Awesome Day

Today was so awesome. Class was really fun, as we got to teach our first lessons to real Japanese students. We were all really nervous, but the students were so much fun, very eager to learn, and after getting into the lessons, everything went pretty comfortably. We have more lessons to do tomorrow and the next day, though, and that means I have to prepare one now even though it’s passed midnight. >_< Oh yeah, and we all got letters from our branch schools today. They were all so cute, covered in smileys and bubble letters and little pictures, with really sweet messages for us. I think we're all really really anxious to see our coworkers soon! The best part of today was tonight though! I just came back from the local kushikatsu place I've been going to almost every night here. The waitress recognizes us now, and is pretty friendly. But today it felt like a real bar... as soon as we went in, an older man noticed Erik's Japanese Soccer Jersey and started pointing it out, trying to get our attention. They were really curious and sort of testing the water to see if we were chatty, and since I was able to speak enough to tell what they were saying, and Erik and Sara also spoke a tiny bit, we were able to start up a chat (I think I whined last night about how I really wanted to chat in Japanese). The older man was with a younger guy who was crazy hilarious. He started messing around, kicked a stool, and got in the waitress' face, but she got right back in his. It sounds pretty bad, but it was definitely one of those he comes here every night kind of things, as everyone was laughing. Then a pair of young girls at the table next to us started talking to me, asking me for Erik's shirt. One of them really *really* wanted it. So then the old man started telling her to buy us drinks, and his friend got in on it, and we were all gambling prices for the shirt. A couple businessmen at a table nearby joined in. The whole scene was hilarious; it could have been taken right out of a movie! We were talking about tons of things, and the craziest thing is that I was actually able to have a really detailed conversation... Hell, we were there for 3 hours. We told them we were English teachers and everyone in the bar said, "Hhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?!" And then we said we were from AEON and they all clapped that we weren't NOVA teachers. The girls kept begging for the shirt, and finally Erik gave it to them for buying him a few whiskeys. Eventually it was just the 3 of us and the 2 girls left in the bar, but since we have homework to do (and since they have to wake up at 6 to do nursing shifts), we all left. Holy crap though... that was what I was dying for and more! We took lots of photos (I think they took even more), which I will be posting this weekend along with the others. Man... at least I'm excited enough that I won't be sleepy while preparing my lesson for tomorrow. Anyway, I'd better go now!

Training Continues

So it turns out the next disaster was a radiation leak at a nuclear power plant that took place after a fire caused by the earthquake! Seriously, all that’s left is for Godzilla to come by and flatten Japan.

Today was fun, but very tiring. Work ended at around 9:30 pm, and by then most of the dinner places closed. But today I got to teach my first lesson. Granted, it was in front of my coworkers and trainers, but I felt like it went pretty well. What’s more, tomorrow I get to teach the same lesson to actual students! That makes me really nervous, but doing it once today really helped. Also, the fact that that means it’s already Thursday really excites me. I like it here a lot, but I’m really in the mood to get to my branch school… I really want to be able to speak more Japanese, and I end up talking only in English with my other trainee teachers, since none of them really know any Japanese at all. I’ve had a few brief conversations with locals in Japanese, but the necessities of belonging to a group of 12 people are keeping me from exploring at the rate I’d like to.

AEON really seems like an awesome company to work for. They’re really concerned about being professional. They’ve got a great reputation, but what’s amazing is that despite their reputation, they haven’t gone off on any “AEON is so great” spiels, or ranted about how bad other companies are. I would have expected trainers to be all gung ho about how much better we are than anyone else, but they’ve just been focused on the task at hand. So the professionalism really shows in how our own trainers act. Maybe that’s a weird observation to make? But I often do think about weird stuff like that.

I don’t feel homesick, but today I do feel a bit lonely… I really want to have a good conversation. In Japanese would be preferable, but even in English at this point. With the other trainees, we just talk about work, or conversations are either very superficial and silly, or just about whether Denny’s or McDonald’s has better lunch. It’s fun and also useful talk, but doesn’t feel all that satisfying. Well, I’d better not complain any more. I’m having a monkeyload of fun, and thinking anything negative isn’t going to help.

Well, wish me luck tomorrow! I teach real students! >__< Ganbarimasu!

I Love the Smell of Japan

If the title sounds weird, it’s because I’m tired, and I’m drunk, and, well, it’s true. There’s something here that I haven’t smelled since I was last here. Partially in the humidity in the air, partially in the air in the supermarkets, and partially down the back alleys of the restaurants where the smoke empties out into the streets. I didn’t realize how much I missed that smell until these few days, when I’ve smelled it again and really felt like I’m back home (as weird as that sounds).

Anyway, I can’t write much more today. Still no energy to post pictures. Mainly because I’m tired from drinking and a long day of work (we got out at 7:30 today, and tomorrow not until 9), but also because my get-home activity has been about an hour of emails every day. (Thanks to everyone who is emailing me! I appreciate it!) Anyway, emails are more important than blog, so they win. But I’ll try to continue doing at least small posts like I’ve been doing, and maybe on the weekend I can do a larger more detailed post.

