I have only been in Maebashi for less than one week, and already there are things that really stand out. Here is my collective list of things that I have noticed or been shocked by since being here.
1. The trash system here is confusing
I knew that the trash sorting thing is something to expect. However, I did not know it would be THIS extensive. I mean seriously! Trash is trash. I get trying to recycle and things, but do we really need a separate reseptical for clear, brown, and other colored bottles? I get separating glass and plastic, but by colors? Really? Also, a separate day for clothing verses towels? I mean really. If I was Japanese, I would just sove it all in the same bag and say, it is not my job to sort the garbage. I alreay took the time to clean it for you, why should I also neatly sort it as well? Which brings me to my next point.
2. You must WASH your rubbish
If sorting it in a very confusing way wasn't enough, you must also wash and dry your garbage as well. I have a sink full of plastic containers to be washed and dryed as we speak. The trash thing is something that I will have to really get use to doing.
3. Bike laws are the same as vehicular laws
Drunk biking is the same as drunk driving. Your light on your bike being out is the same as driving without headlights. Bikes need to be registered and sometimes require travelers insurance, but not always. I don't need it. THe same exact driving laws apply to bikers. There are no exceptions. You might be thinking that bikes can travel on sidewalks but cars cannot. Wait right there, this brings us to point number 4.
4. Cars can drive on sidewalks
If the sidewalk is wide enough, they will drive on it and it is not illegal. Infact, there are signs warning bikers and pedestrians of potential drivers on the sidewalk. About called the police when I first witnessed it when my neighbor pointed out the signs.
5. Banks are closed very early
Banks are only open from like 9-3 Monday-Friday. It made it frustrating when trying to get a bank account set up for me because there were many things we needed to get done at once and the bank always made top priority because of how early they closed.
6. The ATMs open and close
You better hope you have enough money to last you because ATMs apparently have hampsters inside them that get tired and need to sleep. They are open a little longer than banks and on weekends, but it's not common.
7. ERs are not always open.
Hospitals rotate emegency services on a daily or weekly basis. So if you get injured, you might be traveling rather far to find an open hospital.
8. Post offices are only open when everyone else is working
Not sure why they don't take advantage of after busines hours but they just don't. At least busineses realize this, and will allow you to take off work just to go to the post office.
9. It's hot
Being from Arizona, I am used to being in a constant state of warmth. However, I guess because of the humidity, I am in a constant state of sweat. Maebashi is the hottest area of Japan. Tempurature wise, it feels fine, but I am sweating. I am in a constant state of dampness. I try to put my pants back on after going to the bathroom and my skin has turned into scotch tape. I am always sweating. Even after getting out of the shower. You never dry off! I was wondering why towels were so small here and now I know. They are basically useless. Even if you dry off, you will still be wet and slimy. Curse you sticky air!
10. Japanese people prefer to sit on the floor
You could have a 12 seater couch and only two Japanese people, they will all sit on the floor. Even pregnant women sit on the floor. Not sure how they get back up but I guess gorwing up always singing on the floor will promote that shairs are ust for show.
I moved into my apartment yesterday. It was a very eventful day. We rode a bus, ate lunch, met with our supervisors, then departed to our respective locations. I we to Maesho, which is the high school in Maebashi I will mainly be working. My belongings were there but I was not able to retreive them because there was no room in her car. We went to the bank to set up a bank account however we needed to register my resident status so we had to go to the city hall to do that. It was basically like the DMV were you draw a number and wait while they haphazzardly call out numbers. By the time that was finished the bank had already closed. It sounds like it would be late, but it's not. The banks close early here.
We went to my apartment, did an initial walk through, then met with the landlords to go over the leasing and rental insurance agreements. It was difficult to understand but very reminicient of American procedures so I did alright. We went back to my apartment and the gas guy was there getting my gas set up. The landlord showed me how to work the various electronics in the home. Except the washer/dryer. All 3 of us stood there staring at it not having a clue of what to do lol. My supervisor told me he would print out an english manuel and give it to me later.
