Friday, August 29, 2008

Drunk and Soaked but Lovin It

Let me tell you im kinda drunk and soaked but tonight was fun. More about it later when I wake up and I am capable of typing.


Ok, so yesterday was pretty fun. I woke up and started my day. Went out and bought a couple more things for my house including printing paper (because I was inspired to draw haha). I read alot of manga yesterday, something I don't really ever do. After watching Naruto here on TV I got inspired so I read the manga online. I read a bit ahead and after reading a few chapters I stopped myself because I want to wait for the Anime to catch up to where I am now. Its crazy how far ahead the manga is. After reading I also got inspired to draw (someting I haven't done since like middle school) and I drew a picture of a character from the show. I'm still working on it but so far I like how it has turned out considering how long its been since I've drawn anything.
After drawing for a bit it was time to head to the station. So I hopped on my bike and went there. I met up with everyone at about 7:00. Once we all met we went to an Izakaya (A bar with big tables and good a la carte food) It was about 17 people total, the biggest get together we've had so far. It was hilarious because 3 of my bosses we're with us. Noshiro-Sensei (The head of all ALT's in Sano), Grant (the guy from joytalk who hired me), Asumi (Another staff at Joytalk, ALT cooridnatior) were all going to come out with us which was awesome. You all know how I am with pictures so here's a pic of me and the staff.

Asumi and I (She did a good job of looking crazy, haha she's alot of fun)
Grant and I (He's the man because of all the work he does for us at the office) He takes time away from family to help us and of course party with us ahhaha

In addition to all the bosses almost all the ALT's from Sano and Ashikaga came in addition to a couple people I met for the first time. After enjoying ourselves at the izakaya we went to Karaoke (the 2nd time for me since I've been here).

Karaoke was alot of fun but hella expensive. I need to cut back on stuff like that when I can because it's pinching my wallet! Next time I'll head back lol, or not get all you can drink. Haha I want to say thank you to Zamira for singing "If we hold on together" by Diana Ross ahaha that song brought be straight back to my childhood. It was the ending theme to The Land Before Time .. an awesome movie. Once it came on I somehow knew the lyrics... good song.

After that I biked home, in the pouring rain. Kind of sucked but ya know it was worth it. I'm looking forward to more nights like this.

To see more pictures for those of you who don't have facebook click the following link :

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day Two of Exploration

I found all of my schools by bike, except the video for Azuma ES and Azuma JHS got corrupted so I wasn't able to add it to this video. Please enjoy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Exploring Sano/Engrish Explosion

So today has been semi productive. I basically woke up, ate some breakfast, showered, put some laundry in the washing machine (it's been a couple hours and its still running, I hope it works hahah) and then hopped on my bike to explore Sano. Luckily today was only cloudy and not raining so my 3-5 hour bike exploration went pretty well. Below is a little video I complied from a bunch of clips I took throughout the day. I thought this would be easier than putting all these clips separetely.

Something cool about where I live is I live off of two highways kind of. It's funny because the two highways are same number as the ones I lived near growing up in Maryland and in College. 270 like Montgomery County and 50 like Salisbury.

I biked east of where I live and there's nothing really out there but I did found out that I live very close to Daimonji. Daimonji is explained below: Daimonji at Night:

Gozan no Okuribi (五山送り火), more commonly known as Daimonji (大文字), is one of the iconic festivals of Kyoto, Japan. It is the culmination of the O-Bon festival on August 16th, in which five giant bonfires are lit on mountains surrounding the city. It signifies the moment when the spirits of deceased family members, who are said to visit this world during O-Bon, are believed to be returning to the spirit world—thus the name Okuribi (送り火) (roughly, "send-off fire").

The origins of the festival are obscure, but it is believed to be ancient. Specific families have the hereditary duty of organizing all the logistics of the bonfires, and they spend many hours annually providing volunteer labor to maintain this tradition. Starting at 8PM, the giant bonfires are lit, each with a distinctive shape. Below is the picture I took of it from the bridge near me.

