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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I am a foreigner

It is a weird feeling to think of myself as an alien, or foreigner. But, I really am. People stare. People talk about us. They laugh. I've really learned to tune them out for the most part though. I'm used to not understanding what someone is saying to me, or about me. I'm used to not being able to read the signs around me.
Tonight I decided to ride my bike down to McDonald's for dinner. I kind of explored a bit on my way. I just got my bike yesterday, so I haven't had much time to ride around on it. I rode a ways past McDonald's and then decided to turn back. As I was turning back, I passed some dude riding a bike. He was a foreigner as well. He said something to me and stopped to talk. We talked for like five minutes. He was born in Morocco, but moved to the States as a kid. Kinda lived all over. He said anytime he sees a foreigner he tries to stop and talk. He was really nice. Maybe 35 or so? He had a hat on so it was hard to tell. Never in my life have I been the type to just randomly stop and talk to random strangers, but apparently that will become a new part of my life.
We also talked to a foreigner on the subway this weekend. He had on a Boy Scouts shirt from St. Louis, so that struck up a conversation and he ended up talking to us the whole ride. His wife actually went through MeySen (the school that I work for) when she was growing up here.

I officially have a classroom. The teacher cleaned out most of her stuff today. I will say, the bare walls and empty shelves is a bit overwhelming right now. Luckily I will have a week or so to get things going in there. I leave for South Korea tomorrow. I'm pretty impressed with my packing, but, it is still getting close to the weight limit. I mean, it's fine for on the way there. But, if I buy much (which I am really planning/hoping to) it could be an issue. I will just have to stuff my backpack as much as possible I guess. I am excited for the trip. Hopefully it will be an amazing time. We are staying in a hostel, so that alone will be an experience! We might have access to the internet there, I'm not sure. I will try to update if so. If not, I'll see ya on the 1st! Well, maybe I will write on the 1st anyways. :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I am sorry

For some reason, I can't comment on my own blog. I don't understand it. I can read your comments, but I can't comment back. I promise I am not ignoring your comments. I appreciate them! Thanks for reading, I love and miss you guys!!

Yesterday was fun. I went shopping for cleaning supplies, haha. I decided it was time to break down and buy a mop and duster and a few other things. After scrubbing the kitchen floor with a rag, a mop sounded like a good idea. Today I will be cleaning my apartment really well since I have people coming over tonight. Not that it is really dirty, just could use a good scrub down.

Then yesterday afternoon, I met two of my friends (Christina and Joey) at the subway station. We took the subway downtown. Our original plan to do the tour bus did not work out since we got such a late start. So, we just walked through downtown for a bit. I felt bad because really the only thing to do (that we know of) is look a shops and such. I know that probably wasn't much fun for the guy that we were with, but, he was a trooper. After that, we took the subway part of the way back and at at the yummy Italian place. I actually got really good food this time, no rice! Then, I had to walk back from the subway station (a different one than I walked to that morning, which was just a straight shot down the main road by my apartment). Sarah and I walked to and from this one earlier this week so I could learn my way back on my own this weekend. I had to walk through a park, in the dark, by myself. In Japan, that really isn't a big deal. It's pretty much one of, if not the safest country in the world. But, I just have a bad perception of walking alone in the dark through a park from America, I think. It was a little creepy, but really wasn't too bad. I am sure my grandma would probably yell at me for it, haha. But, I just have to keep reminding myself how safe Japan truly is. I was just proud that I remembered my way back!!

Today is cleaning, going to the store to get sodas, and having fellowship. Will be fun to have people over. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009


Who knew Kindergarten graduation was such a big deal? I don't even think we had a kindergarten graduation when I was little. If we did, I sure don't remember it. (Imagine that) Thursday was the last full day with the kids at school. We had a farewell lunch down in the hall. Sloppy joes, apples, bread with jelly or chocolate spread, and Mister Donuts! My kind of meal, if you ask me. :) The kids really enjoyed it, I can't believe how much they ate!

