Well I've had a really long break from blogging for the past few months. What got me started again? I've been getting messages from new people to the blog asking about Japan and JET which inspired me to write. Thank you new people! (Well not that new, I'm about 6 weeks late in replying to their messages, sorry!)
It's interesting to imagine all the 2010 ALTs around the world who are researching their placements and preparing to move to Japan soon. I remember how exciting and scary it was.
I'm in the opposite situation right now, as I'll leave school in about 6 weeks and leave Japan in about 2-3 months.
It's been an amazing year so far.
Skip back to March and I ended up being right bang in the middle of the poster for the St Patrick's Day parade in Matsue. A little worrying as that poster was everywhere and I looked really silly on it. The photo was a shot of the crowd watching last year's parade. I was clapping with my mouth open in it, looking a bit like a seal! This year the parade was really fun again. It was great to see everyone dressed up and meet lots of people. That evening me and another ALT managed to get trapped in a shopping mall car park at 11pm which is a really random but funny memory!
At school the academic year ended and graduation ceremonies were held. At my base school, the class of seven 18 year olds were among those leaving. They were a special bunch and I really miss teaching them. They made me smile so much. After graduation they invited me to their final homeroom class. No one else has ever done that and I was so moved.
In the Spring vacation I treated myself to a trip to Okinawa (Japanese islands in the Pacific) and had a great beach holiday in the sun.
The new school year started in April and the new students are sooo cute! They looked all shiny and new and nervous to be starting a new school in a new place with lots of people they don't know. I've really enjoyed teaching them and getting to know them. I've also been determined to give them the best start I can with my classes. It's been going well so far. Some victories:
* After requesting that ALTs join the English teachers meeting, communication has improved a lot and teachers are listening and supporting the ALTs a lot more.
* Lesson quality is better than ever.
* More students are taking part in the speaking and writing schemes run by ALTs.
* One Japanese teacher who had little confidence last year has really improved and is really rocking these days. (One of my missions before I left was to give her more confidence to teach and speak English.
I wonder how much of her change has been because of me?)
* Friendships with the other teachers have strengthened.Some not so good things:
* More work than I have time for and some schedule changes means I'm doing a lot more work at home. D'oh.
* Still have problems at one of my schools in particular. (Regular readers will know which one!) I cried on the bus on the way home again today. I don't feel like I have anyone to talk to or any way of improving the situation, but I'm fighting not to give up.
At the end of April I celebrated my birthday by going to Kyushu (one of Japan's islands) and visiting my friend Saki. Had a great time going on loads of day trips and catching up with her. Hadn't seen her in 5 months and I'd really missed her.
Can't remember when, but at one point I had a gorgeous day out with a friend from work who took me out to a spa on the coast. One part of the pool had sun loungers in it facing the window. Such a wonderful view of the beach and the sea in the sun. Bliss. Wish I could go every weekend!
This month I managed to cross two things off on my "Things to do before I leave Japan list". One was going to see a baseball game which I did at an event in Hiroshima with loads of JETs from 5 different prefectures. It was so great to meet new ALTS and make friends. I met some really cool people and thankfully they knew about baseball and explained what was going on to me. Coming from England I didn't have a clue about the game. (Though baseball will always be an American version of Rounders to me!)
= = = Oh my good God I have just seen a huge and horrible insect scuttle right next to me!! Arghh!!! Blurghhh! Help! I squashed it with my mug. Yuck! :S I never get bugs like that in my apartment. Why now?! Why do they appear right before bedtime? Now I have to go to sleep wondering if any more are lurking in the dark about to crawl on my face. :S :S :S :S !! = = =
This year we've also had school trips, sports competitions, a drill to practice what to do if armed violent men break into school, two weeks of picnics under the beautiful cherry blossom and a trip to Nara!
Now we're in June and the rainy season has started, as has the humidity which results in an explosion of mold everywhere in the apartment again. Lovely! It's also fun at this time of year to compare the color differences of your skin. Compare say, your forearm and your stomach and see how one is now brown and the other is bright white.
Coming soon I have the end of term tests and a whole bunch of leaving parties and goodbye meals. Last night I had a goodbye party with my adult conversation class which was really fun and really moving. They bought me a yukata (a cheaper, more common version of a kimono) and gave me a lovely card. I'm happy to be going home for sure, but I'll miss so many of the people I've spent time with here.
My last day at school is the 30th July and I'll leave Matsue on the 3rd August. Before coming home I'll travel around Japan. My first port of call is Kyoto and the surrounding area before moving on to the Summer Sonic music festival. (This year I'll be at the Osaka site.) Am so excited about this I have to have calm down moments every once in while when I get too giddy.
More posts to come with photos at some point in the future but here is one to get you started.
^ Me and Emily cheering on the Hiroshima Carps during the baseball game.
They went on to lose badly to the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks!