Saturday, April 19, 2008


Last weekend, I attended a benefit that raised money for a few popular Non-profit organizations amongst foreigners living in Japan. It was themed SPORN - which meant the attenders were to dress as either a SPORts star or as a PORN star. Ruth and I went as team Ishinomaki's Volleyball team.
Jane and Emily went as Ping Pong stars and Kyla was an Extreme Football Player. The benefit was held at a club with musicians all night long. It was also Jane's birthday.
It was a good evening, everyone dressing creatively for their outfits.
For all photos click here

Monday, April 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Lisa!

Happy Birthday to Lisa!

Friday, April 11, 2008


One thing that I really love about Japan is that my mailman delivers the mail on bicycle. He straps a tubberware tub to the back of his bike and rides about delivering our letters. Awesome!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Public speaking and sneezes

One class I wish that I took more seriously in college is public speaking. Japan is a country of speeches and I wish I was more comfortable with it. It's not that I am scared to talk in front of people so much anymore, it's just that these speeches I need to do are always impromptu. It's always like, Sara, please give a speech Japanese. It's hard and I hate it. I had to do one of those fun impromptu speeches today and it made me stop and think how much I wish I had taken that class more seriously.

Another thing I learned today. Random Japanese culture fact:

Japanese people think that when you sneeze, it means that someone is spreading a rumor about you.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I joined an aerobics class last night. I've never done aerobics before last night and if I hadn't already paid for the 3 month course, I'm not sure I'd return again. To be honest, I absolutely loved the whole ordeal but I have next to zero coordination. Thus, I'm not as some would say a natural for this. If it were back in America, I'd probably never go back but as I have been somewhat conditioned to situations of complete embarrassment here in Japan, it barely phases me. I've joined with Ruth and Jane might come as well. The teacher is this woman who has so much energy and the biggest smile and positive attitude that it's just refreshing to be around someone like that. This class also reminded me how much I love exercise classes. Prior to Japan, I used to go to a core class at least 3 times a week. I haven't gone to an exercise class since that one ended in May of 2006. I miss it! I totally need someone encouraging me and pushing me along to get me to exercise like that. Hopefully this aerobics class helps me get in shape for my return back to America. I look forward to exercise classes back in America that won't cost me an arm and a leg.

On another note, today was my return back to my school after Spring Break. I was really nervous to go back today because I haven't been there in a while. And while I was away, 8 teachers left and 8 new teachers arrived. To my relief, it wasn't nearly as awkward as I had been expecting. It was even more of a relief as the morning progressed, I began seeing who had stayed. Much to my joy and mental well-being, the teachers that talk to me the most had stayed. In fact, one of them has even moved two desks away from me and I couldn't be any happier. And somehow, I felt my relationships strengthened in the time I was gone somehow. The new principal of the school is a lovely man which is a big bonus as well. While I don't realize at all the relationships that I do make, today was a good indicator of how I have made relationships without even trying. I even helped out a lot today, and it gained me some major bonus points. Out of the 8 new teachers, 3 of them I have already worked with in the past at other schools. I guess a bonus to working at so many schools is getting to forge acquaintances all over. I was shocked when I saw a face that I hadn't seen in 8 or 9 months - but was one of the faces that I had seen when I first came to Japan. He knew me since my first day in this city, since when I could speak zero Japanese, from when I was a complete awkward foreigner understanding very little of the culture and making all sorts of social taboos, all throughout my culture shock phases. I probably look like I've grown from being 5 years old to atleast 15 in his eyes. It's pretty cool.

I had dinner tonight with my friend Yukiko. I met her this past November at one of my elementary schools. She's the same age as my younger sister and just the sweetest girl. I wish I had met her sooner, but November is better than never. Her goal is to be living in Montreal one year from now. I really hope she strives and meets her goal because then she will only be an hour away from me in Plattsburgh.

I am having a day where I feel I have succeeded in my life here. I love the relationships I've built and I love seeing how far I've come. It's just so nice when I have days like these.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Longer days, warmer days

I am so happy right now. This is mainly because it is still dusk out and it's almost 6:30pm. In the winter in Japan, we have about 8 hours of sunlight and so when the days start getting longer, my mood immediately gets better as well. My weekend was nice and laid back - just what I need because I'll be starting to get hectic again starting this upcoming weekend.

