March is here

I’m done teaching for the school year. The next school year begins in April. I won’t see my junior high school 3rd-years anymore, but I will see the others again.

Next week I will be heading to my favorite junior high school to watch my students graduate. The entire graduating class is only 8 students. I’ll put on a suit and participate in pictures like a real teacher. I went last year and it really was a lot of fun. There were a lot of tears, but the kids are also really good at singing so there was good music as well. The whole school is only 29 students, but they always do a good job at putting on a ceremony.

The weather these past few weeks has been absolutely horrible. People right and left have been telling me how this is the worst winter they have seen in their entire life. Actually, my supervisor told me that we have received TWICE the amount of snowfall than usual. Last week I had two school visits where it was nearly impossible to get to school. One time I needed to ride the train into the next town, but the trains were stopped and the buses were late. I waited an hour outside in a blizzard for a bus that never came. I ended up taking the train-substitute-bus (sponsored by the railway company) and missed my first class. And then the second time I waited an hour outside… It wasn’t snowing, but the snow clearing crews just couldn’t keep up with the snowfall. The roads were too narrow for the buses. Finally my supervisor came to rescue me in his car.

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This definitely did not happen last winter… This winter is a doozy. Gee, how did I get to be so lucky? I am proud of myself, however, for getting through February without any major depressive episodes. Last year I would get home from work and glue myself to my couch most of the time, but this year I have been able to get myself to the gym regularly. Four or five times a week, actually. Plus, I have been doing yoga with my mom twice a week and that helps a great deal as well. Like the title says: March is here! Wednesday and Thursday were sunny and it did not snow. I hope we can have more weather like that.

Okay, so just to show you that I am not kidding with the whole winter and snow thing… Go to this page on BBC and watch this video about Aomori:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21625702

And a few random thoughts:

1. I’ve been wondering lately… Why do Japanese people talk to themselves so much? Or is it that Americans talk to themselves just as much and I’ve never noticed? Japanese people seem to have an entire repertoire of sounds and things that they mumble to themselves. Sometimes my co-workers mumble to themselves during work. Most of the time, it is in the gym that I hear the most self-talk. They walk into the locker room and make these “Shhhhhh”, “Oooshhhh” sounds… or mumble to themselves. It’s quite curious.

2. If you ever want to shock or surprise a Japanese person, pull out a raw carrot (peeled or unpeeled) and start eating it like Bugs Bunny. Carrot sticks, the ubiquitous American snack, also work too. Many Japanese people I’ve met (my students and co-workers) can’t fathom the idea of just eating a raw carrot. I get reactions and exclamations of, “I’ve never eaten a raw carrot before!” and “…Is it good?” My students will stare at me with googly eyes when they see me eating my carrot sticks with my lunch. It’s really amusing.

Biting into a whole, raw, unpeeled apple will also produce the same effect. When I first arrived, my co-workers were quite surprised by my apple-eating. Tori told me that her co-workers call her “wild” for eating apples like that. Here in Japan, they peel all of their fruit. I got a free calendar from the school lunch company last year featuring important Aomori food products. One of the months was the apple and there was a little blurb written about how apples are good for you. The blurb talked about how you should just rinse off apples well and eat the entire thing, peels too! What a novel idea!

3. Aomori AJET put on a Masquerade Ball last month on February 16th in Aomori City at the fancy Hotel Aomori. And I attended! It was a sit-down 7-course dinner as well and I was able to order the vegetarian courses. It was awesome! Kimberly let me borrow one of her new Victoria’s Secret dresses (she is a saint) and I was feeling pretty fabulous. All in all, it was a great event (despite driving through snowpocalypse to get there. Kyle drove and got us there safely).

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4. I also went to the Hirosaki snow festival for the first time. It was a small, local event. I’m glad I went to see all of the snow lanterns and sculptures, but it was really cold!

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Team Hirosaki

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There were tons of these snow lanterns.

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A huge church made of snow.

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5. And now a few random pictures from lately…

McDonalds in Japan has a Texas Burger. I think this is funny.

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Purikura of the Month:

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This is my apartment building. I live on the top-right, the one with the icicles trying to kill me.

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And lastly… Food pictures! As a vegetarian in rural Japan, I mostly eat a lot of boring food. But sometimes I eat picture-worthy exciting food!

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2 Comments to “March is here”

  1. As always, so enjoyable to read! I too am very proud of you for making it through this winter as you have! You seem happy and with so much of your life ahead of you, why shouldn’t you be. Sure there are some unknowns but that can make it a bit exciting! We are hoping and praying for you this week!

  2. Wow – that’s a lot of snow! When your Dad was here, he took walks to enjoy the sunny California weather. Now there is tons of snow in Chicago. Love the colorful pictures and your news. Keep it coming! Love, Nana

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