Saturday, June 24, 2017

Jesus City Japan a.k.a. My JET Placement

I have reached a JET pre-departure milestone; I've finally heard from my predecessor and my school!  It's exciting because now I know exactly where I'm going, almost down to the address.  My placement is both exciting and a bit disappointing, but I'll get to that later.  I know why you really came to my blog today.  You want to know where I'm going.  You already know I'm going to Nagasaki, but Nagasaki is a big prefecture.  I could be literally ANYWHERE.

Well, have no fear, I am finally writing about where I'm going!  My placement is...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Mail? From my Japan? It's more likely than you think.

On Friday, June 2nd I received a notice in my mailbox that I had missed a delivery. The sender? Japan. I was confused. I hadn't ordered anything. I hadn't received any emails saying to expect a package. At the same time I was excited. Was this from my board of education (BOE)? Would this have my specific placement details? Fortunately my post office is open on Saturday mornings, so I stopped in on my way to church to pick up the mysterious package to find out what was inside.

Anticlimactically, it was not from my BOE nor did it have the specifics of my placement. What it did have were four documents. The first is a welcome letter. This introduced my Prefectural Advisors and the people in charge of the JET Program in Nagasaki. It also outlined what I could expect as far as pay date, housing, clothing, food, ecetera. A lot of the information I already knew, like where Nagasaki was located, and that some people have to pay key money. It's really a nice introduction if you've done zero research. 

The next document is a Notice of Appointment. This was, once again, a document filled with information if you still didn't know what you were doing and had never looked around the JET website. It stated the job description, how much I would get paid, and that I won't have to pay for airfare if I do my job. 

The third document is the Nagasaki Prefecture Terms and Conditions for an ALT. Now this document was a doozy. This document contains the full extent of what is expected on the job, including three pages dedicated to explaining work hours, holidays, and different types of leave. One point I found interesting is that I get time off for New Years from December 29-January 3 in addition to all Japanese national holidays. Looks like I'm going to need a Japanese calendar!

The fourth and final document is a Statement of Agreement. By signing that document I'm agreeing to work in Nagasaki. If I don't agree with anything in the packet then I am forfeiting my position as an ALT in the JET Program. At this stage in the game, I'm not turning back. I've already started packing and I've already sold my couch. Fortunately I don't need to mail anything back, I just need to bring the documents with me. 

Now the waiting game continues as I wait to see where exactly I'm getting placed in Nagasaki for my adventure in the land of the rising sun. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The moment we've all be waiting for...

As of May 15, 2017 I received the long awaited email from my JET coordinator telling me my placement.  I had a feeling that would be the day, so I was checking my email just about every 10-15 minutes to see if any word had come.  And it did!  I am officially placed in Nagasaki-ken!

Nagasaki is a prefecture located in the northern part of Japan's southern island of Kyushu. According to Google, it's known for forested islands and hot-springs because of the volcanoes.  Also, because it's so far south it has mild winters, which is nice for me because I do not like snow.  However, they also have very hot and humid summers (80% humidity!!).  I have experience with Japanese summers, but I think it's still going to take some getting used to.  I remember during my study abroad leaving my apartment and instantly being sweaty. I could do my hair in the morning and it would be puffy by mid-day.  Before I was in the city, but Nagasaki is surrounded by water, so I'm sure it will be even worse. 

An interesting fact that I read is that Nagasaki is a very Christian prefecture.  Because it was a major port for Dutch traders it has many Catholic and christian churches. There's even four Adventist congregations that I was able to find. Hopefully I live close enough to travel to one of them because it would be nice to have a Japanese church family even if I can't fully understand the language. 

For now I can only research very basic and historical information about Nagasaki because I don't know exactly where in the prefecture I'll be living yet. The contracting organizations are not allowed to contact us incoming JETs until after May 25th.  Once I know my city I plan on heading straight to Google maps to give myself a tour and to find out about the various festivals and events that go on. I want to know where the nearest grocery store is. I want to know if I'm going to be more rural or in a larger city.  If I'll need a bike or a car. The suspense is killing me!  But at least I can start to get an idea of what kind of clothes to pack based on the region. 

