I haven’t been blogging lately because we didn’t have Internet for the first few days after we moved to Chino. Then, we did get Internet, and I started working. This is my first full-time, grown-up job. Ever. Unless you count the summer I worked at Six Flags. I worked 75 hours per week for those hellish three weeks.
In some ways, there’s something more grownup about working behind the scenes at a theme park, a place that is supposed to be a fantasy, than working behind the scenes at a middle school. The only things about this job that makes me feel in any way grownup are my sleep schedule, the desk, and the amount of freedom that I get. I don’t actually start teaching until next week. So I’ve spent my first few days of work wandering the hallways aimlessly, studying Japanese, and trying to get an Internet connection to my laptop. So far, no luck on the Internet. And writing. The only real perk to having nothing to do and no Internet access.
So far, I really like Chino. It’s at a higher elevation than Miyada, which means that it’s colder, but the mountains look even closer. I have to walk to and from work because my school is completely out of the way for Zack to drive me. It’s only a 20-minute walk, so I don’t really mind. I got lost the first three times I tried to walk there though. That’s the biggest problem with a city for me: a greater chance of getting lost.
The other major problem with Chino is the road system. Whoever designed the Japanese road system and driving style should have been locked in a padded room. They were clearly out to hurt themselves and others. The roads are rickety and narrow—barely a car and a half wide—so cars literally have to drive on the sidewalk sometimes to avoid hitting oncoming traffic. The traffic lights are also really confusing: a red light directly in front of you might mean that you can still go straight, but not turn. A green light without a straight arrow below it means that you can turn but maybe not go straight… Of course, that’s in addition to the whole driving on the other side of the road thing. I’ve almost had a heart attack several times while riding in the passenger seat with Zack driving. Close calls are just a daily part of getting around here.
Driving in Japan is not for me. I’m nervous enough when I drive in a country whose rules I grew up observing, let alone a place where most of the road signs are written in symbols I can’t read. Maybe I’m just a huge wuss and I should face my fears, but I also want to live to see middle age. I’ll stick with pedestrianism for now.
The novelty has started to wear off. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it just means that I am more comfortable than I was nine months ago when I first came here. I can sort of communicate with Japanese people now. Grocery stores make more sense. I can order for myself at a restaurant for the most part.
Another great part of our new life is the potential for new friends. There are a lot more gaijin here than there were in Miyada. We live below a really nice vegetarian from Sweden named Erika. We also live a train stop away from a lot of our fellow A to Z ALTs. Andy came to visit us this weekend for Onbashira, and it was really fun. He's teaching in Ogaki, a city in our neighbor prefecture, Gifu. We got to hang out with our new A to Z friends and spend time catching up with him.
I'll post some pictures of our new apartment soon. I really like it but it's usually pretty messy during the week because of our hectic schedules. And to end on a happy note: A to Z finally received my Certificate of Eligibility in the mail! That means that all I have to do is go to the Immigration in Nagano and apply for my work visa. FINALLY. I am having a party when I finally get it.
Have fun in the Georgia heat SUCKAS.