Friday, May 11, 2012

A glimpse into Japan

Welcome to my blog! Thanks so much for your interest. I decided to start this blog because I want to share my stories and adventures easily with others far away while living in Japan. Life is all about relationships and I want to allow those who have blessed my life to still be able to connect with me and the unique opportunity I have this year in Japan.

While this blog won't exactly be my personal journal, I want to share as much as I can to make it full of adventurous stories and illustrate my personal experiences living in such an interesting, foreign country. The last thing I want to do is to write a boring blog. Several of you have come to me expressing interest in me developing a blog, so unless you all were just trying to be nice, I hope this helps serve what you were looking for. It is nice that a few people have promised to read my blog. If my blog is written well enough, I know Dad will too...I'm pretty sure I'm joking :)

I plan to write about several different areas of my life here, including my daily life encounters teaching English to the cutest elementary kids you are going to find, my walk with God, my travels, my general personal roller coaster, my adventures with a language I hardly know, the running, and the culture that intertwines all of the above together. But mostly, I plan to write about the Portland Trailblazers... not really, I know they're terrible and I'll (try to) keep my fandom to myself. I hope you join me in my adventure. It might be more entertaining for you to read than it might be for me to live at times. I owe so much to such great friends and family, you have all shaped me in every good thing within me and I truly mean that. Life without you all would be quite boring and meaningless.

In describing the adventure so far it's impossible to know where to start. How do you start writing about culture in general? Throughout this blog, I will focus on certain aspects of Japan. If I try to fit it all in right now, I won't  finish, I'll do a lousy job touching on everything and you probably won't ever read my blog again. 

I do think it will be best to give you a quick overview of my first four weeks here. I left from Portland on April 12th, and took a quick flight to Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver offers a nice transition into Asia because at the international portion of the airport I started getting adjusted to seeing so many Asian people and I began to consciously notice when someone was conversing in English. I then boarded my flight and arrived at the Narita Airport after having read a book and watching a movie. (It's about a 10 hour flight, the movie I watched was called, "The Spirit of the Marathon" I highly recommend it to you if you are either a runner or if you're not and don't understand us). Once I got to Narita, I met up with about 12 other new Assistant English Teachers and a couple of wonderful employees from the Mito City board of education who greeted us and escorted us around. We then Boarded a bus and headed for about a two hour ride into Mito City.

Since arriving, my first few days were spent wondering why all the white people were hiding and waking up at 4:00 in the morning curious as to where I was and how I got there. The first week of work consisted of getting trained with the other new AET's (There are 15 new AET's) by the lead AET's, Kendon and Ben. It has been a pleasure to get to know both Kendon and Ben. At the end of the first week of training, I was introduced to my administrators and teachers at both of my schools (Uchihara Elementary and Koibuchi Elementary). I then started going to my schools exclusively on the following Monday. I bike to each school everyday. Uchihara Elementary is just about 4 minutes on my bike and Koibuchi is about 3 miles away. I to get to school everyday at 8:00 and stay until about 5:00. The Japanese teachers usually stay much later and they obviously take a lot of pride in their work.

Overall the experienced AET's have been so helpful and hospitable. Upon arrival, new AET's such as myself are assigned older AET's who have been here at least a year and mine have been tremendous. Paul, Brooke, Aaron and Kimberly have set up my apartment, taken me shopping, given me rides, bought countless things for me, entertained me and basically taken care of me like I was a childhood friend. I can't offer enough gratitude to them. It crossed my mind to fabricate a lie and say that I did everything on my own but after deep thought I knew no one would believe me. 

I will say, most of the AET's are clustered within the central Mito City area but I am on an island, about four miles west of the other AET's. I'm pretty sure the Japanese education administrators were playing a funny prank on me by putting the guy that knew the least amount of Japanese far out by himself! I think many of the AET's have sympathy for how isolated I am, but it works out alright. I am really close to a train station that can take me where I need to go pretty quickly. There is also a really big mall really close to my apartment. My neighborhood (Uchihara) is considered the country by locals. People who have not been to Japan may not realize how spread out it is. Even though Japan's population is about 130 million (California is about the same size as Japan, yet only has 37 million people), it is the big cites that are so incredibly dense, the rest of Japan is quite spread out.

Japan is absolutely beautiful and I will make sure to post a lot more pictures, both on this blog and on Facebook. Some things that I see on a daily basis are quite unbelievable, it's as if I have to see them on a daily basis to believe what I'm seeing is real.  Much of what I've seen so far is just like I imagined Japan to look like. Majestic is the word that keeps resurfacing when I think of the Japanese scenery.  

One thing I find quite entertaining and wanted to mention now is running into my students outside of the classroom. I've always heard teachers in America talk about how surprised their kids are to see them someplace other than the classroom, but I imagine what transpires when my kids see me is that and more. The kids eyes get insanely large and they shout/question "David Sensei!!!?" (Teacher) and they stare like they're fixated on the apocalypse; it's as if their world has been blown! One third grade girl saw me and ran circles around the grocery store isle until her mom found her. I think I might start hanging around the grocery store more often just to be entertained by the students' reactions to witnessing me. 

Of course there is a lot more to post about my life so far in Japan, but that's what I get for starting a blog one month into my time here. I will post more soon! I know as much as I wrote, I'm really just skimming the surface. Thank you for reading, I appreciate you all so much! Throughout all the excitement this past month has bestowed upon me, I still miss everyone so much! 

I would love for you to post your comments and questions. If there is something you would like for me to answer or talk about please let me know! This blog is for you! I plan to write next about my thoughts on the food in Japan among various other things. I thought about including it in this first post but it would have taken too long.

Thanks for participating in my adventure! I appreciate you all so much!