Monday, August 16, 2010
My First Week In Mitake
Okay, I actually wasn’t in Mitake for the full week as we had another Gifu Orientation in Gifu City, Tuesday and Wednesday. Getting there was an adventure! I took the train by myself to Gifu City. There is a little train station near my house called Godo Station and it is the 3rd to last stop on the line. After riding it for 8 minutes, I got off at Shin-Kani station (the other end of the line) and transferred to Inuyama and transferred one more time to Gifu City. At the orientation I met the other 3 ALTs who came a week before I did, 2 are from Australia and 1 is from the US. On Tuesday night we went out to an “all you can eat and drink restaurant” for dinner. The food was good and there were many dishes being passed around that I had never seen before! I had my first official Japanese beer in Japan and those around me also indulged in their alcoholic beverage of choice (some more than others). On Wednesday I got my re-entry permit after paying 6,000 yen (roughly $70) which allows me to leave Japan and return as many times as I want with my instructors visa (3 years!). I hopped on the train back to my town and if you want an indication of how small it is, you have to sit in the front carriage or else the doors won’t open because there is no platform to walk onto.
Here is the train map. Yeah, it is a little hard to understand.
Here is my train station. Godo Station.
New and Old JETs at dinner
On Thursday, I got the best set of wheels I have ever seen in a foreign country! Ok, I joke, but seriously, the car isn’t really in great shape, but it runs (fingers crossed for the winter) and it will get me where I need to go! It’s very interesting how you can take the freedom that a car brings as just a normal day thing, but going without a car in a foreign country for 10 days (not on vacation) and you will be dying for a “cooler” (literally, like A/C) way to travel. Finally, Friday came and went without too much trouble. In the office I worked on my self-introduction lesson, which I will be giving roughly 56 times this summer/fall. I have all sorts of grades to teach from 1st to 9th grade, along with some special education classes, and preschool (ages 0-3) playtime classes. I know that one of my biggest challenges will be speaking slowly and using easy/simple words! Friday night I took my little car to get gas. That was an experience! In Japan there are 2 kinds of gas stations, the first is a self-serve which usually has lower prices, the second is where they come and serve you (like in Oregon) except they wash your windshield, sometimes check your oil, give you a moist towel to clean the inside of your car, and finally, they will STOP traffic both ways so you can get back out to your needs. That was a sight to see, this lady, just stopping traffic so I could go on my way! After cruising through town, I decided to call it a night and return to the apartment where I tested my cooking skills (and the power use limits of the apartment) by making my favorite meal, curry! One hour later everything was ready and delicious of course. The sink however looked like a disaster zone since there is not much room to put used or dirty dishes, pots, and pans. I managed, and the kitchen seems to be in tiptop shape! Well, that about sums up my first week in Mitake! During the weekend, I went on my first trek to the golf driving range. It is called Y’s Golf Range and it has about 60 stalls devoted to the greatest sport ever :). They do driving ranges a little different in Japan. In America, you would pay like $8 for a large bucket of balls. In Japan, you pay by the hour. So for one hour it is 1500 yen (or $16) and for two hours 1700 yen ($17), there really isn’t a great advantage hitting for only one hour, at least from what I can tell. It also depends on what day it is and what time you are going to hit balls, the prices range from 1300 yen to 2000 yen. So many different numbers to remember! I also took a trip to Arcadia Golf Course, which is about 15 minutes from my apartment. It looks like a real nice golf course, but is semi expensive. On the weekends, it’s about 135,00 yen or $150 but during the week it’s 8,000 yen or $85. Now that I have a real job, I can’t just escape to the golf course during the week. It looks like I will have to plan my golfing ventures, just so it doesn’t break the bank.