I am loving Tokyo. Maybe it’s all the English signs, or the familiarity of a big city, but I feel very comfortable here. Or maybe it’s that I’m still on vacation. ;) It’s all fun and games until you’ve got a classroom of surly kids on your hands. I took the subway back to the hotel, and I was expecting a logistical nightmare, since I was traveling in Tokyo at rush hour. However, we didn’t experience any insane crowds; I guess the hotel is in a nightlife district, which means that there’s no big influx there in the morning.
There are lots of familiar establishments around town, some more expected, like Starbucks or Mcdonalds (“ma-ku-do-no-ru-do-su”), some more of a surprise, like AM/PM and Sizzler (!). We went and broke our fast at Tully’s, where Chris had the cutest little 6-oz-$5 shake ever. As a couple who’s used to sharing their gianormous American portions between themselves, the delicate Japanese portion will take a little getting used to.
Tokyo weather has been a dream so far, balmy and cool at night, sunny and warm in the morning. Perhaps the famous humid stickiness happens during the day when I am in my shmancy hotel? Andrew assures us that the weather is kind of freakish right now and to enjoy it while it lasts.
Orientation consists of lots of speeches from the head of this ministry or that, and most of the speakers are surprisingly funny! We are a grateful audience. They have lots of great resources for us, including a national JET association, books with ideas for teaching, and a career-fair room where you can learn about how to sign up for broadband, how to teach elementary school kids, or when you can travel to Southeast Asia for any number of social work/ responsible tourism trips.
I love the JET population… people are chosen for their friendliness and ability to make social ties with others. We are supposed to be a room full of diplomats, after all. Which means that everyone for the most part is approachable and interesting. There are delegations from Ireland, Canada, France, Russia, and Jamaica. But the socializing is killing me, because I can’t stop myself and I dearly need a rest. At this point, what I need most is a sensory deprivation tank, because you basically have the same conversation over and over and over… where are you from where are you going what did you major in what kind of teaching experience do you have how is your Japanese. Ug. I am puking these pleasant conversation starters all over the place.
For lunch, they fed us the very Japanese meal of curry and rice. In the afternoon, there were some optional break out sessions. I will be going to elementary schools between my visits to junior highs and high schools, so I attended the elementary school workshop, as well as one on financial advice for JETs. After that I crashed hard and barely woke up for the 6:30 banquet. It was a madhouse, with a crazy spread of food. I was about to faint (no joke) for want of food, so it was really hard to socialize. I ditched the JET activities and instead went out for some super tasty Indian food with my Mudd peeps.