Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dance

I haven't updated in so long, I know. I've been busy ;). The one who's been keeping me busy is not here tonight, so I am procrastinating, and studying, and working on some stuff for my students. So I thought that I'd share a bit of what I've been up to. That's more productive than procrastinating, no? :P

I love my life in Kameyama so much. It's a small town, and I miss shopping, but because I am trying to save money these days, it's a good thing that shopping requires extra effort (like an hour bike ride to the neighbouring city Suzuka with malls, or an hour train ride to Nagoya).
I love Nagoya by the way, but that's besides the point.

Anyway, the main thing I love about Kameyama are my schools (especially the JHS), and my students, as well as the teachers I work with. Of course sometimes the lessons don't go so well, but I have enough great lessons and conversations with students outside of class to always want to put all of my heart into each lesson. I love my students.

You know what their favourite phrase is? "Sticker please!" Hehe. They always make me laugh when they say it. It's often a conversation opener :P.

Sorry I am not writing too much about school. I didn't finish that test I mentioned, and I should get back to it. Before I go though, I want to share one more thing. Three weeks ago I joined a yosakoi team. This team is in Suzuka, and it's called Furin Kazan. Every year they participate in dance festival/contests, and next year there are two, one in Suzuka city and one in Tsu city (both are in Mie). If I learn the dance and keep practicing regularly, I will go too (in fact, once I joined, I am expected to go :D so I better keep practicing!). Man, you should see the guys... well, the girls too, dancing. They are so amazing. I like the guys' dance better I think, because it's more intense... although I guess I like both.

This is my team this year:



I am learning the same dance. This video is a bit too far to see well, sorry, but you get the idea.

Ani Lorak (a Ukrainian Singer)

Long time no see. I wonder if anyone is still reading this blog, hehe.

Anyways, today I was home alone, studying Japanese (I have to submit a test in 5 days, so I was working on it). Of course I can't just study all day and do nothing, and in the evening I started procrastinating more and more, listening to love songs on youtube... because I wanted to see someone :P, hence the love songs. Bad idea, but oh well, hehe.

Anyways, I found this, and as I used to like her music, and still do like her voice, I thought I'd share:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Autumn is in the Air

When I was still in school, September first, and the crispy autumn air always had a very special meaning, the feeling of a new beginning, of new things to learn. In university too September had the same special meaning, of new and exciting things to come.

This morning it was windy, and the clouds were so high in the sky, and the air was so crisp, with a fragrance of leaves... It almost felt like September is here.

This year I won't be stepping into the classroom as a student.
Instead, I will go to class as a teacher. Isn't it weird? I am so used to being a student...
But regardless, I am really excited, because I know that this is just a continuation of my learning, every day I will learn just as much, if not more than in university, from my students and fellow-teachers.

This was a long way of saying, I am so excited about school starting soon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

JET Orientation

I am so sleepy, I could use a nap or a big can of coffee. But there
are some interesting and useful presentations, so I am glad to be here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Train Tickets

Either this weekend is JR's nation-wide crack down on ticket-less
passengers, or just my luck, but I had my tickets checked 3 times in
the past 24 hours. That's more than in all of the past year since I
came to Japan.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My New Home in Mie

My new supervisors are so wonderful, they were so kind to me today. My co-worker is just as great as he seemed from emails, and really kind too. My apartment is absolutely beautiful, perfect size, and new, and it has everything I need, including kitchen stuff, bedding, books left by other teachers, and even some cleaning supplies and stuff. They even bought me new bed sheets.

This morning when I was leaving Toyohashi I was hoping that since I leave at 7:30, I will escape my boss and don't have to talk to her. No such luck. She caught me as I dropped off my keys at her place, as silently as I could, and blabbed away about totally random stuff until I had to excuse myself, saying I'll miss my train.

So coming here, and being treated like a responsible and reasonable adult, as opposed to a five-year old baby, I couldn't get over how happy I was to be starting this new job, and I told my supervisors so. Man, you should see my new place. It's so nice that I don't even have to decorate it. It's just clean, and new, with new furniture, and new wall-paper, and no dust or old dirt left by decades of teachers. I really hated cleaning my old place because it was so nasty from the start, but this place is so wonderful, I'd take pleasure in keeping it neat. The school board got professional cleaners to come in too, so I didn't have to do anything besides washing the dishes, just in case (hehe, I am not OCD, I just like to be extra sure with dishes).

I am so happy. Of course I haven't started actual work yet, but hey, I'll do anything if I get to work in a school, and have such nice supervisors.

I didn't get to see too much of the city yet because I was going through stuff left by previous teachers and putting away things I don't need. I am so tired now, I think I'll sleep early today. I still have to go through some documents I got, and read the welcome letters from the previous teachers.

On My Way

I am on my way to my new home!

It's so lucky it's raining today. The heat would not have been fun.

The view from the train is nice. I wonder if it's still Aichi, or already Mie.

I feel so excited, almost the same as moving to Japan all over again.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Internet

I HAVE INTERNET I HAVE INTERNET I HAVE INTERNET I HAVE INTERNET!!!!!!

You have no idea how excruciatingly painful it was to live for 2 months with no internet except on my iPhone.
I know I should never say never, but I am NEVER doing this again. Unless I move to Bhutan, haha. But then of course I wouldn't expect to have internet.

I got Softbank/eMobile cellular/wireless internet service, and it's actually really fast, much better than I expected.

On a completely separate note, today is one year since I came to Japan. I didn't even realize until I looked at my old visa expiration date and embarkation card, which was today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Moving

Tomorrow morning someone from a moving company is coming to take all my stuff. They will deliver it in a week, which works perfect for me. Except it's a work day, in the morning, so I'll have to apologize to the school many times.

I am so glad I took care of my stuff. I just have to finish packing some small things tonight.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Moving

I finished packing tonight, so now I have to figure out the cheapest way to ship all my stuff off to Mie.

I was going to use Kuroneko, but after reading up on my options, I found that Kuroneko is one of the more expensive companies.

On Monday I have to call a number of places for price quotes. I don't really have the vocabulary to explain what I want to ask, so have to look up some stuff first. Hehe, study time! :P.

With these moving companies looks like I'll have to ship stuff the morning when I leave for Mie myself. That might be a little difficult but in any case, I won't know till I call and ask.

Hehe, good luck to me. :P

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Move

12 shipping forms filled, 8 more or so to go.

I am moving next week, so I have to ship my stuff to my new home. I have a lot of stuff, as it turns out, but I am almost packed, I just need to finish off a few boxes, and tape them, and weigh them (to get a rough idea of how much shipping will cost). And of course, fill out the forms with my address.

Japan has a great shipping service, fast, cheap and flexible. It's called Kuroneko.

Probably by the time I am through with the forms, I'll remember my new address... I hope I do, after writing it so many times.

8 more minutes till work starts. Sigh. I don't want to work today... but I am sure once it starts, it will be fine... Bring it on!

:P

Internet

I want Internet!

I didn't think life without Internet would suck this much.

As soon as I get my visa renewed I will get wireless Internet (that works using the cellular network).

People in my building are too smart, they lock their wireless.

I want to update my podcasts, and get email on my computer, and use firefox.

Ok, enough complaining. I hope my visa is renewed soon and I can get internet.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ginger

I got some ginger, ground it, and made a drink with hot water and honey. I am sure it's good for my throat and will help bring my voice back, but man it's spicy! After just one cup I feel like a fire-breathing dragon :P.

Home

Last night I danced away at the J-punk rock live show, and then talked to many people at the after-party, so I got really tired. My cold got worse too, because of all the cigarette smoke (I should go get some ginger). So now I am reading, lying on the rug under the coffee table, and don't want to move :P.

Man, the live show was so great!

But yeah, I am skipping the BBQ event for the International Lounge. There's no way I am moving from under my coffee table, away from my book, and go to Okazaki. I wish I could go, but I need to get this cold fixed before work tomorrow, and I can't handle too much entertainment in one weekend, hehe.

Pink

I actually own enough pink clothes to make a separate laundry load.

Same goes for yellow.

......sad......
Hehe, I never used to wear pink until the last few years of university. I am turning more and more girly eh.

Live

Today's live had so many great bands. Or rather, all the bands today were great.

Eye-candy, eye-candy *evil grin*. *Cough* I mean research, research for the novel *drools*.

Anyways, good times! Everyone was dancing so much (and me too of course), and the music was great, and the atmosphere too (minus the smoke). At the afterparty I got to talk to many interesting and fun people, so I am glad I stayed for that.

The next live is in Toyohashi on September 13th, so I am going for sure unless I have an event at work. Most of the bands from today are coming, so I am really looking forward to it.

And now I am sleepy, but I missed the last train (I knew I would), so I am in a manga kisa (comic/Internet cafe), where you get your own cubicle with a door and a very comfortable chair that goes almost all the way down and almost becomes a bed. So for $10 you can stay here for 4 hours, so it's a very cheap alternative if you missed the last train. Karaoke migt be cheaper but it's loud...

Anyways, I am gonna try to sleep now. It's not so comfortable but the live was worth it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Snake

I was just walking to the train station and saw a snake. In the city too. I was not brave enough to take a picture.

