I know it has been a loong time since my last post, and a LOT has happened…mostly…oh you know…MOVING to JAPAN!
WE are here 🙂 I am going to break this post down timeline style so here we go!
Saturday, Aug 2
Going away party
Thanks to the hard work of my family (my parents, my aunts, my sister, and my mother-in-law) we had a smashing party! Great weather (finally!) and lots of love and memories shared and made. That evening I spent time with my family. With my sister I watched the much anticipated Outlander (novel) TV premier. It was soo good and I am so happy I got to see it with her before we left. Later I went out with my mum and dad for margaritas 🙂
Sunday, Aug 3
Up bright and early for our first flight! Landed in Chicago around 1230, rented a car and met Paul’s aunt and uncle for pizza! Oooh Chicago has some nomnom pizza! Instead of staying in a hotel, we prefer to use AirBNB. If you haven’t heard of it, look it up. We have done this several times, even hosting once, and it’s so great. We headed to our BNB which was 10 minutes from the pizza joint and got settled in. It was a lovely home with a lovely couple. It was also a great place to relax before meeting up with our friends (Paul’s childhood friends I might add) at their home (about 15 mins away). I love spending time with Ray, his wife Jessica, and Angelo. If only we all lived closer! They fixed us a terrific meal-steak, corn, asparagus, potatoes, salad…the list continues. The hottub was, well hot, but it made for great relaxation and conversation after dinner. We said our goodbyes with promises to see each other soon…literally! Angelo visits in October and we have tenative plans to meet in S. Korea with Ray and Jessica to show us around sometime in the future! After midnight we crashed!
Monday, Aug 4
With another early day, we awoke with the sun and headed for the airport. Tokyo Bound! The flight wasn’t actually so bad as I made it out to be. Yes, 12-13 hours…but when the clock said 4 hours left I said…really? I guess I was plenty entertained. I watched 4 movies…Divergent, Harry Potter (hehehe, thanks ANA airlines for that solid!), The Grand Budapest Hotel (strange but good), and The Other Woman (very funny indeed). I actually slept a bit too without needing my medicine! I suggest bringing a bigger pillow. They provide a blanket and small pillow…but an extra regular sized one would help cushin you when you lean on ‘someone’ or the window. Paul enjoyed the aisle seat so he could stretch his legs. I like the window to cuddle with. We had 2 meal services. Both were pretty good-ummm, the first was a hamburger type meal, no bun but a dinner roll. Potatoes, carrots and broccoli-then I had something with noodles and chicken? ANA (All Nippon Airlines) was a GREAT flight. The flight attendants are some of the best, and the planes were top of the line. Take the time to fly them if you get the chance!
At some point Paul and I played games-tetris and something else against each other on our monitors. Overall, super easy flight.
We arrived in Tokyo about on time (I might check with my dad on that as he stayed up all night tracking our flight…I love you daddy!!!) 1:00 pm ish…strangest thing about the flight…? It was daylight the whole time! It never got dark. Silly timezones!
We made it through immigration with a breeze where we were issued our Residence Card (green card…we are legal now!) then headed for customs…again, another breeze. From there we took a connector flight to Nagoya in a smaller plane and landed about 6ish pm. After collecting our luggage we saw Matthew (headmaster of our school)! He met us at our gate, exchanged big hugs, attempted to get a rental phone (waaay too expensive so nogo-luckily Matthew loaned us an old flip phone that belongs to the school-came in very handy!), exchanged some cash money, met Judy who is Canadian and recently left and England teaching post and headed home!
It was about an hours drive from the airport to our apartment, most of which I don’r remember. 30 minutes into the ride Paul passed out (snoring so loudly I might add) and I was zoning in and out.
Once in our aparment (and after the air finally kicked in) we passed out…only to wake up at 4 am.
Tuesday, Aug 5
4 am is not a good time of day. Ever! We were starving so after trying to get into our bags for bathroom stuff, I fixed breakfast. Luckily the fridge was stocked with some basics, including eggs, fruit, bacon, cheese, yogurt, milk, butter, etc. The eggs are so good…and the yolk is almost orange-but they taste almost better to me! I took a couple hours after that to unpack and try to organize a bit. Move some furniture around etc. At some point we decide to brazen a walk to the Aeon, a typle of 2-story (as most are built up rather than out) shopping complex for some more food. Matthew had said it was close by…but where? No internet, no cell phones…no car (it was at school). So we walked out and Paul had the bright idea (no really, it was!) to look around and saw the big tower that said Aeon. It was brilliant! We headed that way. Luckily it wasn’t so long of a walk, but it was hot. Saw some cool buildings along the way-lots of things we couldn’t read 🙂
The store (which we have visited often) has a grocery on the left, a bike shop on the right, a clothing store above the grocery, and 100 yen shop (dollar store) above the bike shop, and a Sports Authority next to that. Once inside, I watched what others were doing, somewhat followed suit, and made our way through the aisles. Though everything was in Japanese, we were able to find what we were looking for. Sprinkled within the local products were western (like Febreeze). Our first shopping experience was great actually-got what we wanted, waited in line, sort of communicated with the cashier, paid for our food with yen (without making a mistake!), and made it back to the apartment (only getting slightly lost trying to go a different way) without any problems. Paul wasn’t arrested for anything and I don’t think I offended anyone!
