Sunday, October 31, 2010

Month 3: Check!

Can you believe I've been in Japan for three months now? Yeah, that's what I thought, because the fact is, neither can I! Since this is the end of month three, I thought I'd continue the three theme.

It’s almost November, which means 3 things. First, the change from October brings a drastic downturn in the weather. In the past week, the weather took a complete 180. From daily highs in the mid 60’s to current highs in mid 50’s. Sure, it’s not that large of a change, but here in Japan, 10 degrees is quite the shock. I’m sure that anyone with experience living in Japan (hint: Noelle) knows of the crazy beliefs the Japanese culture has regarding heating in the winter. Yes, here in Japan, buildings don’t have central heat or insulation! So earlier this week, while sitting in an ES teachers’ room, all of the windows were open and with the breeze it was about 50 degrees or so. Personally, I love how all of the teachers complain about it being so cold, but yet, they go ahead and open all of the windows. You have to love cultural differences. I read my cousin’s blog last year about the cold and chilly days spent at home and at school, and as I’m reminded of that blog post, I can’t help but look at the next three months with immense fear of never feeling my toes again! So yes, the end of October has sent me looking for new ways to keep warm during the day (and night), and although I probably won’t be all that excited about it in a month or so, as of now, keeping warm is still an adventure I’m ready and willing to tackle.

Second, Halloween always means my birthday. Since turning 21, I’ve always wanted my birthday to fall on a weekend…Well, for the next two years, I’ve hit the jackpot. However, with the lack of foreigners or things to do, I have the feeling that birthday #23 will be a little different from the birthdays I’ve had in the past. Nevertheless, I’m going to celebrate my birthday with a treat to myself (as of now, I’m thinking a trip to Nagoya to the foreign food store and perhaps lunch at the Hard Rock Café, yum). Although this birthday will be spent 5000+ miles from my family and friends, I’m looking forward to having a Japanese style birthday, whatever that may mean.

Third, November means three great holidays. My birthday, Thanksgiving, and of course, Christmas. Oh, words cannot tell you how excited I am for Christmas with my family and friends in Hawaii. Everyday, the countdown gets smaller and smaller and my journey across the Pacific Ocean gets nearer and nearer! Let's just say I can’t wait until December 23, when I’m sitting at the train platform with my golf bag and my train ticket to the airport.

This week I stayed busy after my school hours by helping out three high school girls who were practicing for an English speech contest. They are quite fun to be around and I’ve only worked with them for three days, but I can already tell a difference in their pronunciation of certain words. Since students here aren’t fluent in English and sometimes don’t know how to pronounce words, they will write the Japanese pronunciation using the Japanese alphabet to sound out an English word. We call this “Katakana English”. Katakana is one alphabet used for foreign words, so when I write my name “Amanda Jacobs” it is in Katakana “アマンダ ジェイコブズ”.So I’ve been working with them to say words a little more “American” and less “Katakana-y”. Also, if you don’t know much about the Japanese alphabet or pronunciation of words and letters, the Japanese do not have an equivalent to the letter “R”, they use the sound of “L” for anything that has an “L or R” in it. So “red” is now “led”. This is something I find quite interesting because I have to really accentuate the movements my mouth makes when I pronounce words.

Three students and their English teacher

There is not one day that goes by that I don't see some unusual pencil case. Yes, this is a ketchup pencil case!

This weekend I went to an International Exchange event where foreigners met kids and grandparents. It was quite the event, they had over 50 foreigners, only 2 Americans, 1 Canadian, 1 Filipino, a few Thai students, 1 Brazilian man, and the rest where Chinese college students. It was fun to meet the kids, especially this one boy, who had to have been in 2nd grade, every time he saw me he yelled “American! That’s the American!” (Obviously in Japanese though). As a parting and thank you gift they gave us a gift of “taiho manju”. The best way to explain it, is that it is black sticky rice, sweetened, with a flour/bread-like covering around it. Something new, that’s for sure, and it was tasty.

