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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

3 Ways Japanese Junior HIgh Schools Are Different

Now that I've spent well over a year teaching junior high school in Sapporo I believe I have a firm grasp on how this level of schooling works in Japan. Overall, school is school. Students come and they learn lessons from people who know better than they do and it hopefully shapes them into good, productive members of society. It goes without saying that Japanese and American society are very different, but many of the values are the same and that reflects in the schooling. There are, however, areas in which large differences occur.

1. The Students

Kids will be kids, and that rings true when comparing Japanese and American junior high students. In Japan, junior high encompasses what we would consider 7th to 9th grade. That means the students are roughly 12 to 15 years old. I actually have a number of cousins which fall in this age bracket, so it’s a generation I am very comfortable with being around. Their interests are similar, watching television shows, shopping with friends, playing sports, etc. Japanese students are just a bit different in certain areas.

In Japan greetings are a big deal. You greet every time you see someone, always. When shopping you will walk past stores to ear piercing calls of “いらっしゃいませ!” (irrashaimase) which is a greeting said in the hopes of beckoning you into their fantastically friendly store. It’s something that every foreigner quickly learns to tune out in their daily life. Greetings at work and school are similar to this. In the mornings the hallways are filled with “Good morning!” shouted at you from every angle and ignoring a greeting is a major offense. Before class starts everyone is called to attention to formally greet the teacher (some classes just say “let’s begin” casually while others will stand, bow, and thank you for coming). Often I’ll see written for the daily goal of a class to have “really energetic greetings!” This is something I know I never cared about as a student, but it is something I will see posters about at schools in Japan.

Another way Japanese students differ is that nearly all of them are in some sort of afterschool activity. They are on a sports team or in the art club or they go to juku (after school intensive lessons). These clubs meet on a daily basis in most cases and are extremely time consuming and require an immense amount of dedication. When I was a student I wasn't in any club, at least not seriously, and I don’t really think any of my friends were. There was an afterschool center in the lunchroom where I waited with my friends while our parents worked, but it wasn't an actual club, more a glorified babysitter.

2. The School Year

Japanese schools function year-round. The school year starts in April, a little over a week after the previous one ended. This was very strange when I first moved to Japan as a week vacation didn't feel long enough to transition from being one grade to the next. There is another three weekish long break in August where many people travel and airlines tickets are insanely expensive, and a final break in winter that is two to three weeks depending on where you live (it’s longer in the tundra that is Hokkaido, which makes me very happy).

Because they go to school all year, they spend more time at school. When I first started teaching in junior high I was shocked at just how much time was spent not learning. Currently my school is preparing for the chorus contest to be held at the end of the month, for the last three weeks every sixth period has been spent practicing for it. That’s nearly a month of them missing a class every day. The latter half of September was spent preparing for the school festival after lunch. Because they don’t have that large summer break, they have the time to do these things that I never got to do in school.

They also learn a wider range of subjects consistently. When I was in junior high (middle school) I studied math, science, social studies, language arts, band and an elective that changed in the middle of the year. These electives varied between home economics, art, wood shop, etc. In Japan the students study science, social studies, English, home economics, music, art, language arts, and P.E. as well as classes called “moral education”, “class activities”, and “period for integrated studies”. Due to this, their schedules are different from day to day. First period Monday may be science but you’ll have science again Tuesday during fourth period. It is a lot of juggling and I see Japanese teachers often confused by where they are supposed to be at what time.

3. Classrooms

One of the things I was most excited about when I started middle school back in 2000
 was that I would be changing classes every hour. It felt so grown up to carry around all of my books in my backpack and manage my schedule, making sure that I got to class on time with the three minute break I had. Teachers decorated their classrooms to match the subject they were teaching, bulletin boards covered in maps and items from around the world in social studies, science classrooms filled with animals we took care of, different rules of writing posted up in language arts. I felt immersed in the subject I was studying.

In contrast, Japanese students spend their entire day in one classroom. Their classroom. As a teacher I have to lug everything I need all over the school all day long, and the students are in the same small classroom for hours. They have a ten minute break between classes (which teachers spend trying to grab what they need for the next class and sit down for five minutes before heading to the next classroom). While you don’t get the same benefits I mentioned above, the fact that the students are in the same class with the same people all day instills a sense of comradery and feelings of having your own space to be proud of that I never had in school.

