Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hofu High School Day 1

OK people, it's a new day.  I'm at a new school.

When I walked in yesterday, I thought it looked... less homey than my school.  Everything is cement, as opposed to Nishi where you see a lot of warm wood when you first walk in.  Not that Hofu doesn't have a welcoming feeling about it, cause it does.  Actually, everyone has been so friendly and helpful so far that I feel very comfortable.  Of course, I am comparing everything at Hofu to Oita Nishi.  The kitchen here is a little dingy; not really a place where I want to hang out.  But the copy room is attached to the staff room, which means I don't have to leave the air conditioned area to use it, and the supplies are nicely laid out and stocked well.  At Nishi you can find anything you need, but you've gotta kinda go on a search for it.  Also, and you may not understand this, but Hofu has an awesome array of chalk colors, which makes me really happy.  

My desk is more spacious, and I have this adorable little lap top... it might be 13in, but do they have 10in?  This might be 10in, and it's so cute.  It's so interesting to see how differently another person keeps their desk... when a JET takes over an ALT position, they inherit the desk of the previous ALT, usually over flowing with crap that you either leave there for eternity, or figure out how to throw away in the complicated system of Japanese recycling.  Seriously, so many JETs don't throw stuff away because they simply don't know how.  I, however, can't stand the clutter.  It takes a little effort and asking questions, but these 50 books in Japanese that I'll never look at if I work here for years just have to go.  Peace out, books n crap.  It's funny though, cause I'm not all that tidy of a person, in my opinion.  I mean, for the most part I try to keep things first, clean, and second, picked up, but pretty much all of my spaces are an absolute mess as we speak.  But I have good reasons... I just changed cars, so I haven't had a chance to organize all the crap that I willy-nilly threw from my former car into my new car.  I just changed schools, so I have messes of papers and books and things to be organized, taken to school, gotten rid of, etc.  My purse is a place that I allow to be a mess, and it is, and that's ok.  On occasion I do what I call "The Dump," where I find a space of open floor and I pour out all the contents of my purse.  I throw lots of stuff away, organize the rest, and it goes back in until entropy again makes the dump necessary.  It's amazing the quantity of stuff that fits into a woman's little purse, and if she has a big purse watch out, there may be animals and small children in there.

Anyway, back to Hofu:  Here are some examples of strange things left to me in my desk:  There's a little magnetic cactus that holds paper clips, a tiny pan and spatula on a rope, sunflower seeds, and a hippopotamus that sharpens pencils.  I left my replacement some funny stuff too, although I really tried to clean up, including practically-love letters from girls to the male ALT that was at my school before me.  I found them amusing, and I thought my successor might also.  I'm chagrined to discover that the vending machines are more expensive here.  For some reason, one of my great joys during the day is taking a walk to the vending machines and picking out a tea or coffee, or the rare vitamin drink.  (Well, the reason is pretty obvious: It allows me a reason to get off my ass for a few minutes.)  I already spend too much money on bottled drinks, and now that expenditure will rise, and I'll know it's happening, but I'll never be able to see it.

I miss the ladies "take a rest" room.  I fear, really fear, that I may never take a nap during exam week again.  Where will I paint my nails?  Where will I stretch and do crunches?  Where will I cry?  Although, I've done a helluvalot less crying lately and I don't expect to need a cry spot from now on.  Yeah.  That's good.  But where can I take phone calls and laugh raucously with my friends in time zones that make it really hard to talk with them at other times?  There are a bunch of picnic tables outside of the teacher's room, and I feel that things are relaxed enough that I can go there, but perhaps need to cut my calls off a little sooner.  

...I just went to lunch.  On my way out, I asked the nice people in the office if there was an Oita bank close by.  Now, you simply cannot understand the genuine kindness and helpfulness of the Japanese-especially to a newcomer-unless you experience it for yourself.  My mom experienced it on the first night of her travels here, when a cab driver who mistook the address insisted that we pay nothing because he took us a few blocks out of the way.  I put 500 yen on the money tray in the middle of the car and he practically tackled me to give it back.  Today in the office, I got the Japanese treatment.  The direction to the bank consisted of one right turn, bank on left.  After a man drew me a map, writing everything in Japanese and English AND highlighting the way, I had to sort of fend off the lady trying to sit me down with a city atlas.  They are so nice.  While I was out I noticed that the neighborhood surrounding school isn't as cozy as I'm accustomed to.  I had a giant park and residential neighborhoods, and now I have a kind of industrial surrounding.  Instead of Lawson and 7/11 convenience stores, I have Family Mart, which by the way, I just realized the glory of this very day.  I started out a Lawson girl.  There's just something about it.  But I liked Everyone for its bakery and that's the only place I could find the slightly healthier (I intuit) yogurt coffee.  I liked 7/11 for its ATM and convenient distance from my school.  But Family Mart!  So many options!  Mint chocolates!  Dark chocolates!  Choco covered raisins!  A whole line of yummies by that company that makes those awesome brownies!  AND my yogurt coffee.  Like the special chalk colors, there's something about perusing a Japanese konbini that makes me happy.  I guess, just like us, there's something special about each different konbini.  ;-)

New JETs arrived yesterday and I met my new neighbor Mary.  I'm responsible for there now being 5 JETs living in the Jonan Danchi KR, rather than 4, for several reasons.  That I'm not gonna tell you.  But, I did want to say- Oita JETs, there are quite a few empty apartments where I live, and it's pretty awesome up in Jonan.  But getting back to Mary.  She cool.  She down.  I'm quite excited to have a new friend, so excited that I gabbed her ears off last night.  Both of them. She's most likely gonna join me and Knox for dinner tonight.  Good times.   

This is a long post.  And it's maybe boring.  Ahhhhh well.  I've been wanting to write to you from the den.  I'm just occupied in other rooms at the moment.  Like the big mirrored room in Oasis Tower where I took a musical theater workshop over the past 4 days.  That was really fun, and almost infected me with the stage bug.  Almost.  

Anyway, I'm tired and I've got some other stuff to do, even though I feel like I could double the length of this post, I won't torture you.  I hate to do this... but look out for an announcement in the coming weeks.  Or not.  Maybe there will cease to be an announcement due to red tape.  And no, I'm absolutely not pregnant.

On that note...

From Japan,
Tiffany

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