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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, April 30, 2009

Another one

I can't believe how quickly the past week has gone. Good thing though, because it has been a rough week. I have just been stressed and emotional, and short on patience for some reason. And we even had a day off in the middle of the week! Oh well, tomorrow is Friday, and then Saturday we leave for Tokyo!
Let's see..last weekend was actually a really good weekend. I went to dinner with Sara Beeler, we had a really good time catching up and just talking. Saturday Sarah King and I went to Starbucks in the morning/afternoon, and then to a movie that night. We saw Gran Torino or whatever that movie is called, it was horrible! I am pretty sure that the people in the movie theater hated us annoying Americans because it was so bad we just had to laugh. The acting was bad, the storyline was bad.. The only good thing about the movie was a commerical with Brad Pitt and a Japanese voice in place of his! Oh, and we snuck Baskin Robbins in with us. Hehe.

I feel like I am getting to know my kids a little bit better. I finally finished parent interviews today, thank the Lord! Those definitely made for long days! I have found that a few of my kids are way behind where I thought they all were, so it is going to take a lot of extra time and work to get them up to where they should be. I'm just glad I realized it now rather than trying to make them read and write without even knowing what the letter is or letter sound. It's going to be a challenge, but I am excited to see how far they are going to go by the end of the year!

We had yesterday off due to some random Japanese holiday. A few of us went downtown and had lunch, got some Starbucks, and just hung out for a while. Then, Sarah and I decided to venture out to find Akiu Falls. We got directions from a friend, and found out the hard way that the directions were wrong! We drove around A LOT! But we honestly had a blast doing it, and finally made it to the falls. They were so beautiful! I can't wait to go back there in the summer when we can walk through and swim around the waterfalls. We did hike down to them and take pictures. We also scooped up some water and drank it. We were very outdoorsy. :)

Saturday we head to Tokyo until Wednesday. I am going with Sarah and the other two girls that I work in the same office with- Anne and Gwen. I think it will be a fun trip. My mom bought her ticket to come out here in October. I am really excited for her to come. She will get to come and watch my class one day, and then I will be able to take a couple of days off so we can sightsee. I honestly haven't done much sightseeing around Sendai yet, so it might be new to both of us!
I also found out the dates that I get off for Christmas. I am so thankful that I am in the program that I am because the other program, Friends Club, doesn't get off until Dec. 27, I think. But I get off earlier and will be able to be home before Christmas. Tickets are actually pretty low right now, so I think I will be buying mine very soon. It's a good feeling to know I will be home for Christmas. I can't imagine missing Tanner at Christmas this year, he is going to be a blast! I sure do miss that kid!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


So, I went to the chiropractor here for the first time. It was interesting. They made me change from my clothes into pajama-type pants and a long sleeved pajama top. Well, the Japanese women are a lot smaller than me on the..top.. so the shirt ended up being really short on me, haha. It went down to the top of my pants at least! I was worried when I first saw it. My translator was there with me the whole time, it was funny trying to answer about how my back was feeling and explain what I have had in the past. He did end up adjusting my back, neck, and hips. He also did some weird massaging to my neck and back. Not like a massage I've ever had. He also rubbed/slapped/squeezed my legs and feet. I guess it felt good? He told me that my hips are crooked (they usually are) and then told me to try to not cross my legs when I sit anymore (impossible) and to stand straight instead of leaning to one side. He then tells me that I have weak stomach muscles. I asked how he knew that and he said he could tell when he was trying to adjust my hips. Hmmm. So, I kinda laughed and said, "so, basically do some sit-ups." And then he said something about exercising my abs and told me to lay on my back. Well, told my translator to tell me. Jokingly, I said to my translator, "He's gonna make me do sit-ups." And then as I realized what he was doing I was like, "Rumi! He really is going to make me do sit-ups!" Haha..and he did! A little crunch anyways, twice. Wow. I honestly just laughed.
All in all, I think it was a positive experience. I don't feel as tight..I don't know if I feel great yet..but, better at least.

