Wednesday, January 23, 2008

a year turns into two

Yes, you've heard right. I've decided to prolong my time in Japan. As a JET, I've had to decide whether or not I want to "re-contract" for another year by February 8th, the time of year when you're most likely to be holed up in your apartment cuddling your kerosene heater and suffering from S.A.D.. But alas, I think I am having too much of a good time here to say that I am ready to leave logically. I have plenty more exploring to do in Japan, and I love the ease of travel to the rest of Asia as well. I enjoy my job, and although I can't say whether I would seriously consider an ESL or even teaching career, it is a pretty sweet deal for now, even if it is a sabbatical from reality (and who wouldn't love a long-term vacation?). I've been able to continue working my fundraising bones (muscles?) through involvement in a volunteer group, and I love that a good part of my workday everyday is spent studying Japanese. Furthermore, I am in love with akita, in all its snowy beauty. What also had a significant effect on my decision was that I was so lucky to be placed with such a great community of local fellow JETs, their friendship has made my time here simply amazing so far. It was smiles all around when we found that most of us were re-contracting at Amelie's recent birthday party. I am also lucky that my parents will be visiting me in the spring, as well as, hopefully, a few friends from home. Knowing that I will be seeing them soon enough makes the thought of another 18 months in the country seem doable.

Here is some proof (re: recent purchases) of my settling in for the long haul:

my new (real!) bed! the headboard is made of bluuuuue velvet

my ultra-kawaii car accessories

also here's a pic of my apt building and car, a typical evening scene for me, waiting outside with my skis to be picked up by a kind friend to go nightskiing

edel and i in a kamakura, can't wait for the upcoming festival of these snow forts in yokote!

Some other school-related info: I recently found out that my junior high school is ranked #1 in recent average English test scores, as well as comprehensively, for all subjects, out of the 10 or so schools in the area. Wow, Higashi, I'm impressed. Also, a few of my fellow ALTs have been getting evaluations at school, and I, in a fit of pro-activeness, asked one of my teachers if I could have one as well. Looking a bit confused, she pointed to the principal. "Oh, will I have a meeting with the principal?" I asked. "No no no," she said, "He asked me if you were a good ALT, and I said 'Yes.' That was your evaluation." A far cry from the 360 degree evals recommended in my industrial psychology class, but it looks as if that's all I can/will get.

I'll end with a few "omg, why are you so ridiculously cute" moments with my students. There's a bunch of 1st graders who like to accost me at elementary school even though I haven't taught them (yet). Their favorite activity beyond staring at me and saying "hello" "bye bye" or "smile again" (which I recently found out was intended to mean "See you again") is to show me their name tags and make me read them. This past week a girl named Sakura (which means cherry blossom) approached me, whose name tag I easily read. She replied with "Ping pong!" which is I guess the equivalent of "ding ding ding" as in correct answer, which was ridiculously cute. The other day at junior high, we were doing a cultural "What does this sign/symbol mean?" and in response to a few, one kid quietly guessed "F--- you?", with absolutely no awareness of what he was saying, and the teacher either ignored or genuinely didn't hear/understand. I smiled at him, amused by his matter-of-fact tone... "Actually, xoxoxo means hugs and kisses!" In the textbook, there are characters that continue throughout the 3-year series. One of my teachers makes the students name all the charcters in the pictures at the beginning of each new lesson. When the kids see a character they haven't seen in a while, they say "Ohisashiburi desu ne!", which is like a polite statement of "long time no see!". Cute. Today in elementary school I was teaching countries and the statement "I live in...", and they kept getting it wrong and saying "I love in Japan!" Also cute. and true!

This weekend I'm going to a candy festival!

1 comment:

Natalie said...

She wore bluuuuuee velvet.