Belated Birthday

Five months after the fact, my 25th birthday fell on my second week here (I have so many drafted posts and I am finally working through them, sorry!). Being a school day (a first-day-at-that-school day) and a long one, it didn’t feel much like a birthday – although that is probably more to do with how much less exciting birthdays are as an adult in general. The unfamiliarity of everything meant that I was still in a state of slight surreality, so wrapping my head around the fact that I am just that much closer to 30 wasn’t going to happen.
Coincidentally the only other birthday I’ve had abroad was also in Japan, when I turned 19. Farewell my youth!

C-san used the birthday thing to endear me more to the school, getting me to play up the cutesy-ness to endear me to teachers (which was really gross and I still haven’t forgiven him), and telling them how “happy” I was to be at that school for my birthday.
I was just relieved no one sang. Alas, the next day we were teaching dates and birthdays and I’m sure you can guess how that turned out (really still haven’t forgiven him).

That evening Mai, Nelson and I set the precedent of many meals to come by checking out an Indian restaurant (that I unfortunately can’t remember the name of, but will update when I can find out). The naans here are out of this world. Who knew?

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Meeting the Rabble

I was back in the office the day after the move (Saturday), leaving my apartment in the barely-moved-in shambles you might expect (or just expect anyway if you know me).

All the Seto ALTs had been called in for a refresher training day, as we were mid-way through term, which gave me the perfect chance to get to know a few people in my area right off the bat.

The training was focused on getting an experience of each other’s teaching styles and bouncing around ideas for activities. The main focus was geared towards helping us experience how it feels to be the student in an immersive language context, and to learn to put aside awkwardness in front of the students: learning to ‘stay in character’.

Seeing the others in character was excellent – especially the way Macky (Jamaica) switched between her very blunt (and wonderful) natural delivery, to the hyper-enthusiastic fun-generator needed for class. It was magical, not to mention funny, to watch.

A lot of the others were pretty annoyed at having to go into the office on a weekend, especially as many of them live way out in the Seto ward, so it’s a bit of a trek (it takes me 2 trains and just over 30 mins and I live mid-way!). Once we were finished, spirits were much improved by the decision to go for sushi afterwards.

There are some really good kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) places here, good quality and much more reasonably priced than the sushi-ya (sushi restaurants).

This one was unfortunately not one of the better ones.

The staff, no doubt mightily alarmed by the huge group of gaijins that traipsed in, decided it was for the best that we were seated in two groups on opposite sides of the restaurant…can’t blame them all that much to be honest.

Despite the so-so sushi and the division of the group, it was nice to get to know the others, and to be surrounded by such a variety of people: American, Egyptian-Canadian, Australian, Jamaican, Filipino, Irish – quite the mix!

After sushi we split up, and I headed into Sakae accompanied by Nelson (America) and Mai (Canada/Egypt). Phone was once more spectacularly not sorted. But we did do some wandering in Osu and found a fantastic okonomiyaki place!

IMG_0812The road we generally take into Osu from Sakae.

IMG_0821Okonomiyaki arrives!

IMG_0826After six years of okonomiyaki deprivation, this was the perfect reunion!

IMG_0828The staff here were incredibly nice and gave us little booklets about the area (weirdly narrated by the local idol group). 

I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but I will find out and update here when I do!

Make the Next One Happy

I’ve been told by my friend and fellow ALT, Nelson, that my titles are too depressing and I should ‘make the next one happy’. Well, there you go.

So, my placement. The whole painful process went something like this:

A couple of weeks before the flight – Placement: Tokai, Nagoya;
A week before the flight – Tokai contract fell through, possibly Osaka (over-excitement because Osaka);
A few days before the flight – Not Osaka. Told “Don’t worry” (?????);
First two days of training – Placement: Ogaki, junior high school and elementary school;
Third day of training…

When we came in for the third day we were taken individually to speak with the manager. At this point we were told that the area Tom was assigned to had decided that they wanted a female teacher.

Change number gazillion: Placed in Seto Ward, teaching elementary school.

So yeah, all pretty stressful, but being a very cool, calm and collected Brit I definitely didn’t get completely fed-up and try to quit so I could go and work at an eikaiwa (language school) instead… Definitely not… The big changes I posted about a while ago were in relation to this. (I was very pissed off, but it was all sorted out in the end!)

I’m working in five elementary schools, and start at a sixth (special needs) school come September. I can’t name the schools for confidentiality reasons, but will nickname them (with a mixture of numbers and letters because I want to watch the world burn):

School A
School B
These two are the biggest schools I work at and the ones I am at most frequently.

Mountain School 1
Mountain School 2
I have these two on the same day and have to get a taxi from the station, between them, and back to the station. (this was originally a driving position, but as I don’t have a license… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Mountain School 3
I have to get a taxi to this one too, but I only have it once a fortnight.

So now you all know what I’m teaching/where I’m teaching! And it took me less than two months! Not bad.

The Move: Part 2

Sorry for the teaser – I’m hoping to catch up with myself on here tonight and all will be explained!

Time in Amsterdam revolved around spending time with Tiz, sorting out my Visa in Den Haag, haranguing Interac about what on earth I was going to be doing when I got to Japan, dithering over booking my flight, and drinking/eating as much/many coffee/cinnamon buns as I could.

( photo (8)  ) *dribble*

On the 2nd June, Tiz saw me off at the airport and I was bound for home (Flight #1).
As I’ve mentioned, the flight to Tokyo involved a stop in London (because it was waaay cheaper) so I was looking at a 7 hour wait in Heathrow. Luckily, the beautiful Florence-Anne offered her services as brunch companion and entertainer.

And so I saw off the UK with a stunning full-English at Muriel’s Kitchen, South Kens (its right next to the station and it is beaut!) with a lovely friend.

Making it to the flight (#2) basking in the achievement of leaving no personal items anywhere in the airport, I settled in for the duration – luckily the seat next to me was empty, saving me from the socially awkward situation of sleeping next to (and potentially accidentally on) a stranger. I managed perhaps 5 hours broken sleep, pretty ideal in the gradual process of shifting my body clock forwards eight hours. Although my general sleeping habits already gave me a good 4 hour head start…

Arriving into Tokyo, fortune was on my side and everything went well with my bags and visa (except for the incredible width of my face on my resident’s card). I lingered by the gate for the onwards flight (#3!) to Nagoya for a couple of hours drinking a long awaited vending machine Oolong tea.

My arrival time into Nagoya station ended up being around 8.30pm on the 3rd, although my arrival time at the hostel was considerably later. After wandering around with all 100000kg of my luggage I finally realised that I was on the wrong side of the station. I have no idea how this happened. Anyone who has met me knows that I have an impeccable sense of direction. Like a human sat nav. I don’t think the hostel staff have ever seen anyone quite so sweaty before…