One cute story..today I was talking to my kids about always trying their best. A few mintues later, one of my girls, who is very bright and speaks English very well said "I'm besting." It took me a few seconds to figure out what she was saying, and then I said, "Besting? You mean you are trying your best?" And she said, "Yes." Haha.. besting. I mean, it makes sense..you run, or you are running.. you sleep or you are sleeping.. English is a stinkin' hard language. Props to Marilyn for a good try! Love that girl, she has an amazing personality! Here is a stinkin adorable picture of her from K4 on purple day:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I finally felt my first earthquake. I was sitting on my bed reading and felt my bed shaking a bit. If I hadn't been sitting still, I honestly wouldn't have even noticed it. It was so small. It just makes me laugh though, because today I was talking to this girl at work about earthquakes. I was telling her how I really hope the first time I feel one isn't when I am with my kids because I might freak out. I also was asking her what to do with my kids if it did happen. We talked about how we will have an earthquake drill in May. I'm pretty sure the last thing I said to her about it was, "well, let's just hope we don't have one between now and then! " It was so random that we talked about it today..and even more random that it actually happened tonight. Funny how things happen that way sometimes.

Today was a good day. I had more parent interviews and they all went really well. Tonight I went to a bible study that I am going to be doing with a couple of the other girls that I work with. I really miss going to church. I miss it already, but I think that will be one thing that I really really miss as time goes by.

I got to see Tanner, my nephew, on web cam this morning. He is getting so big, I can't believe it. I love it that he knew who I was and smiled when he saw me. I am worried he may forget about me, considering I will be gone for half of his life by the time I see him again. But, he was all smiles, danced for me, and even said "I love you." Makes me sad I am missing so much of his life, especially because this age is so fun! I'm just glad I finally got to see him for a bit this morning though. For the record, mom, I have been officially homesick off and on lately. :) (She was a little hurt about a month ago when she asked if I was homesick and I said, no..understandably so!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lower the seat

It's been almost a week since my last post. Nothing too too exciting has really happened. Class has been going really well. My kids are slowly starting to learn the material, and I feel like I have somewhat of an idea what I am doing. Probably a good thing since I'm the teacher, right? Haha. This past weekend I rode my bike into Izumi, which is a specific part of town, and walked around and looked at some shops and stuff. I also got Starbucks, which, by the way, I have a new found love for coffee. It's probably not the best love to have, but..you can't help who (or what) you love, right? While I was there, I went down to the McDonald's in the bottom of the shopping complex. I met two of the tallest guys I have ever stood next to, I think. They were basketball players from America here playing for the team in Sendai. One dude was 7 feet tall. I have never felt so short before!

Saturday, I finally cleaned my apartment. Of course it is messy again, but at least it is clean underneath the clothes now. Saturday night Sarah and I went grocery shopping and then watched a movie in her apartment. Sunday we rode our bikes up the hill (yes..UP the hill) to a different grocery store. It wasn't really even that big of a hill. But, I found out on that trip that my seat was way to low. My knees were almost coming up to my chin when I pedaled. So, we raised my seat and WOW what a difference!! I'm not AS out of shape as I originally thought.

Today started my parent interviews. I was pretty nervous going into these. I did have our translator in there with me, so that helped so much! It is so weird talking to someone and looking them in the eye and knowing they have absolutely no idea what I am saying. Or..listening to them talk to me and trying to stay focused because I have no clue what they are saying. It's weird. Overall I think my interviews went really well. It mainly was just a time for them to tell me things they are concerned about and want me to work on with their kid in the classroom, or time for me to ask questions about their kids..what they like to do, who they like to play with.. just questions so I can understand their kids a bit better. I learned some important stuff that will help how I look at some of my kids. I have interviews again tomorrow and Wednesday and another one next week. It sure makes for a long day! My planning time is gone because we do interviews back to back after the kids leave for the day.

I am going to the chiropractor on Thursday. It's been almost three months since I went back in the States..so I would say that is pretty good for me. I occasionally had problems, but this time it really isn't going away and I just need to go. It will probably be a very interesting experience. I have no idea what to expect. I have a feeling Japanese chiropractors are probably a little different than the ones in America. We shall see!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Diet Pepsi

I am starting to feel a little more comfortable in my classroom. We have only had half days so far. Tomorrow is a no kid day, just a work day. Thursday we start full days. I am excited for full days. I feel like we hardly get anything done in our half days. I love my kids. I have one little boy who is going to be my challenge, I think. He is stubborn, so I am going to have to crack down on him a little harder than everyone else. I most definitely have the spacey class though. So many of my kids are just in their own little world a lot of the time. Anne has the stubborn class. We both decided that God knew what he was doing when he gave us the kids that we got because I know that I have a hard time with stubborn and bossy kids. And she has a hard time with kids who are kind of out there, whereas I have more patience with the spacey ones. And she is just as stubborn and knows how to set them in their place. So, we got the right kids for sure! My kids are so sweet though. So so sweet and so so cute!