Our IT person, Sylvia, whom I spoke with a lot before we arrived came over to meet us officially and say hi! She Scotish and a hoot! Can’t wait to hang out with her more! Then Reiko came over to show us how to work things in our place, sign some paper work, etc. She took us up to the school-I saw my room! We did more paper work, tested out our car (didn’t drive it until the next day), and found the room holding our stuff we purchased from teachers who were leaving NIS. Sylvia then met us at the school to take us back to her house to use internet (yay!), have coffee, and hang out before we went to dinner with the gang (well, those of us who were there).
Kappa Sushi-conveyor belt 100 yen sushi. A wild experience. Basically sushi of all kinds comes out on a conveyor belt by your table. It’s all the same price, so you just grab the plate you want. If you choose to, you can order something from the menu using the touch screen computer at the booth. Your food then arrives on a bullet train-so cool! Pretty tasty! We both started to nearly pass out during dinner and soon passed out at home…it was only 8 something.
Thursday, Aug 6
Sylvia picked us up early-though it wasn’t so early as we were up around 430 am! Stupid jet lag and time change had us up early and eating breakfast. Once we got to the school we loaded up the car with stuff for home and I ventured out to the Japanese roads for the first time in our Honda Fit. I was terrified! I won’t lie…but today I feel like a pro. It was strange, very strange at first. Everything is different, it’s hard to tell depth perception on the other side…or at least it’s different so you have to adjust. The blinker is on the right instead of the left, so only a couple times I have accidentially turned on the wipers instead. After some early hesitation, it got easier. The worst parts to look out for are the drain ditches that are uncovered on many roads…you can get tires stuck in them (eeeek) and the “two way streets” which are really only suitable for one car at a time, which means someone pulls over slightly, avoiding ditches, to let the other car pass. All while being on the opposite side of the road. Sheesh, it’s a lot to think about.
We came back to the school and decided to load up a huge, long and skinny work van with the rest of our stuff, plus two other teacher’s things. I hopped in, backed it up along a curvy road, then drove it to all three apartment buildings where Paul, Judy and I helped deliver furniture. I can’t beleive on my first day driving I drove (very well I might add) a utility van. Ah well, seize the day and all that.
We met up with our translator who helped us aquire phones…which took 4 hours. They are so very efficient in Japan…really, they are. That’s why it takes longer…they go through everything.
We were late to our official welcome dinner because of that…made everyone else wait an hour 😦 We felt so bad (there were 5 of us doing phones). We had a traditional meal, Okonomiyaki Honpo Kozoji…which is a tabehodai (all you can eat, timed meal). We take our shoes off, sit in sunken tables, and the grill in on in front of you. We all have a total of 17 minutes to order food, from the first time someone makes an order. Basically you just point to the dishes you want, but we had someone who spoke Japanese order most everything as she knew what she was about.
It’s also unlimited beer/soda in that time. Paul was a happy camper after moving all day. We had so much food…chicken, pork, octopus balls (a type of hushpuppy with octopus inside), egg pancakes (the raw bowl comes out with egg, rice, veggis, seasonings…all different. You mix it, then pour it on the grill. Each side cookes for 6 minutes and then you use two spatulas to expertly flip it over. You top them with mayo drizzle, a ‘bbq’ type sauce, and fish flakes. They were all quite yummy. Again we all (the newbies) started falling asleep, and it was hot-so after we finally left it was time for bed. Again it was only 9 something.
Getting cell phones! Does everyone know how to order?
The past two days were filled with many adventures and activities. We went to McDonald’s for breakfast…sorry America, Japan beats you! Their food is so much better! Did you know American meat is banned in Japan? Don’t blame them. Meat comes from New Zealand mostly, and some other places. Orientation Friday was about opening checking accounts, taxes, health insurance, bill pay, etc. We took a tour of the school-it’s huge! And beautiful! And small all at the same time. I was in my classroom a bit looking through cabinets, hanging up my Norton Park shrine as Paul calls it! Friday night was Karyaoke. They do it so different here. You rent a private room for your group and it has unlimited sodas and strange bar drinks. We sang for 3 hours staight, all (15?) of us who were there…but it was really fun. I usually don’t like karyoke…but this was great. Will definitely do it again! Paul stayed home…needed some quiet time.
Saturday we met my sister’s college roommate, Akika, who was a Japanese foreign exchange student who happens to live close by! Small world! We met for coffee and her family is so sweet. We have plans soon for a meal at her home. Our apartment is finally coming along after our adventure to another ward/city to go to a home goods store that is like a smaller Ikea (since the closest one is 3 hrs away). Finally, we have a place that looks brighter and more like home. I hope to fill shelving space not with trinkits from the store, but interesting things from our travels. I can’t wait!
We have settled in well as you can read. I have met some truely amazing people and I can tell this will be a great school-I am so thankful for this opportunity to learn and grow and share my excitment and love for learning and teaching with the community! Sadly, there is bad weather this weekend and the traditional Obon festival and BBq this weekend was cancelled. We shall see what Sunday has in store!
If you have made it this far, thanks for sticking through this post with me! I had to type it offline and use my personal hotspot from my iphone to upload it. If I waited much longer I would forget everything!
Noooo Kelli, ye’ve got it all wrong! (say in a Scottish lilt) This meal. Nomnom
Beef, rice, spicy green beans! Yum Cooking my first breakfast!