Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Training to Teach

Apparently it isn't enough to create a blog... you're supposed to continually update it, writing more about what you're up to and not just ignoring it and thinking "eh, I'll do that later".... hmm. Who knew.

Well I've been in Japan over 2 weeks now! I've pretty much been sick the whole time. I didn't really mention it but while I was in Tokyo I had a sore throat and now I have some unfun allergy/cold situation where sometimes my eyeballs itch like craziness. As much as that has sucked (and it has sucked so much) I still went out whenever my coworkers/friends were doing something and I still made it to every day of training so far, and then the moment I get back to my apartment I lay around like a vegetable, but a gross vegetable with itchy eyes. While this made training a bit harder, it hasn't really been a problem except that I've yet to unpack or set up my apartment because I feel too blah when I'm home to take care of anything. I did tackle my laundry, which became an event because after I ran my washing machine (that's right New Yorkers, I have a washing machine) and it filled with water, it refused to drain and sat there beeping at me and flashing lights. So I had to call my boss who called a repair guy who did something and then had to call my boss again to tell me what it was (it had been installed wrong with an extra part... weird). But now it works fine. I need to find fabric softner because right now I only have a box of detergent that makes clothes stiff. My boss wrote on it in English for me, so I would know what it is. She wrote "Soup for your clothes".

I know the real reason you're reading this is your unquenchable interest in my laundry situation. Well other than laundry I've done nothing in my apartment except cook some noodles and hard boil eggs. Hopefully now that I'm feeling better, I'll clean and organize everything and have pictures of my tiny but cute Japanese apartment for you very soon.

Meanwhile, outside of my apartment I've been doing a lot (see Facebook for pictures of everything from the goodbye dinners to my neighbor's garden figurine to the stuffed mushroom man that came with my cell phone). I went to a few going away dinners for two of the teachers who are leaving (Filo, who is going home to New Zealand after stopping in Australia, and Liza, who is going back to the Phillipines). During the last two weeks I followed Liza, Filo and Peni, seeing some of each of their classes. It was helpful to see so many classes, but exhausting because I had to go to many different locations (more on that in a second) and have longer days to fit all of the observation in. G.E.S. has a main location in Matsusaka, and then 3 other schools. Filo taught primarily in Ise, which is 30 minutes away by train, and Liza and Peni teach half the week in Tsu (20 minutes away, plus an uphill walk). There's also the North School in Matsusaka (Kojima San's house; I'm not joking) and then a couple scattered classes - two at schools that are like 5 kindergardens rolled into one, and one at a community center in Hisai, between Matsusaka and Tsu. During these weeks I've had to ride my bike, take buses, take trains, walk, get rides from random community center students, hail taxis and leave early, stay late, miss lunch, go to meetings, etc. etc. to see everything. It's been crazy. I know this will end when I have Liza's schedule and am not trying to see two other teachers' classes but WHEW I'm tired. It's been cool seeing Ise and Tsu and Hisai but everything looks alike for the most part because I've just been seeing the schools instead of famous landmarks or interesting sights. Ise has more tourist attractions (Ise Shrine, for one) and then also has cute bars and restaurants but otherwise is a lot like Matsusaka. Tsu seems more businessy but it's the capital of Mie Prefecture so that explains it. Hisai looked like Ise as far as I could tell. I'm sure in a month or two I'll have seen enough of these cities to tell you all about them, but now unless you want to hear about their train stations, bus stops, or highways I can't help you.

Like I said before, I'll have Liza's schedule which means 3 days a week I'll commute to Tsu, which I won't really mind. It's not far (like taking the subway from The Eldorado to IAG) and it's small and on some days it will just be me, the students and Makiko, the new manager there. Otherwise Peni or Kojima San will be with me. The other days I'll be in Matsusaka, where I can bike to work (on my "Nice Friend"). It's close and Katie (who I met in NYC) will be there, but there are more students and teachers and things generally seem busier so I think I'll be happy to only be there half the week. Although it will be nice to be so close to home at the end of the day.

More about the teaching part once I'm actually teaching :-) Meanwhile, I'm happy to be here and I'm liking the challenge so far (I can read a few things on menus, and was able to get iced coffee and a ham and toast sandwich for lunch off a no-English menu this afternoon!). I can't really speak because I'm horrible at putting sentences together so it's more like caveman talk (How much? Yamadakamiguchi. What number? Thank you.) (And yes, Yamadakamiguchi is a real station in Ise) and I read too slowly for it to be useful. At least I can recognize the kanji for Matsusaka now, and Yamadakamiguchi. Actually, based on that, I'm fairly sure I could write Kristi Yamaguchi's last name in kanji... Huzzah. So if that becomes necessary, I'm on it. Otherwise, I need to stop laying around in my apartment whining about my itchy eyeballs and start studying Japanese!

Ja, mata!

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