The gas guy showed me how to use the stove and water. Its pretty amazing actually. I can enter in the exact temperature that I want and it will do it for me. It will also heat the water again if it has gotten cold.
We arranged my furnature a bit, and by that time it was about 6pm. I met my new neighbor's predecessor and she invited me out to show me around town a little bit and took me to dinner with 3 other people.
I bought some food for my house but it still feels like there is much that needs to get done. I should start making a list. Detergent is number one thus far.
I am waiting for my supervisor to pick me up so we can get an account, and phone. The cable guy is supposed to come today. They apparently don't have free television like we have.
The weather hasn't been bothering me too much. The humidity is swimmingly thinck, but I will aclimate eventually. At least I am not from Ireland where the hottest it gets is 75 degrees! The poor Irish guy was just suffering.
Maebashi is similar in layout to Phoenix. There are mountains surounding the flat valley. It's very neat I think.
Anyway, this is my quick update of life so far.
I am currently at the LAX waiting for our flight to begin boarding! This entire experience has been....eventful to say the least.
My predecessor I guess has bitterness about not being a part of JET any longer or something cuz she has been rude to me. She hasn't been answering any of my questions and has been giving me the cold shoulder on so much. She has not been in Japan since March do to a severe back injury. She keeps trying to claim to me that she hasn't been responding to any of my questions because she has been trying to recover from back procedures but then on Facebook, she talks about working at some anime con or interviewing people for her company. She also mentions being so bored that she would read or draw. Yeah, she is ignoring me on purpose. My supervisors are being very helpful and nice about everything.
The flight to LA was absolutely terrible. It was not a good thing to be dealing with right after an emotional last skate at Oceanside. The flight was delayed for 2 hours. Then we get on the plane, and they just sat there for 45 minutes trying to arrange all the luggage, then they didn't even offer refreshments. The landing was awful too. It was very bumpy and he swirved the entire time. I almost had a panic attack.
We get to the baggage claim area and about half the JETs don't have their luggage, including me. the bag missing, happened to be holding my figure skates. We notify the counter and most of the bags never made it out of Phoenix. Thankfully, mine and one other persons did. They told us the bags were on a US Airways plane. So we had to lug our stuffd and walk to the next terminal and ask them. They tthen tell us they don't have it and it was another airline again. We had to walk another 3 terminals! The bags werent there. So we went to the counter and asked and they knew immediately where our stuff was. Thank goodness.
We had to walk to the bus stop then finally I got to the hotel. It was 230pm at this point. I hadn't eaten anything since 430am. I had a snack at the airport around 9am but it was not sufficient enough. I ordered room service for fish tacos. It was the best fish tacos I ever had. Well worth the amount of money I paid.
Then I had a meeting and at the meeting, I got information that I was denied permission to bring in my prescriptions because of an incomplete application back in June 2nd. Why didn't anyone tell me anything back in June? I got no email or any phone call from my coordinator. I was angry. She called Japan and said they would approve a one month supply of my presciption and 2 month supply of my contacts. I open my bags to get the extra boxes of contacts to send home, and the security at PHX confiscated them so I guess I have to get them in Japan from now on.
It was just a really bad day. I made it easily to the airport now, and am just waiting for boarding so I can tell them I need a vegetarian meal and window seat. Otherwise there will be a panick attack going down in this plane.
Wish me luck!
First, I would like to report on the results of my competition this past weekend. I got second in my adult silver freeskate, and I got first in my adult bronze showcase dramatic (the penguin program). I am really happy with the results and hope to continue my competitions in Japan. Also, I should mention that I did indeed pass my skating test and am now officially in the silver level. Which makes me so proud!!! I will be posting the videos of my performances this week on my youtube channel, so please be patient with me. I have a lot going on at the moment.
I have been packing non stop for this move to Japan. I keep packing and unpacking my luggage. Once I get everything in the suitcase just perfectly, and under the weight, I realize that I have forgotten something, like my shoes for example. I feel like all I am taking with me is clothing and nothing personal from home. No pictures, nothing. It's like my house has caught on fire, and I need to repurchase everything. They don't tell you this when you prepare for moving countries. So, in light of all this frustrating packing, I would like to compile my list of things they don't tell you when moving to another country/Japan.
