Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bright Lights, Big City: Sapporo Mid-Year Conference

I spent the beginning of this week in Sapporo.
I left the office Monday morning, even though the conference didn't start until Tuesday. It's nice having a contracting organization that loves me. I didn't have any classes on Monday, so my boss let me leave early to spend some extra time in Sapporo. And they paid me to go!

I had grand plans for my free day in Sapporo -- lunch, shopping, meeting up with other JETs... but I've gotten more accustomed to living in the country than I thought. Sapporo isn't that big of a city (only about 2 million), but I was everwhelmed by all the people, noise, music, and sheer amount of stuff. Just when you think you're settling in, the big city throws you for a loop. I was also just tired and cranky, so after a fruitless search for a pair of shoes to fit my "huge" feet, I gave up and crashed at the hotel.

The conference was a standard JET conference. Lots of people, boring speeches, not so helpful discussion sessions. I did go to a couple of entertaining seminars, but most of what was said was things I already knew. Really, the best part was going to a trivia contest/fundraiser, meeting new people, going out with people I don't get to see too often, and visiting a real bookstore.

The bookstore was the real highlight of Sapporo. Books are ridiculously expensive here. I can't believe I spent roughly $15 on a Harper's magazine -- worth every "yenny". Even so, getting to browse a bookstore with a real English language section, and even a small French and German section, was a real treat. As was spending the rest of the evening playing "Settlers of Catan" instead of going to an over-priced enkai. That's right. I'm a geek and I'm proud.

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