Daily Journal of an Assistant Language Teacher / Automatic Language Tape Recorder (ALT) in the JET Programme living  and learning in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. More information on the JET Programme here and here.

August 2003 (2nd Year as Fukushima JET)

Wow, I have a really big update, but I don't know if I can type it all now. I have a few THOUSAND AJET applications to type into my computer and they are all needed by yesterday. But in an overview of my time in Tokyo, man it was hectic and busy and crazy. I had to stand the whole trip down on the shinkansen. However, I did meet a beautiful German girl (who looked French) and we chatted a bit. She seemed interested in hanging out with me more, but I had to continue with my quest of AJET. So we parted ways and I headed over to the Keio Plaza.

The first day was a workday, a Saturday. We tried to get the room ready, but the hotel gave it to someone else and we had to wait. So we did pretty much nothing. Sunday we got in early and fixed it up and then went out to the booth and did minor things while people checked in. I asked where they were from as they walked by and then said I was from where they were from and tried to do an accent. I said I was from Staffordshire England, as well as Whakapapa New Zealand, and everywhere in between. Most people just laughed but some thought I was a dork. Who cares.

Then Monday I assisted a workshop on being thrifty with two other girls. The reason I was there was the second girl had acted like she didn't want to do it so the first girl asked me to step in and take care of things, then the second girl started acting like she really wanted to be there, and I just kinda felt like the 3rd wheel. Who cares again.

I got to meet a lot of nice people and met all the new people coming to my prefecture. It was fun. Wednesday we spent all day sorting through the applications and counting and doing stats. Then in the evening we went across town to stay with a friend of a girl on the committee. The first girl was really nice and pleasant. Her roommate, was from Israel and really got on my nerves. She was never wrong, even when she blatantly was, she was loud and pushy, but she did make nice hummus. She kept saying they lived IN TOWN, but it was a 45 minute train ride away from town. It was far. But it was free. I stayed there two nights and then had to get out. They wouldn't run the A/C and it was HOT, and then everyone would come in at 3 and turn on all the lights and be loud. Difference of opinion I guess.

Thursday we woke up and headed out to Tokyo Disney. It was fun, a little expensive, but fun. We spent all day and most of the night there. We saw all the fireworks and parades and I took a ton of pictures, but I haven't developed them as of yet. Then Friday the guys left and we went to a Capsule hotel. It was the first time for them and probably the 5th or so for me. That night there was a party for a charity that a girl in AJET runs. It's called Go M.A.D, and it means Go Make A Difference. It seems pretty cool. There is a website and I think it is GoMAD so go there and check it out.

I'm just going to say something random here. I am a JET in Fukushima on the JET Programme. There, I said that for no reason. Well the reason is I want the search engines to stroll across the site and read that. I'll randomly say it again later as well. JET Programme. There you go.

The charity thing was really cool, it was dinner and drinks at this place called the Pink Cow and it was tucked away down some alley in Harajuku, a hip part of Tokyo. Part of the money went to the charity. She said they did very well, so I'm glad. I met a bunch of cute girls, and managed to get one number. We chatted a long time and hopefully I'll get to see her again. Though I just forgot her name.

Then Saturday we went back to the Keio Plaza and started the whole process over. One bad thing about the whole time is they put us up in a hotel, granted they paid for it which was nice, but it was far. The first one was 5 stops away and then a 10 minute walk. The second one was two stops further, and still 10 minutes walk. The second one was 1 double bed and a couch. There was supposed to be three people in there, and that would have been bad, it was really too small for the two of us. Hopefully things will be different the next time we meet.

I managed to see Pirates Of The Caribbean while down there. I thought it was pretty good, but a little too many one liners. Almost more of a comedy than an action. I explored a lot more of Shinjuku and I think I really know my way around it now. I'll test that the next time I am down there. I think there is an AJET meeting in November where we meet with CLAIR about something. Hopefully that will be better, hotel wise. I've heard we are going to Okinawa at some point or Osaka and then I might get to go to the Kobe meeting in May. That will be nice.

Wednesday I got to ride back to Fukushima with the new JETs and talked to them more. That was fun. I was nervous when they met their new supervisors even though I didn't have to. I remembered how nerve racking it was last year. Then I rode the bus back to the city with the guys from Kenchou and took a taxi back to the apartment, even though it was so close to Kenchou. I just had a big suitcase and two bags and a backpack so I didn't feel like walking. It was worth it.

