Sunday, May 16, 2010

bfg on emails and no snow

So the news is in.

It arrived when I was meeting the bf so he could both buy me a coffee and keep me company before going over to McGill where JET is offering all short-list and alternates free Japanese language lessons. It was while waiting for my Mocca over ice that I desided to quickly check my e-mail and relate to the lover the details about my day. I am a true multi-tasker.

Two emails from the JET coordinator.

Shrill Scream. Arms Flapping. And a crazy brunette jumping up and down with tears in her eyes: "OMG! Ant! I got it! I am going to Shizuoka-ken."

So yeah folks, it is official. I actually got my first choice! How rare that is... I can't even begin to fathom. I could guess here - one out of a thousand applicants - but I don't have the numbers to support it and I don't want to get in trouble just in case someone other than my dog is reading this. But the chances are slim and I know there are others who requested the same prefecture/city and did not get it. So I am one lucky giant gal. Lucky indeed.

As you may have noticed, I only know my prefecture but not my city/town. Some of my peers have specifics as to exactly where they are going. Here is a good time to maybe elaborate on some of the more intricate things about JET and what I have learned from the many blogs and forums I have stalked these past few weeks in keen anticipation.

When you recieve your placement, it does not indicate which school you are teaching at - which can be a bit frustrating. After ten weeks of waiting, all you get is a place! But there are patterns... if you are given the specifics (i.e. prefecture and city/town) than the chances are pretty hight that you are teaching elementary school.

However, if you, like myself, are only given a prefecture than it is likey you will be heading out to a high school... and several of them at that.

The reason is  elementary schools in Japan are run on the municipal level whereas prefectures administer high school education. Therefore, my contract is with the prefecture of Shizuoka not a particular city. I have read that there are some differences between a Prefecture Alt and Municipal mainly that the provincial government will ask the former to attend events that are away from your school which will require that the JET travel somewhat within the province. The same goes for the municipality. Essentially, I think interacting with the different age groups is in itself a drastic day-to-day experience between JETs. The prep and patience for younger children is just not the same - am not referring to quantity but type of. I am just better with older children in general since I too often take their questions seriously and answer them to the best of my ability which has gotten me in trouble a few times.

What is it about Shizuoka that had it at the top of my list? Well, first off its location. I wanted to find a place that was central in Japan so that week-end trips to Tokyo, Osaka and so forth were financially and schedule-wise feasible. Also, I wanted a city where I could possibly hope to find clothes that could fit the fatso white teacher but not be surrounded by other foreigners. One of my main goals in going to Japan is learning the language - I need the kick in the ass to survive in an environment where to really communicate I need to learn. Too bad, so sad.

There are many things to keep me occupied: museums, temples, Fuji-sama, and the hot springs! But most of all, and this comes from a die-hard Montreal city girl who has spent way to much money on boots in her lifetime, the fact that in Shizuoka it does not snow.

On that fact alone, I may never come home.

So for any future JETs, this may be a place for you to consider. Just be sure that you list the things you like to do on your own. I love going to museums so it was/is important for me to be relativly close to a place where I can revisit often.

In other news, I got another special email this evening. Ash from Toronto sent me a long letter which I hope will be the beginning of a long two month correspondence leading up to D-Day. We met through a mutual aquaintance known as "Favourite Author" who was kind enough to connect us.

Considering the support system is pretty much non-existance, it is nice to be able to make friends with the people who will be having similar experiances as yourself but just scattered accross the country. Today, I spent the afternoon with C practicing Japanese and talking about shoe shopping. Also, I am hoping that we are allowed to pick the other two girls we can share rooms with while at Tokyo Orientation.

Oh god! I am actually going to be in Tokyo. Domo arigato, Mr Robato!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

bfg on tech diet

The second part to this weeks title is: ... and tech binging thereafter!

Oh yes - I am a computerless woman! Do not fear, I have not gone cold turkey. Having decided not to sell my phone until July I still have access to my e-mail and can even chat with friends. But writing or paying my bills is something that will have to happen at the bfs (like now) or at work when its quiet.

