Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Snowflakes, sugar-cubes and signing The Paper.

So it's been something of a while since I last blogged! It seems like so much has happened since! Perhaps most interestingly is my burgeoning friendship with a fellow ALT called Christian. In a somewhat paradigm-breaking move, we've crossed the prefectural boundary (between Ehime and Kochi) and become really good friends! In a way, it's strange that it's taken me six months to cross the border and tap into the goldmine of JETs who've been living in neighbouring Kochi all along... I'm only a 20-minute bus-ride away from Sukumo, the nearest big city in Kochi, whereas Matsuyama, Ehime's own capital, still remains a three-and-a-half hour voyage away! Still, better late than never, right?!

Last week was also the week I signed my re-contracting papers! The uncertainty which I faced back in November has, I'm glad to say, well and truly disappeared. In fact, I'd say I was pretty much positive about my decision as early as the beginning of December. I just can't see any reason why I'd want to go home yet. Japan has completely captured my heart. I love the people, the places, the food... and all the crazy/amazing experiences it seems I'm having on a daily basis. The people here are just the most kind-hearted people I've ever met. And I won't lie, the novelty of being a local celebrity still hasn't worn off. My life here is, if anything, even more carefree than when I was a student. I've got nobody to support, no exams to study for, I'm earning a decent salary, I can spend every weekend dressing up as hot dogs and partying with a different group of friends... I'd be crazy to head back to the Real World after just six months! For now, I'm avoiding being a real adult for as long as possible, just living in my own ridiculous little bubble, and that's the way I like it.

I've also found that my relationship with my students seems to have gone skyward within the past few weeks. And when you're a teacher, a good relationship with your kids is a currency worth every penny. And that's the thing: I feel like they're my kids now. I get so smug when I hear that JETs in other locations rotate schools each year and have to start from scratch with a whole new bunch of students. I'd hate that. I've spent the past six months getting to know my kids better, so the thought that we've still got at least eighteen more months together is great! I'd set up a post-box last year in which the kids could write me letters, both as a way to practice their English and for us to get to know each other better, and it'd essentially been collecting dust for most of 2011. Well, I reminded one of my ichinensai classes of its existence last week and just an hour later, I found four letters in it! I wrote each kid back an individual letter (on some adorable Disney writing paper) and let them all pick two prizes from a lucky-dip box of \100-store wares ("Generosity" is my middle name). Of course, I made sure that when they did so, they did it in front of the rest of the class. Nothing like a bit of casual jealousy to provoke some friendly letter-writing competition. I considered it a success when my JTE turned to me afterwards with a wry smile and simply said, "I think you're going to have to buy more prizes for next week".

In scarier news, this morning I had my first (perhaps overdue!) experience with the Japanese Phantom. I am, of course, talking about the Earthquake. Being shaken awake at 3AM by a tremor so deafening and powerful that your doors rattle in their frames was more than a little unsettling, but luckily after a few seconds, everything settled and there was no recurrence. It wasn't just the first time I'd experienced an earthquake here, but the first time I'd experienced one full stop. I'd remembered a friend saying that when earthquakes trigger tsunamis, you usually won't get any sign of the tsunami until around fifteen minutes after you feel the first tremors... so obviously for the next fifteen minutes after I'd been shaken awake, I sat there, in the dark, in pure terror, wondering if I was about to meet my own watery demise. All it took was a rogue car speeding past, which I (embarrassingly) misheard as the sound of gushing waves, to convince me that, yup, it really was the end. Let's just say that it's an experience I hope doesn't repeat itself anytime soon!

Luckily, my other Japanese "first" last week was of the more enjoyable variety! As if to celebrate my decision to stay in Japan for another year (or perhaps signal to me that I shouldn't be getting too ahead of myself here!), I experienced my first big dose of the White Stuff since arriving! Sadly, it all melted before I had the opportunity to get a picture, but for Monday and Tuesday of last week, the Love Princess was transformed into a beautiful little snowglobe. It's fair to say that snow's something of a novelty here in Johen, so you can imagine how excited my kids were at it all! Of course, it wasn't just they who were driven a little crazy... it seems the cold weather froze a few of my co-workers' sanity cells too! On Tuesday, I was casually (not) working away in the staffroom, when all of a sudden, classical music begins bursting through the school's speakers. With all the speed and panic of wartime civilians reacting to an air raid siren, my work colleagues hurriedly donned blindfolds (which they just happened to have tucked away in pockets and zippers) and began... stacking sugarcubes. My favourite part came half-way through the initial frenzy. One co-worker had clearly been caught a little off-guard by the music's arrival and, with no blindfold to call her own, had to improvise. Her solution? To hitch up her flu-mask and create an impromptu blinder. Full points for creativity. And as if all that wasn't enough, proceedings were taken even further up the crazy scale when a random from the Board of Education burst in, microphone in hand, and began bouncing around the room yelling words of encouragement to the sugarcube-stacking soldiers. I still don't quite understand how any of it was real life. I just know that I don't want anyone to burst this bubble anytime soon.

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Blogger サム said...

LOL@ "Love may be blind, but it certainly isn’t deaf" hahahh so true.

and that comic is great!!
glad to hear you sound well, dating scene excluded (I feel you on that..).

January 30, 2012 at 5:40 PM  

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