Students eat their lunches in the classroom, often breaking into predetermined groups and eating together. They decorate the classrooms themselves with posters that they make during the “class activities” class I mentioned before. They clean the classrooms (barely…). They even keep the same desk and chair all three years, moving it from classroom to classroom.

These are just a few of the ways Japanese schools are different. I hope you enjoyed it and I would love to hear about how your schooling varied from anything I talked about! What do you think about Japanese students staying in the same classroom all day? Do you think year round schooling is better? Do you wish that greetings and afterschool activities were more forced upon students? Let me know!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Day Teaching English in Japan

I wake up at 6:45 am. My alarm is set for 7 o’clock, but I get out of bed anyway. I had purposefully set my alarm thirty minutes later than usual because I feel that waking up without the jolt is better. I turn off the electric blanket I put on my futon the week before and turn on my lap, rubbing my eyes and reaching over my head to find my glasses, nearly knocking a bottle of water on my head. I guess that would have been one way to wake up.

I drag myself out of bed, walking into my toasty living room that has spent the last twenty minutes warming up thanks to my timed heater. I plop myself down in front of my computer and pull a blanket over myself, putting on some high energy music and reading through some Reddit posts for thirty minutes before getting ready for my day, throwing on a tank top and sweater, pulling on the same slacks I wore yesterday to work, and tying my hair in a bun on the top of my head. After coating my face in moisturizer and brushing my teeth I am ready to go.

I walk to the convenience store, grabbing a bag of consommé flavored potato chips, before heading to the subway. The train comes at 7:50 and I step onto the platform at 7:48, a skill that only daily commuters have. Every day will be the same.

I look through my Twitter feed, read some messages friends had sent while I slept, and scan over Facebook for the ten minutes it takes me to get to the end of the line. This morning I was lucky enough to get a seat from stop one, so it’s a good start to the day. It’s the little things.

The walk to the bus terminal takes exactly four minutes. At 8:05 my bus pulls up and at 8:07 it will leave. I sit beside a disgruntled business man who is not pleased I sat on the edge of his jacket that was taking up the entire seat next to him. It isn’t until the bus pulls away that he accepts that I am not moving and scoots closer to the window. I check my phone again then look out the window. The ride to school is only ten minutes. I used to read on my commute and often find myself missing it, but there isn’t the time anymore, so I just sit silently and wait for my stop to come up.

I push my way past a young woman who is standing in the middle of the aisle way who looks shocked that she is inconveniencing anyone. The morning is cool but I don’t need a jacket, the school is only a minute away from the stop. Once the snow comes I know I’ll be very glad for this.

I walk into school to students leaning out the window saying various forms of greeting. Some in Japanese, others in English, most times just my name. I wave and head inside, slipping my shoes off and slipping on the indoor ones I keep at school, an old pair of black Vans slip-ons that are in need of replacement. The walk to the second floor is quiet, the teachers are in a meeting that I don’t have to go to, and the students are practicing for the chorus contest next week. The songs haunt me in my sleep and I have no idea what it is they are singing.

I quietly enter the teachers’ room and walk to my desk, the teachers are talking in small groups and I quietly mumble a few good mornings before taking my seat. A cup of warm green tea waits for me and I sip it down while reading my schedule for the day. First period is free and that’s my favorite way to start the day. Having that extra hour to prepare things just sets a nice carefree tone for the rest of the day. I do have a lot to plan, though, so I instantly get up and head to the communal computer as I am not granted use of a laptop like the rest of the teachers.

Second period I have to teach “which” and “whose” to seventh graders, and I am slack on any good activities that are the standard interview type of games. I search online for thirty minutes only to find that all of the ideas other teachers have had don’t have the kids using the vocabulary as much as I would like. I settle on a game for each word. There’s time left in first period so I begin looking for things to do during my fifth period lesson, where I am teaching “when” to seventh graders. My fourth period class with eighth graders thankfully requires no prep from me and my third period class with ninth graders was cancelled.

The bell rings and I grab my basket. Inside are my three textbooks, a pencil case with my stamps in side, a plethora of pens, my planning notebooks, and a magnetic stuffed rabbit. I get to class and the lesson starts. The Japanese teacher checks homework and goes over the answers to a test the students took while I sit to the side reviewing the activities I have planned. After ten minutes I am given control of the class and delve in without a warm-up. I grab two pencil cases that belong to the girls sitting before me and ask one of them which belongs to her. She coughs and says “That one,” meekly. I smile and ask the class whose pencil case I am holding, they answer quietly. Sometimes it takes energy to get energy.

