or as we say in japn ... さしぶり。(sashiburi)
It has felt like I have been on spring vacation for a very long time...which is one of the reasons for my absence on this site - mainly because I would come on this site to pass time whilst at work!
And guess what!...I'm now back at work!
This is in fact my second day back after about a 3 week spring vacation (March 23rd~April 16th). This is supposed to be the part when I tell you all about my exciting adventures...
...However, I'm sorry to say that I am a very dull boy! (Don't agree so easily!) :-P
In actual fact, I decided to stay another year in the same location - this being my third year in Miyako City.
I remember 2 years ago, around this time, when I arrived in Miyako during the evening and as I dragged my suitcase through the side streets following the map given to me, hoping that i would get lost - i though to myself "This is really it!"
I'm not going to lie - I was crapping myself - I felt like i had been dropped from a plane on a survival exercise - even when i got to the hotel I just flapped a piece of paper in front of them and said 'Interac' - luckily they got the gist.
I also remember, that me being british, really needed a cup of tea after about 6hours travelling by train - problem is, in Japan they provide you with green tea and some herbal tea - no regular tea and not even coffee...which means no milk!!!
Now, again being British, I had come prepared with PG Tips - unfortunately i was exhausted, had no idea where the nearest store was and to be honest i hadnt a clue how to ask... So, i found a vending machine - i bit the bullet and pressed the button for milk tea (luckily some things have english on).
To my horror, it was cold!!!
Cold...milk...tea!!!... who ever came up with this idea should have been shot - even worst was the insult on the bottle - it read "ENGLISH milk tea"... it became apparent that these people needed educating in the ways of tea making BRITISH STYLE!!!
I wasnt ready to give up! - My room came with a small metal pot and a mini hot plate - in my desperation i poured the tea into the pot and heated it up... the tea wasnt great - but i was able to dunk my biscuit which i had brought from home.
Over the two years living here I have noticed a change in myself - and even others have too...
I rarely ever drink tea!
I spend my weekends at Mr Donuts in the morning (mainly for the free refills on coffee and the space to study)
I love karaoke!
I forget English words because I'm used to using Japanese instead (im still a beginner, but sometimes the Japanese sounds better, or is quicker to say)
I am gradually finding that i prefer the company of japanese people than foreign people.
My way of life is less stressed and a little bit slower.
To me, a day trip driving 2-4hours there and then 2-4hours back seems completely normal.
Where once I could tell you the price of things in £ i now only know in yen...even trying to convert yen to pound confuses me.
I friend also sent me a list of things a japanese person does and that foreigners who have been in japan a long time do -
some of these things include, bowing whilst on the phone, japanese sound effects (such as gasping etc), waving a hand in front of the face to say no, starring at foreign people, finding it perfectly normal to sit on the floor, automatically removing shoes in an entrance way, putting your phone on silence in public etc
For me, I would say 2 years is a long time - but when you live in a small town with strong community values, where restaurants remember your orders and shops remember your faces - not to mention living through an earthquake and tsunami and being one a few foreigners that stay... you really do create bonds.
When i first started writing this blog - i mentioned this is my second day back at school...I didn't know before spring vacation if I would get to return - contracts change every year and unfortunately we get very little say.
So, before I left, I said my goodbyes and ended by saying that I hope to return...In all honesty, returning to the school was more because I'm not one for change (although I'm gettting used to it now)...I didnt really think I had a huge effect on my schools...
...So, I was very shocked when on my first day I had many of my students excited to see me - many spoke in English and told me how happy they were that I stayed in Japan and that I am still their teacher.
Walking into the classrooms to see my students look up and then smile when they see its me, really makes a job like this worth while!!!
So yes i had spring vacation but no i didnt do much - but thats because, the way I see it, is that I'm not just a person here for a year and feel the need to see as much as possible before i leave - i see myself as someone who has fallen in love with Japan and want to stay long term and get to experience japan, not as a tourist, but as a member of a community!!!
However, my family are asking when i will come home ot visit - i havent left Japan since coming here :-S
So remember - Spending a year in a county is great - you get to do things most people dont and you get to experience a hint of what its really like to live in another country...however, i think it takes time to adapt, to change and to stop living like a foreigner - to really experience a place i think you need to be there more than 2 years... my friend lived here for 4 years - he's now moved to a bigger city 1.5hours away (just incase he feels the need to come visit...which he's already done several times)