I can’t believe it. I can officially say that I have lived in Japan for a year. Time really does go by incredibly fast. I have so many great memories of the past 12 months, that as most of you know, I’ve decided to stay in Japan for another year teaching English. The opportunities I’ve had in Japan are truly special and I doubt I will live anywhere else where I will be treated as kindly as the Japanese people have treated me. As you all know, I’ve climbed mountains, played soccer, witnessed my first real natural disaster, got to know 1500 (mostly) amazing kids, made pottery, earned my Japanese Driver’s License, and tons of other great things that would take up an entire blog, so I’ll leave it at that. On the flipside, I’ve been ample time to really take a look at my goals and myself. I will be the first to admit that going from college to life in rural Japan is a big shock, especially on the social interaction front. The everyday social interactions that I had everyday in college dramatically changed to maybe once a week in Japan. In taking this in a positive light, I like to think of this as, “get to know yourself” time. I’m a lot less busy now that I was in college, so I’ve had time to surf the internet, read books, watch movies, really get interested in digital photography (especially editing), and of course, there were nights when American TV would keep my interest for 4 hours. The last year was a great de-stress and relaxation time from what really was a tougher job, being a student-athlete. For this year, which is most likely going to be my last year in Japan teaching English, I’ve made a few more goals that will get me back on the old Amanda track.
1. Graduate School is looming (when I mean looming, I really mean that the applications are looming), so this will be the year that I get accepted into graduate school to study for an MBA or MSF, I haven’t quite decided yet. I’m looking at Seattle University, Portland State University, Gonzaga University, and Willamette University, plus I’ll probably search for schools in California.
2. With one year left in Japan, I’ve got to get my Japanese better! So, I’ve now got a private tutor, who will help me once or twice a week. Hopefully by next July I will be able to take (and pass) N3 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.
3. See as many places in Japan as possible, especially the 5 major islands. I’ve got Honshu (the long one) checked off, 4 more to go!
4. While I’m getting better at Japanese, I will also be learning Spanish. Since I started Japanese in kindergarten, it was tough to justify switching languages in high school. So, what better time to learn than now? In addition to Spanish, French and Italian are also on my list.
5. I’m sure there are more, but why bug you with my goals for the next year.
So, what have I been up to? I went to the Nagoya Oktoberfest back in July with another ALT. It was real, German beer, and it was fantastic. On July 27th, I finally visited Portland for the first time in the year that I’ve been gone. It was great to see my family, friends, drink real beer (I tell you, Japanese beer is blah), play fantastic golf courses, go shopping (woo), and just relax. It was tough to leave, you can even ask my mom, who cried when she said goodbye to me in the security line at the airport (we did the same thing last year, when she sent me off for the first time), she even made me tear up and I’m sure the people around me in line thought I was one interesting girl. Oh well. I get to see my parents in exactly a month when they come to visit Japan! They will be my first visitors…I was supposed to have 3 visitors this past year, but due to that earthquake, no one wanted to come. Let’s just say I’m excited!
Since I’ve been back in Japan, I’ve been working at the Board of Education. It really is my least favorite part of my job. I enjoy being at school because there is always something going on or another teacher who wants to try their English out on you. At the BOE, I’m just left alone for the majority of the time. What do I do all day? Good question. I revise/edit/create lesson plans, I make games, I study Japanese, I check my email, and so forth. As you can see, it really isn’t the most productive work I could be doing, but oh well. I will have edited 72+ lesson plans by the time school rolls around on August 29th, so at least I got all of that accomplished.
So here are some photos!
Yes, I love real beer.
I bought myself an early birthday present. My inherited bike is so rusty that it only has one working gear…
Sunny day in Nagoya last weekend (August 13th) This is the TV Tower.
Lunch time! I had the one on the left. It was raw tuna pieces with grated Chinese yam on top, underneath was sushi rice (it tastes a little different from white rice, I believe it is cooked in vinegar)
The view of “downtown” Nagoya from the top of the Nagoya Castle
Happy Birthday Cooper! He is a new ALT (from Arkansas) who lives just a few miles from me!