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Greetings from Japan!

March 24, 2012

Greetings from Toyoko Inn in Narita, Japan!

Well, after a couple days of traveling and going through my first day of training, I can finally sit down and write this post! A few things have changed since I last wrote here, the biggest being that my placement with Interac has changed. Rather than teach junior high in Joso-shi, I’ve been moved to a position where I teach elementary students in Koga-shi. I’m further north from Tokyo than Joso-shi is, but not as far east.

You can get a general idea of where I’ll be in this new interactive map! Yay! If you can read Japanese, the city’s webpage is here.

Anyway, the plan is to give a quick breakdown of what’s been happening with me the past couple of days. I’ll put it after the cut here, so people don’t have to read it if they don’t want to.

March 17th

At 3:00 I flew from Minneapolis to Chicago and met my friend Terry at the airport, who was kind enough to be my guide/guard. We then rode the train to his apartment in order to drop off my things, and then headed out to dinner near where he goes to school. We ended up eating at a pizzeria called Giordano’s and ordered a 10″ stuffed pizza. I just have to say, man was it stuffed! I only managed to eat a slice and a half before calling it quits. We then went back to his apartment, grabbed all of my luggage, and then started the journey to meet my friend David at his train station. Now, this sounds like it shouldn’t take very long, but the whole trip took about an hour, if not longer. We had to change lines once, and the train wasn’t running between two stations, for some reason, on the second line so we all had to get off and board a shuttle bus to get to the next station. Bear in mind that the 17th also was St. Patrick’s Day, so the trains and bus were filled with very happy green-clad folk. We finally made it to our destination, and I successfully was passed over from one guide to the other. David and I then went back to his place where I proceeded to crash for the night.

March 18th

After waking up and nearly causing the cold water knob in the shower to be permanently stuck (Sorry again David!), I had a lovely breakfast and then it was time for David and me to get to the airport for my flight to Japan! We hopped on a bus near his apartment and then rode to the train station and boarded the train that was four stops away from O’Hare. It was a little confusing at the Self Service Check In station for American Airlines, but we got it figured out and my bags were tagged and sent off to my airplane. David and I said goodbye in front of security and then came the fun part of taking off my shoes and leather coat, as well as other security preparations I needed to make in order to get through quickly. Originally I was in line for the full body scan security checkpoint, but the simple metal detector one had to be opened up in order to accommodate the sudden amount of people, so I was one of the lucky ones who got redirected to the metal detector. I won’t lie, I felt a little relieved. There was just something a little unsettling thinking about myself getting X-rayed in security just like my carry-on luggage.

Anyway, I was alone at the gate for a short while, but then four other ALTs slowly trickled in and we began chatting while waiting to board the plane. I ended up sitting just a few rows from the very back of the plane, and the closest ALT was 12 rows in front of me. The plane ride itself went well. I did the following things (in order):

Watch The Artist

Sleep two hours

Watch the Muppets

Work on my lesson plan for my introduction lesson

Sleep two hours

Watch Downton Abbey S2 E3

Watch an episode of BONES

Dozed until landing

As you can see, it wasn’t a very exciting flight. I had to exchange some traveler’s checks after we landed, so after getting through customs I was directed to the nearest station to do so and started signing the mountain of checks I wanted to exchange. At one point the teller was talking about 70 枚 (mai), which is the counter for sheets of paper. My assumption is that she was talking about the number of traveler’s checks I had with me. It was a pretty hefty pile; it was definitely several millimeters high. Halfway through my check signing, the man who was assisting me leaned over and discovered that he had told me to sign on the wrong line! So I had to sign that chunk of checks all over again– on the correct line this time. My handwriting definitely got messy by the end of that. Whew!

Luckily I was able to get my money in time to catch the shuttle to the hotel with everyone else who was on my flight. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, we hand to hand over our important documents so Interac could photocopy them and have everything on record and immediately go to a mini-orientation. Thank goodness it was around twenty minutes long, since we were so sleep-deprived at that point that we wouldn’t have been able to retain that much information. Unfortunately, our evenings didn’t end there. We then had to go upstairs for a quick drug screening, which was carried out through a saliva test. We got these little stubby wands with a gauzy pad on one end that we had to stick under our tongue and then wait for it to soak up enough spit so they could test it later. We all thought it was pretty funny to sit in a large group with these things sticking out of our mouths. Ah, jet lag. Once that was completed, though, we finally were able to go to our rooms and go to bed.

And that was my journey to Japan! If you read this far, thanks for sticking around. Next on the docket should be a post about training, so keep an eye out for that!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Lavonne Solem permalink
    March 27, 2012 6:32 PM

    It’s always a relief when an International Flight is succesful & you end up where you intended! Thanks for posting this blog. I’ll be following your adventures. And again, thanks so much for taking the time to meet Joe & I for tea before you left. Love you!

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