About Me

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I'm currently teaching English in Japan and traveling when I can. I don't want to forget anything. So, I try to blog. This is my life.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The cry of my heart today

Draw me close to you
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear you say that I'm your friend
You are my desire
No one else will do
Cause nothing else can take your place
To feel the warmth of your embrace
Help me find the way
Bring me back to you

You're all I want
You're all I've ever needed
You're all I want
Help me know you are near

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Wow, time really goes fast here. It feels like I just blogged yesterday. Saturday night, Sarah and I met up with three other new teachers from the other campus. It stinks that they are so far away. It wouldn't be so bad if one of us could drive, but by train or bus it takes a while to get from one campus to the other. Hopefully after next week Sarah will be able to drive again. Her year permit for driving is up, so she has to get an actual Japanese license. I am definitely not comfortable enough with the roads to even try to drive yet. I still have occasional moments of panic when I see a car turning in the wrong lane towards us, except for them, it is the right lane. I think it will take a while longer until I get the hang of it. I also still have to mentally remind myself to walk to the opposite side of the car as the passenger. Weird. Even when I am walking somewhere, I can't remember which way to look first because I'm not sure which side the cars should be coming from, haha. Although, it's on my life to do list to drive a car like this on the opposite side of the road! So, I will soon be able to cross that off of my list.

Sunday we had fellowship. A bunch of the foreign staff (weird that I am a foreigner) gets together once a month for "church." Singing songs, someone talks, reading the Bible, prayer.. It was really nice to have that. It is weird not going to church twice a week. I am hoping to maybe try to find a church that I can attend. There is one that is a Japanese church, but they hand out the sermon in English. We'll just have to see what I can find.
After fellowship we went out to eat. I had a hard time figuring out what to order. You basically order raw meat and cook it yourself. It wasn't bad. Not my number one pick for food in life, but..I guess maybe for life in Japan it will have to do.

This week I have been at Takamori campus (the campus across town) observing. It's weird being over there, but I have liked being in those classrooms. It is good to see all of the different teaching styles teach the same material. Although the curriculum is very specific, I have seen that you can add your own personality and teaching styles to it as well.
Tomorrow, I will be "teaching" for the first time. Nothing big really. I am supposed to lead stations and lunch, which are the easiest parts of the day I think. Teaching-wise anyway. It will be good to have something to during the day besides just observe. I will actually be alone with the kids for a bit on Monday in Sarah's room. She is going to get her drivers lesson, so I will be watching her class. I'm pretty sure it is just play time, so shouldn't be too hard!

In other news, I am pretty much almost a pro at the whole chopstick thing. I have had a couple of compliments on my skill. Especially from someone that saw me eat my corn that very first day, haha!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Most embarrassing moment in Japan so far...

Thursday and Friday were open house for the two different kindergarten levels. First I watched Sarah's open house. She had about 17 to 18 parents standing in the back of the room watching her teach. Pretty intimidating, but she did an amazing job! Then Friday I watched the five year old kindergarten classes. Everything went really well. Well, except we woke up Friday to about six inches or so of snow. I quickly realized that I need snow boots, all I have are dress boots and those don't quite work well in the snow.

Friday night four of us girls went to dinner and a movie. We went to an all you can eat Italian buffet. The food was pretty good! There was a table full of junior high aged boys who kept daring each other to walk by us and say something..and then they would all laugh. Even their mothers who were at a table next to them. They all just stared at us the whole time. I mean, not the occasional look at us and look away quick, but full on stared. It was awkward, but apparently a very normal thing. When we got up and left, tons of people said, "goodbye" to us. It was funny, but really weird. The movie we went to was in English with Japanese subtitles. They also serve caramel popcorn. Yummy!!

