Phew! Now that was a crazy semester. I only have one week left before FREEDOM! It has seriously been so busy I had absolutely no free time to write for myself or create any art. But it was a pretty good first semester. (I imagine, after this, I can survive just fine for the rest of my academic career here!)
It is funny… a lot of people stress out about finals week. I have never had a problem with finals week. Tests usually don’t bother me that much, though I do know people who have major test anxiety! The part of the end-of-the-semester that I find most stressfult is actually the week before Finals… Project week. I swear I had a project and/or paper due in nearly all of my classes! I had a documentary, a web site, two research proposals, and two oral presentations plus I had to watch over one of my professor’s classes. (I am his T.A., so it is in the job-description!) Needless to say, I got very little sleep this last week! Next week will be slightly better. I have a 20pg essay, a blog entry, my final research topic proposal, an evaluation, a mock-research proposal and a take-home vocabulary test due. … but most of that involves writing. I only have one actual Final test next week!
Yesterday we all went to Missoula to visit my brother and I actually managed not to spend much money! (Kind of hard to shop for everyone’s Christmas presents when they are right there with you! … plus I still don’t know what I am getting everyone.) … for my niece and nephews, however, I am making amigurumi crocheted toys. I have been getting pretty good at it! I am making Studio Ghibli stuff for the kids. (i.e. Totoro and Jiji from “Kiki’s Delivery Service”) and an Angry Bird for baby David. To top that off I will be going uptown sometime next week to the Secondhand bookstore to buy them a TON of books. (They hardly have any!… and have you seen how much kids books cost brand new!?! Egads!)
Of course, by the end of the day in Missoula we were all tired (and Dad wasn’t feeling too hot since he caught the crud that is going around,) so I ended up having to drive us all home. Missoula is about an hour and a half away from home… and it was dark out.
I haven’t driven at highway speeds in quite a long time! Japan’s Expressways are not exactly speeder-friendly… not to mention expensive to run on. Plus the speed limit is a lot slower there! It was kind of freaky driving that fast at first… Thankfully there was a full moon out! It went a long way to helping me see. (I swear I am going night blind!) Well, at least we made it home in one piece!
Tomorrow I have got to get things moving! We still haven’t put up our Christmas tree! That is my next goal (along with all of my writing assignments!)
Wish me luck!
Ha ha ha! Homework is kicking my butt… but I am still enjoying being a student. (I returned to school as a graduate student in Technical Communications this Fall.)
This weekend we were assigned a boatload of reading to do. Basically it amounts to a small textbook! I have several essay/wiki blogs to write, a couple of mini research projects, proposals for a microstudy in technical communications, a webpage to start building, a quiz on building webpages, a 15 slide animation for digital video productions, IRB certification to finish, footage to film… o_O; And this is all to finish up “slush” week before we begin to dive into the “real” studying!
Yep, I am going to die!
But I love it! The Technical Communications dept. feels like it was designed just for me! So far my favorite classes are Intercultural Communications (because I can relate easily to this subject because of my years in Japan and feel I have something good to offer the class) and Digital Video Design (because I have always wanted to learn good editing skills!)
While I can still feel my brain oozing out of my ears… I also feel like I am actually using all that gray-matter that has been lying dormant up there for years! I still don’t like talking in class or speaking up too much in discussions… but I have some awesome classmates who have made me feel right at home. I even somehow ended up being a bit of a tutor to one of them. (I get paid in lunches! Yay!)
Now, I just need to find a part, part-time job to help pay for a “new” car. My little Ford Escort’s master cylinder is done for… it is just not worth it to sink money into more repairs! There is currently a deal in the works to get me a car that is a couple years older than me… but a bit of a classic! Hopefully I hear back from them soon. It has a wonderfully smooth drive, power-steering and fully functional, locking doors! … Oh, how I miss those things!
Well… back to the homework!
