Apple Country

Stories of rural life as an ALT in a northern Japanese fishing town.

Settling in

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The horrible typhoon weather has finally finished and it’s gonna be hot all week yaaaay!  Yesterday my supervisor and I drove round the town visiting the three junior high schools I’ll be teaching at, starting in a couple of weeks.  The furthest is an hour’s drive away, in the serious inaka and only has 40 students in the whole school!  When I met the principal in the staffroom, there was a poster that said 小さな学校、大きな夢 which means “little school, big dreams” so I thought that was sweet.  The other schools seem really nice too, and we also visited all the elementary schools just so they know who I am.  And of course I had to give my self-introduction again each time we went round. 

On Sunday I ventured into the city to meet another ALT who is my “big sister” in Aomori, except I got drastically lost and it took me 2 hours to drive somewhere that should only take 50 minutes, thanks to the satnav taking me to a field in the middle of nowhere.  There also happened to be a magnitude 6 earthquake at this time, and my phone made a scary alarm noise and warned me “jishin desu!” but I was too stressed out to care at this point and just ignored it as I was driving and couldn’t feel it anyway!  Disappointed.  I found the place eventually and we went for a curry (Indian!) for lunch which was actually really good and probably the first time I’ve had one in another country.  We went to the mall which was totally different to the ones in the UK – there are arcades and games everywhere, everything is really colourful and there are girls who stand outside the stores holding signs and calling out in a really annoying voice for you to go inside.  I didn’t really do any shopping as we were in a group and I like to take my time, so I’ll be back on my own on Sunday!  I did do purikura though, which is a photobooth that makes you look like a Barbie and you can decorate the photos with stickers on a screen afterwards, and there are some funny mistranslated English ones saying things like “I will! My very very must” and “You should regard us as wonderful!”


I did buy a nice new throw and cushions for my sofa, pretty bedsheets to replace the less-than-appealing brown ones, so now all I need is curtains as at the moment the windows are covered in stained blankets and it feels a bit like a squat.  But other than that the place actually feels like mine now!  I have had the occasional unwanted visitor though… Before I went to bed last night there was quite a big spider on the wall and I couldn’t be bothered to move it so I just left it and hoped it’d go away, which I noticed it had done before I went to sleep… During the night I felt something tickling my arm but I ignored it and brushed it off because usually it’s just my imagination.  Then it tickled my other arm so I sat up to see this black thing crawling across my chest.  I screamed, launched myself out of bed which caused the spider to fall out of my pyjama top and scuttle away into the shadows.  I didn’t sleep again for a while and jumped out of my skin every time I thought I felt something touch me.  Lesson learned: get rid of the spiders.

I think for the rest of this week and next week (apart from another introductory trip to each school) I’ll be in the BOE doing whatever I want with my time, which will be studying Japanese and preparing some lesson plans, my introduction lesson and occasionally blogging when I need an escape!  This morning I’ve been exchanging notes in English and Japanese with the lady across my desk which was fun, it feels like I’m at school again… She said there’s a piano on another floor in the building so tomorrow I’m gonna try it out.  I just ate a little packet of Japanese peanuts which had lots of tiny dried fish in it… it was weird but definitely good.  Dad you would’ve enjoyed it.

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