So let me explain what Engrish is for those of you who don't know, its English that Japanese people believes sounds correct, but its just not. After exploring I started to head back and hit up every clothes store I could find. I found so much engrish its not even funny, but it is.

More exploration to come tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Final Day of Training

Today was the final day of training. It helped a bit because we went over the Sano Curriculum, which is important to know. We we're all supposed to get our lesson plans for the next few days but mine haven't come in yet so I'll have to play the waiting game. We also went over the Ashikaga ALT's introductions. This really helped because it showed me how I should act around the students while giving my introduction. It gave me an idea of the speed I can talk. I will need to make tons of gestures, bring in props, and be happy and smile, most of which sounds like common sense but when you see it in person it makes it stick.

After training Astrea (ALT from Sano) got her car! This thing was tiny, like half the size of a dodge neon hahaha. Guess the name of it? The Mitsubishi Guppy. That's right, its a Guppy. FIERCE! It's black with a grey interior and has a snowman attena attachment haha. A couple of the other ALTs are going to get cars soon, this will be awesome because we can actually drive places instead of having to bike everywhere and we can plan trips and stuff if we want.

Driving here seems like a nightmare but Astrea did a good job. She was following Asumi (a staff member at Joytalk who is awesome for many reasons) and I was in the car with Asumi and Oliver. After we drove to Sano from Ujiie we all went to a ramen shop. I wasn't hungry but the others got some cool looking ramen. The ramen was presented in a fashion I've never seen but was neat. First just the noodles and topping ingredients are in a hot bowl. Next the person whos eating it holds a piece of paper in front of them and the waitress or waiter pours the liquid or broth into the bowl and it cooks all the ingredients together. Pretty sweet, but you have to wait two minutes for the bowl to cool down so if you're really hungry its not the food for you haha.

After the ramen shop we all got dropped off and went our separate ways. On the bike ride home I stopped at a book store, electronics store, and my super market. At the bookstore I just looked around for the naruto comic and finally found it but it was wrapped so I couldn't look inside haha! damn! I also saw tons of funny old used movies and CD's like Ricky Martin and Space Jam ahha. The place also had Yu-gi-oh cards hahah!

After that I biked to the electronics store I've never been to before. I found a webcam for about 24 dollars which is a good price. I'll consider buying it soon, or maybe I'll wait till my next pay check, I haven't decided yet. I just went there to check prices. On the way out of the store I noticed a DragonballZ capsule machine. I had to buy one .. hah 200 yen.

Finally I went to the grocery store and bought some more grocerices. I found an awesome beef green bean sweet/spicy sauce combo thing for about 380 yen which is pretty cheap. I made it with some rice and it was delicious. I think it was meant to feed two people but I ate the whole thing along with a cup and a half of rice lol.

I think tomorrow (if it's not raining!!!) I'm going to bring my camera and explore more of Sano. I'll also do some laundry now that I know how to operate it haha. I have a couple more household items to buy too.

I think this job will be alot of fun once school starts. I really just want to start teaching, and talking to Japanese people. I also want to get out and do more because my apartment is boring haha, but at the same time I want to save money so I'll go out when I can.

Right now I'm watching Apollo13 on tv in Japanese... hahaha

Here's a video of karaoke from last time, I forgot to post it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Quick Question

Does it ever stop raining in Sano? It's honestly starting to get super annoying and really depressing. It hasn't stopping raining since I got here about a week ago. I really want to explore more of the town but when its raining like this its difficult.

Last night I arranged a huge get together that started off at meeting at the train station at 8pm. I got up with some other ALTs that have been here for over a year. All and all we had I think around 12 people. It was good to meet the group that had been here for a year because they know all the good spots to go.

First we went to this italian food place called like Salvatori or something. It was alright food wise, but we went there to drink a bit. Next we went and Karaoked! There was a place within walking distance of the food place to Karaoke. I was a fun time at karaoke we sang tons of crazy songs. I have a couple videos I might post later of it. The other ALTs also got some great videos and pictures I'll try to set links up once they post them. My friends know I like to get into random pictures with people I never met before so I did hahaha. They were drunk and liked

And here's a pic of the people I do know
After karaoke we went to some small bar where someone in our group knew the owner. It had like a Rhasta theme to it. Bob Marley was playing of course ahha. I was pretty tired at that point and stopped drinking all together. We played some pool and hung out for a couple hours then headed out. All an all an OK night.