I love that we can talk about God in our classes. Yesterday, before the kids left for the day, I read a story out of my children's Bible that I brought with me. We talked about God and what God made. When I pulled the book out, one of my boys even said, "Yay, the Bible book!" It's pretty awesome that we can do that in our classrooms.

Last night Sarah and I started out to go the the 100 yen store and then realized neither of us had hardly any money. So, we went for ice cream instead. :) Baskin Robbins actually. It was delicious! While we were sitting and eating, four high school girls walked over to us. They asked us where we were from, what we do here, how old we are. It was so funny, and so..awkward, haha. They were so proud of themselves for talking to us though. It is so weird to me that they think we are so unique. In America, you would never even think twice about two girls eating ice cream no matter what they looked like or where they were from. It's just so normal. Not here though.
Sarah and I also found Diet Pepsi last night! I can not even tell you how happy we were! They just don't have it here. They have Coke Zero and Pepsi Next, but not Diet Pepsi. I bought two bottles. I love Diet Pepsi! Since I've been in Japan, I have been drinking so much soda. I know that is so bad..but I think that it has been part of my comfort. When you are in a strange place, sometimes you just hold on to the familiar..and my familiar has been soda. I am trying to not drink it so much now that I realize how much I actually have been drinking.

The cherry blossoms are out! They are BEAUTIFUL! They apparently only last a very short time, so we are going to see them tomorrow. There are a few trees on our campus and just the few that I have seen have been amazing. There is some place we are going that has tons and tons of trees apparently. I am excited and will definitely take pictures.

Anyway, I still haven't cleaned my apartment. I did a couple of dishes though, so no worries..I have enough to get me through. I really am living like a bachelor or something, even though I'm a girl. Disgusting, haha. Who has time to clean when you teach kindergarten though, I mean for real. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lazy weekend

Finally, I had some actual time off this weekend. Friday night I rode my bike and got McDonald's for dinner and then just hung out in my apartment watching tv on my computer. Saturday was such a lazy day. Usually I would feel guilty for being so lazy and wasting the day away, but not this time. I needed it. Last night, Sarah and I went to a movie.

Today was Easter. I am pretty sure this is the first time I haven't been with my family for Easter. It didn't even feel like a holiday to me. I am sad that I couldn't be with my family. I did have a pretty good day though. I went to a soccer game. I have never seen anything like this. The fans are amazing. I thought baseball fans were nuts (and they are..) but this is a different kind of crazy. They stand the entire game, and sing, chant, and yell the entire game. Only it is organized yelling. It really was incredible to watch. Apparently baseball games here are pretty mellow, but the soccer games..not so much. I think going to the game today eased my jealousy of all of the people going to Cardinals games back home. Still not the same, but, it helped. The team lost, which wasn't so much fun, but we still had a really good time.

I really really need to clean my apartment. I haven't done a thing since I've been back from Korea. I haven't had time. I need to do dishes so bad, I had to use chopsticks to get a "spoonfull" of peanut butter. And, Sarah made cookie dough and we used chopsticks to eat it. This weekend, my only plan was to clean my apartment, but I was just too lazy! I did do a couple loads of laundry, and I at least organized the mess a bit. Maybe I'll do it this week. We'll see I guess. This week at school is half days, and no kids on Wednesday. Hopefully it won't be nearly as busy then! I hope everyone had a great Easter!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"What's 'um' Ms. Kim?"

Wow. This has been such a long week. After tomorrow I will have worked 10 days straight, and most of this week has been 12-13 hour days. I am exhausted to say the least. Yesterday was opening ceremony for K5. My kids came in with their parents to the classroom. I helped them hang all of their stuff, fill out their calendar card, answer the question of the day, and then they played for a while. Then, I sent them to the bathroom and they all came back and sat in their chairs which were in two rows. I kind of introduced myself, even though they all knew me already. I talked for a minute or two (the parents were in the back of the room watching the whole time..talk about intimidating) and then had them go out and line up to get on the bus to go to the top of the hill for the ceremony.
We had a ceremony (all in Japanese) and then brought the kids back down to the classroom for about an hour. This time the parents were in meetings so it was just me and the kids. We talked about some of the fun things we will do this year, talked about our class in general, and sang a couple of songs. It went by really fast.