1. You have to compile your entire life into two 50lb suitcases. It is nearly impossible, to take everything you feel is important. You have only room for clothing and other personal items that are important to health and sanity. Anything else, like movies, books, etc. are just staying behind.
2. You can ship items ahead of time but you will basically be paying for them again. I shipped ahead most of my movies and all my gaming consoles and basically paid for them again with the high shipping costs. It cost me $250 to ship those items ahead to my school I will be working at. I got word that one of my packages has arrived but the other has not. Which almost makes no sense as I sent them at the same time. Anyway.
3. You will end up throwing away or selling half of your clothing. You start off packing your stuff, then realize that it weighs too much so you unpack and get rid of more stuff. You may be thinking before you start packing, that you don't have enough clothing and may need to buy more, but then when you start packing, you suddenly cannot part with now beloved items. Unfortunately, you are gonna have to. Just buy new stuff when you get to said country.
4. Cloud drives, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and many other online programs are not supported in most countries. So don't waste your time uploading music or movies onto some cloud device, because it won't work. And the cloude devices that do happen to work in the new country, don't work in your home country. It's a catch 22. You are better off sending your home DVD/CD player ahead along with the corresponding discs. If you just cannot live your life without these online programs, then you are going to have to change your ip address via VPN. If you do choose this route, be weary because there are many VPN programs that are sketchy. So do your research.
5. If you have apps on your phone that you have downloaded to use while abroad, you might not be able to use them unless you pay to keep your number active. For example, I use Line to make free phone calls and texts to my friends in another country. If I cancel my phone service, then I loose all my contacts and cannot use any of the apps. Most people are alright with that, I just want to keep my number active. Cell phone providers charge a small fee per mounth to keep it active. It's pretty resonable.
6. Friends you have not spoken to in years, as well as friends you are no longer friends with, suddenly become interested in you and desparately want to see you right before you depart. I have several friends who are suddenly so interested in what my new life will be like and really want to see me before I leave because they think we won't see each other for a long time. We haven't seen each other in a longer time than I will be away but whatever.
7. Everyone, and I mean everyone, EVERYONE, will know you are moving to a foreign country, and their very next response will be "It is good you are doing this while you are young." Maybe it is because I am young in many peoples' eyes but I fail to see how a married person with no children is unable to move countries in their 30s or 40s. I mean, I understand anything above 50 but I fail to see the "specialness" of it in my 20s. Also, somehow everyone will know you are moving. I don't know how, but I can't tell you how many people I have never seen or met before, know I am going to Japan. It's like everything in life is super boring and I suddenly became a superstar.
8. Your items are much heavier than you think they are. It doesn't matter if you weigh all your items individually to find the perfect combination of things to pack under the weight limit, somehow when you pack them altogether, they magically gain 10 pounds. Seriously, I cannot tell you how many times I add just one book and suddenly the weigh increases. So I remove one item and it goes down by one ounce. What the heck!?
9. If you are a girl, your shoes, and dresses, and make up, and hair products become loathed items. I can't tell you how many times I think, if only I didn't have this item, or if only I wasn't so vein to believe that I need these things. Those items take up like half your suitcase and you still have shoes to pack!
10. Sure, they say you can take 3 suitcases and a carry on AND a personal item. But no one is going to help you to carry them. Luggage straps. Luggage straps save lives.
That's all I have for right now.
Also! I have my address for my new appartment in Japan. If you would like to send me things then send me either an email or a private message via twitter or facebook.:D
Hello all. I know it has been a while since I last updated, but there is actually a reason for that. I was instructed to not update any website or social media on anything related to JET until given permission to do so. I was told to avoid updating my website entirely until further notice. So If you missed me, that is why. After my seminar I had this past weekend, I was given the OK and so here I am to provide you with more information.
The reason they said that, is because this year in particular, there have been number of new JETs posting cultually inappropriate topics on their sites. As a result, several of them were let go and asked not to reapply in the future while others were already put on probation and the employment term hasn't even started. I am not sure why this year's JETs are so strange, but nonetheless, we were restricted. I am not sure if everyone was given this same "do not post anything" order, but I know that I was so I followed it.
