Archive for March, 2014
My cold is getting worse! Before work I took some Life Brand daytime cold medicine shipped from Canada. Life Brand is the generic house brand available at Shoppers Drug Mart. I am pretty sensitive to the “daytime” ingredient (pseudoephedrine). This turned me from a regular English teacher into Energy Man, the most energetic English teacher in the whole country. I was speaking about 100 km/h and wildly gesturing in every direction for the duration of my 5 lessons. An English lesson with Energy Man is not something that people will soon forget.
Unfortunately for me, the cold meds wore off on the way home, killing Energy Man and leaving a sick English teacher to survive the rest of the train ride. Daytime cold medicine rules! Crashing after daytime cold medicine wears off does not.
(2014 Update) Fun fact: Daytime cold medicine in Canada still contains pseudoephedrine. In the USA, this has been largely replaced with a different ingredient that you can’t make crystal meth with.
Starting to get a cold. Colds suck.
(2014 Update) It is pretty common to get a cold or sore throat as an English teacher. The NOVA classrooms are little glass boxes where you are always in close quarters with the students. Students will rarely miss a lesson when they are sick.
I worked earlier in the week so I could take today off and spend some time with The Penpal at Hello House. We watched the Extended Version of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It was her first time to see the movie, and my first time to see the extra footage. The original is great, but the extended version is WAY better.
Fortunately, the Penpal really enjoyed the movie. Not liking Lord of the Rings is a potential relationship destroyer.
(2014 Update) 10 years later I would say that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Princess Bride are the ultimate relationship movie tests. If someone doesn’t like those movies, please feel free to break up with them at your earliest convenience.
Hello to my regular readers and new followers. I am writing this post in March 2014, exactly 10 years after my 6 month anniversary in Japan. Posting and updating all of these blog entries has been a fun project so far, and a great trip down memory lane.
For anyone who hasn’t been following from the beginning, this is the story of the 3 years I spent teaching English in Japan from 2003-2006. I had a blog at the time, and am reblogging all of my old posts 10 years later, usually with a lot more detail.
To catch you up so far, in 2003 I was finishing University in Winnipeg, Canada and looking for an adventure before giving my life to the exciting world of corporate accounting. Thanks to an elective Japanese language course, I had an interest in teaching English in Japan and managed to get hired by a conversational English school called NOVA. I left a strained relationship behind in Canada and moved to Kawasaki, Japan to live in Hello House, a dormitory style residence with other English teachers.
In my first 6 months I had some memorable adventures, including:
- My first all nighter in Tokyo
- Some failed attempts with the opposite sex
- My first Christmas away from home
- Strange Japanese TV
- Getting a haircut with a language barrier
- Many opportunities to poison my liver
As distance and disagreements about the future put more distance between my ex girlfriend (The Ex) and I, my friendship with my penpal (The Penpal) had just recently and somewhat unexpectedly turned into a boyfriend / girlfriend type relationship. At the time I was living in Kawasaki and she was living in Numazu, so we were only able to see each other 1-2 times per month.
As I entered the second half of my first year in Japan, I was preparing to switch to a full time schedule, as well as getting ready for potential visits from both family and friends. Trust me – the upcoming friend visits are fantastic.
Thanks for reading and I hope that you continue to enjoy reading about my adventures as much as I enjoy reliving them through this blog.
Holy crap, I have lived in Japan for 6 months! I celebrated this milestone by completely forgetting about it. Time is going by very quickly.
I can`t escape the internet cafe! HELP ME!!! I just came here to check my email and Homestar Runner, but now I have been here for 2 hours straight. Stupid entertaining internet.
The music is really terrible today. For the first hour and a half it was religious choir music. From there it changed to really a really repetitive DJ remix of rap songs mixed with the A-Team theme song. The music is annoying, but there is something entertaining about hearing the word “bitches” played over and over in English while surfing the net in Japan.
Monday is usually a day off, but I worked in order to get Friday off to spend time with The Penpal. It was a day.
Today I went to Izu with The Penpal. Izu is a mountainous peninsula that runs south from Numazu into the ocean. There are small towns through the central areas and along the eastern coast. Izu is a famous area for hot springs, Ryokans (traditional Japanese Inns), and vacation spots that cater mostly to Japanese people. Due to some terrible weather, most of the plans that The Penpal made fell through, but I still enjoyed riding around and seeing the sights. Riding in a tiny car on winding mountain roads after a big rain storm is quite the adventure, especially when you still haven’t adjusted to driving on the left side of the road.
Other than the scenery, one of my personal highlights was eating grilled eel on rice served with pickles and miso soup. Eel is seriously delicious.
I think the 10 minutes between classes is getting shorter every day. Today I had my ass handed to me by a very busy schedule.
Typical NOVA lessons were 40 minutes long with 10 minute breaks in between. In the 10 minutes between lessons teachers had to return to the teacher’s room, give rankings and write comments on all students, pass along the files to the next teacher or refile the student folders, check the schedule for changes, and then get ready for the next lesson. Bathroom breaks usually meant writing up comments or refiling student files later.
Most teacher’s rooms were narrow closet like environments with a bunch of people moving around quickly trying not to knock each other over. In large schools like Kawasaki there were not enough seats for all teachers to sit down between lessons, so many comments were filled out while standing and trying not to be in the way.
I liked most of the people at Kawasaki NOVA, but hated the pace of work some days.