Friday, August 7, 2009

All About __(Japan)__

(If you are reading this from an email, you may have to click through to the blogger site to see all of the photos!)

It's been awhile since I've written! At least, it feels like forever because SO much has happened in the meantime.

I will start by telling you all about my job.
Koyo High School is one of the "K Schools"--one of the top four high schools in Okinawa. Um... wow. Talk about an honor! Apparently my recommendations were pretty strong. :) Thanks, Suzan! Debbie! This means a variety of things:
-We have AC. Yes.
-The English Department is really strong and my co-workers are fluent in speaking English (which is surprisingly rare even in English teachers.) Even the kocho-sensei (principal) speaks English! He studied in America and is a super nice guy. I expected some terrifying, uptight, traditional old Japanese man. I like surprises.

{this is not the principal.}

-I will not just be an "assistant" teacher. At the Eng, Dept party last night (which I will tell you more about later), many of the teachers gave speeches--both encouraging and terrifying. The teachers emphasized the high standard they have for their ALTs and the important role we will play in the classroom. Our supervisor stated that the Japanese English Teachers were really the "ALTs" while we were the main teachers--to which the rest of the teachers nodded their agreement. SCARY!
-The students are usually pretty motivated. Not perfect, but pretty great. :) I really like the ones I've met. They have been really eager to talk to me and practice their English, and their curiosity makes me smile.

All about the other perks of Koyo Senior High School:
-The staff not only speaks great English, but are super friendly! Well, not all the staff speaks English, but the ones who don't smile at me kindly when I give them my patented blank stare. I guess here is a good time to talk about the party! Last night the English staff threw all the ALTS a "farewelcome" party--farewell for Rachel and David, welcome for Max and me. We had a rambunctious, wild dinner at an Izakaya restaurant and then spent a few hours at a Karaokee joint. I love the people I work with and am so excited to get to know them better! There are only three women in the English department, and I intend to get to know them. :)

{These are not women}

-Views of the ocean. Can't beat that! :)
-A fancy computer lab where I can control all of the student computers from mine. power trip!
-other things I can't think of right now!

All about Yaese Town
Courtesy of Wikipedia: Yaese was formed on January 1, 2006 by a merger between the town of Kochinda and the village of Gushikami [1]. As of February 2008, Yaese has a population of 26,758
- Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, here is what you really need to know. I live in the "Gushikami (read: village) portion of Yaese. I think Yaese itself is quite spread out because you can drive for awhile and still be within the town, but it is pretty rural. I am quite literally surrounded by sugar cane (sato kibi) fields and there is a distinct smell of fertilizer in the air. There is also a pig farm near the school which is apparently more obvious when the wind shifts. joy. :P
- I don't feel cut off though. I have my old little car and can easily get to the city, the beach, or whatever. There are also two convenience stores within easy reach and countless vending machines, so I never go without canned coffee. Yep, canned coffee. What I have I stooped to??

{this is not canned coffee}

- My little neighborhood has a community house where community members get together for various reasons--such as practicing Eisa, traditional Okinawan dance. My landlord invited me. :D

{This IS Eisa}
-Speaking of my landlord, he is pretty incredible. He is not only giving me the whole month to move out, but he is arranging everything for me: the gas and the uninstalling and reinstalling of the air conditioner and the washing machine. Most landlords here usually have an agent who goes between and they never even talk to their tenants. My landlord is a sweet local man who built this apartment complex for his kids to live in and now just runs it as a sort of hobby. He doesn't need the money, so he isn't out to screw me over. He seemed very excited that I want to try Eisa. :)

{This is my landlord}

All about Okinawa
Okinawa is the exception to every rule... in the best way possible. :)
-All the stuff I learned about the formality of Japan doesn't really apply here. The people are warm and laid back, even my bosses. :) Plus, they wear the equivalent of fancy Hawaiian shirts to work and consider it business attire. Awesome. I want to buy some kariyushi wear!
-I have discovered three beaches within easy distance and they are all glorious in different ways. Love them.

{Miiburu Beach!}

-There are awesome cafes all over the place. Many of them have stunning views of said beaches.

-They love ketchup and mayonaise like the rest of Japan, but add spam to their list of adopted and abused Western cuisine. Why???

All about my life
Getting all set up in a foreign country is both tedious and expensive, but everytime I cross a task off my list I experience extreme satisfaction.
-Bank Account. Now I can get my paycheck and withdraw money at any Family Mart. They are almost as common as the sugar cane here. :)

-Cell phone. My ketai!! It is cute and red and BIG. They don't make them small here.... this thing is as big as my head. :) I already have two "ketai sutrapus" (or charms)--an Ichiro and a boxing Hello Kitty from Round 1, an arcade on speed. The camera on my cell is pretty awesome. I can even change the focus settings and ISO.

{Cell Phone Charm. Picture taken on cell phone!}

-Inkan x2. Instead of signatures, people mostly use inkans here. They are little stamps with your name on them that you carry around in cases. The school gifted us with our Japanese inkans (mine spells su-mi-su) but in order to register it officially it has to have the same name as my passport so it has to be in English. So I went in and bought another inkan ($60!) that just says "Smith". boo. But I like having two. :D

{"Smith" and "Su-Mi-Su")

All about what's left:
-Get my alien registration or "gaijin" (foreigner) card. This is the key to life here in Japan, and I am tired of waiting for it. Usually you can't get a bank account or cell phone without one, but I have a persuasive supervisor.
-Set up the internet in my new place. I think I need my gaijin card for this, but I am going to give it a shot on Monday. The internet here at Rachel's will be gone any minute now... sad.
-Move everything upstairs. I had some amazing friends help me move a TON of stuff into my new apartment, but there is a lot left: bed, other futon, kitchen table, desk, dresser, bookshelf, fridge, microwave... yeah. A lot. But I have time. :)

I am having a blast!

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