Blank Stares and Eggplants

Well, I have been in Japan for almost a month! This time last month I was packing up, getting prepared to leave! I can’t believe it! I am currently sitting at my desk at my base school, which is about a 20 minute cycle from my apartment. Not too bad, but coming here in the morning is uphill, so it’s kind of exhausting. A good way to wake up, though! My JTE is really nice, although I don’t really know what I am supposed to be doing at school yet. The kids are still on their summer break, so I haven’t started teaching yet. I think tomorrow we have our opening ceremony at our school and I have to give a self introduction in JAPANESE! And more than just my usual brief self introduction. Thankfully my JTE wrote one out for me and my only task is to memorize it. Which I am attempting to do.

We have finished our two week Japanese language course, and I do feel that it was useful. I definitely recognize a lot more words than I used to when people are speaking to me. For the most part though, I am still pretty hopeless. I have signed up for evening classes though, so that should help! Also the fact that people at work always start by talking to me in Japanese, and then when they only get blank stares back, they do their best to translate, is kind of embarrassing, but is forcing me to adapt. I have never wanted to learn a language more. I have no idea what is going on at any point in time. Yesterday at work there was some sort of office meeting. I had been warned by my JTE it was coming. There was lots of standing and bowing. And then I just sat there for an hour and a half and had absolutely no idea what was being said. My name was mentioned a few times though. So I smiled. They must think it’s just hilarious they can talk about me right in front of me and I literarlly have no idea what is being said. And I just smile along. Good times for me.

Anyway a couple days ago me and the other JET who lives in my building (there are only two of us in this whole town – he used to work at the schools I work at now) went to a student concert at his new school. There were lots of students from my new school there too, so we thought it was a good chance to see everyone outside of the office. It was great to see all the kids in the band playing. They were quite good. Afterwards, one of the English tutors from the Junior High School came up to us and told us about how much eggplant she has growing in her farm. Then she asked us if we liked eggplant, and we said yes. So she said `okay I will meet you back at your apartment in half an hour and I will bring eggplant and show you how to cook it`. And she did. She brought us each a few eggplants and showed us how to cook it up, Japanese style. Then she tested us by making us both chop up the eggplant properly – I didn’t cut the slices thin enough apparently, which affected the taste – and cook it the way she showed us! It was such a hilarious endeavor, and something that would only happen in Japan. She told me she would take me grocery shopping because I didn’t have enough Japanese style food items in my house! Haha I would actually love that though, because before I left I thought that learning to cook proper Japanese meals would be something I would really love to do. She was really sweet and we exchanged numbers and hopefully she can teach me some more Japanese cooking skills! Mine definitely need improvement, as anyone who lived with me through universities knows my cooking specialties are cereal (does that count?) and cookies. Oh and perogies. But only with E&A`s help.

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