Monday, June 28, 2010

bfg on feeling important

Rosemary and Caroline, my best friends are twins... the parents always said I was the triplet they never had. Ah! See, we all pretty much share a birthday and were all three in intensive care at the same hospital! They were premature and I was more than 2 weeks late, so fat that the doctors suspected I was diabetic.

Birthdays then have always been a special occasion for us. I will always remember my favourite gift: a shredder. Rosemary never understood  but only important people have shredders and I am a very important person.

Well, this weekend I shred away 5 garbage bags worth of paper. Feels good! The place is starting to look spiffy and clean; the bf and I are not stepping on each others toes - or boxes - any longer.

Last week, I received my Welcome Package from Shizuoka School Board! I was so happy - it was hard to believe it had actually, finally arrived. The contract was pretty clear being in both Japanese and  English - I was surprised about the section for females... did you know you can call in sick for your menstrual cramps in Japan? GOD! These people are just so advanced it is not funny! Thank you for recognizing...

I got 20 days of vacation and almost 50% of my apartment paid for so that was, again, nice. My predessesor told me that but there is no garantee the organization will carry over the terms and conditions. I was also worried that they would be subtracting key money from my first pay but this is not the case either... All in all status: very happy.

The tour guide and travel map they gave me was another bonus. If anything, I was able to tempt the bf with photos and guided tour plans to come and visit me... maybe even stay a year with me if I stay for longer? Who knows!

My package also included a letter from my Prefectural Advisor (a JET who takes care of JETs in the Shizuoka area, organizes activities and bails you out in times of trouble like when your apartment lights on fire or something), the head of the Shizuoka School Board, and my predecessor. There was also a pamphlet for JETs on specifics on what to bring from home for Shizuoka... nice to know that I can get peanut butter there.

I think here is a good time to mention why I choose Shizuoka-ken as my first choice (fyi: on the JET application there is place to select three). The best thing to do in any situation is ask around; if you are buying a house, choosing a brand of paint or deciding what university to go to the absolute solid way of making the best choice for your self is to ASK AROUND. So I asked several people on JET, my Japanese students and my teachers, the most influentital one being my thesis advisor for obvious reasons.

Of course, I listed the things I could not live without: wanted to be able to travel around Japan facile; wanted to be close to a University and Culture Centre where I can be active and make Japanese friends my age not to mention perhaps use the library facilities for research on my thesis; live in a place where there are few foreigners; mild winter; not far from a major centre where there was more of a chance to find clothes for a female fat giant. And someplace that provided me with a cultural and historical vibe of Japan everyday (so museums were very important to me).

The fact that I actually got my first choice is so rare - I am still in a state of disbelief. But a part of that has to do with me being strategic about everything, and NOT choosing Tokyo or Kyoto as my main choices.  The demand for that is so high INTERNATIONALLY that the chances are slim; its best to take a place, with a little research, that is more realistic and, frankly, best suited for your day-to-day needs. I suspect that most people choose Tokyo because it is the one place they actually KNOW of in Japan. A little research and time can really make you realize just how diverse a place the tiny islands of Japan are.

One piece of advice I wish I had was to research Sister Cities. In Montreal, Hiroshima is our sister city and four people were placed in the city and surroundings. In fact, during my interview they asked several questions about the sister city and even said that Hiroshima always has specific requests for JETs from Montreal. Anyways, something to consider especially around interview time.

MP, my advisor, suggested Shizuoka-ken since it was at the very centre of Japan ideal for domestic traveling. A trip to Tokyo is less than 50 mins and to Osaka less than 2 hours - how can I beat that? It is the capital of tea and wasabi and because it is by the Pacific (OMG! I can't believe it! That fact alone fucks with my head :) it is known for its fresh fish and fine cuisine (did someone say, copious amounts of sushi?). Tokugawa Ieyasu retired to Shizuoka so there are several palaces and museums. There are mountain hot springs which the city people go to during New Years - there was an article on it that my student Aki brought to me while I was still in lumbo on my choice. And, best of all, my apartment has an awesome view of Mount Fuji which I should be climbing with other JETs on August 15th.

So... wanna come visit?!

PS: I know I am supposed to post my Orientation notes. I have 1/3 typed up and now am unable to fnd my notebook. Please have sympathy for the clutter. I will find it! And finish.

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