That’s right, I’ve survived my first week in Japan (*•̀ᴗ•́*)و ̑̑
I’m going to skip over my 2 days in Tokyo… what can I say, lots of jetlag and although the 2nd day was full of interesting workshops, it was a bit of a repetitive, irrelevant snore fest. Moving on.
WHERE in Japan am I? Well, if you read my first post attentively, as I know you did Ｏ(≧▽≦)Ｏ you’ll know I’m on the island of Shikoku. More specifically in Kuroshio-cho 黒潮町, located in Hata District, Kōchi Prefecture.
I was picked up at the airport by my supervisor and the other JET working here. When I arrived I excitedly looked for them, there was a crowd facing me with colorful banners and names buuuuuut I couldn’t find them! Turns out they had been given the wrong arrival time haha. I wasn’t the only one in that situation though and when they did arrive I got my very own banner unrolled.
The ride to my new home was very beautiful, bright green and yellow fields surrounded by mountains and then the BRIGHT. BLUE. OCEAN. (｡♥‿♥｡) I was too excited and jetlagged to snap pics of the latter, but don’t worry, they will be bountiful! We had lunch together, soba for me and I tasted the katsu kare from the other JET because… well, me.
We arrived at my new house which is great: kitchen, living room and bedroom. Best of all, my predecessor was here for 5 years so INTERNET right off the bat! It’s all furnished and set up which is really nice because I would have been way too jet lagged to figure out what to buy on day 1. I’ll be uploading a video tour soon, when the lighting is better (very rainy now), so in the meantime, here’s a picture of Alphonse:
The first night, after a few purchases in the next city (Shimanto-shi), the other JET and I had dinner at Joyful, a chain here, which was very welcome as I was both HANGRY and bursting with questions. Day 2 was a whirlwind of paperwork, bank accounts and getting a cellphone. The highlight of my day was eating the famous katsuo from here! In fact I had katsuo tataki 2 days in a row because it’s just SO.GOOD.
Every morning until September, I go to the Board of Education since it’s natsumi no hi –summer break- right now. It’s quite rural, nestled between the ocean and mountains, the peaks of which are very misty right now.
In my first week here, I’ve managed to “break” the kitchen screen door (OOPS) and accidentally let in a gokiburi –cockroach- (yay for not promptly closing the door) BUT I did figure out how to use the fish grill in my stove top SO, point for me!
I’ve also been very confused by all the announcements (which I can’t understand) from the town coming in through the speaker in my living room. I figure, no siren, no problem! It’s been very rainy and windy due to it being typhoon season so I haven’t been out as much as I wanted to; However, Friday I did get to wander around a little and hit up both a bakery and farmer’s market:
The bakery or literally, bread store.
That about sums up my first week here. I’m looking forward to good weather so I can check out the beach and explore more of the town. I should be able to use a car very soon… that’ll be interesting since they drive on the other side of the road. I’ve used my first weekend in to unpack and cook a bunch of bentos for work next week. Current goal, not wake up at 5:30 am anymore! Matta ne ( ´ ▽ ` )ﾉ
So yes, what’s going on here, what is this blog all about? Well, you’ll be following me (Estelle) on my JET programme experience in Japan! You might be a potential, new or experienced JET yourself, a lover of Japanese culture… or maybe a friend or family (I certainly HOPE you’ll be following me!) sticking around for any tips, tricks and Japanese adventure.
I’m very excited for this 2017-2018 experience since I’ll be teaching English in Japan. That’s right: ONE. WHOLE. YEAR. Am I excited? You bet! Am I crazy? Maybe! Why am I doing this? Here’s a little bit of my story…
I was originally studying Business and Fashion in Toronto when I was suddenly overcome by a passion for Japan! Up until then my knowledge was pretty limited -sushi, geisha and the (amazing!) Ukiyo-e to Shin Hanga book by Chris Uhlenbeck– but it was most wonderfully broadened to language, history, takoyaki and JRock!
It took me less than 6 months to make a life changing decision: move to Montreal to do Japanese studies. My goal was to be able to work both in Canada and Japan in order to be a bridge between both cultures, and I knew that I needed to learn the language as well as everything I could about the country to make this happen. I survived 6 hours of Japanese class every week (and countless hours of homework!) which has given me a lifelong appreciation for learning a language so radically different from my own (I’m fully bilingual in both French and English, also my kanji skills are still abysmal).
I participated in as many cultural activities as I could, from being a volunteer contributor to Coco Montreal, making mochi at the JCCCM, and devouring the delicious bento at the Botanical Garden’s yearly O-hanami.
Nearing the end of my studies, I accidentally came upon CLC Montreal, a language school* in Monkland. Life is full of happy accidents and this is one for which I’ll be forever grateful. Not only was I lucky enough to work doing marketing, I was also able to teach English to Japanese students! This was more than just a cultural exchange, I made close friendships and became familiar with how the Japanese learn English.
Now you’re probably thinking “Estelle… edit, get to how you became a JET!”
Ok, ok. Life went on as it does after my time with CLC Montreal and I hadn’t applied to the JET programme because the timing didn’t feel right. Although I love Japan and had traveled there many times, I never saw myself living there on the long term. What would I do when I returned to Montreal, 5 years later, with no CV and network? It was really important to me to get proper work experience first.
Looking back on it now, as I get ready to leave, I’m very happy that I made that decision. Had I done the JET programme at that time of my life I may have been too rigid in my expectations and desires for its outcome, whereas now I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity! Fast forward to last fall (2016) and I was finally ready to apply.
And here I am now, about to leave to Japan for a fully 365 days. Let’s do this! Gambarimashou 🙂
*If you’re looking to learn Japanese there are some GREAT language schools here in Montreal:
Nihongo Montreal run by Patrick Chaury, former colleague, friend, and a go-to teacher for the Japanese Consulate and JET programme.
ALI Montreal where you’ll be taught by Daigo Shima, former student and an English teacher himself when he was in Japan.