Nagasaki here I come as I continue to prepare for my journey to the land of the rising sun!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Preparation Anxiety

As April draws to a close, I am suddenly struck with the realization that I have so much to do in the next three months to prepare to leave.  The most daunting task for me is all of the stuff I currently have.  Many JETs are people fresh out of college who have yet to move out of their parent's house, and, so long as their family is willing, they can just leave everything in their rooms at home and pack up and go.  Since I live by myself, I have the unfortunate task of dealing with all my earthly possessions that I can't take to Japan with me.  I do have a coworker who is willing to buy my bed and bookshelves off of me so that is a blessing. The rest of my stuff I will either have to sell, donate, or put in storage. I don't want to put a lot of stuff in storage because I don't want to pay a lot of money each month for a huge storage unit. 

The most difficult thing for me to get rid of is going to be my car, Patty, I think. She's a 2002 PT Cruiser with some cosmetic damages and over 160,000 miles on her. She still runs well and has had a lot of work done in the past year, so it's not that she's a bad car, she's just old and has taken some hits.  I worry that I won't have enough time because I don't know how long it takes to sell a car, and I don't want to leave it unresolved when I go to Japan. That and I could use the money as part of my startup costs since I won't be getting a paycheck for a month after I get there.  Fortunately one of the members of my church said to talk to them before I sell her, so I hope he's of some help. 

I'll just have to take it one day at a time. The first step I'll need to take, however, is going to be obtaining boxes. I just moved last year and thought I was through with boxes and moving. I think I just got rid of some a few months ago, too.  I'm sure I can find some somewhere. If not I can always buy them. Either way, it will be an adventure, and this is just the beginning to my new adventure in the land of the rising sun. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Phoenix Awakens

After several years this blog is rising from the dust and mire, like a Phoenix ready for a new adventure in Japan.  This time, my stay will be longer as the student has become the teacher. That's right, I'm returning to Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program) starting July 2017!  I hope you'll enjoy coming on this journey with me as I start the process of filling out paperwork and deciding what to do with all my stuff while I'm out of the country.  I hope to use this blog as a way to educate and entertain.  I hope you are able to live vicariously through me in my travels and life abroad.  There are sure to be bumps along the way because it's not going to be easy.  But, I hope to paint an accurate picture of my experience to the best of my abilities.  If all of that fails, I hope to at least inspire someone to work hard and pursue their dreams as I have pursued mine.  Few things are impossible if you persevere.

Welcome back to my adventure to and in the land of the rising sun!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Departure Difficulty.

Leaving Japan proved to be more stressful than anything.  I didn’t have time to enjoy my last hours in Suginami-ku before heading for the airport because all I was worried about was packing and making sure my apartment was clean.  On the seventh we had a check of the apartment to make sure it was cleaned to the standards of two Japanese women (Dean Inou and Morimizato-sensei) and they were hard to please.  We were given a long list separated by room on what needed to be cleaned and how it needed to be cleaned, sometimes including which cleaner to use.  I envy the boys rooms in that they had more hands to help with the cleaning while I was by myself to do my whole apartment.  However, I do not envy them in that they seemed to be having the most troubles.  Out of our four rooms I got the “silver medal” according to Moromizato-sensei meaning that one of the guys rooms was cleaned and up to par before me, and I’m okay with that.  I’m sure my room would have gotten the gold had there been more girls to go over everything.

After my apartment was up to standards and I passed out for a couple of hours, I started to stress over the second leg of the cleaning/packing race.  I did not realize how much stuff I had until I was still trying to pack it or get rid of it literally minutes before we were going to leave, which was difficult considering the Japanese trash system I explained in an earlier post.  I couldn’t just toss everything I wanted to get rid of in one big trash bag and toss it out.  I had to sort, rinse, and properly separate all of my “garbage”, and Ms. Inou was there in the trash room to make sure we did everything right, even sending me back to my room when I hadn’t properly sorted or washed thoroughly enough.  That is one thing I will not miss about Japan.