Today my mission is to try to figure out my laundry machine. I need to buy a pole for hanging my clothes up but since its raining all the time I don't know where I can dry them...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Training and MY BIRTHDAY!

Ok so, Over the past two days I've been at this mountain camp training with other ALTs for my company. Here's what happened... I woke up around six and took a shower, ate some breakfast (Strawberry yogurt and frosted flakes YAY FOR AMERICAN CEREAL!) and made my way to the train station. After getting there I met up with the other ALTs. We all headed to Ujiie by train. After we got there we were broken up into groups and got into cars and headed to this mountain town which has a prefectural (kind of like equivalent to a state) center, the name of which I forgot. It was a really cool facility. After meeting the other ALTs I was surprised to how much they didn't care. They joked around all the time which made it fun but I was like wow they have some lewd humor.

While at the facility there were very few workers and everything you did you had to clean up yourself. From our rooms to the halls ways to the public bathrooms, if we used it we had to clean it. Somewhat of an interesting concept considering everyone kept things clean because they knew that'd have to clean it later. Once at the facility we broke into groups again. I had a group of 5 but the average number was 6. The camp almost felt a bit militaristic with its strict schedule and rules but that is somewhat just Japanese style. They tend to be very punctual and very strict about rules.

Once we got there we were told all about the facilities rules. We also were shown a long demonstration on how to properly make your bed (futon sheets pillows/pillow case). We were told how to correctly fold everything and it was kind of funny how strict it was. Right after this we each person from the group had to volunteer to help with meals, and volunteers got to choose what they wanted to help with. I chose to help with dinner.

After that we went to the gym and did some surveys asking us how we'd rate our teaching ability. Of the 40ish people there about 10/12 were new including me. We just rated how we thought we'd do. The other gave a self evaluation which was to be compared to the schools rating of their performance. After that we played some team building games. Some of which we're pretty entertaining, other were a bit boring and didn't seem like they did anything for me haha.

After that we went back up and relaxed. Then it was time for me to help out with dinner. I went down at about 4:00pm to the BBQ area. My job was to get this coarse charcoal (broken up but nothing like American briquettes) and grills and started a grill up. It took a while to get it started because the charcoal was not like the easy stuff we have in the US. I had to fan the thing down for like 20 minutes to keep it lit haha. It was cool though being a part of setting things up. After the BBQ we just hung around and talked. There was a great sunset that night. We also watched some olympics but they only covered Japanese athletes (i guess that's normal since I'm in Japan ahaha). It was funny, they said that the Japanese women's softball team beat the American team and they showed the following picture:
They talked about how Japan was a small monkey, yet it was able to beat the giant American bear hahha. Kind of funny (underneath the pic is written Japan America).

After that I took a bath in a public bath haha. Many foreigners have trouble with it but I really don't care. After that I went up to bed.

The next day I had to wake up at 6:00am again... this time we had breakfast and then cleaned up. Then we went on this mountain trail hike. Our group got so freekin lost its not even funny. We were supposed to turn at this marker that said 10, we got all the way up to 37 (wrong way) and even past that about 30 mins haha. Even though we got beyond lost I got some good pictures out of the Japanese country side out of it.

Luckily (thank god) we found a taxi and I waved it down and we took a taxi back to the camp start line hahahha. We we're the only group to come back in a taxi ahahha everyone laughed at us but I was just happy to be alive and not lost. The people in my group were from New Zealand, Austrailia and England haha. I was one of two Americans in my group. It was cool to talk to them and I feel like I picked up a little bit of an accent I talked to them so much hahaa.

After that we had some lunch and then did one more clean up session. Then we had some lesson planning then the other ALTs left. The new people sat behind to sign contracts and do some paperwork.

