Archive for November, 2014

November 16, 2004 – Nothing

No swimming

Play Swim Danger

I did a whole lot of nothing today, and enjoyed every minute of it.


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November 15, 2004 – I have a bike!

Freshness Burger Lunch Set

Today I went to the nearby travel agency with a pile of cash and paid for my plane ticket. It is still strange for me to make large purchases with cash. I am always surprised by the lack of businesses who accept credit cards for payment.

After the travel agent I tried out a Japanese burger chain called “Freshness Burger“. As you would expect from the name, the ingredients are very fresh. Unfortunately like other Japanese burger restaurants, the burgers are simply too small.

I hung out at home for the rest of the afternoon, and The Penpal came over to visit when she was done work. We spent a few hours together, and then I walked her home from my apartment. It takes about 20-25 minutes to walk from Ooka City Plaza to The Penpal’s house. We walked by a printing company, a school, a rice paddy, and several small businesses along a narrow road.

At the house, her parents offered me the use of The Penpal’s old bicycle. The bike is a few years old and is no longer in use, but they cleaned it up for me and bought a basket and a light. Since Numazu does not have the population density to support a subway system like the Greater Tokyo area, having a bicycle will give me a lot of freedom to get around. I am very excited!

Before I left, The Penpal and I reviewed the directions on how to get back to my apartment. Her mother made sure to tell me to watch out for cars, pedestrians, narrow sidewalks, trains, and not to get lost. She also asked that I send a message to The Penpal to let her know that I got home safely. It sounded like exactly the same kinds of things my own mother would say.

Mothers of the world really aren’t all that different 🙂

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November 14, 2004 – Hurting

I am hurting today from the party last night. Fortunately my streak of not having a single NOVA kids class since moving to Mishima NOVA continues. A kids class today would NOT have been enjoyable.

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November 13, 2004 pt2 – First student party

This is a story that did not appear on my original blog, for reasons which will soon become apparent.

One of the teachers in Mishima NOVA was leaving to return to The US. When teachers leave, there is almost always a farewell party. There were signs up in the teacher’s room stating that the official farewell party was on Sunday November 14.

I was working the Saturday late shift with one of the experienced teachers, let’s call her Veronica. Veronica was a bit unusual because she was likely in her 50s, when most English teachers were in their early to mid 20s. She was easy enough to get along with, and therefore a fun person to be stuck on the Saturday late shift with.

Near the end of the shift, she asked if I was going to the farewell party after work. I pointed out the sign and asked if she meant after tomorrow’s shift. She explained that after work was the “unofficial” party that a few students might be attending.

One of the cardinal rules of NOVA is that teachers are not allowed to interact with students outside of the classroom. There are several reasons for this rule, but the main reason is to keep teachers from doing anything that would prevent students from wanting to buy more lessons. I don’t know if it was technically possible to get fired for meeting students outside of the classroom, but it was a great way to get a reprimand or not have your contract renewed.

Veronica told me not to worry because teachers and students in the area frequently hung out together, and it wasn’t a big deal as long as nobody openly talked about it in front of the supervisors. Since she was a more experienced teacher, I decided to stop worrying and agreed to go to the farewell party.

After work we left Mishima NOVA together and walked down the street towards one of the many izakayas in the area. The whole back room was reserved for the farewell party. I expected to see about 10 teachers and one or two students. When I got to the back, I found about 30 people in the room, with at least half of them being students from Mishima NOVA and some of the nearby branches.

Drinking pro tip: when you shop up late to a party, some people may feel the need to “catch up” to the level of drunkenness that everyone else is currently experiencing. Although a nice social gesture, this is a challenging thing to get right. It’s very easy to overshoot and end up finding yourself more drunk than the rest of the party in short order.

Since I am writing this 10 years later, and because I tried to “catch up”, I don’t remember all of the details of the evening. I do remember that it was a lot of fun, and it was great to interact with students outside of the classroom. I got to know some of the students better, and they got a chance to practice their English in a real world setting.

We all settled up the bill and left just before the last trains of the evening. Through the whole party, one of the female students was flirting with the departing teacher. On the group stumble back to Mishima station, she suggested that her apartment was too far, and maybe she would like to stay “somewhere” in Numazu. The departing teacher said “you can come back to my place, but we’re going to be f**king”.

Unsurprisingly, drunk English teachers are not known for their romantic skills.

Knowing that it would be an experience that both sides would have regretted the next day, some of the female teachers and other students made sure that the drunk flirty student got home safely. Azeroth and I enjoyed our long walk back to City Plaza together. It was a fun night, and the first of many nights out with students.

Note to readers: The legal drinking age in Japan is 20. I worked at a conversational English school, where most of my students were adults. If I ever write about one of my adventures hanging out with students, I am always referring to English students of legal drinking age.

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November 13, 2004 pt 1 – Plane ticket purchased

Today before work I went with The Penpal to a travel agency near Numazu station. She helped me to buy my plane ticket home for Christmas!

I am sure that someone at the Travel Agent could speak English, but it was very helpful to have a Japanese speaker with me. I was not surprised when the travel agent did not know where Winnipeg was. Knowing that the airport code was YWG saved me explaining the spelling in English or katakana.

When I left Canada for Japan, Air Canada had the best deal. This time, Northwest had the cheapest ticket. I will be flying from Tokyo to Winnipeg through Minneapolis, leaving December 20 and returning on January 5. I am very excited to be home for the holidays!

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November 12, 2004 – So much rain!

It rained like crazy today. Seriously, it was a crazy amount of rain.

Due to heavy rain volumes, the Tokaido line was experiencing delays. Tokaido is the busiest line of the whole Japan Rail network, running from Tokyo to Kobe. I was lucky to get to work on time, but on the way home I had to wait at Mishima station for half an hour. In a country where you can literally set your watch by the train schedule, a 30 minute delay is a huge deal.

At home I dried out and spent a bunch of time on the internet. Now that I can connect in my room without having to go to the internet cafe, the novelty of the internet has worn off.

In other news, I am buying a plane ticket tomorrow so I can go home for Christmas. Woohoo!

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November 10, 2004 – Ryoba

After work I went to a chain izakaya called Ryoba with Azeroth. They specialize in cheap sushi and 100 yen draft beer. The beer was nothing special, but the sushi is amazing, especially considering the price. I can understand why Numazu is known for its sushi.

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