Sunday, December 21, 2008

Finally a Break

Winter break is finally here! I've only been teaching for three full weeks yet it feels so much longer. Settling in isnt so much more of a problem anymore. I'm starting to like where I live.. actually its pretty nice since there are so many other teachers around here.

I'm getting used to my kids as they are getting used to me. Lesson planning is also getting easier by the week. Other than working, I havent really had time to do much. It almost feels like I'm living in dorms again with the late night combini (convenient store) runs and the local bar hang outs. For some reason, the younger kids (age 4 and 5) love to hit my butt! Maybe they dont know any better or they just think its funny, either way... sometimes i dont know how to react n im like uhh.... yeah doesnt make me look too smart haha I have an autistic student who is langugely talented and can remember anything you tell her. Its pretty amazing actually. Its so easy to teach her since she remembers everything but if you mistakenly say something wrong, she'll pick it up and it will take forever to correct. Of course I have some bratty elementary boys in my classes but they're just innocently naughty, no bad intentions or anything. They are just active and have a short attnetion span. On the other hand, I have some pretty high level adult students. All of my adult students are retired, housewives, or part time workers. They range from 20 - 70+! The 70+ ones are very well arounded, have traveled a lot and have a lot to say. Those are my favorite classes since you can talk about anything and they can run with that.

Anyway, enough about work. Last weekend I headed into Roppongi to meet with a friend from college for dinner and a party. It felt like partying in NYC with people who actually are bilingual and arent teachers. It was a nice break from the teachers and to talk about something other than work. Roppongi is such a nice place, but then again Tokyo in general is pretty awesome if you know where to go. So... holiday break is here and it will fly by before I know it! My family will be visiting at the end of the month and will be spending NYE in Japan. Pretty exciting since I hear the temples are a great place to go on the 31st. Japan gets all crazy with the lights and things like that. Imagine Saks 5th lights everywhere in Japan. Of course, nothing can compare to the holidays at Rockefeller (which I completely miss - even the tourists). The Japanese are really creative with the "illuminations" and such. All the big department stores have crazy decorations and it might be even more awesome to be in Japan during the holidays. All the lights and decorations make Christmas so magical.

The first thing on my itinerary for break was Tokyo Disney Sea. It wasnt very big but being there right before Christmas made it all worth it. Didnt go on many rides since the lines were 2+ hours for the good rides (tower of terror, etc). Since I went today (Sunday), it was way crowded and hard to find anything. Maybe it was also because I got the Starlight Pass which is only valid from 3pm to closing. Fireworks today were cancelled because of the wind conditions so that sucked but they still had the closing Christmas song with the Disney characters on boats and stuff. It was very cute and reminded me of the first time I went to Disney. (Tokyo Disney Link)

Next on my list is Snowboarding in Niigata!!! (SnowJapan Link) I'm psyched and all but the season did just begin so I am a little worried about the resorts not having enough snow. Peak snowboarding season is in February so I'll be making another trip out there then. Hopefully it'll all work out. Will let you know how that goes!

When my family arrives, we'll be making a day trip to Hakone (Hakone Travel Guide) for the famous onsens (hot springs). I've never been to one so it should be an interesting experience... you have to go in buck naked!! :O Hakone is also close enough but far enough where you can see Mt. Fuji on a clear day so I'm excited about that too. I will hopefully be climbing Mt. Fuji in August since its too cold now and it is a two day trip.

Most of all, I cant wait until my family comes so I can finally enjoy all this awesome Japanese food with people who can appreciate it! Tsukiji market is definitely on the list along with many other ramen, yakiniku (bbq), kaiten sushi (conveyor belt) sushi restaurants! This will mos def be a memorable holiday season.

P.S. New photos added to Picasa

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Move on in!

I'm finally moved into my apartment! Its not exactly what I would consider to be my first choice but its what I have so I'll just have to make the best of it. Its very different than what I was used to in NY. I mean the most obvious would be the size and second would be what I consider to be my "bedroom". I have a loft or as I call it, my treehouse. Its nice and cozy since the heat blows into the loft so it gets quite warm. I've made it liveable. I bought shelves and some organizers to help me clean up a bit and they work quite nicely. Overall, tiny place but I'm dealing. I wouldnt say I'm a fan of it, but its what I got so dont make me feel any worse about it.

Living in Katsutadai is great though. There are about 8 other teachers who live in the two buildings and its really nice to have people around. Erin and Ricky (the two teachers who started with me) are living in Sakura which is about a 15-20 min train ride away. I really like the fact that if i needed to borrow anything or need help, theres always the guys around to help. I've met some cool people in Japan but still very hard to meet good friends. Everyones story is different and being here has definitely opened up my eyes and made me less sheltered

First week of real teaching is finally over. It was a very stressful week. Just meeting all the kids, parents, adults, managers. Not to mention, I'm still working on getting to know the material and games and activities. Lesson planning is harder than I thought. Props to all the teachers out there especially for younger kids. Seriously, kids' attention time span is very limited and so hard to control. I would say my first week wasnt too shabby. A lot to improve on and change but I'll eventually settle into my schedule and routine. Im already counting down... 50 weeks left...

i just miss nyc

p.s. new photos are up on picasa