Attn: Lee Johnson, former Miyoshi-gun ALT

Hey! Thanks again for the comment several months ago. It really made my day (and week, and month) to hear from former ALTs who lived in the same area, and to hear that former ALTs still have very fond thoughts of western Tokushima, as I do! I recently started chatting with Cory Hain, who taught in Yamashiro/Iya while you were in Ikeda/Ikawa/Mikamo. If you could e-mail me (andorus at gmail dot com), he’d like to get in touch with you.

I set up iGoogle recently, Google’s portal site, and created a Japanese Study tab, with the two JLPT kanji modules, kanji of the day, and Eng/Jpn news tabs. I really don’t know if I’ll have the motivation to study hard enough to have even the slighest chance of passing the JLPT level 2–I’d have to be living in Japan and studying on a daily basis for that to be feasible–but I think I’m going to sign up for it anyway, to have that as something to work towards, so I don’t let my Japanese slip. I still haven’t had success finding flat-out conversation sessions in town; I’ve found actual language classes, but I think I may just give in and sign up for an advanced one to keep me on my toes and to give me a chance to chat with people.

In other Atlanta-Japan news, my grandmother found something in the paper about a weekend of Japanese films next month at Emory University. I’d like to check those out. And next weekend is JapanFest! I’m hoping to head there on Sunday with some people.

The first of my last round of boxes arrived today, too…aptly enough, it was the one with a lot of my very nostalgic gifts, sign-cards, and thank-you letters from my students and teachers. And my Sudachi-kun plushie! I found the cloth flower Atagi-san made me, the brocade and ukiyo-e purse from my junior high teachers, the indigo purse from my Thurs/Fri elementary school, the laminated sheet with photos of me crying and going under the student arch during my farewell ceremony, and much more.

I also found the notebooks of class notes that I’d meant to leave for Caitlin. CRAP. I’ll be shipping those out to her tomorrow…

The feelings of homesickness for Japan really haven’t faded. If anything, they’re a little stronger every day. Japan works its way into my thoughts and makes itself relevant to whatever I’m doing or thinking about constantly. This morning, out of nowhere, the image of Yaemi and Terumi seeing me off at the bus terminal in Ikeda on my day of departure came to me and made me start crying in the shower.

What does help, though, is knowing that I have a cool, laid-back, and friendly group of coworkers. I can go to them with anything, I can ask them anything, and they’re more than happy to do whatever they can to help me out. I chat most with the guy right across from me just out of convenience, but he also has a design background and is a software engineer, and we get each other’s input on stuff, and he’ll very kindly pass over different links he’s found related to what I’m working on, or just cool graphical things.

The thing that’s a little awkward–but of course, everyone goes through this–is that my coworkers are all at least 10 years older than I am. I feel like I fit in really well, though, and I haven’t felt any sort of “seniority” complex at all, and it now works in my favoror that I’m used to being the lone female in a group of tech geek guys after my college days. (We were all joking in the car on our way to lunch today about how we all were made fun of in middle school, but now geeks are taking over the world.) It’s just tough because they all have families or significant others and aren’t really the hang-out-after-work types.

I also just don’t have nearly as many social outlets as I used to, and I live 30 minutes from the city, and the areas where I live and work are awful during rush hour. It took me a solid hour to drive into the city yesterday after work, when that trip should only take 20 minutes. I’ve really started feeling the pinch that comes with having previously local friends who now reside hundreds and thousands of miles away. The days of decent train systems and friends in neighboring towns are definitely over.

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