From the top

From the middle

Monday, October 25, 2010

Golfing in Japan

Now, I understand that golf is a boring sport to watch and to read about for some people, but this blog is essential in understanding the cultural differences between the US and Japan. Or, I just want to tell you all about my wonderful golf experience.

I went to a neighboring town of Yaotsu, which was about 15 minutes away, just over a hill. However, the golf course was another 15 minutes nestled in the hills. We played Murasakino Country Club. Here is one quick fact: Country Club does not mean private, actually, I don’t think they have private golf courses here, at least not in my area. There were 8 of us, so we split into 2 groups. I played with a vice principal of a JHS, a teacher of a JHS, and the “best golfer in the Minokamo area”. The other group had: a principal of a JHS, a teacher at a JHS, a teacher at an ES (a lady too!), and another man, who I never got to meet.

Since this was “Amanda’s Golf Competition”, it was essential that I was in the first group. And how did I know it was a tournament? On the first tee, we drew straws and I won the honor…I’m not sure if that was a good thing because for those of you who are unfamiliar with the phrase “you have the honor”, it means that you are the first one to tee off in your group. So there I was, at a foreign golf course, with 7 Japanese people watching me, about to play my first round of golf in 3 months! (don’t worry, I hit it right in the middle!)

The actual round of golf is still somewhat strange to me, even as I reflect on it. We played 6 holes, and then took a quick 5 minute break to get drinks at a snack house (hot chocolate for me, it was cold outside!) Then, we played the final 3 holes and at the turn, you take an hour break to eat lunch. You go into the clubhouse and sit in the formal dining area and are served by waiters and waitresses in really nice outfits. I was quite lucky in the food department as one of the options was beef curry, yummy. To be honest, I was a little worried about eating lunch because at US courses, I’m used to sandwiches…not curry, sushi, and noodles, so I brought some snacks just in case. About an hour after we finished the 9th hole, we were back on the course. This time, we played 5 holes and stopped for about 15-20 minutes at another snack house for another drink (this time, hot coffee, it was still cold). 4 holes later we were in the clubhouse yet again. This time, we went to take an onsen or hot bath. Now, I’m definitely not going to complain, I’m going to miss the onsens when I go back America.

I was finally back in my town at 4pm…I left at 6am. So for those of you who are counting, that's 10 hours (or 9 hours excluding driving). The round itself took about 6 hours, I’m guessing (that’s without lunch). So yes, golf in Japan is a full day event. And oddly enough, I thought college golf was slow, this golf was even slower. Hopefully, anybody that has either played or watched college golf can appreciate that.

Here are a few things I learned:

- The golf cars (not carts) drive THEMSELVES! Yes, you just push a button and it goes! Crazy huh. I even took a video to prove it (but somehow can't get it to upload).

- People dress up before and after the round, think suit jackets and nice slacks, even women.

- There are more women than men in the golf industry here, mainly because all of the caddies were women and the “bag boys” are really “bag ladies” in Japan.

- The greens were SO slow. The slowest I’ve ever played in my life, no joke.

- They have 2 greens on each hole, a left one and a right one…I don’t know why.

There you have it. My first round of golf in a long time and I can’t wait to play again.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

9,868 feet and climbing

Ok, so I've been slacking on updating this, but I will admit that I finally experienced a "Japanese cold" (I don't think its much different, if anything, it was shorter!)

Last Saturday (the 16th), I joined a group of ALTs and some Japanese friends and watched Kabuki in Nagoya. For those of you who don't know much about Kabuki (that was me before Saturday, don't worry), it is essentially a long play consisting of dancing, acting, and speechless story telling. Before the actual play we went to a lecture that gave us some important details about the history of Kabuki and what to expect. That, combined with my recently Wikipedia-ed knowledge, I was all set to enjoy Kabuki. The actual Kabuki “session” was broken into 4 parts, the first and third were dancing, and the second and fourth were an actual play. In-between the 4 parts were relatively long intermissions, enabling us patrons to eat dinner or a snack. That being said, Kabuki lasted from 4:15-9pm. I only lasted through the first two parts before deciding to return home. It was definitely something that I enjoyed watching and I’m glad I went, but I think it will be a one time occurrence, unless friends or family members visit me, that would be the only exception.

