A Real Blog Update. Wow, EH!

18/11/2011

Hello. Sorry it’s been so quiet. To completely use my job as my excuse, let me fill you in a bit on my working life in Japan! As previously ‘blogged’, when I arrived in Japan I was under the impression that for a year I was to be a Junior High School Assistant Language Teacher. As it has stood since September, I’m an Elementary School teacher planning, running and translating classes with a lot more Japanese language required than I actually have. Lols. It’s been peaks n’ troughs mates. With as many as four different subjects or lessons to teach a day, my first month of working was spent lesson planning in Japanese each evening until around 10pm, when I’d go to bed, get back up around 6am from nerves, and “do it all over again.” For my first teaching experience, my first living-in-a-foreign-country experience, and my first speaking-real-Japanese experience, you can safely assume it’s been a busy few months. I did come to Japan looking for a challenge though (curse my own words!) and I have been given one! Very few staff members speak English, so communicating what subjects they’d like me to cover, and what preparations I’d like them to make sort of goes half communicated, half guessed, but many of them are patient about it. Unfortunately though, half of my schools weren’t warned that I don’t speak much Japanese, and the looks on their faces were pretty great upon realisation.

However, I have the best job mate. My time at school flies by with high fives from children pulling silly faces in wonderful sincerity, with kids who don’t care that I don’t speak Japanese and rattle on anyway about the Pokemon on their pencil cases, who clean their own classrooms and thank you for the help they receive in doing so, who shout “HELLOHELLOHELLO!” whenever I’m in school, and who genuinely support and encourage one another during class. I teach at six schools to 76 classes and with as many teachers (as much as team teaching doesn’t actually happen); by being the main teacher, I can work the dance moves of the jive into class – as long as we all practice the grammar point when doing so – and important lexis such as “zombie baker” and “THAT’S NOT YUMMY” have now become familiar for the upper graders. None of this would be possible were I a teaching assistant. This job is well worth being tired for. Anyhow, yes: that’s my surprise job. If I don’t get a shining reference, then someone’s in trouble.

In other news, I have a free period everyday, and when lesson planning is done, there is time for planning my Pillow Posts blog! Weekends have lent themselves to small pilgrimages, and although the progress is slow, it is going well. Look forward to a poetic post (finally) around Christmas, folks. Semi-recently, we were given a re-contracting form. The general consensus is that two years is probably a good amount of time to give and get the most from JET. I think I might be following suit: it would be nice to actually see some of Japan 😉
We have been visiting wonderful places during the weekends: Nara, Japan’s first capital city (crikey, it’s beautiful); Nikko, the City of Light (temple-covered mountains and ravines: flippin’ heck, it’s beautiful); and Sendai, the north’s largest city. This weekend, the UK Ambassador of Japan is visiting the British Hills Resort (just as it sounds) outside of Koriyama; he’ll be checking out our extra limbs, and eating British food around the same table. Thanks again, Radiation.

Already it feels like winter here in Fukushima. Snow is creeping down from the mountains, and with no insulation in our apartments, we’re all wearing duvets during the evenings. The fourth years at Kaoru Shogakko (Kaoru Elementary School) came in from Marathon training today with hands red and raw. Teachers clung to coffee cups. Was not jealous. Everyone’s looking forward to Christmas (no such thing as half terms in Japan mate!) and if I owe you a letter, parcel or anything else tasty, I promise to get on with it during the holidays! Gomen!

Missing many of you, and think of you often (in a good way). Can’t wait to come back for the summer. With much, much love xxx

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