I draw a goofy picture of myself on the board quickly, a practiced motion that takes a couple of seconds and two lines. I write the question, “Which pencil case is yours?” and draw a quick sketch of the girl who had answered to the approval of the class and write the answer beside her face, “That one is.” Then I draw myself again and write the second question next to my second face, “Whose pencil case is this?” I draw a few faces to represent the class and write, “It’s Aisu’s.” She has a nice name, I think to myself.

I begin going over the grammar, having students translate keywords and eventually sentences, they repeat after me and I break them into groups of 3 or 4 for an activity. I tell them to get out only their pen, pencil case, textbook and workbook. It takes some effort to get them to understand what I want, but everything works and the energy is much better than when we started. After everyone has the required items out I walk over to a group and make a mountain out of their items in the middle of their combined desks, the students laugh and begin creating their own Mt. Fujis.

The kids play a game where they ask the first question using “which” and grabbing their item in question. They enjoy it and after three rounds we’re finished. I instruct the kids to put their heads on their desks and grab random pencil cases from around the room, dumping the ten lucky bags on the teacher’s desk. When they raise their heads they exclaim in shock and I begin asking “whose pencil case is this?” and students raise their hands to answer. I hand out many stamps. If they collect five of them, they get to choose a sticker.

As I give out the last stamp the bell rings, it’s a satisfying feeling when a class ends at such a perfect time. I am pleased with myself as I head to the teachers’ room to spend my third period of the day. There’s a note on my desk with an adjusted schedule, a Japanese English teacher walks over and tells me he wasn’t able to teach as far as the schedule says, so I’ll be teaching the lesson before the one originally written. I have plenty of planning time so it’s not an issue. He wears a surgical mask which means he’s sick, that was me two weeks ago so all I have is empathy, it’s difficult to do this job when you’re sick, and he has way more responsibility than I do. The teachers’ room is full of masked teachers, so I send up a quick prayer that I don’t get sick again before looking at what I need to do.

There isn’t much, so I decide to do some blog planning, writing lists and ideas into a notebook. I also fish around for my bingo sheets as I’ll need them for fifth period. The time goes by quickly and the bell rings again, time for fourth period and my easiest class of the day.

I walk into the classroom and the students are surprised. The teacher had forgotten I was joining and puts away the CD player, a fitting analogy for my time working in this country. Today is the second lesson for the grammar of “I enjoy playing tennis” (gerunds) so it’s conversation day. I spend half of the lesson having a predetermined conversation with students, some of them painful, some of them annoying, most of them forgettable. The class ends and it’s time for lunch.

I’m to eat with the same seventh grade class I’ll be teaching fifth period, so I grab my tray of food that the lunch lady brought me and head to the classroom. I am underwhelmed today as it is seafood pilaf, corn salad, and weird fried tofu thing day. The seafood pilaf should really be called “Everything Kaley Hates From the Ocean Pilaf”. Manila clams, squid, and mini-shrimp. I pick around the seafood part of the pilaf but the clams’ dirty taste covers it all anyway. The tofu-thing is surprisingly good and I find myself wishing for seconds, and the corn salad is just what you would expect by corn drizzled in soy sauce. The class is loud, one boy tosses the tie of another across the room and the teacher wears it for the remainder of the period. The group I am sitting with is silent and doesn’t reply to my questions, thankfully Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s song playing overt the speakers provide enough entertainment that I’m not sitting there completely silent, and the excitement they express when they learn that I am coming to class fifth period leaves the lunch on a high note.

During the afternoon break I make copies, glad the machine is off of the strange setting it was on yesterday. I had spent ten minutes using the other copy machine the day before and wasted too much paper trying to figure it out. I go through the worksheets deeming some of them “lucky” and signing them, a little surprise for the students that really holds no extra meaning but they enjoy. Sometimes it’s the little things for them, too.

