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Long time no see~!

So, long time no write! I've been lurking around with a new journal for about a year now, but back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I went by othela! I've been through a lot of changes and right now, I'm living in Japan, teaching English to adorable kids!

I've been doing embodiment since college (British, not American!) so I believe this is my fifth run! My first was definitely my best, what with one thing and another, I'd not been so good at finishing journals in subsequent years. This year got off to a bad start in that I spent January 1st rather badly ill (AND enduring a twelve-hour coach ride back from Tokyo... not cool :(), so owing to extenuating circumstances, it wasn't until January 2nd that I got started.

I include some scans of my journal. I opted not to restart a journal at the start of the year because I'd just been getting quite comfy in this one - which I started in mid-November.

A bit of information about my style... and let's begin!

Doodle and an extremely bad plan of the living areas in my flat. Until recently, I liked to have a different colour for every entry. Right now, I'm enjoying just working with a black biro.

At the start of December, there was a big conference for all the Assistant Languages Teachers in my city. Naturally, there was a nice big drinking party to go with it. I didn't drink that entire bottle of beer. Promise.

On the opposite page are Purikura - Japanese photobooth pictures. The day after this conference, I did a whirlwind trip to visit Kobe, Osaka and Nara with my friends (on the night bus. We arrived at Osaka at six in the morning and didn't stop until about ten at night, managing to visit Nara and Kobe during the day/evening, and the following day we went home). The pictures are from before we left... we had time to kill. The other, lonely, solo pictures are ones I took for my parents. Most machines will give you six shots for your four hundred yen (about £3?) and I sent the better ones home in a photo album I put together of my first four months in Japan.

Small rant about work - for some reason, I always forget to blur my own name, but it's not like I keep it a secret. I received birthday and Christmas cards from my Nana (hence the stamps), loved the snowmen, and couldn't help drawing my school lunch really badly. The day before my birthday was at elementary school. My kids were lovely. I only wish I could have done it on my birthday, but hey...

The photograph is from two days AFTER my birthday. I spent the weekend with previously-mentioned friends in Beppu - hot spring paradise! However by this time, my funds were running seriously low!!!

We had a special Christmas school lunch. Certainly not the Christmas lunch I'm used to, but I thought, hey, Christmas cake is Christmas cake, right? Wrong - as I wrote on the following page, "THIS CAKE IS FROZEN!" We ended up with some weird strawberry mousse-cake thing. Very nice, but it wasn't even what the school lunch co-ordinator expected!!!

My first Christmas away from home. Had it not fallen on a weekend, I would have had to work on Christmas Day, but we actually had a long weekend because the Emperor's birthday is the 23rd, and it's a national holiday \o/

I always make a note of interesting things I overhear in the office, from the Japanese I can understand. Overheard on boxing day, "...please don't invite a UFO here..." Though nothing like as hilarious when, at my other school, the vice principal sat up and announced simply - in English - "CAKE."

My New Year's Eve Eve, New Years Eve and New Years Day were spent in Tokyo, the details of which are mostly on my blog, along with some photos. The entry on the left - rehashing the previous night - and subsequent doodles were all done in a pub in Disneyland, Tokyo (we couldn't get in :/). Myself and a fellow Englishman were trying to explain what a yard of ale was to our Indonesian-American friend.

January second, my excuses. My appetite was up and down, but at that point, it was very much up!

Back to work again, fixing up my diary with the cutest calender ever. I have far too many calendars, but at least I could do something with this one!

Lol, so much blur. From today and yesterday.

Not knowing what's going on (there was an assembly I wasn't told about and only realised it was happening when everyone LEFT. By the time I got there, the headmaster was finishing his speech and then the darn thing was over. It barely lasted three minutes... it takes longer for the poor kids to file in, line up, space themselves out perfectly and sit down than it did for him to make his speech!!!

There's my run-up and start to the new year! I know a lot of it's in "code"... it's mostly to make sure it's not easily readable from a quick glance over my shoulder (though in this country, English pretty much IS a code!!!)


