A new tumblr site has been getting pretty popular on my Facebook feed called It’s not me Japan, it’s you. Basically, it’s quick list of memes & commentary about the little quirks you run into living and working in Japan. For the most part, it’s kinda funny. Take this post…
David Cameron meets Shinzo Abe
Errrmaahgad, just spent the last hour trying to figure out what this unfamiliar postcard with a sticker on it was. My coworkers told me it was for my travel expenses like rental van and gas from Kitakata to Miharu. Keep in mind that this conversation was in Japanese, which is why most of my sentences are short.
(What do I do with this? I’ve already moved… (>_<)# )
Me: Do I bring in receipts?
“No, they don’t need them.”
Me: Okay, but in my interview, you said you were only paying for me to come to Miharu, not my stuff.
“Yes, that’s right.”
Me: Okay, then do I write my expenses on the back?
“No, they don’t need that either.”
Me: Then what’s this sticker for?
“You pull it off.”
Me: And put it on what? a receipt?
Me: Uhhh, so is this sticker just a present?
**So I go back to my desk and try translating all the kanji on it that I can. Still doesn’t lead me to anything. I start to notice that this postcard looks a lot like a game piece. So I start to hold it up at various angles, shine my bike light through it and try to see if I can read anything through the sticker. Can’t see diddly.**
Finally, my coworker next to me keeps making a peeling motion over my postcard game piece.
(I’m not going to peel this now! What am I going to stick this on now?)
Me: How much money am I going to get?
“Up to 2000￥.”
Me: Okay, when?
“It’s under the sticker.”
Me: Eh, ok… Is this a game?
(???) What? No… [laughter at my expense]
Me: Erg, okay, then how do I get the money?
“By bank transfer”
Me: Then what do I use this sticker for?
Me: (AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGH! That’s it. I’m peeling this sticker off. I don’t even care anymore about it!!)
I am a dummy…
(Oh, wait a minute… This is a receipt telling me how much my paycheck deposit is going to be. Gawd-dangit, I am an idiot.) I’m sorry, everyone.
Just sharing this story to give you a peek of what it’s like to move to another side of the world. My entire week at my new job has been like this.
If I can recommend one thing for aspiring teachers in Japan, when winter comes close, get some HeatTek from your local home center. It’s fairly cheap (mine cost about 780¥ per shirt/pants) and it works really well when you are active. It’s like Spandex, but a little less stretchy and you wear it under your business clothes. If you have a sedentary job, then it doesn’t work as well (but if you’re too hot, then just relax and it lets you cook off). Just casually moving around the teacher’s room gets me nice and warmed up! Love this stuff. If you don’t have access to a home center, then it is also available on Amazon.co.jp.
So I’ve definitely been meeting my fair share of challenges over here in Japan. Seems like something new pops up every week from trying to borrow a wrench at a bicycle shop and getting berated to getting into a shouting match with my friend over her driving after drinking (loooong story – maybe I’ll devote a blog entry to it). I run into challenges in the classroom too when trying to figure out ways to teach the kids in new, fun ways.
Luckily, when things go well in the classroom, it makes me forget about everything. The feeling of fulfillment I get from leaving an excited, happy class of students is super rewarding. I did a lot of research before I came over and I was warned on several accounts that I would be challenged mentally/socially/even physically as an ALT. Unfortunately, I couldn’t possibly imagine these kind of situations on this level.
However, I will leave you with a great bit of advice from a former ALT that I has helped me out. “Challenges in life come at all times and must be treated as opportunities to learn, These opportunities help discover strengths that one never knew one had.”
The tea lady at my school handed me my own coffee cup this morning! This is really awesome. They never want me to leave.
So my last Friday was a little nuts. I’ll start with the little things and then give the big whopper of a story at the end.
Friday is usually a light day for me. I teach one fifth grade class and one sixth grade class and then eat lunch with one or the other. In my 5th grade class, we were going over introducing yourself to someone with a phrase like “Hi, My name is Tito. Nice to meet you” and have the student reciprocate. Near the end of the class, I made up a simple game of catch where one kid start’s with saying “What’s your name?” and throws the ball to another kid in the room who responds. Then the student with the ball repeats the question to another student while tossing it to them. Well, a little girl (one of my quieter ones) in the class was the 2nd or 3rd person to catch and she stood up, started to attempting her sentence and then froze up. I saw the tears welling up in her eyes and she peeped out, “I don’t know!”. Now if I had any kind of kryptonite, it’d be a crying kid. I darted across the room right as she responded said nervously, “Ah, just throw the ball to someone else!”. She chucked the ball, put her head down into her arms (luckily someone caught it) and the game continued. Thankfully, for the second round where we responded to “How are you?”, she did MUCH better and was happier. Phew… crisis averted.
My very excited 3-4 students right after class demanded a photo when they saw me checking for my next class on my iPhone.
So I had my first day of class today. Just had to do my introduction that I had prepared during training (and won Best Demo from my group… No biggie). I was a little nervous my first lesson and a little lost on what was going on, but I stuck to my training and got through it. I had three classes today.
During the first one I think the kids were a little tired, but next time I’ll try a more involved game to get their energy up. In the second class, I got a little bit better of a response since their grammar as a bit better. I think some kids were a little wise to my goofiness though. Will have to figure out a happy medium for them. I still had fun with them, especially when the teacher would catch the kids goofing off and smack them in the back of the head. Finally, during the last class, I think the kids were a little too energized from lunch, but I just went with it and they were a blast! I hope I can turn more classes into ones like this!
Since bowling fell through again tonight, I decided to practice driving. However, I didn’t know where my International Driver’s Permit was. Spent 20 minutes digging through everything (including the trash) only to find it where I left it in the car’s fold-out sun visor. Gah… At least I’m ready to drive.
So my neighbor who I am replacing just moved out of his apartment (in a bit of a rush) and dropped off a ton of leftover things from his apartment and the keys for the company car. I finally have a full ensemble of equipment for my apartment! Hurray, Pure freedom! Now I just have to do a little organizing with this stuff (some of it was a little messy too). Everything is starting to come together now. I get to meet the principals of my schools next week and as soon as they get me my schedule, I can get started. Still a little nervous and excited at the same time.