Wednesday 17 November 2010

My first month living in Nagsaki on the JET programme

It has been some time since my last post ;)

I just want to let everyone know what to expect of the first month here. I pretty much want to convey: "Don't worry, be happy :)". You can get a bit tense coming into this foreign situation (haha get it?), but in reality everything becomes clear as you go along. I always felt a small bit lost, but that is just a part of the adventure right? Accept it and enjoy. Now... onwards!

So you finally made it to your prefecture! If your like me, you will arrive in the middle of the week (Wednesday), afternoon, during summer (August). When I first arrived my supervisor was waiting to pick me up (with a big welcome sign!). First, I was taken out to lunch! Then, I went directly to my main school to meet everyone. The whole time I was wearing a suit in about 32 degrees Celsius. To be honest, I could have gotten away with something cooler, but it wasn't terrible. After the office visit I was taken to my apartment and shown around, before finally being left alone to relax.

The atmosphere for the 1st month was really relaxing for me (and most of the other JETs I know). If you arrive in August you'll be right in the middle of Summer break, and most of the teacher may not even be in the office. This is great because you may get to meet people slowly. A few things that'll happen in the first month are:

  • Sports day. My High School holds their annual Sports day in August. This is great to get involved in.
  • Enkai - You may have a formal party held to celebrate your arrival. As for me, the night after I arrived I had an okonomiyaki party with my supervisor and another sensei. It wasn't for another month till my formal Enkai.
  • Work - You'll be mostly working on your self-introduction. I did mine completely using powerpoint. You need to figure out what's available to you.
  • Clubs - there are many clubs going on during the summer break - check them out.
  • Students - there are many students simply hanging around school - meet them! The English club came to visit me everyday :)
  • Setup - setting yourself up in Japan. Your supervisor will help you get a bank account, cellphone, internet, etc. Get on to the internet as soon as possible, this can take the longest to setup.
In the first month I didn't have much work to do apart from my self-introduction. So if you find a similar situation with lots of free time, then simply just make yourself known around the school.

So these are really just the formal things, there is so much more to do in your city/town/island. Make sure you get out and about in your first weekend! Tackle the interesting things like taking the bus/train/etc. Quicker you figure out your city/town the better.

Enough for now ;)


Wednesday 10 November 2010

Takikomi gohan - Japanese dinner recipe

So this is a really nice and simple recipe. This is because you pretty much just chuck everything together into a rice cooker. The end result is great Japanese tasting rice with chicken, and seasonal vegetables. Very cheap, very easy.

Ingredients (cooking for one)
Chicken meat 
Dashi  (出し、だし) - soup base. This is the fundamental to Japanese cooking. It is the base to the soup we'll make. It is generally made from kelp and shavings from dried fish.
Soy sauce (Shouyu、しょうゆ、醤油)
Mirin (みりん 味醂; ほんみりん、alcohol present 本味醂; salt & alcohol しおみりん;  new mirin - no alcohol but same taste: しんみりん, 新味醂) -sweet cooking rice wine
Sake (酒)-rice wine

Directions:  Boil enough water for the rice cooker in a saucepan. Add the dashi to the water to create the soup. Remove Dashi flakes if they're present. Add mirin, sake, and soy sauce to the taste. You only need a small amount of mirin and sake, don't get carried away! Maybe a bit more Soy sauce than the mirin/sake, but add according to taste.
Pour the soup into the rice cooker with the (washed) rice. Add the meat and seasonal vegetables (e.g. carrot, mushrooms, etc). Start the rice cooker! 

If you don't have a rice cooker, i'm sure you could just cook it all in the saucepan you used to create the soup base.

Once done, check the meat is cooked. Cook longer if needed.
I cooked this last night, sooo good! おいしい! It took 50 minutes in my rice cooker which is standard when I cook rice. It may not take this long, but I trust my rice cooker ;)