Okay..so on to the most embarrassing moment.. I needed money from the ATM. So, I walked on over there this morning, it's just right down the road. I got there and realized everything was in Japanese, so I just tried pushing buttons and it didn't work. So, I went home and told Sarah and she was supposed to go back with me. Anyway, then I had a meeting. At the meeting they gave us a sheet telling us how to use the ATM. So, after the meeting a few people were going down to the store. The ATM is right beside it, so I decided to be independent and try it on my own. Well....I should have waited for Sarah!

I pressed the right buttons, inserted my card just as it told me. Then it told me to insert my bank book. Which is kind of a log for your banking. Well, the computer screen showed the book opening, closing, and then going in the slot. So, I put the closed book in the slot. Big mistake.. It wouldn't come back out. A little cartoon lady came on the screen saying something, and the speakers inside the atm were saying something, but I had no idea. All I knew was that my book was stuck. So, I contemplated trying to ask someone outside, but really didn't know what to do. I saw a lady and her son walk by. She must have seen my confused face, becuase when I poked my head out the door she was still standing there watching me. She was so sweet and came in and through gestures and a few English words she saw what happened.

There is a help phone in the atm, so she called for help. We somehow managed to communicate to each other enough to tell the dude on the phone what happened. She got off the phone, looked at me, looked at her son, and thought very hard how to tell me what to do. After much thought she said, "Coming. Wait." I gathered that she said someone was coming. Then she said, "I wait." So she waited with me. She was so helpful and sweet! Luckily, Rumi, who is like our translator for anything that we need.. (doctor appointments, travel arrangements, anything really) she found out what was going on and came out to help. So the lady left and Rumi told me it'd be five minutes. Anyway, about this time a bunch of people I knew started coming out and all saw me stuck in the atm. So, this repair man came and had to unlock the back of the machine and get my little book out. Then he showed me that you have to open the book before you put it in. Thanks Mr. Repairman. I gathered as much!

So, I felt like an idiot. Thank goodness for that nice lady, I'm not sure what I would have done without her! People here are so helpful to foreigners. They really are patient with us and go out of their way to help us sometimes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Japanese food makes my clothes stink!

My coat still smells like oconomiyaki from the other night. I need to wash it so bad. Tonight we went to the dinner hall and I came out smelling like curry. My clothes just absorb the smells, I guess. Guess that just means the clothes that I would normally wear a couple times without washing will now be washed after every wear. (Yes..I admit to re-wearing clothes without washing, so what.)

Today I got to spend time with the K-4 class. Half of which will be my kids come April. It was good to see them in the classroom in advance. I got to see the bossy ones, the super smart ones, the ones who are a little spacey. Things to watch out for in my classroom. Speaking of, I can't wait to rearrange and decorate and make my room mine.

So I got my wii in the mail today from my parents. I am so excited! I took it up to Sarah's apartment (since I don't have a tv yet) and we played. It's pretty hilarious to watch someone else play, especially boxing! I love my wii fit and can't wait to play it more! I think we will have fun with this thing. I do want to get more games eventually, but, apparently you can't play the wii games here on wii's bought in America. Dumb. I'm pretty sure the things are made in Japan.

Once again, nothing too exciting for the day. Oh! Except, apparently we have had 2 earthquakes since I have been here. I have not felt either one. One on Sunday morning, and one tonight. Sarah and I were playing wii when it happened I think, so we never would have known. I am excited to feel an earthquake, but not too big of one! I think I might freak out!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today was another full day. I was in the other K-5 room observing today. It was good to watch Anne because she is the teacher that I will be working with the most. I think we will work well together. I don't think I realized how much there is to do before my class starts. And, at the same time, I really don't know what all I have to do. I don't know what I will have, what will be left for my classroom, what I need to come up with on my own and make on my own. It's all a little overwhelming when I think about it. But, Sarah kind of calmed me a bit today as I started to be overwhelmed. Anne is great at telling me what she thinks I should do in advance. But, it's hard to do without a room and knowing exactly what I will be doing. It's challenging to say the least. It's good to know Sarah went through the same thing last year so she knows kind of what to tell me and such.