Outside of the Kabuki Theatre and seeing people walk down the major roads on a Sunday...normal?

Having returned to my lonely apartment at 8pm on a Saturday night, what else was there to do except get some rest. Yes, such an eventful night, but I had my reasons, I was going hiking at 4am the next day!

Sunday morning came much too early, I actually missed my first alarm at 3:50am and ended up getting about 15 minutes of extra sleep than I had planned. So, being a little late, and combined with the early morning haziness, I rushed through my routine and was ready in no time. Once the Watanabe’s picked up me, we were on our way to Mt. Kisokoma. It was about 90 minutes Northeast of our town in the Central Japanese Alps. At 6am, I’d never seen so many tourists up and ready to hike a mountain. To get to the mountain, we had to park at a bus stop, take a 30 minute bus ride up a windy mountain road, and from there, board a 60 person cable car for 7.5 minutes, and voila, we were at the base of our hike at about 2,512 meters (about 8241 feet). After a quick stop for breakfast, we started up the mountain.

Starting Out at the Bus Station

The View From Breakfast

The First Leg of the Journey

Typical: A Shrine at the Top of a Mountain

My Hiking Buddies (From left: Mrs. Watanabe, her friend, her daughter Ayumi, and her granddaughter)

Looking Down From the Top

Nice Autumn View From the Cable Car

The hike was broken up into 3 different sections, the first was the longest, but time wise, not length wise. It was a quite the tiring climb, but once we made it to that checkpoint, it was relatively easier sailing from there. When we got there, we took a nice break in a little hut, just like the ski lodges at the top of a lift. After a 1 hour break, we hit the mountain again and made it 2 more stops to the top of the mountain. At 9,868 feet, I felt like I was on the top of the world. The view was amazing, we could see in all directions, I even got a nice glance at Mt. Fuji. We stopped for lunch at the top of the mountain which was a well deserved break. I had some udon, oatmeal, and Starbucks coffee. What a treat. At the top of the mountain, we guessed the temperature to be at 32F, as the ice was not melting. It was cold to say the least, and this being my first time hiking, I didn't have all the adequate clothing I needed. Nevertheless, I was decently enough prepared thanks to a lesson my dad taught me long ago, better to me more prepared than under-prepared. So dad, thanks for that advice, it definitely paid off (but next time, I'll wear 7-8 layers instead of 5). Once our backpacks were a little lighter, we trekked back down the mountain, to the cable car, and then the bus. After we got to our car, we took a trip to a nearby Onsen or hot spring. Oh man, that was a great way to end the trip and relax our tired muscles.

There you have it. One awesome weekend spent trying new things.

Now, let me intrigue you with my Monday.

Cow Tongue

Yep, that’s right. I ate cow tongue and I still can't believe I did it. On Monday night, two teachers from a JHS took me out to dinner at a Nabe restaurant. Nabe is where you have a gas burner at your table and you cook different kinds of food either over the burner or in a big pot. The first item: cow tongue. I can honestly say I never thought I would try it, but here I am writing about it. The taste wasn't so bad, I didn't like the texture of it, but hey, it was a cow’s tongue…. I even took a picture of it to prove that I ate it. After that were some chicken wings and then the real nabe started. Nabe is a big pot put over the burner. In the pot is a sauce/liquid of cow stomach (or intestine...or so I'm told) and you boil different kinds of food in it. So we had chicken, veggies, tofu, and there was one more thing, I think it was chicken heart (I passed). It was quite good and I’m glad that I got to try a different kind of food.

The Nabe Pot

Yum, Chicken Wings

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Day in the Life: Day 2

Day 2, School A

Now I’m back at JHS! The morning routine is still the same, wake up, fold up the bed, eat breakfast, get ready, etc, etc. However, today was a little different because it was trash day, which truly is a blog post by itself. I think I’m supposed to sort my garbage into 17-21 different categories. The best part of the garbage collection is that you write you name and area (think neighborhood, so Sellwood, Pearl, Alameda) on the bag. Apparently, if you don't sort your trash correctly, it will come back to you. I have a tremendous fear of my trashing suddenly appearing on my doorstep one day after work, but I think that since I’m a foreigner, they take it easy on me.

