Hey gang. Yesterday was the first day of school. It was definitely.....different. There were a lot of ups and downs. For example, an up would be that both opening ceremonies at the junior and elementary were MUCH less stressful than I thought they were going to be. :) Yay! I don't have any idea what anyone said, but I was able to give my speech in English, so that was awesome. After the opening ceremonies, there was cleaning time. A wonderful thing about Japan is that there are no janitors at the school. The students are the janitors. Everyday, there is a "cleaning time" in which the students clean the school from top to bottom. It really helps b/c they won't make messes or discard trash in the hallway b/c they know they'll have to clean it up later. Anyway, on the first day of school, cleaning time was longer and in the morning. I told my English teacher that I didn't have any clothes to change into, so she let me go home and change. :) When I got back, I asked what I could do and was handed a broom. I swept everywhere....including the men's locker room. Oops. Apparently I wasn't supposed to go in there. My English teacher pulled me out and said, "That's the men's room" as she pointed to the kanji sign. Oops. I was just trying to clean!
I had three classes yesterday, two eighth grade classes and one seventh grade. My English teacher told me that the eighth grade classes were taking tests the next day (you have to remember that it is mid-semester in Japan), so the tone in those classes were much more serious. I gave my self-introduction using maps, my scrapbook, coins, and other American items. It's so much easier to do that with native speakers. I got a lot of blank stares. I think the next time I give my self introduction, I'll have to jazz it up....make a power point or something....maybe make a game out of it. After I gave my intro to the eighth grade classes, it was back to studying as usual. We had a review sheet to go over, and I had the task of pronouncing the words on the page. My seventh grade class was much more fun. They didn't have the test, so my teacher allowed me to give the self-intro for the entire class period. After I gave my presentation, the kids asked me questions. I got things like, what's your favorite Japanese food? What's your favorite book? Who's your favorite singer? Do you know Japanese? etc, etc, etc. Then, I had the opportunity to ask them questions, so I asked, where should I travel to in Japan? What Japanese foods should I try? etc, etc. It was a lot of fun to go back and forth asking and answering questions!
One thing that is VERY different than the States is the school lunch. There is no cafeteria here. Instead, the kids eat in the classroom. They organize their desks into three long row-like tables. The students are responsible for serving one another. They put on the lunch lady garb of hair net, apron, and face mask and dish up the daily special. School lunches are HUGE, and you're expected to clean your plate. I felt ridiculously full after lunch. Also, the only drink served with lunch is milk. I wouldn't mind that so much, but a) it is warmish milk....ick, and b) it's whole milk....ugh. One of the down periods of the day was lunch. While the food was excellent, the conversation wasn't. The other tables were chit-chatting, but the table w/the foreigner was DEAD SILENT. I tried to initiate conversation, but it didn't work. *crying* The kids were mean to me!!! :( lol. Whatever. Today's lunch was better. I ate in a different classroom, and I ended up playing thumb war with the boys. One of the boys totally creamed me, but another boy I beat.
Last night, I had my night conversation class again. Please remember that last week, I didn't even know I was teaching this class, so I had nothing prepared. This week wasn't much better. I tried!! I had lots to do, but the kids in that class almost drive me to drink. There are four boys in that class that are wilder than bucks. I don't know Japanese, so I can't say things like "SIT DOWN!" or "BE QUIET!" Last night, they were doing handstands and judo move on each other. I made them sit down, but it wasn't a few minutes before they were acting up again. I asked my supervisor today if Ian could come to my class w/me. She said yes, so hopefully two versus eight is better odds.....hopefully.
On a much lighter note, we're headed to the beach tomorrow! Woot! All of you people in Kentucky who are 11 hours away from the gulf coast, I just wanted you to know that we are a mere 2 hours (at most) away from beautiful beaches. I don't want to brag, but......... ;) PS, if you've been keeping up with Japanese weather, then you know that there's a typhoon approaching the coast. No worries. a) Never, ever, ever worry about us if you hear about a typhoon in Japan. We've got soooooooooooooo many mountains around us, that a typhoon could NEVER reach here. b) Yes, we are headed to the coast tomorrow, but the typhoon isn't coming in our direction. We're on Kyushu, the southern island, and the typhoon is headed for southern Honshu in the Osaka area. It's been breezy and cloudy here all day, but no need to worry....I promise! If you're really interested, here's a link to a map of the projected path of the typhoon: