Thursday, September 14, 2006

The First Week. Only 51 More To Go!

My, oh my, how fast a week can go! I apologize for my lack of updating this blog with fun facts and useful information about my life in the Far East of the Globe but things have gone from 0 to 60 in a matter of sleeps. But now that I have my first official day off of work, and that I have been accosted by a Mr. Andrew Franklin on my lack of devotion to this thing, I'm here to update my enthralled audience on escapades and adventures. So please, sit back, relax, cuddle up with your favourite loved one/thing/animal/etc..., and enjoy what you are about to read because, frankly, it's all gold!

My first real day in Yokohama was the most intense day that I have experienced since I stepped foot on York University's fabled grounds. Was I up to the task? I came here, didn't I? But the real question was my ability to function in a place that, unlike much of York, considered English a second or third language. Luckily, I ended up in a great apartment with a roommate willing to help. Andrew is a Brit who's only been here a month but the guy who lived in the apartment before him had a "help those who need it and pass on the experience" mentality. So that first day had us wandering the busiest sections of Yokohama, viewing some of the most amazing sites, getting me my first cell phone, having a plethora of amazing Japanese food, playing Mario Kart, drinking Asahi beer (which is slowly becoming my second favourite beer. Nothing competes with Keith's!) and just generally immersing me in the culture with an excellent tour guide. For that I am forever grateful and indebted to Andrew. Now, I'm trying to pass along any of my help to my two fellow trainees by giving them my email address and trying to help them in their shitty situation. They are in a couple's apartment, which means no roommates, in a neighbourhood with very few English-speaking people to assist. They are a good couple of people too, I'd hate for them to look badly on this experience because they struggled in the beginning. First impressions go a long way...

Training began on Monday while all of you lovely people were enjoying Sunday night television shows and getting ready to drift off to sleep. And considering the daunting task of the first day of training I can say I was more than envious. After 5 hours of training Adam, Zara, and I were thrown to the wolves and asked to teach half of a lesson on our own. You can imagine the look on my face upon hearing this factoid. And you can also imagine my bladder the minute I walked into that classroom to see four very happy and anxious Japanese adults awaiting an English lesson. Needless to say, I bombed. I bombed huge! Adam did as well but that's neither here nor there. We just sat in the employee's room just flabbergasted and questioning this whole endeavour. I figured that I'd have to borrow money from Mom and Dad to book my flight back home after I was handed my resignation slip. Monday ended with me slinking my way home in a funk only describable with Tom Waits blues music playing in the background as I stoop over the dark edge of the filthiest, nastiest bar in all of the world.

Day Two rolls around and I make up my mind that it can only go up from here. And fortunately I was right. Three full lessons later and I'm knocking the proverbial ball out of the park! Day Three shows up with more difficult tasks that the three of us murder. It's good to hit bottom every once in a while because there's nothing but up from there. And I shot up like I had a rocket taped to my ass. After training was all over a big group of us went out to the Beer Factory and had a great time. I did learn what "All you can drink" was in Japanese that night but you can imagine why I forgot it.

Not all of my exploits have been group adventures. I was lucky enough to arrive in a country that valued the English language instead of castigate it which meant that the subway system was very accomodating. Riding the subway has become almost nostalgic: rather than picture a massive Japanese monolith at Sakuragichi Station, I imagine the countless times I travelled to Yorkdale on the TTC. It's not much but you look for the little things when you want a little taste of home. It's like taking minor details from the faces of people you just meet and attributing those to people you've known for most of your life. I've already seen a Japanese version of many of you. There was actually a British version of Lisa in my training, and this wasn't just a little bit of a similarity. It was downright freaky. But let's get back to my travels. I've travelled all over the place on my own, with only some Yen and my MP3 player in hand. It's the way I explore new areas; it's how I found my way to some of the cooler places of Toronto. I'm starting to wonder when this independence streak is going to run dry.

So that was the first week in a condensed kind of way. If you have any question, please leave a comment or shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you all in any way, shape or form. I do have one request though: I seem to have too few of pictures. I need pictures. Anything related to anything going on just send them along. The address is:

Kasahara 2f
2-19-42 Okubo

For the price of a postage stamp you can poster the walls of Don's bare apartment. Please, make a donation today!

That's it for now. I guarentee I will be posting more now that I am on a strict teaching schedule. I will talk to you all later.



At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew's Extremely Extreme Obscurely Obscure Japan Fact #001: Traditional Japanese wooden sandals have two blocks attached to the sole, one at the heal and one at the toe. In times of old, however, monks living in rocky areas used sandals with only only one block in the center of the sole. This actually made it easier to navigate the terrain.


At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure what I like more Don, your blog or Andrews interesting facts!!!


At 6:04 AM, Blogger Don Ames said...

Pfft! To hell with Andrew and his comments! Dude puts effort into searching Google for two-sentence "facts" and he gets all the praise! Damn you, Andrew Franklin!!!

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dammit, Donny. Everything I've posted here is either from memory, a University level history course, or legitmately read from a book. None of this internet crap. How DARE you accuse me of such.

~ Andrew


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