Sunday, April 25, 2010

Howl's Moving Nagoya

Of course, I got lost finding the building for training. It was one of those mornings. First, I ran out of my house with everything I didn't need for my day, and next to nothing I needed. Then, in trying for my train, I go to the Shin Toyota Station instead of the Toyota Station (they are literally a block apart connected by an overpass, and I'm always getting mixed up which train leaves from which station) so by the time I get back to the proper station, I've just missed the early train. Now I'm stuck taking the Meitetsu to Chiryu (the one which will get me there on time if I don't have any Japan, land navigation is ALWAYS problems for me). This set of trains is a trip that I've only done once, in the opposite direction on the day I came to Toyota, where afterwards I spent almost an hour wandering around the city trying to find my apartment. This is not fortuitous.

Worse, as the train is leaving Toyota Station, I reach into my bag to refresh my memory on the map and directions to the meeting place. Nothing. That's right. I forgot the MOST IMPORTANT thing – my printout of name and address of and the map to the venue where training is being held. Two words. Totally Frakked!

I managed to go online with my (super expensive and confusing) cell phone, check my email and get the basic information, directions, etc. (Lord knows how much that cost) to the training, as well as my supervisor's phone number which for some bizarre reason I hadn't entered into my cell...stupid! I also texted another ALT friend in the company to see if he knew the training venue. All of these things counted for naught though as, when following the instructions, I left the train station via the WRONG EXIT. Japan is a bit like Howl's Moving Castle: if you go out the wrong exit, you end up in an entirely different place than you planned with no way back to the proper place without entering the Castle again—a debatable process.

So I'm outside looking for a Koban (police box), seeing nothing (though in my defense I'm not 100% sure what a Koban looks like anyway) so I ask a guy if he sees a Koban. Nope. Then somehow in the process of asking for further directions, he tells me that I'm at the wrong train station and that I should go back to Kanayama. Next, I call my supervisor and but he doesn't pick up his phone. Now, the smart thing to do at that point would have been to go back into the Nagoya Train Station, find the Visitor's Center and ask them for (yet another) English Map and directions.

But I was tired, stressed out and still a bit sick from this cold that I've been barely staving off since since Wednesday--it's been like waiting for a sneeze: I have a cold, no I don't, yes I do, no I don't...FRAK! Just sneeze already! So instead of doing the smart thing, I did the stupid thing, which was run back to the Subway and start back for Kanayama. What I'm going to do after that is a mystery to me. At the transfer station, my brain kicks back in again, so I go back online--luckily my phone plan-- think-cuts my internet fees at around 4 Sen (about $40/month) but that maybe with a different EZ Plan, so who the hell knows how much money I'm spending looking this crap up online anyway. I'm thinking of going to the cell phone company and asking as a part of my today plan.

And yes, my directions did say Nagoya Station, so now, a half hour later, I'm on my way back to Nagoya Station (where I started). There I find the Visitor's Center, find out that my mistake was going out the wrong exit, and five minutes later (English map in hand), I'm at training.

Training, (the parts I was there for) was quite excellent. We gained more teaching tools and learned more about planning dynamic lessons. I really liked the demonstration and practice on incorporating skits into your lessons, as well as how to use the Karaoke tracks of our teaching songs to create your own teaching songs based on different topics. Also, I got some good personal advice on how to be more effective using flashcards to setup students for activities, producing grammar, etc. All good stuff. It was also great to catch up with the folks from orientation! I also had an amazing lunch, for less than 1 sen (under $10) I had an amazing beef and onion dish with salad and rice. It was so delicious, writing about it, I'm having mouth watering flashbacks!

After training, a group of us went out for a night on the town! That is, hours of Karaoke with Nomihoudai (all you can drink). We were pretty bombed three hours later when the Karaoke place told us that we had to go (there was a line). Towards the end Mie joined us. Afterwards, most everyone went their own ways. I hung out further with Eric, Mie, Ben, Pam and others as we went back to the Nagoya station for food (for me and others) and for the train (as three of our party had to catch the Shinkansen to go home). At this point, I was hungry and definitely working my way to really sick, so while I'd have loved to have stayed out longer, I decided to hitch a ride home with Mie. Eric stayed on, with directions to some clubs and the Manga Cafe, so he could party all night. (I'd have loved to have done this too, but I was too sick. Today, after a night at home, I'm feeling worlds better though).

In short, rough start to the day, but good on the followthrough!