Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Weekend Adventure: Gifu City and Nagoya!

This past Friday was the second Mid-Term conference that my prefecture (think US State) had this year. Basically all 52 ALTS in Gifu Prefecture came to the capital of our prefecture and meet at the convention center to go over new developments and learn new tricks and ideas for teaching English. To be honest, there really isn’t anything too special about this conference; it is really a lot of catching up with your friends who live far away from you.

My adventure started with a train ride for 75 minutes to the capital, Gifu City. Then I miraculously found the bus stop I needed to board the bus taking my 25 minutes to the convention center. About two hours after I left my apartment, I arrived at the convention center!

We heard some speeches about captivating audiences and children, but nothing that I didn’t have an idea about in the first place. My favorite part was the book swap! You can exchange books you’ve read with others or you can pay 100 yen ($1.25) for a book. Think well used books and rarely used books! Jackpot!

After the conference, about 32 of us went to this event called an Enkai. It is basically a dinner party/event with your friends. You pay a base fee and for 2-3 hours, you get as much food and drinks as you want. I paid 3500 yen ($42), which is a pretty good deal in a big city. The night was very eventful and it was nice to unwind with other ALTs. We made our way to karaoke after dinner and eventually, 8 or 9 of us found our way to someone’s apartment and all crammed in and called it a night. The nice part about coming a long way for a conference is that it is never difficult to find a place to stay after your last train leaves.

Saturday morning came quickly, and soon we were out on the street with no plans. I decided that since I was so close to Nagoya, I might as well spend the day shopping and spending time with actually civilization. Let me tell you how awesome it turned out. I’ve been dying to see a movie on the big screen, so I made it a point to find a movie theatre. Guess what, I did! But first, I had one of the greatest turkey sandwiches at Subway. Then, I went to a bookstore and loaded up on some free viewing of foreign magazines (the Economist was $25, People $15, Harvard Business Review $40!! Crazy I know!). I also used the bookstore to get some ideas of books I want to buy from Amazon Japan. I never used Amazon in America, but I love it here! It’s so much cheaper than at home, I can pay in cash at the convenience store, and it’s delivered free to the convenience store! Ok, but back to the main point. After the bookstore, we were feeling a little smelly and dirty from not having a shower the night before, so we asked the wonderful people at the Nagoya Station INfomration Center for a onsen or hot spring bath they recommended. We followed the directions and about 2 hours later, I was clean and incredibly relaxed! If you’ve never had an onsen or hot spring bath, google it and go to one ASAP. It will change your world! After the bath, I found a movie theatre by the main Nagoya stations. I went and saw “The Social Network”, I heard great things about it after it seemed to have won every single Golden Globe this year. I was accompanied by another ALT from about 2 hours North of me, and we were lucky enough that every 22nd is “couples day”, so we paid 1000 yen ($13) a person instead of 1800 yen ($22). I even went all out and got caramel popcorn (amazing!).

Subway: Japanese Style

Caramel Corn!

After the movie, the other ALT and I, met up with other foreigners and ate dinner at Outback! YUM! I forgot how amazing foreign food can be! I had grilled chicken, with veggies and fries and oh my gosh, it was amazing! After dinner, I caught the last train to my town and walked home from the local train station with all of my goodies from my day in Nagoya.

Sunday was no big event. Since I was gone last weekend, I had an accumulation of clothes and general cleaning to be done. It was a task! I don’t remember the last time I spent so much time cleaning and such.

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