I am excited though. Sometimes I am scared that maybe I have forgotten everything that I learned in college, but hopefully it starts to come back to me as I start doing stuff. I wish I would have gotten this job straight out of student teaching. I feel a little rusty. I know the timing is the way that it is for a reason though.

Tomorrow I am in a K-4 room. So half of the kids I will be observing will be mine come April! I am excited about that. At least the kids will come into my room at least knowing my face and name. Thursday and Friday this week are open house. Open house here is quite intimidating. Parents, grandparents, siblings, whoever..they come to school with the child and pretty much watch the teachers teach and interact with the kids. I can't imagine 30 adults in the room just watching my every move! Luckily, I am only observing this time. :)

I finally got my bank card, so I can go get money out of the ATM. My name is written in Japanese symbols, so hopefully it is my card anyway!

Nothing too exciting today, sorry! :)

Love and miss you...

Monday, February 16, 2009


Now, some of you might think, "God bless you" after reading that title, but it is actually what I had for dinner last night. :) Sarah, another girl Nancy, and I went to a true Japanese restaurant last night. We sat on the floor and everything! See:

I was a little nervous about the food, but I was assured you could get pork or beef and it wouldn't have any sneaky seafood in it. They truly do that here, seems like everything has some sort of seafood in it and they fail to mention that! I mean, I try..but, honestly, one taste of fishiness, and my dinner is usually ruined. I can't get that taste out of my mouth, and..it kinda makes me want to gag. Haha, sorry to those of you fish fans. :)

Anyway, oconomiyaki is actually kind of like a pancake, though not really. You order what you want and then it comes in a big bowl. On the bottom of the bowl is a pancake-type batter. Then all your toppings (I got pork, carrots, cheese, and corn) and an egg on top of all that. It looked like this:

Then, you mix it all up and pour it onto the grill thing, just like a pancake! You flatten it out and then let it cook for a few minutes:
After it has started to brown, you flip it...
Then, while it is cooking, you add some toppings. There is this brown sauce that kinda seems like bbq sauce, it was a little sweet. That's all I put on mine. However, there is seaweed, fish flakes, and mayo for those a bit more daring. I tried Sarah's with it all on there and it really wasn't too bad.
This was my finished product, and it was yummy!
So, I was pretty proud of myself that I actually liked a true Japanese dish. Baby steps, right?

Today was my first day observing in a classroom all day. I was in the room that will be my actual room come April. The kids were so stinkin' cute! I had a lot of fun with them. And, I honestly think I can do this job. And do it well for that matter. That's not to say it will not be challenging, but I really feel confident that I can be a good teacher to these kids. I got my class list today with all of my kids names on it. I will have 9 boys and 7 girls. I am so excited! I've started working on materials and stuff for my class. It's all starting to seem a little more real that I am going to be a real teacher. It is not, however, starting to seem more real that I live in Japan. I think I'm still in a state of shock or something..it doesn't even register in my mind yet. However, it does make me think about it when I get home from work at 5pm and want to call someone and realize that it is 2am back home. Guess it will just take some getting used to and some planning on my part.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

1 week down..

I can't believe I have been in Japan for a week. At the same time, I can't believe I've only been in Japan a week! It went by so fast, but at the same time it seems like I left the States so long ago! I haven't blogged in a few days, so I will try to remember what I did on those days. Thursday, we went and opened our bank accounts and got medical insurance. So, I am now insured in Japan which is a good thing! Then I went to work for about two hours. I just was listening to the songs and trying to learn the chants and books that we will be using to teach. Thursday night Sarah and I made dinner. We went to the grocery store and decided we were going to make meat loaf. Um, I had never made meat loaf, and honestly hardly ever even eaten it! But, it actually turned out really good! We also made mashed potatoes, frozen vegetables, and s'mores! She made some kind of stuffed dumpling thing, I forget what it is called. It was actually pretty good.