I can deal with many things, but snakes and spiders, and flying cockroaches freak me out.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Envy

I was thinking the other day that envy is a pretty nasty feeling, and having someone envy you is really unpleasant.

Someone I know has started envying me recently, and because I have to tolerate the person's company for three more weeks, it's annoying as hell. She envies all sorts of things, from my work schedule, to my weight (go figure eh, I understand if I were 60kg, but I am overweight for my height), to my height, to my clothes, to my relationship. She even envies my gym membership (she couldn't get a membership there because she has tattoes and things are pretty strict here). Seriously though, give me a break. If you like my clothes, go to the mall, and if you want to lose weight, keep a damn food diary.

The thing is, I always believed and still do that my life is pretty ordinary, and what special things I have are mostly the result of my own work, although sometimes I've been very lucky (like on April 26th ;)). So there is nothing really to envy, I wasn't born a princess. And that's why I am starting to get really annoyed with this girl who envies me, but I can't very well tell her to go screw herself, unfortunately, because I still have to work with her until the end of this month.

Negative emotions are so suffocating. Oh well. Only 3 more weeks.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Plan

I am conducting an experiment, and I am supposed to get the result by
November 17th, 2009. That's not so far away... I just have to stay
consistent.

I wonder if this experiment will be a success... Well, it has to be.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Emails

やばい、やばい, I am so so behind on answering emails. (@_@). And
on piano homework. Sigh. What to do, what to do........ Starting to
feel a bit stressed...

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Spider

Today my student's little brother found this huge spider. It's alive, so very freaky. I tried spraying it with insect spray, but not sure if it worked. It was still alive when I was leaving.

I'll ask one of the other teachers if they could finish him off.

Apparently I am terrified of spiders. Not a good day. Just thinking of it makes me shiver.

It's not the greatest picture, but at least you can see the size of the thing. The handles for the bins are palm-sized.
I was too scared to take a better picture, because the spider was moving, and I was afraid it was going to run off somewhere.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Song

A beautiful song someone shared with me:



I don't understand the lyrics too well, but I'd like to read it carefully and translate one of those days.

The music, and the voice, are so beautiful... 何か、私の今の感情はその曲の感情とにてるかも。心から歌いたいの気持ちかな。

いつもね強がり人にいたいが、だれかの前にやさしくて弱くてvulnerableなっていい。
そういう人がいるから、私は恵まれるだと思う。

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The other day I had a conversation with someone about blogging and the lack of blogging.

This person said, the reason he didn't blog during certain times was that he didn't feel he had something to say/share.

Well, I actually feel the opposite these days. I have things to share that I shouldn't share on a public blog like this. According to my stats, I have some readers who visit my page, but I have no idea who they are. I usually recognize the IP/ISP/etc. information for most of my friends and family (hehe), so I am very curious who those mysterious readers are, and if they are people I know, or just found my blog via google... But I guess I'll never find out.

Well, in any case, it's getting harder and harder to blog because it's tempting to share about the things (or people) that make me happy, but I know I shouldn't, this being such a public place.

Hehe, so I might reduce the amount of blogging, but of course we'll see, maybe I'll be procrastinating, and blogging lots again...

Oh, and I want to test if I can post special characters, let's see if this works: ♥.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Food

I've been trying to convince myself that the only thing I really need to eat today was congee (おかゆ), with some ginger, egg, and boilled chicken. That's of course because of the stomach flu or whatever it is that I managed to catch this time. My brain though seems to think that I also need to eat watermelon, tiramisu, a jelly desert that my manager gave me before she found out I was sick, and chocolate ice-cream. Maybe my body is asking for sugar... I've been trying to resist, especially since most of this food is really unhealthy, but I did eat some watermelon, cake and ice-cream. (@_@)

On Tuesday my pool membership starts, so I'll be working off the effects of this infection. I thought you are supposed to lose weight during those things, but I am actually hungy all the time, more so than I normally am.

Oh and I discovered that you can make really yummy congee in my rice cooker. :D

Friday, June 12, 2009

I nearly fell off my bed laughing when I read on this website, "last Valentine's Day I bought rose pedals and spread them on the floor in my apartment."

Ah, the mental images of pink bicycle (or other kind of) pedals, littering the poor guy's apartment, on Valentine's Day of all days. Don't you love the English language :D.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

...

Looks like it's stomach flu again, or something similar.

Guess I'll be eating congee, bread, or plain white rice for the next few days...

I wonder if I can call in sick at work tomorrow. (@_@)

*passes out on the carpet in the classroom*


(No, I didn't really pass out, but I wish the lessons didn't start today... My manager is coming by later to drop off some stuff, I am going to tell her I will probably be calling in sick tomorrow. Damn, I have the kindergarten too... grrr)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Internet Withdrawal Symptoms

So I have no Internet in my apartment for the next two months... It's only the second day, but the withdrawal symptoms are showing.

Good thing I have Internet on my phone.

I do hope that I will get some solid work, or at least reading done this Internet-less summer.

And on a totaly unrelated note, I feel like $&@% today... (health- wise, not emotionally). I hope it's just one of those days, and I didn't catch anything like another flu virus (I don't think I did). Work is about to start and this is the longest day of the week, and I am really not up for being here today. But I have something to really look forward to tonight, so I'll survive today's classes, I am sure.

Monday, June 8, 2009

No Internet

I have no internet in my house starting from today and until mid August, when I set it up in my new apartment, after I move.

It's a long story as to why, that's just how things are. Sucks big time (it was supposed to be 2 weeks without internet in June, but turned into 2 months, sight). But whatever... I guess this will make me actually do work at home, instead of wasting my time away on youtube, mixi, DA, and other such websites.

I am still going to check email of course, and email is still the fastest way to reach me, because I get sound notifications for mail when it comes on my phone. I'll still be blogging too, because I can blog through email now, so I can do it easily from my phone.

So yeah, just thought I'd let everyone know what my excuse is if I don't answer to emails fast.

JET

今JETのinformation packageを読んで、「本当に八月からこ
の仕事をはじめる。ありえへん」と思った。この仕事がずっと欲しかった
から、今は夢みたい。

Live Show

Today I went to a live show with my friend from work again. I am so glad he keeps inviting me, because I really enjoy those live shows. I should start going on my own too though.

Just as before, this was a punk rock show, but the bands were new. I mean, I saw all of them for the first time. We mainly went to see the band called "Lucy and the Lipstix" which my friend likes, and I really loved it too. I got their CD, and I am glad.

I also got to see and hang out for a little bit with my favourite punk rock band's members. This band is called "Vision", I think I blogged about going to see their show. I've seen them twice so far. I wish they played today too, but they didn't. They'll be playing soon though, in a few weeks, and then next month in Nagoya, and I'll see if I can go to both shows. Not sure about the one this month, but the one in July—for sure. There's also going to be the band from today playing, and a new band that has a member of another band that I really liked, but that broke apart ("The Climax"). I am really really looking forward to that.

My ears are still feel a bit funny (it is loud in live houses), and it took some effort to get the cigarette smoke out of my hair, and I have panda eyes because I can't find my make-up remover and my mascara turned out to be water-proof, but it was quite worth it. The show was so fun, everyone was dancing and jumping around, and so happy, and I had a good time too dancing, jumping, and acting all sorts of crazy. I wonder what what my JHS students would have thought if they ever saw me... By the looks they give me sometimes during the class, they must think I have a stick up my... well, you get the point. Little do they know what I do in my free time :P. And speaking of that, I am glad Toyohashi is such a big city, I can wear any crazy clothes I want without worrying. I wonder if I'd be able to do that in Kameyama... especially because I've been wanting to invest in some VK-style shirts and shoes... I found just the store in Nagoya too... I didn't have money last time but probably come September I'll be able to afford it.

And yes, in case my female friends are wondering, all the eye candy today was, well, very enjoyable... hehe... yeah... Especially the Lucy guys, and the Vision guys...
*goes to drool over the Shoxx magazine and the CD covers*

By the way, I love the new Vision's music, and the Lucy and the Lipsticks CD too.

The other two times after the lives we went with my friend to the after-party, but this time both of us had work the next day (since it's not a Saturday live but a Sunday one). Next time though we both decided to go to the after party. We'll have to spend an all-nighter in Nagoya after that though, maybe go to an internet cafe or something, because we'll miss the last train, but those after-parties are totally worth it. Everyone is so friendly, and it's so interesting to talk to everyone.

P.S. No, I didn't take any pictures in case anyone is wondering. I am definitely going to try to take some next month though, when both of the bands are playing.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Clothes Shopping

I was thinking the other day how much I love shopping for clothes here. It's not only because it's easier for me to find things I like (despite the problem with sizes... good thing I like skirts and not pants). It's also because in some stores you can buy clothes sets, like a dress-looking thing, another dress-looking thing that goes over the first one, and a sweater/shirt... For example, this one.
In my favourite store, Honeys (where a lot of high school girls shop apparently...) most stuff costs 2000 yen ($20), so for that money you can get three pieces of clothes that you can wear together or separately, or combined with other clothes.

I don't know if it's just this year's fashion to wear so many layers, but I am really not complaining.

