I continue to be the worst blogger ever. Honestly. I really do apologize.
Since July 20th, I’ve been on summer holidays! ^-^ The students don’t go back to classes until the beginning of September, so neither do I. What better way for me to start my vacation off than with a surgery? Literally. The first day of my break, I had a lump removed from my left shoulder blade. It had been there since spring of 2010 (at least, that’s when my friend noticed it and pointed it out to me), so it was really time for it to go. It wasn’t cancer or anything, just a really large lipoma (fatty tumor), and because it wasn’t actually detrimental to my health, my Japanese health insurance did not cover its removal, which meant it was a huge out of pocket cost for me (250,000 yen, or around $3000 CAN). Thus, I have no money until the 20th! Yay? This summer vacation has been the thriftiest ever.
So what does one do in Japan when one has no money? Go to matsuris and hanabis, of course! After resting up from the surgery and having the stitches removed, I’ve been staying around the Kansai area and going to different festivals and firework displays. The first one I saw was last weekend’s Yodogawa Fireworks Festival in Osaka, which was along a river bank close to the Kansai Airport. So, as we’re watching these fireworks go off, we’re watching these low flying planes going in and out and hoping that the pilots are careful enough not to get hit. Pretty nice view for the passengers though!
It was very impressive. :) Not like Canadian firework shows where they set them off one by one. Japanese fireworks shows, they set them of in big groups so the whole sky lights up. Pretty fantastic.
Bonus photo of the boyfriend, just because I can. <3
Tonight was the Biwako Fireworks Festival out here in little old Shiga. It might’ve been even better than Yodogawa!
So that’s my summer so far! Later this month, I’m judging a speech contest and going to a two day concert festival (tickets were bought before the surgery!). Hope you’re all having a fabulous summer wherever you may be!
I am so sorry, I am the worst blogger in the world. :( It hasn’t helped that I forgot my USB cable that connects my camera to my computer at home, so I haven’t been able to transfer any photos off of it. But here I am, writing a post and trying to get back on the bandwagon.
I work at two junior high schools in a rural part of Shiga, which is right next to Kyoto. Shiga on the whole is pretty rural, so it’s a pretty peaceful and charming part of the country. Lots of big farms, local shops, and nice people. I don’t think I can say enough about how nice the people of Shiga are. Because of my past experiences living in the countryside, I was expecting to get a lot of staring and whispering behind my back, but I’m thrilled to say that that isn’t the case here. Shiga has a large population of Brazilians, so the people are pretty used to seeing foreign-looking people on a daily basis, though I’m one of the only Western-looking ones around. The Japanese people have been nothing but friendly and helpful to me, so I couldn’t be happier.
My two schools, while close together, are pretty different in terms of teaching styles and students. My first one is in an older building, with the discipline being pretty lax. Because of this, the students don’t really pay too much attention in class, or apply themselves as much as they could. This one will definitely be my tougher of the two schools, just because there’s that motivational problem. My second school is newer, and is a bit stricter with the students, so they are more attentive in class and seem to be, on the whole, more eager to learn. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both great schools (I’ve heard horror stories about schools with violent students, and that doesn’t seem to be happening at either of mine), but the first will definitely be more of a challenge.
One of the big things that I like about my second school is that they have a large dining hall where all the students and teachers eat lunch together. At my first school, the students eat lunch in their homerooms with their homeroom teachers, and since I’m not a homeroom teacher, I eat lunch in the teacher’s room. At my second school, I’ve been placed with one of the third year classes, so I get the chance to talk to the students during lunch, which is definitely helping me get to know them in a more informal and less intimidating environment. I feel like I’m going to need to get off my butt at the first school and go eat lunch with some homeroom, just to try to get out of that rut, but we’ll see. Hrmm.
The best part about both schools is undoubtedly the students. Since I was able to get closer with my second school students (I got over the shyness and shock of the first week, for the most part), I’ve heard my fair share of funny things. Some of my favourites:
Student: Teacher, I love you!
Me: Oh, thank you!
Student: YOU DON’T LOVE ME, TEACHER?! -runs-
Student: Teacher! Do you like MAN?
