As I sit here drinking my first green tea of the day (there will be many more to follow), I find it hard to believe I have been living in Japan a mere 3 weeks. As predicted, I love living here already and feel like I have been here forever!
This week saw my introduction into the world of being an Assistant Language Teacher at Omiya Junior High. Prior to my arrival at school on Tuesday, I had been informed that OJH is in fact the largest school in the area (400 students) and has the highest ranking too…no pressure Kara Sensei!! Anxious to make a good first impression, I was marched with 7 other new teachers onto stage in front of the 2nd and 3rd year students (1st years started Wednesday) for a self introduction. Following the lead of the others, I bowed a few hundred times (I have discovered this gesture can save you in any situation) and managed to get through my 5 line introduction in Japanese, phew!
Little did I know this wouldn’t be the most daunting part of my day…then came the teachers’ room! Yet another self introduction and the prospect of having to learn 30 Japanese teacher’s names, gulp. Thankfully my incessant smiling and clumsy attempts at speaking Japanese/playing charades seem to bode well with these wonderfully patient people. I am very fortunate to have Koguki Sensei and Takada Sensei as my nearest neighbours (perhaps planned that way?!) as they both speak enough English to get us through the day.
Lunches with the teachers are a little challenging, but entertaining too as I try and figure out what is being said in conversation! Yesterday I picked up on the school nurse and Shiba Sensei laughing about a boy who hurt his leg (apparently there was blood everywhere)…obviously I missed the joke…but was pretty proud of myself for at least figuring out the gist of the story!
The first thing I discovered about teaching this week is that a 50 minute lesson goes a whole lot faster than it did when I was the one sitting at the desk learning! I had 3 lessons with 2nd year students, teaching with Omori Sensei who is adorable! She has been so sweet and patient with me and very encouraging with my self introduction. Since there are 5 x 2nd year classes we now have the routine down to a fine art. The kids are pretty friendly and I have already learnt that there are at least 2 naughty(aka hilarious!) boys in each class who want to know if I have a boyfriend and tell me that they love me. The girls are a little more timid but quite happily tell me outside of class that they think I am kawai (cute!).
Aside from all things school related, I have decided to sit the Japanese proficiency exam at the end of the year. I of course want to learn Japanese anyway, so this gives me something to work towards. As to whether I will go for Level 5 or 4, I am not sure as yet…once I sort through the jumbled Japanese words/phrases constantly swimming in my head I will decide!
I also made an important purchase last weekend…a lovely little bicycle to help me get around Hitachiomiya! She is everything I need in a bike and gives me the freedom to explore my new home easily. Her name is Silvy (Silver Bullet) and is my new best friend!
Travel plans are also forming and with Golden Week approaching at the start of May a 5 day trip to Tokyo is in order! Around 5 or so of my fellow ALT’s and I will venture to the big smoke to take in the sites of the big city on our first break from teaching. I can’t wait…I need a new project to focus on!
JJ, Nick and I are off to Mito today…the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) are in bloom and we want to see them before they all fly away in a week!