And one more interesting thing that I noticed: in many clothes stores the display seems to change quite frequently, they seem to get new stuff almost every few weeks. It seems to me a lot more frequent compared to places like Garage Clothing, etc. in Mississauga. (And I can't believe that all of the names of the stores in the mall completely escaped me just now.) I know this because I've developed a rather dangerous habit of stopping by the clothes stores every weekend before I go get groceries. They are right there in the same building, so it's quite tempting. I don't always buy something, but I browse, and the sales ladies probably remember me by now.

I guess I might just as well, because I am told that in Kameyama there is not much shopping... Maybe a good thing too, I'll save more money this way.

Speaking of saving money, my salary is going to be much higher, I don't have to pay key money or any deposits for the apartment, and my school board is going to pay half for my apartment, so I only have to pay 35000 yen ($350) for a 2 bedroom + living room place. So I can actually save quite a bit of money for grad school. I was really happy about that, because at my current job saving money is not so easy.

I wonder if I get the bonus for my current job, or if my boss makes up some lame excuse that I was 5 minutes late a few times, or left 5 minutes early, or didn't follow the curriculum, or some other stupid thing like that. Oh well... I guess I'll find out eh...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

JET Placement

I got my JET placement in the mail today!! I will be going to Mie-ken, Kameyama-shi.

~ Sorry for a short post, there is so much I want to do right now before I head to bed.

P.S. I am extremely happy, because this new placement is still close to all the important people ;) (and you know who you are, including the fairy-tale beauty who tends to leave shoes behind at midnight ;)).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sky

The colour of the evening sky after the rain is really beautiful right now.

This is in Kosai, Shizuoka.

9 Year Anniversary in Canada

Well strictly speaking, I am not in Canada, but none the less, this Monday, May 25th, marks 9 years since my family moved to Mississauga, Canada. It became sort of a personal tradition to look back and reflect on the move and its consequences for my life. Today I am a bit short on time, so I'll write the three important things.

First of all, only thanks to this move I am now living and working in Japan. For that I am very grateful. I have learned so many things this past year.

Secondly, if I didn't move to Canada, I would not have gotten an education in English. I am glad I did. I am also glad I went to such good universities, and that I studied Psychology. From what I heard, talking to my classmates in Ukraine, Psychology studies there are very different (they are more like philosophy, much less experiment-based). At least in my hometown unviersity... So I am glad I studied at the University of Toronto and in the University of Waterloo, those are really great schools.

Finally, if I stayed in Ukraine I doubt I'd get as technologically advanced and would have used Google and the internet in general nearly as much as I do now. In the 9 years that passed I learned so much from the internet, and I really can't imagine my life without it now.

So really, the bottom line is, I am very grateful to my parents for moving to Canada, because I am very satisfied with the life and the opportunities I have. There are so many things I want to do, and I can do them if I try hard, and that's amazing. Of course, like Jamie Zeppa from "Beyond the Sky and the Earth" said, "anyone can live anywhere, even you. For your kind information and necessary action please." But still, when someone asks me where I am from, I am very proud to say, "I am Canadian." (Of course I tell everyone that I am Russian too :D.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Placement - Still Waiting

I've been reading some horror stories about JET placements on islands that are a two-hour ferry ride from the mainland train station. Sigh. I hope I don't get something like that. Last year when I applied I wouldn't mind, but this year I want to be able to get to Osaka and Mikawa/Nagoya on weekends. I guess I'll be making more money so I can afford the shinkansen and stuff but still.

Well, I guess no reason to worry about the placement now since I have no idea where it will be.And once I find out, if it's really far, there is really not much I can do anyway, because this is the job I've wanted for several years, and I finally got it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sister City

I just found out entirely by accident that the sister city of Mississauga (my city in Canada) is Kariya, in Japan, which is in the same prefecture (Aichi) where I live, and not so far from here.

Amazing coincidence, no?

Come to think of it, one year ago I had no idea I'd end up in Aichi. It's not such a famous place, and very industrialized, so it was not even on the list of places to consider for placement (although last year I did put it on my placement request because it's close to Shizuoka). And here I am, in Aichi, and really happy too that I came.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Email from the Consulate

Unless I misread the email from the consulate, we'll be notified of our placements by mail. Sigh. An extra week of waiting for me probably, although I did hear about the acceptance to the program just as fast as the other Toronto people.
Anyways, I should keep myself busy for the next week, so that I don't go checking the forums about other people getting placement information.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Totoro

I saw Totoro this morning!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blogging Through Email

I was changing some settings on my blogs yesterday, and noticed a new option of blogging through email. This is great, it makes blogging and posting pictures so much easier. I wonder if the HTML formatting of the email gets preserved...

Anyways, this is a test post. I am sending it from my phone.

In case anyone is wondering, this is a picture from Golden Week in Kansai (Nara).

Waiting for the Placement Info

I was reading a bunch of online forums where all the new JETs are trying to find out their placements. Some JETs from Australia, Africa, and Jamaica found out already. Lucky.

I am waiting so anxiously too, because I have so many reasons to want to stay close to Mikawa area...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Internet

Three days without internet at home is not fun. It's back, I am so happy.
I will be changing my internet account though, so that it's under a different name, so I'll have no internet for three weeks (starting next week maybe). Sigh. But then at least I won't have to worry about the shut-downs and the whole 1-bill-in-3-months thing. In any case, I am happy to have it back today.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Creative?

This quote from the BBC Business Daily podcast really made me laugh this morning:
"The man is talking out of his tail pipe."
That's a very creative way of saying... well, I am sure you know what they meant :P. The piece was on the debate about energy sources and the eco value of the electric cars.

And speaking of the news, I find it very interesting that the BBC (UK), and even the CBC (Canada) don't really focus on the swine flu all that much these days, but NHK (Japan) spends nearly half of it's 10-minute English podcast every morning and every evening on the reports about the flu. Well, I guess that's more interesting than listening about the pirates in Somalia.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Present

So I was on my way to the convenience store today to get a drink before I start teaching, and passed by the office next door. The two people that work there, a man and a woman, were outside, getting some groceries from the trunk of the car. I always say hi to both of them, and they always act very friendly, but we don't usually talk much, not even about the weather. Anyways, I said hi, as usual, and was about to get on my way as they stopped me, and handed me a bunch of bananas, saying "would you like some bananas?" I couldn't believe they were so kind to me just because I work next door, and it made me smile for the rest of the day.

I still can't get used to how people here sometimes just do kind things at random. My landlady, who supervised the gas workers in my apartment when I was away, left me a bunch of snacks and sweets on my kitchen table... The small grocery store owners where I stop by sometimes make tea for me just because I stay and chat for a bit with them...

Makes me want to put extra effort to be kind to other people too...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Culture Exchange

今JET Resource Handbookでculture exchange project ideasについて読んでいる。
たとえば日本とアメリカのせいとの手紙を書くプロジェクト。
すごくかんどうした。
JETの仕事の始まりをとても楽しみ。
今の仕事でそんなプロジェクトはむりだけど、やりたいことが多い。
8月はすごいおもしろそ。
あの仕事ができためっちゃうれしいよ。本当に良かったよ。

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lesson Plan - Funny

Can you tell by the number of blog posts that I've been procrastinating for these past 2 days?

Anyways, I just read something funny. This is a sample lesson outline from the JET handbook. Please look at item number 2.

1. greet students, tell them you’re happy to see them again (1 min)
- make a note to remember 1-2 new names in the class
2. launch into the “I am Bob” song (5 mins)

*laughs hysterically while imagining herself "launching into a song 'I am Bob'", whatever that song may be*

Study

Study study study study must concentrate and study.

Hehe, so many tempting things I could do instead of studying right now...

This is totally random, but I'd like to go on a trip to England in the next year or two... I wonder if I'll have enough vacation time and money to do that, but I really want to.

On a related subject, I guess if I really want to get into grad school in GB or California, I have to get my ass back to studying eh.

Random

  • I have another 20 minutes to go until my last class, and I really don't want to do lesson planning for tomorrow... I'll do that on the train.
  • Hungry!!
  • Guess I'll do some bike-riding tonight, I have some errands at the post-office. Good thing the place is open 24/7.
  • I feel like eating junk food for dinner today because I am not in the mood to cook.
  • It was nice to see most of the kids today after the vacation. It was quite a treat that my least favourite student didn't show up.
  • I can't wait to get outside and on my bike. I think it's still warm.
  • Reading the JET manual I came up with a new game idea, and it was quite a hit with the kids. It's easy, you pick some things/animals/food/etc. (I used animals), and let one person draw a random thing. The rest of the group has to ask yes/no questions to guess what it is. For example, "Is it big? Does it eat meat? Can it climb trees?" Great for cumulative review.
  • I was reading today how it's a really good idea to sing with small kids. Sigh. I should get some kids songs on my iPhone and play them for the kids.
  • Today I slept so much, but I am sleepy again, I guess I forgot how much energy is required to teach elementary school kids.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Teaching Young Learners

So many blog posts today eh... A need for procrastination while studying, I guess. Next time I'll go to the library to study... (X_X)

Anyways, I found it humorous that while reading on various teaching methods and ideas I payed careful attention to everything until I got the section on young learners. I skipped that section entirely at first, and then I thought, wait a minute, I AM teaching elementary school students now, and for another 3 months (only, thank goodness). I shouldn't skip.

