Excerpt from “102 Days in Japan” — FREE today & tomorrow

Below is an excerpt from “102 Days in Japan: Between Gifu & Ichinomiya (and then some)“, available here, through Amazon. Offered for FREE Wednesday 4/10-Thursday 4/11. Go for it, then tell everyone you know how *awesome* it is. Available on any device that has an Amazon reader (Kindle, Kindle app on Apple and non-Apple devices, and your PC).



First Day in Japan!
Posted 11-20-2009

I made it! I’ve been in Japan for about 18 hours now, and so far I love it!

The trip here was very uneventful; people don’t talk on international flights! I sat next to a French man on my flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Tokyo. It was very close quarters, and his head was too close to my shoulder a few times! But I kept busy with Walter Cronkite’s autobiography (A Reporter’s Life), a puzzle book, half of “Up” (tv froze halfway through it) and two episodes of NCIS.

I’ve got my room set up as best as it can be; it’s smaller than a dorm room. I have a mattress and a 4-drawer plastic “dresser” for furniture.

I walked all over today. All by myself, and I didn’t get lost! Can you believe it? (Amy & Greg, I can hear you saying “no” ;)) I walked instead of riding the bike so I could really look around, go in any store I wanted, and pay attention to the signs so I would know my way back to the house. Storefront signs are probably about 70 percent Japanese, 30 percent English. I went all the way to City Hall (about 30 minute walk), got my foreigners registration card, walked to the train station (another 30 minutes or so), took the train to Nagoya (a bigger city) for the big electronics store, got my converter so I could plug my computer in, and made it all the way back to the house without any trouble!

I even ordered water in Japanese at McDonald’s today! I ordered “one water” (ichi mizu) and thanked the cashier in Japanese (arigato). It was free, too. That’s where I’ll be getting water when I’m out and I get thirsty!
People here are so kind; when I had a question, I just asked and was on my way with an answer!

For now I am living in the house that’s about an hour away from the school, but it’s a combination of walking, train ride, and bike riding! I don’t mind it. I did ride a bike earlier today to the 100 YEN store (The dollar store), and the bike is huge! But it has a basket for my purse and groceries, which is nice.

I feel at home here, which is so strange because it’s a foreign country! It’s very similar to a city in the states, just with a different language on the signs. I think mostly, I’m just so excited for this opportunity. I’m fulfilling a dream I’ve had for a very long time; a dream of traveling to a foreign country by myself and learning the culture.

What’s really cool is Gifu (the city I am staying in right now) is right next to a mountain, so looking out my window there is a mountain beyond the buildings! The train rides today were neat, too. There’s city city city then all of a sudden a little farm land. Also, the roads are so narrow! And driving on the left side of the street was incredibly strange. I was in the passenger seat, which is on the left! And there are of course a lot of Toyotas, but they’re different models. I don’t feel jet lag at all today, and I think that’s because I hardly slept on the way here. I’m wondering if I’ll crash later.

So far, the trip is a success. My housemates are nice; I’ve met three of them. Two Americans and one Englishman. They’ve been very helpful and welcoming, which I’m very thankful for.
Here’s a picture of me standing on the bridge which leads to the JR Gifu train station. There is a mountain in the backdrop of the city, but I am in front of it!

Elisa in Gifu

What I’ve learned so far:
I don’t like turbulence when we’re over the ocean; it’s a lot more unnerving than turbulence over land.
13-hour flights are every bit as boring as they sound!
Saying “domo arigato” gets a big smile, and the Japanese really appreciate politeness.
It’s not as difficult as I thought it would be to be in a foreign country. Just don’t lose your bearings, and ask questions when you don’t know an answer!

Other tidbits:
The homepage for blogspot.com comes up in Japanese!
I don’t get netflix, nbc.com, or hulu.com, but I am told there’s another site where I can watch The Office (phew!)
I am getting phone calls on my work cell phone from Japanese people, because the phone was just handed down to me from another teacher. So I keep answering the phone, and hearing “laksdjfoiejlaksdnflajsdogijae” — only one person has hung up on me so far after they’ve realized I’m not who they’re looking for! One man said, “And whoooo are you?”


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