Today, I was at school A, the smallest JHS with 46 students, and about 12 minutes away by car. I only visit this school once a month, and then every other month I visit twice. The luxury of a small JHS is the small class sizes, which is a nice break from constantly shouting during ES classes! Work started at 8:30am and my first class was at 8:35am with the 3rd graders (or 9thst period, I had 2nd period free, which was spent going over the other 2 classes later in the day. You’ll find out in a few days that at the other JHS I don't get to see a lesson plan, I merely show up and do whatever they ask (usually on the spot). 3rdst graders (or 7th graders), and we practiced have a conversation about asking for directions. The lesson was extra special because 4 Board of Education members and the principal and vice principal came towards the end and evaluated the class for about 10 minutes. They were evaluating all of the teachers at the school today, so it wasn’t like we were in trouble. In the Japanese school system, every 3 years teachers get transferred to a different school, I still haven’t found out why, but I just know they do. The JTE at school A is on her 3rd graders). I must say that I enjoy this JHS the most because the Japanese Teacher of English works very hard to incorporate me into the lesson plans. In JHS if you remember, I’m very much an Assistant English Teacher. So after 1 period was spend with the 1 year, meaning that in March when the school year ends, she will be transferred. Where she goes is partially based on what they saw in class today.

After 3rd period, I had 4th period free before lunch. I first must apologize, but I didn’t get a picture of lunch today, but it consisted of: milk, a Satsuma orange, white miso soup, pork something (I passed), a mixture of veggies, and a bowl of rice. I wouldn’t say that today’s lunch was my favorite. Once lunch was complete it was recess and then cleaning time. In my general observation, I would say this JHS is much more relaxed than the other JHS, mainly because there are so few students. It’s definitely a nice break from Elementary School.

Now that I’m writing about my day, it really was a special/exceptional day because for 5th period (since I didn’t have a class), I got to help the 3rd graders make green tea udon noodles with 6 high school girls from a close high school. It was some sort of an exchange because earlier in the year, the 3rd graders made green tea from scratch and gave it to them. Then today was their gift in return and I just happened to be present! It was a fun process to watch and it was extremely easy to do. The end result was tasty udon, although it really didn’t taste like green tea, even though it looked like it.

The beginning

Mixing the ingredients with....chopsticks!

Kneading the dough

Look how "green" it looks, yum!

Pasta maker/cutter device

Udon noodles ready for the boiling water

Cooking the noodles (in white is the HS girl, in purple is JHS)

Rinsing and cooling the noodles

Almost ready to eat!

After the udon adventure, I had one more class during 6th period with the 2nd graders (or 8th graders). In this class we worked on having a telephone conversation, and it just happened to work out that I needed to play 2 roles, Mrs. Jacobs and Amanda. Let’s just say that I tried to explain the humor in it, since whenever someone calls the home phone and I answer the first thing I usually get is “Amanda, you sound so much like your mother!” I would say it was mildly accepted. When 6th period was over, I had about 45 minutes to do whatever before my full workday was over.

Once the school/workday is over, I’m free to do whatever I want. Usually, I brave the 20-minute drive into Kani City to the gym I belong to. I can’t lie, it is a hassle to get there mainly because it is really close, but with traffic and poorly timed lights, it makes the drive feel long. So after work is usually dedicated to the gym, maybe a quick trip to the grocery store, dinner, usually a TV show that I missed on the Internet, and a book.

There you have it, day 2. Look out for day 3: coming to Amanda's blog soon!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Love 4 Day Weeks!

Hello Wednesday!