...Tells you how much I love teaching elementary school students...

*Praying that I don't get placed in elementary schools*

Song

This song is based on a beautiful poem by Marina Tsvetaeva.



I found this translation. It's not the best perhaps, but I have no energy to do my own right now, and it will give you a glimpse into what this song/poem is like.

I like it that you're burning not for me,
I like it that it's not for you I'm burning
And that the heavy sphere of Planet Earth
Will underneath our feet no more be turning
I like it that I can be unabashed
And humorous and not to play with words
And not to redden with a smothering wave
When with my sleeves I'm lightly touching yours.

I like it, that before my very eyes
You calmly hug another; it is well
That for me also kissing someone else
You will not threaten me with flames of hell.
That this my tender name, not day nor night,
You will recall again, my tender love;
That never in the silence of the church
They will sing "halleluiah" us above.

With this my heart and this my hand I thank
You that - although you don't know it -
You love me thus; and for my peaceful nights
And for rare meetings in the hour of sunset,
That we aren't walking underneath the moon,
That sun is not above our heads this morning,
That you - alas - are burning not for me
And that - alas - it's not for you I'm burning.

Translated by Ilya Shambat
Quoted from this website.

I Used to Think...

I used to think that I have it all figured it out. I usually try to be open-minded, but in truth, once I think I figure something out (for example, what is good for me), I stick with that idea, and it's pretty difficult to convince me to try something new.

Have you ever been in this situation? Probably most of us have, to some degree. For example, imagine that long ago, as a child, you used to hate the taste of green peppers. You think green peppers won't taste good to you, so you avoid them at all costs. When you do try them, you expect they won't taste good, and they don't, because a large part of your experience is based on prior expectations (sorry, no references for this statement, but I have read about a number of studies that showed this interesting phenomenon). If, on the other hand, you didn't have the prior expectations, you might actually enjoy green peppers a lot.

Recently I've been trying to let go of some fixed ideas about myself, and try new things. I blogged a while back how I used to hate bell-peppers, but recently cooked something with orange bell-peppers. I've also been drinking bottled green tea, which I used to dislike quite a bit when I first came here, because of the strong taste and the lack of sugar. Food is just one example... I think that what I want the most in terms of improving myself, is getting strength to dispel these fixed notions about the world and discover more things, without fear of novelty. I think this fear is pretty strong, and to a degree it's useful, because it's a self-defense mechanism, but if you are careful and don't do stupid things, if you listen to what feels right and wrong to do, then trying new things is a really good idea and a way to overcome fears and improve yourself.

The other day I very nearly escaped hurting someone and getting hurt because I assumed things without listening carefully and calmly. I am sure both me and the other person added to the misunderstanding, but I know for sure that if I listened and asked, it would not have happened to the extreme that it did. I was very lucky (and am very thankful) that this person was very patient and understanding, and that people close to me also helped me see things in perspective. In the end everything worked out, but it was close.

It wasn't just that time though that I faced misunderstandings. While teaching I often assume what my students don't like and don't want to do, and I am sure my attitude affects my interactions with them negatively. I've been trying to watch myself, but I still need to work on this.

I am glad I came to Japan. Here sometimes you don't ask. You have to watch, with your eyes, ears, and heart open. And this is what I am trying to learn. I need to learn to listen to other people and to trust people more.

Using metaphors, I think if the rest of the world feels like an ocean, we all need to have something to hold on to, so that we don't drown. I always used these fixed ideas about myself as a thing to hold on to, but I think that maybe a more reliable thing to hold on to is a belief in yourself, something like self-confidence. If you think you are a good person, and are honest with yourself, and listen to your own feelings and act upon them, then this faith becomes something to hold on to when things get difficult. Of course relying on other people is important, but if you don't believe in yourself, it seems that if a misunderstanding happens between you and other people, you'll be in trouble, wondering if you are a worthy person or not, etc. Of course other people's support is what makes your belief in yourself stronger, but maybe essentially, however cliche it may sound, what you really need the most is to love yourself, and love other people with an open mind.

Maybe? :D

In any case, I've been thinking about this ever since I moved here, and I am going to keep testing out this idea, and remind myself every day to be more open-minded.

Just thought I'd share.

Some New DA Art I Found and Wanted to Share

This artist doesn't have blogger sharing enabled on her DA account, so I have to post a link to her gallery. I thought some of her work is quite visually stunning, and I really like her pencil-sketch-like style.

Take a look HERE.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This one is by another artist, it's not my absolute favourite or anything, but I think it's an interesting concept, and I love the colors.


Vanilla vs Chocolate by =einlee on deviantART

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
And here's one more. Completely different from the previous works though. The lighting is so warm, it makes me smile every time I look at it.


falling and over again by =jyoujo on deviantART

Emails and Lesson Planning

Aiiiii, I am so behind on answering emails again.
I've been studying today, reading the JET manual and stuff, but in truth I am just putting away writing emails to my friends. I hope you guys don't hate me.

I've been also putting off lesson planning for my Junior High School classes. Somehow I am really not in the mood, even though I love my students and do want to make lessons interesting for them. I guess this vacation wasn't long enough for me to start missing work. Maybe I should take it easy this week and the next, because I got myself really worn-out with working non-stop before the vacation started.

And on an unrelated note, I am really looking forward to seeing my manager tomorrow or Tuesday. Of all the people at work, I really missed her.

All right, back to studying.

Perception Textbook

Ah, I miss my psychology textbook on perception. There is one chapter there on the 5 senses and the neurological processes behind it, that I'd like to re-read, hehe.
*evil grin*

Maybe I should go search on Google books.

P.S. I was reading some psychology articles in Russian today, and man it's such a weird feeling. I think the whole way of thinking and compiling data on Psychology in Russian science is a bit different, it seems less empirical and more philosophical, and this is why it's strange, because I am so used to the empirical approach. But then again, I only read very few articles, and probably not the best examples of what's out there, so I shouldn't generalize until I read more.

Correcting Mistakes

I've been reading the JET teaching handbook and came across an interesting idea that I didn't consider carefully before. When engaging in a speaking activity, or even talking to people, it is not always a good idea to correct all of the mistakes while the person is speaking. The reason for that is that pointing out mistakes during the conversation makes the person worry about grammar/etc. as opposed to trying their best to communicate.

I guess it depends on the English level of the person as well as age (I think small kids would take it as a given that they are getting corrected, and it will likely not affect their motivation, but this is not the case for older students). Whether or not to use this method probably also depends on the level of students' confidence, as well as their goals. I think this is more applicable for lower level of the language knowledge.
One way to correct the mistakes that they suggested was making mental notes during the conversation, and then mentioning the major errors after, especially focusing on the group as opposed to individuals (if this is a group activity).

I am going to think and read more about this idea, and I'll try it out at school tomorrow.

Chiz (Music)

During my study break I came across this song. It's been so long since I've heard it... brings back high school memories.

^ ^

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vacation

I can't believe that the vacation is almost over. Well, I guess there are still 3 days left, but I have many errands, and I'd like to study too, so the next few days will be busy.

I got so much rest though, it was great. It's been a while since I just relaxed for a whole day. This is what I did.
I came to my brother's house in Osaka on Sunday, walked around Nanba by myself, then we met up with him and Rie and had dinner at Tennoji, and after that we went to karaoke.
On Monday we went camping with these guys who live close to my brother's house. They were pretty cool people (although of course if my friends that I know well came instead, that would have been more fun, but hey). The camp site was up in the mountains, close to Yoshino in Nara, and it's absolutely gorgeous there. I really wanted to see the mountains, so it was great. I'll post pictures if I have time.
The first day we drove around a bit, and walked around a bit, saw an ancient tree and a beautiful shrine, and then went to an onsen. It was my first time to go to one, I liked it (although it was really hot so I had to take many breaks).
The next day it was raining, so we went to visit three caves. They weren't anything like the Crimean caves, but it was quite an adventure none the less, and we saw bats too (I don't think I've seen those in Crimean caves).
We also walked a lot along a river and in a forest, and even though it was raining, I enjoyed myself a lot.

My brother caught a cold from sleeping in the tent (and I think I did too), so he suggested we go back a day early, because the weather wasn't going to improve any time soon. It's colder up in the mountains, and it's not that hot even in Osaka right now, and I guess we didn't bring enough warm clothes. Anyways, there was a bus going to the train station, so we took that, and we got home in two hours, faster than when we drove there.

That night we went to sleep early, but I got to talk a lot to Rie about many interesting things. Hehe, it's been a while since the last girl-talk with her, so we were both glad my brother fell asleep right after dinner, muahahaha!

Yesterday we cooked both lunch and dinner, and made a puzzle, and watched TV, and took naps, and just rested.

