May 22, 2013
I’ve had a cold since Thursday, and it was slowly getting better, but then Sunday night I could barely sleep because I kept coughing. I thought that would be the end of it, but then Monday night I also kept coughing. So, come Tuesday, I was feeling miserable. I hadn’t slept very well in two nights, and my cold seemed to get worse.
Needless to say, Tuesday I was having kind of a bad day.
I went to the doctor’s office after work and got some medicine (it ended up being the exact same stuff he gave me last time. Great), and then I had a chat with a friend that ended up being not very fun at all. So, my bad day got worse. I was tired, sick, and grumpy.
I decided to go to the tiny diner next to my apartment and get the ultimate comfort food— the little old lady’s amazing pork soup. To go. Definitely to go. When she finished making it and gave me the bowl to take with me, I saw that she had also included some tofu and bamboo shoot on the side. I was surprised, but I guess it was to be expected— often times she did that sort of thing. She asked me if I was sick, and I said yes. Then when I asked how much it was, she said “Oh no, you don’t have to pay.”
I did the whole Japanese “no it’s okay, I’ll pay” thing a few times, but she still didn’t take it. She said that since I was sick, I could have it on her. I ended up taking that soup to my apartment and almost breaking down in tears at how grateful I was. The soup was delicious, as always, and I felt so much better.
Then, at around 6 PM or so, I decided to take a nap.
And…. I woke up from said nap around 7:00…. AM….
Yeah, so, I just slept 13 hours. But, hey, I feel a ton better today! I still have a bit of the cough and stuffy nose, but I don’t feel like dying (which is how I felt yesterday).
May 19, 2013
It’s rainy. It’s Sunday. I still have a cold. I’m drinking tea. I’m studying for the GRE. Ugh. At least I still have some cold medicine left over from the last time I got sick.
I think some of the reason why I feel so uncomfortable in my village is that oftentimes life feels stagnant here. I recognize what I want to do and what I want to change in myself, but I have to wait. I have to be patient. I want to drive to the city, but I don’t have much gas, and the one gas station in the village is closed on Sundays. I want to buy groceries, but it’s the same issue. Even the ATM is closed on Sunday, and I don’t have enough money to do anything substantial. I want to visit friends, but they all live out there in the city that I can’t get to.
It feels so frustrating when you’re so close to doing what you need to do, but you just can’t. I hate waiting. I want to get out and do something. Make some progress in my life. Or, at least, I want to feel like I’m making progress. Studying for the GRE is good, and it’s a step, but it still feels so passive. I feel like time is passing me by, and there’s nothing I can do about it but watch.
I feel like it’s not normal for someone my age to be experiencing this. I wonder, if I were 10 years older, would this be easier? Or, is it a good thing for someone as young as me to be having this experience of living abroad? If so… am I overstaying its welcome? Should I be going home this summer instead of staying another year? I’ve already made my decision, and I have to look at it as just a decision, not a right or wrong one. Trust that the universe will shift accordingly.
But, it’s just so frustrating having to do all this waiting! They say that the only things you can expect in life are death and taxes… but I wonder if another thing to expect is waiting. Waiting in line. Waiting for something interesting to happen. Waiting for life to begin. Waiting for opportunities. And, in a way, I’m not doing nothing. In one month I go to Europe, and then I get super busy. So, what I should do now is the stuff I can’t do while I’m running around every which way.
Even so… I’m still just feel like I’m waiting.
#6 The BOE
BOE stands for “Board of Education,” and I never really realized how lucky I was to have the BOE that I do. Yes, they are supportive, but it goes beyond that. I feel like even though Morotsuka is perhaps the lowest income municipality in perhaps the lowest income prefecture, they still manage to spoil the ALT rotten. Well, maybe not rotten, but after chatting with some of my friends, I certainly feel spoiled.
When I first arrived, they helped me buy new bedding and a few new things for my apartment. They also provided a nice (and I mean NICE) car for me to use. If there is something I need for my place, chances are I can ask about it and they just might provide it. Other friends I know have to pay for every single thing they own.
Along with that, I get a lot of leniency with vacations. I get the allotted amount at the start, but I also get overtime for working extra eikaiwa classes and at events. My other ALT friends barely get any of that. As a result of this, and not having used many vacation days before, I have almost over a month of time I can use, and that’s not including the overtime I’ll get for the conitnuing eikaiwa classes.
It’s not just this, either. I love the people who work at the BOE, and my supervisor has become a really valuable friend. She’s so understanding, and working with her has been really rewarding. The others in the BOE are very interesting as well, and they are all so insanely kind. I feel like any ALT who comes here will really be well off in terms of this.