Even though more than likely I won't see alot of the other ALTs because they all work so far away it was a good experience. It also got me more excited to start teaching.

Once all that was over with we finally got back to Sano by train. We we're going to have a little party and meet everyone by the station at 8:00 but only a few people showed up. While waiting for everyone to show up I met this Japanese guy Ebi Numa. He was a nice guy and he did his best to talk to me in English and I did my best to talk to him in Japanese. Aparently he just graduated high school and now he has an internship at a bakery. We talked about what we both liked and disliked. It was cool. The whole reason I started the conversation was because while waiting at the train station there was an earthquake. I was like CRAP! and I translated to him "That was an earthquake right?!" He said yes then we just started talking lol. After that all my friends showed up and we went to find a bar. We finally found one a couple blocks from the station. It was a nice place called HORMONE SOUL! hahaha. I got a sushi birthday cake there. Kinda cool even though I couldn't eat it. Although I did eat fish that NIGHT! (an accomplishment for me but it tasted more like bacon than fish).

All and all a fun day/night. Tonight we're supposed to meet again at the station at 8:00 and party it up.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A little Better

Ok, so thankfully I felt a little bit better today. I was able to eat some regular food finally. I finally got a rice cooker and some groceries. This way I can control my own diet a little better.

Training today was better than yesterday. I learned a bit and got some good ideas for lesson plans and games. We watched a video basically giving us examples of how work will be in the classroom and it looks pretty fun. The kids in elementary school are all super enthusiastic to learn English. The stuff they review is pretty basic as most of it is vocab and just word exposure. The Junior High looks a little boring as most of it is grammar related but luckily I will only be teaching it twice a month.

The weather here is still very bad in that its really humid and its been raining on and off the past 3 days. Tomorrow all the ALT's are going to an overnight kids camp. While there I guess we're supposed to interact with the kids and break into groups and make lesson plans. Joytalk never really tells us what's going on until its happening so I don't really know what to expect. I think we're also supposed to practice being around kid and getting everything we've learned in training down. Its a 1 hr 30 min train ride on top of a 2 hour car ride to the camp so I hope it'll be fun.

So far the other ALT's in Sano seem real nice. Two are from New Zealand (Regan and Oliver), One is from Canada (Astria) and the rest are from America (Graham, Becky, Me). There are a couple others that are in a city close by called Ashikaga that are pretty nice people as well, Sean (British) and Zamira (American). The problem is we all live so far away and don't have any real transportation (besides my bike). Sano Japan is kind of like the suburbs of America. You really need a car to get around/have fun/go fun places. Some of the other ALTs might be required to get a car but until then we're all kind of stranded in our own places. Also we don't have cell phones yet so communication is tough. Yesterday I registered to get my Gaikokujin (Foreigner) Card yesterday and I can pick it up on Sept. 3rd. (You need this to get stuff like a cell phone in Japan) Today once we got back from training I helped Becky and Graham get theirs as well.

Working in Japan will be alot different than going to school here. Last time I had tons of free time, this time I won't have that much free time because I'll be working probably over 40 hours a week and have tons of school event to go to on the weekends, seeing as how I'm expected to attend school events and I have 5 schools I'll be teaching at. I really just want to start already, all this training has got me ansy.

One more thing, I experienced my 3rd earthquake in Japan, but don't be alarmed it was nothing serious. It just felt like a subway was going by.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What's Wrong With Me?

Training started today. I had to bike to the station for about 20 minutes then take a 1 and half hour train ride to the office in Ujiie. Today's training seemed a bit unnecessary. I didn't learn to much but we did make a few lesson plans, and I did get to meet the other ALTs. There were some fun parts but I felt so bad it was somewhat hard to enjoy it.

Lately I've still been having trouble eating here. Even foods I like are making my stomach upset. It doesn't seem to make any sense. I've progressively been feeling worse as the days have gone by. I felt like I was going to faint (never fainted before) and luckily I didn't but I probably felt the worst I've felt since I've been here today. I don't know if I'm actually sick or malnourished (by this point I probably am malnourished) or if it's a psychological problem (probably both). I'll be really angry/upset with myself if I have to quit because I can't start feeling better.