Today we didn't do much either, except that Anton had to work. Now it's already 14:26, and Rie left for school (she has classes today). I was going to leave with her, but I was copying some music from Anton's computer, and it didn't finish on time. It's done now though, so I'll be leaving my brother's house shortly. I wonder what time I get to Toyohashi. I hope before 8, because I need to go to a dollar store and to a home store. Today and tomorrow I'll be cleaning my house and organizing my computer...

Monday, May 4, 2009

大阪

大阪は楽しい!
でも、愛知に帰る時間は楽しみ。
ありがとう。
^ ^

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I Wonder

他の人たちは私がどやって見えるかな?
みんなはKatyaがどんな人だと思うかな?
Anyways, I was just wondering...

P. S. Man, I am sleepy. I couldn't sleep too well last night because I had something on my mind. Now I am on the way to meet a friend for lunch, and I think I should really get some coffee before I see her, since I really want to enjoy her company without falling asleep, hehe. I have to sleep well tonight too because I don't want to show up in Osaka all brain-dead tomorrow.
Жаль, что сейчас каникулы... мне хотелось поговорить с Natsue-san на работе... но видно придется ждать до конца отпуска...

Интересно, что будет дальше...

ねむれないよ。

Friday, May 1, 2009

...

Да уж............

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Dirty Dancing" Movie

The other day I was thinking how much I miss dance classes. Today a soundtrack from "Dirty Dancing" was playing so I thought that I really want to watch the movie. I wonder if I can find the full version online.

This is the song I was listening to:

(I wanted to post a video from the movie, made by fans, but it will ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't watched it yet, so this video is better I guess. Sorry for such a bad video :P).

Oh, I just found the movie on youtube, I am going to watch it :D.

Consulate Trip

Tomorrow I have an appointment at the consulate about my passport application. I am missing some documents though, so unless a miracle happens and I get them in the mail by 8 AM (which is impossible anyway), I have to cancel my appointment. Guess I should email the consulate now... sigh... this sucks. Canada Post REALLY sucks. What's with their delivery times and prices? I am getting so spoiled by Japan Post, but things get where they should get, by the time they should get there, and the prices are reasonable. You don't have to pay $70 for sending one sheet of paper across the ocean in 4 days.

Anyways, I thought I'd complain, I can't believe how slow Canada Post is.

I am still going to Nagoya tomorrow though, I have other errands besides the consulate, and after I am done my errands I am doing something ^ ^l. So yeah. I am getting spoiled, living in Japan. Most of the time things just work the way you expect and the service people actually know really well what they are doing, as opposed to the minimum wage sales people in Canada who have no idea a lot of the time what they are doing.

Haha, sorry I am bitter. I was really hoping the documents get here faster... But I guess tomorrow will be a good day regardless, and my vacation is officially starting tomorrow, so I shouldn't be complaining.

*Goes off to email the consulate.*
I am hungry!!!
:P.
Sorry for a random post. I have a 10 minute break between classes and still 3 more lessons to go. Waaaahaaa,4 more hours before I get home and can eat dinner.
Oh well, the worst classes with my smallest students are over, so I'll be ok.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Clay

Unless you know what you are doing, I would not recommend mixing polymer clay, liquid polymer clay, and acrylics. It was fun mixing and the colors came out nice, but man, getting the thing out of my hands after took 20 minutes of scrubbing. I should probably get a solvent tomorrow too if I can explain in my broken Japanese what it is that I did to my hands.

Memory

Right now I am practicing kanji with Anki software. (I blogged about Anki before here, here, and here.) And I am amazed at how fast I have forgotten the kanji that I didn't practice. I guess even though I work with memory-related problems all the time, and I've read about how human memory works, I still did not realize just how fast we forget things unless we practice them.

I guess it's a good reminder for me that I should bring my laptop to class and do Anki practice with my students at every chance I get. Sometimes I forget, but this really shows how good it is to be consistent.

I started Anki with one of my junior high school classes, and because I found some funny pictures for them, I think they liked it.

I wonder if I can and will be allowed to integrate Anki in at least one of the classes that I'll do ALT work in from August. I really hope so, because I want to see how far a database would go in a year.

I have to think of the logistics of using Anki in a 30+ student setting though, as opposed to a private 1-on-1 lesson or a 6 students class. With group/class work there is a problem that some smart students will know everything, and the rest of the class won't know. I have some ideas, like group work for Anki (with competition between groups for motivation, maybe), or picking a random student to answer instead of letting the smart kids say everything. Anyways, I really need to think about this more.

~ Back to my own Anki practice, I've finally added my friends' names to Anki, so I can practice being able to write their names. Before only my kendo teachers' names were in Anki.

I still have some time before I have to leave for work. I wonder if I'll be able to finish my review. I need to practice piano tonight too. And tomorrow. And the day after. And speaking of the day after, it's a holiday, I think, so I wonder if there's kendo that day. I also wonder if my documents will arrive in the mail so that I can go to the Nagoya consulate. The people there are so helpful, but I don't want to have to re-schedule my appointment there if I don't get my documents. Grrr for Canada Post.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

^ ^

今日はすごい楽しかった!


Musical Rose 2 by ~So-chan18 on deviantART

Teaching: Sketchbook

The walls in my living room are turning into a giant white-board sketch-book kind of workspace. Of course I don't write on the actual walls, I pasted some huge sheets of paper all over my closet doors (and I have a huge closet), and I write on those. I wish I had an actual white-board, like my brother does in his home-office, but then I guess a paper board thing has it's own benefits. I write ideas on sheets of paper and tape those to the master paper sheet thing, so if anything, I can move the stuff around and group it.
A computer would be nice for those ideas, but the screen is not big enough, and it helps having my ideas and reminders on what to do right there, in the living room, in bright colors. This way when I am eating dinner I can look at the stuff and maybe think more about some idea or other.

Ah, and I didn't mention what it is that I actually write on my walls... I've been trying to organize my research and teaching ideas, because I have so many, and I get those idea hyper energetic times when I come up with a lot of stuff. So I need to write that all down because I'll forget if I don't. And also, if I don't write my ideas down, there are too many in my head to have them in an organized manner. So when I have time to go read some ESL books etc. I don't know where to start because I have too many questions. This way, if I write my questions down and group them (e.g. under curriculum planning, or psychological problems in the classroom, or lesson themes, or natural language acquisition problems vs. classroom teaching, or the use of technology), then I can make sense of what I need to do more easily.

Anyways, it's a lot of fun writing on my walls, I just hope I have enough wall space, hehe. This totally reminds me of when I was little and mom and dad had paper pasted on our kids' bedroom walls, so that we can draw on the walls. Although me and my brother found ways to have a creativity outlet in a not-so-civilized way. We drew on the outer walls of our house too... with charcoal of all things... I am sure grandma wasn't thrilled. Neither were mom and dad, I am sure, but I don't remember them scolding us.

MAAAAAAAANNNNNN, I am really getting excited about thinking of all the teaching ideas right now, and it's past 1 AM. Geee.... I wonder how I am going to sleep now. I have work tomorrow morning, and then I am meeting a friend, and I'd prefer to be awake for that :P. So I need to go find some really boring book to read, something that will put me to sleep.

JET Resource Materials Handbook

I was looking for something on the JET website and came across this amazing book. It's a resource for working as an ALT in Japanese schools, and it has some really useful information, such on what to expect at school, or on classroom management, teaching ideas, etc. I wish I found this sooner, and I am so glad I found it before my vacation starts in a few days. I'll have time to read it.

I am getting so excited about August, just reading the handbook.

And on a totally different note, the first three things I am going to buy once I find out my placement (and move, if it's not Toyohashi) are a new bookshelf, a printer, and a piano stand.

Friday, April 24, 2009

4 Days

4 work days and then vacation!
YAY!!!

We have an Easter party for the students on Sunday morning, and I have to teach on Monday and Tuesday (and today of course), but after that I have vacation until May 12th!

I can't wait. Although today would be fun though. I have 2 private lessons (as part of my current job, not on the side), so those I have to teach, but the rest of today's classes are going to be games, like the rest of the week has been. I hope there are UNO cards in my classroom today, so I can play with my junior high school kids.

I played so much balloon volleyball this week. The older kids are so good.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One Sharp, One Flat

I can't fall asleep right now for various reasons, so I wanted to write a translation for this song by Rozenbaum, my favourite musician, instead of wasting time on youtube. It's been a while since I translated any poems.

However, now I am running into so much trouble, because this song has many musical terms that I don't know in English. Or maybe I should say rather, that my English is very poor and I can't really translate this song.

So, um, I guess I am going back to counting sheep.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today

There you go, a new portion of randomness :D. I guess you guys who are reading this blog are already used to my randomness anyway, but be warned, more is coming your way, because these days I have no time to write properly edited posts.



~ I played balloon volleyball and badminton with my kids today. They are good, especially my junior high school students. I had the most fun with those guys... as always, haha. My 2 year old students on the other hand tired me out so fast, it's really energy-draining to teach them. I wish I didn't have to, and I am so glad I get to at least enjoy teaching my junior high school class.

