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The End

Posted on 06.09.2007 at 22:34
Current Location: London
feeling...: gratefulgrateful
Well, I am back in the UK now. Too much to do, too many people to see and far too little time to have written about my final couple of weeks in Japan. I may come back and write about that missing chapter at a later point, but apart from (possibly) that, this will be my final livejournal entry. The name of the journal is 'Davetheturnip in Japan', after all.

It is very strange to look back over the past three years, as they seem to have passed in the blink of an eye. There has been the odd low point, but thankfully, they were greatly out-numbered by the high points. Three years. Amazing.

I can say with 100% condfience that choosing to join the JET Programme was the best decision I have ever made. Without a doubt, it has given me the best three years of my life so far.  I could never have imagined how FANTASTIC my time in Japan would be, and I know that I have learned a heck of a lot from it, too. 

What an amazing time. What an amazing place. What an amazing bunch of people. Thank-you, JET Programme! 

Davetheturnip, former Tochigi-ken ALT, signing out.

Posted on 13.07.2007 at 20:29
feeling...: sadsad
It has reached that point where I seem to be constantly saying goodbye to people and places. Last friday was horrific, when I had to say goodbye to the students at one of my junior high schools. It was absolutely awful... so sad to say goodbye. I will miss them a lot, I think. So far I have said 'sayonara' to 3 primary schools and 2 junior highs. 2 more primaries and one junior high school (my secret favourite) to go. It makes me really sad just thinking about it!
Here are some reasons why it is hard to let go (primary). Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Oh and just as a side note, the first typhoon of the year is due to hit here this weekend.

I Am Alive

Posted on 04.07.2007 at 22:23
feeling...: stressedstressed
I haven't updated lately because it has been hard to know what to say. So much is happening these days, as the end to my 3 years in Japan draws near. It is awful saying goodbye to my students, and it is even harder saying goodbye to my life here. I can say without any doubt that these past three years have been the best time of my life so far.

So, as I enter my last 4 weeks, I am incredibly busy. Goodbye speeches, goodbye parties, getting rid of 3 years' accumulation of junk, sorting out things to take home and constant bloody cleaning leave me with little time to spare. It really does seem like time is whooshing by!

It is my last day at my favourite primary school tomorrow, so I had best go and charge my camera.

Let's Dance

Posted on 18.06.2007 at 22:17
feeling...: okayokay
Some shocking news and a hastily organised farewell party for a friend this weekend. Makes you realise that you really don't know what life is going to throw at you. Then on Saturday, we had a big night out in Tochigi. Beer garden, bar, karaoke marathon - and of course, some great company! Fun times! Thanks Jody and Juan for coming all the way up to Tokyo And on the way back home on Sunday, I saw this. It was part of some dance festival going on around Tochigi Station. Sure made waiting for the train more bearable :p .

Foreign Plans, Foreign Students

Posted on 14.06.2007 at 19:58
feeling...: thoughtfulthoughtful
Tags: ,

Okay, so the Malaysian Airlines flight ended up being over-booked, so now I have a seat on an Emirates plane via Dubai. It costs more money, but I get to spend a few days in the U.A.E. This means I will arrive in London a few days later than originally planned... hopefully the mini-holiday in the Gulf will help soften the blow of leaving Japan a little.
If anyone has any recommendations about what to do/see in the U.A.E.,  I would love to hear them!

We have a couple of new students at school who come from the Philippines. They are super-nice kids.... and they speak not a word of Japanese. The poor things have to endure hour upon hour of lessons which they simply don't understand, and they are finding it unsurprisingly difficult to make friends. Their English is superb though, so I have kind of been given the responsibility of looking after them at school. As a consequence, I have spent a lot of time with them (if I have a free period, they spend the time studying Japanese with me rather than joining their classmates) and I have to say I have grown sort of attached to them. I'm really worried for them, as they seem so bewildered and lonely at times. I am trying my best to help them, but the thing they really need is friends. I have tried drawing the other students into our conversations by bringing in some photos I took on my holiday to the Philippines, but it was only met with limited success. I tried instigating some volleyball games at lunchtime, but the other kids seemed disinterested (although this was possibly due to the disgusting heat). I am running out of ideas. And, I know that at the end of the day, I can't simply make them some friends. But I really want to help. Any suggestions?

