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