Today was a half day, but no parents at all. Today went pretty well for the most part. I kinda had to talk about some of the "rules" and such, so I felt like I was pretty boring, but it had to be done. I really did have fun with my kids though. Probably one of the funniest things of the day..I was teaching, and was looking through my stuff for my vocab cards and I said, "um..." and then something else. And of course, one of my kids said, "What's um Ms. Kim?" Because they seriously ask you what EVERYTHING is. When you grunt to get off the floor, when they tickle you and you make a screeching noise..I mean, everything. It's how they learn, and it is amazing, but sometimes it really puts you on the spot. I mean, on the spot try coming up with how to explain "um" in language that five year old kids can understand. So, I tried..and then we moved on. Literally like 1 minute later I said it again, haha. Some of my kids were like, "what's um?" and I couldn't help it, I just busted up laughing. They all laughed like crazy and I'm pretty sure we lost about 2 or 3 minutes teaching time because we were all laughing. It was cute. But, makes me really aware of how I need to be careful with what I say and the noises that I make, haha!

Tomorrow I do not have kids. We have K4 opening ceremony that we have to be a part of. Hopefully I can knock off a few of the things on my to do list tomorrow as well. I've worked so much this week, but still have so much to do. I have a feeling it will be a never ending cycle from now on. I really love my class, and I sometimes worry that I will not be enough for them, but I really am going to try my best to be the best teacher I can be for them. They are amazing kids, and I am so looking forward to this next year. Even though I have my doubts about myself and my abilities, I am looking forward to the year. There are some awesome personalities in my classroom. I know I will learn so much this year. It will definitly be an interesting one!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

South Korea part 2

Things I were already taking for granted in Japan but have a new appreciation for:
1. Heated toilet seats. Now, I know I talked about them a lot in the beginning. But, like everything else, you just start getting used to it. Well, go to South Korea for a week and you will quickly realize how important those heated seats really are to you. I mean, for real, it was a shock every single time I sat down in Korea. Even when I knew it was coming. I just don't get how America hasn't caught on to this idea yet. You might laugh, but just live a few weeks with heated seats and try to go back. You will understand.
2. My water heater. I can set my water to the exact temperature that I want and it automatically goes to that temperature every time. No messing with trying to get the hot and the cold perfect together. It just is. There is a little box on the wall in my kitchen (and one in the bath) and I just press up or down to set the numbers. Set it for one temp for your shower, another for doing dishes. It really is nice. I hated trying to find the right temperature in Korea. Always too hot, or too cold. This might sound petty to those of you who have to do this everyday and think nothing of it. But, if you had the automatic temperature, you would soon learn to appreciate it as much as I do!
3. Cleanliness. Japan is such a clean country. You do not see trash on the streets, and you don't even see trash cans! I do not understand how there are no trash cans anywhere, but still people do not throw trash on the ground. It's pretty amazing, really. South Korea was so dirty. I mean, sure I have see dirtier, but compared to Japan, it was dirty. I like looking at clean sidewalks and streets.

I can't remember exactly where I left off on what I did in South Korea. We went to the Korean Folk Village. This place was hyped up in the travel books and online to be the one place to go if you couldn't go anywhere else. Well, it was a dud. There was nothing there. We did see a traditional wedding, got to try on some clothes and take pictures, a cultural dance, and an acrobatic act. But, for how big the place was, there really was nothing. There was this one tree with all of these pieces of fabric hanging down. At the bottom there was something hard. We thought it looked cool, and being rude Americans, decided to try to swing on the thing. Well, this one family walks by and tells us that it is a suicide tree! And, they keep saying, "Dangerous!" Haha, whoops. We swung on it anyway. We weren't the only ones though. As soon as we got off another couple of people got on. So, we didn't feel as bad. :)

We also went shopping again this day. I'm pretty sure we shopped a little everyday. We also ate at TGIFriday's. Back home, this is one of my favorite restaurants! I was a little disappointed that my Caesar salad tasted fishy.

