Sunday, July 31, 2005

July 31, 2005

What a difference a couple of days make!! I got my keitai (celly) on Friday and I made/received a few phone calls, so I feel like I’m connected. I even checked my email on the keitai this morning. So cool, so sogoy!

Today was a good day. I woke up without the alarm clock and felt refreshed. I spoke to Melissa (another Jetter) and had a good chat. After that, I just felt like I could do anything during my stay here, it’s just a matter of organizing myself and getting focused. I’ve started to change my mindset about the next year or so, and rather than looking at it as a year, I’m looking at it as a series of quarters. This quarter is looking pretty good as I have plans for the next few weeks, and thinking about what I will do in the next few months. August: I will be exploring the Gifu area, and may make a trip to Nagoya. September: I intend on going to Tokyo to see some peeps and get a taste (i.e. reminder) of the big city. I also want to visit the World Expo in Nagoya before it comes to an end. October: I hope to visit Mel in Kagawa-ken for her birthday and for some bonding. December: I want to do something splashy and big for the new year and this may entail taking a few days off from the school. I’m thinking China, Singapore, Malaysia, or something like that. These plans calm me down a bit and put me in a better headspace. I hope I can do all this and more.

So, up until a few minutes ago, I was trying to do some Japanese study, and I mistakenly left the t.v. on. BIG MISTAKE!! I got sucked into a television show that featured some kind of contest to see who learned things quicker: a girl, a boy, or a chimpanzee!!! The series of tasks included riding a bike without training wheels (the boy won), making pancakes (the girl won), and putting on lipstick (again, the girl one). Though the chimp walked away as the loser, he provided ridiculous hilarity to a potentially offensive subject. Shit, I laughed out loud when he tried to make pancakes. Crazy Japanese t.v. Oh, and the kicker was that the chimp’s handler was a man dressed as a woman, complete with a floral dress and blond wig. WTF??!!!

The program has now switched gears and morphed into some nature show that featured killer ants, a snake eating a mouse, and lots and lots or larvae. EWWW!!!!

Ok, now polar bears are on the t.v., which reminds me of a potential problem I may encounter here in the boondocks – black bears. Apparently, there may be bears in the surrounding area and I am freaked the fuck out. I asked the English sensei what I should do if I encounter a bear and she said to walk verrry slowly!!! Is that supposed to save my life??!!!! Note to self: must do research on survival techniques and black bears.

Oh, yes, did I mention that there are monkeys in the area as well?? Apparently, the come out and play more often than the bears. Ok, I didn’t sign up to be a mutherfucking Crocodile Hunter-type dude. Ok, K. Just keep your head on. I’ve already decided that I will not go out alone after dark. Monkeys and bears aside, there aren’t too many street lights in my area. If I leave my town to go to a city, you can be damned sure that I’m sleeping out!!!
Ok, since you’ve been so good and read all of the above, here are some pics to make you happy (or jealous)…

All fear aside, I really feel blessed. My downstairs neighbour brought me an omiyage (gift) and it sure was tasty. I know I’m going to like living here…(of course, this assertion will inevitably lead to an all out bitch fest sooner or later!)

P.S. I got to meet the JHS students and executed my self-introduction flawlessly. My kocho-sensei (principal) introduced me and mentioned that my family is from Ghana, Africa. I think it impressed the kids. Anyway, I played badminton with the JTE and will join the badminton and kendo teams. I’ve also agreed to play to an Italian instrument that the Japanese love. I forgot the name of it, but it is similar to the flute (which I have experience with), but looks like a seashell. Should be interesting. All in all, JHS should be fun.

Friday, July 29, 2005

July 29, 2005

I am so tired right now. I don’t know if it’s the jet lag or the last 2 weeks catching up to me, but I am wiped. It’s all I can do from falling asleep where I stand or sit. Thank God tomorrow is Friday so that I can sleep the whole weekend. Today was a good day because I didn’t stay in one place for the whole day. I got a tour of the school, went on a walking tour of the village, found out where everything was, got introduced to all the shopkeepers and police man and a few of the residents, ate a couple of times, met all the elementary school children and delivered my self-introduction, went to the Neo Earthquake Fault Museum and visited Uzuzumi Zakura, one of the oldest cherry blossom trees in Japan and went grocery store where I bought a whole shitload of food. After trying unsuccessfully to take a nap, I rode my new bike to the JHS so that I can make it there in one piece tomorrow morning. I’m not feeling lonely of homesick yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. TV sucks, I have no phone or keitai or internet, and probably won’t have one for 2 weeks. Just gotta keep my head up til then and keep my mind off of boys, and ummm, boys. Ok, eyes are getting heavy and I’m losing my concentration. WOW, I can’t believe I’m doing this and I can’t believe I’m here.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

July 28, 2005

This is the beginning of my adventure. I arrived in Japan on July 24, 2005 and it has been full steam ahead since then. After 3 exhausting days of orientation on how to become the perfect JET, I arrived at my new home in Neo-mura, Gifu-ken, Japan. My non-English speaking supervisor (who ironically wrote to me by email in English), and the driver greeted me at the train station and we, along with another JET, were off!

Very briefly:

· We took a tour of the main city
· Met the Mayor
· Collected a million business cards
· Had several glasses of tea
· Shopped for dinner and breakfast at the konbini
· Signed our contracts and got our shit ready for our gaikokujin card
· Picked up our luggage and finally parted ways to begin our new lives in our respective areas.

I found out a couple of days ago that my area is really considered a village, and when the car left the city and started rolling through lush green mountains, I got less afraid of what was to come. The picture at the top is what I get to look at for the next year or so.

I am lucky enough to be stationed at only 2 schools: Neo Junior High School on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Neo Elementary School on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

When I got in, I met some of my co-workers and the principals and vice-principals of both schools and was informed that after my luggage was delivered to my apartment, I was expected at my welcome party! Will update soon!