Japanese Children, Transportation Woes and The Plight of the Liver: Week #2 in Japan
So here is a look at Don's second full week in Japan! I know that you have all been anticipating this entry! And I just wanted to start by giving a shout out to all my readers individually: Hello Andrew, Hello Jessica. Now that that is out of the way, I want to bitch to the rest of you about not leaving comments! Simply leave a brief little hello or something that shows me you are still alive! I'm lucky enough to have internet access here in my apartment but I still don't get a chance to hear from all of you so please, if you read this thing and don't comment, just give it a try.
Anyways, on to the entertainment portion of this thing: the weekly synopsis of Don's life. Things have continued in a wild and crazy way while, at the same time, much of my life has become routine. For instance, the subway system, the most complex in the world, have started to become mundane and easy to manage...as long as I'm not drifting off the beaten path. For instance, trying to find a route to my teaching branch was a ridiculous collection of mis-adventures! The route that I was given my NOVA revolved around two different train lines and then a bus ride to the branch. Being on-time my first day became a race against time. And it was a photo finish! Luckily, I was told of a different route by a very nice teacher which takes me through the heart of Yokohama. Still, not the most entertaining experience of my life but I was lucky with my branch.
My branch is a very, very, VERY small branch. I'm one of two full-time teachers there and the third teacher comes in from other branches. What's nice about this branch though is that the workload is much less than the larger places. There is a lot more time for me to get my head on straight and to focus on the students...sorry, couldn't even say that with a straight face. There's actually a lot more time for me to rest between classes and wonder how I got myself into this crazy mess. That's a lie though, I really do enjoy the job and teaching here is pretty rewarding and it's easy money. I just don't see myself doing it for more than a year. The location of the branch, while far, has many advantages! There is a fantastic grocery store in which I found bottles of Yellowtail shiraz wine and real pizza! There's a movie theatre and a gym across the street. There are gardens close by which are really great. It's a very calming area. Even tonight when I had one of the craziest days of work and needed to calm down I just stood by the bus stop enjoying the breeze. Made it feel a lot like home.
The homesickness seems to have reared its ugly head lately. I was drinking with a few people after kid's training (a hellish 8-hour marathon in which you are expected to teach children the very next day. Awful set-up) in the middle of Yokohama's busiest street and a wave of homesickness hit me when I thought "Everyone from home would love this. Drinking in the middle of the street on a beautiful night." It's the small things that really affect you and that one hit home, literally. I've been trying my best to keep in touch with everyone but it seems that even that has suffered lately making my ties to Canada, family and friends feel frayed and not as strong as they once were. It's been said that around the 3-month mark it really hits hard and a lot of teachers break and head home. I don't think I would ever turn tail and run back but I'm sure it'll be around that time that I'll be craving a piece of home. So if you see my online in Dec. and Jan. with some very sappy and depressing MSN names, please shoot me a line.
I experienced something fantastic the other day: a sushi restaurant with conveyer belts that transport food all around the place! It was simply amazing to see the automation of such an efficient country that they can trust sushi, raw fish that can poison you in a heartbeat, to be carted around by ones and zeros. If you ever get the chance to experience what food is like in automated form, I highly recommend it.
The cell phone charm collection is now up to two. I was blessed with finding a LEGO shop with my roommate Andrew and his Canadian buddy Eamon in a mall in Sakuragicho (if you want to know more about Sakuragicho, please do your homework). they sold LEGO character keychains which can be converted to hang from a cell phone. I went with the obvious choice of the Storm Trooper LEGO man while Andrew choose a Dragon Ball Z character and Eamon picked Batman. For 500 Yen it was well worth it. Half of the excitement was finally finding the damn store. The mall we were wandering around is set up like a goddamn maze! The elevators were colour-coated and, though they may have been listing that they went to floor 4, the buttons didn't light up when you pushed them. It took us a good 30 minutes of searching before finding the Grail. But it was well worth it.
Japanese children are shit to teach. They are so ill-mannered that I just want to slap them. And it's so bizarre because the older Japanese people get, the more mannered they are. It seems that at age 13 children are religiously beaten until they finally let loose their trouble making ways and cave into the docile environment of Japan. That's my theory at least and I challenge anyone to think of a better one (that means you, Andrew!)
Well, that's what's been happening in my life. I hope you stayed tuned to the blog for more wonderful entries from your favourite Canuck in Japan! Talk to you all later!