Today’s accomplishments

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I rode my bike home tonight. It was dark. I was buzzed. I was in a skirt. It was raining. I used an umbrella. All at the same time. I see this as a major accomplishment.

Just imagine a chick in a skirt swerving along the rode as she held her umbrella in her hand and rode home. I’m impressed.


It’s All Uphill From Here

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m not having as great of a time as I thought I would be having. The way that things work is that when you first arrive, everything should be peaches and cream and slowly things start to wind down after the first month and you begin to get upset over superficial things like “I can’t do anything. I don’t understand anything”. Then, after those feelings, some time later, euphoria comes back and you realize that you’re learning and you’ve made some friends and created a life here. After all that comes the real serious depression when you begin to start getting upset over less superficial things like “I just don’t like the way that people do this. I’ll never enjoy certain aspects of this culture. I’m tired of this crap!” After that is the real moment of truth. If you get over that, then you’re in the clear and you go through these waves but nothing as extreme as the first two bouts of depression and euphoria. Or, you can go back home and not have to deal with any of this crap.

So, the question remained, where did my euphoric feelings go? Why wasn’t I so excited and why didn’t I just love everything just because it was new?

The answer: because it wasn’t new

I am a very special case. It actually makes me feel a whole lot better since I’ve figured it all out. When I first came to Japan in 2001 and again in 2003, I had euphoric feelings. Everything was new and special and fantastic and I couldn’t get enough of it. I took it home with me and those feelings lasted me up until now. That’s 5 years of euphoria and not just one month. I totally lucked out on that!

When I got here, instead of looking around at all the neat stuff, I said “alright let’s get this show on the road! I want my apartment cleaned and I want the internet. I want to get my lesson plans going and I need some groceries while I’m at it. I wasted no time in settling down. As apposed to most everyone else who look around wide eyed at the floors and the walls and the people and their clothes and just sit around exploring. I just got down to business. None of that other stuff interested me.

So now, there are two types of people when it comes to new JETs. The one’s who have been here and the ones who haven’t. The ones who haven’t don’t really know Japanese and so they get along fine because everything is new and wonderful and even if they did understand Japanese they wouldn’t understand anything else. Then there are the people who have been here and most of them know or have studied a lot of Japanese. So they don’t have the whole new feeling though they may be much happier than I am. They also don’t have to worry so much about the language barrier. I on the other (third) hand, do not speak so well but yet not everything is new to me either. So…I’m stuck in the middle. I can’t do jack crap because I can’t communicate but I can see it. I can feel it right at my finger tips. I know what I want and I’m so close!!!! But I just can’t do it. Not without some Japanese language knowledge.

However, every day that passes I learn more and more and am able to communicate that much more. I’m doing more and more on my own and it’s only been a little over a week!

So, this past week has been quite eventful. On Thursday, I went to Kochi City to have an orientation meeting. In my opinion, it couldn’t have come sooner, but I’m glad they gave us time to get settled a little first. It was by far the most informative meeting I have been to since being accepted by JET. I think I’m really going to love my city.

I got a few tips on how to shop around and where all the good places are. I learned some great lesson plans and I met a lot of great people in my area!

Thursday night we all went out to a nomikai party. Nomu is the verb for drink and kai is for party (well…in this instance) We went up to a beer garden on a hotel roof. HA

It was on the 5th floor where there were large tents (tent tops with legs…not like camping tents.) and it was all you can eat and drink for 3200yen (~$30) I absolutely love Japanese food and an all you can eat was perfect!!! Also, Kochi is the second largest consumer of beer in Japan (Okinawa apparently got the #1 spot) But Japanese beer is way weaker than American or European beer. Besides, I can never tell how much I’ve actually drunk because everyone pours beer for everyone else and we all have these little cups. So before I even finish my tiny cup, someone is pouring me more! My favorite wasn’t the beer. It was a blue mixed drink that tasted like grapefruit juice and had close to no alcohol. Whatever. I wasn’t there to get wasted. I instead had a blast mingling with everyone!!

After that, there was the nikai (ni for two…kai for party…) where half the people at the nomikai went out for more drinks and karaoke. I didn’t go because I had to catch the train home which stops running at midnight (though it was only 10ish) and I had to get up at 6 the next morning so I could catch the train back and do it all over again!!!

The second day was better than the first. I woke up in a decent mood. The sake I had the night before had no effect on me (hangover wise). While getting ready to go I found my CD player and decided to take it with me on the 40minute train ride. My GOD it was wonderful! I can’t believe how great of a mood I was in just from listening to my music as I rode along. A bike ride is not complete without music. How could I forget that? (I ride my bike to the train…) I was on a high the rest of the day.

During lunch I had to run into the market area to pick up a watermelon. I was going to a bbq with my old host mother and I couldn’t show up empty handed. We were having a problem getting the plans solidified. Something that would have taken all of 5 minutes in America took 2 days when mixed with Japanese indirectness and my inability to speak or read the language. So I felt bad about it and decided to bring a very expensive watermelon. No matter, it was worth it (only $12)

After the meeting I immediately went to the bbq and really enjoyed myself. Yuumi was there (old host sister) and her friend Yumi (my sisters old host sister) Man it was great to hang out with some old friends. We were never and I doubt ever will be all that close. But the familiarity was really nice.

Today, I’m going to a tug-o-war party. I’m on the gaijin team and from the way it sounds, it’s going to be a little bit of tugging and a whole lot of drinking and mingling. Maybe eating too. GOD I love this country ;) I’ll do whatever it takes to hang out with people!

Tomorrow, I start English camp which lasts until Tuesday. It’s considered part of my job (though I would have done it for free) and because I “work” on Sunday I get a nenkyu day or a day off because I worked an extra day. Then, I found out that I also have 4 summer vacation days on top of my normal vacation days, just because. But I have to take all of these days off before September…so that leaves…like…2 days of actually going into work! I don’t think I’m going to take them. I won’t miss them and I think it’s important that I get things together. I have a second wind and I know what my first few lessons are going to be like!!!

Oh, right, English camp. So it’s going to be a bunch of high schoolers (mostly girls) and I get a group of 6. Apparently the kids are really genki (happy/excited/enthusiastic) and I’m looking forward to some more smiling faces :)

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