Hello from Kamo!

Well, after two hectic days of orientation in Tokyo, I’m vaguely settled in to my new apartment in the small city of Kamo, in the Niigata prefecture of Japan. The Tokyo orientation was busy and filled with literally pounds of paperwork. But it was a lot of fun. I think the thing I was most struck by was the number of different types of English I heard spoken – British, Irish, Scottish, Kiwi, Australian, American (with various accents), Japanese… My ears were working overtime to decipher the meaning of all of these different sounds. And I found my own language being tempted to adapt to different types of pronunciation. It took effort to keep my flat West Coast style. :) Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and rather like a huge international convention. There are about 2,600 new JET participants this year, from 44 countries. A lot from the U.S., but definitely a healthy smattering of other countries as well. We totally took over the Keio Plaza hotel for two days. Unfortunately, I was pretty wiped out from the plane, so I spent most of my time either attending workshops or resting. I’m confident I’ll make it over to Tokyo sometime in the near future, so I wasn’t too anxious to go out and about. And after all, I was here about nine months ago. One of the highlights of the orientation was an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink “night out” with the other Niigata JETs. That was pretty fun… Met some nice people. Hopefully I’ll get to see them again.

Anyway, I’m at my first day of work today at Kamo Junior High School. I have my own desk in the teachers’ room – and a computer with broadband, thank goodness. All of the kids are on vacation right now, but many are here participating in various sports and club activities. I think I’m just kind of hanging out at the office and orienting myself for now, which is fine by me. I’m running out of time at the moment (it’s time for lunch soon and then I have to go to get my alien registration card), but Kamo is a very cute little city. With a population of about 35,000, it’s not too big and not too small. I explored a little bit today and am planning on doing more this weekend – I’ll be posting pictures on Monday, most likely. Everyone has been really nice to me, helping me to get settled in. And my apartment is also very cute. One thing’s for sure – I’m really glad I speak a fair amount of Japanese, otherwise I would probably be terrified out of my mind. It’s still fairly intimidating, even when you’ve spent the last seven or eight years learning about how things are done in a country.

Details and pictures on Monday, I promise! Or maybe sooner, if I find the public library (which has free Internet). Still in the process of getting my own access set up from my apartment. Little by little, I’ll get it all figured out…