Student: VIRUSTORIA. BOOKTORIA.
Student: Oh, Victoria-sensei! Big nose! Big nose!
Me: … SHITSUREI ಠ_ಠ
Student: -runs away cackling-
Basically, they seem to find me hilarious, which is good, in my opinion. They could think I was boring and never want to talk to me, so I’m willing to take the tiny insults if it means that they’re trying to speak in English.
Sooooo, yeah! That’s where we are so far! I go back to my first school on Monday, and now that the first week jitters are over, hopefully it will go better than the first week! We’re now into actual studying rather than just me talking about myself, so hopefully it’ll just go up from here. Aaaaand hopefully I will receive my new camera cable soon, I can’t believe it’s taking so long! >~<;
I hope everyone is doing well and has a fantastic weekend!
Hi! I really love your blog so far! Changing the whole layout would be asking too much, but do you mind changing the font color to black or a darker color? The white background with white font is really hard to read...
Thanks so much for following! And I’ve gone ahead and done that, I hadn’t realized it was so hard to read! I hardly ever look at my blog from the front page, so I hadn’t really thought about it, but you were absolutely right. :)
After a long 4 days of training in Nagoya, I moved into my apartment in Konan yesterday! My bags arrived this morning, and the man from the gas company came to get me hooked up with hot water and a working stove, so I pretty much have everything I need now! The area looks nice from the little bit that I’ve seen of it, with a grocery store right across the road and a 7-11 just across from that. A tiny bit noisy in the mornings, but hey, that’s what you get for living on the main road.
I had planned to go out and buy a wireless router (my apartment supplies its residents with a tiny little cable that only allows you to use the internet from one place in the room, and I’d really like to be able to use it elsewhere), but it’s pouring rain outside. It’s so bad that they’ve got traffic officers out directing cars, I feel so bad for them. :( My bags were pretty soaked by the time the takkyubin guy got here, but I was just so grateful that he made it at all! Japan is nothing if not efficient.
I don’t really have much to report other than that, but I’ll try to start updating the blog again today as I’m finally hooked up. Sorry for the lull in posts, I didn’t have a lot of time to myself at the hotel in Nagoya and I’m still battling a bit of jet lag (falling asleep around 10, waking up at 6ish). I hope that you’re all doing fantastically and I’m looking forward to updating with some pictures!
After an absolutely insane travel process, I’m finally here and everything managed to make it here with me. I’m currently eating an onigiri in the hotel lobby and leaching wifi as I wait for everyone else to wake up. I woke up around 5:15 am, though I don’t need to be doing anything until about 8:45. Yay time zone difference?
The transfer process for my flight connections was ridiculous. I’m hauling this massive carry on bag (never again), and in Toronto, I had to collect my bags, then go through security again. So there’s me, two 50 lb suitcases, my 35 lb carry on, my laptop bag and my purse, struggling along. Finally managed to do it, got in the plane, flew to L.A, then discovered the horror of LAX.
L.A, I love you. You’re a gorgeous city, but man does LAX suck. :( had to change terminals (complete with unhelpful signage), leave security, overshot the TBIT by one terminal, found out the hard way that I hadn’t been given a luggage stub in Ottawa and therefore had no way of telling if my bags were going to be transferred or not. Thank Jebus for the lovely ANA staff who did their best to track down my wayward bags and got them on the plane.
Once at Narita Airport, I had to send my bags by courier service, only to discover that I’d forgotten to write down my Shiga apartment’s postal code. Amazing Kuroneko Takyubin staff helped me out and got me on my way in a reasonable time. Then, hopped on the Narita Express, struggled not to fall asleep and miss my transfer at Tokyo Station, grabbed a shinkansen to Nagoya, then a local train to Kanayama. I met some awesome Turkish guys who helped me confirm that I was getting on the right train, they were fantastic. :) finally, I hauled my carry on, laptop bag and purse about half a mile to find my hotel. Showered, passed out, and am now awake and drinking green tea like a champ!
Long story short, I’m here safely and am somewhat rested.
I’ve got less than 48 hours before I leave for Toronto, then L.A., then Tokyo. D: Ahhhhhh!