When I did get everything crammed into my two large suitcases, one smaller carry on, and one backpack it was quite a task to get to the airport.  First, I had to get all of my bags downstairs.  Fortunately, the apartment has an elevator that I was able to use on my two trips down.  Then, we had to walk everything over to the school so we could get a group photo.  Next, we had to make the trek to Ogikubo station.  It’s not usually a hassle getting to the station because you can just go down Kyoukai-dori, cross the main intersection, and turn a corner.  However, when you have a group of ten people with all their bursting at the seams bags rolling down a narrow, cobblestone road it can be slow (and very loud) goings.  We were creating a suitcase symphony for a not quite appreciating public.  

Once we got to Ogikubo station, we had to get all of our bags downstairs, through the gates, then back upstairs to the platform and onto a train to go down two stations.  it was at Kichijoji station that we had the most problems.  We got off the train on the first floor and needed to get down to the first floor.  The easiest way for us to do that would be to take the elevator.  However, the elevator would always stop at the third floor first and get full before coming back down to the second floor and then the first floor.  Because of this, it was hard for us to get all of us downstairs with all of our bags in a timely manner thus making us miss the 10:00am highway bus to Narita that Mineyama-sensei wanted us to catch literally by a couple of minutes.  Because of this, we had to wait for the 11:30 one instead which wasn’t really a bad thing because it gave us time to catch our breath and get something to drink.  Once we got to the airport, we were able to say our goodbyes although most people were going the same direction.  I even ended up in the same terminal as one of my classmates, though he was on a different flight.

The last thing that I ate in Japan was an onigiri with umeboshi filling.  I think it was an appropriate ending to my stay in Japan.  Red and white like the flag, it symbolized an end of a journey and an end of a way of life that I’d gotten used to and I’m going to miss.  But, that’s for my next post when I’ll give my final thoughts on my adventure in the land of the rising sun. 

Goodbye Japan.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Laundry/Packing Prequel

One thing I've had to get used to while living in Japan is a new system of laundry.  Yes, there is a washing machine, but there is no dryer so everything must be hung on the patio to dry.  It was a little annoying at first because that's more work for me to do in the laundry department.  It means I have to take each individual article of clothing out of the washing machine and either clip it up or put it on a hanger then take it to the patio to dry.  However, I've gotten used to it and it's sort of become a ritual.  In the morning before school, I can toss a load in the washing machine, wait for about an hour for the clothes to get washed, and then take them out to the patio.  Then, when I come back from class usually the clothes are dry and if not, then they are definitely dry by evening.  Heck, I don't even have to do laundry in the morning.  It's so hot at night that if I put laundry out at night it's dry by morning.

One of the downsides is that air drying clothes just isn't the same as machine drying.  Since the heat is unregulated it leaves my clothes not as soft as if they had gone through the dryer.  Though, I guess it doesn't really matter if it ends up dry in the end.  They are not uncomfortable or anything.  They just feel different.

I know this was kindda a short post, but it was something that came to mind while I was packing.  I really don't want to take my laundry detergent back with me so I am washing EVERYTHING just so I can get rid of it.  I don't need the extra stuff in my suitcases on the way back.  My carry on is already almost full of souvenirs.  The more I can fit in there, the less I have to put in my suitcases that might weight them down.  I'm really not trying to go over the weight limit because I bought too much stuff.  Although, I've honestly not bought too much because of this.  I've seen pictures of all the stuff my classmates bought and I know one of them said he might have to mail some back to America.

Anyways, yeah, I've started packing.  It's kindda sad.  But I've got exams and stuff.

I'm done typing now (in the land of the rising sun).