Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ohayogozaimasu, Okinawa! (it's not actually morning, but I like it. ;))

Wow. I made it. I am definitely caught up in a movie, because there is no way that in two short days I flew into paradise (a hot one at that), drove to a beautiful high school, met some of my future students, and then rode (in my future car) to what will soon become my apartment. Unreal.

Rachel (my predecessor whose apartment and car I am inheriting after her contract is up) is out graciously buying some groceries for us. I just dragged myself off the futon, across the tatami mats, through sliding wooden doors which seperate the rooms, and to her mac to type this little note. Unreal.

The miniature fan Thatcher bought me is working overtime to keep me sane right now. It makes a comforting buzzing noise to cut the silence, ease the loneliness, combat the heat of doom. Rachel's AC helps, but just a little. This is going to take some getting used to. Tomorrow I will go back to my new high school, meet more teachers and students, get better acquainted with the school system, and then run around to do all the necessary arrival paperwork. I need my alien registration card for sure and I may be able to open a bank account and such as well. I also need to read and sign my contract.... For my job. My real,full-time job. My career. Unreal.

well, the futon suddenly seems MUCH more appealing than this computer chair. Back to my collapse.

Oooh, there goes my first Okinawan bug! It is a little red guy who crawled up the way behind this computer and behind one of Rachel's wall decorations. I hope they are all that small.. but doubt it.

Goodnight! (Konbanwa, I believe,)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stage 1: Culture Shock in Japan

During one of our Tokyo training sessions (a lecture on culture shock), our very entertaining speaker discussed the "stages" of culture shock. I thought it might be interesting to track mine so I will start at the beginning.

Stage 1: Euphoria. This is when you find everything different about the new culture to be utterly fascinating and awesome. Upon making new discoveries you may exclaim: "I love Japan!"

How Stage 1 has manifested itself thus far:

-Vending machines. Whether you want pop, noodles, cigarettes, or beer, Japanese vending machines are there for you.

Vending machine restaurant.
Push a button and get a meal ticket.
Super convenient!

-The toilets. I love the noise making feature which covers up the awkward noises that other people could be hearing.

-The city: OMG. This place is huge. Just the view from my hotel room is breath-taking... I can't see where the city ends!! I hear the view from Tokyo tower is even more startling.

-The people. Both Japanese and other. I am meeting a ton of cool people on this trip. Shout out to my fellow Okinawans!

-The signs. So bright and confusing and beautiful... I have taken dozens of sign photos. I will spare you.

-the food! Ramon, Izakaya, sushi, coffee... all good experiences so far. Except for the strange pink, grainy substance in my bento box tonight. And roe. I never like roe.

Yum = ramon

Yuck = potato chip salad with mayo dressing

-The mirror. It is heated in the perfect place so that when I get out of the shower I don't have to wipe it down or wait for it to unfog before I can fix my makeup. Sweeeet.

-The money. I am preeettty sure I dreamed in yen last night. It is so exciting to whip out a 1000 yen bill and blow it at starbucks. :P(My roommate woke up to go to the bathroom and I asked her (in my sleep) "should I buy this?" and then "I don't want to break a hundred.")

-Electronics stores!! sooooo many NIkons! Want. want. want.

-100 yen stores. Sweet selection, excellent price.

-strangely themed Izakaya restuarant... think dungeon + jail + laboratory. Awesome.

I am sure there is more, but it is time to prepare for a night on the town. Only 9 p.m. and the night is young and promising! Night!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Update from Idaho. :)

I am home in Idaho for a few days and finally have time to do some online research, watch the DVD I received from Okinawa, and prepare myself a little more.I keep starting blogs, saving them as drafts, and then never returning to them.

I have so much to say that each time I begin to say it, I end up getting overwhelmed and the overwhelming emotion becomes... well... overwhelmingness. (he he)

In one week and approximately 17 hours, I will be boarding a plane with two too-small suitcases and moving my entire life to a completely different country. Talk about overwhelming.

Despite the negative emotions (loss, fear, terror, sadness), I have found so many reasons to rejoice in these final weeks of preparation. The details are coming together in a way that makes me feel immensely blessed.

For example:
-My wonderful successor has agreed to let me pay for everything I am buying from her (car, furniture, misc) after I get my first couple pay checks. *sigh of relief*

-The car I am buying is pretty cute with just a little cosmetic damage. :) You can see it here:

-I may be purchasing Michelle and Peter's old laptop to hold me over until I can afford my dream Mac. Money just isn't coming together right now.

-I learned that my high school is highly academic and my students are mostly driven and motivated. Sweet

So these are little highlights that keep me from drowning under waves of panic and mourning. I exaggerate.

Well, back to spending time with my family. :)

I love you, my friends, and am going to miss you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Update: Yaese Town & Preparations!

if you are receiving this in an email, don't be alarmed. I added you to the automatic update list because I thought you would be interested. If you do not want to receive these blog updates, just reply and let me know. Thanks!

I finally found out more information about my placement in Japan two weeks ago, but have been so incredibly busy since then that I haven't been able to update my blog about it. =P

So, since this is the first night in I have had in weeks, I thought I would give you an update. However, I am a little worn out--so I will make it brief and in list-form. :)

-I will be teaching at a high school (which has views of the ocean. yes.)

-My high school and apartment are located in Yaese (of which there is very little information available but I found some gorgeous photos which I would post if I had more time :P). Yaese is a rural town in the southern section of Okinawa Island.

-My apartment overlooks sugar cane fields, is larger than most Japanese apartments, includes a washer and a parking spot (yay!), and is perfectly located: 30 minutes from the city/international airport, 15 minutes from the beach. Perfection.

-I will be buying a 95 Toyota Corolla from my successor because that is the only convenient means of transportation to and from school, etc. My first car! And I have to learn how to drive on the other side of the road. :-)

-I am one of three "JET's" (what they call those of us who are teaching as a part of the program I am in... I should explain more about that sometime) at my high school: another English JET and a Chinese JET. fun!

-There is apparently a fairly bad cow smell which accompanies my rural placement, but I think I can handle it. I lived in Montana, after all. :P

-Okinawa is more laid back than the rest of Japan; the southern section of Okinawa (including Yaese) is more laid back than the rest of Okinawa; I've got it good. :)

-I am more excited and terrified than ever. This is real!

Nineteen days left!

The preparation process continues to be extensive. Most of my stuff is packed (I had to bring it with me from Idaho, for the most part), but I have a significant list of items still to be purchased. Like more socks (I won't be wearing shoes in the classroom) and sunscreen.

We also had training last weekend, which I loved. I met some of my fellow JETs and learned a lot about the program. This both alleviated some fear and added many more worries. Overall, though, it was a great experience. 17 hours, 2 days, 1 small room, lots of laughs.

I have practiced shopping a few times. I love to go to Uwajimaya and other smaller grocery stores in the International District and try to figure out what I will be eating in Japan. I am sure I will have access to more western food (especially since I will be so close to military bases), but I want to be able to shop authentically. :) My favorite so far is produce. I love asian fruit!

I've also been eating a lot of sushi... but that is just for fun. :) Oh, and my chopstick use is getting better!

Well, I think I need a full night of sleep, so I will close this update here. More blogs to come, I am sure, if my life ever allows it! Thanks for reading. :)