I’ve finished most of my packing, but I’ve suddenly realized that I don’t have any work appropriate blouses, so to speak! Emergency shopping trip? Yes.
I’ve got my materials prepared for my orientation training in Nagoya, I think. D: I’ve got all the images on a USB so that the papers don’t get destroyed on the way there, but I’ve basically just got to pray that I’m able to print them out once I’m there, otherwise my pretend students will be subject to my terrible art skills.
I should probably also finish packing up the box I’ll be shipping over. I hate being such a procrastinator.
I feel like the first step to finishing my prep is getting off Tumblr. Alright. Initiate step 1. Go.
Part of my pre-departure process is getting a medical exam done. Mostly basic stuff like height, weight, blood pressure, blah dee blah. Unfortunately, since I move around a lot, I haven’t had a GP in years and thus had to go to the walk-in clinic. Fortunately, the doctor who works there used to be my GP! Unfortunately, that also means that he has my best interests at heart. ie. He knows that I haven’t had a physical in a long time.
So after I do the vision test, the hearing test, the blood pressure, all that, he starts talking about getting me to do blood work. Blood work?! I have never had blood work done in my life. I’m also leaving the country on Sunday. I quickly diverted him from that course, but then he starts asking about my immunizations. He notices that I haven’t had a tetanus booster recently, and decides to set me up with one.
I’m terrified of needles. Absolutely batshit terrified of them. But then the nurse comes in with the vial and I know it’s too late. I don’t remember the last time I got a needle, so I really did need to have it done, so I just gritted my teeth and took it. I should have clued in when she asked which arm I wanted it in. I said I was right handed, so she gave me the injection in my left arm.
For anyone who hasn’t had a tetanus booster done in a while, it hurts like a bitch.
Not the actual shot itself, that part was not that bad. It’s the after effects. The inject it into the muscle rather than a vein, so it’s that much sorer afterwards. After the shot, I had to go down the hall to get a chest x-ray done, and it felt like my arm was going to fall off. I’m now sitting on my couch watching TV and trying not to move it.
Now for the TMI part! Don’t read on if you don’t want to know.
Aside from all that drama, the doctor discovered that apparently, I have a UTI? He asked me about all the symptoms and I haven’t been experiencing any, but that’s what the test read, so I believe him. It seems that now, they’re able to detect early signs of such illnesses before the symptoms set in, so I’m now on a 3-day antibiotic, and have to go back in to see him on Saturday and, until then, drink water like it’s going out of style. So much for this medical exam being a quick in-and-out thing.
On top of everything, I made the stupid mistake of bringing my big, fluffy Newfoundland dog with me in the car to the clinic. Today’s temperature in Ottawa is roughly 26C, with the humidity making it feel like 30C. IN MARCH. The weather this week has been breaking records and everyone’s out in t-shirts, shorts, bikinis, it’s nuts. The appointment that I thought would take around half an hour wound up taking almost 2 hours, so by the time I got back to my car, my poor dog was boiling. Then I had to pick up the prescription, so by the time we got home, she just dunked her face in the water dish. Poor girl ;~;
And that is the story of my medical exam saga. Stay tuned for more exciting updates from Victoria the ALT. 4 days!
4 more full days! I’m having a hard time figuring out if what I’m feeling is nerves or excitement. I mean, I’m excited to get back to Japan, but anxious about the whole travel process and all the things I have to do before getting on the plane.
- call credit card company about moving overseas so they don’t freak out and freeze my credit card
- figure out how I’m going to get 60,000 yen in cash to pay for my first month’s rent during my training
- get all my documents organized so I have them in one place while I’m traveling
- finish my fucking packing already. D: I need to figure out how much space I have and whether or not my bags are overweight, but I’m procrastinating so badly
I should also stop watching frickin’ Mayday. I do this every single time I fly, I swear, and my fear of flying just gets worse rather than better.
I also have to remember to go see The Hunger Games before I go. I doubt it’ll be out in Japan for a while, and now that I’ve finally read the book, I feel adequately prepared.
4 days, huh. 4 days.