~ I read so many emails today, and in Japanese too, that I am feeling very proud of myself. It's still taking me forever to read, especially long emails, because I think my friends are starting to get comfortable with my Japanese abilities and think I can read anything. I can't, but still I don't think they simplify their emails for me, it feels like they are just writing as they normally would, to their Japanese friends. So it's taking me a lot of copy-pasting to look up the new words, and also a lot of time to figure out what they mean. I am practicing this skill to confirm what people said. I remember studying that that's actually a therapeutical technique: if you get too emotional about arguing with someone, you have to slow down and to start confirming what the person is trying to say, and this will help you calm down and consider what the other person is saying more rationally. So there you go, if I end up fighting with any of my friends, I would hopefully be at an advantage compared to me before I came to Japan.

~ By the way, I think everyone who wants to grow up into a serious and mature person needs to go live abroad for a period of time... Or if you have no money, then maybe live in a place where you wouldn't normally live, maybe a neighbourhood that's culturally different from your own. It's amazing how much you get to learn by living in a foreign country. It's amazing how many things I got too comfortable with and took for granted in Canada.

~ Email etiquette here still baffles me. One of my friends always answers to everything that I mention in my emails, even if it's just a small half-sentence in passing. I thought he was just really nice (and he is really nice), but many people that I talk to do the same. I wonder if I come off as a pretty self-centered person in my own emails... I've been trying to be more considerate in my emails (haha, to my Japanese friends :P—sorry my Canadian friends, you wouldn't notice the difference, I didn't change my writing style when I write to you guys). I am still trying to figure out the norms... I sometimes wish there was this book I could go borrow from the library, something along the lines of "writing emails to your Japanese friends"... but then, even if there is such a book, it's probably pretty useless, and it's also meaningless to learn these things from a book. I have to learn through talking to my friends, and it's also more fun that way.
I can really see sometimes where some of the stereotypes about westerners and foreigners in general are coming from. I never realized how intricate some of these relationships between people, and social norms and rules are. It's like kendo, you really have to practice for a few years before it starts making sense... and you really have to lose many fights before you start winning. So living here, if you don't meet extra open minded people used to hanging around foreigners, then you will make mistakes and probably miss some chances to become friends with people because you do something stupid or don't understand them... but if you look at it as a learning process, then it's ok, and in the end you make some special friends.



Mom asked me when I came to visit Toronto in February, "Did you make any friends? I mean real friends". I said yes to her, and right now I want to say again, "yes mom, I did :D". I really have met some pretty special people, kind and considerate, and interesting to talk to, people who cheer me up if something happens, and who take time to hang out, and who teach me so many things. I am so happy that I came here. Sure it's stressful and tiresome sometimes. Sure I miss my parents, my friends, the UofT library with books in English, and I even miss Timmy's Ice Caps sometimes (although I will never miss Toronto weather), but I have been doing things here that I am happy about, things that are meaningful to me, and I think that as someone who wants to teach English, I can do a lot more right now living here than I could in Toronto. And I also think that in terms of people relationships and life in general I am learning so much more here than I did in Toronto. Academically I might not be learning as much at the moment, my studies are pretty fragmented, but non-academically I have learned so much.

~ I wasn't planning to write a praise-to-Japan post, hehe. Oh well... I was just talking to some of my friends here in Japan via email, and they said some really kind things to me, so I got too excited :P. Plus it's past midnight, and I always end up getting more emotional about things at night :D, so I got really emotional (in a happy way) about my stay here in Toyohashi :P.

Anyways, it's time for bed. I have so many emails to reply to tomorrow... :P

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today

Today's Lounge music night event was so much fun. I met some interesting people, and it was so good to see my friends.

I wish I wasn't so tired though, by the end of the day I could barely stay awake. And here I am, blogging instead of sleeping..... @_@

Sorry to my Toronto friends for not blogging more. I have so much to write about, but I am so tired these days from all the lesson planning, JET paperwork, and emails, that I don't have any energy left to blog.

Thank you though to all of you guys reading, and an extra thank you to those who wrote emails and comments. I really miss you guys! :D

OK, bed time! I can't stay awake any longer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

かぜ

またかぜをひいた。もう、かぜがやだよ。

Thursday, April 16, 2009

(- -).......sleeeeeeeeepy

sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepyyyyyyyy

(_ _).......zzzzzZZZZZZ

Battery: 12%....
....please plug into the power outlet to charge.......

....recharging....

Man, these kids drain my energy sometimes.

Feeling Racist

I just realized I've been having pretty racist thoughts... Towards Americans. Sad eh. I guess I've met a fair share of... Well people, whose company I don't enjoy. But that's just bad luck, I am sure.

Anyways, I am totally brain-dead after teaching a bunch of 5-year olds. Soooooo sleepy but I have to teach 2 more classes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random Things from Today

~ It's raining buckets in Toyohashi today.

~ Canadian consulates in Japan don't seem to be into picking up the phone. They ask you to leave a message. So much for "emergency services" available. I left them a message today saying that I have a number of questions about passport renewal procedure, I wonder if they are going to call me back.

~ My baby class wasn't so horrible as the one last week. The little 2-year old crazy girl that I am forced to teach actually sat down through most of the lesson. Maybe in the next few months this class will get better...

~ Apparently it's not a standard procedure in Japan to request police checks for foreigners. As the police officers I went to see explained, it seems that I need to go speak with immigration, they can't do a police check for me because I am a foreigner. We were laughing so much today when one of them said, "you can probably get this record from the immigration, and check with your employer and the school board too, you might not even need this record, because basically if you committed any offenses, you would already be deported." True, isn't it. I guess since they have records on all the foreigners, this somewhat makes sense... I didn't have time to call immigration after talking to the police, so I'll be doing that tomorrow. Sigh... it's going to be interesting if there's nobody who can speak English there. Talking to the police in Japanese was ok because it was in person and I could use gestures if anything. Talking on the phone is more difficult. Well, I have to see what the JET coordinator in Toronto says anyway, hopefully she will reply to my email today. That's one nice thing about the time difference, I can do all my emailing late at night, and get a reply by morning.

~ I made a doctor's appointment for tomorrow. I hope they can do everything in one go. I also hope my health insurance covers at least some of the fee.

~ I wanted to eat out today, but I got soaked on the way home so I gave up on that idea.

~ Wow, I didn't use mixi for a long time. I posted something last night, but otherwise it's been a while since I blogged there or here... I can't believe lesson planning is keeping me this busy.

~ My first year junior high school kids had a kick out of making ID cards for imaginary characters (like Doraemon), I guess that's because I let them draw the mug shots too :P. I didn't think they'd enjoy it, but I am happy they did.

~ I taught them some crazy vocabulary last week, like "health insurance card", because we were talking about ID cards and stuff, and guess what. One of them actually remembered it today. I was quite shocked.

~ I should put more pictures into my Anki vocabulary file for these guys. It's pretty boring now with just the Japanese translation. Actually, I'll go do that now.

~ Oh, and this reminds me, I have to go to an internet cafe and print out my damn tax declaration. I still can not believe how stupid CRA is. But I guess I have to print out stuff for the JET documents too... so I have to go find a printer anyway. Once I know my placement, if I don't have to move then I am going to buy myself a printer. It sucks not having a printer in the house.

Passport

Wow, looks like I might be stuck doing paperwork all of this week and the next.

I have to get a physical (with an x-ray), a police check, and renew my passport (great...). All of this has to be done by April 24th. I am really not looking forward to the last bit, I have to go to Nagoya for that I think. I guess I need to call the consulate tomorrow, because it seems that I might need to follow the full application procedures (the simplified renewal process seems not to be applicable for people living abroad). Which means I need to have a guarantor. I have no idea how I am going to get that done in 10 days, from Japan. Japanese passport photo size is different too, so I have to go find a photo studio. But I guess for now I should wait for the reply from the Japanese consulate about my visa and passport questions. Maybe they'll tell me I can renew my passport next year? (Yeah, right, I think I will have to do that myself, and now).

I am happy I got in! でもさ、passport reapplicationはね、めんどくさい。めっちゃめんどくさい。It's still valid until July 2010... But I guess they won't be able to issue a visa it seems if my passport is not valid until September. Well, I'll have to do this sooner or later... so I'll be on the phone with the consulate in Nagoya tomorrow morning it seems.

Monday, April 13, 2009

JET

I GOT ACCEPTED!!
Hehe, I actually got the letter in the mail a bit after I posted the previous post!

Mail

The JET interview results have been mailed out, according the Consulate General in Toronto website. I know from "I Think I am Lost" forums that the Calgary guys have already received their letters in the mail, but seems that Toronto people still haven't heard anything yet. It's Easter Monday today too, so they won't get any mail today either. Not that I should go check the I Think I am Lost forums anyway, since I'll be getting my letter on a different date. I wish the consulate posted what day they sent the letters out. No, correct that to, I wish I am crazy busy at work and at home today and tomorrow so I don't think about the letter... because I am already getting super excited and worried at the same time.

If I don't receive anything by this Wednesday, I have to let the consulate know. I listed my Japanese address on the form because if I do get accepted, I need the documents they mail me. So I have to wait a bit longer than everyone else, but then given that Canada post is super slow, and Japan Post is super fast, I won't have to wait much longer, I don't think.

Anyways, the latest I have to wait till is Thursday, I think, because if I don't get any mail by Wednesday, I'll email the consulate and they will most likely tell me the interview results. So a few more days. I am glad I went and randomly checked the consulate website.