Anyways once I got back from training tonight I went searching for a rice cooker. Once I find one I hopefully will be able to make and eat some rice and start feeling better. Today I went to three stores and no dice. I had help from friends online on how to ask if they had one (Thanks!), but still I couldn't find one.

Tomorrow I'll check another store but for now I'll try to eat what I can.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Moved In!

I changed my blog layout because this one is a bit easier on the eyes. Anyways....
Ok, so today was a bit stressful and very long but now has almost come to an end. It started off with me waking up at 4am again. I talked with people online and killed time until 8:00, then Graham (Another ALT, from Texas) and I went out for a stroll. We had a good chat about how he's never been to Japan, and I explained how he's going to be in culture shock for about a month, then we went to the convenience store.

After getting some stuff at the store we came back and got our luggage ready because today we were supposed to move into our new places. After getting everyone rallied and packed up we got in 2 vans and headed out. After about an hour of driving we made it to Sano city. Once we got there we went to pick up two other ALTs from Sano Train Station. After that we were supposed to find the office for the housing we live in (Leo Palace). This way we could get our keys and everything settled. It took us a long time to finally find the office. Once we got there, there were some problems. Apparently the office (in Utsunomiya) our company filed all the paperwork with hadn't sent it to the office we went to (in Sano). After about a half and hour of getting that settled Grant showed us where we'd all be living. See the picture below for my location in relation to Sano Station. The station is right above the red, and I'm at the blue circle.

I live in southwest Sano about a 15-20 minute walk to the main station. I also found out today that I'll be teaching at 5 different schools! This wasn't very good news considering I kind of preferred to work at less schools so I could get to know the students and staff better but I guess on the brighter side I'll get to meet tons of people. After that we started to move into our new places one by one. Next we went to a shopping mall and bought futon matresses for our bed area. I also bought sheets but they were accidentally left in the car so now I'll have to just sleep on the futon itself. Below are pictures of the main room. Click on them to make them bigger.

My place is actually really nice, and I'm glad I got to choose this over the older place. Also the internet wasn't supposed to start working until tomorrow but it luckily works tonight. Next you can get a virtual tour of my house haha.(Once it uploads I'll post it)

Sano isn't quite how I pictured it, but most of the time things rarely look how you imagine or picture them so I wasn't too surprised. I think it will look much nicer once it stops raining. Today the weather was pretty bad but hopefully tomorrow it will be nicer. Tomorrow I have to wake up early because I have a meeting with one of the schools I'll be teaching at and the board of education. Its kind of important that I make a good impression with both.

All my life up to this point I've been living with other people whether it be family or a roommate/roommates. Now living on my own I kind of see how much I enjoyed living with other people. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the luxuries of living on my own but I feel it doesn't make up for having a someone around to just hang out with or talk to ect. I need to make some friends here to keep myself from being lonely. Right now I'm ok but I can see myself getting lonely and possibly bored pretty quick if I don't make friends quickly.

In other news I haven't been eating much at all but surprisingly I haven't been hungry. I hope I'm alright.. my stomach must of resigned itself haha. Either that or somethings wrong with me, I need to see a hypnotist to make me like Japanese food or a doctor to find out I have some type of psychological problem or something.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I MADE IT! やった!

I just wanted to let everyone know I made it safely and now I'm in a hotel in Utsunomiya Japan. I move into my apartment on Sunday and training begins Monday.

Here's how it all went down: Read if you're curious (It's kinda long)

Monday: PACKED! Went to the bank, and eye doctors.

Tuesday Night: I went to my Aunt's house because Joytalk was mailing my COE (Certificate of Eligibility to my Aunt's work in NYC because they could guarantee an earlier delivery. After not sleeping all night from stress I "woke up" at 7am to start the day. (THANKS TARA YOU ARE MY SAVIOR) (and you rock!!!!!!!)

