100 Days in Japan 日本の百日

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Note of warning: This is going to be a long vent that’s more for myself than readers.

So today marks my hundredth day 百日 since arriving on the shores of the land of the rising sun. Needless to say its been quite the adventure thus far, that has taken me up and down on a roller-coaster of new experiences and emotions.

The Daniel I was back in Australia was dead and buried the second I stepped off the plane in Narita, as honestly I feel that have grown as a person and have felt more alive in the past 14 weeks than I have in the last few years!

That said it certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park, there are certainly a wide array of hurdles to be overcome once you arrive in a foreign country in which you have little more than a rudimentary grasp of the language, and have only yourself to rely upon for the first time in your life.

My situation in particular (as i was an early arrival) put me in a predicament where the only two options on the table were really sink or swim. Leaving an all but comfortable life in Australia, I suddenly found myself thrust into a situation where within a week of arrival, I was expected to teach my first classes in an alien work environment at new my schools.
I replaced a superstar ALT who spoke Japanese and prior to her departure had been teaching not as an ALT but as the main teacher. Despite having extensive experience working with children I had big shoes to fill, the pressure and expectations of me being high. Alongside this I was given an empty apartment to furnish, a foreign language and culture to learn and the entire Kobe JET community to become acquainted with!

I arrived in an awkward and hectic time where around a quarter of the current ALTs (30ish) were leaving, I found myself simply trying to find where exactly I fit in among the chaos.
In hindsight this was an area I tacked poorly, harboring a plethora of enthusiasm having finally accomplished my life’s goal of moving to Japan I wanted nothing more than to party every night and enjoy my new found life to the fullest. Unfortunately this did my reputation no favors, often being met with resentment, finding few people being at my level of genki.

Rather than joining the community with a couple dozen new JETs where I would have been able to fly under the radar to a degree. I had come on my lonesome at a time when many were finishing up their time in Japan and saying their farewells, alas most didn’t have time for ‘the over-enthusiastic (read: drunken) new guy’.
It took me a good 2 months to even realize I often rubbed people up the wrong way, with sensory overload all but obscuring my usual rational thought processes.
I discovered as similar as the culture of western nations may seem, these similarities can be somewhat superficial, alas I often felt harshly judged due to cultural ignorance at the hands of my non-Australian peers.
Anyhow the difficulties of the first few months past as I discovered who I wanted to be in my new home.

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Prior to departure we have the issue of culture shock hammered into us, I ignorantly laughed it off thinking ‘I love Japan why would I ever be miserable’.
I soon discovered no one is immune to this, although I had been having the time of my life for weeks loving every moment, around my 7th week suddenly it all came crashing down around me. I became depressed and ever restless for no good reason, unable to eat, enjoy my job or the company of my friends.
It’s not as if I miss anything specific back home bar this guy……

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What I more so find myself longing for are points in time, my last amazing summer in Australia, crazy drunken night out in Melbourne town, afternoons with my grandparents and the like.

Anyhow luckily when times got tough was when I discovered just how amazing the people around me really were, it wasn’t until I finally needed to call upon my friends and neighbors for their support that their kindness really shone. I found the JET community to be extremely supportive, with many reassuring me that the ‘honeymoon phase’ was simply over and I has hit ‘stage 2’ that everyone goes through. Unfortunately this came about when the new 2012 ALTs were arriving and so again much like the hecticness of my arrival few had time to help me with my problems.
Even now it’s not easy, however every day I feel as though I’m taking a step in the right direction to be the person I want to be.

Every now and then I have nostalgic flashbacks to years past urging for Japan and I suddenly come to the realization that I’m living my dream.
It’s at these quaint moments that I am most content with my current life and what I am doing with it.

Sumer holidays and the summer along with it has come and gone, and it’s beginning to be painfully obvious that yes indeed

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WINTER IS COMING!!!
This is quite a scary concept for me as since I was fortunate enough to leave Australia on the last day of Autumn, I haven’t in fact experience Winter since last September so I’m sure it will be a rude shock as there are chilly times ahead.
Anyhow I have my parents coming to visit in a months time and I’m going home for a couple weeks over Christmas so my spirits are high regardless so 頑張るね!

In conclusion I will be the first to admit that despite it’s difficulties, life in Kobe as a JET so far has been amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It’s quite daunting when I consider that as I intend to stay on JET for quite a few years, I have already gained so much but realistically barely scratched the surface of my time in Japan or the experiences and adventures I am yet to have!

I know much of this post was a long rant but here are some photos of the more amazing experiences I have had since my arrival.

