A lot has happened in the last couple of weeks, so I’ll try to condense two weeks of activities into a couple of posts. (NOTE: I’m currently mooching off free Wi-Fi at Starbucks, as I won’t get internet in my apartment for at least a couple of weeks…)
SO where should I start…a couple of Fridays ago there was an unofficial get together of some Tokyo JETS at Shinjuku Gyoen. For starters, what an amazing garden, so beautifully manicured and looked after and refreshing to see so much greenery in the middle of down town Tokyo. The only thing was it was a stinking hot day – and I know coming from Australia I must be fine right? It’s on another level here, the humidity is almost at 100% so it feels like you are suffocating sometimes.
It was nice to meet some people who have been in Tokyo for a couple of years, to hear about their experiences. I also found out that I was successful in my application for my apartment, so to celebrate a couple of friends and I went to a local restaurant recommended by the other JETs. And by local, I mean local – we were the only non Japanese people in there, people were smoking up a storm and beers were only 160Y a glass! What a steal.
On Saturday, I went to my first meetup. For those who know me, they know that meeting new people and making conversation has never been my strong point. I don’t particularly enjoy it but (if I say so myself!) I have been getting much better at it in the recent years. So to go to a gathering alone to meet other people seems really out of character , but I am so glad I went out of my comfort zone and did it! The meetup was a photo walk led by a professional photographer around the area of Asakusa. This group mainly consisted of Japanese people interested in photography, but also to improve their English. And luckily, I was able to practise my (very poor) Japanese on them!
Everyone was so nice and kind. It was another scorching day and we spend a good three or so hours walking throughout the city. We started out in Asakusa’s Sensoji Temple and then walked towards Tokyo Sky Tree – the tallest building in Tokyo. At the end of the tour, we were able to print out our best picture – as I have absolutely no talent for photography and really do not know how to use the fancy knobs and buttons on my camera, my photos were not the best. ‘Overexposed’ the other members said but they were so nice that they said it looked like pictures had already been edited!
Then came the week of apartment moving. I had been having some difficulty accessing one of my bank accounts over here (my fault of course for not informing the bank I was travelling!) but had no way of contacting them without a phone. So after having a mild panic attack not being able to get the money together to pay for the initial cost of my apartment it all worked itself out once I was able to call the bank up. (I should mention that my family did receive frantic messages saying I NEED MONEY HELP!!!!!! late at night….but luckily it was all fine!)
I had been in contact with the real estate agent here since being back at home and she would repeatedly ask me if I was able to make the initial payment for an apartment. Doing the conversion it came out to be about $4000 AUD and I thought of course, I would be fine. But in reality, taking into consideration just living expenses for a couple of weeks, buying furniture and setting up utilities etc. it has really been a bit tricky. But I guess that’s all part of the experience.
I am not sure if I had mentioned this before but while somethings are so super advanced and efficient here, other things are so archaic and needlessly difficult here. You need to go in person to the local ward office to make sure you are registered, and to set up a bank account you need an address and a phone number, but to get a phone number you need a credit card and an address. So it’s like the circle that you really don’t know where to start from. But I feel like a proper adult having accomplished all of these things, mostly with the help of other JET friends or on my own. Wow, proper adulting, only a decade or so too late.