Wednesday: Went with my Aunt to her work so I could go to the Japanese Consulate in the city. We took a ferry there and it was pretty nice. I got to see the Statue of Liberty for the first time with my own eyes. I also saw ground zero (World Trade Center) and it was interesting. I haven't been there since Sept. 11 happened and it was good to see that they've started work on the freedom tower.

After getting to her work she gave me a tour and her office is really nice. The people working there seem nice too. I could see myself working at a place like that, but I don't know if I could handle living in the city for a long time.

My package (COE) arrived at about 10:00am. This was what I was praying/hoping for all last night. As soon as I got the COE I made photo copies and started to make my way to the Consulate. It took me 30 mins on the subway but I finally made it. Once there I talked to the woman at the window and she said "You know its supposed to take 4 to 7 business days." I was like I know and I'm really sorry, but I need it done today! She said she'll see what they can do, and then gave me a reciept to pick it up at 3:30 that day. (The consulate closed at 4:00pm)

After I got the reciept I went back outside around 49th St. and Park and just started exploring. I wanted to get used to being alone in a city and exploring it hahah. Found some OK stuff. Ended up going to a book store and getting a drink and relaxing. I got some food at Cosi's (pretty good food stuffs haha) I bought a Japanese English dictionary there. I also wanted to get some more Omiyage but only ended up getting one more thing. After hours of waiting and exploring I went back to the Consulate. While there I talked to a few people and thankfully picked up my Visa! After getting this in my hand I was so relieved.

Next I went to the Port Authority and took the bus back to Newburgh (about an hour and half) where my Grandmother picked me up. (THANK YOU!) From there we went to my brother Luke's tee ball game. It was good to see him play one last time before I left. After the game we went to a playground and played around for a bit.

Then we went back home and put the boys to sleep. I did some last minute checking and just made sure everything was set. I printed out my boarding pass and emailed Joytalk a scanned copy of my initial visa entry paper. Went to sleep with excitement (JAPAN) and sadness (I will miss my family).

Thursday: Woke up nice and early, 6:00am and got in the shower to get ready for the airport. After getting everything in the car my step dad and I headed out. We talked a bit in the car on the way. After getting there I checked in my luggage and went through security ect. to get to my gate. I got there around 8/9ish, and had plenty of time to browse the stores around for whatever I might need before I go (magazine or last minute omiyage wise) I was going to buy a book about Japan, but I figured that if I just made Japanese friends I wouldn't really need a book hahaha. Before boarding the plane I made last minute goodbye phone calls to a couple friends I hadn't seen. I just went through my contacts and called people.

Next I got on the plane. I was in the back in a window seat. I was hoping I'd sit next to Japanese people and luckily I did. I watched as they looked at this "Attractions" booklet about what movies were going to be playing for the flight. After watching them try to figure it out I asked if they spoke English in Japanese hahah. The woman next to me gave me a double take and was saying えええええええ?!Basically she was really surprised and told her friend next to her I spoke Japanese. After explaining to them what movies were coming on we talked alot more. I introduced myself in Japanese and they we're both still surprised. Both of the women were really nice and very curious about me. I never asked their names, but I know they both live in Chiba and were coming back from vacation, they went to Cancun for 2 days and NYC for 2 days. I showed the woman next to me all my pictures of Japan so we had something else to talk about. Also I showed her my online flash cards and she helped me learn some more Japanese and fixed any mistakes my flash cards had. I showed them my Genki books and it amazed them ahah. They we're looking at the workbook and textbook for over an hour. After talking to them for a while and learning about them and telling them about myself we finally arrived. (13 Hour flight)

Friday:(Kind of the same day, but I flew over the international date line) After getting to Narita I had to go through customs and immigration and get my luggage. I did all of this with relatively ease and then had to buy a bus ticket to go to Utsunomiya. I bought a phone card and called my Contact here from Joytak and then bought my bus ticket. The bus didn't leave for about 45 mins. From there I bought a Pocari Sweat (YES!) and waited. Got on the bus and found out you could only check 1 bag under the bus. So I had to carry one of my huge bags onto the bus and sit it on my lap for 3 hours on the way there (SUCKED). I felt like a stupid foreigner for about 3 hours on the bus. For some reason the bus felt like a time machine. I kept sleeping but time wasn't moving. The 3 hours felt so long.