Friday we had a meeting with our supervisors. Then I went and helped with a Valentines Day party. I got to spend some time in Sarah's class just hanging out with her kids. Some of those kids will be my kids soon! They are so cute! And they really can speak English after just one year, it's amazing! Friday night I went to dinner with Sarah and another girl, Anne. We went to a Japanese American restaurant. I got french toast. :)

Saturday we went on a tour of downtown. They showed us good places to buy bigger people clothes and shoes. Also, the import store where they have some things you can't get here. Of course they are super expensive! But, if you have a real craving..that's the place to go! At lunch I tried miso (spelling?) soup. It had seaweed in it, and tofu. But, it actually wasn't horrible. Maybe the food is growing on me...probably not! Yesterday was a long day. We were pretty much walking from 10am until we got back at like 6:30pm.

Saturday night, a couple of the girls made dinner for a bunch of us. Then we watched Mama Mia on the projector in the basement of the school. It was fun to get to hang out with all of the girls. I wish I hadn't been so tired though. It's hard to try to get to know a bunch of people in a huge group like that, at least for me. Also, I feel like some of these girls feel like they know me somewhat because of Sarah talking about me and stuff. So, sometimes it's like added pressure because they feel like they know me, or have a certain idea of what I am like, and then I just feel weird. The real me is shy, and I've been trying my best to not be, but sometimes it's just hard to open up to new people so much.

Overall, my first week in Japan was really good. I have been having some really bad jaw pain, so I am praying that it gets better and I don't have to go to another dentist over here. Other than that, life is great!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Japanese holidays

Today was a holiday. I have no idea what it is, but we didn't have to do anything today so it was nice! We decided to take the subway downtown just to see what was there. Six of us went, and it was fun. There are tons of really cool looking shops, I am excited to check them out in the future. We ate at some hamburger place. Haha, I'm in Japan and I get a cheeseburger and fries. The food will just have to change slowly for me I think. We also went to another 100 yen shop. Only this one, was amazing! It was like, six stories tall. They had so much more! I could seriously spend a whole day there. I love that store. I just got to do a quick look though, because there were other people with me, so I didn't want to be rude. But, one day soon, I will be sure to cover every inch of that place!

I am sore today! My legs are hurting a bit from all of the walking and stair climbing! My campus is set on a pretty big hill. Luckily, where I will be working is at the bottom of that hill, along with my apartment. But, in order to get to the dining hall, or the main part of campus, you have to climb a ton of stairs! They make me nervous because they are all uneven and stuff. I will definitely get a nice workout just trying to get around this place!

Tonight, they took us bowling. It was really fun! They have shoe dispensers kind of like a soda machine! (That's what the picture is, you buy your shoes from the locker looking thing, and then you return them into the little white rectangle door to the left.)You put your money in whatever size shoe you need and it shoots out the bottom. Pretty cool idea! I bowled a 112 tonight, so I was pretty proud of myself! I had a lot of fun with the new teachers and got to know some of the older teachers as well.

After bowling they took us back to the other campus and had a welcome party for us new teachers. They had tacos and then sushi. I stuck to the tacos. It was nice just hanging out with people and getting to know them. I am super tired tonight though.

I learned a couple of new words today as well. I learned "You are welcome" "Go ahead" I'm sorry" and I think that is all. I sometimes get them confused, but I am working on it! I just want to learn enough to be able to function. It will certainly take a lot of time and practice though!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feeling good

Well, I live in Japan. Ha. That still doesn't quite seem real to me yet. Yesterday we met for lunch. We went to a buffet. Wow, there was some crazy stuff there. All kinds of sushi, octopus, basically everything truly Japanese. I ate noodles, rice, and corn. They also had all kinds of raw meat that you take back to your table and grill on this little grill built into the table. Some of the raw meats were marked "beef" and "pork" so I think I was pretty safe in what meats I got. It was fun to watch it cook, and it tasted like regular meat. I have decided that using chopsticks to eat corn is a very difficult task. Some of the teachers that have been here a while were trying to show me how to properly hold them, but I just don't have good control over them yet! I'm sure after a year of using them, I will have it down! Hopefully.

