So I probably butchered the kanji in the title…*thanks Google Translate*
Hello, friends! Nice to talk to you all again!
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster of a first couple of weeks in Japan, but I happy to say that I am finally out of my host family’s house and into my own apartment! You were awesome host family, but I was ready to be out on my own.
My apartment is tiny, but cute, and doable for just a single soul such as myself. I had to do a bit of creative rearranging to get my stuff to be the way I wanted it, but I made it work. Pictures to follow:
My kitchen is kind of sad. It has a single burner induction stove and a small sink. That’s pretty much it. I didn’t even know what an induction stove was until I came here. What I also don’t understand at all about my apartment is why, WHY the people who built it would feel the need to put two sinks RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. They are sink neighbors. If you can tell from the pictures, basically what happened is that my bathroom sink area is separate from my actual bathroom. My toilet, shower, and sink are all totally separate from each other and in different areas of the apartment. Makes total sense, right? Well, I guess the architects of the building or whoever designed the place decided that I should still have a bathroom sink area even though I already had a kitchen sink. But maybe next to the kitchen sink was the only place where there was space. Thus, the two neighboring sinks of stupidity. God forbid I wash my face or brush my teeth in the kitchen sink. No siree, can’t do that. It would be blasphemy to do such a thing.
Moving on from sink struggles, school has been going pretty well. I’m finally starting to remember some of the teachers that I’m working with. I’m trying really hard to remember everyone because A, I feel bad when I can’t remember someone who’s so nice, and B, they all keep cracking jokes about how it’s because they all look the same. Which they really don’t other than their hair color, but it’s just hard for me to remember new people in general. I try, but boy is it hard when I’m meeting new people every day and there are nearly 80 teachers at my school. I at least know most of the English department, if nothing else. I’m also really proud of myself for learning the names of all of the students in the kendo club since I’ve been watching them practice in the mornings. They’re all so sweet! If you don’t know what kendo is, by the way, it’s basically Japanese style fencing with bamboo swords. They wear all sorts of heavy looking gear, and when they have all of it on, they look really intimidating. I’ve also been trying to meet other students, when I can! I met some cheerleading club girls during my first week at school, and they were just the sweetest things ever! I got such an enthusiastic reaction from them! One girl came up to me and talked to me for a good 10 minutes, and even wanted to know when my birthday was. I don’t want to disturb too many students during their club activities or while they’re studying, but I really want to meet as many of them as I can!
School itself has been really slow because it’s still summer break, but the students still come in to practice their sports and club activities. I really want to join the art club, rugby club, and maybe the flower arrangement club when school starts. I also want to keep watching the kendo practices; I feel compelled now since I already know all of them, I want them to do their best! But yes, school is slow, and I’ve basically been doing a lot of desk warming the past week and half. I already completed my self-introduction powerpoint lecture, already wrote my welcome speech, and already rummaged through every inch of the ALT desk to see what sorts of magic goodies my predecessor left in there. I’m using three days of summer leave this week to go on a mini-trip to Osaka with my friends and just chill since I quite literally am getting paid to do nothing at work. So now I can get paid to have fun instead. We have job training in what is lovingly called “Yashiro Prison” (a training site in middle o’ nowhere Hyogo where we have four people per room and a 10 p.m. curfew) next week for three days, then lesson planning will probably start next week, so there won’t be much time to do that after this week.
General ALT life has been going pretty well, too! I’m glad that I have a little gang of ALT friends that I’ve hung out with a few times. I had the best day ever with them on Saturday! We basically made a whole day outing to see the hanabi, or the fireworks. So we met up around lunch time, got some Starbucks (I’ve had more Starbucks in Japan the last two weeks than I’ve had in the past two years total in America), went on the mad hunt for the Rilakuma shop (where there was conveniently also a small Disney shop) and the Studio Ghibli shop. Then we got some delicious dinner at some random food place in the shopping center, went to the fireworks show (it lasted for an hour, and might I add that Japan knows how to do fireworks right), and then got more Starbucks before we went home. Might I add that I get a sweet message on my cup from Starbucks every time I go there. And apparently Starbucks has a Sakura Frappachino come springtime???
That’s basically it for now, but a few more random musings before I go: you can buy alcohol in vending machines. Without an ID. They just trust that you won’t betray the drinking age here. You can also buy cigarettes from vending machines. And people use umbrellas for the sun here. Rain, too, but it’ll be a beautiful sunny day and people will still be walking around with umbrellas. The people here are also without a doubt the friendliest bunch of people I have ever met in my life. They’re always willing to help, even if they don’t speak much English. My life is also way too convenient here. There is a grocery store and a 7/11 that are both equidistant from my apartment, about a 30 second walk away. And despite being physically cooler than New Orleans, Kobe is indeed, “the fiery armpit of hell,” as my friend Niamh has been calling it. The Japanese do not really believe in the widespread use of air conditioning, especially in my school, so I have been dripping sweat like nobody’s business on a daily basis. One of the Japanese language teachers in my section took pity on me this morning because my body was just not having it today and I was dripping everywhere and chugging water so she moved the fan in the teacher room closer to me to help me cool off. But especially getting to and from the city is terrible, because I live two miles away from the train station and have to walk two miles downhill to get there and then walk again two miles uphill to get back in the heat. So basically I’m just dripping sweat all the time. I. CANNOT. WAIT. FOR. WINTER.
Well, that’s about it for now, and hopefully I’ll talk to you all again soon! I’ll try to make the next post not quite so long!
Until next time!