I will be placed in Maebashi, Gunma. It is the more suburban area of Gunma. My apartment is about a 10 minute walk from the station, which makes me happy. I am really not wanting to buy or lease a car in Japan and am trying my best to avoid it at all costs. I will know more once I am there for sure, but this has at least given me some peace of mind. I did, however, obtain my international driver's permit. It was very easy to get, and looks very unofficial. It is valid in over 90 countries. My goodness.
I depart Phoenix, AZ on July 24th, there will be a bon voyage party in LA then the following day we will all leave the US and head to Tokyo. There are 3 different departure groups. I am part of the first group (Group A). My neighbor is from Canada and she will be departing from group B. So we won't exactly get to meet each other right away, but at least it will only be about a week apart from each other. She is bringing her husband along which will be good for my husband, mostly because we are similar in age. I have spoken to her on FB and she seems very nice and we have similar interests. I can't wait to meet her! ^^
A lot of my packing worries were tamed during the seminar as well as finacial worries. But the finance part of it was aliviated because of what my predecessor said, which is going to be different for every person so that info cannot be generalized. I found out I will need less money than I thought at start up, but my other friend is going to need twice as much. It all depends on where you live, and what kind of subsedy contract the board of education gets with the apartment.
Anyway, I have to get back to work so I will be updating again very soon.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me either via email or under the guestbook section.
This will be a quick update. I only have about 10 minutes before I have to go back to work.
I ended up getting not so good marks on my Freeskate from nationals. I was happy with my skate at least and I had fun. That is all that really matters. I also skated my best I ever had on my Dramatic skate, but did not get on the podium. However, acording to all others I had never met before, I won the silver in their minds. So, that is what we are going with. I got silver in my dramatic skate, and I actually DID get silver for my penguin program. I did not know what to expect for that one, but I am glad that I came home with a medal. It was a very fun experience and many of my dreams of skating came true. I left Utah on a grand note, and look forward to someday returning to the national figure skating championships in the US.
It took me about a week to fully adjust to life again once coming back from nationals. I was exhausted and a little depressed. I went shopping and bought a yoga mat and some AZ like socks. I actually use the yoga mat, before those of you who know me exceptionally well start asking why the heck would I buy one. I did a lot of streching to improve flexibility (actually, to maintain my flexibility), and I would rather not stretch on the nasty floors at the ice rink. Especially since the people right before me on Wednesday are hockey players and the people right after me are ankle biters. The floor is anything but sanitary. I don't think I have ever seen a mop or broom for that matter at Arcadia. I rather like my mat.
At work today, one of my student workers apparently got an email from her teacher of her final grade for the class. Which, I guess is ok? I mean, those grades get posted on blackboard anyway so I am not sure why the teacher emailed them, but this teacher emailed the entire class one document, which had everybody's grades for ALL assignments and tests, plus the final grades, INCLUDING their ID numbers. That violates all kinds of laws not to mention security regulations of ASU. People can actually go to jail or be sued hefty fines for giving out ID numbers and grades willy nilly.
If my student worker was merely looking at her grade and just ignoring everyone elses then this would not have become such a big problem, but she wasn't. She was making fun of the students who received failing or just above failing grades because this course was supposedly an easy A. I couldn't believe she was doing that. I couldn't believe the teacher emailed that private information to everyone! I wanted to report the teacher to security at ASU but she refused to tell me who the teacher was or what class it was. I told her to delete that document and at least email her teacher that it was innappropriate to send that info, but she continued to tell others of the poor grades of those poor students. I told her I was filing a report and she said I was being unethical and left.
I contacted the security hotline at ASU and reported not only the teacher, but my student worker as well. She should not have been messing around with sensitive information like that. I probably would have let it go had she just ignored it but she didn't. Her conduct was uncalled for, and in her words, "unethical." Do you think I made the right call?
Ok, my time is up and need to head back.
Thanks for reading!
