Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December?! 4 months in Japan passed!

Hey Everyone! I haven't updated for a bit now, but things are going really well.

School has slowed down, but I have found time to study Japanese, watch some American TV, and continue working on my Thailand travel plans this past week. I also am helping correct/put comments on some senior's translations in preparation for their college entrance exams. It seems exhausting to me how much they study. I found out today that the girl I practiced interviewing for a month didn't get into the university she wanted. She was trying for early admittance and studied so hard...and didn't make it. I swore someone who was that dedicated to studying would get in anywhere. I feel really bad for her - she seemed pulled together when she told me, but I am sure there were tears shed over the weekend (considering my girl students were crying over losing a game of handball on Sports Day!). I hope it doesn't dampen her spirits toward English! Today, I also stepped in for another English teacher and had a whole room of students for myself....I didn't actually have to teach, just hand back tests and supervise, but it was awesome having the room of students to myself :D Something that doesn't happen very often since I am an assistant teacher. It was proof to me of how dedicated my students are - here's how it went.

I walked into a room of talking students since it was in between classes, but I smiled, waved and said, "hello" and I got 40 students in unison saying "hello" back to me - unplanned, but just so ingrained into their heads to respond all together! I explained that I was going to hand back the tests and again, all in unison was "okay!" I talked some more and when I paused "okay" and when I asked if they understood "yes!" Seriously. All in unison. So I handed back their tests and told them they could study whatever they wanted for 15 minutes (it was a short period, really meant only for handing back their final exams for semester 2). If you did this in America, you would have 40 students standing up, walking around, talking, pulling out their cell phones and iPods, and frankly, just NOT doing what they are supposed to (yes, this is from experience!). Especially when their real teacher wasn't there to see them. But was hard core silence for the next 15 minutes until I walked out the door. And this is them AFTER final exams are over and they just have "supplementary lessons." Oh my. It was culture shock, I didn't know what to do!

Outside of school, things are looking good too. Teaching this conversation class is really opening doors for me and I am so thankful for it! Tonight after class we did our weekly ritual of going to Doutor Coffee (a chain coffee shop, not quite as popular as Starbucks haha). The first week I went we only stayed til 10, but lately it's been almost 11. It's good conversation and extra practice for the people in the class, and just nice for me to get to know Japanese people since I spend a lot more time with other American teachers than I do Japanese people sometimes. Also, I'm going to a Christmas party with a few of the people from the class on Friday which will help me meet even more Japanese people and on Saturday me and two of the girls from the class are getting together for dinner. We're meeting at one of their houses and having, nabe, a Japanese hot pot mix of vegetables and meat, usually cooked on the table right in front of you. I really like the two girls from the class and have been wanting to get together with them, so I'm extra excited for this. I am hoping to make them friends even after the class is over! Next class session I am going to try to take a few classes even though they are in Japanese. I think it will be good for my Japanese and for meeting people, and just be fun! I'm thinking of pottery and Japanese flower arrangement :D

This week I also start with Spanish Club. Thursday I'm meeting a group of people to practice speaking Spanish! I haven't spoken Spanish really since I arrived, so 4 months later I am going to be a little rusty!!! But I am glad for the opportunity to meet with other people and there will be some native Spanish speakers there as well, which will be really awesome. We're only meeting once a month and I think I will miss next month in January, so I need to make the best of this time!

So almost this whole entry has been me telling you about my future, not my past...oops! Sorry! Not a lot has happened the last few weeks. I continue to meet with my international exchange partner about once every two weeks and this past week I met his girlfriend. We all went out to dinner and it was nice. He had to act as translator a little bit, but I got to use a bit of Japanese and it was just really fun to talk with her! Other than that, the highlight of my weekend was going to onsen. I got to go to the baths at night, which was pretty cool - created a nice, relaxing atmosphere and it was good to catch up with the girls again. Me, Kelly and Andrea have become onsen buddies, heading there about once a month to unwind. It's nice girl time and really nice relaxation sitting in hot baths and saunas and massage chairs all day! We concluded our time with spicy ramen and gyoza. MMMMMM gyoza, the best discovery I have made in Japanese food thus far!

Alright, it's getting late, I really should get to bed! Hope everyone is geared up for the holidays!

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