Greetings from Japan! First of all, I made it to Toyama, safe and sound. It’s Monday, August 8th now, and I have been in Japan for a full week. Today is the first day that I do not feel like I’ve been sucked through the engine of a jet. In fact, today is the first day that I have needed my alarm clock to wake up for work, a great victory in the battle against jet lag.
The first two days in Tokyo were a bit rough. They were filled with meetings of one sort or another from for a solid 12 hours each day. I have to be honest; I didn’t leave the hotel much at all. While other people used the evenings to see some of the sights in the city, I used them to sleep. I was a bit upset with myself for not seeing more of Tokyo but I’m over it now. I can always go back for a weekend and actually be able to see things during the day, rather than being stuck in conference rooms.
The third day, August 3rd, I hopped on a plane with the other newbies from my area and we headed for Toyama. At the Toyama airport my supervisor and my predecessor greeted me and drove me into the city. They helped me pay my rent and apply for my alien registration card. (You might recall that it took me a full 3 months to get my ARC in Korea. This is proving to be a much different experience so far.) After all that was done, I met the other English teachers from my school an we went to dinner. It was, to say the least, a very warm welcome.
The only thing major thing that we didn’t do the first day was go to the school. This meant that on Thursday morning I had to make my way to the school without ever having been there. No worries, I got off at the train station and followed the children in uniforms, like a true creep! Anyhow, things at school are good. My predecessor left awesome notes and a ton of materials for me to go through. It’s also summer holidays right now so there are no classes for me to teach and very few teachers in the staff room. There are still students at the school, however. Some are there for club activities and some for extra exam-prep classes. So, I have met some students. I had forgotten how much I can intimidate children just by speaking English.
I spent the weekend unpacking my bags, doing laundry, exploring my neighbourhood a bit, learning how to use my phone, and generally relaxing. I like my apartment a lot. It’s pretty big (very big, by Japanese standards) and for the first time in my life I have a living area that is separate from my sleeping area. I feel like Kate Middleton. However….
My building is known to have a cockroach problem. Not my apartment, specifically, but the building in general. I didn’t think much about this before arriving. I had dealt with cockroaches in Korea and, while I wouldn’t call myself an expert, I can at least kill them without squealing.
Or so I thought. Saturday evening I was chilling, watching some CSI, when a giant beast thumped across my floor. Seriously, this cockroach was twice the size of my big toe. I HEARD it before I saw it. I, unarmed, did the logical thing and jumped up on the table. That’s when the cockroach saw me. It looked at me, sized me up, and then laughed in my general direction before it swaggered away to smoke cigars under my TV stand.
I took this opportunity to fetch a hiking boot and returned to my perch atop the table. When the cockroach emerged, I pounced with all my might and I smashed it with my boot. I decided that there was an acceptable amount of cockroach gut on my floor so I left to get a Kleenex for clean up. I also took this opportunity to brag to everyone on Facebook that I had defeated the cockroach.
Since I had already finished my bragging, you can imagine how red my face must have been when I returned to the living room to find that the sucker was gone. Vanished. He had duped me. How embarrassing, to be outsmarted by a cockroach. Once I realised that the little jerk was still at large, I emitted some high pitch noises and jumped back up onto the table, where I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, I saw some antennae poking around from under the closet doors. I got ready and soon he emerged. His injury had slowed him so I was able to attack with ease this time. The scene that ensued would have been worthy of its own CSI episode. But in the end, he was dead. And flushed down the toilet. (I watched the toilet for a few minutes to make sure he didn’t crawl back up.)
So… where was I again? Oh, right, Japan is great! I originally meant to write a post about how I suck at languages, but now I’ve spent too much time blathering about roach-hunting. It is my intention to eliminate any potential readers, one revolting topic at a time. Next post: ear wax. I’m just kidding . . . probably.