Well, I’m halfway through the week, and it’s flying by like usual. I completed my second full rotation through my 6 schools. Now, I go back to JHS an the timing is perfect! Don’t get me wrong, I love the little kids, but since I spent the last 3 days (and 3 days in a row is rare in ES) at the toughest ES, it was time for a break. I apologize for my rant, but I’ve learned how much of an impact the homeroom teacher (HRT) can have on a class. I taught 2 lessons to 4 classes (2 in 5th grade, 2 in 6th grade) and I’m quite amazed by the behaving and participation in the different classes, and I believe this reflects on the energy and the support of the HRT. Let’s just say, I’m not a big fan of the HRT that takes a seat with the students while I’m “teaching” them about colors and clothes. It’s a bummer, but there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it except talk to the HRT. Well, there you have it, my rant for the day/week. Lesson learned: the involvement and energy level of the HRT is essential for the success of English class, one ALT’s “genki-ness” or energy cannot support an entire class, trust me, I gave it my all.

Side note: I don’t remember ES well, but it seems like half of the school is sick! And no matter what school I’m at, this is the same case. Here, everyone who is sick wears a mask over their face, it is kind of creepy. What has this taught me? Well, I wash my hands like someone with OCD, I’m constantly washing my hands before and after class, lunch, recess, and cleaning period. I don’t want to get sick, so I’ve made it this far, I’m hoping it lasts until Christmas time. The odd part about the mass sickness is that the weather is still beautiful! Highs everyday are still in the high 70’s and lows are in the mid 60’s, not quite terrible weather for middle of October!

I couldn't help but take a picture of school lunch from Tuesday. We have (starting from the bowl): some soup with veggies that you put the Udon noodles in, milk, green tea, a slice of apple, assorted veggies seasoned with little bits of some kind of leaf that everyone eats here (it was quite strong), and finally, on the stick is "gohemochi" or ごへもち . The reason I took this picture was because at the first festival in Mitake, I had gohemochi and absolutely loved it (you'll remember I wrote about it), and in my self-introduction, I said that I liked gohemochi. Well, maybe the school lunch gods were listening and I finally got my gohemochi. Think tightly packed rice on a stick dipped and grilled in a sweet sauce.

Here are some assorted photos from the past week:

Halloween Package from Mom! THANK YOU!!!!!!

The Japanese-take on Halloween Candy

The view from my apartment

Weekend Adventures

This past weekend was a lovely 3-day weekend thanks to the national holiday yesterday (it was Health and Sports Day). I spent the weekend doing a whole lot of nothing (not like my last 3 day weekend adventure to Kyoto).

On Saturday, the Watanabe’s daughter, Ayumi took me to her friend’s house, who happened to be an ALT in my town about 8-9 years ago. So this guy, actually lived in the same apartment and taught in the same schools, taught about a coincidence. I’m guessing he was 4 ALTs before me. He was very insightful and he asked me all sorts of “how are you adjusting” type questions. I met his wife (Ayumi’s friend) and their 5 year-old daughter. After we left their apartment, it was lunchtime, so Ayumi suggested Mos Burger. I had never been to one, but I knew it was fast food. She told me that Mos Burger is a healthy, organic fast food place, but after eating there, I highly doubt that. I ended up having a teriyaki chicken burger, but it didn’t seem any “healthier” than a burger at McDonalds. Once I got back to Mitake, I had a trek ahead of me. The previous night, I rode my bike to the train station (about 4/10th of a mile from my apartment) but I ended up getting a ride home later that night. Well, I needed my bike to make errands a little easier (trying to save the planet here). So, in a constant downpour, I believe it was another typhoon, I walked to the train station and to my dismay, the bike lock decided it had enough and called it a good life. There I was, in the pouring rain, my shoes are soaked, my rain pants are soaked, and my umbrella is crumbling under the weight of the rain. I ended up leaving my bike at the station and walking home (an subsequently, took my car to the grocery store instead).