After finally getting to Utsunomiya I met with my Contact and walked 5 minutes (which took forever because I had to carry all my stuff) to my hotel. I got to meet another ALT, who has been staying here since last monday due to confusion. Then I went to my room, which I was told women we're not allowed on because there we're naked men there hahaha. (My contact and the other ALT were both women) Anyways I went up to my room which I'll post pictures of later. It's a capsule hotel as well as a normal one. Next I took my shower lol, in a public bath area. A little weird but its ok, once I got back I went to sleep.

Saturday: Now I'm awake and its like 4:00am, and I'm not tired, but I should really try to go back to sleep. I sent out emails and stuff telling everyone I made it safely. Now I'm just talking to friends back in the States because its only like 3:00pm.

Ok so after I woke up around 4:00 I talked to people online until about 5/6 then started to explore Utsunomiya. I posted pictures of my exploration on facebook, of if you don't have it you can see them here:

After that I came back to the hotel and actually slept because I felt a little sick and was bored. I woke up a little while ago and saw Becky arrived and met the other ALTs. Now its about 8:42pm and I guess I'll go back to sleep since I move into my new house in Sano tomorrow at 8:30 am. (I'm not a morning person!)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Farewell to America アメリカよ さようなら

The next couple days I'm going to be pretty busy getting everything packed, and getting my visa processed, so more than likely this will be my last post from America. I'm only three days away from Japan. It doesn't feel like I'm that close to leaving. I'm pretty much positive it won't hit me until I'm on the plane. It doesn't feel the same as it did last time but that's because this time I'm going to a different place, and I'm going alone (at least until I make friends). If this trip is half as fun as the last it'll be amazing and well worth any stress I've dealt with up to this point. (Including the fact that I have to get my visa processed in one day, and hope I get it otherwise who knows what I'll do.)

(Last time was awesome)

My family really helped me out a ton with raising money for my first few months in Japan. My grandmother even gave me Yen so I don't have to scramble for an ATM in Narita (awesome). I set a goal to raise $2000 in the beginning of the Summer. I wanted to get a job over the Summer to raise some money but it didn't work out (Stupid Target). Luckily I have an amazing family that helped me out big time. They helped me raise over $2200. This is so generous considering I recently received graduation money from all of them. I'd pay them back but I know more than likely they won't want money they will only want me to enjoy myself in Japan. I want to make a big list of everyone who contributed and get them something really nice from Japan. The only problem is deciding what to get for everyone, but I have plenty of time to figure it out.

I plan on posting a ton (if not on this blog another one) once I get to Japan so everyone back home can see how my life is while I'm there. I've started packing and I'm asking my American friends to tell me what they missed when they we're in Japan. This way I'll have ideas to tell my family because they all want to send me stuff. I'm also asking them to send me the name of songs they like so I'll have music to listen to while in Japan.

Overall I've had a pretty good Summer. It was good to live with my family again, even though the new house is so far from all of my friends. It's weird because its almost like I'm going back to school since every year over the past four years I've moved back into school about this time of the year.

Hanging out with my Brothers was alot of fun, they're both crazy characters and are a blast even though at times they got on my nerves (as brothers do). Seeing them grow up and being a part of their life is very important to me. I hope both of them turn out to be good men, and I hope I'll have an active part in that. I was also very happy to get to see and hang out with alot of my close friends before I leave. I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to, but I will see them when I get back and maybe if I'm lucky they will visit me while I'm in Japan.

I'm going to miss my brother's laughter.

I've got tons to pack. My friends and family will be missed dearly.

As Summer comes to an end my life in Japan waits in the distance.... (almost sounds like engrish)
Just finished packing and I got everything under 50 lbs. so I'm almost READY!
I wonder who reads this without me saying check out my blog? I like comments! (Make one)

Another Edit*

I went to the Japanese consulate today, and luckily, very, very luckily, I got my Visa processed in one day. Now I'm set to go, I have to wake up early and go to the airport. GOODBYE AMERICA!