Then yesterday (Friday) was graduation. It was so cute, and honestly next year when those are my kids graduating, I am going to bawl like a baby! I mean, I got a little teary eyed this time and I was only with those kids for a few weeks! The actual graduation was cute..they sang a few songs. Some in English, some in English and Japanese. It's so cute to see them speaking Japanese because I often forget that they do speak something other than English! They marched up and got diplomas, there was a speaker (in Japanese, no clue what he said.), then there was a snack time. Cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, candy bars, soda, all kinds of goodies. We had our ceremony in the morning, and then had to go over to the other campus for their ceremony in the afternoon. Needless to say, it made for a very long day!

After the second graduation, they served us dinner. Um, it was sushi. I tried one, okay? I decided that I do not like seaweed. The sushi that I had was just rice and shrimp. I tried the shrimp by itself, and it wasn't horrible. But wasn't really something that I could see myself ordering for it's great taste. I pretty much ate a cupcake that my boss gave me, haha. It's okay though, at least I can say I have tried sushi since I have been here. Sarah says there is better sushi, with eggs, or cucumbers, no seafood. Maybe someday. But, no thanks on the seaweed part, please.

Last night, the girls that I work with all went to the cabin. It was a farewell weekend for the people leaving. I was a little worried, because I haven't really spent a weekend night by myself since I have been here. And, I know sometimes it's easy to get emotional or sad when you have time to sit and think about it. But, I really had a good night. I rearranged my apartment (again) and hung up some picture frames, a bulletin board, and my world map. Trying to make my apartment a bit more cozy.

Today, two of my friends from the other campus are meeting me downtown and we are going on The Loople. Which is a tour bus of some of the most popular points (or most historical/cultural) in Sendai. Hopefully it will be a fun day. It is sunny out and semi-warm, so I am happy! Sunday night we are having fellowship in my apartment since there are only a few of us left here and not at the cabin. It will be fun. I haven't really had anyone over (besides Sarah) so I am excited to have people here.

4 days until South Korea!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


A week from tomorrow I will be in South Korea. I am excited and really hope it turns out to be a fun trip. Today I was in Sarah's room, and tomorrow I will be in the other K-4 class. Sunday was a lazy day for the most part. The only thing I left my apartment for was fellowship Sunday night. I did clean and do some laundry, so I was somewhat productive inside of my apartment.
Yesterday Rumi took me to the bank. Turns out I did enter the wrong pin number (I just started second guessing myself..ugh). Anyway, after three wrong tries, your card isn't good anymore. So you can't go in and have them reset it, they have to mail you a completley new card. Frustrating. But, it's my fault I guess. Although, I'd like to see you try to get money out of an atm that is all in Japanese. :)

Today, my supervisor took me out driving! She drove us to a smaller, less busy neighborhood and had me drive around it for a while, and then drive to the other campus and back to ours from there. I have been really nervous about driving, but once I got behind the wheel it really wasn't that bad. She had a good tip.. to always have your body on the inside line. Which, is the same in the States, it's just your body is on the other side of the car. That really helped a lot, especially with right hand turns!! She told me she was impressed..I was the first person she has taken out that didn't accidently turn on the windshield wipers when they were trying to turn on the turn signal. It's so weird having the gear shift in the middle on your left side, the windshield wipers on the left side, the blinker on the right side, and the rearview mirror up on the left. It will take some getting used to. And, today I was driving a little car. The vehicle we get to use is a big ole van. Yikes. Oh well. She signed my papers, so as soon as I get a key I can actually take the van and go when I need to. Well, when it's available that is. This whole campus shares one van, but it doesn't seem too hard to get. So, I am pretty excited about being able to drive!

This afternoon, Sarah and I had to walk up to the top of the hill to turn in some paperwork. Instead of walking down all of the steps back to our building, we decided to take the big slide. One of the perks of being a kindergarten teacher..you get to act like a kid and no one will think anything of it. It was fun!! Later on, we had to go back up and decided to take the slide back down again. This time Anne was with us. We attempted to make a train, but..haha, it didn't quite work. It was fun though!! I love acting like a kid sometimes!

Also, today was the first day that my computer told me the temperature was higher here than in Bethalto. Come on spring!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Life is good

Thursday I taught the other K-5 class. It was a rough day. There were some rowdy boys in the class that I kind of had some issues with. I probably could have fixed the problem had I come down on them in the very beginning. But, it's hard to find the line between being firm and being mean. I don't want to be mean! I taught that class again on Friday and told them from the very beginning how the day was going to go and that what I expected of them. It went so much better than the day before. The boys pushed a little bit, but I kinda stopped them in their tracks before they really even got started. The day was fun!