So this week is adult figure skating nationals. I am both excited and nervous. I am excited because I really like to perform figure skating, and this is the first time I have gone out of state to compete for something. I practice tomorrow, which is nice. Also, it will give me a chance to aclimate. There is actual snow on the ground and on the mountains here. I was not expecting that. It is rather cold, acording to my tastes. I am sure that other people would find this weather just fine. I am a very cold blooded person. That could be because I have lived in Arizona my entire life.
I hate flying, and so far this day has been terrible because it included a flight. I really don't like flying. My mother suggested that I recite some scripture while the plane is taking off. I thought that was a good idea, so I did that. However, I felt like I was saying my last words and the scriptures were my final prayers. It really made me freak out. I was actually crying. So, I had to stop doing that. I think I will just drink more wine next time.
I have also used uber for the first time today. I thought I was going to get really creepy drivers, when in fact, they are actually really nice. I think it is because the drivers decide whether they want to work or not. Plus they have nice cars. I like riding in their cars. It gives me a chance to decide what kind of new car I want someday lol.
My hotel is nice. It has an actual kitchen. They just didn't provide any utensils. Why? Why would you do that? It makes no sense. So I just went to the grocery store and bought some microwaveable foods and plastic wear. At least this place has free breakfast at an actual restaurant.
So, tomorrow I practice and will get a pedicure and manicure. There won't be much of an update. Wednesday I compete. We shall see how well I do! Pray for me!
I have officially been short listed for JET! Which means that I am offered the job. I just need to send a response to say that I accept this proposal. I have many forms that need to get filled out and sent in as soon as possible. IRS form 8802, FBI identity history, Certificate of health, a copy of my deploma and certification, Japanese insurance forms, and a reply form. The reply form is basically a short essay saying that I accept the job. Never heard of a job doing that before. It sounds odd, but doable. Needlesstosay, I am actually going to be busy getting ready for my job. I leave Arizona the 24th of July and depart the country on the 25th of July. I am both excited and scared for the journey ahead.
I have never had to live in another country before. So this will be a new experience for me. I am most excited for the smallest of things. For example, I have always dreamed of seeing the cherry blossoms. Now I will be able to do that. I have wanted to live in a Japanese appartment, now I can do that. I also wanted to drive and own a brand new car, now I get to do that. But I am most excited for the sakura (cherry blossoms).
Whenever I see butterflies, I am always reminded of God and His love for me. God has a plan for me. He knows where my life will take me in the future, and it will be beautiful.
I saw a butterfly today while I was walking to the computer lab. I love butterflies. I think they are the most beautiful creatures God has ever created. They each have such a grand story and marvelous journey stories. This poor insect has to work so hard to get to the end goal. They spend their days as an ugly catapillar eating and eating. No one likes them, no one wants to hold them. They freak people out. Kids want to play with them, but if they are hairy, we need to move them or kill them because we don't know if they are poisoness or not. Its entire life is filled with depressing thoughts and disgust. Girls scream with they see one, and little boys run them over with their bikes or skateboards. These bugs know what they want, they know what they are able to become. They know that they will become beautiful. They know how to achieve this goal, yet so many things get in the way of that.
My aunt found a catepillar in her salad once. She purchased the salad from a store. It was the bagged kind. That's how you know how fresh it is. When a catepillar is munching on the leaves. I actually had an inch worm in one of mine before. I am sure the poor things were confused but at least they weren't starving lol.
These bugs spend their lives getting fat on food. It sounds so depressing. I almost feel sorry for them. I wonder if they get sick from eating so much. After they get sufficiently fat, they have to build an encasing so they can morph into a butterfly. That sounds claustrophobic, and boring. I don't know what I would do if I was in a cacoon for weeks. Plus they hang upside down. My head would be hurting from all the blood rushing to my head. I'm pretty sure that much blood to your head is really bad for you. It's a good thing bugs don't have blood. They have goo.