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I recently talked to Joytalk and I got to choose my housing situation. I had the option of an older house with an additional half room and it was 5000 yen less a month or a newer house with newer furniture and other add-ons. This was a quick decision for me, I choose the newer house. Below is a picture of the layout and the main room.

Although it looks small everything in Japan is small. The housing looks really nice. It is a newer building and everything is furnished. I will also get free appliances and internet/basic cable is provided. The kitchen is tiny but I'm not going to be in there that often. I think I will get an extra futon for when people visit, and I'll set up my laptop on the desk I have. My bed is also in a raised position with storage underneath and 2 stairs leading up to it. I won't be throwing many house parties, but no one really does in Japan (no room).

Monday, August 04, 2008

10 Days

I must of run out of interesting things to blog about, so I guess I'll talk a bit about how I feel about Japan. With each passing day my eagerness grows. My restlessness has become overwhelming.

10 Days from now I'll be on a plane, in the air, and on my way to Japan. Along with this fact come many emotions -- excitement, curiosity, even a little fear. I'm excited because I know it's going to be alot of fun to live in Japan again, even though it won't be like last time with Thirsty everynights and catch last train madness, or stay up all night at some club then almost fall asleep on first train (Which was hella fun even if it was in Arty Farty hahaha). Something else that will be exciting and even rewarding is working with kids. Although I never put serious thought into working with kids I think that I somehow do really well with them and I will really enjoy it.

My curiosity stems from just how many paths the trip has to take in that my experience can be so different, I suppose depending on what I do, and who I talk to/hang out with. In this case there is no usual route. I found out there are 3 other ALT's in my city from Joytalk. Theres two guys from New Zealand and one girl from Canada. The thing is the majority of my interaction, at least during the week will be with my coworkers and not with other ALT's, especially since we're all going to be a different schools. So I'm very curious to see what my social life will be like, if I decide to try and hang out with foreigners or Japanese, but hopefully it will be a good mix. I'm also very curious as to how much my Japanese will improve. One of my goals for the trip is to come back and be able to watch a movie or read a magazine in Japanese and fully understand it. If that's possible I have no idea, but there's a chance that when I get back I might consider Grad school and take Japanese. There's so much to wonder about, but when it comes down to it, you just have to wait and experience it, so I've tried to limit myself about thinking of the possibilities.

As for fear I believe that will go away once I get there. Some of my fears are living on my own for the first time. I've always had someone else living with me, be it family or a roommate. I guess it's not the best idea to start living on my own in a foreign country, but it will give me confidence that I can do it anywhere if I can do it there. I don't really like being alone that much, and I feel if my house can sustain it I'll try to have friends over alot of the time. Also it'll be the first time I'll be virtually friendless on my birthday (since its on the 22nd and I get there on the 15th), and familyless on Christmas. I don't really mind my birthday because I don't really make a big deal of it, and I'm sure by the time Christmas rolls around I'll have enough friends that I'll be fine, and there's even a chance if I make a really close friend that I can spend my Christmas with a Japanese family.

There's tons that Japan has for me to experience. The people there are amazingly nice and will go beyond what's necessary to help me at times. I believe that this trip will be similar to my last visit in that it will once again be a love hate relationship with Japan, the love obviously outweighing the hate. Only time will tell.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Omiyage おみやげ

O.K. So as most of you who actually read my blog probably know I'm moving to Japan in 2 weeks to teach English. It is custom there to give people gifts (Omiyage) when you are new to an area, or are returning from a trip. Since I'll be new to the area I want to bring some gifts. I recently took a trip to NYC and bought a bunch of great stuff to give to my boss, coworkers, friends neighbors ect. I plan on getting more but as of now here's what I have:

5 IHeartNY Shirts
An Authentic New York Yankees Hat
A IHeartNY Hand Bag
A Crystal New York Skyline

I want to get a few more things before I leave and I'll get them next trip I take to get my visa.