Well, the teaching part of the day was fun anyway.. They say bad things happen in 3's right? First, I kinda flew off the slide. Haha. I was on the really long one. And there was bird stuff on it, so I was trying to avoid it and kinda lost track of how fast I was going and how far I was from the end. I still had time to slow myself down, but I didn't have on tennis shoes. I had slip on brown shoes, and well..apparently they are slick! I couldn't slow myself down enough..haha. Good thing they put a little fence like 3 feet in front of the slide, cuz I would have flown down the hill. I did bang up my knees and leg, two really nice bruises and some scrapes. Haha. Luckily, none of my kids saw me! How embarrassing! But, I got up laughing, so it's okay.
After school, I went over to the ATM to get money out so I could buy a tv if I found one since were were going to look. Well, if you remember..I have not had the best of luck with the ATMs here. I think they have it out for me. I must have accidently put in the wrong pin or something. But, I guess it locked me out. I kept trying it, and even left and let all of these people that had been waiting in line go. Then I went back in, and still, it wouldn't work. It kept spitting out this paper with my card, and of course I can't read it. So, I walked back home and got Sarah and Anne. Anne went in with me, and well..it still wouldn't work. So, I basically am money-less until Monday (hopefully) when I can get Rumi to call or go with me to the bank to get things figured out.
The third thing of the day? We went to eat at Coco's, which is American-type food. (French toast and french fries is my normal meal there!) Anyway, we ordered dessert. I got ice cream with brownies, strawberries, and whipped cream. Very yummy! I had finished (luckily) and reached to move or get something and knocked the glass over. It pretty much broke into a few pieces. Whoops. Embarrassment number three for the day. The waitress is all apologetic and asking if I am okay like it was her fault or something. That's the difference between America and here man..they are so nice here, always.

Today, I got my haircut. It was..interesting. There is a christian lady that one of the girls here met at church that does hair. She speaks some English, but recommended we bring in a picture just in case. So I brought in my pictures..a combination of Jennifer Aniston (layers) and one of the Olsen twins (bangs). Haha. There were two ladies there doing hair. Sarah and I were getting ours done at the same time. I specifically told the lady to please not thin my hair. Apparently they tend to thin hair when you are getting it cut, and honestly, if I thinned my hair I wouldn't have any left. I told the lady not to take much off the length, just a little to get the dead ends. At first, she was hardly cutting it, and I almost told her to take a little more. Boy am I glad I didn't! The lady just kept cutting and cutting. I'm pretty sure she was trying to thin the left side of my head to match the right side. But my hair was parted way on the right, so I didn't really have a whole lot of hair on that side. And, she kept trying to match the picture EXACTLY. I mean, the picture was just for an idea.. but she would cut, cut, cut..lay it down like Jennifer Anistons, and then cut, cut, cut some more. I seriously was starting to panic a bit. All in all..I don't hate my hair. I'm not sure if I love it or even like it..but, I don't hate it. It's growing on me, I think. It's really not even that different than before. Just kinda shorter bangs and some more layers. And..a little thinner. Ugh.

I can't wait for spring. I am so tired of cold and random snowflakes. Overall, I really am loving life here. Hopefully soon, I will be driving. I will also have a bike, so getting around will be much easier. Life is good. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One more thing

My heart just breaks for the church in Maryville. It makes being here in Japan a little more real to hear of something like that happening so close to my hometown. I can not even begin to imagine what that church is going through. My heart goes out to the pastor's family and to that entire church. My heart also hurts for the family of the man that did this. No one will ever understand why things like this happen. The church and all of the families involved are in my prayers.

