April 2014.

12 April 2014 § Leave a comment

One of the key differences so far between my life in England and my life in Japan: my work now requires most of my energy. Day trips and adventuring are not as frequent as a result. When I have time to do whatever I want, that ends up being staying in in my pajamas. I admire the other teachers from abroad here who take full advantage of their time off by exploring the UK and other parts of Europe. A part of me, though I hate to admit it, was more motivated to see Japan on the basis of it being Japan (England, you’re still cool though! Don’t take it personally!). 

More than anything, I’ve been trying to take advantage of being in London, of being in a big city. A trip to Royal Albert Hall to see Pixar in Concert, seeing Canadian band Walk off the Earth in Shepherd’s Bush, a poetry event at the Southbank Centre to listen to five poet laureates, film screenings in Soho, improv comedy at the Comedy Club, overpriced ramen, a long walk around Kew Gardens. 

Along with enjoying London, I’ve been trying to figure out what I actually want to be when I grow up. After having spent four years studying English literature at University, I find myself leaning towards specializing in maths, particularly where students with weak numeracy skills are concerned. This has come as somewhat of a surprise to me. 

Nonetheless, I want to continue exercising my writing skills. I’ve written a couple of film reviews for The Film Circle Reviews (for Under the Skin and the new Robocop). Poetry has been sparse, however. I’m hoping the two week break I’m enjoying now will bring me some inspiration that isn’t solely related to teaching/education. 

Every now and again I am reminded that I’m not from around here, especially when I hear words I’m not familiar with, or words being used in a way with which I’m not familiar. Hard graft. Todger. Yorkshire “pudding”. It was fun when we were in Canada, having it the other way around. Tom tried on some clothes at a store. Upon coming out of the changing rooms, a store clerk asked, “How’d you make out with those?” Tom: “Sorry? That’s not what I do with my clothes…”





may things.

27 May 2012 § 2 Comments

Some things from May:

* I was recently complimented on how good my English is. I went for lunch with some of the Japanese staff from a school I taught at last year, a couple other English teachers, and an adult student. I’d never met the student, and, assuming I was one of the Japanese staff, he told one of the actual staff that I speak English very well. Despite the misunderstanding, I was still a little flattered. 

* Things you will probably never find in North America: yakiniku, particularly all you can eat yakiniku. To give you a brief description, it’s pieces of various raw meat that you cook yourself at your table. It varies a lot in price depending on the quality you’re looking for, and where you go, but I went to all you can eat yakiniku last weekend, and it cost merely one thousand yen (approx. $12 CDN). 

* I’ve never been one to be open to trying new foods, but so far this year I can add whale and raw liver to the list. Didn’t care too much for the whale; it wasn’t anything special. The liver was cold, pretty soft, and all the flavor came from whatever salty mixture I dipped it in. It was surprisingly OK.

* Sometimes I get lectured by old Japanese ladies. The first time was last summer when I was eating a small snack on the train. It happened this morning when I didn’t park my bike in accordance with an old woman’s standards outside my apartment. I have no idea what she was saying, but two other foreigners who live in my building happened to be there at the same time, so I looked to them and they looked as confused. We “sumimasen”-ed and “wakaranai”-ed (“sorry”, “I don’t understand”), listened to her lecture, and went along our way. The best way to lecture a foreigner is to use very graded language – “Dame!” “Abunai!” “Dekinai!” (Bad! Dangerous! You cannot!). Those I’ll understand. Otherwise, I have no other option but to stare blankly and repeatedly say that I don’t understand (which I might sometimes do regardless). 


dish detergent, kindergarten visit, rain.

11 May 2011 § 1 Comment

One of the items that I acquired from the girl across the hall is some dish detergent.

As I was washing dishes about ten minutes ago, though, I realized that I don’t actually know if it’s dish detergent. It is in a small bottle that sort of looks like other detergent bottles I’ve seen here in Japan and it’s orange scented, like a lot of dish detergents, but there is nothing in English on there and nothing in katakana that helps me know if it’s actually detergent. It occurred to me that it could just as easily be a small bottle of shampoo. I looked for any kanji that I might understand, and saw one that I recognized. Unfortunately, I always mix up the kanji for hand and the kanji for hair. I figured if it was the one for hand, then it was detergent.

Anyway, I just looked it up. It is dish detergent. (I think).

My first kindergarten visit went well yesterday. I could easily complain about the fact that it was only a half hour visit and it takes me over a half hour for one way of transportation to get there. But it is in this lovely little rural area where there is water and trees and grass and no tall, grey, concrete, awful buildings. Once I get to the train station, the kindergarten is about a fifteen minute walk away, and it is a lovely walk. The kids were adorable. There were maybe around twenty of them (a small class, from what I hear). They were all very attentive and smiley and eager. We sang a few songs, I taught a few words. In the next year, I’m supposed to visit that particular class nine more times. I’m looking forward to it!

It’s been a rainy and humid past couple days. A suggestion of what rainy season might be like. I’m not sure when rainy season is though, or how long it lasts. Regardless, I’m not looking forward to it. Umbrellas don’t help much.

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