They even threw a party for my parents when they came. Seriously, that’s how cool they are! (The people in this photo isn’t the current BOE. The current group is even cooler, but this one was still pretty cool)
Golden Week is a string of national Japanese holidays lined up together in a way that gives people a lot of time off. So, many Japanese and JETs alike travel somewhere during this time. It means Japan is crowded since everyone’s on the move. I had originally planned to go to Vietnam and Cambodia with a few friends, but those plans fell through. I decided not to do anything structured during this time and see where things took me.
Saturday, April 27
I volunteered to work at a Spring International Festival, where we got to play with kindergarteners and “teach” them about Easter and Purim. Essentially they did crafts and experienced Easter egg painting, Easter egg hunting, Purim mask making, and finally a big piñata bust. It was a lot of fun, the weather was great, and I got 5 hours of time off to use at a later time :) Not to mention compensation for the travel!
After that I didn’t do anything of interest. Tuesday through Thursday was school, which wasn’t interesting at all.
Saturday, May 4
This day, I headed to Takachiho town for a gathering of older, married, foreign ladies at a Buddhist temple run by an English lady and her Japanese husband. All the ladies who came had married Japanese men and had a few kids, so they mostly just gathered to chat, drink, and eat. We also did some yoga, which was fun. I was super sore afterwards though, but I think I might want to continue with yoga.
The weather was still completely beautiful, which was great. And, the ladies were very interesting. Many of them were old enough to be my mother (a few of them had kids even older than me!), and they had some interesting perspectives on everything. I don’t think I’ll be settling down in Japan any time soon, even less so after this, but it still was very enlightening.
Also there was a very cute Corgy dog that the family owned at the temple we stayed at, and she loved to get her belly rubbed.
And there was a balloon animal show for the kiddies, which was a lot of fun to watch!
Sunday, May 5
So, this day started off with me getting lost. I was supposed to go to a BBQ party, but I went to the wrong place at first. Then, when I finally fought through traffic and got to the correct place, I got hopelessly and utterly turned around and wandered for about thirty minutes. Finally I got to the correct place for the BBQ and no one was there. So, defeated and frustrated, I called a friend who said they would be there.
Turns out the organizers had changed the date of the event without really telling anyone. It ended up working out, though, since those of us who did show up decided to do our own BBQ on the beach. It was beautiful, the weather was great, and the food was delicious. So, it worked out in the end.
Also I saw this cool cat while I was wandering around looking for the initial BBQ location:
Sunday, May 6
So, this was the day that I headed up to Nobeoka for a cooking class! It was a lot of fun, and I made some tasty stuff. I learned a lot as well, and I’m excited to try something out when I get home! It was nice to chat with some other ALTs, however it was still a bit of a bummer knowing that they were leaving this year. They were all a bit older than me, though, and had good perspectives on things. I guess that’s sort of the theme of this blog, huh?
This next photo has nothing to do with the event. I just thought it was a cool house that I saw on my drive back.
Overall, my Golden Week was uneventful, but I think it was uneventful in a good way. I managed to patch up some stuff, recuperate, and get ready for school once more. I think I really needed something easy and laid-back, which is what I got.
May 7, 2013
So, today was my first day of teaching elementary school for the new school year! It’s so insane to see 6th graders who were 4th graders when I first arrived. I mean, yeah, kids grow up, but dang they grow up fast! Working with the new teachers was fun, though I could tell a few of them were nervous about using English. Hopefully things will warm up with them.
I also booked tickets to go visit Seattle in August, and I am SO excited! I’ve been wanting to see old friends, as well as visit Vancouver or Victoria in Canada, AND the weather is gorgeous during this time. So, it’s kinda a win-win-win. Also I didn’t get the Tokyo Orientation Assistant so it’s my way of “sticking it to the man” so to speak. But… not really. I’m just so excited!
Today was also supposed to be volleyball practice, but it got canceled and I wasn’t aware :( However, I did manage to gain something out of waiting around near a creepy empty gymnasium (aside from the feeling that I was going to get murdered). One of the vending machines was selling 7-Up, and I haven’t seen that drink in ages. So I bought a can, and it’s much tastier than I anticipated. Everything happens for a reason, I guess. Haha.
Well, that’s it for now. I have an update on what I did for Golden Week, but I’m too lazy to post it. Hopefully I’ll get around to it!
I thought I would be able to do this regularly, but I messed up :( So, I’m going to try to just do this as regularly as possible instead of every day. Since… I’m lazy.
#5 The Sense of Community
There’s a lot of this, actually. In the schools, the greater area, and my board of education. The way everyone supports me feels a lot like a family away from home, and I’m really lucky to have that. It gets tough being away from many native English speakers, but in the end if I were to be in any isolated village, this one would definitely be the best one. Haha.
kobito dukan are strangely endearing japanese dwarves who live in forests. they are supposed to be weirdly ugly yet also charming and i think they succeed!
These are the creepy little dudes that the kids in my village think are so ugly they’re cute.
I’m convinced that these are the things of nightmares.