Summer. The time of fireworks, shaved ice, corn, festivals, and traveling. Oh, and heat waves… Can’t forget those!
Here are the highlights!
- Went to the annual fireworks festival at Lake Nojiri
- Lately, a certain group of middle-school boys has been super happy when I come to their class. I thought it was odd, since all of them are trouble makers, and sure enough, no sooner had class started and they were already sleeping! This has led to some pretty hilarious moments in class — one time, my JTE called one of them out. “You were so happy that Jayelon sensei came today, but you’re sleeping. She’s watching you! Wake up!” So he very dramatically picked his head up off the desk, leaned back, and stared at me with the most deadpan expression I’ve ever seen. The class started cracking up, I’m I was laughing, and the teacher started yelling at him to stop being creepy, even stepping in front of me to block his line of sight, but soon moving because his gaze was so steady. My kids crack me up.
- Became a block leader for the next JET year, a volunteer position
in which I plan events for, give advice to, and answer questions from the JETs in my area (particularly the new ones)
- Visited a new country (bringing my current total to just two)
- Became a samurai for a couple of hours
- Ate yakiniku for the first time
- Saw my first dolphin show
It started getting warm in May, June was still nice, then in July and August the heat came back with a vengeance. Every day I would go to school and sweat through my clothes, the kids couldn’t concentrate because it was so hot, and I was literally counting down the seconds until class ended so I could get some water. The two heat waves that roasted the country brought the temperature in my area to the low to mid 90’s, which is very dangerous when most homes and the school does not have air conditioning, as it usually doesn’t get near that hot. The heat was even mentioned in a teacher’s meeting, but many teachers didn’t seem to really care that much. The general attitude was like, “yeah, so it’s hotter than normal, so what,” instead of “maybe we should let the kids keep their water bottles at their desks so no one gets heat stroke.” One of my JTEs began letting the kids take a break for a couple of minutes during each of their classes to get water; I only wish I could’ve gotten some too. Not gonna lie, it was ROUGH. You know it’s too hot when the plastic food restaurants in Japan like to display outside starts MELTing.
Eventually, though, it was time for summer break. In Japan, students only get about a month of summer vacation, which starts at the end of July and goes until mid-late August. During that month, the school is closed for one week; that means that during the other three, teachers are semi-expected to come into work. NOPE! I used some of my vacation days and went traveling! First stop: Thailand (Chiang Mai and Bangkok). Second stop: the Kansai area (Osaka and Kyoto). I’ll leave most of the details of those trips to their respective blog posts, but surprise! Both trips were HOT and filled with adventures and new experiences, not all of them pleasant. I was very happy to finally be back home in Nagano!
Now, summer break is over and I’ve started school again. Thankfully it’s been rainy lately, cooling things down and making things easier for both teachers and students! Already looking forward to the autumn colors! So close!