Saturday, September 29, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I guess it is nice to know that I finally did get the offer and that I did actually have the 'right stuff' to become a JET. Although I'm not absolutely sure what that 'right stuff' is, Interac saw it in me first I guess. It would have been nice to become a JET ALT because I would have got about 500 more dollars a month to burn along with free round-trip tickets and possibly subsidised housing. Oh well, I'm absolutely happy with Interac and I am fairly certain I wouldn't have received such a cushy position through JET. Getting just one school is very rare, especially in a fairly urbanised area.
So there it is, smack dab in my face. I made it but I had to decline. For all that effort and time spent working at FedEx Express not knowing if I'd ever go to Japan or not, I finally find out long after I had given up any hope for JET. I'm sure the path I've taken is just as good, if not better. Hopefully I will be able to live here long enough to find a special person to spend my time with too...
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
This week has been great so far. I’ve had regular sleep and more than enough food every night mostly thanks to Maki and her mom’s hospitality. As a matter of fact, I feel as if I’ve gained a little weight since I met Maki. Over the past couple weeks since we met, we’ve eaten dinner almost every other day together. My stomach feels particularly out of shape compared to usual which probably means I should start doing sit-ups or something to offset all the food I’ve been eating lately. If I don’t do something about it I’ll break my promise with Naoko to loose my stupid love handles. I’m not about to disappoint her since it’s a nice goal to reach anyway.
I am just about settled into my school now. I’ve learned almost everybody’s name in my office and I don’t feel as much as an outsider anymore. The other teachers that sit near me are including me more into their conversations, especially after we broke the ice at the culture festival. They probably realised I wasn’t there to mess things up or force the to speak perfect English or whatever they may have been worried about.
Lesson plans and worksheets don’t seem as impossible as they appeared to be only two weeks ago. My lesson plans may not be the best; but they work and the teachers seem to appreciate the amount of work I put into them. Maybe I’ll link a sample PDF file to show you what a lesson of mine is like… if anybody actually cares that is…
Tomorrow night starts a long five-day weekend for me. I have been invited to the first teacher’s ‘party’ of the semester and it seems like the teachers will be a fun bunch to spend some time with over a few drinks and dinner. One thing that is really cool about Japanese culture is that they love drinking-communication. Drinking-communication is their way of getting to know their co-worker’s better and to blow a little steam without any real consequence because they don’t talk about how they partied the night before. Anyhow, I look forward to tomorrow night because it will be a good start to a long deserved break from teaching. I also won’t have to plan any new lessons over the week because I didn’t teach all my classes this week so I can re-use this week’s plans for next week!
I’ll bring my camera along to the party tomorrow night but I’m not sure if I will be able to post pictures or not. We’ll see…
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Well, enough about my sleeping/eating habits, let’s get down to what happened today. Another Friday has come and gone and my first month of living in Japan has also passed. I’m still getting used to the fact I am living in Japan again. Every day, I have at least one moment where I am shocked I actually got to work in Japan as an English teacher. I actually got to do something I wanted. Things actually worked as I planned them. Of course, just about everything I’ve done to get her e wasn’t by chance I suppose. A greater force is behind everything I’ve done up to this point. If I were really in charge of what I was doing, I wouldn’t even be in Japan; I’d probably still be sleeping on my Mom’s couch.
By nature, I am one of the worst procrastinators I know. I live for the day when I can put off all important things and just sit around doing absolutely nothing, without any responsibility. But for some reason I pulled myself out of my usual stupor and ended up in Japan. I think that’s pretty cool and I am happy I made it. So yeah, my being in Japan wasn’t by chance, it was because of my prayers and motivation to actually do something with my life straight out of college. Until about a year ago, before I worked for FedEx Express, I hardly even gave a second thought about prayer. But ever since I started praying, things have somehow worked out for me better. I think prayer also gives me a level of optimism and hope that pessimist like me wouldn’t normally have. So good for me.
Moving onto school matters, I had a relatively good week. I managed to hold all my classes confidently and got good feedback from all my faculty members. I suppose the worst part is over, getting started, so now I can focus on improving my teaching style and better aquainting myself with my students. This weekend my school has their bi-yearly school festival. The festival they will be holding this time is the sports festival, which are always held at the beginning of the fall semester. I’d like to snap pictures and such but I’m not sure if that’s ok or not. It’s something that doesn’t happen in American schools, so I’m sure it would be interesting for my readers to see just exactly what it’s like not only through my writing but through pictures. Oh, well.
I’ll be attending both days, Saturday and Sunday, although I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing all day. I am relieved I won’t have to wear my formal business wear this weekend at school. I really don’t like wearing slacks and collared shirts, especially during the humid Japanese summer. I’m hoping for mild weather like I had today, I’d prefer not to marinate in my own clothes for once. Hopefully the festival will be entertaining enough that the time passes quickly. I get Monday off this week because its “Respect for Elder’s” day in Japan. It’s something Americans should try to celebrate and maybe dump Cezar Chavez day or Columbus Day, or something else in their stead. Actually, next week will be super short, only three days long, because we will have another holiday weekend that will go from Friday all the way through Tuesday the next week. I’m really looking forward to that!
