On this day, exactly a month ago, I arrived in the little city of Onomichi. It was sweltering hot and felt like I was swimming through the air it was so humid. I was picked up by my supervisor (who doesn’t seem to posses a personality, which I am still looking for by the way) from the airport and promptly delivered to my base school (the school where I report to when I am not going to ‘visit’ schools). Confused, flustered, drained and bewildered, I was literally thrown into the deep end on my first day and tried not to drown. Since then, a month down the line, I feel like I have mastered at least one stroke, which is keeping me nicely afloat.
On another note, I am happy to say that last night was the first night I didn’t have to turn on my fan to keep cool as it wasn’t too hot and sticky. And even today, the weather has been quite temperate that I found myself not drenched in sweat when I returned to my apartment. Today is actually a perfect day for me in terms of the weather – perhaps a sign of an early autumn? Nevertheless, it is far better than what it was a month ago 😉
There are some things that I have experienced or encountered this past month which I feel are worth a mention in this post, some are practical, the others are random. So please enjoy 🙂
- Mastering the art of bus-taking
I am quite proud of this achievement of (almost) mastering bus-taking, especially since back in South Africa I drive everywhere in my car (oh, how I miss my car!). So you can imagine how overwhelmed I felt at first when I was told that my main mode of transport would be taking various buses every day to and from school. I know it is quite simple and straight forward to most, but for me it was a bit more, and on top of that all the bus stop names are all in Japanese!
However, thanks to taking pictures of all my bus stop timetables on my phone, and double checking with my predecessor, I have been able to fit comfortably into the routine. Apart from that one incident when I took the wrong bus, but it turns out that was because it was Obon holiday week and the buses were working on ‘weekend’ times. Plus I am starting to recognise certain passengers that take the same bus route in the morning, which is nice 🙂
Ah internet, how I love thee, let me count the ways… or more like let me count the weeks. So you might not know this, but for the most of August my predecessor was staying with me in my apartment as she was only leaving at the end of the month to go home – even though her JET contract had finished in July. Since I had the space (my apartment is somewhat big), I let her stay on, which was to my benefit because she allowed me to use her phone wifi-walker thingy to access the internet. This was brilliant and all because I was able to keep this blog up to date and keep in contact with home comfortably.
However, I realised that at the end of August she would be heading back home to America and I would be internet-less. So, I did some research and found a company that specialises in assisting foreigners getting internet set up in Japan. I will mention the company’s name here as I came across a few people on the JET forums asking about how to get internet connection, and perhaps a reader or two of this post might find it handy as well. They are called BBApply, just Google the name and you will find them extremely helpful. The guy that runs the whole business acts as a go-between, helping you apply and send in the correct information to a Japanese internet company. He ended up phoning me a few times (he lives in America) to answer some questions of mine, which was helpful.
Within two weeks of sending my details to him, I was contacted by the Japanese internet company, confirmed a delivery date of my modem, and this past Saturday I officially started using my own ADSL internet connection in my apartment. Hoorah! Now I am content as can be because I have been able to download all my series and anime that I have been missing this past month, which leads me to my next topic…
Before I arrived in Japan, I enjoyed the odd anime or two. All I did was watch them, nothing more… until I came to Japan and I discovered a shop called Animate. I warn you all now, if you are at least a tiny bit interested in anime or manga, and you want to watch your wallet, then do not enter an Animate shop. I didn’t heed that warning, and stepped right on in only to find scenes like this:
And ended up buying things like this:
There are Animate stores everywhere, and they stock everything and anything that you could possibly think of in terms of your favourite anime or manga, the likes of which I have never seen before. Apparently the one I went into was a ‘small’ one, and have been now told to visit the one in Hiroshima City… though I can already hear my wallet screaming at the thought. Oh, by the way, have you seen my new wallet I bought the other day?
- Comfort Food
So this last section has a hint of advice to it for all new, incoming JET’s for next year, because I have found that having some sort of comfort food that is familiar from home helps with settling in a bit better. My familiar food came in the form of Milo and Marie Biscuits. I happened to see them in one of the shops 3 weeks ago and immediately grabbed them off the shelf, along with a carton of milk and butter – to compliment them of course 😉
The fact that I love drinking Milo and eating Marie Biscuits in South Africa makes it all the sweeter and enjoyable here in Japan (though I do admit that they both taste slightly different to what I am used to). Having something to drink and munch on that I recognise, and to be able to read the labels, is a nice break from the assault of kanji and strange looking tentacle things in packets that I see every single time I go shopping for groceries.
Oh, and you should of seen me when I found Skippy Peanut Butter.
That was a good day…
So that’s it for now. From next week I officially start teaching at my schools (wish me luck!), so I am sure that is going to provide some interesting content for future posts.
Last, but not least:
Official Onomichi Cat Count: 7