Since then I've been typing all the applications into my little computer and that's taking time. It's going to take a while, but I have to get about 200 done a day since there are so many.

Next week I've got something a Colette's school on Monday, Colette replaced Meg at Minami. Then Tuesday through Thursday I am doing Fukushima Orientation, then Friday I have off, and then Saturday is the big Iwaki Beach Party. I managed to get this week off since I worked two weekends in Tokyo they gave me 4 days off up here. I took two other days off for a total of two weeks off. Granted I'll be working next week, but if I can get all the applications typed in then I plan to "party" at the Beach Party. Well I've gotta get back to typing, but I figured I'd update this.

August 13, 2003

Computer crashed hardcore yesterday. Stuff started locking up and then shutting down every five minutes. I had to reformat it all. Luckily I had made a backup of important data before it happened and Winbook has a nice recover feature. So I think I am back on track. It's alright in the long run, I was downloading and installing anything and everything on here so I needed a fresh start.

Other than that I did some more typing on the applications and then took Amanda, Neal (her BF), Liz, and Nicola around town. We went to SATY and the  Hard Off and then ate at the Milky Way. It was pleasant. I think we will get together around Saturday hopefully. I just ran spell check and all these new words popped up. I really did have the computer just the way I liked it, but oh well, such is life. Well I gotta get back to typing more applications.

August 16th, 2003 (4am)

Haven't had much time to make updates since any computer time I have is spent typing in the thousands of AJET applications. But I will try occasionally to make an update. I had an interesting scare today. I left the apt at about noon to go to the school and make some copies. Before I left I was sorting through some papers from various people of things I needed to copy for the orientation next week.

So I go and make the copies and then go to a meeting with Scott and Nicola about the orientation next week. Scott tells me of a new beer garden overlooking the river and I check it out. Then I come back to my place. As I walk in I see a hand written note on my bed. What The %#$* ?!? Who was here? Who left me a hand written note IN English IN my apartment? Did I leave my door unlocked?

I go over and read the note and it was a fax that someone sent and I was messing with it and other papers earlier. I must not have noticed that it was laying there on the bed by itself. So that really freaked me out.

Then I typed more and then took an awkward 2 hour nap. I woke up at 10pm and was bored and hungry. So I walked into town and went to the small Ramen shop and had a bowl of Ramen and two cheap glasses of beer. They were like ¥150 each and I was bored. So I drank those and decided to see if there were any Custard Cream donuts at Mr. Donut. Which there were not. On the way out I saw Tracie, David, and Katherine, 3 new JETs. Katherine had a weird thing going on recently. Some guy followed her home and then knocked on her door at 2 am. She called her supervisor and he brought the whole BOE and they searched the area. Freaky.

Tomorrow (technically tonight) I am planning a small drinking thing with the new JETs. We seem to be bonding alright, although we don't have the bond that Meg, BJ and I had. Granted that took a while to build up, so we'll see. At least I see no problem people, though a few are already unsociable. Maybe we can go to the nice new Beer Garden place I think I found that overlooks the river. It seems really cool. Like someone's backyard.

I am stuck in this crappy sleep cycle where I stay up til 4 or 5am and then sleep til noon and then start typing. I need to break that awfully fast, since Monday through Friday I have to be up early. I'll work on it tomorrow. Maybe I'll wake up at 10 am today (like I tried to yesterday which fell into the category of Things That Did Not Happen).

August 24th, 2003

Wow sorry for the long delay in updates. I have been so busy all summer and have honestly had no time to sit down and write. It's all over now though, things are about to revert back to normal. Tomorrow regular classes start and life as usual returns. Well hypothetically classes start, but they might pull that "oh I am sorry we are too busy to make a plan for you, no class today". I'm going to allow that for a week or so while I get caught up on AJET and FuJET stuff, and then I'm going to whip out my little chart of times I have and haven't worked and politely say I really need to be in class. It sounds whiny, but if I have to go to school then I want to be in class. It makes no sense to argue that I can't stay home because they aren't getting their money's worth, but then just have me sit there doing nothing. They didn't hire me to sit in the teacher's room.

Today I got back from the Iwaki Beach party, which was a hot sweaty sandy sticky crazy blast as usual. Next year or this spring we are going to get it right. Tent's are not the best option for the beach since they heat up awfully quick and I actually had to get out of ours early. Though I did go to Hard Off the thrift store and get a great 3 man tent for about $15. I think someone is planning a camping trip in a few weeks and I can use it then.