So, that’s it for this week. I’m sure the school festival will be worth writing about at the least, and if I’m lucky I’ll be able to have a picture or two to share. I’m looking forward to October, I’m supposed to get my car and insurance straightened out by the middle of next month. Being limited to where I can go by bicycle is starting to bore me. At least I have a couple of friends that have been taking me around and stuff. I wonder what I’ll wear tomorrow for the festival…
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I quickly run out of things to do during my prep periods. Usually they are back to back and on Wednesday I have five before I even get to have my only class of the day. I try to stay busy by working on my lesson plan layouts and content in Adobe Photoshop but there’s only so much I can do at school with my own laptop that isn’t allowed to access their network. It’s nice to have a lot of free time at work but I’m not really sure if I should be doing something every free minute I have in the faculty office or if I can zone out and read a book. I’ll have to ask my scheduler if it’s ok to bring in books and other diversions to keep me sane during my office free time.
I probably wouldn’t be so bored if I actually had an office computer at my desk that worked. Just last week, one day after I got used to using my assigned faculty laptop, it died on me. If it weren’t for that I’d surf the internet for news and stuff. I’ve alerted my head teacher about my problem but it seems like there isn’t much they can do about it. I hope they have some plan to replace or fix it, or I’ll be pretty bored for the rest of the semester. If I want to use the internet or print out my worksheets in PDF format, I have to plug my USB memory card into a public office computer and quickly finish so somebody else can use it. I am capable of using the internet on the two communal PCs but they are still running Windows98 which means they are nearly unusable for anything besides word processing and limited emails.
In retrospect, I think my decision to go with Interac was a good one. Maybe if I were going to live in Japan for the first time the JET program would have been a better choice because they hold your hand through everything. But the last time I lived in Japan I learned the hard way how things work and how life is in Japan, so a lot of the things that might have driven me to depression and endless weeks of binge drinking don’t anymore. Therefore I live a generally healthier lifestyle and am more prepared to figure things out for myself rather than relying on others to tell me what to do. I guess that is what growing up is all about…
Wow, talk about train of thought derailment! I really went off on a silly tangent there. Bottom line is I am doing pretty well and what I complain about really isn’t anything that bad after all. If anything I get paid to sit on my butt for an extra three hours a day so I should be happy about it rather than beg for five more schools or something like other JETs and Interac teachers get. I got the easy life here and this is about as close as I can get to being a real teacher without having my credentials and the full responsibilities of a real teacher. I think it’s a nice balance I got here. If I had to travel between different schools I think I might have more trouble coping with bouncing between different campuses and such and would probably feel really insecure and restless.
So I guess that’s it for today. My entries aren’t as frequent because there really isn’t anything interesting enough for me to write about daily. At least I’m learning how to be a better teacher. I just got to keep my energy up and my mind open and ready for correction and input from the other Japanese English teachers I work with. If I do that, then I should be able to do this for a long time even though it might be boring. Did you enjoy the clear pictures of Mt. Fuji?
Monday, September 10, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I had my first senior level classes today. Senior class 3-3 is really cool, they all seem pretty active and much more advanced in English compared to the other levels. I wish all my classes went as smoothly as that but then they wouldn't really need me there I guess. The English teachers I work with all seem to be glad I am there although they all have varying levels of English. I hope they don't feel self concious or scared to have me in the class. I know the head of the English department probably isn't as pressured but the other two younger female teachers seem a little shy and have a little trouble expressing themselves to me in English. Maybe between classes I may communicate with them partly in Japanese to take the edge off their days.
I spent dinner with Maki and her family. They seemed very happy to have me there and pushed me to speak more Japanese than I probably have used since I arrived here. Its good practice for me but it also makes me super tired using my Japanese non-stop for a few hours. During our dinner a typhoon finally hit our area and we've been having steady downpours ever since last night. The typhoon is supposed to stick around until Saturday afternoon I guess. We'll see about that though, since I am as inland as any Japanese person can get, I doubt we'll see any truely serious weather.
Thats all that really happened Wednesday. I typed this entry right before work because I like getting ready early. I hope today, Thursday, is faster and easier than my first few days. I finally have hard copies of next week's new lessons so I can finally prepare for something. If I can get next week's lessons off well enough I think I'll be able to do this for a long time. At least I have another dinner tonight with some new friends I've met over the past few weeks. I'm happy I'll be able to eat well again tonight. I hope I don't get rained on when I walk to work today!
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Sunday, September 2, 2007
After filling my stomach with about 600 yen worth of tasty sushi, I rode a little further down the road to Yamada Denki. I would have went further but I figured there was nothing else worth seeing that far out. Now, the ride back was the tough part! I didn't get a break until I made it home. I didn't really sweat or get that hot, probably because I am getting used to riding long distances again.
So that's about it for today. I'm a little nervous about having my first classes tomorrow but at least I can use the same lesson all week since I have to do an intro lesson for every class I meet. I don't really need to put much planning into this week which is a relief and hopefully I'll get a good idea how each class is so I can prepare better next week. I wish I could shadow somebody for a week to see how they do it but I guess that's impossible now. Here's hoping for the best!