Hey team, it’s been about a billion years since I’ve updated this, so…..it’s about that time. Aside from the good old normalcy of going to work, teaching children about English and the world that uses it, and returning to my home, things have been pretty uneventful. I suspect this is due mostly in part of the fact that I have been…frivolous with my spending, and lack financial resources. Oops.
So to give you an update on the professional life, things have been going well. I’ve managed to find myself a rhythm at most of my schools and my lessons are improving, as well as my relationships with the teachers I am working with. Junior High is still a bit tricky for me, but I’m getting the hang of it ever so slowly (the majority of my work is ES). Last Monday, (Oct 21st) I went to watch an example lesson taught by another ALT at her school (which was completely on the other side of the city). It was really encouraging to see that I am definitely on the right course as far as how I run my classes, so that was nice.
This week I’m working at Ritsuryo JHS. Today I was supposed to have two classes, but due to schedule changes I’ve found myself in a situation where I have absolutely nothing to do, hence the long overdue blog post. This week has been a bit different than usual. The teacher for the 2nd graders (US 8th grade) always has them sing a song in English at the beginning of class. This (month?) they are learning ‘I just called to say I love you’ by Stevie Wonder. Well, after using the opportunity to walk around the class and serenade random students like an idiot, idiot Matt decided to let the kids talk him into playing the guitar next time. Soooo this week I’ve found myself bringing my guitar to every class so far. For the 1st (US 7th) grade classes, I’ve been teaching the National Anthem (you should see my chalkboard pictures of ramparts and whatnot). For the 2nd graders I’ve learned ‘I just called to say I love you’, ‘Let it be’, ‘Call me maybe’, ‘Just the way you are’, and *shudder* ‘what makes you beautiful’. They have a bit of trouble with the verses, but the refrains actually sound pretty good. I don’t think American Junior High school kids would have done much better. The hardest part was getting them out of their shells (which I did by having them throw each other under the ‘sing falsetto bruno mars’ bus…big success). Anyways, that was fun and different.
On the social scene I’ve been here and there. One night I caught the wrong train home from Osaka and ended up dropping $55 on a cab ride home. Another night I went out to a place where I ate Kushikatsu. It’s essentially like fondue, except it’s deep frying everything. I was adventurous once again, and had octopus, fish, and some other stuff. Some food I liked, some I hated. The significance here is that it was with another ALT and some teachers from one of my elementary schools. SO! First social outing with Japanese coworkers = huge success! It was awesome. We did a nomi/tabehoudai, which is all you can eat and all you can drink for a few hours. ON A SCHOOL NIGHT!
In other news I bought a DJ controller off another JET. So that’s happening.
I’m going to take a bit of a break from the normal life story that I do and use this post for JAPAN TIME! YAAAAAAAAY!
Today you get to learn about living in Japan. Here we go:
Convinience Stores: These are everywhere, an essential part of life, and totally awesome. Imagine a 7/11 back in the states, then make it infinitely more awesome, and put them everywhere. Popular chains: Lawson, Daily Yamazaki, 7/11, Circle K, and Family Mart. Around here they are called Convini’s. Essentially Convini’s are the magical ‘I need this’ place. Every single one has an ATM, you can pay your bills at them. More so, you can pay cash for online purchases at them. I paid for an amazon purchase AND plane tickets at one. Boom.
Recycle shops: Need I say more? They’re like their American counter-parts but often much better deals.
Drivers: So you know that stereotype that asian people are bad drivers? It might make more sense to see how Japanese people drive. The rules of the road and courtesy are significantly different. For example, if you were waiting in a long line at an intersection and some asshole on a motorcycle or moped blew past you in the shoulder you’d think ‘That asshole’. Here that’s like…why people buy mopeds in the first place. Totally normal.
Pizza: They’re doing it wrong.
Technology: You know that wonderful technology paradise that you’ve always associated with Japan? It’s a trick! Sure, they have some cool things. Robots and stuff, super automated bathtubs, magical talking toilets, super fast internet, and more! But what they don’t have is a standard base of technology. At the school I’m working at, all the laptops have Celeron D processors and 512 mb of ram. No classes have projectors (they have TV’s though). Flash drives aren’t allowed, there is no air conditioning or heat in the schools, AND THERE AREN’T ANY ROBOTS. They still use paper mail for goodness’ sake.
Burgers: They don’t do it the way we do in the states. I’ve only had one burger here that really made me think of home sweet home, and that was at a Hawaiian place in Osaka. Which is the first REAL burger I’d say I’ve had since coming here (after many failures).
Karaoke: Totally a thing. Like…’whaddaya wanna do’ ‘idk karaoke?’. Real talk. These buildings have a crazy amount of booths for your drunken singing pleasure. Don’t go to Japan without doing karaoke at least once. Because don’t.
ATM Cards: ATM machines aren’t like they are back in the states. You can’t take your card to any other ATM machine and expect to get money out. It just doesn’t work like that. In fact, my ATM card doesn’t even have a magnetic strip to swipe. Just a chip (which is arguably better I guess). Either way, can’t use it at some other ATM machines, and debit for online purchases is damn near impossible.
Trains: They’re doing it right. Never late, always reliable, frequent, and not very trashy. Well done Japan! (CTA get your shit together).
Juku: This is cram school. After a long day of classes and club activities, the kids go to school again, to learn more crap all night. That’s right. Two schools, one day. It’s crazy. They are always exhausted for class the next day, which brings me to my next point….
Sleeping: Kids sleep in class. It’s a thing. Oftentimes teachers just ignore it. I’ve never seen sleeping in class go so swimmingly for the sleeper in my life.
Anime: You’re action packed, giant robot, super alien, magical yada yada anime and manga are normal among elementary and junior high school students. High school as well. In the adult world though, it’s a bit weird. Just like it is back home. Also similar to back home, some animation is popular among adults too. Studio Ghibli is your Japanese Anime version of Pixar in loose sense. (This is a debatable topic)
Shoes: You always take your shoes off before entering someone’s house. Always. Even the delivery people take their shoes off. Maintenance people take their shoes off. It’s just the way it is. I had a guy delivering my receiver and bass amp yesterday carrying about 80 pounds worth of stuff in his arms, and he immediately took his shoes off after walking in my door, WHILE holding all that stuff. What a champ.
School uniforms: It’s all true.
Relationships: Read this.
Fashion: There are a lot of shirts, bags, pants, coats, backpacks, and hats that have English on them. They are nearly always fun to read. (My favorite one says ‘Fuck Larry’ worn by a older woman) Win.
Umbrellas: Women often have umbrellas in the summer. It’s sunny out, and they want shade. Makes sense right?
There’s some more stuff, but I’m drawing blanks at the moment. To be honest, I’m getting a bit tired of typing right now too. SO! Until next time dear readers. Until next time.
Also: Halloween might get it’s own post.
EDIT: As I mentioned most of the students were out today on a school trip. They just got back and one of them was caught smoking a cigarette during the trip. The teacher yelling at him was a sort of legendary. Incredible. I wish teachers in the states could get away with reaming a kid out like that. BAMF
Nice Post..it was great to read about your comparisons.