Pictures from the Sakae Area of Nagoya

Sunday was the best day of the weekend! I planned my brief trip to Nagoya earlier in the week and it was a success. I went to the Apple Store and completed my genius bar appointment in ALL Japanese…go me! I had lunch at Subway, and let me tell you, that turkey sandwich was amazing! It is very hard, if not impossible to find turkey in grocery stores. Next was the foreign food store! Oh the comfort that food from home brings! I bought tortillas (I can’t wait to make fajitas this week!), oatmeal, muesli, and whole wheat pasta! My last stop was at the bookstore, I bought “The Next 100 Years” and so far, it’s very interesting.

Yummy Rose and Vanilla flavored soft-serve (apparently, we have a World famous rose garden in my town or just outside of it)

Monday was Mitake’s Festival, but I’m still not sure what it celebrated. I had lunch at the Watanabe’s house with 4 of their grandkids. We had: rice and bonito sashimi, rice with tuna, cucumber, carrots, tofu, eggs, and mushrooms (my favorite), chicken nuggets, soup, and salad. Basically, all of the works! I think they are trying to expose me to all the varieties of Japanese cooking, and so far, I’ve enjoyed it all. After lunch, we walked to the downtown area of Mitake and watched the parade of nicely dressed men in suits playing the taiko or flute. I think there were 9 towns represented. I do know that this festival has something to do with the Shinto religion, as the men are carrying portable shrines.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Day in the Life

I figure that you all are interested in my daily teaching life, so I thought I'd chronicle a day at each school. As of today, Friday October 8th, it will take me 14 school days to make a full rotation through each school. Just to give you a taste of the crazy 6-school rotation, I'll share my October school visit schedule with you. Each letter refers to a school (A, B, C are JHS, and D, E, F are Elementary Schools). All schools are basically in pairs, so A-D, B-E, C-F. So starting Oct. 1st: E,..., E, F, D, E, F,...X, F, F, A, B,...B, B, B, C, C,...C, D, E, E, F. So yes, lots of changing. I put extended periods for weekends and an X for the National Holiday. As you can tell, I move around a lot, meaning I'm usually bringing everything I need to and from work with me. The upside is that I can say that I'm so cool that I get 7 desks.

Ok, so a day in the life: Friday, October 8th. School F

Every morning I wake up around 6:45am. The first thing I do is put my futon (my bed) away. I sleep on a mattress-like pad and below that is a foam pad. So in total, I sleep about 3-5 inches above my lovely tatami mat floor. After storing my bed, you must or it will start to mold, I go through my beautification routine. It's funny because in college, I spent much more time on appearance. Now, it takes me about 15 minutes total to get ready. I'm sure once winter hits, it will take me longer to get ready, as I will need to dress in more layers (I’m not looking forward to the cold weather). Next is breakfast, usually consisting of imported granola, a banana, and an English muffin. Yes, very "American" I know, but that's fine by me. Then, I have about 30 minutes to catch up on the news that I missed and chat with friends and family, since it is usually 3-4 pm in Portland. Today, I left at 8:05am, as I had a 10-minute drive to school, and my day officially starts at 8:20am.

I had an extremely easy day today. I didn't have a first period class, so I cut up some stickers, talked with the other staff members in the office, and even tried my hand at a Japanese "can you spot the 5 things that have changed?" game. I only saw one thing. Then the principal tried and about 10 minutes later, he spotted them all. Impressive.

For second period, I gave a self-introduction to 3rd graders. I was surprised at the English level of this class. There was a boy who asked me questions in English, mainly questions involving “like or dislike”. The reason I’m so impressed is that this boy is taking private English lessons once a week and he is up to things he will learn in 5th and 6th grade. After that class, there was a 45-minute break, so I went outside and played Onigokori, aka tag, with the 3rd graders. I had a free period for 3rd period, so I went over some 5th and 6th grade lessons that I will have on Tuesday. Next, I had 4th period with a 4th grade class, yet again, another self-introduction lesson. After 4th period was lunch! There was yakisoba, squid, a salad consisting of: kiribashidaikon, carrots, bean sprouts, and cucumber, a hot dog bun (“bread”), a blueberry jelly for dessert, and milk. It was a tough day to not eat pork, as the yakisoba was full of it. I also opted to pass on the squid; I figure that if I’m not going to eat it, then someone will. I ended up having a cliff bar halfway through the afternoon to subside my hunger pains from only having milk, a hotdog bun, a salad, and a blueberry jelly.