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11 thoughts on “100 Days in Japan 日本の百日

  1. ..is it gakuentoshi?? I kinda understand ur feelings since i had same kind of culuture shocks when i lived away from here, and also when i came back to Japan..
    It’s great you have wonderful friends support you:) Anyway, i guess i must have seen u at last holloween event that i went for the first time! Haha! Nice pix X)

    • Yeah its not always easy living abroad, but so far its totally been worth it!

      I had a sneaking suspicion you might have lived abroad, your english is too fluent for you to had not have!!

      mmmmm do you mean the kobe scavenger hunt??

      • Good to hear that!

        yes, yes, I dont know well about this blog, so i didnt go detail about myself, sorry! I have lived in the U.S. for a year or so. Naah, my English is terrible, but it is good learning to read like blogs to me.

        Yeah, the one you go around picking up trash, but not actually remember seeing you( the green outfit is you i assume???). Oh, I just went to IZNT tonight, and thanks to you, i finally talked to strangers! Haha! It was nice to talk with other people:)

      • Well i hope to keep posting things so keep please continue reading ^_^

        Oh yeah thats the Kobe SCUNT, Halloween party’s will be next month, expect more crazy costumes!!
        But yeah the green suit is i =P

        Haha thats the spirit, IZNT is usually pretty fun, in a couple weeks there will be the Halloween costume party, it would be a good place to meet the whole JET community if your interested.

      • Of course, i’ll look forward reading your posts, and get new Eng for myself!

        Oh yea? Unlike last year I have no one to go to those events with this year(T T) If i can find someone going, definitely will try to visit the party tho X) It’s fun to see what everyone is wearing for that day!

  2. I’m loving your blog and I really hope you re-contract (and keep blogging!) next year as well. No matter your background or previous experience it takes everyone a bit of time to become comfortable and confident as an ALT. I’d even taught at Japanese elementary school before and it still took me about a year to get completely confident. 頑張って!
    About culture shock, one of the best descriptions I have ever read was on the JET forums. I can’t remember who wrote it but he said something like: “Culture shock on JET is not about missing your favourite flavour of icecream. It’s the shock of going from being an articulate competent member of society to a helpless idiot with no idea what is happening around you and being unable to express to anyone how that makes you feel.” Even those who come with fluent Japanese still struggle to understand “how things are done” in their workplaces or towns. But it really does get better 🙂

    • Wow thankyou for you feed back, I am really glad to hear someone is enjoying my rambles and will certainly be on the JET Program for as long as the will have me at this stage.

      Ahhhhh the quote is incredibly accurate and down to earth!
      A few weeks ago I asked my Kocho sensei if I could farewell the students at the end of the day with her at the gates in my ‘best’ Japanese.
      Somehow she interpreted my query as ‘Daniel-sensei wants to go home early everyday’ and I was promptly sat down to have a meeting with my OTE about completing contracted hours at which stage I was practically pulling my hair out in frustration.
      I guess at times I really feel like a child fumbling with his words as although I know exactly what to say and most of the words that I want to get across, my grammatical skills are practically non-existent…… one of the difficulties that arise if you never study formally and only focus on what interests you about a language I guess.

      Thanks again for you advice ^_^

  3. “I discovered as similar as the culture of western nations may seem, these similarities can be somewhat superficial, alas I often felt harshly judged due to cultural ignorance at the hands of my non-Australian peers.”

    This times by 1000. I’ve slowly been finding people in my prefecture that I can build relationships and a stronger rapport with, but I’ve struggled quite a lot with the gulf between me and the non-Aussies already.

    • Erggggg yeah it can be quite difficult at times, I actually had to white wash a lot of this post as it was perhaps a tad to critical beforehand.

      Before I arrived in Japan I ignorantly believed that ‘Americans were a people who believe their opinions are facts’.
      Once arriving into a community where the majority of the English speakers are from said country I unfortunately found my beliefs to largely be right on the money!

      That said many of my best friends here are from the US and are honestly some of the most amazing people I have ever met so there are many exceptions to the rule. However its no coincidence that the majority of the people I connect best with here just so happen to be from AUS or the UK.

      I don’t know if you get this often but I find all to often when im just out with my friends having a couple drinks or just out having fun, many non-Australians get into these intense political debates or argue about ridiculous stuff like civil rights in countries I have never even heard of. Back home the kind of person who brings up these kind of topics in a social setting has a brand name and that is ‘fucking wanker’, now although is don’t mind an intellectual conversation whilst drinking beers in a park guys in their 20s should be talking about sports, girls and drinking not fucking american political candidates!

      sigh rant over

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