First Class…

Yesterday I taught my first class on my own!

I had to drive to Mishima a town about an hour away from Niihama. To get to Mishima, however, one needs to drive through the mountains. I was a little nervous at first, not having much experience mountain driving since Ontario is just so flat, but I think I managed even if I drove a little slower than I normally would.

My first class yesterday was a class for adults and I was so nervous, but I think overall it went great! They knew it was my first class because I kept looking back at my lesson plan, but they were all very patient and told me that I would improve with time. I’m a little disappointed because they seemed like a very nice group of people but I was just covering for someone else, so they will not be one of my classes.

Today I had my first children’s class and that was a little more difficult. With children one needs to be much more creative, and sometime I lack a bit on that department but I’m getting familiar with my “itsy, bitsy spider” and all the other children’s songs that I knew at some point in my life but have forgotten by now. It was a bigger challenge, but with some practice I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it. For now the most important thing is to get them familiarized with my presence and then move forward. So I’ve been playing a lot of games lately, which is always fun and I’m becoming a pretty good UNO player! =)

Keeping you posted!

Yukata Party

On sunday I went to my first yukata party!

A yukata is a summer kimono made of cotton instead of silk, and people wearing yukatas are a common sight in Japan. Although I have never worn a kimono, I heard a yukata is much more comfortable than a traditional kimono. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say that the yukata was exactly comfortable. The sash around the waist, goes around a corset-like piece of plastic that makes it difficult to breath after having a full meal!

Two of the girls that I work with were planning on going to the party and asked me if I would like to join them, and could not say no to the chance of wearing a gorgeous Japanese dress! I was able to choose whichever I wanted so I chose a bright yellow one that I really wanted to take home with me but couldn’t.

Some very kind Japanese women do your hair and help you get dressed. They do everything for you. The generosity of the locals cannot go unnoticed, as everyone so far has been so incredibly kind. There was also some singing and dancing, which makes me very excited for the big festival in October!

At the end of the evening one of the organisers invited me to a real kimono party on November 23rd… I already signed up for it!

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Keeping you posted!

Japan: Week 1

I have finished my first week in Japan.

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been a stroll in the park by any means. It has been somewhat difficult. I mean is not easy to be away from your family and friends in a place where you cannot communicate with others and where everything you do is like learning it for the first time all over again.

The hardest thing has been my lack of sleep and the language barrier. Jet lag is not fun! It eventually crawls up on you and makes you doubt yourself and the decision you have made. I reached that point, cried a bit and got over it. While all this can be very overwhelming at first, I have never regretted coming here. On the contrary, I think Japan is a beautiful country, and everyday I learn something that makes me love it even more.

Tomorrow I have my day off. Tonight I’m watching movies, and tomorrow I’m sleeping in. Last night I drove from Saijo to Niihama on my own at night, and got lost twice. At first I freaked! but I made it, and now I’m actually glad that I got lost because now I know exactly how to get from Saijo to Niihama. Funny how some things work sometimes.

Tomorrow I’m going to a tea ceremony and I get to wear a traditional Japanese dress!!! =) I’m SO excited. I still don’t have my lens but I plan to pass to the shop tomorrow morning. Can’t wait to post pictures!

Keeping you posted!

Driving in Japan 101

Today I drove for the first time in Japan.

First it should be mentioned that they drive on the left side of the road! I thought the only countries that drove on the left side of the road were England and Australia. Well… now we can add Japan to that list.  So everything is the opposite! Canadian left hand turns here are right hand turns and when you come to a red light there is nothing you can do but stop (you cannot do left hand turns with a red light).

You also have to be aware of cyclists and cars that like to run red lights on the last second. Overall I’m pretty proud of myself. I didn’t hit anything or anyone and although EVERY car passed us (ok, so I was driving at the speed limit 50) I made it safe and sound. My job requires me to drive quite a bit so, I had to get behind the wheel sooner or later. The car is tiny,,,, is pretty genius! I think it was designed for someone my size and I think we are going to get along just fine. Although, I keep getting confused with the windshield wipers and the signals, because again they are the opposite from American cars. So every time I tried to signal, I kept turning on the windshield wipers. Is actually pretty amusing!  =p

I also went to a grocery store called “Fuji Grand” and on the first floor you find groceries as well as personal and household items. On the second floor is nothing but clothing, shoes and accessories. I think my friend Elysse should be mentioned here because she told me about all the shopping that can be done in Japan and I think she would have become overwhelmed by everything on that floor! =) When I was in there I kept thinking of her.

Some of you have asked for pictures, but unfortunately I haven’t bought the lens for my camera since I haven’t had a day off. I will hopefully get it on Sunday (as my going away present from Scotia) and then you will have pictures. Also I was asked to categorize my entries to make them easier to follow along, but how do you do that?

Keeping you posted.

Train!

Today I did two new things. I walked from Tricia’s home (one of the teacher’s here) to the school. Granted is only 5 minutes away and really only one turn but still, every little hurdle that I overcome right now seems like a leap. The second thing is way more exciting… I took the train! Again I know back at home I take the train everyday, but this was the fast Japanese train. I’m pretty sure however, that is not the fastest one that everyone talks about, or maybe it is. I must investigate. Anyways what is usually a 20 minute drive took 8 minutes by train, but man was it expensive! I was told that transportation in Japan is expensive but this was ridiculous! It was $5.70(Cdn) for an 8 minutes ride one way! I guess I can stop complaining about the GO Train now.

I love taking the train. I have always enjoyed my 25 minute train ride into Toronto, but the train ride from Niihama to Saijo is full of beautiful rice fields, mountains and traditional Japanese homes. It is stunning! Two things have truly grabbed my attention, the mountains and the rice fields, so I’m so glad I was able to take that little trip from one town to the other and enjoy both.

Keeping you posted!

Voyage to Japan

I have arrived to Niihama, Japan.

The flight was pretty uneventful. I did however have some luggage issues. My suitcase was way too heavy and I was going to be charged for that. Now I understand that I should have heard those who told me to bring 2 suitcases even if one was almost empty. Thanks Roll for looking for a last minute bag for me! =)

I also watched two films on the flight that I had been wanting to watch for a while: The Reader and Taken. I thought Kate Winslet was excellent in The Reader, although the ending seemed to me a little forced. Now Taken had me gripped! I mean when I think Liam Neeson I think Love Actually, but in this un-Liam Neeson role I changed my whole perspective of him (although I have thought of him as a great actor for a while). The beginning and end of the films, however seemed ridiculous and unrealistic. There’s even a horse for crying out loud!

Other than that, just trying to get used to the humidity and trying to find some sort of sleeping pattern.

Keeping in touch.

Convocation

I guess this story really begins with Convocation. On Tuesday June 16th, the Faculty of Music, Trinity College and Innis College students celebrated their Convocation.

I approached my Convocation with mixed feelings. On the one hand is a great opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments, but on the other hand is also a reminder that unless you are pursuing Grad studies, it is time to get yourself together and think about the next big step. Perhaps trying to look for that first job or taking some time off to unwind, but always believing that in the end things work out, and remembering that most likely the other 500 people that were in Convocation Hall with you that day are probably on the same boat as you.


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