Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jet Lagging into the New Year

2011 has finally arrived. It brings the beginning of a new life style for those of us in Kyushu, as the new Shinkansen is scheduled to complete sometime this March/April, which should shed an hour or two off of my trips to Osaka.

Although January is the coldest month here, it's definitely worth it to have all the bugs dead or hiding somewhere in the forrest. Damn bugs. Living here in January is COLD. My friends back in MN might be laughing, saying, '32 degrees? Cold?' but I will remind those of you living your posh lives with things like insulation and central heating that we don't have such comforts here. If you'd like a taste of my winter, just open your windows on the next 32 degree day and try it.

My parents came to visit last year at the beginning of April and Mom tried to heat my whole apartment with one pitiful heater (about the size of a window air-conditioning unit). I had to explain that the walls leak like a sieve and it will just break the heater using it in such a large space. Well, I probably didn't explain it that well or that nicely. I think it was more along the lines of 'What do you think you're doing!?'

In Japan, they tell you to forget everything about last year before you begin the new year. I like this. Forget and just let the new year come. Today I went to class and left the old year at the door. I had been quite worried. So many things didn't go the way I wanted last year. I became frustrated with my kids because I couldn't see that I was helping in any way. Also, I have to say: This is my third year here. I have done these games many times. I have taught these lessons many times. I have dealt with students who don't study and then complain that English is impossible more times than I can count.

Moreover, I'd become frustrated with the work culture here. People being married to jobs, not being able to have any free time at all, even to sleep. It just seemed so strict, so structured, and such a pain. The teachers I spend my days with can't ever go out for a casual drink after work. 1. There's no place to drink here. 2. Japan has a zero tolerance for drinking and driving. Any alcohol in your system earns you an immediate trip to jail, interrogation, and for ALTs, a trip home. 3. The teachers have to work on Saturday and Sunday unless they have small children and are women (and therefore the primary caregiver, and don't have any time).

Yet here I am. For all the bad things, I still like my life here. I like my freezing apartment. I like my genki non-studying students. They really are fun. (It's just hard to make games when they haven't learned the grammar.) I love going to my super market where all the cashier ladies know my name and look so excited to get to chat with me for a few minutes.

And yes, Mom, I love my restaurant that serves some of the most outrageously fabulous parfaits I've ever had. I'll have to get some pictures. Mom and Dad, if you have some of those parfait pics would you send me a copy? If not...guess I'll just have to go do some reconnaissance :D

So you don't need to be in a new place with a new job to have a new year. Leave the old one at the door.

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