As day 2 in Japan comes to a close, I am feeling overwhelmed. First and foremost, I am overwhelmed by the amount of kindness and support I am receiving here. I was met at the airport by three of my future co-workers, including my boss, and they were so ready and willing to help me in any way possible. Jared, my fellow ALT from Alabama, had decided to take my acclimation to Japan up as his pet project. He's the one that came to the airport to meet me, along with Mr. Sazuki and another teacher at the school. All along the drive back (about 2.5 hours) Jared tried to fill me in on all the basics that I'd need to know. It was a little bit of information overload, but I tried to be sponge like and soak it all up. I got so excited when we drove through Mito, where several of my friends live, and Tokai, where my ex-roommate lives. I had heard about these places for so long, and now I was finally here!
After arriving in Hitachi, I got my first look at my new apartment. I had no idea what to expect, so I tried to prepare myself for the worst. But it turned out really great! I have a little kitchen, then a sitting room, a bedroom, and a little utility room. It's so much bigger than my OC apartment, and it's all mine! :) I have to give props to Denver for doing a good job cleaning and a big thanks for leaving me all of his stuff. It would be very ungood to come to an empty apartment! While I was unloading, Alina, another ALT and my neighbor, came by to say hi. She's really nice and helpful, too. Jared and Alina gave me a while to settle in and relax, then we went out to dinner together. I ate sushi! My very first time. :) Jared was trying to ease me into the process, so I started with scrambled egg sushi, then I moved up to a vegetarian sushi with cucumber, then I ate tuna. It really wasn't bad; it's totally a mindgame. It is out of my paradigm to know that I am eating uncooked meat :) I fought my gag-reflex, survived, and had to admit it wasn't bad. The sushi chef was adorable. He was a little old Japanese man who knew a little English, and he was so tickled that he got to be the first one to serve me sushi.
After that we went to a little restaurant where a lot of the gaijin (foreigners) in the city hang out. I got to meet a lot of people from all over the world who just happened to have ended up in Hitachi. Everyone there is such a character, in a good way. There could seriously be a sitcom written based on the people and conversations at Bardega. All Saturday afternoon I was thinking to myself, "how on earth am I going to get to a church-- any church-- tomorrow?" Thankfully a girl named Roxanna, who used to be an ALT in Hitachi, showed up on Saturday night and told me she was going to Mito the next day for church and would I like to go. I said, "Of course!" and was thrilled that I'd get to see everybody there. By about midnight I was exhausted and went home and fell asleep.
Sunday morning I woke up at about 5:00am, thank you jet lag. I made myself go back to sleep and then woke up again at 6:30 with little hope of going back to sleep. I took my first Japanese shower and got ready for church, then continued unpacking and waited for Roxanna to come get me. She did and the drive to Mito went quickly and soon I was in some kind of altered reality where it was like OC in Japan! It was so wonderful to see old friends, and especially to see Peter and Denver, who arrived at the beginning of August and can empathize with how overwhelmed I was feeling. Peter and I got some good time to chat and catch up and exchange our, "Can you believe we're in Japan?!" feelings. Also, seeing how well Peter already had hiragana down also inspired me to get off my tail and start learning it.
I can't believe I got to see everyone... I just can't tell you how reassuring and comforting it was. I also got to see my Japanese girls who I was so close to my junior year of college. So many good feelings. I went to lunch with friends then hung out with the Mito ALTs and church members for the rest of the day. I got to see the English Bible Classes that take place at the Mito church. It's so cool that there are so many people studying there. After class they have a bilingual worship service. It was very lively, and it was good to see so many people who are so different worshipping God. Everyone-- both Japanese and gaijin-- made me feel so welcome and expressed that they were there for me if I ever needed anything. I got a big list of phone numbers of people to call if I ever need help.
I got a ride back to Hitachi with a Japanese woman who does EBC at the Hitachi-Taga church and another English teacher who lives in Taga named Judith. Judith showed me around the Taga church building and told me about the different things going on there, then she took me back to her place so I could check my email and call my parents (which I am eternally grateful for!). Calling home was hard. The weight of the stress of the previous days was weighing down on me, and even though I am having a good time that doesn't mean that the stress doesn't take it's toll. But it was sooooo good to talk to my parents and have that connection. Judith even fed me-- she's so sweet! It was funny when she brought me home, because I thought she knew where my apartment was, because I sure don't. Turns out she didn't, either! All I could tell her was that I lived near a 7-11 (they're everywhere here!) and Route 6 (one of the main roads), and I lived right behind a haircut place. At first I just told her about the 7-11 and Route 6 landmarks, and we just couldn't find it. I knew the general area it was in, but I could have sworn that my building just picked up and moved. Finally I remembered the haircut place and we found it easily after that. It's a pretty pathetic feeling when you don't even know where you live. I'm still trying to remember my phone number!
I think the jet lag/stress is really taking a serious toll on my body. My allergies and sinuses are acting up, I'm sleeping okay but not great, I'm pretty much not hungry in general, and my muscles are so sore. Other people have expressed that the same thing happened when they first arrived, and this too shall pass. Tonight Judith gave me great advice. She was asking what my schedule is going to be like this week and I started to panic as I realized 1) how much I have to do and 2) how little I know about what I have to do. For example, I think tomorrow I'm supposed to meet with my boss but I have no idea where he is or how I should get there or when I should go. Judith told me to just remember to take one day at a time. Just focus on getting through one day. That is wonderful idea, and I shall impliment it now. This day is over for me, although it just beginning back where I came from. I'm exhausted. Time for bed.