The week before the beach party was the Fukushima Orientation which we had been planning all summer. It went great, but there were a lot of changes to be made and the new JETs all filled out their surveys with their ideas. I presented an idea for FuJET to make a ton of money next year, and I'm hoping that will become that of which that is so. I taught a workshop on Transportation and Travel in Japan and I think it went well. I had to talk so much my voice gave out the next day. I also gave a demonstration on Team Teaching and I hated that, it was so awkward. You can't team teach people who already speak English, you don't get the energy back from them like Japanese students. Granted sometimes you don't get anything back from them either.

I found out I am not going to Hobara this year, only Adachi and the $%&#*@& night school. ON FRIDAY NIGHT. I have to say this is crap. On Friday I go to this local school from 1-9pm. On Friday? Man that is really uncool. I foresee several days being taken off already, since we have so many Friday events planned such as the Halloween party and the Nihonmatsu Lantern festival and various other trips. I'm really not pleased with this, but nothing I can do now. I've learned to just take it and smile. Man I wouldn't be mad at all if Hobara (Tuesday) was replaced with this night school, but nope. Hobara was axed and Adachi was moved to Tuesday and now my Friday nights are all screwed up.

I've got so much to do this is all I really have time to type right now. I'll try to make more regular updates since they are actually therapeutic for me to type what ever I am thinking. I enjoy plugging in my headphones and just typing. Oh Sorry, one more thing. The last JET just came in from New Orleans. Her name is Edith and she lives a bit of a ways away in the Onsen village called Iizaka. Which is good actually since I want to get out there more to the onsens. I met her at the station with about 9 Japanese people and I'm sure it was overwhelming for her, but it would be better than no one. I have her keitai number, which is actually a teacher's but she didn't have a land line yet so they let her borrow it. We have a welcome party planned for her Saturday somewhere.

Wednesday August 27th, 2003

Today and yesterday I went to the Fireman's school to teach emergency English. This is always a blast, and I always forget to take a camera. I think I go back in December and I will take a video camera and a still camera as well. For two hours on two days we went over body parts and things they might hear in English if they come to the aid of a foreigner. It was a blast. They picked us up and brought us back, and also fed us a nice meal both days. Didn't get any money out of it, but it was still well worth it. Next week I have to judge a speech contest on Tuesday for Middle School. I really think it's going to be painful since my other friends have done it and they said it's a whole day of listening to middle schoolers slaughter the same phrase in English. But oh well, it is better than sitting in the teacher's room doing nothing.

It was nice weather for the beach party but since then it has rained off and on all the time. It's really annoying. Yesterday I got the application for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December. I also bought three other books with the gift certificates I received from being an assistant at the Fukushima Orientation. Having this test hanging over my head will really force me to crack down and study. Today I had the idea of writing a Japanese journal everyday IN Japanese, not even roman characters, but actual Hiragana and Kanji. Ouch, I know I will hate it, but it will be great practice. A girl at the Fire(person) school gave me her phone number to study English. I saw her writing some and she wrote great, so maybe it will be upper level conversation. Maybe we can do an English Japanese exchange, or just English is ok as well.

That's about all the time I have for you today. I still have a few more applications to type in before I can relax. When I say a few, I mean a few hundred. Argh. I even left some at school, because I thought the fireman's school was today and tomorrow. I might be able to get them all in by the end of the week. Then work up another script that checks to see who hasn't updated their info and sends them another email. Either way I am almost done with this. Phew. I need to start thinking about where I will go for Winter break. I want to go somewhere nice like Thailand. That was a tangent thought, sorry.

Thursday August 28th, 2003

I had to come to school today and pretty much do nothing. Although I did type in all the Okinawa and Osaka prefecture applications and I think I am close of finished. I still have to go through and verify a large number of errors, but I might be done with the bulk of the data entry. I didn't realize it, but I got here at 8:15ish and started typing and didn't stand up or move from my seat until 2pm. Skipped lunch and everything. I just had a raw carrot on the balcony so no one would see me since that is apparently crazy. They have no problems eating raw fish and raw horse, but a raw vegetable is just crazy to them. Whatever.