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 11th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
I never thought I'd be an inspiration! Thank you so much!
Jan. 11th, 2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
omg, this is so awesome! your handwriting, everything <3
Jan. 11th, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
That makes me feel way better about my handwriting!!! I'm lucky in that I have some pretty awesome stationary shops here, and the Japanese version of the Pound Shop/Dollar Store is really good too... they're like little Aladdin's Caves for supplies!
Jan. 11th, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC)
Wow I adore your style!! How long are you going to be in Japan for? I love your code as well, good idea hehe :)
Jan. 11th, 2012 11:00 pm (UTC)
I've been in Japan for six months and I'd like to stay as long as possible - I'm on the JET program, which sends out English speakers to Japan to teach for anything up to five years! I am thinking about doing the whole five, but I think to make it worthwhile I need to learn more about my prefecture (county/state) so in my later years I can be an advisor to the newbies (one of my New Year's Resolutions!). I'll see how I'm feeling about it after my second year!
Jan. 11th, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking of applying to that program, and it sounds like you like it! Could you please tell me more about it?
Jan. 12th, 2012 02:01 am (UTC)
Too long, splitting into two comments!
Certainly, but I'll start you off with a little bit of wisdom that gets passed around everyone in this process... everyone's experience is different! I can only tell you about my experience of the application/interview process in the UK, I don't know quite how it goes in the US, though the American JETs I do know of mentioned that they all applied through their nearest consulate. In England, we do it through the Japanese Embassy.

As far as the application goes, I found it to be pretty gruelling, but I would have considered it worthwhile even if I'd not made it. In the forms, skip NOTHING, big yourself up as much as possible and get someone to proofread it. The interview is designed to push you and see how you respond to pressure, but the worst you can do is respond with an honest, "I'm sorry, I don't know.".

Actually, the worst you can do is inadvertently swear at your interviewers whilst trying to remember the name of a Japanese island that eludes you. More than anything, this will amuse them enough to place you there... I think that's why I'm on "Shit!"-koku, because of my little slip in the interview.

For my part, I'm loving it here. There are some challenging things, like getting used to the somewhat weird ways of my students, particularly with Junior High... they'll be happy to chat with me in the halls, but the moment they're in the classrom they clam up completely (I teach upper elementary and never have a problem with those kids. And occasionally first years wander over to me to have a bit of a stare, which is adorable.

I noticed some Japanese on your journal - how much can you speak/understand? I came in with much better verbal communication than written, and my reading skills are almost zero if I don't have phonetic readings beside the kanji to help me puzzle out the meaning. That said, a number of people in my city came in with zero skills, all those who want to learn are steadily doing so. There are the occasional drawbacks to not being able to read - like not knowing where things are or what's happening when, but there are lots of handy programs I lean on rather heavily to help me out in that regard.

If I'm honest, in my current situation I don't have a lot to do. My main concern is with my elementary school kids because I'm generally given a class and a text book and left to it, so I have to plan and make sure my lessons will engage them, even though I actually teach them quite rarely. At my junior high school (I swap between two every month), I don't always have a lot to do, and at my main "base" school, I don't get informed on much. I find this a little frustrating sometimes (for example, between marking tests and typing this comment, I have had to leave the staffroom twice to go to classes I'm supposed to be teaching but were subsequently cancelled without my knowledge!), but being the outsider, it's par for the course. I go where I'm told, eat when they put food in front of me, and clown around a bit so my kids can have a laugh. Oh, and my main school's a five minute cycle from my house. I'm kind of looking forward to moving to a new set of schools next September, where hopefully I'll have more creative reign, less timetable restriction (I have to be in the office when I'm not teaching), and perhaps a bit more communication! But if I'm honest, I have it quite easy here, and I love my kids.

I know another teacher who teaches a Senior high school about an hour's drive away, another who teaches two high schools and two ENTIRE elementary schools (I only take the fifth and sixth years, which is when the government recommend students have "foreign culture" study), as well as an English conversation class twice a week. So everyone has a slightly different situation.

...to be continued!
Jan. 12th, 2012 02:01 am (UTC)
On the JET programme, part 2!
In the interview, they want to get a handle on your knowledge of your own country, as well as Japan, but will ask you a lot of hypothetical questions, too - they want to gauge how flexible and adaptable you'll be and whether you can bear up. For me, this is the way I've always worked so I can cope. At the same time, though, this isn't to say that this will be your experience.

