Meeting the Rabble

I was back in the office the day after the move (Saturday), leaving my apartment in the barely-moved-in shambles you might expect (or just expect anyway if you know me).

All the Seto ALTs had been called in for a refresher training day, as we were mid-way through term, which gave me the perfect chance to get to know a few people in my area right off the bat.

The training was focused on getting an experience of each other’s teaching styles and bouncing around ideas for activities. The main focus was geared towards helping us experience how it feels to be the student in an immersive language context, and to learn to put aside awkwardness in front of the students: learning to ‘stay in character’.

Seeing the others in character was excellent – especially the way Macky (Jamaica) switched between her very blunt (and wonderful) natural delivery, to the hyper-enthusiastic fun-generator needed for class. It was magical, not to mention funny, to watch.

A lot of the others were pretty annoyed at having to go into the office on a weekend, especially as many of them live way out in the Seto ward, so it’s a bit of a trek (it takes me 2 trains and just over 30 mins and I live mid-way!). Once we were finished, spirits were much improved by the decision to go for sushi afterwards.

There are some really good kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) places here, good quality and much more reasonably priced than the sushi-ya (sushi restaurants).

This one was unfortunately not one of the better ones.

The staff, no doubt mightily alarmed by the huge group of gaijins that traipsed in, decided it was for the best that we were seated in two groups on opposite sides of the restaurant…can’t blame them all that much to be honest.

Despite the so-so sushi and the division of the group, it was nice to get to know the others, and to be surrounded by such a variety of people: American, Egyptian-Canadian, Australian, Jamaican, Filipino, Irish – quite the mix!

After sushi we split up, and I headed into Sakae accompanied by Nelson (America) and Mai (Canada/Egypt). Phone was once more spectacularly not sorted. But we did do some wandering in Osu and found a fantastic okonomiyaki place!

IMG_0812The road we generally take into Osu from Sakae.

IMG_0821Okonomiyaki arrives!

IMG_0826After six years of okonomiyaki deprivation, this was the perfect reunion!

IMG_0828The staff here were incredibly nice and gave us little booklets about the area (weirdly narrated by the local idol group). 

I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but I will find out and update here when I do!

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Choosing my Home for a Year(ish)

Having not had much info about apartments, it turned out the process was a simple one. I sat down with one of the Interac OL’s (office ladies) who showed me several options to choose from on a map.

One of my options was a shared accommodation arrangement in a Freebell apartment. I went to check it out and met the girl I would potentially be sharing with, but in the end I decided I would much rather have my own space.

This was before the 110th change to my placement, after which the Freebell option wouldn’t have worked anyway. *sigh*

I ended up going with a well-known company for individual apartments across Japan: Leo Palace. From my experience and what I’ve heard from others, the Leo Palace is 100% worth the little bit extra you pay to be living alone. Judging by the other place I saw, the quality is definitely better than the Freebell apartments.

Rather than get a place close to my schools but far from the city, or vice versa, I chose an in-between area. Though I didn’t realise it at the time, it was a good choice regarding the trains, as it’s the last stop for the express train into Sakae (the main entertainment district).

The express/semi-express (or rapid in some cities) stations, as well as the distance from your apartment to the station, are big things to bear in mind when choosing your apartment. It takes me around 10 mins to walk to the station, which would normally be fine, but in the summer heat it has been killer – especially when I’ve had to rush to catch the train (often).

The upside of living a little bit further from the station is that I’m surrounded by allotments and rice paddies (and the frog chorus!), with a balcony to enjoy it from.

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