So much has happened in such a short time that I dont even know where to begin.
I guess the first thing is to appologise for the silence and not responding in a timely manner to people who sent me a message. The reason for this is due to the location that i am in.
Originally I was suppose to be in Miyako City but i was relocated to Yamada (about 30mins drive south of Miyako) due to Interac thinking it would be easier for me for the commute to and from the schools.
I knew nothing about Yamada but I was shocked to find that rather then being in a small city like Miyako that had a McDonald (should i need a break from japanese food), western shops, big supermarkets etc it was infact a small fishing town with a few shops and a train station.
This meant that my apartment was not hooked up to the internet grid and has taken about a month to set up (well infact im using the schools internet cos i get connected on the 18th)
I`ve been teaching about 3 weeks now, although one week was golden week here in japan which is a series of Holidays together which meant i had a nice week off being ill. That was fun, a cold and sore throat bug thingy was going around and is still lingering. It also meant that i was ill for my birthday and so i spent the day in bed and moping around my apartment.
I will hopefully be uploading an apartment video tour when i have my internet so rather then go into details about it i will wait. All i will say is that for one person its quite big for japanese standard and in fact a friend told me its more or a family apartment (i think that was pushing it a bit).
Yamada is nice but a bit on the quiet side apart from the regular chimes telling me its 6am or 9pm etc and then the train that goes by at the back of my apartment. I must admit i have got use to it all now.
Getting to the schools is usually by train with the students at 720am 3 times a week. The other 2 times i bike half way and then push it up the steap hill (coming home is more fun). Its about an hours commute to the schools because after the train journey i then have to walk, so i am in talks with Interac to try and get a car. That way i can stay after school and visit some of the clubs. I would like to see more martial arts and even learn baseball...but we will see.
I teach at 3 high schools - one has a lower level of English with a handfull of really good students so doing the lesson can be difficult cos the students sometimes switch off and talk in japanese. The other 2 schools i like very much, even though one is all boys (except for 5 girls) - they can get a bit noisy but they do try and speak in English at least.
When i came here i knew hardly any japanese...that was a worry but even in this small town people are so friendly and make every effort to help, even if they are speaking in japanese. I find myself everyday learning more and more japanese without even picking up a book. Sometimes just listening to people speak helps. Also recognising hand gestures help, i now find myself waving my hand in front of my face when i say no and pointing to my nose when refering to myself.
I would be lying if i said its all been easy and that ive been the happiest ive ever been. The truth be told coming japan, especially to a more isolated place then i expected made me feel as though i had been stripped bare of everything. I could no longer order food by myself, i had no phone, no internet, no tv (so no way of communicating with people back home), i had limited money, im the only westener in my town, i was in a brand new job and had to catch a train to work. Everything was alien to me, everything was different and scary and to be honest i didnt know how i was going to cope and considered giving up and moving home...<----This is what you call cultural shock...the first brick wall you will probably hit when you arrive here!!!
After awhile though i eventually got a phone with limited internet on so i could finally have my mum call me and email people and use facebook...i was gradually getting back in touch with the world again. My land lord gave me a bike so i was able to bike around and gradually get to know my area. The ALTs in Miyako made an extra effort to get me involved and to hang out with them making time pass quicker. I was able to mingle with japanese people and gradually start picking up the language. The other day i was able to order my food by myself. Last week a had a conversation with an old lady at the train station. The teachers are very friendly and helpful. Soon i will have internet and i have treated myslef to an ipad to cheer me up.
Basically what I am trying to say is you cannot prepare for everything. Moving to a new country will challenge you but that is what its all about. Go with an open mind, experience everything for what it is and dont always compare with what its like in your own country. Take not only photos of home but video too. If possible get people to record messages so if you are out and about and feel a bit down you can listen to voices of home. I`m normally quite a shy person so i have had to learn to ask for help, to be willing to try new things.
The final advice is get to know as many people as possible. They could be friends for life...
If you need any advice or have any questions then please ask away!
In my next blog i will be writing about a Japanese wedding that ive been invited to this weekend and hopefully next week i will have pictures and videos up (fingers crossed internet gets connected without a problem)
Bye for now!!!