Thursday, May 28, 2009


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


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


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


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。

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 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.


  • 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*


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


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


^ ^

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I Wonder

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...


Friday, May 1, 2009


Да уж............