Monday, August 2, 2010

Japan, Pt.1

It's been a week since I arrived in Japan and I'm just not getting around to writing about it! It's hard to write about, because it's all felt so surreal, like I'm going to wake up from this crazy dream any minute. Once I stepped onto the plane in Denver, I knew this was going to be unlike anything I'd ever experienced before, especially since I'd never traveled outside the U.S., I didn't know what to expect.

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Tokyo in the summer is the extreme humidity. It's hard not to notice - it's like hitting a wall! People are sweating and Japanese men have towels wrapped around their heads, which is a great idea, in my opinion. JET Volunteers herded us onto buses and we made our way to Keio Plaza, where JET Orientation was going to be held for 2 days. It was amazing to see all the other people that were going to be in JET as well this year - Irish, Australian, South African, etc. I was feeling pretty jet lagged the first day and a half of orientation, but I soldiered my way through as I attempted to remember all the things they were telling us. I joked to the others that I felt we were in some Japanese Amusement Park, because being in the hotel with all the other foreigners just didn't feel like we were actually here. When we weren't in workshops and orientations, a few new friends and I tried to make it out to Shinjuku, which is exactly how you imagine Tokyo to be - bright lights and people everywhere.

We ate at a Udon place and walked around and around, just taking it all in. When we stopped to sit for a while, this older Japanese man came up to us and tried to speak English to us. He said something about Obama and asked me why my eyes were so big. I told him I didn't know. One thing I noticed about Japan is that the workers in the stores are always yelling - I'm assuming it's to coerce you enter their restaurant or store. Another thing I noticed is how extremely clean Japan is - I have not seen a single piece of trash anywhere, and there's hardly trashcans to be seen. You can't say that about New York!

So on Wednesday we made our one-hour flight up north to Sapporo, and as we departed the plane I was relieved to feel a cool breeze and hardly any humidity! There are 4 new ALT's in our group - myself and another from the US, one from Australia, and another from South Africa. We've all become quite close, and it's nice to have the others for support when you need it.

We've been staying in a hotel while the ALTs before us move out and clean. The other three moved out of the hotel today, since they live in an apartment complex separate from me, and I move in tomorrow. I feel that that's when I'll feel like I'm truly in Japan and not on some vacation - when I have a place to call my own and have to figure out how to buy stuff at the supermarket! And of course when Nathan and Ethan finally arrive. That's when Sapporo when truly be home.

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