Monday, April 25, 2011

Ridiculously long post (sorry)

WARNING: This blog took me multiple days to write and multiple sittings. It is very long and you will probably find it boring. This is what my life has been like the past month.

So every day goes by and I think about how I need to update my blog. I wake up at 6:15AM every day, shower, drink my morning coffee and I’m out the door by 7:30. It takes me about 45 minutes to get to school. First I have to get from Kibogaoka to Mitsukyo station and take a bus from there. It’s not a big deal and as an added plus, I’m getting exercise everyday. So, I normally arrive before 8:20 just because it looks better to arrive early (school starts at 8:30AM). And the only time I really get a break, is 45 min. during lunch. The rest of the time (until 3:55PM) I’m either in class or supposed to be working at my desk.

This is what my schools look like:

So it’s interesting working here, especially so soon after the big earthquake. Most people are really friendly and helpful, but I feel an extra weight being here so soon after the earthquake. Not only am I representing the foreign community by being an ALT (or AET as I’m referred to here), but also I am seemingly having to reintroduce the idea that foreigners aren’t terrible to a lot of people because so many foreigners left Japan during their great time of crisis. A lot of people came to Japan for jobs and just left without warning when the earthquake happened (and all of the terrible events going on at Fukushima). To a lot of Japanese people, they felt abandoned by the foreign community living in Japan. They opened their arms to them and they walked away without ever looking back. To be fair, I’m not criticizing the people who left the affected areas. I’m referring to people who were in no life threatening danger and chose to leave because they could care less about Japan and the people who live here. I have a huge feeling that the person who worked in my schools before me was one of those people. From my understanding (what I’ve interpreted from the other English teachers) is that the guy just left and they were stuck with a month left in the school year to reconfigure their entire school schedule.

With that being said, I’ve really enjoyed the past month. It’s been incredibly hard and some days I’m so tired I fall asleep at 7PM. I’ve been doing some drawing while I’m at school (I’ve been incorporating it into worksheets) and I’m typing this during my MD (materials development) time in the office in the morning before class. Not a day goes by where I am completely lost due to the language barrier or just lack of communication in general. It’s frustrating, but oddly something I’m getting used to. I’m also sort of getting used to be super GENKI! around the students. GENKI GENKI GENKI! Genki means happy. I’ve started to bond with my students at the one school I’ve been at for 2 weeks. On Wednesday April 20, I joined taiko club. On Thursday, I went home early from the club out of sheer exhaustion and the next meeting isn’t until May 2nd. Taiko starts from 3:00 and goes until 6:00 for all of the people who have been doing taiko for at least a year. Since I’m a sensei (lol) they want me to stay the whole time, but ichinensei (7th grade) leaves at 5:00. For those of you reading this that know me personally, you know that I’ve only taken one taiko lesson and that was back in 2009. I’m TERRIBLE at taiko, but the students are really encouraging (aka they like to see me make a fool of myself) and during a group break yesterday, they helped me learn the rhythms of the opening practice song they do every day. So the days I have taiko I don’t get home until around 7PM and that’s when I can finally eat dinner.

I’m sorry this blog entry is so long, but I’m trying to make up for missing a month’s worth of writing.

So what is life like here? Well besides the almost daily earthquakes (we had 2 last night in the middle of the night that woke me up) life here is pretty similar to my life back in Houston when I was substitute teaching. The differences in student behavior is drastically different between America and Japan. Between each class, the students have 10 minutes to act like animals. Boys are wrestling in the hallways and often students are playing games of tag or keep away with one object or another. It’s like the school is their playground. During class, most students are respectful (there’s ALWAYS one bad seed), listen, and try and participate in the lessons. Around the school, I feel like a celebrity. The students are always screaming HELLO!!!! at me (sometimes at the top of their lungs) and they are generally excited to meet me or see me again. Some of the students are extremely shy though and don’t want me to check their papers or hear them speak English. I’m hoping one day they will warm up to me. :/

