Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Kurisumasu!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!
Or should I say Meli Kulisumasu? Hmm.

And so this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun...

What have I done?

Well, for one I have sung The First Noel and Silent Night in 2 languages this year. English outside the big department store in Takaoka and Japanese in Takaoka Kyokai (church) this evening. What an experience!! I know who I thank for that and whether you agree with me or not it is the original reason we have Christmas.

But back to what I have done...

I have had my first job fresh out of uni and learned a lot through it.

I have moved to Japan to teach English to the craziest bunch of kids I have ever met and wouldn't wish for a different bunch of kids either.

I have hung out with amazing people in both NZ and Japan and set up quite the little house in my shoebox apartment in Takaoka.

I have caught up with people I haven't seen in a long time and touched base with those I see regularly.

I have volunteered at World Vision in Wellington and am still trying to find a volunteer opportunity here in Japan but doubtless one will reveal itself in due course.

I have discovered authors I never thought I'd read, I've read books I should have read when I was a child.

I have climbed Mt Fuji in bad weather.

I have to told countless children about what it was like 'chisai toki de' (when I was small).

I think the most important thing I have done this year has been come to Japan, it's had such an impact on me already and I've only been here 2 days shy of 5 months.

And with that I am going to lift my fingers off the keyboard, listen to Boney M's Christmas Album to help me forget that I am not with my family this Christmas for the first time ever and remember that there are people out there this Christmas who have nothing and noone, while eating the final piece of chocolate out of my advent calendar (thanks so much Kat) as it is only 9:30pm in Japan right now.

Merry Christmas!!!!



Sunday, December 21, 2008

Life, oh life....

The life of an ALT is one of interest and intrigue, inclusion and exclusion, hopefulness and humility. It’s also a life of pure joy (and I mean that in both an honest way and a sarcastic way).

I walked into school yesterday morning to a greeting from the 2nd floor (3rd floor if you’re American or Japanese) window. ‘Layween sensei, gudo mooooningu’. One of the Junior High 3rd Grade (aka 15 year old) boys has taken to waiting at the window and greeting me from the window every day. It’s really fun and makes my day because at least he is trying to speak to me, even if it is only a couple of words and it makes me feel loved.

Since I took off to Tokyo that weekend I’ve done very little but work and read. I even woke up in the middle of the night the other night randomly, turned on my light, read the last 50 pages of ‘A Wild Sheep Chase’ by Haruki Murakami, then tried to go back to sleep for whatever hour was left of my night. My life has consisted of preparing for Christmas lessons and trying not to think about next year because that’s why I plan to do for the next week while I sit at my desk waiting for the day that Japan will effectively shut down for New Year so that I don’t have to use my precious annual leave.

Even though, that sounds boring, it’s actually been really fun! Haruki Murakami is a really random author but he writes well and by all accounts is just a little on the crazy side. School has been remarkably fun too. My students have been teasing me lots about stuff that only kids would dwell on for ages (I have been linked to at least 3 men lately by my own students and the students of a couple of friends of mine, haha) and one of the 6th graders at elementary school told me that the inside my handbag looks like a fridge yesterday. Haha, that kid is always funny. But what was he doing looking inside my ‘picnic basket’ (as I call it)?

Another student said to me in the corridor yesterday at elementary ‘Rae sensei, terebi o mitta, kazoku wa “oooo sugugoi Rae sensei!” ’ (Rae sensei, I saw you on TV, my family said ‘wow, it’s Rae sensei’). I love it when they say things like that, it makes me feel like somehow somewhere I am making an impression on them. My junior high kids have been mentioning it too but not directly to me. One of them asked my colleague why I’m always on the TV or in the paper. She of course relayed this to me and I told her to tell them that it’s because I’m so beautiful, hehehehehe.

FYI, recently, us ALTs have been on TV and in the newspaper lots. First there was the International BBQ in Namerikawa, then there was carol singing outside Takaoka Daiwa department store and it appears as though there is a replay occurring of the Manyo Shuu reading in the park on Cable because one girl mentioned it to the aforementioned English teacher.

I feel like the days slip by like a leaf on a river sometimes. Maybe it’s because I am actually really enjoying myself, or maybe it’s because I really appreciate where I am, or maybe it’s because time doesn’t stop for anyone, not even those who wish it would stand still for a second. Whatever the reason, I don’t like the idea that time seems to disappear before my eyes, there’s so much I want to achieve in Japan and I feel like in the last 4 months I’ve barely made a dent.

But I have worked out how to put photos into the blog and I know you appreciate that. ;)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hontto ni Samui! (Crap it's cold!)

Haro Everybody!

So, this weekend it has snowed, it has rained and it has sunned/been sunny.

I claim this is because I managed to miss my friends' graduations from Medical School and Dental School and the wedding of a friend. All of which was in Dunedin New Zealand this weekend.

However, all is not lost, I sat the 3rd Grade (ie 2nd from the bottom) of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and was finished the grammar section so early I had time to have a 20 minute nap (I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing but we shall see in February when I either get a certificate saying that I know stuff or not).

The snow was big and pretty and fun and a pain in the bum. I loved it but I am kind of glad that it's gone also because it means I don't have to confine myself to my apartment. Not that I actually did confine myself to my apartment.

On Saturday, when I should have been doing ye olde day before cramming, I went to a "Mochi Tsuki" at one of the elementary schools I work at and pounded the stuffing out of some rice. And then got to eat said pounded rice in cake form. I was soooo happy, especially when I got given one that was still hot! :)

So yeah, I am really enjoying myself at the moment but am also sad that I missed stuff back home. Oh well, no regrets right?

I hope all is well with you and that I can make this thing work to add some photos shortly.