I don't know what happens in the cacoon. I don't know if it hurts or if some of them never break free, I do know that it takes a lot of energy. In fact, if the butterfly does not find a food source almost immediately following "hatching" then it will die. What makes it harder is that they cannot fly when they break free. Their wings are wet and smushed. Once they dry, they fly for the first time, then they eat the sweetness of necter for the first time. Then their life flips around. All the hatred, disgust, and slow movements have turned into love, awe, and quick delicate movements. The once creepy looking catepillar has turned into a beloved creature that is loved by all. I don't know of a single person who dislikes butterflies. They are elegant and lovely creatures.
If God can take care of a poor ugly catepillar, and help it become something new, then why would it be any different for us? Bugs don't have souls, and bugs will never live forever, but we do. We matter. We have purpose and meaning. Our lives are here for a reason. Sure life may have sucked when we were younger, but the beauty is coming. If life is really hard right now, just remember that you are in your cacoon. Things get worse before they get better. When the storm passes, you will have wings to fly. And it will be beautiful.
If you are having a bad day, think of butterflies. God always sends one my way when I am having a really bad day. It always cheers me up.
I got a full time job working at American English and Culture Program (AECP), which is where I did my internship. I am an executive assistant. Which makes me a student services specialist in a way. I starting working for this job a couple of weeks ago. It is a temp job that will only last until sometime in the summer. It is a perfect job for me if I am truely going to take this job in Japan. I would be leaving July 25th, so this job lasting until the summer time would be perfect.
I had heard that I might be hired for a temp position but I had not heard anything from anyone about it. So I contacted the last person who informed me about the job, and they forwarded it to coordinator that day, and I had been set up for an interview the next morning at 9:30am. It was a very quick process. I go in for the interview, and they told me that I was very highly recommended and had no problems hiring me right away. All the jobs I have received have been like that. I go in for an interview and they tell me that I am hired right then, before the interview has even concluded. It is rather nice.
They wanted me to start working right away, but because I had other obligations with piano students and coaching figure skating. I ended up starting on a Friday. Strange day, but I was looking forward to it. The next couple of weeks have been mostly learning, but I also rather enjoy my job. I do not enjoy waking up early and getting home late. I am still trying to adjust to my new life, but other than that, it really is not so demanding. The work flow is rather balanced and the people I work with are pleasent. Every now and then, you get a student whose goal is to complain and make you fix things so it matches what they are demanding.
I actually have student workers now. I have my own personal student workers. I didn't think I would get any, but they actually are quite helpful. And I get to tell them to do all the things that I don't want to do. Lol. Now I know why we all went through that phase as interns. Because it feels awesome being in charge! haha. I mostly make them deliever the mail to all the teachers and talk to the advisers during the busy times because I would rather they get yelled at than me. Advisers get really stressed during one hour of the day.
I do have one student worker that likes to solve all the problems the students have. Which is very nice of him when you think about it, but at the same time, he gives them false information and false hope. For example, several student complained about failing their classes during finals week and wanted someone to magically make their grades passing. Because this frequently happens, they have 2 days during finals week for the students to complain and meet with their teachers and advisers. After that date, there is nothing that we can do because the grades are final and cannot be changed once the new session starts. Some students have been coming in this past week, wanting to still complain about their failing grades and want them changed. I have been telling them that the time to complain was finals week, and there is nothing that we can do for them now. They get really mad and try to get you to sympathize with them so that you will say that there is actually a magic wand that grants their wishes in the closet or something. They eventually just accept what you say and leave. This student worker however, tells them that they can contact the head of student success department and see if there is anything that this person can do. So they go to her, and she gets mad at us for sending them to her because there is nothing she can do, and the students come back to me and complain that I lied to them, when it wasn't me that said things would POTENTIALLY get better in the first place. I have spoken with this student worker about it, but he really feels compelled to do whatever he can to satisfy the students. He refuses to accept that there are some issues he just cannot fix. Because things at the front are usually slow, I am able to interviene before he starts to suggest a "possible" fix to their issue.
I am rather tired all the time because of this job. I do my best to manage skating with this job, but it is still a learning process for me. Mostly with sleeping schedules. Anyway, I felt that everyone out there in internet land deserved an update on this faceless person who happens to have a website that random people read from around the world. Thanks random people! You make me happy :D