We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. — Anais Nin

I’m not gonna lie. This is definitely a problem of mine. Being a writer never helps. I’m constantly wrapped up in daydreams, some less realistic than others. And I am always wondering, ‘what if?’ And so, for the fourth time, I’ve moved halfway across the planet.

Yup! Back in Japan. Back to blogging. I’ll be better (again I say this. I will TRY this time.)

But this time I live in the country. I’ve never lived in the country! I’m a city girl, through and through. I know you know. Even if you wouldn’t say it to me, we both know you know.

And now I live in city about the size of my suburb, surrounded by Strawberry fields and a ring of mountains in the distance. It’s not helping with the daydreams.

Fortunately, I’m so…what’s the best way to say this….confident, yet mildly terrified and stressed out about driving, that I’ve been super aware of what I’m doing in the car. (Yes, I have a car. It’s rental, it’s tiny, like shorter than I am, and it’s boxy and I kind of hate it, but love it too.) And I have to have a car, not because its the country. There is a train; compared to Yokohama, it’s a pathetic little thing, with trains every 20/25 minutes and only two directions to go in. But as we have already established, I am a city girl, and Yokohama spoiled me. Anywho, I NEED a car because I have 10, TEN, 1-0 schools. TEN!!! Wait, one more time, 10!!!!!!!!!!

Yup! Three elementary schools, 6 kindergartens, and a nursery school. Yeah….yup. I don’t know how to get to most of them. But that’s what GPS is for. (I do know how to get to the ES I go to almost every day. So as far as that goes, I’m good.) But two of the ES are straight up in the mountains. Like, they don’t think my little-motorcycle-engine car will make it up the road if it snows. (I learned to drive in snow…I’m not too worried about snow, but if there is ice, I’m not sure the car is heavy enough to keep it from sliding down the mountain.)

But because it’s in the mountains, there are cows! Yeah i know that doesn’t make sense. It’s Japan, what do you want? COWS! And this farm/kids education place/? that makes really, reeeeeeeeeally good ice cream. It’s really good! I will try to stop there like every week when I go to that school.

(I’m only half kidding.)

Other than that….classes haven’t started yet. So, I dunno? People seem cool so far. And the kids all seem pretty nice. I don’t have the preteens this time, thank god. I’m planning on making posters all day tomorrow. Prolly about the months. Cause English really had a field day with naming months. Japanese did the smart thing and used numbers; first month, second month, etc.  To the kids, it probably seems like English just smashed random letters together, stood back, and said ‘that’ll do’. So I’ll be thinking up some way to make it easier to remember…if there is one?

Mmm. Yeah. I’ll post again soon.

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“Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand.” — E. B. White

I feel like this is the best advice to possibly give any ALT. Because wether you are good or bad, upbeat or monotone, none of it really matters. I have found that regardless of how I want the class to go, the class usually has a mind of its own on such matters.
And a lot of it has to do with the attempt at making them magically learn a language instantly.
Which is not my fault. Nor is it entirely the Japanese teachers fault (usually; I do keep a special place reserved for Scary-sensei, and his unique hands/eyes/brain off approach to teaching – Only when I’m around).
I blame the BOE and the textbooks. The lovely textbooks, which have brought us such great phrases to teach as:
But I prefer the Eagles. Their music is more beautiful.
I learned that making fireworks is hard. But if I make them, I can have fun and give pleasure to others.
You can see flowers and animals with vegetables and other foods.

And more exciting awkward phrases that while technically might make sense, I have never (and hope to never again) uttered in my life. Blech.
I think being in Japan (read that, teaching this terrible terrible english book’s phrases) is starting to effect how I speak. Awkward, weirdly polite or formal phrase want to burst out of my mouth, while my brain is registering the words as completely ridiculous. But what can I do?! I try my best to imply that if you said this to someone in, for example, America they’d stare at you in horror and amusement! If you said while showing someone a photo album, “please look at them and share my memories”, you would soon find them backing away slowly in fear. At least, that’s what I try to imply. But maybe this is just me? Maybe it is merely my sense of Ohioan, Northern-cities Shift English with a touch of mumbling and a bit too much reading thrown in?
But I think that the kids respond in a less-than-enthusiastic way sometimes for this very reason. They too realize that this book is trying to teach them some weird-(dare I say)-Japanese-filtered English and they want nothing to do with it.
I did get a chance to teach them “meet up” and “hang out” this week though. But I couldn’t quite explain why meet up was meet up and not just meet. It involved a lot of pointing at the ceiling and confused looks. I suppose Google would tell me if I cared to ask. But I don’t much care to find out. It is what it is. As for hang out, they spent most of the time trying to say it like me, dropping ‘g’ sounds and ‘t’ sounds all over the place. Oops.

“It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” —J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I know! It’s been a long time. Again. And again, I have no excuse. I’ve been busy. With work, hanging out, worrying, fretting, planning, wishing, and maybe a little thinking, just to round things out.

But still I should have found the time. It is finally winter break! No school for two weeks! Which is great! Because for the past two weeks I have been doing nothing but JHS. And it kind of was super annoying. And sucky. Until last Friday, when EVERYBODY decided I was like, super popular, and they should talk to me….which was great. Except I had plans. And not with them.

I was going to meet a friend after work, at five thirty, because it was her last day before break and I won’t see her at work until the 13th. She doesn’t have to stay until five (lucky her!!!) so we were just going to meet at the station to get dinner. Instead, when five finally finally came around, after 6 hours!!!! Of sitting at my desk, everyone started talking to me. Which they have never done.
I learned a couple things. One I look 28 to Japanese people. This kinda hurt my feelings. I don’t think I look 28. Two, almost all the teachers are around 28/29 not a big surprise, but I didn’t know. Three, they can speak a good amount of english, and all are super eavesdrop-y. And four, they gave me all kinds of cake and chocolate to make up for english ability or lake thereof. And a placemat, because he didn’t need it.
So after 30 minutes when I finally got away, suuuuuuuper late and with no way to tell my friend that, I got to the station and saw the head teacher from my ES! Who proceeded to tell me all about the dinner with the teachers on this monday. Which I couldn’t go to, and I wanted to. Kinda.
Japanese drinking parties, while kind of mandatory, are intimidating. And have a whole culture just to themselves which I am not super familiar with. But all the teachers are super nice and awesome.

Oh well it was an adventure. I finally found my friends, almost 45 minutes late. We went to this all you can eat restaurant, which are called Vikings in Japanese, like バイキング! Baikingu! No idea why. I though she was saying biking and was like, uhhhh a what restaurant? Then I thought it was a chain called Viking. Nope. All you can eat. But over dinner we looked at bad/wrong/mistranslated tattoos in Japanese and that was pretty awesome. And funny.

More to follow from sun and beaches. Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. Joy and all that jazz!