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!

It’s Crunch Time

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I seriously almost forgot I still have this blog.  And here I am wanting to make a YouTube channel, too.  I don’t even know what’s wrong with me.

Oh yeah, I do.

I’M GOING TO JAPAN SOON.

communitypanic

itcrowdfire

Those were the most accurate representations of how I feel right now.

I think many other people are feeling this way, but everyone’s sort of keeping it to themselves while I’m over here like “I’m panicking, are you panicking? You’re not panicking? WHY AREN’T YOU PANICKING?” when they really are.

Okay, okay.  I’m not full-on PANICKING or anything.  But I am having emotions and feels and things I don’t want to deal with, and yet I have to deal with them.  Strangely, I’m not that worried about what will happen once I get there.  I’m more feeling like I’m not sure if I want this part of my life to be over yet.  As someone once said, all change involves pain.  Big changes sometimes involve big pain.

I just keep trying to remind myself that I am planning to come home for winter break, and I may decide not to stay another year.  I feel this approach works.  This is how I’ve been living my life since I graduated high school, and it’s worked out so far for me.

So, updates on JET stuff.

– I bought a crap ton of omiyage on Monday for my principals, vice-principals, and teachers.  Almost everything is edible.  If that’s one thing JET teaches you, it’s BUY EDIBLE OMIYAGE.  I also went to a local state park where there’s a gift shop and found some cool stuff I can give as gifts or show my students.

When I told the lady who runs the gift shop my purpose for buying things, she proceeded to load me down with some pamphlets, booklets, and coloring books about southern Kentucky.

See, children, southern Kentucky is different than northern Kentucky.  When I said this, the lady looked at me and said, “I know, right?”  Good to know someone is on the same wavelength.

– Bought everything else I needed i.e. toiletries to keep me good for a couple of months.  I’m one of these people that has weird toiletry needs like enamel toothpaste and special shampoo because I have a form of dermatitis on my scalp that affects mostly older men and babies.

JETlings, don’t be afraid to bring your own stuff for awhile.  Especially if you really need it.  I’m hoping while I’m using up what I have, I can find suitable alternatives for most things.

And if not, I’ll be living an hour away from Costco.

– Forgot indoor shoes.  I’m just going to buy a new pair of black flats.  I wear black flats for everything.  Got to go Thursday and get these.

– My parents will be using my old laptop with a working webcam on it, so I replaced the casing on it.  That was FUN.  I’m not even being sarcastic.  I didn’t realize that some things actually plugged into the case itself, so it was kind of fun taking it all apart and very carefully replacing everything and the screws.

The broken case is gone, but the software remains a mess.  Something to do tomorrow.

– State background check came in.  So I am cleared for landing…in Japan.

– My friend/JET sempai/new neighbor Geneva told me today that my new apartment is being cleaned out today.  THEY ARE PREPARING FOR MY ARRIVAL.

– I decided to buy some stuff from my predecessor.  I’m buying her bike (which is red and super cute and I’m really excited about it), kitchen stuff that includes rice cooker and oven, a 27-inch monitor (makeshift TV), and electric heater for $270.  I was going to buy her desk, too, but the girl moving into her apartment asked for it first.  That’s okay, I can live without a desk for awhile.

Now I just have to pay her…somehow…Paypal?  Haha, I don’t have money.

money

A few more days.  I really cannot think about it.  Denial is my friend.

But it’s nice knowing there’s a huge group of people all over the world that are having these same emotions.  And all the current JETs are like “Babies, ya’ll need to calm down.”

Future JETlings, please know that it’s okay to feel this way.  It’s okay to be super excited and ready for this new adventure.  It’s okay to be freaking out and hyperventilating and pulling the covers of your bed over your head to block out the world.  Eventually, though, we have to get on that plane and go to the new places in our lives.  And it’s going to be okay.  After all, we’re going on an adventure…

adventure

Just Dropping In…

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A quick post/rant about a recurring theme in my life right now.

People saying, “I bet when you go to Japan, you’ll find a Japanese guy and get married” or some variation thereof.

CAN’T I JUST GO TO JAPAN AND HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF LIVING AND WORKING THERE WITHOUT THE CULTURAL EXPECTATION TO GET MARRIED AND POP OUT KIDS?

This has been a PSA.

Something I Never Worried About Before

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My name.

Those of you who happen to read this are probably in Japan or know Japanese or going on JET or some combo of these.  You know how Japanese is pronounced, right?

I’ve known all along how my name is pronounced.

Laura Huff is pronounced
ローラ ハーフ or rohra hahfu.

Here’s the problem, though.  It’s something I just started to encounter during my last trip to Japan.

Currently, there’s a model/talento named Rola.  Here’s a picture of her:

rolaShe frequently appears on variety shows and displays a child-like demeanor.  She’s often imitated because she’s kind of ridiculous on TV.  Last time I was in Japan, someone said she was “ditzy.”

Rola is also half-Japanese, and we know how half-Japanese people are sometimes looked at as a marvel in the entertainment world.

So here’s my problem.  If you haven’t noticed already.  Her name is also pronounced ローラ.  But here’s the worse part.  My last name is pronounced ハーフ, which is the same term for someone who is half-Japanese.  Rola is half-Japanese.

Do you see where I’m going with this yet?

MY NAME IS FODDER FOR SO MANY JAPANESE JOKES.

Now, it may not happen that much.  It may even just be marked upon without it becoming a big deal.  And if so, I’ll just laugh, agree with the weird coincidence and move on.

But.

BUT.

I’ve never had to worry about this before.

Anyone else worried about people mispronouncing or maybe making a joke of their name?