Actually, a lot’s happened over the past week, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write about it (I’ve been too busy geeking out over Revenge of the Sith–OH MY GOD. Three viewings down, and I can’t wait to see it again!)…even now, I have to run, but I’ll just summarize:
- several days after getting the e-mail, I got the Big Huge JET Packet in the mail. It came with a full-color foldout map of Japan, so I was able to really easily identify Tokushima-ken there. It also came with the visa application form (due in June–I actually can bring it to the Atlanta JET orientation they’re holding on June 25th), a “Japanese for JETs” textbook (I really need a refresher course, so this’ll be great), and a JET Program handbook. I read through most of it the day it arrived–it’s full of a lot of really, really useful information.
- I got e-mails from my predecessor (Lindsay from Portland) and my contact at the Miyoshi-gun Tokushima-ken Board of Education overnight. I’m sending a quick one off to the BOE contact, and will definitely be sending Lindsay a much longer one pretty soon.
Oh, and I’ve also gotten some pretty heartening news lately–there are more JETs in the area than I thought (9 in Miyoshi-gun alone; Miyoshi-gun is made up of 6 or 7 towns, one of which is Ikeda-cho), and they’re a pretty tightly-knit community. Also, a new supermarket opened up in Ikeda, the largest in the area, and we can get flour tortillas there–so that’s a huge relief, because vegetarian food won’t be hard to come by. I also came across a couple of communities for Tokushima JETers–a Yahoo! group that I’m lurking on, because it’s mainly official business, and a messageboard, where I’m still waiting for my membership to be confirmed before I can even read the posts.
Everything’s moving quickly now. Monday marked the 2-month point until I leave, and I also got an e-mail from my manager asking whether I’d started thinking about my final day yet (not that they want me to go–and the other has already said that I’m welcome to join them again if they have an opening if I’m looking for employment when I get back–but they need a few weeks to hire somebody new)…and I have; I’m going to get back to them tomorrow or Friday about it. I wanted to give myself 4 weeks off, so I could use one week to travel and see people, but my parents aren’t fond of that idea, since I can stay and earn more money instead–so I’ll give myself 3 weeks off. That should be more than enough time, I hope…and maybe I can still make a few quick trips to visit relatives. (Like my grandmother…she’s definitely in her twilight years, and while there’s a strong chance I’ll get to see her in India at the end of the year, if I can get time off to go (I have two relatives who are getting married in the same week), I’d just love to spend some time with her beforehand.)
And now I have to run. More on the handbook and the e-mails later.
We were getting the house recarpeted, so I’ve had my computer unplugged for 2 days, and tonight was the first chance I’ve had to check my e-mail. I got a copy of a letter I’ll be receiving in the mail (along with a lot of enclosures, which didn’t come with the e-mail).
So far, I know this much–it’s more rural than I expected. It’s a 16,000-person town (about 1/3 the size of the suburb I currently live in), in the district of Miyoshi, in the prefecture of Tokushima, on the northeastern side of the island of Shikoku, the smallest of the 4 main Japanese islands. It’s very varied geographically, but the climate’s warm and dry. There are multiple Ikedas–including one near Osaka, which really had me excited for a minute, because I thought I’d be in a large suburb.
But it’s not that I’m not excited–there’s just virtually no information about this town online. I still have so many questions, and so much research to do, but at least I know what to look up now.
It’s been an exhausting day (and I’m getting very little sleep tomorrow, as I go camp out for the 12:01 AM showing of Revenge of the Sith), so I should go soon. But at least it’s been decided. I’m off to Tokushima in 2 months.
I had to say my first long-term farewell yesterday–my friend Pat is leaving Tuesday so he can do a summer internship in Wisconsin, and won’t be back before I leave. It’s especially sad, because he’s been one of those guys who’s always just been around–we were in orchestra together for like 4 years straight, and had several Japanese classes together, too, and he and my other friend Laura and I have routinely gotten together for several hours several times a month this year so far (for the most part) to play frisbee in Piedmont Park. We were joking about how the only places big enough to throw a frisbee around in Japan were places where a lot of people were around, and that while we could try throwing between skyscrapers, it probably wouldn’t work. ;o)
It’s slowly beginning, though…but at least there’s a much bigger chance of him coming to Japan than anybody else, since he’s already very familiar with the language and culture, having spent extended periods of time there before. So he may consider it as a trip destination in the next year.
And more will be happening in the next month–another close friend of mine is leaving for New York for at least a year in June, and I have other friends who are taking off for grad school and other things across the country. We really are heading off in our own separate directions…except that I’ll be back eventually, though hopefully not for long, as I head off to do my masters elsewhere in the country. (But that involves taking the GRE in the next 2 months and hoping I get a good score on my first try… *groan*) It’s so weird to wrap my mind around. Finding out where I’m going to be placed will hopefully help me ground myself in this whole experience, though, and I hope I hear back about that pretty soon.
This is just a test, to see if my syndication feed works. (The URL of the XML file is http://japan.ecomancer.net/smithainjapan.xml – have at! I’ve set up a LiveJournal feed at smithainjapan, and am trying to figure out if it’ll show up.)
Oh–so it actually is offiical. My papers are on their way to Tokyo as of this past Tuesday, and my consulate contact confirmed that they were all right. We still have so many questions, though…it’s funny, because my dad asks me about this and that and we’re at about the same level of informed-ness in terms of the actual process of my going over there. (He’s also offered to take several weeks off to help me settle in. While it’s great that he wants to help me get settled into everything, it’s something I have to do on my own, you know?)
I promise there’ll be more “meat” soon. After the office in Japan Japan processes all the paperwork and sends the placement results back, then things will get going. But to those of you who have stopped by already, thank you for reading!