There is something liberating about that though. Too often, I have tried to sit back and read a book these days but can't- the Inbox keeps filling up, so much calling I need to do canceling this or suspending that and when it is quiet a voice in my head says I need to repost on Craig's and Mcgill classifieds. All to say - the fact that the computer is unavailable means I CAN'T do any of these tasks even if I wanted to... there is something to that. My brain jerks then says, "Ok. No computer... what were other things I needed to get done?"

Though I have only read about 50 pages of my novel (INKDEATH - read it people), I have also gone a ways with the packing. About one third of the books are in boxes and the hard part of dividing them between what was going to the bf's and what was going in storage.

Yet the site of empty walls and kitchen cupboards has led to a physical realization that I am actually leaving.  Like really leaving people! I can't believe it - Tokyo won't be an idea it will be streets with people and sounds and smells. Reading about business cards and proper way to place one's hands when bowing... I am actually going to have to do that! Don't get me wrong, I will continue to read about the Japanese for the rest of my life. But to have a yardstick of experiences in which to test and bounce these ideas off of... It's scary and oh-so-exciting.

I think the main thing here that makes my JET experience a little unique from other participants is that I don't just have an adventurous spirit here. Nor is it about me getting some experience in the classroom. Japan has been the topic of most of my school papers. The Japanese language a challenge I have been trying to conquer for years. The theories concerning their culture and people have been intellectual preoccupations that have fascinated me. Japan is not just about my imagination or entertainment - it is also about my intellect and the combination of the three has me in a state of angst.

Don't get me wrong - I have no intentions of putting everything in a test tube. I won't be a bystander who observes. I don't even think my genes would allow me to be. What I mean is, my intentions are not to study the Japanese when I am there. But I do intend to catalogue in detail with some academic vigor - in some ways this blog/journal is meant to jog my memory at times. And I know my brian - I may be bowing and honourifically introducing myself to the local principal but in the back of my mind I will be contemplating the gender identities in nationalism for the past 200 years. Or when I purchase high-tech gadgets (which I will!), there will be more than a few seconds spent gazing at this object and thinking of its cultural contextual meanings over the 20th century.

In essence, I will be experiencing Japan on a level that many others will not be: a philosophical one. And this 4th dimension may just drive me crazy. I could totally see me bursting in tears over a blossom or the first site of the caves of Okinawa.  Forget that! I will probably cry while separating my garbage into 24 different compartments.

So walking into the apartment that is fast becoming bare is exhilarating. It is a fresh start and liberating to leave very little behind to worry about. In a silly way, this tech diet and furniture dispensation has made me feel kinda grown up.

It's about time!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

bfg on long days

I may recycle this title... we shall see.

Today was a long day.

On the side of being positive, I got to spend real quality time with my nephew which is awesome. I had a great time playing with him but upon reflection I am so not ready to be a parent.

Tomorrow is Nephew Luca's first birthday so you can probably imagine: 60+ people with my bf probably the only non-Italian there. This morning I went to my sister's early and distracted the boy while the bf and she cooked. Fun.

But I was tired by 2pm and the day was far from over. It was ALSO my younger sister's communion which was nice. I got to sit accross my Nonnina and chat with her. She is not happy about my going to Japan; "Your ovaries are rotting!" she keeps on telling me. Even though Ant reassured her, it seems like she is set on being mad. One more reason to avoid storing books in her basement.

Tomorrow is B-day but before I need to go back to Pharmaprix and retake my passport pics. The Government of Canada REJECTED my application because:

- the photo was not cut properly
- there was too much of a focus on my face and shoulders without appropriate amount of white space around it.
- and there are shadows on my face (huh?)

So I have to go through this all over again. Can you imagine!! So sad and annoying; am concerned I won't get it on time but hopfully it will work out.

I wish it would end here but since I posted stuff on Craig's List my lunch hours and post-5pm time belong to the curious eyes of potential buyers. So far so good... but I really hope to get it all out soon.

Wednesday will be my first Japanese language class with JET which is exciting!
bfg goes to bed while watching GLEE.