Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Picking Up Where We Left Off... (pt.4)

The next day found me well rested and ready to make for Tottori. We checked out, said farewells, found our bus, made it to the airport, and hustled through security. I made an attempt at withdrawing some money from my account and was summarily DECLINED. This really raised my hackles, especially since I had notified my bank twice before I left America that I would be overseas and needed access to my account. I hoped that we would somehow be able to sort things out in Tottori, but I wasn't too worried since I had about $500 USD in yen still on me, so I was set for a bit.

I was delighted when we got on the plane- because this time I had a window seat! All throughout the flight to Tokyo from Detroit I was crammed into the middle of the aisle in a lightless sardine can. It was awful. But on the short trip to Tottori, I was ecstatic about my seat and I felt the child-like excitement begin to bubble up inside me again. I took some footage of the landing and some more while we were in the sky. There was some utterly remarkable scenery on that flight.
I felt my apprehension stir again as we landed though, because I knew that neither one of the people picking me up were English speakers. I figured that we'd go back to my apartment and sort things out later, but I didn't really understand the amount of things that needed to be done before I could finally get home. And so I was dropped off from the plane and into the arms of total Japanese immersion. At first I felt very intimidated. I tried my hand at my Japanese and was at least partially understood. As we spent more time together they began to speak more to me, and I realized I was sorely unprepared for this kind of experience. I felt embarassed at my poor Japanese and anxious that I would accidentally say something wrong or offensive. So most of our car ride was a mix of very basic Japanese and very basic English-- to both of thier credit they made every attempt to speak English when possible, or at least after I gave them an embarassed, blank stare and an apology. It was in this way that we went to the store, where they tried to ask me about what kinds of foods I liked, and so on. But I was totally shocked at this point and also I couldn't read anything, so I ended up buying some ramen in a cup and water, which I think they thought was weird. But it was my first time in a Japanese store, and they were hesitant to pick anything out for me, but I couldn't read and had no real grasp yet on the price of anything, so I ended up buying things based on pictures and American counterparts. I got frosted flakes, some local milk, water, and some cup ramen. Then we got some bedsheets, a pillow, and a few other apartment knick knacks. I signed a bunch of documents I couldn't read, they took me out to a slightly stressful but pretty interesting lunch of conveyor sushi and dinner of ramen, then at long last we headed back to my apartment.

At that point, I was pretty tired. I really just wanted to get into my house and shut the door so I could stop the sensory bombardment and let myself catch up to all the things that had happened. But that wasn't in the cards yet.
My supervisors were kind enough to also help me set up my apartment, which was great of them. It would have taken me a long time, but they unpacked many things and set them up and showed me (slowly) how to use many of them, and so on. It was dark by the time they left, which made me feel a little guilty because they had selflessly worked late for some new guy who could barely speak any Japanese. But my relief was palpable when I finally shut the door and was alone in my place. I explored briefly, tweaked a few things, set up my stuff, unpacked largely in the dark because apartments don't come with ceiling lights, and fell contentedly into a dreamless, exhausted sleep...

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