Tuesday, April 21, 2009


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

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