I get to class and a few mothers are there. The seventh graders are to practice in the gym during sixth period for the aforementioned chorus contest and parents were invited. The class is noisy and somewhat stressful, kids not listening and the teacher and I trying to keep them focused. The bingo game I play using Japanese holidays and the question “When is Kodomo No Hi (Children’s Day)?” is frantic but fun. We play it twice. The second activity is less so but the students practice the target language more so I count that as a plus. The bell rings before all but one pair finish. After the greeting I am surrounded by students who have collected five stamps and therefore get a choice of a sticker. Again, it’s the little things. After a girl walks up to me and says she enjoys my little drawings. In class I use “A-san”, “B-san” and “C-san” to demonstrate conversations, they each have little faces that I can draw in a second using one or two lines. The girl asks for a drawing and hands me a piece of paper. I quickly draw myself giving two thumbs up and “Let’s study English!” in a speech bubble. She clutches it to her chest as she walks of so pleased with it. The best part of my day, hands down.

I shove my way through students in the hallway, greeting the ninth grade boys goofing off outside of the bathroom. I sit down and look at my schedule again, deciding that for the day I have nothing else I need to prepare, there’s enough free time tomorrow. I sit down at the computer and type up this blog entry while the sounds of ninth graders practicing for the chorus contest echoes in the hallway. I still have no idea what they are singing but I know when I go to bed tonight it’ll echo in my ears.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up before 7.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Struggles of Being Foreign in Japan

Disclaimer: I am writing this to shed light on my life as a foreigner in Japan and focusing on negative aspects of it. Overall, living in Japan has far more pluses than minuses, so please don't think I am "bashing" the country in any regard. I love Japan and its people! Please read with an open mind, and I would love to hear about your experiences or opinions on the matter or any similar matter.


I've started this post a number of times and always find myself unhappy with it. Sometimes it feels too factual, other times I sound defensive, and sometimes it feels like I’m being too defensive. It’s a topic that is very pertinent to my daily life and the lives of many of my friends. I've talked about it at length with a number of different people from different backgrounds and I still  think the extent to which I completely understand how I feel about it is lacking. Simply put, I’m a foreigner in Japan. I have spent three years living in a country that I sometimes feel doesn't even want me around or doesn't take me seriously.

When I first heard about Blog Action Day I sat in my apartment wondering what exactly I could give to the topic. During my life I've never really felt discriminated against for my race or gender or the things I have liked. I grew up in white middle-class America, I have no college debt, and I never really had to work until I wanted to. While I am a woman, which presents its own issues with inequality, I've never been personally affected by those problems. Even still, I feel as if my struggles with inequality are minimal compared with those that have struggled historically.

In the three years I have lived in Japan I've lived in towns of various sizes. I started in a small city of 150,000 people in rural Yamaguchi prefecture. Seven months later, I moved to Hokkaido to live in a small village of 5,000 people where there were only two foreign girls in the entire place, myself included. Currently, I live in Sapporo. It is Japan's fourth largest city and home to nearly two million people. In 1972 it hosted the Winter Olympics and in 2002 it hosted a few games of the World Cup. Every winter season the area is flooded by foreigners who are here to visit the various ski resorts as annually the city gets roughly 20 feet of snow (600 cm). Seeing someone who isn't Japanese should be fairly common, at least by Japan standards.

Of course, it is a country where over 98% of the population is ethnically Japanese, so you aren't likely to see someone who doesn't look Asian on a daily basis. Many Japanese people don’t even see a foreigner until their first English lesson with an ALT (assistant language teacher) who will be a native speaker of the language from a different country. Coming from America it is still strange to see so many people who are of the same ethnicity walking around. I grew up in Orlando, Florida, so it’s easy to say that I am very used to seeing people of different nationalities on a regular basis. The homogeneous nature of Japan is very foreign to me.

Japanese people may be some of the kindest and most polite people in the world. On the subway I don’t even think I've seen someone talk on their phone outside of a few brief seconds to say they can’t talk. I can’t even remember the last time I heard someone’s phone go off in public. Crying children are promptly taken out of public spaces and in general the children keep to themselves. When you go shopping the clerks make you feel like royalty, bowing and walking you to the exit as if that $10 purse you bought was actually made by Jesus. The decrease in customer service is something I always have to adjust to when I go back to America.

I am not Asian.
Perhaps this cultural stress on being polite and minding yourself around strangers is what makes the Japanese mindset towards foreigners that much more insulting and frustrating. When I go out in public I am always being watched. If I want to pop out quickly to buy some milk at the convenience store down the block there will be at least one person who stares at me the entire time. If I am sitting in a café reading, there will be people looking at me every time I glance up. It’s something Japanese, and even foreigners who look Asian, don’t experience. Oftentimes I’ll walk with an Asian-looking person and they’ll say things such as, “this never happens to when I walk alone.”

