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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

    IN A NUTSHELL: I'm going to Sakugi!

    Today was magic day. I knew my materials regarding my placement were supposedly coming pretty soon from the Consulate in Denver, but I received an unexpected email today from my predecessor. It was brief, but informative. My predecessor told me I'd be living in a small town called Sakugi. I looked it up later on google and found out in was in Hiroshima prefecture, which was exciting since I had wanted to see that area (despite that I had not requested it). She told me I would be teaching at one Jr. High, one Elementary, and a nursery school. I'm very glad to be working with younger kids, too. They sound like a lot of fun!

    When I replied to the email, saying how excited I was, she wrote back within the day and told me a little more about the situation. She had a car she wanted to sell and the house I would be taking over from her had four bedrooms. Quite unexpected given a: my tiny (but nice) shoebox in Tokyo and b: some of the JET housing horror stories I was reading about on the JET Blacklist page and Big Daikon. Also, she told me she was the first ALT in Sakugi! That actually makes me really excited because I don't feel like I'm just 'the next gaijin in town.' I feel a bit more responsibility for the impression I will make which I appreciate, actually. A while ago I was thinking how interesting it would have been to be 'first' like I was in Mexico. This is pretty close! I wonder very much what my predecessor is like... it's hard to tell from the emails.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

    IN A NUTSHELL: More from Sakugi! Even a Honda!

    Instant response! Yeah! My current level of giddiness reminds me of exchanging letters with my first roommate in college. Anyway, I learned all about the furniture, including a car, that comes with the place (with a small reimbersement). This made me way happy. Especially the Honda part. I love Hondas. I was debating about getting a car (and had nearly convinced myself I could make do with trains) before, but her testimonial made it seem like it was necessary for traveling into Miyoshi (next area down) for lessons in Japanese and a decent supermarket. Her asking price was a great deal cheaper than the same thing on the web.

    Earlier she told me that having internet at home was not feasible due to outrageous cost. I wonder how hard it is to use the one at school? If I want to check my email or update this journal, for example, do I take a turn, or do it during lunch, or do it whenever? Hmm. Am I more addicted to having a car or having internet whenever I want? Way too spoiled, I am.

Friday, May 16, 2003

    IN A NUTSHELL: Sticker madness!

    I'm having way too much fun with the stickers. I bought stampers, too. They all said things like "Good Job!" or "Wow" or "Super Work!" on them. I'm so glad I got told about the secret paper store on 32nd street. The romance-novel-esque birthday cards there were a hoot, too. (Heh, but I wasn't buying those for any unsuspecting middle schoolers) I am having grandiose plans of this whole All About Me color packet to hand out during my 'introduction' class for which I'm two parts totally excited for and one part kind of scared. I'm probably trying to do too much. I should just ask them a bunch of questions (including silly, laughable questions) in groups, cause they like groups and that's how they did it during my impromptu introduction class in Matsudai. My predecessor lives two states away. I guess Sakugi will get two west / mid-west-type girls in a row. I'm already thinking about staying two years and I haven't even gotten there yet.

    I took a bunch of random pictures around Boulder the other day (including at SHJ and Casey). Kept feeling self-conscious. Not sure what to do with the pics if they turn out, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Even took a picture of the Albertsons I never go to. In other non-Japan news: I'm painting the window frames in the mural, I'm struggling through Chapter 10 of my ongoing story, I'm still in "3rd grade" as I go through my list of kanji over lunch at work, and I want to get out and see the Matrix Reloaded one of these weekends before I get too much of the plot spoiled.

    An email from the Consulate confirmed my placement today (Hiroshima-ken Sakugi-gon) Gon? I haven't heard of that one yet. He said he'll start sending stuff next week. I'm wondering if I'll get a beginner's Japanese tape instead of a more suitable one. Well, no biggie. Packets are always lots of fun (well, heck, just getting mail is these days :) )

Saturday, May 17, 2003

    IN A NUTSHELL: We love Mapion, yes we do!

    Deb (my goddess friend) discovered the equivalent of mapquest in Japanese = mapion.co.jp. I was finally able to see for sure (and show my parents) where in Japan I will be. Woo Hoo!

Friday, May 23, 2003

    IN A NUTSHELL: The Handbook

    I received my offical placement today. I wonder if Mr. Consulate Guy Fed-Exed them so they would arrive as quick as possible, or because he said he would mail them by this week and it's already Friday. Anyway, it was nice to receive it (it felt more real to actually receive a piece of paper) but made me glad of email for quicker communication. The handbook is Thick and the Japanese instruction manual is painfully beginner. Ack, romaji. But it was nice of them to include a CD.

Saturday, May 31, 2003

    IN A NUTSHELL: Shopping Spree

    I bought massive amounts of clothes today (and took Jack on our first CD shopping spree to Bart's). I found some great short sleeve collared shirts and skirts (and my personal favorite, shorts that look like skirts. I really am not fond of skirts.) I even bought anti-perspirant since this giant British what-to-bring-to-Japan list said that they do not have anti-perspirant or flouride toothpaste in Japan. (This explains why my teeth went all bad in Japan last time - I assumed Japanese toothpaste was like American toothpaste and used it. Or it could have been all that Meiji chocolate...) I also bought a Cheesy Hat (tm) in preparation for Hawaii. I leave in two days! Yeah!

    Anyway, the JET Handbook (which I am almost finished except for the essays in the back) has been extremely useful. I can tell sections have been written based on real experiences JETs have had. The Contract was interesting, but not unexpected, especially after reading Importing Diversity (which I've lent to Annie. Either no one on the list wanted it or I accidentally deleted their email thinking it was junk. Speaking of which, I just paid money to upgrade my Hotmail storage. Sigh.) Anyway, my predecessor told me they are not strict at all about vacation time. I really want to check out other countries (like Korea and China (despite the SARS) as well as the rest of Japan) but I heard some places don't want you to leave the country and others don't want you taking lots of vacation days together. I'm relieved I will be free to use those days as I see fit, especially since I will be having family visitors! Reading the checklist reminds me that it will be as much of a hassle moving there as anywhere else, but I am still VERY psyched to go and have been thinking about it non-stop. I'm on a photo mission now. I've just downloaded a bunch of Halloween pics. I'm still kind of worried about this nagging feeling I have that I should really keep the car usage to a minimum. I had convinced myself not to use a car, then I was offered one easily and told I needed it in the rural area. I'm going to buy it, because I think I will need it, but something tells me that I should not rely on it. I should really try to act as if I did not have that option (yet I think nothing of getting in my Probe and driving somewhere in Boulder...) I will see how I feel in Japan.

    Well, in non-Japan news, Boulder Creek flooded a bit. The kayakers were loving it (note to self: learn to kayak; it appears to be Sakugi's main pastime). My daily lunch walk was stopped on both sides by fast-moving water. In winter, the creek was barely moving at all but because of the mega snowstorms followed by our three days of 90 degree weather, it's booking. Anyway, Matrix Reloaded was pretty good (it was full of utter trenchcoat and sunglasses coolness; Zion, which looks a whole lot like Water Sphere - it was my idea first! - was nicely done), but I think I enjoyed Finding Nemo more. I saw that last night with Jack, Ashley, and Josh and loved how every sea creature was trying to improve themself in a real nineties sort of way. Very funny and very nicely paced. Oh, and I am done 3rd grade kanji! Woo hoo! Well, hopefully I will finish Learning to Bow and the Takarazuka book and all the other books I'm in the middle of right now in Hawaii. Otherwise, I guess I will finish them in New Jersey. Beach lazing summer, here I come!

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