Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Going to Japan

So I've found out where I have been placed in Japan, which has made the whole "teaching English abroad" thing seem very real and scary. I've decided to write a blog because that's what people do when they go abroad, and maybe it will calm me down a little. A Little introduction: I'm from Grimsby, and I am going on the JET programme to teach English. They have placed me in Joetsu City.

Why I Was Freaking Out

a) The Wikipedia page for Joetsu City is worryingly sparse. Even Grimsby (which deserves its grim title) has a larger one. All I can gather is that Uesugi Kenshin was based there in the 1500's. People used to think that he was a reincarnation of the Buddhist god of war Bishamonten, so at least there is some good news.

b) The population density is 211.15 people per km². To put that in perspective, there are 828 people per km² in North East Lincolnshire. So although there are 205,521 people there, its all very spread out. It doesn't sound like the monstrous blade-runner-esque cities I had always assumed Japan was made up of. 

c) I've read a lot of blogs recently about living in Japan, and all of them agree on one thing. I am and always will be treated as a foreigner who cant speak Japanese, eat with chopsticks, or order food for themselves. Just because two of these things happen to be completely true doesn't mean I'm looking forward to always being 'White Richard from England'. However this is just the tip of a much larger iceberg. I worry I am going to be extremely lonely. In a miniature room. A miniature but extremely messy room.

Why I Calmed Down

I don't want this to all be doom and gloom - there's plenty of time for that later. Although I am a little nervous about the whole thing, I am also extremely excited.

a) England sometimes gets a bit cold and sometimes gets a bit hot, but on the whole there are few places in the world that are so temperate. Japan is not like that. Summer is so hot you have to bring a towel with you to wipe your face, winter is so cold that it wont be weird if I wear a woolly hat everywhere, and spring is full of cherry blossoms. I'm not sure about Autumn. In summary, I'm really looking forward to a climate that isn't grey with a chance of light rainfall 90% of the time. My main worry right now is whether there truly is such a thing as a cool ski jacket. I have yet to see one.

b) The extreme seasons are complemented by a beach for the summer and mountains (with lots and lots of snowboarding!) for the winter. I cannot ask for more. As long as I am not alone doing these things. No where is more depressing than a beach if you are on your bill, and Snowboarding alone would probably lead to me being found 
frozen to death weeks later  because I took a wrong turn.

c) Something like 100 JET participants are placed in the Niigata prefecture, so at least we can all be alone together. Of that 100 over 50 will be from the US, but I'll take what I can get.

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