Just Another Day at the Chuugakkou

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おひさしぶり!

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated.  Well, since before I left, actually.  I’ll give everyone the Cliffnotes version of what’s happened in the month since I came to Japan.

  • I said goodbye to my family and my friend Sue (who kindly drove me to Nashville for Pre-Departure Orientation with as few tears as possible.
  • Had a fun time at Pre-Departure talking with everyone whom I’d only talked to over Facebook and the Internet before.
  • We had a super nice dinner at the Consul-General’s house. Super nice.
  • Only the way to the hotel, we got lost in Nashville and our bus ended up stranded somewhere downtown.  Thankfully, we had resourceful people with us who called taxi vans to take us to the hotel.
  • Departure was exhausting.  For me, the flight to Japan was probably my worst yet.  I don’t know what it was, but I was just on edge the whole time.
  • But I got to Japan!
  • And CLAIR (that runs JET) made getting through the airport super easy.

Tokyo Orientation

  • I roomed with two people from Nashville (yay!)
  • Orientation was pretty good, in my opinion.  Things have changed, apparently, since CLAIR now runs orientation.  But overall, I found it helpful.  It wasn’t much different than any other staff training I’ve had.
  • The last night there, I went out with my Nashville peeps, and we had a super fun time.
  • I found an Ouroboros shooting location purely by accident and went super fangirl until we left.
  • Had to say goodbye for now to everyone. *sniffle*
  • Departed for Yamanashi with the other JETs.

I feel like JET is divided into two major phases: everything that happens before you get to your placement and everything that happens afterward.  When you get to your placement, that’s when your life in Japan really begins.

I’ll write more details later or maybe even finally make videos, but for now, let’s skip to today.

Right now, I’m at my main school, the junior high school.  And I just had the most awkward lunch with the first years.  It was 不器用(ぶきよう)to say the least.  They barely said a word to me.  I asked them if my predecessor had ever eaten lunch with them.  They said no.  So now I’m rethinking eating with the students.  At least for now.  Maybe when the new school year starts and I get a fresh batch of kids from the elementary school that will know me, then I’ll eat lunch with them.

So what happens at school?  I get to school around 8:00am and look at any papers are on my desk and translate some stuff to see if it’s relevant to me.  Then at 8:15, we have a short staff meeting.  It’s all in proper Japanese, so I can only understand a bit of it, but my vice-principal aka kyouto-sensei speaks English, so either he or my JTE (Japanese Teacher of English) tell me if anything is going on.  Like today, my JTE asked me if I could come to the welcome party in September.

After that, my schedule changes daily.  But thankfully, this school seems on top of it.  I have the schedule for the rest of the year, but since people have unexpected meetings that come up, the schedule usually changes.  That’s okay with me.  As long as I know which class I’m with on what day.

Today was my first real day of class (not counting my self-intro classes last week).  I’ll be honest.  I’m a glorified tape recorder.  I’m the Pronouncer of All That Is English.  But I don’t really mind.  It’s not my job to “teach” per se.  I’m the assistant.  We also have another assistant who is Japanese and speaks some English and is super sweet (she just got back from Kentucky, too!) because we have large classes at this school.  My job is to assist with whatever the English teacher needs me to do.  Am I really needed…? Meh, probably not.  But I’m here if someone needs me.

Plus, there are some kids in class that are REALLY good at English.  Even the noisy ones are usually the ones who try and are good at English.  There’s this one kid in the third year class who always knows the answer and tries hard and always has a better answer than what’s required.  I’m already fiercely protective of him.  I hope he goes on to learn ALL the English.

Right now, I don’t have any classes.  I’m at my desk, desk-warming and writing this blog.  I have junior high again tomorrow.  On Wednesdays, I go to the elementary school beside this school.  Then on Thursdays, I go to another elementary school.  Honestly, my Thursday school is my favorite so far because they are precious baby cinnamon rolls too good for this world and have NOT mistaken me for my predecessor.  Plus the teachers are super awesome and sweet and the principal aka kouchou-sensei always has food for us for morning break.  Because he is awesome…and I usually don’t get to eat breakfast so this is awesome.

Here in awhile, I’ll go into the nurse’s office because the nurse here is super sweet and speaks some English.  I usually go to chat and help this one little first year girl with English one-on-one.  It’s fun, and I actually feel like I’m helping someone.

It’s still early days yet.  The kids will get used to me.  Plus, they’re in junior high.  That’s the WORST age.  They all want to be cool, but they’re not.  I honestly don’t think having high school students would have been any better for me.

Anyway, until next time!