After lunch we went back to the campuses and met a bunch of the older teachers. I do not think I remember one name..there are so many of them! I did finally get to see Sarah King today! After she got off work she came over and we hung out for a while before dinner. We went to dinner at the school. It was some kind of noodles. Wasn't bad. They also read a chapter out of the Bible at dinner as well, which was interesting. I was in bed at 9 last night and up at 7:30 this morning. I am feeling a little sluggish, but really, I think I beat jet lag a bit.

Today, we had a meeting with the principal. Then we went out back to the playground of the school. Let me just tell you that these schools put every playground I have ever seen to shame. They have amazing slides. I mean, lawsuits waiting to happen in America. Today, we went down a 30 meter slide! Not 30 feet..30 meters! They have a net about three feet in front of the bottom to catch you from falling down the hill if you can't brake enough. It was super fun!! They have the tallest slides ever. And amazing playground equipment. Here are a couple pictures of the 30 meter slide. It really doesn't do it justice though!!

We went to the bank to exchange a little bit of money today. Then we went to make ourselves legal. Signed some papers and such, and then had Starbucks!

Tonight, Sarah and I went to an Italian restaurant. It was about a 15 minute walk...I'm going to have to get used to walking everywhere! We also went into some shops. They have this one store, 100 yen store. Which is the equivalent of our dollar stores. However, this store has EVERYTHING. It is so cool! I could spend so much time in there! Some stuff is a little more than 100 yen, but for the most part it's all about a dollar. They have everything though. Dishes, rugs, food, makeup, everything. Cute stuff. :)

I learned three words in Japanese tonight. Thank you, excuse me, and please. I have no idea how to spell them..but, I can say them! I also learned that you aren't supposed to hand your money to a cashier. You are supposed to lay it in this little tray that they have. I guess they don't like touching your hand. Weird. That will take some getting used to. Anyway, I made it to 11:00 tonight! I really think I'm doing well as far as jet lag goes. But, I am ready for bed! Tomorrow we have the day off. It's a national holiday. So I am going downtown with some girls. Then tonight they are taking us bowling and then having a welcome party for all of the new teachers. Should be a fun day! Goodnight from Japan!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I made it!

I am officially in Japan. Wow, it was a long trip. I had a great time in Seattle and am so glad that we had to spend a few days there before flying to Japan. It was a great chance to get to know the other new teachers. We also got to go tour Safeco field where the Seattle Mariners play. It was pretty cool! We even got to go down into the clubhouse and see where they keep their stuff and get ready, their workout room, their medical room, and got to walk up to to the dugout the same way they do. It was fun! I have pictures, maybe I will post some later on.

We met this morning (or yesterday morning, or two mornings ago, oh you know what I mean) at 8:50 at the hotel. We loaded up the luggage and headed to the airport. Our flight was supposed to leave at 1. We boarded the plane, started to drive, and then stopped. We ended up going back to the gate because they said a computer didn't reset. Then they said that the fuel gauge wasn't working right so we needed to add more fuel. Then they said they had to fix something on the wing.. The pilot told us four minutes, which turned into about 2 and a half hours. So, before we took off on our almost 11 hour flight, we got to sit at the gate on the plane an extra 2 and a half. Ugh. But, the time actually went by pretty quickly. I watched 2 and a half movies, read quite a bit, listened to music, and slept about an hour. We finally made it into the airport and through customs. Then, we had a six hour bus ride. We stopped to eat. I got Ramen. Which, is really like Ramen noodles only supposedly higher quality and better. It had a funny flavor to it, but it was okay. Food is something I will struggle with here.

We finally made it to the first school to drop a couple of people off. Sara Beeler, my old RA and friend was there waiting for us. It was good to see her! Then they drove us to our campus. A lady named Katherine drove me to my apartment. It is super cute! It's on the first floor (thank the Lord, I don't think we could have carried the luggage up the stairs). She showed me how everything works, lots of buttons and such. They stocked us up on some food to get us through until we exchange our money and get to the store. They really take care of us. It's encouraging to see how well they treat their teachers. I think that this will be an amazing experience and that I will get to know some great people here.