Nothing too exciting

Wow, time goes by so fast and I completely forget to blog. Not that anything too terribly exciting has happened since my last blog. This past weekend, I went out for Sara's birthday Friday. Which..as a follow-up on that amazing Italian food I was going to get. Can I just say one word. Disappointment. Geez. I ordered Parmesan cheese riscotta or something. I have no idea. It sounded like cheesy pasta, which sounded amazingly good. Well, imagine my disappointment when it came out and was cheesy rice. Ugh! Rice. I eat rice like every single day (well, it seems that way). Needless to say, Sarah and I are going to go back to that restaurant sometime soon so I can actually get some good pasta.

Saturday Sarah and I went shopping. We went downtown and were gone for six and a half hours! I could not believe it. I bought a lot of miscellaneous things. A baking pan, things for my classroom, Kraft macaroni and cheese (from the import store, yum!) and a bunch of other little stuff. Oh, I also bought a world map. However, it is backwards. North America is on the right hand side instead of the left. Weird. Threw me off a little bit, but I guess it isn't really backwards to the people living here. Who knows.

Saturday night we had a get together for Sara and a couple other teachers who have birthdays this month. It was fun. Everyone brought snacks, and we played games. Catch phrase. I like that game, especially when you play with close friends because they tend to get your way of thinking!

Sunday was a lazy day for the most part. We had fellowship Sunday night, which was a good time. Just got together, sang some worship songs, a short message, a testimony, communion. We also ate dinner together. I think I am going to try a church this Sunday morning. I would really like to get involved in one.

Monday I taught the other K-4 class. Half of those kids will be mine in April. The day went really well. I think it will be interesting mixing the kids from each class. There is a different atmosphere and dynamic to each room. I am anxious to see how that all comes together in my room. I must say though, I am truly falling in love with my kids. They aren't even my kids yet! They are bunnies and puppies for another two weeks!

Speaking of two weeks..I leave for South Korea in exactly two weeks from today. I am getting excited about that. We will be going to the biggest church in the world, the DMZ (demilitarized zone), cheap shopping (hopefully some good knock-off stuff) and there is even a beach we are going to try to go to. I am not sure what else is on the agenda, but hopefully it will be a fun trip.

Today I taught one K-5 class and tomorrow I will teach the other one. Today went really well, which surprised me since going into it I didn't know hardly any of the kids names. That always makes me nervous. But, things went really smoothly.

I went to the dentist yesterday, I can tell a difference in how I bite down now. She evened out my bite. Hopefully it will relieve some of the pressure on my jaws and teeth. Which, the past few days have been much much better! Just kind of a dull ache, which I can honestly handle. Thanks for the prayers!

Friday, March 6, 2009

5 Little Monkeys

Today was a good day. I taught Sarah's class again. It went really well. I think I am getting the hang of things here. On Monday I will be in the other K-4 class teaching. I am a little nervous because I do not know very many names, which makes teaching a bit more challenging.

I met the mom of one of my kids today. She was really nice and spoke English very well. She has been to the States. I didn't talk to her long, but she seemed like she will be good to work with. Working with the parents, getting to know them, is something I have been worried about. Some of them know a little English, so that will help.

Yesterday was new student orientation for the new 4 year olds coming in April. They got to come in with their parents and play for a while. Then all of us teachers led some songs and read some stories. One story we did was "5 Little Monkeys." We acted this one out, haha. I was a monkey and had a monkey picture strapped to my head. I guess when you teach kindegarten you just have no shame!

Yesterday I went and got my re-entry visa. So I can now legally go in and out of Japan. Which is good since I am going to South Korea later this month. I can't believe how fast time is going. I am getting so excited about my class and classroom. There is a class in my room, so I haven't really been able to do anything with the actual room yet. But, I have been working on my materials for it. I think I have decided that the theme of my room is going to be the ocean, or under the sea or something of the sort. We are dolphins, afterall. And, our first unit is The Ocean, I believe. I found really cute name cards that have fish and such on it. I think my circle is going to be crabs and fish for the kids to sit on. My word wall, I am going to do in all different shades of blue (thanks for the idea, Sarah!). I really had no idea what to do in my room, but now that I have this ocean idea, I can't wait to think of cute things to use! I am getting so excited!!

