Another month gone by! I have now been in Japan for two months! I can’t even believe that it’s October! Instead of things slowing down as time goes on here, I seem to just be gaining momentum and doing more and more! This week I visited two of my elementary schools for the first time. I know this is kind of confusing so the deal is this: I work at a junior high school MOST of the time, it is my “base school” as they call it here on the JET Programme, and its basically the school that organizes your schedule, where I have a desk with my own computer, and spend a majority of my days. The images on my flickr are of this school. However, I also go to 3 elementary schools on occasion. Previously I had only been to the mountain school which I wrote about before. Now I have been to the other two, making for a total of 4 schools in all that I teach at. The elementary schools don’t need the same amount of English class dedication that the junior high kids need, so I visit each school once a week or sometimes once every two week depending on when I am needed. The elementary schools were a hoot! I loved the first one, the mountain school, and these two were no different! Unlike the mountain school, however, which I had to take the school bus to get to, these ones are close to my junior high school, so I cycle to them either in the morning or the afternoon and return to my junior high for the other half of the day. Teaching at the elementary schools is EXHAUSTING! For those who do it all the time, I can’t imagine how tired they are at the end of the day (or week for that matter)!! The kids just have so much enthusiasm and energy, which is a great change from the junior high, but it takes so much out of you! On Thursday I went to my elementary school in the morning, which was fine, except it was difficult to get there. It really also on a mountain – however it is not called the “mountain school” like the other elementary I visit – so biking there was a bit of a challenge. Naturally I was running late to begin with, and was unaware of my upcoming battle with such a steep incline, so I had worn my working clothes and not my gym clothes, and thus was gross and late when I finally did arrive. But once I did I taught four classes in a row! You don’t have any time to take a break and the whole time you are running around or standing up – because we teach usually through games – ahem – sorry, “ACTIVITIES” – because this way it makes learning fun for the kids. Honestly, it makes teaching more fun for me too. I love it. It’s just tiring. Between classes there is no time for rest because the students who don’t have class with you are so curious that you get swarmed in the hallway by children trying to high five you or grab your hand or get you to play rock paper scissors etc etc etc. After my four lessons I cycled to my junior high school, where I ate lunch and spent the rest of the day doing my usual “look busy on the computer” routine.
On Friday I went to my junior high school in the morning, taught three lessons, ate lunch then cycled to my final elementary school, where I taught two lessons. However, before the lesson began, I ran into some trouble. I managed to find the school okay, despite having never been there before, but the problem was I couldn’t seem to find away onto the school grounds. The entire thing was locked up by a fence. I cycled around it a few times trying to spot how I was to get in there, but couldn’t figure it out. I managed to squeeze through one of the barred fences though, and got in that way. Then, after wandering around the school for a while, I finally found the teachers room (schools here have funny layouts), where I walked in, announced my presence, and waited. No one seemed to care that I had arrived. People looked up, then, probably because they didn’t speak English and thus didn’t want to interact with me, went back to their computers to do whatever it was they were doing, leaving me standing helplessly in the doorway. So I stood there for a few minutes, then decided I would just ignore them too and saunter around the hallways and meet some kids. With little to no effort I soon had my own little fan club consisting of small children who just followed me around the school. Then they all lined up to introduce themselves to me and shake my hand. They were adorable! Eventually the English Assistant teacher came and found me (as I was hoarding all the students) and was brought to the class where I taught. The kids loved all my pictures from Canada… They laughed at all the right times, were fascinated by Canadian money samples I brought in, and by pictures of my house, and other common things, and screamed “kawaii” (“cute”) when I showed pictures of Buffy. It was excellent!
After school on Friday I quickly went home to shower as I had to meet the other ALT in my building because we were invited to a party with a few of the teachers from his new school and my elementary school. We were driven into the city where we got a delicious free meal and unlimited beers and sake! Who can complain about that? After dinner was over we continued on to the second party, which was at a karoke venue. Luckily having had enough to drink, I was okay with this. The teachers didn’t speak much English and I little Japanese, but we managed. They were hilariously intoxicated, singing and dancing in the street. When we got to the karoke room, they demanded I sing Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” because like me, she was a Canadian, and thus they assumed I could sing like her. They found out the hard way that I couldn’t. But it didn’t matter that I was awful, they clapped and sang along too, laughing and ordering more drinks for us all. They went on to sing some Beatles songs and some Japanese songs. It was really quite a fun time! When it was time to go home (at 11 pm – we had started quite early, with dinner at 5:30) I decided to meet up with my JET friends. I met up with them at another bar and the fun times continued! It was a great night!
The next morning was less great. We had to get up kind of early because we were expected to arrive in Niihama for a welcome party for all Ehime JETs. I had to get up extra early since I had decided to stay in the city that night and needed to take the train home to pack my stuff. I live north of Matsuyama, and Niihama is also located north of the Matsuyama (just another 40 minutes or so on the same train line). HOWEVER, the train runs straight from Matsuyama to Niihama, without stopping in my little town, so I ended up having to take the train from the city to my house, then back to the city to catch the train that would zoom by my house and continue on to Niihama. So annoying! But we managed and arrived on time! The Niihama party was alright, I thought it was going to be more of an event, but really it was just like, “here we are on a beach .. this is it”. It was kind of cold out, there were no lights, no music, nothing. It was sort of strange and could not top my previous night out. But it was nice to see some of the JET’s I hadn’t seen for a while so I can’t really complain.
The best news of all for this week, however, is this: WE ARE GOING TO SAKE FESTIVAL IN HIROSHIMA NEXT WEEKEND! Apparently it is the most fun ever! A lot of foreigners go, and almost all JET’s within travelling distance make the trip into Hiroshima to party it up! We managed to get a hostel on short notice (which was so lucky since most places are all booked up) so we were pretty excited.
That is all the news for now! Hope everyone is having a great weekend! 🙂