I am especially worried about what will happen when I leave... which is very soon. The good news is that they are both smart kids, and I am sure they will eventually learn Japanese. It is just the in-between time that's the problem.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Posted on 10.06.2007 at 14:05
feeling...: depresseddepressed

I just booked my flight home. I opted for the cheapest I could find, with Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur. It is going to be a long, long journey but the B.O.E said I could pocket whatever money is left over from the cash they give me for the ticket home.

Wow, I am depressed. Just 7 weeks left in Japan.

How NOT to Bow

Posted on 09.06.2007 at 14:20
I got quite a spectacular bowing injury yesterday! It happened when I tagged along with the art/craft club to go strawberry picking. Many of my students' families grow strawberries for a living, you see, and one such family had very generously invited the club to come and help themselves to some super-sweet strawbs for which this town is famous. Anyway, as we got out of the car (it was really NOT nccessary to drive!) we were greeted by an old grandma who had been waiting for us. This being Japan, I obligingly made a nice deep bow and promptly smashed my teeth into the car door. Yes, I managed to head-but the car door and in doing so, I cut my gums! What an IDIOT!
Luckily, although it felt and tasted like my mouth was pouring with blood, it apparently wasn't visible from the outside as no students ran away in terror. I did spend the rest of the afternoon trying not to smile though, convinced that my teeth would be stained with blood like in some grotesque horror movie. On closer inspection at home later, it really was just a small cut... but jeesh, how stupid!

The good news is that I did come home with a huge crate of strawberries!

The Old Man's Snoring

Posted on 07.06.2007 at 18:34
feeling...: excitedexcited
If you like thunderstorms, Japan is a superb place to live. The storm coming in now looks like it is going to be a good one - the sky is looking more menacing every minute. This prefecture is supposed to be the most lightning-prone in the country, and come late summer there will be a storm nearly every evening. Luckily for me, I do enjoy a bit of thunder and lightning.

Day 1038

Posted on 04.06.2007 at 19:27
feeling...: lazylazy
You know you have been in Japan for too long when a mid-lesson earthquake fails to distract you from teaching that new grammar point.

It was another gorgeous day today, just perfect.  It was certainly far too pleasant to be stuck inside for most of the day, planning for a demonstration lesson tomorrow. We're having a visit from the head of the local board of education and some bigwig from the prefectural level.  Wah, I don't like these things.

Hiking in Nasu

Posted on 03.06.2007 at 20:59

I went to the north of the prefecture with some of my English Club this weekend. Truth be told, I wasn't really looking forward to it that much, but I ended up having a good time! Most of us went up to Nasu on Saturday and stayed the night at a small pension. It seemed a lot easier to do it that way than it would have been getting up at the crack of dawn the next day to get there in time for the main event - an organised walk around the mountains.
The pension was a friendly little place and the evening's meal was a lot of fun.

As you can probably tell from the "before and after" shots, the night evolved into quite a heavy drinking session. We had already gotten through a respectable amount of beer, red wine and white wine, when the owner came over to our table with a bottle of pretty expensive sake. The taste pleased my palate, but alas the assorted drinks didn't please my belly, as I ended up feeling pretty poorly by the end of the night. Oh dear, and there's that 7km walk in the morning....

Luckily, somehow, I managed to shake off the hangover I woke up with pretty quickly. I am so glad I did, as I can imagine how horrible it would have been doing that walk in such a state.

So, this was a Japanese-style organised walk. The Japanese seem to prefer doing most things en masse, and this was by no means an exception. How many fellow hikers were there?

                                       SIX- HUNDRED and FIFTY!!!!

This seemed totally normal to the Japanese I was with. To me, however, it just seemed plain odd.  So much for escaping the masses and being at one with nature! I have to say, I was a little dubious about the prospects of the hike when I saw the crowds, but in the end it was okay as everyone went at their own pace meaning there was usually at least some space between us and the next clump of hikers.

Our course took us over a suspension bridge that sways violently as you cross it. We were a litte skeptical as to whether or not they had built the thing with 650 people using it at a time  in mind, but we were proved to be mere pessimists as there was in fact to catastrophic incident.

We then reached an area covered with thousands of azalea bushes in full bloom. It was really quite stunning, actually, and it was the perfect temperature for a walk. That,  plus the fact that Japan is a wonderfully green country in summer, made it a great day.

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