Today is Sara Beeler's birthday, so we are going to this really good Italian restaurant. Sarah and I went there my first weekend here. The owner speaks English and went to school in Italy, so it is true Italian. Well, as true Italian as it gets in Japan!
(I just had to add this last paragraph for those of you that read my blog just to see what I have to say about food in every entry!) :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Dolphins

Last night, I went to sleep and did not wake up until the sun was up. I couldn't believe it. Lately, I have been waking up every hour and a half or so, get up, put my heat pack in the microwave, and go back to bed. I woke up and my mouth wasn't even hurting at all. Which, was awesome since I was teaching Sarah's class all day today.

Teaching went really well! The kids actually listened to me, and I think we all had fun. Halfway through the day we had to go up to the main campus at the top of the hill for Bible Talk. It was all in Japanese, but there were pictures so I at least knew what was being talked about from those! The kids sat so quiet and listened to every word that was said, it was pretty amazing! The walk up was cold, so..my mouth started hurting again. Ugh..I am so tired of this!

After that I taught some more, had lunch, and then sent all of the kids downstairs. Downstairs, the kids found out which K-5 class they will be in next year. Dolphins (my class) or Penguins. They also found out that I will be their teacher. I was up in Sarah's room playing a game with a boy who will not be coming back next year. The next thing I know, I see a bunch of kids in purple hats (the Dolphin hats) peeking in the door, and they all shout, "We're dolphins!" and then come and pile on top of me! It was sooo cute, and such a good feeling! I really only kind of know half of them, but everyone seemed pretty excited! Sarah took our first class picture. I will have to post it when I get it from her. It kinda started to set in today that I will have my own class next year (the school year starts in April)! I've been working in other peoples classes, helping out..kind of like in college for my practicums. But, pretty soon, those kids will be mine! I can't wait!

I also went to the dentist today. I did not get much accomplished there, but..that is another story. I am going back next week, so hopefully this pain issue will be resolved soon!

Monday, March 2, 2009

I wish I had a TV

Well, this weekend we went out to the cabin. It is on the ocean and is beautiful! Somehow we managed to have a beautiful day on Saturday, so we were able to spend a lot of time outside. The view from the cabin was beautiful. It was just a short little hike down to the rocks on the water, too. It was so awesome to stand and look out across the water. Funny to think if you just kept going you would eventually run into America! Sometimes I forget how far away I really am. This was the view from our cabin:
This is where we walked down to:

It was beautiful! That night they grilled out for us and we all just hung out and played games. There was also a bonfire. It was really fun hanging out with everyone, getting to know people more.

Throughout the night Saturday I didn't sleep much because my jaw/teeth were hurting so bad. We got up Sunday morning, I was feeling a little bit queasy, from the medicine I thought. So I pretty much ate breakfast and went back to bed. Later on that afternoon, I think I took enough pain medicine that I was feeling okay for a while. We went to the fish market. Let me just say...ew. I mean, interesting, but ew. I am not sure what came over me, but without even thinking I decided to try a sample of the raw octopus. Big mistake. It was horrible..more the texture than the taste. Anyway, I have pictures but they are on Sarah's camera. I'll put them up once I get them from her!

We went back to the cabin and played games for a while. I felt okay for a while, but then started to feel worse and worse. My mouth and my stomach were both bothering me. I actually ended up pretty sick, and stayed home from work today as well. I hated doing it, but I really didn't have much of an option. My stomach is feeling a lot better and I've actually kept a couple pieces of toast down this afternoon, so hopefully it was just a small bug or something.

I am finally breaking down and going to the dentist here on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the last few times that I had to go to the dentist sparked a fear for the dentist in me. I am not looking forward to it at all, but, I really can't stand to live in constant pain either! Luckily, the dentist they use here knows some English. That is a relief. I have a girl who goes with me as a translator, but still, there is so much to say and describe, it would be hard!

Oh, Sarah left me alone in her class on Friday to read a couple of books. It actually went really well and with her out of the room the kids actually listened to me. When their teacher is in the room, kids don't find it necessary to listen to anyone but them. So, it's been challenging, but was nice to have a chance to do it on my own for a few minutes!

PS- Can I please just tell you how much I missed tv today? Being home sick is boring enough when you can just lazily watch tv. But, without one..wow, it's been a long, boring day! That's all for today. I'll post pictures of the fish market when I get a chance...and maybe when my stomach has completely stopped feeling queasy!