Just Another Day at the Chuugakkou

Standard

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!

Advertisements

It’s Crunch Time

Standard

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

I’m Pretty But Tough, Like a Diamond…Or Beef Jerky in a Ballgown…

Standard

Updated the blog to seem more LEGIT.

Wurd.

For realsies, though, I added a sidebar with some social media links, a tag cloud, an Instagram feed thingie…

I’m turning into a BLOGGER.

Ahem, anyway.  Some updates in JET-land.  I have two weeks until Pre-Departure Oriententation, and, well, leaving.  I am trying not to freak out and to be excited and remember all of the reasons I want to go Japan, but sometimes I can’t help it.  The freak out creeps in around the edges like a shadow.  It comes to me at night before I go to sleep and makes me sad.

I think this is normal.  A lot of people go through this.  It’s a huge life change.  I think I’d be going through the same thing if I had to move to another state in America, which would have been my backup plan if I hadn’t gotten into JET.

My advice to current and future JETs is, if you start feeling this way, try to remember all of the awesome things you love about Japan.  I made a list this morning of everything I’ll be able to do and see and experience.  It was actually pretty helpful.

I talked to my pred, and she understands about not being able to afford her car.  I don’t think she’s happy about it (I guess I wouldn’t be, either), but she does understand.  It’s also harder on both of us that I’m not getting her apartment.  So if she wants to sell anything to me, she’ll have to move it to the new apartment.  She’s still up in the air about that.

I’ve bought pretty much everything I need to take with me to Japan.  Still have omiyage and a pair of indoor shoes to get, but otherwise, I’m good.

My state background check went through, so I’m cleared to go!

I actually got another email from my supervisor last night telling me I have an apartment in northern Hokuto (which I knew, thanks to Geneva) and that he was sending me a schedule for when I arrive in Hokuto.  An actual SCHEDULE.

According to the schedule, the first day, I’ll go get registered at City Hall and get my hanko (personal seal you use for paperwork, etc.), open my bank account, and get a cellphone.  Then it’s off to meet the Superintendent for the Board of Education.  Finally, I get to go to my apartment…but that’s it…so I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do for sleeping.  Hoping Geneva, who is my neighbor, friend, and official JET sempai will help me with that.  The next day, I’m supposed to visit my schools and probably meet the principals.

Geneva said she’s supposed to take me and the other new girl to some places around Yamanashi, so that’s exciting! I really want to see the sunflower field in Hokuto, walk the streets of Kiyosato, go hiking through the Beautiful Forest, and just see as much as possible.

14 days…

*breathes* I can do this…

Note to self: buy new flumpool single at Tower Records in Tokyo

JET Ready, JET Set, GO! Series: The JET Application

Standard

Couldn’t resist the title.

First of all, I changed up the look of my blog so I could include a picture of a sunflower field from Yamanashi.  I’m sure the look will change again once I get to Japan.

But I thought I would start talking about the whole JET application process and how my own experience went.  This will be the first entry in a series I’m starting call “JET Ready, JET Set, Go!” where I’ll talk about applying to JET from the application all the way to getting to your placement (which I have yet to do).

Continue reading

Yamanashi, Here I Come!

Standard

So it’s been a few days since I found out, but I got my placement this past week!

hokuto
Ladies and gentlemen, I will be a proud citizen of Hokuto-shi in Yamanashi prefecture.

Yamanashi was my second choice placement, so I’m pretty stoked to get somewhere I actually wanted to go.  Also, my friends Sara and Geneva both live there and are on JET, so we’ll get to be fellow Yamanashians.  Sara said I may even be living in the same teacher housing where she lives.  Um, AWESOME.

I’ve been doing research on Hokuto-shi, and there’s some seriously awesome things there.  Like a huge sunflower field, a gorgeous forest (which calls itself Beautiful Forest, btdubs), and lots of cool festivals.  Not to mention, it won’t be as unbearably hot as the rest of Japan during the summer due to being near mountains.  Apparently, people have summer houses in the Japanese alps.  Who knew?

I haven’t heard from my Contracting Organization or predecessor yet.  They may not have decided where I’ll be hired.  But I do know that only two people in Hokuto-shi are leaving.  So I will either be getting a decent one-person apartment near a good friend or my very own two-bedroom house.  Either way, STOKED.

So you incoming JETs, have you gotten your placements yet?  What are some cool things about that place?  Let me know in the comments!

Something I Never Worried About Before

Standard

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?