It has been getting hotter and more humid here in Tochigi. The week started out in the upper seventies, lower eighties…which is pretty hot in my books. (-_-;) (Butte, Montana summers rarely even reach the 90s. If they do, usually it only lasts a week or two. ) But then the clouds and rain came rolling in around Wednesday. Normally that would be a relief, right? Yeah… No! Not necessarily. I prefer the sunshine. It was hotter, but fairly dry. Now it is “mushi atsui,” or, muggy. Which means it feels at least 10 degrees hotter even though, technically, it is cooler. …and everything is sticky. Thankfully it is still at a manageable level! I have decided the reason why I can’t stand the summers here is because I store heat like a furnace. (Because of adapting to all those Montana winters!) So, come summer, I start to overheat! Blech! Yesterday, I ate lunch with class 2-1. (2nd years, class 1). Afterward they invited me to join their recess activity. Freeze tag. It was a thirty minute long recess! Non-stop running ensued…well, until I was “caught” and had to freeze! Of course I had lots of “helpful” teammates who came to my “rescue!” Chasing little ones, or being chased by them, really is the best exercise program! They are far more strict than any exercise coach! They won’t allow you to give up. “Ah! I give! I’m dying here!” “Sensei, you are not dying. Obviously! Come on! It is boring if you just stand there! Run away!” I love my second graders!
This week at school I got to meet and talk to two of the cutest roly-poly little twin sisters I have ever seen! They are two of the new 1st graders. I haven’t gotten the opportunity to teach first grade yet this year but they also attend the “special” class near the teachers’ room…probably because they have major A.D.D! Their attentions spans are really short…even for 6-year-olds! I really feel for their parents! Hopefully they have a lot of help at home because they are quite the handful! (^o^)
I was coming down the stairs from lunch with the 3rd graders when I first met them. They were standing with their teachers near the teacher’s room and they were showing off for them when one of the girls saw me. She came straight up to me and said “Dare desu ka?” (Who are you?) I laughed because she was just too cute and told her my name. Then she said something to her sister along the lines of “Look! She looks like the 2 thousand (something I didn’t understand) big sister!” (Children often call older kids and teenagers “big sister” or “big brother” … technically I should be called oba-chan (auntie)). I have no idea who they were referring too…and the other teachers were surprised and didn’t seem to understand who or why either. Maybe it was in reference to my weight. (-_-) Here in Japan I have to shop in the Plus-size section even though back home I wear a size 12. LOL!
Anywho! They were completely adorable! They dragged me around and then told be to come to the Tanpopo room with them (Dandelion Room). I followed along and they started riding the rolling white boards around the room. Their teacher seemed fine with it! That was the first time I had spent recess-time indoors!
The next day as I came down from lunch with another 3rd grade class I met some teachers at the foot of the stairs. They asked me if I could hold on for just a bit since the girls were coming with the “grandpa” (their nick-name for the school groundskeeper.) Sure enough they rounded the corner with the “grandpa” in tow. Then they traded off and grabbed me again and had me follow them to the special education classroom. This time I drew some pictures for them on the whiteboards… and I got pwn’d! At 6-years-old they are already better artists than I was at 10 or 11! (Granted I didn’t really start drawing until junior high…) But for 6-year-olds their hand-eye coordination is awesome! One girl’s favorite thing to draw was Doraemon. She draws him very well!
Unfortunately they only had one marker! Which meant I had to swipe it while they weren’t looking to avert any more arguing. This is also where their ADD came in handy because all I had to do was distract them into doing something else…not difficult at all to do with those inclined to being distracted! Distraction is a handy tool I learned while taking care of very young children at church during Sunday School!
I have decided to move my livejournal over to wordpress. I am liking it a lot so far. I have a lot more freedom to change the layout to suit my needs!
