First, thanks to all of you who read my blog! While it's the least-trafficked of my three blogs, it is my most personal, despite the lack of posts.
Let's start with my mornings. I sleep on a futon, which isn't too uncomfortable, actually. It's a good bit firmer than I'm used to, but that isn't a problem. However, I think my pillow is too firm for my sleeping habits, and I'll probably go to Ikea and get a softer one. I try to get up around 9 now, though I slept in until 11 this morning (I've been quite tired). I fold up my sheets and pick up my mattress to lean it against the wall. This helps it dry out to avoid mold. I've been doing this since day one, as I had been warned that it can develop mold. (At my recent follow-up training, I heard from one of the other trainees that she had not been doing this and already started developing a mold of some sort! The fix seems to be some kind of bleach spray, followed by vacuuming. I want this spray just for a precaution.)
|An old picture, but I still fold my blankets up.|
And then I get dressed and head off to work! The train is only about a two minute walk, so I usually grab a light breakfast at the 100 yen shop. I might pick up some lunch, too. Convenience store food is quite convenient! The train ride is short. It's still amusing seeing people rush to the station (though I've done it myself on a couple occasions). Other than the background train noises, it's a quiet, isolated trip. People don't talk to each other on the train. I use the time to read my emails, the news, and everyone's blog posts. I eek out some time for a game or two on occasion. I've been playing Words With Friends; if you'd like to play with me let me know!
I usually catch the 11:41 or 12:41 train, and I'm at work by about 12-til. Yes, it's a five minute train ride. If I have a lesson at the next hour, it's busy-time for me, as I change shoes, put on my pin, nametag, and tie clip, and prep the lesson. Otherwise, I take my time and start prepping for the day.
Teaching English is easy for me. I use it all the time, and teaching comes fairly naturally, of course. Unlike teaching high school in America, 99% of my students are motivated, do their homework, and practice hard in class. Each student and each class has its own dynamics, especially with my childrens' classes. At times, it can be frustrating, but it's certainly more rewarding as I can see all my students' progress each week. The smaller class sizes (maximum 8, though I've never had a class over 7) make it easy to work one-on-one with the students.
I've got my work routine down to a science, too. I can prep a day's worth of lessons (about 7, though it could be much fewer depending on the day) in 30 minutes or less. The rest of my planning time is spent doing attendance or other paperwork, prepping kids materials, or helping out around the office. This usually involves folding fliers to prepare for distribution. Sure, it's simple work, but I'm not sick of it yet. It's kind of nice to have something easy to do to relax my mind between classes - it especially helps me unwind after teaching some difficult kids lessons before heading on to the adult levels.
I love all my students, and as the academic year is drawing to a close, several of my kids won't be returning next year - it's kind of sad. I wish they were staying! But next year, I'll have a new batch of kids students. I could see myself doing this for several years, if it wasn't for the money. My paycheck is enough to enjoy myself on the weekends, but certainly not enough to make a career with.
I usually eat out for lunch. I will usually eat gyudon or some other form of fast food or bento box. I sometimes worry that I'm not making healthy food choices, but then I remind myself that I've lost a good bit of weight, and I'm eating what many healthy, fit Japanese people eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I head home around 9pm most days (7 on Saturdays), though I tend to stay a little late at night to help clean, or to answer questions from my students, put away my materials, and sometimes do a little prep for the next day. While I have been cooking more, recently, I still tend to pick something up on the way home from the convenience store. I'll tell you more about my cooking experiences soon. I spend my evenings catching up on internet stuff and generally relaxing.
My weekends are similar to my weekdays in that I'm usually up around 9am, though I try to get out the door by 10. I came to Japan to explore, and I try to spend one day each weekend visiting sites or exploring a neighborhood in the Tokyo area. I have yet to have a bad weekend day out! My other day off is spent doing laundry. If I don't do laundry on the weekend, I have to do it on Tuesday morning. I also vacuum and change the bed sheets frequently. I have a tiny apartment, and despite taking my shoes off at the door, I still manage to accumulate a good bit of a mess over the course of the week. I like to get out even on the other day off, so I'll just hop on the train to the mall at Shin-Misato or head to another nearby town for some minor exploring and window shopping. I think it's pretty important for me to spend one day a week without any major plans, though, when I can.
While there is a serious language barrier, and it can be frustrating at times, I'm always able to work things out. And while I'd like to hang out more with people around here, I've always been a fairly independent person. On the other hand, I have been able to spend some time with friends. It's great to see Ellie, Eiji, and Tora about once a month, and I've hung out with my training mates too. One of them is in a band and I saw her perform last weekend. I met a bunch of expats there, and one Japanese woman who lives near me (one train station away, actually)!
I'm very happy here! I'm looking forward to Golden Week (April 29-May 7). I'm headed off for a (relatively cheap) road (train and bus) trip down to Hiroshima and Kyushu. It'll be my first overnighter outside Tokyo, and one of the highest-priority trips in Japan. I'll hit two amusement parks, see two baseball games at different parks, and visit four cities. Thanks to cheap lodging and a bus pass, the trip isn't terribly costly. I'm expecting things to be pretty crowded, though. I'm also planning two other exciting trips this month: Fuji-Q (the "most important" amusement park in Japan for a coaster lover) and my first Japanese baseball game. In fact, April will be quite the busy month for me as I prepare for the trip, work one Sunday overtime, and attend another training session towards the end of the month.
So that's a look at my life these days and how I'm feeling. I'm surprised I've settled in so well, but I think I knew what to expect and was well-prepared for the experience. Granted, not everything is sunshine and roses, but usually I just feel crappy after teaching a horrible lesson. I'd like to cook more, as I feel like I'm eating only a few different meals over the course of a week, but I think I'm better at getting fruits - at least through juices, plus bananas a few times a week. Anyway - thoughts? Comments? Questions? Concerns?