Postcards from my first six weeks as a teacher...
In my first week, the kids are off. There's not exactly a lot for me to do; I spend my days trying my hardest to look busy (I'm being paid for this) and studying as much Japanese as possible. I open my textbook at the contents page on my second day and read:
week 3: meetings
day 1 - self-introduction
day 2 - cake
I spend a whole day learning about cake?! I like this book already.
In my second week, I am disarmed by how freaking cute the students are. I want to take them home, but I think there are laws against that - except, inexplicably, in 'Matilda'; but in 'Matilda' there also aren't laws against locking kids in dark, enclosed spaces or throwing them over fences by the hair. So I may not use that as my guide to teaching.
By my third week I have already picked a favourite student, but unfortunately I have no idea what her name is as, although I have a sheet of photos and names, they're all written in kanji. This is the equivalent of telling me the names through the medium of interpretive dance, and actually I'd probably have more chance of working out how to pronounce them that way. My plan to get round this problem is to give all of the kids cute nicknames and pretend it's definitely not because I can't read Japanese.
In my fourth week I start teaching for real. 'If you're nervous,' Miura-sensai tells me before my first class, 'just tell them, and they'll be kind to you.' If, in England, a brand new teacher stood up first thing and admitted they were nervous, they'd have board erasers thrown at them until they ran out in tears. I am privately skeptical. Miura-sensei looks confused when I try to explain this.
...The class goes okay? I ask them to fill in little self-introduction worksheets. The girls talk about their favourite pop stars and draw cute, cartoon self-portraits. The boys write things like, 'my interests are walking around my house', and 'my favourite food is potato'.
Eh, I'll take it. Who doesn't love to walk around their house?
In my fifth week I find out that we have a stationary cupboard (it has taken this long for my pen to run out). I've never had a stationary cupboard to take advantage of before! Free highlighters, and all the paperclips I can eat! BEING AN ADULT IS SO EXCITING~~~.
In my sixth week the teachers and I get staggeringly drunk after Culture Festival and decide we are all now the best of friends. Suddenly, my Japanese is fluent. Or maybe their English is fluent? Or maybe we're all so drunk that none of us make any sense at all and we're communicating on some psychological plane? Eh.
September is happening. Things are changing. And life is very sweet.
- Marron (chestnut) & Maple Vanilla Spread. I swear this is the best thing I've eaten since I came to this country. The little lumps of chestnut! Real maple syrup! The flecks of vanilla bean! I need to go back and buy about twelve jars more, like... right now.
- Mochi with sweet chestnut filling. Served with...
- Marron Glacé tea, on limited autumn release.
- Fresh figs! There's nowhere near as much variety in fruit here in Japan as at home, and the lack of summer berries when I arrived was a pretty sad blow. The influx of figs into the supermarket at the start of September made me a very happy girl; I've been eating them for breakfast with yoghurt & maple or agave syrup. And check out how massive they are~~~!
- Iced maple soy milk tea in Nagasaki City.
What's your favourite Autumn food? I'm totally recipe-planning right now. Apparently I'm all about the chestnuts this year, but don't think for a moment that I've forgotten sweet potatoes. That's definitely gonna happen.