I have been in Japan for 3 weeks and as simple as it sounds, my assessment is that Japan is a cool, intriguing country.
Osaka itself has 20 million people and it is considered the nation's "kitchen". There are restaurants everywhere, and when I say everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE. Any kind of Japanese food you want, you can find in a small radius. People always say that it is expensive, but if you look, you can find some places where you are not breaking your pocket to eat. I have slowly found my places to eat, especially my versions of drunk food (since there is no 24 taco shops). When you enter restaurants here, you will hear people yelling "Welcome!" in Japanese, and once you sit down, you are greeted with a warm towel and hot tea or water, depending on the time of day. Although there is no tipping in Japan, each person works with a passion to give customer service. They take pride in their work.
The train system is crazy. There are too many train/subway lines for me to count and that is not including the local trams. They are unbelievably punctual and each train stops exactly where it needs to, and by that I mean that the train stops on the platform where there is a marker for people to get on and off. I'm blown away by the accuracy, timing and complexity of the train system.
The people. People here are such hard workers, and for the most part, that is all they know to do. I have heard that some of our students go to school for 12 hours a day. And I thought I had it bad. Many people here run their own shop and everyone takes a break between 2-5. This is something that I wish the United States adopted. We would be so much happier and more productive.
On a personal side -
I have learned soo much in the past 3 weeks. Oh man. First off, it was funny to hear for the first time that I had an "accent". When someone told me that, it never dawned on me that that was possible. I always thought to myself that I'm normal and everyone else has an accent. But when I was told that I have a heavy American accent, I was caught off guard. My training group consisted of 9 people total from various English speaking countries: England, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Boston, New York, and of course San Diego. It has been cool to learn the different lingo from all of these different parts of the world.
When I came here, I was brought to become a teacher of English, but I did not know exactly what I was getting myself into. I basically had a two-week crash course of how to be a teacher with this company and I had my first day as a teacher yesterday. Wow, what an experience. I taught classes with kids that were 1 and a half to older women in their 60s. I was extremely nervous in my kids class because their parents are in the class as well. I had to get the kids to participate by singing songs and acting a fool of myself, but it was rewarding experience. Because kids are afraid of change, one kid saw me and instantly started crying. I felt so bad. I didn't know what to do. I also met the cutest little girl. Her name is Chihiro. She was very shy, but at the end of the lesson she said bye to me like 5 times. That made my day.
Although I feel that I've learned a great deal in the first 3 weeks, it is truly only the beginning. Now that training is done, I am going to have the opportunity to meet more Japanese people, as well as other fellow English speakers. I have yet to find what this country really has to offer and I have yet to find what it is that I most certainly want.
The Journey Continues and the Beat Goes On...