On Friday night, I did nothing but lay in my futon all night, it was great. Saturday, I hung out with the girls' all day. In the evening, we all hung out in my apartment which looks as if an earthquake hit it. Prior I had purchased wine at the cheap liquor store. I really enjoy wine and wish I knew more about it. Unfortunately, I don't and thus rely on my major to pick out a brand. I look at the photo on the label and buy it that way. In fact, when Jon and I went to Napa Valley - which is what, the wine capital of the country or world or something...that's exactly how we decided on how to buy our wine - by the picture on the label. I bought one that said on the back "eat critters drink man" with a picture of a man on the label dancing or running or something. It was dry but enjoyable. We ordered pizza for dinner which is always fun to do over the phone in Japanese. Friendly arguments over who would be the sucker who had to call and order the food and deal with the foreign language barrier, I volunteered. We ate, drank and played a few card games before heading out to a karaoke bar. I am totally going to miss karaoke when I am back in the USA.

This afternoon I met with Tamo for some coffee. She just got back from a trip to Borneo and I wanted to hear all about it. I waited for her at the train station where I just felt so happy about the beautiful weather. Tonight, I'll meet Ruth for dinner, her parents were visiting her for a while and she's coming back to Ishinomaki tonight.

In other news, I applied to a first job interest for when I return back to the USA. I think I would be awesome at this job and I only hope after reviewing my cover letter and resume, they will think so too and that I can score an interview. I'd rock at it. I know I would.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Jane deserves a post all in her own. Jane is an awesome person in my life in Japan and we always have lots of adventures together. It seems whenever we are bored or have some time, we go exploring. It works out good. We have a system, Jane is Korean-American so people mistake her to be Japanese. I am unquestionably foreign. Sometimes, Japanese people are taken back by a foreigner entering their restaurant, small shop or whatever business it is they run. Well, Jane and I are curious - more curious than cats are. Our strategy is that Jane enters first to keep the shopkeeper calm, then when I enter they still remain calm because they still think Jane is Japanese. I usually do the talking - asking the questions about the particular shop. Usually, they listen to me, look away from me and respond to Jane. I then respond to their response to Jane. After a while, they come to realize, Jane also is a foreigner. But, by this time, we've somewhat calmed them down that I can speak some Japanese. This is how the system works.

Jane and I don't go everywhere together, but when we go exploring, it's with eachother. It's always an adventure. I always remind Jane that she will miss me when I am gone next year. She reminds me the same - that my life is going to be dull and listless when I return back the USA. It's true as far as adventure goes - I won't have much of an adventurous life back in Plattsburgh. I will, but in such a different way.

Today, it was really windy but a nice spring day. I asked Jane to go for a walk with me up to this park on a hill that gives awesome views of our city. We took some stairs down the opposite way because we didn't know where it led to. Coming out, we saw tennis courts. Jane likes to play and has been looking for hard courts. We saw a little court house so she wanted to get information about the courts. Implementing our strategy - Jane enters first and then I. He knew me. He reads this blog! One of my adult students passed this address onto him. It was very surprising to me. He studies English once a week at an adult class in the city. We ended up speaking with him and his wife joined us for over an hour. While he was walking us to the main street, he let us see his home which was a log cabin - that he built by himself. It was fantastic.

It's interactions like these that make me really love my life here. I am here on the JET Programme. Certainly, the outlying motive for this programme would seem to be for English teaching. However, the main initiative of my programme is more for grassroots internationalization rather than to teach English. It's hard to see that since our main job is to teach English. But, if you came here on another program - you are only expected to teach English, that's it, the end. In my job description, it's expected of me to get involved in the community and do cultural exchange type activities. This is not a measurable aspect of my job and it's totally up to each person to do these things. I think that is one part of my job that I do excel at even though it's not measured. I love the interactions and I love exploring with Jane.

It was only a week ago when we went to a restaurant for dinner and the man sitting next to us talked us up a storm and bought us beers. That was by pure chance but only with Jane would something like that happen, it seems. :)