So! I have been away from my blog for a ridiculous amount of time! I have been relying far too much on my Facebook account to keep in touch with everyone. I miss writing my journals however! Especially since a lot has been going on in my life…
First of all, I am still in Japan! Geh! I am turning into a “lifer”; someone who swears they are only going to stay for “one more year and that is IT!” …but somehow they always get roped into another, and then another, and then another…. イヤーダ！
This is my last year! I swear it! (yeah, where have I heard that before, hmmm?) Right now I am already anticipating my summer vacation in Montana with my family and friends. It has already been two years since I have seen my family! There has already been one new addition to my sister’s family and another one is on the way! I need to see them! Oh, and my sister and the rest of my family too. 😉
I have already begun a count down. There are exactly 9 weeks left until I leave for home! I can’t wait!
Yeah, it has literally been months since I last wrote in my blog. Not because nothing has been going on here…well, nothing has really been going on here. Not since Becky was here and left back at the beginning of August. It was a long and hectic vacation. I thankfully had a couple weeks off after that but poor Becky had to go back to work almost immediately after she got back. Yikes. I was wiped! We did many things while she was here. Most of it I wrote in my updates on my Facebook. First we went to hike around and up Mt. Fuji for a few days. (No, we did not hike to the top, we were ill-equipped and I was out of shape…and slightly asthmatic. I do think living at sea level has improved that. If I were still living in Butte I would have been coughing my guts out…literally.) After that it was back up to Oyama to meet up with one of my coworkers from OyaHigashi elementary. She and her husband brought us, and a couple of foreign exchange students, up to Nikko. Tochigi Prefectures claim to historical fame.
(Mis)adventures in Vacationing
Ahhhh. The unrelentant cries of the cicadas, the pools of melted children scattered around the classroom. Humidity so thick you could cut through it with a butter knife…..yep. 夏だ. It is summer. I hate summers in Japan. The temperature really isn’t that hot…yet. (Around the upper 80s lower 90s?) But just wait until mid-August around Obon. Now that is hot! I do live further up north now, which is a tiny bit cooler…but the humidity still gets to me. Seriously, I NEVER sweat so much when I lived in Washington, Idaho or Montana. Sure I could work up a sweat if I was working out or playing sports in the sun…but not so much that it was dripping like a waterfall down my face! The part I hate the most is how my clothing sticks and clings now. Even my jeans! Yuck! I see now why many Japanese moms are obsessed with doing laundry every day! I too have started to do my laundry a lot more frequently! I can’t wait to be back home next year for the nice cool mountain summers. I will never complain about the heat there again! At least it gets blessedly cool at night and the air is dry!
I am eagerly awaiting the end of the first term of school here. Only 2 more days for me! On the third day I am traveling with some friends to go to an amusement park in Tokyo somewhere to have some fun before the students are released. Roller coasters here I come. Heat or no heat! Then on Monday we will all go to the theater in either Sano or Utsunomiya to watch Harry Potter VI! (The stoooooopid Harvest Walk Cinema here in Oyama does not offer a showing with English audio so we have to go out of town. Jerks!) Heh heh heh. If we go to the theater in Sano maybe we can get some shopping done at the Premium Outlets next door. No! Bad Meesa. You are saving money for summer vacation travel and home. But, they have lots of shiny toys! だめ！ チェ! (>_<#) And so go the little voices in my head.
Today was my work evaluation. It actually went pretty well even though I felt like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Of course they chose one of the wildest classes in the school to observe. (not a bad class, just very high energy (read: noisy)). I thought the entire time that I was going to be marked off because the students were not always paying attention and I only could control them so much. … but miraculously they really liked it and the principal and teachers praised me as being the best English teacher they have had in a while. … you guys are talking about the same person, right? (personally I think classes go so well for me because I would rather play with the kids during recess than be considered a teacher. … but I also think the classes suck for that very same reason.)
Oh yeah. To those on Facebook this is old news…but I bought a violin. I have a grand total of 4 fiddle songs in my repertoire. Hopefully I can find a good teacher (and the time), to help me study in more detail. Right now I suck.