Right now I'd encourage you to start looking into the programme as a start - the next application cycle for your region won't be until autumn, so you have lots of time to prepare. Also, look into Japan, get a feel for the country, because although you don't HAVE to write choices in the space in the application, they will almost certainly ask you in the interview where you'd like to go.

Aside from the JET program site itself here are a few sites to get you started. If I think of any more, I'll link you!

Big Daikon I only found this site yesterday. It has some interesting articles.

A list of JET blogs though I don't know how up to date they are...

WikiJET has some handy information, though it's not exactly a JET bible.

Chasing Cherry Blossoms - this is the blog of a fellow Brit!JET who lives in Ainan town, in the bottom part of my county. He has more of a life and keeps his blog much more regularly updated than I do!

And Finally… The audio from this video is from the rather awful textbook and CDs we have to use with the elementary kids. Enjoy?
Jan. 13th, 2012 03:29 am (UTC)
Re: On the JET programme, part 2!
Thanks so much for all this information, that was really helpful!! I've applied to teaching programs in France and Austria for next year, and I'm looking into programs in Asia (Japan, South Korea, etc.) for the following year, or just to have in mind for the future. Awhile back I was looking into a similar program called Amity, but I heard they overwork their teachers and don't treat them too well. Do you know anything about that program and how it compares with JET?

I actually know almost no Japanese XD I dabbled in studying it a little from a friend in high school, and I liked some anime in those days, too, but I never learned very much. I don't even remember having written anything in Japanese on my journal! Anyhow, the country and its culture has always fascinated me (Asia in general, really), and I love teaching English - I've already taught in France (and want to go back!!) and currently teach English and other languages at Berlitz. So we'll see where the future takes me! Thanks again!
Jan. 14th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
Crikey, maybe I was seeing things. I was sure I saw Japanese on someone's journal o_O Maybe I'm just going crazy. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Amity. The name rings a bell, though, as does the reputation...

The fact that you've taught before stands you in pretty good stead, I'd say! And the nice part about NOT being able to speak any Japanese is that you have a valid excuse when something doesn't quite turn out right. I can understand most things I'm told, and when, for example, teachers have given me sheets of phrases the students are translating into English, I can figure them out since there's not a lot of kanji there. But because I can do this, they'll hand me entire exam sheets to proofread/guinea-pig for them, even though I can't really read the questions to understand them! So "I no speak Japanese" is a very handy weapon to have in your arsenal.
Jan. 11th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
Lovely! That's a journal you'll enjoy browsing through later, which is what I find also important with my own journals. :)
Jan. 11th, 2012 11:02 pm (UTC)
I like having little curiosities in there! Some things I didn't scan... I have a little wallet in the front, and on some pages I have sheets of annotated poetry that fold out. I'm a chronic journal-hopper, so adding little curiosities always makes a journal easier to stick with.
Jan. 11th, 2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
Oh I love it! Thank you for sharing, that is inspiring! I mostly just write in my journal these days although I used to doodle and draw a lot. Today for the first time this year, I did some drawing in it, and it felt so good.
I was hoping someone would post here today, so glad you did {-:) ~elena
Jan. 11th, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC)
I write lots, even if it's really bad. And never be afraid to draw! I bought lots of cute books on pen doodling (I can't understand a word, but you can get the gist from looking at the pictures!) so I'm trying to practice. That picture of the ale and sausages at Disneyland is pretty bad, but never mind!
Jan. 11th, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
I love this, your journal looks so lived in.
Jan. 11th, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC)
I used to always use moleskine sketch books with coloured gel pens, and while I really miss using all my colours and a moleskine (or similar style notebook), there's just something about biro on regular paper. I always feel when I'm writing that I'm really making a mark. That, and biro's less likely to wash away with rain. We've not had any for a while, but one of my last journals got stuck with me in a typhoon last summer and it was never quite the same after that.
Jan. 12th, 2012 12:15 am (UTC)
No more lurking for you! We want regular posts. :)

Great journal. Thanks for sharing!
Jan. 12th, 2012 03:35 am (UTC)
Oh no, pressure!!! XD I'll try to keep my entries interesting!
Jan. 12th, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
This is awesome. Thank you for sharing these pages.
Jan. 14th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I'm glad you liked them!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )