Serena in Shizuoka: ESSAYS
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Arriving in Shizuoka

After my final day in hotel quarantine, I was picked up at the hotel by the Shizuoka prefectural advisor. The prefectural advisor, referred to as ‘PA’ for short, is an experienced JET program participant that helps other JETs with life in Japan and can also help mediate work related issues. The PA was tasked with escorting new arrivals from quarantine in Tokyo to Shizuoka. There was one other JET that was also going to Shizuoka City, so the three of us took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Shizuoka City. We had ramen for lunch at the Shizuoka City station before taking a taxi to the Shizuoka Prefecture Board of Education office. By the time we arrived, I was already feeling tired from travel. It didn’t help that I had trouble sleeping the night before, partially due to excitement and partially due to anxiety. It was all I could do to stay awake while the PA went over the details of our contracts with us before we were picked up by teachers from our schools. Shortly after she finished, a teacher from my school came to pick me up. It was a little awkward being driven around by a complete stranger, but it hit me that this was my life now. I had to rely on strangers to some extent to get by here.

Me at the station waiting on the Shinkansen.

The teacher from my school took me to city hall first to get registered as a resident of Shizuoka. It was about 2:30-3pm at this point and the whole process took some time. Afterwards, he took me to the school to get the luggage I had shipped ahead and meet the teachers. It was nearly 5 pm at this point and I was so tired. Meeting the teachers like this felt so awkward and all I wanted to do was relax. The whole day felt like one big blur with all this new information being thrown at me. I don’t think I remembered anyone’s names aside from the teacher that picked me up from the Board of Education office. Finally, I was taken to my new apartment. It was completely empty aside from the basics, a fridge, and a washer. A Japanese style futon was laid out on the floor for me to sleep on. I remember standing there in the apartment looking around with a blank expression on my face. I think I was too tired and overwhelmed at that point. The teacher from my school checked to make sure the gas and hot water worked as I stood there taking it all in. Before he left, he asked me if everything was ok and I said yes. What else could I say? He then asked me if I had a hair dryer so I could take a shower, which I thought was such a weird question, but it made me realize I needed a towel before I could take a shower. I told him I was fine and he said he would pick me up to go to the school at 7:45 am.

Window view on the Shinkansen.

After he left, I ventured out of my apartment for basic supplies and food. There was a big drug store called Kyorindo across the street from my apartment, and lucky for me they had some cheap bath towels and a grocery section. I bought a towel and some food to eat for breakfast the following morning before I went to the convenience store for dinner. The Family Mart near my apartment was a lot bigger than the Lawson in the hotel, so there was more variety of food to choose from. I picked out an omelet rice meal and went back home to eat. Since I didn’t have furniture or a TV, I sat on the floor with my meal and used my carry on suitcase as a table. My other, larger suitcase was used to prop up my laptop so I could watch YouTube while I ate. At this point, I was too exhausted for the reality of my new life to really sink in.