After lunch is recess! At recess I made my usual rounds, played some soccer with 4th graders, tag with 1st-3rd graders, and then kickball with 3rd-4th graders. After recess is cleaning time. For 15 minutes students (in groups of 5) are assigned to a certain portion of the school to clean. I helped sweep a 4th grade classroom. Once cleaning time was over, I had a 10-minute break and was “summoned” by some 4th graders. They literally come to the teachers’ room and escort you to the classroom. So, once self-introduction #46 was complete, I headed back to the teachers’ room to finish the day. I didn't have a 6th period (remember, I told you I had an easy day). So, sadly I just sat in the teachers’ room researching my day trip to Nagoya (apple store, foreign food store, and some shopping). I ended up typing about half of this post on my phone during my free time. Consequently, I could hear the other office staff talking about me literally behind my back about using my phone. If the school computers weren’t so slow I would’ve just typed it on the school computer, and no one would’ve known, but typing on my phone, oh man, that got a response (person 1: “what is she doing” person 2: “ah, she is using her cell phone”, person 1 looks at the board to see I have no more plans for the day, person 1 says, “Amanda, you are done for the day, but you need to have a meeting with the other teachers”). Oh well, I was being productive with my time, since I was lucky enough to have a predecessor who planned everything in great detail, my job has been pretty simple so far. Basically, having 3 free periods in a day is a little much; I like 2 free periods, or even 1.

So, finally after my meetings with the teachers, I left at 5:15, or about 70 minutes later than I’m supposed to (the good news is that I get to leave that early on another day!).

There you have it. Day 1 of “A Day in the Life of Amanda”.

Ah, the comforts of home!

Random Questions from my self-introductions: What color is the water in America? What time is it in America? Why isn’t the Statue of Liberty holding ice cream?

Flowers, School Lunches, and Recess Games

So yet another week has flown by. Here are some highlights! I’m currently on my elementary school portion of my 6-school rotation. Earlier this week I was at the largest ES and I taught 3 classes of 5th graders about “I like” and “I don’t like”. During a break between classes (I taught 1st, 2nd, and 4th periods), I was craving a refill of green tea, so I walked out of the teachers’ room to the rest/relaxation room, most similar to a lounge. I ran into a boy and his teacher making torayaki (とらやき)or Japanese pancakes (think 2 pancakes stuffed with custard in the middle). This boy was probably 4th grade but he was actually in the 7th grade program, or the special needs program. They were kind enough to offer me a piece of the torayaki and it was quite yummy. I ended up staying and talking with the boy and his teacher for about 20 minutes. I tried to teach him to say “yummy” but he wasn't having it. I offered to make Christmas cookies with him in December. I’m already looking forward to it! I would love some recommendations about what we should make, the period is only 45 minutes, and so it has to be relatively quick.

Here is my lunch from Tuesday. It was interesting. Rice, umeboshi (dried plum….very sour), soup, deep fried tofu covered in pork sauce, random veggies, and a Satsuma. Although I wasn't too enthused with the lunch choice, recess definitely made it a thing of the past. I made some new friends and played a very worldwide game with them, tag. The kids all have 2-sided hats, red and white, which they are required to wear when they are outside. There were 3 oni’s or demons, in red hats and everyone was running from them, if you got tagged by them, you had to return to “jail” or some corner that your teammates could rescue you from. (I know I played this game in ES). Thankfully, the bell rang just in time or else I think my whole team would’ve been in jail.

Random Fact of the Day: I noticed that in all 6 schools, the teachers’ room at each school is located in the SW portion of every school/main building. Odd?...I think so. I’ll have to do some research.

Just for kicks, here is another school lunch. Green tea, veggies, a fish (definitely passed on him), deep fried beans, milk, rice, a beef stew that you pour on the rice, and a slice of pineapple. Yum!