I wasn’t kidding about the smell of Japan either.

So anyway, today we had a lot of detail about teaching lessons, and we had some real students in today for practice and got to watch their lessons. It was so much fun! It reminded me a lot of both Conversation Club at the JASGP, and conversation practice with Emiko. It looked really, really fun, and I can’t wait to teach my own students. Of course, it won’t be long… tomorrow is our first “actual” lesson. It will be in front of trainers for the first time, and then on Thursday, we’ll teach a group of Japanese students. So we’re all busy preparing our individual lessons. Tonight is sleep, but early tomorrow morning, we’ll all be busy getting our lesson plans together for our day of lesson practice! I feel pretty good about it because I’ve got some experience doing this — it’s exactly like when I was a student at Eurocentres, so I know what the students feel like, and it’s also exactly like the kind of stuff I’ve been doing with Emiko, so I’ve got some teaching experience too. Even though what I’ve done so far teaching-wise has hardly been structured, and certainly not in a class-like environment, it looked familiar to me, and I think that will be helpful.

Okay, now I’m pretty sleepy, and I need a shower. So I will continue tomorrow.

Umi no Hi

Yesterday a typhoon, today an earthquake… what’s going to happen tomorrow — a volcano or a plague? Maybe an asteroid impact on Wednesday?

Today was my first day of training, and was quite long. But it’s quite interesting to be learning these teaching methods. Tomorrow it gets a bit more intensive, but it should be fun still. Then we’ll teach some actual students, which I’m a bit nervous for… but you gotta start somewhere I guess.

The earthquake that his Niigata today was a really strong one, and our building shook for a whole minute, even though we’re pretty far from Niigata. I heard that 6 people died, and there were many more injuries as well as a lot of damage.

I found a nice gyuudon place for lunch today, as well as a place that serves miso-katsu, another Nagoya specialty. For dinner, we went back to the kushikatsu place that we went to on our first night, and I was pleased to find that I could read a lot more than I did that night. Apparantly 30 hours of transit really did mess with my translating abilities. So today I learned that they actually do have vegetables and desert too. I got beer instead of shochu, and I found out that the kebab I liked best last time was made from chicken hearts. Yum! I’m still a big fan of the aspara-bacon, and I’ve found a few more sticks that I will try again later in the week. I’m planning to eat miso-katsu tomorrow, but I will definitely be going back to the kushikatsu place, as that’s another one of Nagoya’s specialty foods. (It really is amazing how many ways there are to prepare chickens on sticks. No more liver for me though… ugh!)

I know I promised photos today, but it will have to wait for another day. I’ve been writing emails for an hour, and I still have reading to do, so I’m not in the mood to upload and code the images into this page. Work here starts late, which is great, but it also means if you do anything at all after work, you’re coming home quite late. Even though I’m trying to push the envelope, the time zone difference is still a bit challenging, and 22:30 is nearly crash time for me. (I’ve promised myself at least to stay up until 23:00 tonight.)

I can’t stress enough how awesome washlets are.

I’m Here!

I’m going to just write a short post with no photos because I’m so tired right now…

The flights to Japan were fine. As comfortable as any 17-hour air trip could be… I watched The 300 twice, passed in and out of consciousness many times, and probably did some serious damage to my ears. I sketched a bit too (a Spartan chicken).

I had no trouble going through customs, and met Yukari from AEON as well as 4 other teachers here to train with me. There are others but I haven’t met them yet. We took a bullet train from the airport to Nagoya, and arrived here at the hotel around 4:30. Took a shower, got the room just slightly set up, then went out to see the town. It’s pouring rain here — there’s a typhoon nearby that is going to put the spoiler on our first weekend, but oh well. I’m still so happy!

After showering, we headed out into the rain and wandered around. I’m soaking wet now… >_< After exploring some department stores and walking around the local blocks, 3 of us finally stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall joint nearby. We were so tired, and I was the best Japanese speaker of the group, so we had a lot of trouble ordering food. ^^" First we ordered from the drinks menu, because I was too exhausted to realize they were drinks... and nobody else wanted to drink so I ended up drinking all the shochu and getting a bit drunk. Then we ordered a whole ton of kebab style food, which was tasty, except that we ordered like 5 sticks of liver... 2 of them were tasty, but 3 were really gross (I can still taste it when I burp). It was a nice place, and the owners were very amused at my very exhausted and pitiful attempts at ordering in Japanese. I'm determined to go back there tomorrow and do a better job. We also went down to a local manga shop and some other random places, but its all a blur to me now. So sleepy. My hotel room is very cozy, and the washlet is fantastic! I'll post some pictures tomorrow when I have the energy. I've been up and out for... 30 hours now? I think... I can't count anymore. I need to sleep. Goodnight! Continue reading I’m Here!