31 July 2005

Japan, Land of Huge Bugs and...Scary Western People

The bugs here are amazing. There are butterflies I've never seen before (bigger than my hands!), HUGE dragonflies and worms, and tons of cicadas. Their chirps are deafening and they fight with the birds. On the way home from the grocery store, I tried to take a short-cut through the overgrown park, but I had to turn around half-way through. Not because I got lost, but because a giant bug flew in front of me, straight up from the ground like a helicopter. He hovered at eye level like he was daring me to take another step. I didn't know if he could sting me or not but I decided not to risk it. The little helicopter won and I turned around to take the long way home.

Friday night I met some other JETs in Fuji for a night out on the town. I ate sushi (raw salmon, tuna, and an unidentifiable white fish) and was surprised by how much I liked it. After dinner we went to a little bar on the roof of another building. Six or seven of us Westerners were packed into the little elevator, and when the doors opened at the top, a Japanese woman literally screamed in terror. Her eyes got huge and she covered her hand with her mouth, and as she screamed she jumped back about 5 feet. That's how used to foreigners they are! The lady was very embarrassed and apologized in Japanese but we cracked up about it all night long. Pure terror and surprise on that woman's face.

28 July 2005

That American Must Be Her

A student just came in and rattled off Japanese to me. (The boys at my school aren't quite as shy as the girls...but luckily all of them are excited I'm here). He was going on and on, and kept talking about Mrs. Tanaka, so I told him in broken Japanese that my name is Lauren and I'm the new ALT. Then Mayumi Sensei came over and started laughing, saying 'No, no no' waving her hands. I had no idea what was going on. Turns out this boy's aunt married an American, and for some reason he thought I was his long-lost cousin.

Hate to disappoint people. Later Mayuni Sensei said, 'Don't worry, that boy's a little strange.'

Mayumi Sensei is young and really nice, with a good sense of humor. She lives above me and I get to teach a class with her, so I'm excited about working together.

20 July 2005

Weird Grub

Here's a pre-Japan list of the "strange" foods I've eaten, in no particular order:

  • crocodile
  • kangaroo (still feel guilty about this one)
  • whole mini-octopus in stir-fry
  • pate
  • organ meat from an unidentifiable French animal
  • a variety of stinky French cheeses (I love them)
  • cow testicles (can't remember the euphemism)
  • crawfish/crayfish (with the shells, eyes, and legs still on, this was weird for me)
  • livermush

Stay tuned for post-Japan updates.


Note to readers: These posts are approved for a general audience, so if you're looking for juicy gossip or bad language, you have to email me.

I keep reminding myself that I am MOVING TO, not just traveling through, Japan. So it's okay if my 2 suitcases (yes, all 2 of them) seem a little full. Instead of thinking about how I'm going to teach English, or buy groceries in Japanese, I focus on things that are totally out of my control: I worry that my suitcases will explode en route and that I'll arrive with little more than a pair of sunglasses. Or that while I'm gone, my house will burn down.

When you step back and really look at what you're worried about, it's almost hilarious. I think it's time to get on the plane.

17 July 2005

Talk is Cheap!

You can talk to me in Japan for FREE!
1. Search "skype" on Google
2. Download and set-up the free version of Skype
3. Dial "echo123" to test and make sure it works
4. Send me your username
5. Call me through the internet for free!! (My username is LaurenSalisbury--no space.)
**This requires speakers and a microphone, usually built in to laptops. You can buy microphones from Best Buy for around 10 bucks. Our computers can call each other from anywhere, using existing internet lines, so it doesn't cost anything.

Home Sweet Home

Even though I've spent tons of time preparing for this move to Japan, it's just starting to hit me: I've had the good fortune and the guts to do something I always dreamed of doing.

This view from my driveway was taken last fall.

Countdown 'til takeoff: 5 days.

07 July 2005

First Info

My ALT predecessor, Vanessa, has contacted me by email, so the details are slowly rolling in:

Town: A small town near the coast, surrounded by mountains. Near Fuji City with a great view of--guess what--Mt. Fuji.

School: I'll be teaching advanced high school students, ages 16 - 18. School is a 20-30 minute walk from home.

Apartment: Small apartment complex for teachers that is owned by the school. There's a Japanese teacher above me, and an American guy beside me...so I'm glad I won't be totally isolated.