So I have started writing in my Japanese daily journal. It's already painful, since I have to stop every other word and look something up. Either the character for something, or the kanji for something, or the actual word. I'm hoping it all gets easier soon, and I know it's really going to be helpful eventually. It's really making me think in Japanese. I wrote out the alphabet(s) and some other important things on the first page as a reference. I might pick a different grammar point each day and make it a point to focus on that. It doesn't matter what I write about as long as I am writing and thinking in Japanese.

So I am hoping to make my major announcement any time now. It has been verified and is in the final final stages, as opposed to the pre-final stages before. It should be pretty cool, I'm hoping it goes over well. I could announce it now, but part of it won't be available for another month so it would be cheesy to partially announce it and then say "oh you have to wait a month though". Maybe I'll cave in shortly.

A teacher beside me, actually the teacher that wears the Burberry EVERYDAY, was chewing out two students earlier. Her Japanese was so funny, because it was old male rough talk, and she just sounded stupid. I started laughing and smirking and the students saw me and then they grinned and that made her rip into them more. I walked over to the window so they couldn't see me.

My school is having a festival next weekend. I'm sure I'll come to it and hopefully I can bring some friends. It's not super exciting, unless you know the kids, but I can try to persuade at least one or two people to come. Especially the Fukushima middle school JETs who have no base school to come to. The other High School JETs might have their own thing going so I'm not sure if they can make it. There are 71 new Fukushima JETs this year, and about 10 are around me. The last girl came in from New Orleans last week and lives in the small Onsen / Gyoza town near here. I am actually going out there this Saturday to eat some world famous Iizaka Gyoza with some girls. One of the girls said she would take me to a Konyoku, or co-ed onsen. I promised I wouldn't peak, much, if we went. She's really cute. I think it would be weird to go to a coed Onsen, maybe a bit embarrassing. I've heard only old people go to the coed things, no young bikini models. Oh well.

You might find it odd that I keep typing things like Fukushima JET and JET Programme for no apparent reason. Well I've submitted my site to Google and other search engines and I want them to pick up these key phrases. The higher frequency of relevant phrases means a better listing. So I will keep typing the silly phrases out instead of just implying them.

I have a headache. Not that you are concerned, but I felt I should document it. It's at the top of my head and kinda stings a bit. Maybe from having nothing to do. I'll go for a walk or something tonight to get the blood flowing. I'll take a walk around Fukushima and maybe I'll call some other Fukushima JETs. Sorry, had to do it again. On a side-side note, we are definitely going to the Hokkaido Yuki Matsuri or Ice Festival. So hopefully that will actually happen since I plan to make the reservations in early October as opposed to a week before the event. I'm going to try to keep it as low budget as possible, taking the overnight ferry up there and then using a Youth Hostel or something else. I think a bunch of us are going together. As usual my biggest expense will be food I'm sure.

I did a massive clean up on my apartment and thought about selling some things in my apartment, that I never use but I didn't. Ironically Hiraki sensei asked me today if I had all these things on a list, half of which I was thinking about axing, but luckily I didn't. Even though a few things I had to buy from the guy before only later to find out they belonged to the school. I did find out the couch they were going to buy is not going to happen, which I really didn't expect, but I will be getting one of those arm lamps that clamps to a table and spins around, like an arm. So that's fine. I knew I wasn't getting a couch, since they bought me the stupid inflatable one last year. It was great at the beach, but stupid in an apartment.

Friday August 29, 2003

The Burberry teacher is yelling at some other students now. This time it's two girls. As soon as I heard her start I walked across the room so she couldn't see me. This time the teachers around her are smirking and when she looks down the two girls are smirking. Luckily they have their heads bowed and she can't see them. Hey lady, the tough samurai thing....not working for you. You just look silly...When she leaves the room the other teachers mimic her.

No classes again today. I wrote some in the Japanese journal yesterday. It was painful. I feel like a slow 5 year old. T..T..T..T..The B..b..b..boy. But I will get better and this is what I need. I've been studying today and typing and working on various sites. So nothing really to report. I think tonight we are getting together and drinking since the newbies need a chance to complain about their first week. Some have painful stories, others don't. Mine is just that I had to sit around with zero to do. But I am updating my little "when I have worked" chart and will make a nice little presentation soon enough.

Saturday August 30, 2003

I'm about to go spelunking. I think that's how it's spelled. Anyway, I'll take some pictures and maybe video. Woo hoo.