*Guess who'll be checking her mailbox 5 times a day, and listening to the postman's scooter*


(Picture taken from here.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

CRA

***ing CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency)... Pardon my French. I have to paper-mail my tax return because I did not reside in Canada on New Year's Eve. How ridiculous is this? Are we in the freaking 19th century? I knew they don't give a crap about wasting trees, paper, and people's time, but this is just very stupid in my opinion, given that the engine for submitting electronic tax returns exists. How much of these tax money will go to pay for someone to manually process these returns that come from overseas? Wouldn't it make more sense especially for non-residents to NETFILE their tax return? Beats me. And I am not even going to start on how slow CRA is at correcting their own mistakes.

If anyone knows a way around mailing this return, please share.

I have to sign the damn papers too, so I can't ask my parents to print and mail the thing for me. I guess I should be grateful they don't ask for my fingerprints and a mug shot...

(@_@)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Across the Ocean

I was doing my taxes and needed a quote of how far my Canadian residence is from my Japanese residence, so I went on google maps. The fastest way to find out that I know was to get directions between the two locations. I remember from before that if you get directions for two locations that are across the ocean from each other, Google Maps suggested that you swim across the ocean. Well, they changed that suggestion a bit. Take a look at item 30 on the picture below ;).
(You might want to click on the picture to get a full view.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Aisha

This song was just playing in my iTunes, so I thought I'd share. I never posted it on my blog before.

It's called "Aicha", and it's by Khaled. I don't remember how I came across this song, I think I either got it from a friend or found it online accidentally.

Anyways, enjoy.



...Can you understand the lyrics? I can understand a few words in the chorus, but that's about it. I didn't study French very hard back in the day... I wish I studied harder. Of course I can't understand any of the Arabic at all in this song either.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Katya is...

...writing a curriculum for her junior high school (JHS) classes, because the old method didn't work with them;

...eating orange bell-peppers (mom and dad would be shocked when they read this, I have quite a reputation for refusing to eat those). They actually taste decent if cut into tiny pieces and cooked for a long time in pasta sauce, they loose their peppery flavour that I so dislike;

...practicing the piano more regularly than before (I do want to learn the Alkesandra song by the 19th, even if I decide not to play it);

...enjoying the lighter schedule at work;

...but dreading the ******* baby class... geh, I hate teaching 2-year old babies, it's too much;

...wondering when it will get warmer;

...painting;

...procrastinating;

...wanting to go visit Anton and Rie in Osaka;

...wondering how her friends from Canada are doing;

...going to karaoke more often;

...enjoying the company of her new friends, and old ones too (やっぱり、何も言わなくてよかったね。二人いい友達できたもん。その友達はよく笑わせてくれた。)

...counting days till it's time for the trip to the ocean;

...anxious about tomorrow's JHS class and the new elementary school students class;

...being too lazy and/or busy to read her friends' blogs;

...not posting on mixi or replying to emails these days (sorry, too busy right now :P);

...enjoying BBC's "Business Daily" podcast more and more with every day (even though I don't know what I do if I hear another "boom turned to bust" phrase, they repeat it in every second podcast).

...thinking that it's about time to return to lesson planning and stop procrastinating.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The River in Bloom and Gouache

The past few days everywhere I look I see all shades of pink. The river next to my house is especially beautiful. I am not sure if all of these flowers are sakura or not, but to me it doesn't really matter what these trees are, I only care that it's really beautiful outside.

For a long time I had this idea for a scene for the story that I am writing, and today I thought it out on the way home and had to put it down on paper. Not in words though, but as a sketch. I rarely venture to touch colors, even though I own a beautiful set of colored pencils (thank you Steph!) and gouache (I got it so I can work with clay). It's just.. well, it's just difficult to work with colors, and I can never get it the way I want, and I give up really easily. This time though I was pretty determined to try out the colors. Back in art school I hated watercolors because they are so tricky, and because they are translucent, so blending is very difficult, and mistakes are hard to fix. I loved gouache though, and today I enjoyed myself so much, experimenting. Mixing colors for gouache is a lot like mixing colors for clay, and fixing mistakes is easier too. Once again I thought that art is at least 80% about conscientiousness (a.k.a. working until your brain explodes). Of course you have to be able to visualize what you want to draw, but practice, not talent is what helps you make your hands obey and create what you see in your mind. I think same goes for music, creative writing, mathematics, and many other areas that some people are reigned by gifted people. Gifted people, I think, are people who can find enough inspiration to sit for hours and putting small dots on paper, or grating clay, or writing and scrapping drafts, etc.

Anyways, I am nowhere near being finished, this is going to take a long time, but I am going to keep drawing/painting. I am also going to stop worrying about making good copies, and instead make as many sketches as I can. It's not like I am making a portfolio here, I need sketches for my story-board, so that I have more inspiration and visualization to write.

And speaking of writing, I am going to try and get some writing down tonight.

April 1st

If you read this post on April 1st, go check out youtube and Tokyo Toshokan websites. It's kind of funny what they did (except that I can't find anything on Tokyo Toshokan, geh, I hope they change it back soon).

I wonder what other big websites do something for April 1st.

And speaking of websites, Facebook is getting more and more annoying by the day. It feels that it's getting bogged down with useless junk applications and features, so much so that every time I open that web page (which is not often these days), I wonder, why did I bother?

New iPod Shuffle

So I just watched the video for the new iPod shuffle and was very unimpressed. I love Apple (as most people reading this blog would know), but they are making such a big deal out of this new voice-over feature (it reads out song names, playlists and musicians to you). After having used iPod shuffle for a bit, and then switching to an iPhone, iPod shuffle is really unimpressive, I think. Although it's better than the piece of junk mp3 player that I used to own, the one that kept breaking down until it died completely... but still, it feels like Apple could do so much better.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

КВН

I found some KVN videos on youtube, I laughed so much. It's this humour show that I used to watch in high school. It's awesome, but you can't watch it if you don't speak Russian :P. It's untranslatable.

Blog Comments

I forgot to mention before, but now anyone can comment, you don't need a google account.

^ ^

Aleksandra

I was practicing this song (I posted the link before), and I just wrote out which fingers I should use where, since my sheet music didn't say that. I got so excited that I didn't even notice it was already 10:30 PM. Guess I really should go buy headphones so that I can practice late at night. That's the beauty of an electronic instrument, you can plug in headphones... if you own a pair, that is :P. Of course, I own several pairs, but I don't have a converter for the piano jack, and my brother tells me I can get a whole new set of headphones, with a jack, so I'll do that.

It's so nice to have an electric piano, I am so lucky. I wouldn't have been able to take music classes if I didn't have one.

よし!

よし、きめた!しょうぶだよ、しょうぶ!
まけたくないよ。
いっしょけんめいでがんばるよ。

Saturday, March 28, 2009

...

やばい、また納税申告についてわすれた!
私、あほかな。4月1日まであるけど、今夜やらないといかん。

What If...

What if you could go back in time... would you go? If you could change something, would you want to?

I was watching a short film that raised this question, and it made me wonder the same about my own life.

I guess there are things that I regret a little, but of all the things that I wish went differently, I don't think I'd want to go back and try to fix them. For some things, I wish the outcomes were different, but even if I were to go back and try to change something, I don't think I'd act any differently than I already did. So for me, at this point in my life, there is no good reason to go back and to try and change something.

I'd like to change some things about myself, but it's not something to do with the past, it's more like things I'd like to work on to become a better person. And that I have to do in the present, and in the future, not in the past.

It's interesting, I think if someone asked me the same question five years ago, I think I'd answer that I do want to go back and change things.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Colours

I found this on DA this morning, and wanted to share. I think it's a photo manipulation, not a drawing, but in any case, I really like the colours.


Evening Sun by ^archanN on deviantART

Friday

Thank goodness it's Friday. I actually survived this crazy week, and today is going to be a light day, I only have to teach half of my classes.

Man, this really was one hell of an insane week, maybe the busiest I've been yet.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Romance

Here is a beautiful romance (music) from an old Russian film. I came across it while searching for something on youtube that was related to "Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears".



I am so brain-dead, I am going straight to bed. I had a lot of fun this weekend, having my friend over, going to Nagoya, going to karaoke, and then going to my friend's house for the piano lesson, and ending up staying over. I got a lot of help with the sheet music for the song I want to learn to play (I blogged about in the previous post). It will take a lot of practice, and I don't know if I can do it in 3 weeks, but maybe. My friend re-wrote the whole thing into chords, so all I have to do is practice playing these chords and the notes from the chords as the arpeggio. It will be a lot easier than playing the full melody. It was amazing to watch my friend re-writing it last night... but we stayed up till 3 in the morning doing it, so yeah, and of course I had work today, and we practiced a bit in the morning, so I am really sleep-deprived now. It's only 9 PM, but I am going to bed. I feel pretty dead. I had 5 coffees today too, to last me through work.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Music Lounge

Next month is the music Lounge for the Mikawa area. I am going to go of course, and I really want to participate too. But then it's kind of difficult since the song I want to sing is Russian, so unless I find an instrumental recording for it, I'll have to play the music myself. I think that's what other people will be doing.

