Sunday, August 13, 2017

My Pilgrimage to Mecca - Round 2

July 30, 2017

It's official. I've made the pilgrimage back to my mecca.  After a 13 hour flight, going through immigration and customs, shipping extra luggage forward, and taking a two hour bus ride to the hotel in Tokyo, I've made it back to Japan.  Everything on the way to Tokyo from Narita Airport looks exactly as I remember.  It's so surreal being back in a country I was in just five years ago.  It seems like a very long time, but it's not as long as it seems.  It's surreal to eat onigiri again, as if it was just yesterday.  It's surreal to experience all the sights and sounds that I've not experienced in such a long time.

Onigiri for dinner my first night back in Tokyo.

At this point, I feel more excited rather than nervous.  I'm in Tokyo, somewhere I'm familiar with.  I think the nerves will hit once it comes time to start working, once I'm in Nagasaki, once I'm in Sasebo, once I'm at the front gate staring down my school building.  Then it will hit that I actually have to teach, I actually have a chance to make an impact on these children's lives for better or for worse.

I don't think I'm used to the fact that everyone speaks Japanese here.  For the next few days I'm going to be in a conference learning about my job from presentations in English.  I won't need to know Japanese.  However, once I'm outside of this little JET bubble, I will have to face reality.  My Japanese is not that good.  I will need to step up my studying in order to make it in my life here.  Yes, I am a foreigner so they won't expect much of me, but I don't want to be stuck in foreigner mode.  I want to improve my language comprehension and speaking ability so that I can make the most of my stay here.

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Since writing the above at the start of Tokyo orientation, so much has happened.  I have moved into my new home here in Sasebo, I'm making friends with my fellow JETs, I'm making friends at church, and I'm making friends at work. My home is slowly coming together in terms of livability.  I've had a phone and home internet since day two when I was able to open my bank account, register at city hall, and get to the phone store.  I'm learning how to get around using the bus system and I'm getting more comfortable shopping alone.

I want to explore my neighborhood, but when the weather says 85 degrees with 90% humidity it means a one mile walk turns into a personal sauna where you're sweating waterfalls in shorts and a tank top, looking at the old ladies walking by with their long pants, long sleeve shirts, gloves, sun hats, and umbrellas wondering how you can get on their level.  It doesn't help that Sasebo is very mountainous. I walk uphill going between home and work both ways.  At least my legs will stay nice.

So high up that the peaks are covered in clouds on a cloudy day.

As much as I feared teaching right away, school doesn't start until August 21st and even then, I won't be teaching until September because the students are preparing for their Sports Day and Culture Festival.  However I have been introduced to the students.  On August 9, all the students and teachers came to school for an assembly to commemorate the drop of the atomic bomb.  At the beginning of the assembly I was introduced and I had to give a short speech.  I didn't go into too much detail about myself, but I did tell the students that I would look forward to teaching them and that I hoped they looked forward to having me as a teacher.  Before the assembly no one knew who I was, but afterwards the students were more comfortable greeting me and talking to me.  One girl even came to my desk afterwards and gave me a cookie while one of the boys came just to talk to me.  I can't wait to get to know the students better.

Hopefully by my next posting my apartment will be presentable enough for a house tour.  Right now I'm missing some curtains and I haven't done laundry yet because spiders have taken up residence on my laundry line.  But, eventually I will feel like I'm at home here on my adventure in the land of the rising sun.

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