consider on their way to becoming my friends.

I’ve also started looking at places I might want to travel. There’s a lot of opportunity for volunteering abroad here, and I’m looking into mixing some travel with volunteering possibly in India or Cambodia. I think that it would be a unique experience rather than just passing through a country. I’ve also looked into doing some group travel with STA travel Intrepid trips. They put together small groups of people that travel together with a group leader. I thought it might be something interesting to try and would definitely cut down on the planning I’d have to do. In the shorter term, I’m going to be climbing Mt. Fuji on August 30th. It’s a night climb, so I’ll be climbing in the dark, watching the sun rise from the highest point in Japan and then going back down in the morning. I’ve heard mixed views of what climbing it is like ranging from more like walking or hiking, to hard core climbing near the top. I’m going to be mentally prepared for some hard work, especially considering I’m not in that great of shape to begin with climbing the hill to my house gave me a small base though at least!!

I’m also going to start running again. It’s going to be very different training to do longer distance, but will obviously be good for my recent lazy tendencies. Jenny, a girl I met at Kakegawa orientation are going to search for a race to train for. I’d like to start running in the mornings before school, but I’m not sure that I can be quite that motivated…we’ll see! In the summer heat, it might be my only option, plus it’s light out at about 5 am here, it’s absolutely crazy! The summer heat should be on its way out hopefully, I really can’t wait since I don’t have AC and have so far to walk to school.

Although I’ve been here less than a month, the idea of staying at least two years is starting to become more realistic. It seems really hard to pack in all the things that I want to accomplish into one year, plus I know it will help me pay off a lot more of my student loans…although I’m not sure what type of budget I’ll be on until after I get paid and get some of my beginning things figured out like cell phone and internet. Pay day is Thursday, and it’s going to be like one big loan disbursement day for me, with the satisfaction that I won’t have to pay the money back!! With that excitement however, comes the fear of trying to go to the post office to send money home to take care of my bills at home…I’m sorta hoping that my teacher volunteers to bring me the first time, although I completely don’t expect it. She’ll be helping me already this week with picking up my Alien Registration Card and getting my cell phone, and hopefully with getting the lock of my bike and registering it so that I can start riding it to school and around town. That will help me assess whether or not I want to keep thinking about getting a car.

I hope that gives you a small rundown of my life at the moment. I know it skipped a lot of beginning and arriving stuff, but I feel bad when I spend all day on the computer at school when I think I'm supposed to be working :) Miss you all! Let me know what's new in the US!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Sounds like Japan is quite the adventure; I'm (kind of) jealous but I'd be worried about how helpless I would be.

Way to go impressing people with your hard-working nature - you rock!

I also locked myself out of my lodgings but for me (w/o cell reception at the time, the landlady not answering the phone, the neighbors not hearing me pound on the door, etc) that meant sleeping in my car and that was chilly and not comfy. Now I have lots of copies of my apartment key.

One month in Japan! Woot!

PS - Mt. Fuji...I'm jealous again...