Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A bit of an update

So I suppose that it's time for a bit of an update on what's actually going on in my life here. The quick answer is "not much." Literally. But I'll expand on that a bit.
Yesterday and today, I had some classes which were very affirming. Sounds good, yes? Well, it really depends on what they're affirming... And these classes were definitely affirming the fact that I shouldn't be a teacher, because I really have no patience for (and to be quite honest) I really don't like students who sit at their desks throwing things around the classroom, distract all of the other students in the class, talk out of turn, stare at me defiantly as they proceed to knock everything off of their desk and spend the next ten minutes noisily cleaning it up, or insist on speaking only in Japanese so that I can't understand what they're saying about me (unfortunately you can't disguise my name in Japanese) or what they're saying about the student they're making fun of. It's one thing if there's only one or two students in each class doing this.... yesterday I had an entire classroom behaving in such manners, and today I had four classes in which there were at least six of these students each. I've decided that of the two genders, I can handle defiant boys much better than the girls-- the girls have sass that I have yet to see anywhere else in life. Anywho, suffice it to say that when I got back to my desk at the end of the day I quickly got out my work calendar and calculated that I have 16 days of teaching left until I go back home for Christmas vacation-- and it made me happy, oh so very happy... I have my first and second year classes three more times each, and my third year classes twice more.
Tomorrow I have my classroom observation and then an interview afterwards, and I'm actually more nervous about the interview than the class. I got to choose the class that gets observed, so these kids are ones that I really like and that will readily volunteer for any question. The interview on the other hand is something that I can't prepare for because I have no idea what it will consist of.
Every day (except for Fridays) I eat lunch with the Special Needs class, which consists of three people: Tanaka Sensei, ki-chan and chi-chan (nick names, I don't know what their full names are). Every day, Chi-chan comes up to me with a big smile and says, "Jenny-faa, tomorrow lunch, OK?" Yesterday, I thought maybe I would try something new. During lunch, I asked her to bring me a piece of paper and pencil. I wrote on it, "Let's eat lunch together tomorrow!" And had her repeat it several times. (She's a grade 9 student working at the educational level of perhaps a grade four student) To my surprise, when we sat down for lunch today, she said, "Jenny-faa!!"
"Yes, Chi-chan?"
"Let's eat lunch togeza tomorrow!"
I was so proud of her, she didn't even read the sheet! I don't know that she'll still remember the sentance after a week off of school next week, but I was proud none-the-less.
Every day at lunch, Tanaka sensei feeds me miso soup, a Japanese soup that tends to be eaten for breakfast, lunch and supper here. It's rather nice, even if I don't always enjoy it (it seems to be a salty base and then a stew of whatever veggies might be lying around), it always warms me up. Today, Tanaka Sensei asked if I eat tofu, and I replied that I do. Next thing I know, a half of a package of tofu is sitting in a bowl in front of me, with two centimetres of fish flakes on top. Mm-mm! She didn't fry the tofu, she didn't spice it... just plain tofu. A big bowl of it. So I ate it. It's so mushy and flavourless (though that just let the taste of the fish flakes seep through even more)... Not a fan.
It's getting very cold here. I'm not nearly as cold as Kenny, she's farther north and more in the mountains than I am, but I'm still cold. The high today was 12 degrees. Once you're finished thinking, wow, that sounds downright warm compared to this Ontario weather!, please let me explain why 12 degrees is so chilly. What's the first thing that happens in Ontario in the fall when the weather hits 15 degrees and the autumn clouds come rolling around and the wind picks up a bit of a nip? The furnace goes on. Windows are closed. The warmth is kept inside and you only have to face the chilliness when you go out to your car or make the trek from the dorm to the shcool. Not so here in Japan. No buildings of any shape, size or function come equipped with furnace systems. Or heating systems of any sort, for that matter. And for some strange reason, windows and doors are kept wide open. Thus today when it was 12 degrees, cloudy and windy outside, we were experiencing pretty much the same weather inside my school. I wore a tank top, a long sleeved shirt and a hoodie and still I was cold. I drank three mugs of tea throughout the day to thaw out my hands and warm up my insides.
At home I've finally turned on my Kotatsu, my heated table. I sit on my floor cushions and the lower half of my body is in a little heated tent. The top of the table lifts off so as to make it possible to place a blanket over the table without negating the use of the table top while enjoying the warmth. It does keep my toes warm, but my nose has been rather chilly for some time. I contemplated buying a space heater but decided against it. I think that my kotatsu will suffice for now. Last night the temperature hit 8 degrees, which made my apartment a little chilly this morning, but by the 17th of December, the average low at night is 3 degrees. Brr. One thing I'm not looking forward to about that date.
On a happier note, next week is exams for my students so I'm taking some vacation and going to visit kenny on Tuesday night and Wednesday, and then on thursday, friday and Saturday morning, I'll head off to the Snoek Residence. On the 26th at 2pm, I get to attend a Christmas concert in which my PTA choir director will be singing! By the time I return to school on November 28th, I shall be finishing the last few days of November and welcoming the month of December along. Yay for December!

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