Pedro the Snowman

So, I came home from work this evening around 10 PM and was greeted by a very enthusiastic Jen telling me that they saved the decorating until I got home. I was also told I had to put on something green for the photos. Imagine my surprise to discover our living room covered in Christmas decorations! So, the evening was filled with Christmas carols, decorating, and an all-around good time with me, Jen, Jen’s friend Elizabeth, and the snowman Pedro Cecil, who we just call PC. When you live in a different country, it’s never too early for Christmas!! 🙂

For pictures, check this out: http://ohio.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2177417&l=564ae&id=12323934

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I need food!!

So, without doubt, the hardest part of living in Japan is going to the grocery store! I really like shopping and buying food, but Japan makes it kinda difficult for me to do so. Here are some of the biggest problems…

One, I can’t read any Japanese!! So, I have absolutely no idea what 95% of the stuff in the store actually is! Sometimes I just buy things that look interesting and hope for the best. Some things I recognize because Jen buys the stuff, or it’s kinda hard not to figure out, like pasta.

Two, they don’t really make the same food as Americans or Westerners in general. There’s an entire aisle devoted to dried seaweed. I assume that there are multiple good uses for seaweed, but I can’t figure it out. Also, they have more kinds of seafood for sale than I ever thought humanly possible. And some of it looks really creepy and weird. Again, I assume that there are some really yummy things that you could make out of this seafood, but I just have no idea.

Three, everything is in pretty small portions, so I feel like I’m constantly going to the grocery store because I’ve exhausted my supplies. A Sam’s Club would crash and burn here for sure.

Four, the amount of old ladies that frequent the grocery store whenever I can go. And old ladies here are not cute like they are back home. They push you and basically have little to no concern if you get injured in their pursuit of curry. And I don’t understand what the rush is grandmas, there’s a whole aisle of curry too!

But maybe in another post, I’ll put some of the things that I like about the grocery store, along with some pictures if I can smuggle in my camera! 😉

“Manly Man Buddy Buddy Time” by Jen and Rachael

Once upon an evening…

Rachael took a long, long, did she say long bath and then Jen came home. They spent a good amount of time laughing about Jen’s crazy Halloween candy. Then they searched the Internet in vain for scenes from The Wedding Planner featuring Massimo, their favorite character. Then they tried to figure out how to spin pens in their hands for about 15 minutes, also unsuccessfully. And then Jen and Rachael laid side-by-side on Rachael’s futon for about an hour playing around with different Facebook applications, testing them out on each other. Rachael’s personal favorite is Make A Baby. And of course all the while they laughed hysterically randomly quoting Massimo from The Wedding Planner and just speaking randomly with his Italian accent.

Jen and Rachael think they’re hysterical, but to the rest of the world, it may seem that they’re a bit crazy…and they’re okay with that!

Black Pens, Please

Well, I’ve done it! I’m an official full-time employee of ECC! And just to show how much they love and value me, tomorrow I have to go cover for someone who’s out of the country. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a big ordeal because I have three days of sub shifts (yes, I’m a part-time substitute teacher). But the big deal is that the class I’m covering is one of the hardest ones that ECC offers. It’s called Returnees, and it’s for kids who have lived for a while in an English-speaking country. So, I have to make up my own lesson plan for a class that I know next to nothing about, and then hope for the best. These kids are good English speakers, so I’m hoping that I can get away with just talking with them for a good chunk of time. But there will be no chorusing and teaching structures because they’re above all that. We had absolutely no training in the Returnees classes because they said the chance of subbing for one of them was extremely rare. Welcome to ECC!

But, I’m going to do it with a smile because if I have the toughest shift at the very beginning and make it through, then I’ll know that I can teach anything they have to offer! Wish me luck!

There is a Light at the end of the Tunnel!

I’ve finished my training!! All that’s left to do is breeze into the office tomorrow and sign a contract for the rest of the school year! Okay, so maybe there won’t be much breezing, but at least I don’t have any more demos to prep!

But no more demos means that the actual teaching will start on Saturday! AHH!!

“Rubber Ducky, You’re the One!”

I love taking baths!! And here’s why…

I just took a bath and prepped one of my demos at the same time! When  you take a shower, that’s it. All you can do is shower, otherwise you’re just going to get everything wet. And it would not do for me to have a waterlogged lesson book. But when you take a bath, you’re free to read, watch a movie, study, listen to music…pretty much anything. But of course, you have to be careful that you don’t drop anything into the bathtub!

The only problem that I ever encounter when taking baths is that inevitably, some part of my towel will end up in the bath water. You’d think that after 24 years, I’d have the whole drying off thing mastered, but no such luck. This time, I only got a corner of my towel wet. But last time I took a bath, there was a serious problem. Somehow, I managed to drop my whole towel in the bathwater!! So, I had this completely soaked towel, which maybe wouldn’t have been such a problem, except for the fact that all of our other towels were drying!! So, there were absolutely no other clean towels except for this tiny little hand towel. Suffice it to say, in the future, I will take more care not to drop my entire towel into the bathtub.

On a side note, I’m one of those people that would want to have a rubber duck with me while taking a bath. That Ernie, he was onto something with that song!

Demos until I DIE!!

I’m currently in the deepest depths of kid’s training. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s very faint. I think Friday will never come!! Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy kid’s training, mostly because I’m excited about actually teaching kid’s classes…but all of these demos are going to be the death of me for real. Everyday I have to prep two demos, present them, and then act like a little kid aged anywhere between 1.5-12 for four other demos.

Let me pause and explain what a demo is. Basically, it’s a demonstration of how you would actually teach a lesson if you were in the classroom. It doesn’t sound that bad, but these lessons are anywhere from 30-60 mins. with most on the 60 minute side of things. And maybe if you were actually in the classroom, this wouldn’t be too bad, but you’re having to pretend that your fellow trainees are little kids, and you’re being judged on your performance the whole time.

And the best part of it all is that even though you’ve prepared a 60 minute lesson, you only have 30 minutes to do all of it. So, you’re only doing parts of the whole lesson, and if you’re not used to teaching these classes at all, it’s hard to just cut chunks out of it. So, today I had to do two demos, tomorrow I have to do two demos, and the next two days, I’ll have to do at least one demo each day.

So, I’m off to prep my next two demos which entails reading over the whole lesson plan about four times, figuring out the weird/vague explanations, and figuring out how to do all of the games and activities without speaking or only using really really simple English. Then I’m going to bed early because just writing about it makes me tired!!

Oh, also, here’s a picture of what a typical kid’s classroom looks like. With me is Vori, one of my fellow trainees!

Kid’s Classroom