Wow, when they said school would get busy I believed them, but I didn’t appreciate just how busy it would get. So busy that I’ve been staying until 7pm to finish grading and prepping, walking home in the dark, eating whatever was in arms length, and staring at my computer screen in a zombified state until I got up the willpower to get into the shower, and then collapse into bed way later than I should be… Just to wake up and do it all over again the next day.
I’ve been running out of steam at lunch time, feeling the brain fog from too much snacking and not enough exercise, and have been avoiding this blog space because I just haven’t had the motivation to write anything.
It hasn’t been a pretty routine.
I’m trying to get things back under control (re: the snacking and stressing). No official resolutions, but expect some more blog posts to be coming soon.
It’s officially gotten hot here and the humidity has been so bad that I have my very own hot yoga studio in my room. Which is cool because I’ve always wanted to try Bikram yoga, but just not every minute of my waking day… I can put my tiny A/C unit on, but I really don’t want to pay for the electricity, so I’ll just be sticky and suffer for as long as I can go before I cave… Anyway, the heat doesn’t help things, but at least we’re finally allowed to put the A/C on in our classrooms at school. That’s nothing short of a small miracle. My little monsters’ have either been falling asleep or completely bouncing off the walls because of the heat. There is no middle ground with 3 year olds.
Earlier this month, the school had an overnight, sleep away camp for the big kids from the after school English lessons. All four of us foreign teachers were required to go and it was an experience. The camp was held at an old abandoned school in the mountains about an hour and a half north of Toyohashi. When I say abandoned, what I mean is that it no longer functions as a school anymore, but instead as more of a location for certain camps and trips for different groups in the community. Either way, it was old, creaky, and a virtual wifi dead-zone with giant spiders. I think the kids enjoyed it, which is all that mattered, I didn’t sleep, shower, or lose a shoe in the river (which is more than one little girl could say… her shoe never stood a chance against that current.)
Immediately following the English camp excursion, a coworker and I got on a train and headed south towards Osaka, Japan’s second largest city. Three hours and three train transfers later, we checked into our tiny hotel and set out to explore the city. Osaka isn’t as polished as Tokyo, its a little grittier and has such character than its hard not to fall in love with it; that, and Osaka’s nickname is “Japan’s Kitchen”, and who can’t love a place with a name like that?
We did the touristy things: saw the castle, found and took pictures with the Glico Running Man (famous landmark), found some cool street art, and of course, my favorite, I found my favorite super fluffy Japanese cheesecake! Seriously, watching them take the cheesecake out of the oven and brand them was the best part, those cakes jiggle like there’s no tomorrow! (Its not the dense rich NY cheesecake we all know and love, this is something else.)
My main mission in Osaka was to drop off my passport at the U.S. Embassy to get it renewed, which let me tell you, was a stressful experience. I felt like I was going through customs with all the metal detectors and security scans. But once I was inside and on the correct passport floor, it felt like I was waiting in any other American building’s waiting room: there was an American flag hanging in one corner, a sad looking kids corner with mis-matched toys, and CNN was on the big flat screen TV mounted to the wall. I almost forgot where I was for that hour. *Quick update: it was just delivered today! Looks like we’re good until 2029, time to fill this one up!!
Update on the language learning for all those wondering: four months in and I still can’t read or speak it. My 3 year olds know more English than I do Japanese, which is a funny thing to think about given the fact that they’re 3.
I let my one coworker convince me to join her for a quick after school ice cream run. We both had about 40 minutes until we had to start our after school lessons and in a moment of weakness I agreed. We ended up going to a local Baskin Robins down the road and it was basically the same thing as you’d expect from a BK anywhere, but with more Pokemon. Also I heard someone refer to it just as “31”, the exact sentence was, “Oh, you guys are going to 31?”
This month I also learned that you’re supposed to take your shoes off before going into the dressing room in department stores… the important things they don’t tell you before moving here. I had to watch and wait for someone else to come out of the stall before I could go in, and sure enough, she slipped her shoes right back on and walked away. Then I did the same and removed my shoes before stepping in. I don’t know why I’m surprised by this.
Here’s to four months being here! I’m still constantly surprised by how well people follow the ‘only cross on green’ traffic rules and just how darn expensive their fruit is. No one needs a $25 watermelon…