I have the sheet music for the piano, and I also have the guitar score (but obviously the guitar is not an option for me).
Technically I can ask some of my friends to play for me. One of my friends plays the guitar, and another plays the piano... But I don't want to trouble other people, especially since they haven't heard the song, and maybe they won't like it. It takes time to practice too, and I think my friends are busy too, so I want to try playing myself.
Today I will ask my friend Eri to help me learn how to play it.

~ I don't know if I can do it in three weeks, but maybe I can. I guess I'll find out, eh.

I want to play "Aleksandra" from the "Moscow Doesn't Believe in Tears" movie.
It's this one:

Don't ask me why it has a Chinese translation.

I have a music lesson with Eri today, so I can't wait to see what she says. Haha, she might say I won't be able to learn it in 3 weeks, and all things considering, it's quite possible I won't, but I am going to practice hard.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Facebook

Хотелось сказать что-то нехорошее про некоторых сотрудников нашей школы, и про знакомых иностранцев из нашего дома... но может не стоит... но хочется. Интересно, как такие недалекие товарищи получают работу вообще, а тем более, учительскую... Как папа говорит, за профессию обидно.

Не ходила на Facebook, где эти товарищи проводят время, и сегодня нечего было туда ходить, и читать, что всякие дураки пишут. Чего меня туда понесло, не знаю.
И надоело придумывать отговорки, почему я не хочу с ними идти ужинать, и так далее. Сказать бы им раз, "почему, почему? Потому что ты дура(к)/тормоз/скучнейший собеседник"... да нельзя.
Anyways, I am just glad there are plenty of other people I can enjoy spending time with ^ ^.

Mug

I have learned a very useful Japanese word this weekend, it translates into English as "mug". Not the one you drink from, but the one from "you have one hell of a mug" :P. Please check the dictionary if you'd also like to know this wonderful word.

I am sure I will have plenty of opportunities to use such a useful word, muahahaha. (Hopefully not)

I've been learning a lot of random crazy vocabulary from my friends, students, TV, and other people. By crazy I mean the kind you would not use in a polite conversation at dinner table :P. I am not planning on using them, but then it's nice to know so you can understand when your students are saying things they shouldn't be in the classroom.

I wonder if my kids know and use the word "mug".

I sometimes feel like it would be fun to record a day in school,or just one clas, and transcribe it. Some of my students get pretty creative with language, Japanese and English. The things they come up with amaze me sometimes.

Today one of my students came into the office before the lesson and told me something about her day at school. Then I go, "so you were tired?" Blank stare. "Tired?" Another blank stare. "Tired?" (accompanied by a gesture). She goes, "はい、つかれた!” (which basically means, "yes, tired"). And then she repeated, "tired" (in English). Amazing, no? She's seven, I think.
During the same conversation I went, "spring! Outside, (point outside of the window), "nice weather!" And she goes, "sunny and warm!" I was floored. We do weather every week, she knows "it is sunny and warm", but she doesn't know the word "spring", and while I say "nice" a lot, I never translated it for her class either. Usually I don't see the kids speak outside of the classroom, and outside the designated task (e.g. talking about the weather when we are not pointing to the weather card). I mean, these are kids who get confused when you ask them "how old are you" outside of class, even though we review "how old are you" every week in the classroom.

I guess in the end of the day, all the arguing with the kids, the "please sit down, please be quiet, please do your homework", and all the energy drain by the time I finish my last lesson, is really worth it if you can have moments like this one.

I probably sound like a little kid, and I probably said this many times before, but when I get glimpses of how people learn, I am just stunned, and moved beyond words. I feel like a child in a candy store. Human brain is an amazing thing, and people are such such amazing creatures for being able to learn the way we do.

And on a totally unrelated note, gee, I have a fever today. I thought my cold was gone too.... O_o..... Hehe, this time I have someone to blame too, a friend who got me to ride without a jacket in a weird jeep car that had no roof or doors... but that's a story for another day, and I am probably too lazy to write about that anyway, but it was one cold drive (X_X)....

Aaaanyways, I am off to sleep, I have to teach kindergarten tomorrow morning. It's sad, every time I go there I am so sleep-deprived.... somehow it just happens that I don't sleep enough on the days before the kindergarten lesson, no matter what day of the week it is.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tyohashi Pictures on Google Maps

For my Toronto friends, if you want to see more of what the place I live in looks like, check out google maps pictures here. (You have to click on more>pictures in the menu on the top of the page.)

I have a bunch of pictures on my computer, and some of them are with the geo coordinates too, so I can upload them to google maps easily, but I haven't had a chance to do that yet... and probably won't for a while longer, just a bit busy these days.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Today's Cooking Lounge

Today's cooking loungeはめっちゃ楽しかった!
でも何か、料理をできなかった、ざんねん。
またねぜったい作りたいよ、ロシヤ料理。

I wonder if tapioca from today's desert and sago are the same thing. It tasted like the sago porridge that mom used to make us when we were kids.

〜つかれた〜
来週もいそがしいな。さらい週も。Golden Weekがまだとおいよ。お休みが欲しい。でも、よく寝たら、たぶん大丈夫だと思う。かぜも、もうすぐなおすから、よかった。

今は寝た方が良いかも。

(_ _).......zzzzzZZZZZZ

Saturday, March 14, 2009

On Fraud

Yesterday I was catching up with the BBC's Business Daily podcasts that I missed this week, and there was one on financial fraud. First they talked about this corporation that recently has been accused of fraud (sorry, the name escapes me, and I already deleted the podcast, so I can't find it). If you follow the news, you would have probably heard about it, it was a really big scandal. I believe the company was an investment one, but I could be wrong.

Anyways, after analyzing why this company could get away with fraud for so long, they talked to someone who worked as an investor and bribed a friend, one of the members of the government of the state (Oklahoma, I think), so that this friend would invest the state's money through this person's company. This man got caught and had to serve 4 years in prison. The interview was about how this all happened, why he decided to take these illegal actions, and whether he stopped to think of what's going to happen if he gets caught. He was analyzing what drove him to give bribes, and one thing he said was, "In prison I learned that most of us here did what we did because we thought we won't get caught. Even if you face a death penalty for your actions, if you think you won't get caught, you'll still do it."

I thought this was interesting. Of course we all know that this is how we, humans work, we think, "this happens to others, but it won't happen to me". For example, "other people are going to get into car accidents, other people are going to loose their jobs, other people are going to get hay fever, but not me". I never really thought much about criminal activities though, so I guess it was a little unexpected for me to realize that criminals would be driven by the same kind of motivation as regular people.

After reading so much about various pathologies, such as psychopathy for example, or manias, etc., I always thought of criminals as having some kind of pathalogic mentality, where they don't have a clear understanding of what is right and what is wrong, so that's why they do things that other people won't do. Or, that they understand what is right and wrong to do, but do not have cognitive mechanisms to stop themselves from doing something that's wrong. Kind of like people who do impulsive buying or eating. You know you shouldn't, but you still do it. I guess this applies to very few special cases though, like serial killers or robbers, but with most criminals perhaps it really is just that, they don't think they'll get caught. Kind of like a cost-benifit analysis...

Well, I don't know much on the subject, I have not done too many readings in criminal psychology unfortunately, the most I read was from Dr. Peterson's work, "Maps of Meaning", that deals with why humans step over the border and commit artrocities (I suppose I am more interested in that than criminal psychology). So I am curious what everyone thinks about this.

DA

I found this artist's work the other day, I really love the colors and the feeling of this piece.


Fox Spirit's Mask Painter by *UdonNodu on deviantART

Friday, March 13, 2009

Piano Lesson

Today it rained a lot when I biked from work to my paino class, and I had a bit of a fight with my junior high school kids during the last class, so I wasn't in a good mood. I caught a cold again too, so I was thinking, I wish I didn't have to go to the lesson.

But then, my teacher was so nice, and she got new books for me because my old book was really difficult. I could actually do all the exercises ok today, and we laughed a lot when I did something silly by accident, because it sounded funny. I usually leave right after the lesson, but today we talked a bit about all sorts of things, and we laughed again when after she asked my age I asked her, and she said, "ah so you asked after all" :D. Hehe, then we were joking how it's a secret :D. And after that I told her how my students at kindergarten play piano better than I do, and then we were laughing again when I promised her I'll practice hard so that I don't loose to my kindergarten students.

I kind of only remembered I had a cold only after I got home.

It sucks though, because Anton and Rie are coming tomorrow and here I am with a cold. There were also so many things I wanted to do tonight... including some more drawing, and maybe practicing the piano, but I went straight to bed after dinner. I was watching some TV on my computer, but I think I'll sleep soon... even though I have to answer a number of emails.

Ah, and I've decided. The grapefruits are back in the grocery store and they are cheap, and I love grapefruits so much. So I am going to try and eat one every day, in addition to vitamins, to prevent colds. Maybe I should also start jogging again, or start going to the pool as I have been trying to do ever since I got here. I have an indoor pool right next to my house, I just have to go find out about membership fees and stuff. But for now, I'll just go sleep.