On Saturday, we went to the DMZ (Demilitarized zone between North and South Korea). Our tour picked us up at 7am! I am so glad that we got to do this tour. It was very interesting, and kind of crazy to think that this all is still going on even as we were there. Usually you go look at stuff that happend 100 years ago or something. Our tour guide, Mia, was amazing. She was down to earth and fun and told us all kinds of stuff you probably wouldn't get on most tours. We got to go down into the 3rd tunnel of aggression that North Korea tried to build to invade South Korea. We didn't get to go all that far, but did go down about 300 meters, I think they said. It was a little intense to think that on the other side of where we were was North Korea. We also went to the railroad station that is right between the two. There were guards standing there and we all go pictures with them. We also went up to this platform to look out over North Korea. There was a yellow line a ways back that you had to stand behind in order to take pictures. They were very strict about picutres beyond the yellow line. You could see the North Korean flag and the South Korean flag right on the border across from each other.
Funny story from when we were up on the platform. There were soldiers from all over there. Switzerland, Korea, America. People were so thankful towards the American soldiers. Shaking their hands, wanting pictures with them. It was really nice to see, actually. At least we are appreciated in what we do, you know? Anyway, there is this American soldier, and he just happend to be black. He had a huge group of people around him saying thank you and wanting pictures. Then I hear one lady say, "Obama?" And she just kept saying it. And then like a minute later she was like. "Obama brother?" I pretty much almost lost it, this lady asked this dude if he was Obama's brother because he was black! I mean, for real.. He was pretty much done taking pictures at that point, but I think he thought it was funny.

We ate at Outback Steakhouse that afternoon and I got ribs. You won't believe it, but my ribs tasted fishy! I made Sarah try them to prove I wasn't just going crazy. I think it was in the sauce. Disappointing. They were still pretty good though..minus the fishy-ness.

Sunday we went to the biggest church in the world. Well, the biggest church member wise. They have over 800,000 members. They had a special section for us foreigners and took really good care of us. We had headphones to listen in English. The songs they sang were the same as ours, so we just sung along in English. It really was incredible to watch all of these Korean people pray and praise God in a language that I can not understand.

On our last night there, we went to a martial arts comedy show called Jump! It was hilarious. We had a really good time. I saw a lot of awesome things in Korea and had a really good time. It probably was not a country on my list of places that I want to go, but I am so glad that I did.

Now it is back to work. My kids come on Wednesday. I can't believe it. I am so excited, but so incredibly stressed out. My classroom is nowhere near ready and probably still will not be finished when we start. I am just trying to get the big things done and have it look put together for when they come and then I can work on the other stuff that they can't see later. I just hope I get it all done though! I can't wait to have my own class everyday. I've been here almost two months exactly, so it's time to do what I really came to do!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

South Korea part 1

I feel like I have so much to blog about. That makes me almost not want to blog because I know that I need to write so much. But, here goes. This past week we went to South Korea. We had a good time. The first day we got there, we went to our hostel. That in and of itself was an interesting experience. Our hostels name was "Bong House." The guys last name was Bong. But, we soon found out that the name suited a little better than we knew it would. The first night we went out walking around, ate at Pizza Hut, and looked in some shops around our area. We almost seriously got killed by a Dominos delivery scooter. I mean, I have never been so close to being run over in my life..all three of us. Our travel book did tell us that 33% of all traffic deaths include a pedestrian. I understand why now. People drive like crazy and don't pay much attention to pedestrians. Scooters and motorcycles drive on the sidewalks and in the crosswalks. It's nuts.

On our way back from exploring we ran into some people from our hostel who were going dancing. We opted out and headed back. We eventually went to bed and woke up to a lot of noise right outside of our room in the common room. Our dancing friends had made their way back and it was 4:30am! We were all getting so frustrated because they were so loud! Needless to say, we learned our lesson and bought ear plugs! But, that was really the only loud night while we were there.
Our hostel was decent. A little dirty, but liveable. We, luckily, got a three person room. So it was just the three of us (Sarah, Becky, and I) and we got a key so we could lock our door and keep our stuff safe. The shower was a little gross, especially since the toilet is right under the shower. So, anytime you needed to use the bathroom, the toilet was always soaked. Gross. There was also a window in the shower that wouldn't close. Yikes! Haha. The hostel really was a great experience though, we met some fun people. Lots of English teachers from Japan there on break as well.

On Wednesday, we went to a Korean palace. We saw the changing of the guards and got to go stand up with them and take pictures. They had huge Samari swords, it was crazy. The palace was beautiful though. We also went into Seoul tower. It was on top of a mountain/hill type thing and we could look down over all of Seoul.
We also attempted to go shopping. Somehow we just ended up in this huge building full of fabric and got kinda lost inside. We ran out of time becuase we had to go meet this guy Jeff (he works at our sister school there in Korea) and our friend Joey who was also in Korea for break. We went do dinner with them and then walked down the street where they were selling everything from shoes to purses to jewelry to belts and so much more.

I am running out of time. I will have to finish telling you about my trip another time. I have to get ready for work. This is our work week. I get my kids on Wednesday. My classroom is so bare, I have so much to do in it before then!! I am excited that it is truly mine now, though. Can't believe school is about to start, time went by so fast!!