So what have I been doing all this time? Welll….. I had a couple of days of pure hell trying to arrange things with Interac (Maxceed technically) without any lines of communication. I had no phone, no internet, and no way to contact anyone at all. It SUCKED. Two days of that hell were spent with a really nice lady who helped me get my keys to my apartment, my cell phone, my post office account opened, my gaijin card, my health insurance, and she even helped me move my bags from Sakuragicho to my apartment in Kibogaoka. I gave her a calendar that I brought from America as a present. I genuinely felt bad that she had to do so much for me. The first night I stayed in my apartment I didn’t have my bed yet and she went out and bought a blanket and a pillow for me to sleep on. SO NICE OF HER! I had to stay in my apartment while she went out because the gas man was coming that night to turn on the gas. I would have gone afterwards, but there were limited store hours going on during that time to save on electricity due to the crisis going on up north. Realize, this was only 1 week to the day that the big earthquake happened at this point.

This is what my room currently looks like:

The next night my bed came and over the course of 2 weeks I managed to have enough stuff in my apartment that it was liveable. I then had a week of orientation, which was pretty fun and very useful, but ended with my blood being drawn. UGH! I HATE NEEDLES! The blood of course had to come out of a vein in my hand since my veins are incredibly hard to find. STUPID PHYSICAL! So talk about awkward having strange things done to you medically in Japan. Lol. After orientation I had a week off from doing anything, so I went up to Tokyo to see my friend Mat. I haven’t seen him since the summer of 2009 so we had lunch together for about 2 hours and I proceeded to try and find a business coat in Shibuya. Needless to say my efforts to find cute clothing that fit were fruitless. I hate being fat. I really do. My stupid body needs to lose weight. Ah well. So I came home that night a little sad, but a little happy at the same time. I managed to run into my friend Ryo who’s the manager of SexPot Revenge in Tokyo and chat with him about life and how things are going. I found out he lives kinda close and that there aren’t any good clubs in Yokohama. I have to go up to Tokyo to have fun apparently, or at least according to him. While I was in Tokyo I also bought an iron and a scale to measure my weight hopefully weight loss (which I have lost about 7 lbs since I’ve been here for what it’s worth).

Some odd pictures from Tokyo:

I’ve watched so much American tv since I’ve been here too, especially on weekends and late nights. It’s my one time to not hear Japanese all day and not be confused. The language barrier is killing me. It’s sincerely frustrating. I’ve been learning, but not fast enough.

So after the week of break I had the BOE meeting, which is where we were introduced on stage and then were waved down by the English teacher chosen to go to the meeting and were told our schedules. One school is super laid back with their schedule and the people there are amazing, while the other school is rigid with their schedule and I’m better friends with one of the Science teachers than any of the English teachers. I’ve only been at the latter school one day though and I’m starting day two as I type this portion of the blog. Yes, I am onto page 3 in Microsoft Word at this point. I know, I know, it’s long as hell. So if you got to the end congratulations. That’s what life has been like for me in a nutshell this past month. Just when I start feeling somewhat comfortable, some event happens that turns everything upside down again. I’ve been feeling this way for over a month and I’m hoping things change. I’m so stressed out at this point that when I go to bed at 11:00pm and need to wake up by 6:15am, I sometimes wake up at 4:00am and lie there upset. I’m not sleeping well and I’m working all day and on my feet often. I might start drinking more than 3 cups of coffee a day if this persists.

On a happy ending, I’m finally getting my couch sometime in May (back ordered) and you can also sleep on it. Check out the sweet picture! That totally means people can visit and have a place to sleep. That also means I can stop using my bed as a chair. :D

Here are some pictures of cherry blossoms!

1 comment:

  1. That was a very interesting update, and not that long. By dealing with all the stresses and frustrations you are becoming stronger and more confident. We are very proud of you & what you are doing in Japan! Keep up the good work!