Sunday, November 22, 2009
Maps, trains, subways, oh my
How do I even begin explaining how stressful and intense this past week has been... The good news are, I survived training, and I did great. Training was quite difficult and the hours were long. Most of the hours were spent commuting to different schools all over the Nagoya area. It sounds simple, but it's not.
The company handed us a list of schools, along with their respective maps. Basically, each day was a challenge: to find out how to get there, to board the right train, to get off at the right stop (most schools were located in the middle of nowhere, where signs are only in Japanese!), then find the actual school, and finally, find the key to unlock the school. And oh, it's not over. You then have to prepare and plan your lessons, and teach under the watchful eye of a supervisor. Stressful!!
And to top it off, we had a nice big exam on Saturday. Thankfully it's all over now, and in exactly a week I'll be settling in my new apartment in Takamatsu. The rest of my group is leaving tomorrow for their respective areas, so this weekend has been filled with various dinner parties and drinking events. I'll be staying in Nagoya a bit longer, since my apartment is not ready yet, working at the office and teaching here and there.
Despite being sleep-deprived and a bit sick, I'm in high spirits. The commuting part was actually a lot of fun- I got to see so many other sides of Japan. Each day I'd arrive in a different town, so I got to walk around and see more sides of daily life. Big cities in Japan are fun and bustling, but I believe the 'real' Japan is in smaller towns. I just loved listening to my music and watch the countryside, and to also study my Japanese. I am learning so much every day. I can now actually read half of the katakana characters!
Trains are so pleasant in Japan: spacious, efficient, and always on time. And, very quiet as well. Train operators are so helpful, they'll actually come get me inside the train to let me know it's my stop.
I am still so happy. My attitude towards cultural differences is so different from back in Korea. I remember getting so upset when faced with a challenge. I'm so much more relaxed now towards everything. Living abroad can really make you feel like you're on the top of the world, but it can also make you feel like you're sinking- especially with the language barrier. And knowing the language can make a big difference... and I'll have to work extra hard, since the area I'm moving to is all Japanese!
I've been making quite a few plans for the upcoming weeks: perhaps a day trip to Kyoto, and New Years in Tokyo! So much to look forward to, and Christmas should be nice. I know I won't be around family, but I'll still manage to have a great time, and make the most of it.
Making the most of it. This is my motto for this year in Japan.
PS. Japanese fashion is SICK.