August 7, 2010.
Today was my first day spent entirely in Japanese — literally and figuratively. Since landing in Tokyo last Sunday, I have either been protected by the wonderful people of the JET Programme or the ever-so-kind ladies at my BoE (Board of Education). This is the first bit of English I have used in over 24 hours and will likely be my only English until the end of the weekend. Wait, I did check my email, but I’ll only count face-to-face communication. I am reminded of how exhausting it is to spend even one average weekend day trapped inside a secondary language. I managed to make it to Hiroshima by way of the local JR train line. No really hiccoughs there. And nothing too out of the ordinary to report. Just did a little shopping (work clothes), checked out some laptops (Macbook, dare I?), and strolled through the peace park. Kind of regret not splurging on the Shinkansen (bullet train), but then I guess I wouldn’t have the extra 1.5 hours to write this entry. I am glad I figured out the local train, though — lots of seemingly decent spots to stop between here, there, and everywhere.
Last night I walked around Kudamatsu for the first time. It is a quaint city with everything a person could ever need – plenty of stores, restaurants, pubs, baseball diamonds, golf courses, the sea, islands, etc. But after being in Hiroshima for a few hours, I can definitely tell why people would consider Kudamatsu a countryside town. Either way, it’s slowly starting to feel like home. After a failed attempt at finding a net cafe last night (I am updating this from said cafe – found it!), I managed to receive the local grocery stores point card. I was a little down on myself after not finding the net cafe, but I reminded myself that this entire experience will be of the trial-and-error variety. I just need to keep trying and, hey, a point card may not be much, but the friendly cashier sorted me out and seemed to enjoy talking to me. I’m sure I will stop there daily.
So begins the real adventure, though. I am now “fully orientated” and have had the pleasure of meeting a ton of awesome people who are situated all across Yamaguchi-ken. It will be nice to have these new friends as a source of balance and release from the frustrations that can go along with living in a foreign country. Don’t get me wrong, though, I definitely enjoy the challenges. It’s just that your brain starts to have minor freak outs when you’re not able to express your thoughts in the tongue your grew up with. I plan to join as many of the Yamaguchi JET events as possible.
As of writing this, I do not have a mobile phone or internet connection. It makes the isolation a bit more hard to swallow, but I’m sure once I’m back in the communications loop life will be a lot more comfortable. My routine is anything but right now, so there’s really no worries.
I am thoroughly excited to be working and living in Japan. This is not an opportunity that everyone has the pleasure to experience and I will enjoy every moment — good or bad — that this whirlwind journey has to offer. I know it will go fast — no matter how long I stay — so I need to focus on each day and take it in stride.
There is no possible way I can write about all my experiences here. Mind is fading. I miss everyone.