It is 3:50am Japan time. I am awake. I did sleep on the bus, so that is throwing me off a bit. However, I am starting to drag, so sleep should be coming soon. The next few days we will just be taking care of things (opening bank accounts and such). Tomorrow I should get to see Sarah King and I can't wait! I have missed her so much and am so excited to have her back in my life again!! Okay. I think I need sleep. I will post pictures soon. I'll also take some of my apartment and post them as well!

The toilet seats here are amazing by the way! They are heated and I love it! Not too excited about using squatty potties though, which they do have a lot of as well.

Enough for now. If you are reading this, I love you and miss you but am so excited for what comes next in my life!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sleepless in Seattle

Well, I officially left yesterday. However, I am only in Seattle. I will be here until Saturday for training. Yesterday was such a long day. I had major issues packing, everything weighed way too much! And, at 10:00 at night I realized that my big suitcase was 2 inches too big. They would have charged me at $300 for 2 extra inches of suitcase! So, I went to Walmart and bought a new suitcase and had to re-pack. Ugh..I hate packing!! Well, I had to leave at 3:15am for the airport. Needless to say, my mom came upstairs at 3:05 and I was just finishing and hopping in the shower..no sleep for me!

Saying goodbye was hard. My mom, Kelli, and Tanner took me to the airport. It was a bit emotional to say the least. I got on the plane and luckily I had my own row. I used my little pillow that my aunt bought me and I do not even remember taking off. I woke up off and on through the flight, but I slept through the landing as well. I have never done such a thing and am quite shocked that I slept through it! I had a layover in Minneapolis. I did meet up with two of the other teachers there. They are a married couple. We had a few minutes to chat before we got on the plane. We flew into Seattle and went down to get our luggage. We were collecting our bags, and as I am grabbing one, I see another one (my brand new suitcase) get stuck on the side of the belt and rip open. It ripped the zipper off and was halfway open on top. Sad. I was with a bunch of people I had just met so I was trying to play it off as no big deal. I was freaking out on the inside a little bit though!! We ended up taking it to the claims department and they gave me a brand new suitcase! It's a tad bigger and honestly, better quality! So, thankfully that worked out.

Yesterday we went to apply for our visas and then just got to go around town and do some sightseeing. We went to the fish market and the first Starbucks. I was in bed and asleep at 8:30, haha. I was so tired.

Today was our first day of training. We basically just practiced the phonics that we will be teaching. Instead of teaching the basic sounds first, we will be teaching all of the sounds for one letter at once. It's hard to explain while typing. Anyway, it's very different from how I was taught or how most people still teach. Although, it makes sense. So we were practicing the sounds, as well as writing the letters really big in the air backwards. That doesn't sound so hard, but try it! I think I have the hardest time with the letter 'g'. We have to do it backwards so that it looks the same to the kids when they do it. We also have to hold out the letter card while we write the letter backwards and say all of the sounds. It's a lot to do at the same time. After practicing a bit, it got much easier though.

The training today made me feel a little more confident in what I will be doing. A lot of what we talked about, I had learned before. And the stuff that we will be doing is stuff that I really think I can handle. If I didn't have any background in teaching, it would probably be overwhelming. But I am feeling okay about it all so far.

Tonight, they took us to this really nice seafood place right on the water. It was so beautiful with the mountains in the background. However, I do not like seafood. I ordered a pork chop. I did try a muscle (ew!) and salmon (ew). The salmon wasn't as bad as the muscle, but both were gross. At least I tried them though, right?

The training is good, I am glad for the time that we have here to get to know each other as well. I am ready to just be in Japan and get started though! Three more days until we leave. Honestly, I just feel like I'm on a trip. It doesn't seem real. It will soon sink in I think, I'm just not sure when.