I wake up super early, at around 6 am, probably due to a mix of the new place, the heat, nerves, adrenaline and whatever else. I take an ice cold shower to cool off. I went to have breakfast: I wanted cereal (I bought frosted flakes, I will ease myself into the Japanese food …) but I froze the milk by mistake. I guess I turned the fridge on a bit too high. So I make toast. I have a couple hours to spare because I don’t have to get to town until 9:30, so I saunter around and do some more unpacking and what not. Then I head out to the train station, ready for my day. The same lady who was working yesterday when I was taught how to buy my ticket is also working today. She recognizes me (I am one of two foreigners out here) and although she speaks to me in a language I cannot understand, I can tell she is kind and wishes me well. I get my ticket and wait for the train. When the train comes and we are off I realize I have forgotten my map. How will I know when to get off? Surely there will be signs and an announcement will be made when I reach my destination, besides, I know the time the train is supposed to get in, because the other JET is meeting me at the station at that time to take me to the BOE. After what I think is the approximate time I am supposed to be getting into the city we arrive at a stop. We were moving too fast so I couldn’t see the sign clearly when we zoomed in, and now it is too far away for me to read. The announcement comes on saying we have arrived somewhere, but he speaks to fast and I cannot tell if he said the name of the city I need to be at or not. It sounded like he did, and in the flash of the sign I did see, it seemed that this was my stop. So I get off and the train moves on. I walk through the station and come out to the other side, where I find nothing. This clearly isn’t the city center. This isn’t the city at all. I don’t see the guy who is supposed to be meeting me here. I go back into the station but there is no one there. After some wandering I find a map and it appears that I got off a stop too soon. The name of the place where I am and the city I am supposed to be in are very similar, in my defence. I’m now officially late, as the train I got off of will have arrived at my proper destination by now. The next train doesn’t come through for another hour, and I can’t wait. Japanese value timeliness, and I had thought I would make a good first impression, but that is gone out the window now. Big surprise; I am late. I find a pay phone and figure I will call the guy who is supposed to be waiting for me and tell him I’m lost. But I have no change. I had used it all to buy the ticket here to this stupid place. With no cell phone, no change for the pay phone, and no one around, I do the only thing I can do: start wandering aimlessly. Fortunately, before long, I stumble upon a taxi. I think it’s a taxi. There’s a little sign on the top, although I can’t read what it says. It looks like a taxi. It is parked on the side of the road and I stand and watch it for a while. I eventually decide it must be a cab so I decide that I will get in it. But what will I say? I don’t speak ANY Japanese. I’m so nervous and feel so awkward, and writing this now probably makes me sound like such an idiot to anyone who is reading. Finally I work up the courage to open the back door and sit in. The driver in front turns and looks at me and says something in Japanese. I just say the name of the city I want to be in. He points to the train station. I shake my head and say the name of the city again. Now that I am in the car though, I can tell it definitely is a cab, as there is a machine saying how much you owe up front beside the driver. Other than that it’s kind of hard to tell. It kind of just looks like a car with advertisements on the outside. Anyway, I guess he finally realizes I’m not going to wait at the train station for the next train to take me into the city, so he sets off. I say to him “station” because I need to get to the train station to meet my friend, and if he drops me off any old place then I will be just as lost as I was in the first place. He doesn’t seem to know what I mean but I say it a couple more times (what else can I do?) before seeing a sign for the train on the road, I point and say “station!” one more time and now he knows. He nods and takes me there. I’m sooo awkward. I’m awkward and now out another 40 bucks.
Luckily the guy who was supposed to be waiting for me was still there. He said he had called the BOE and told them I wasn’t on the train I was supposed to be on so he was going to wait there until the next train came through and then start searching for me until I turned up (thank god! I feel so bad, he took the morning off work to come get me and everything). Anyway, the others have already gone to city hall to get their alien registration card so he takes me there to meet up with them and then goes on his way. We get out alien registration cards and set up our bank accounts. Tomorrow we will get cell phones. Then we go out to lunch (an Italian place!) and then back to the BOE to read over some documents about our terms of employment. Then we take the tram around the city and learn where some of the other buildings are that we need to know about (I’m taking detailed notes at this point, there’s no way I can remember all this!). It’s the end of the day now, and we are told we are free to go. But I have no idea where I am. How do I get back to the train station that takes me back to my town? How do I buy a ticket there? How is my town written in Japanese so I will know it when we get there? I ask all these questions to the BOE staff and they decide they will send someone with me to the station so that I know how to get there from the office as I need to come here again tomorrow. It’s about a 15 minute walk. Again I’m taking intensely detailed notes about how to get there as I’m afraid I’ll forget. Writing while walking is hard. We get to the station and I am shown how to buy a ticket. It’s much more complicated here than in my small town, and with the staff’s help it gets done, but I’ll definitely have trouble doing this on my own when I want to go home tomorrow. I guess I’ll worry about that then…
I get on the train and go home. That part was easy, as I recognized my stop from this morning. I stop in at the grocery store on my way home and pick up some Fanta for the walk. You can’t drink enough liquids here, obviously, because you sweat everything out immediately. Fortunately I have that towel. So that was my day’s adventure. I have to go to the BOE earlier tomorrow, so I will try and get a good sleep tonight. I may try to get there extra early to account for my screw-ups. This time I will remember my map, hopefully. Off to bed now!