By now, you all have probably heard my canned tuna story.
If you haven’t, it goes like this: I was out grocery shopping one of my first weeks here and I picked up a few cans of fish to have in my pantry for those nights (or lunches) when you don’t feel like cooking. The wifi wasn’t working at this supermarket and I couldn’t get the offline Google Translate features to read the characters on the can, so I picked up a few cans all under 100 yen and threw them in my cart, hoping for the best.
This week was a tough one. I know it’s only my second full week here, but it was a doozy. Emotions ran high from the start and continued through the week, each day seeming longer than the previous. I had one toe on the ledge and had to be talked down multiple times.
It belongs on bread, apples, oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, spoons, fingers you name it! So imagine my horror at discovering that Japan doesn’t really “do” peanut butter like the US does it. I took two jars of Trader Joe’s PB with me, but I know that will run out eventually… if I pace myself though, I might make it last until May.
There is a lot of talking involved in being a teacher.
My vocal-cords aren’t used to keeping up with the amount of talking that’s required on a daily basis. I woke up Tuesday morning (or rather I hardly slept at all that before because my throat hurt so badly), but when I turned my alarm off, it was a nasty surprise when I opened my mouth and no sound came out.
One of my co-teachers told me today, “Living in this town is like living in Japan on hard mode.”
Having only been here for about a week and a half, this made me pause and think. She’s not wrong. I’m in the small city of Toyohashi, which is south of Nagoya, and even then my apartment is about 2 miles south of “center city”. So I’m basically in Japanese suburbia.
It was a long time coming, but it finally happened, I’m in Japan!
Packing was a fun challenge, and a topic for another post, but I somehow managed to cram a years’ worth of clothes into one big duffle roller, one carry on sized roller, and two backpacks which joined me in the planes’ cabin. (One of the backpacks was basically all snacks and it was the best idea ever.)
Even though I’ve done this flight before, I’ve never done it with a one way ticket. The first leg of the journey was a delightful 15.5 hours from DC to Hong Kong, then a quick stop over in Taipei, and then touchdown in Nagoya Int’l Airport. But we’re not done, after about 26 hours of planes, then I enjoyed another 2 hours of trains with the added bonus of having to carry/push/drag all my luggage with me on the tiny trains. I was as graceful as I could be, but I think I still rolled over a couple toes. Oops…
Fast forward to today and I’m more or less all moved into the apartment I took over from the previous year’s teacher who left a few days before I arrived. It’s a big apartment with a few fun surprises, namely the lack of central air/heat and counter space, but I’ll make it work. The bedroom has a single sized futon mattress directly on the tatami mat flooring, so yup, my bed is on the floor (this is the part where I complain about missing my fluffy queen sized mattress back home).
The room adjacent to my bedroom has a heated floor blanket thing, with a low table on top of it. Almost a kotatsu, but not really, but its wonderful to turn it on and eat dinner off of.
The kitchen is adorable. It has most of the important pieces — sink, fridge, two gas burners, garbage can — but it is lacking in the counter space aspect as well as an oven. Going to be a challenge trying to bake cookies without an oven. I think the smallest hostel room I’ve stayed in is still slightly bigger than this. It’s cute.
Second bedroom is reserved for my suitcases. They needed some space after being kept in the cargo for so long. I’ll check in on them once a week to make sure they’re okay.
The bathroom is a delight as well. Big room with a washing machine and then separate rooms for the toilet and shower/tub. Nothing remarkable about it. Except it’s cold because of the lack of central heat at the moment.
The apartment is about 2 miles south of center city Toyohashi, and altogether it’s about an hour south of Nagoya by train. Nagoya is the third largest city in Japan, so I’m not totally out in the styx. I have a 20 minute walk to the school and so far I’ve only met with the directors to learn about the school and what I’ll be doing. Their new semester starts next week and I’m looking forward to it. Mildly terrified though as I’ve never had to teach 14 three year olds before, so here’s hoping I make it out alive!
I just want to say thank you again for all the kinds words of encouragement and support you’ve all expressed towards me. I know it might not seem like a big deal, but you all have helped keep me sane through the beginning part of this journey. I still can’t tell you why I’ve had this constant tug on my soul to do this, but now that I’m here I’m excited, overwhelmed, and just in awe that it’s actually happening. I only hope I make all you proud and that I can impart some knowledge into the minds of those 14 munchkins through out this year.