Other times people try to get as far away from me as possible. The number of times the last seat on the subway is next to me is every time. It is also common for a group of Japanese people argue among themselves as to who will be the one to sit next to the foreigner, laughing and trying to get the shyest member to sit next to me. It’s as if just sitting beside someone who isn't Japanese is a huge deal, like I’ll suddenly start talking to them.

When I lived in Yamaguchi prefecture I went to visit the festival in the city neighboring mine. I don’t even think I had been in Japan for four full months at the time. It was crowded, with people cluttered in the streets watching the shrine procession go past. I was alone, snapping pictures on my camera and trying to absorb some Japanese culture when I heard snickering behind me. I turn to look, thinking maybe something funny was happening, but there was nothing. A group of maybe five high school boys were standing there, huddled together, looking at me. When they caught my eye one of the boys grinned and shoved his friend, who stumbled out before me and quickly went, “Hello! How are you?” then ran off with his friends. I stood there silently, frustrated. It felt to me like I was some sort of sideshow freak out in town, when in reality I was just a girl with curly brown hair, pale skin, and blue eyes standing on a sidewalk.

Since then I have these encounters on a weekly basis. Just this past weekend I was walking down a street with some friends and a group of (drunk) Japanese guys did the standard “Hello!” only to giggle and not even care if we responded to them. The worst of these is when the group starts speaking in Japanese assuming you can’t understand and you hear things like, “wow she’s so big,” or “her nose is very tall!” Even the blatantly positive comments about me being “beautiful” and having “water blue eyes” are often unwelcome. While these things are never done out of malice, the knowledge that I am constantly being watched, constantly being examined, constantly being judged is tiresome. I can’t even go grocery shopping without feeling as if everyone is looking in my basket to see what I am buying, since most times they are.

There are other situations in which being a foreigner is a huge disadvantage. When I was looking for an apartment I could only go to a small selection as the others wouldn't want to rent to me. When I got my cell phone I had to buy it outright because they don’t trust foreigners to do the monthly payments ($500 dollars vs. a $20 monthly payment). There are also the times when I have walked into a smaller café or bar and had the owner look at me as if I was the biggest piece of scum they have ever seen and all the want is for me to leave.

It is scary, too, at times. I am a woman and oftentimes I am on my own. The number of instances I have had of an older Japanese man getting right in my face and just looking at me silently without saying anything is too many. While Japan is a relatively “safe” country, things still happen (and have) so this gross invasion of my personal space when I am just waiting for a friend in a public space is extremely off-putting.

What perhaps makes me the saddest are the Japanese people who use foreigners for their own personal benefit. It’s not uncommon for me to be invited to parties to just be a foreign face. Oftentimes I’ll say I’m going to an event with some foreign friends and it will suddenly be advertised as an international party where Japanese people can come and speak English. It’s as if these people don’t care about getting to know me as a person, they just care what having me on their Facebook friends list means to others.

I understand that I am a visitor in this country, that my purpose here is to broaden the Japanese global perspective and allow Japanese children to get used to the idea of a “foreigner”. I am, however, still a person. I’m not some amusement attraction allowed to be on their own and I am not some monkey in a zoo. I am also not a status symbol that you can use to make yourself feel cultured and more globally aware. I am a person with feelings and boundaries. I’m not that different from a Japanese person. I get hungry, I get cranky, I have days where I just want to relax and not put on a “good” face, and I care about what people are saying about me even if I don’t know them.

I am sure these experiences are not limited to just Japan, and may be things expats experience in general regardless of the country and regardless of how much they stand out as being foreign. In this day in age, however, I think it’s important to keep in mind that we are all humans on this planet and that we all have similar wants and needs. Just because we may look different from each other, may speak a different language, and may have had a completely different upbringing doesn't mean we’re a different species, just a different race.

I wrote this post for the 2014 Blog Action Day please click here to learn more about the event and read other great posts about the topic of "inequality".

Friday, October 10, 2014

First Day At School Fourteen

First, I'd like to start by apologizing for not updating in over a week. The weather in Hokkaido has gotten cold, which means I have gotten a cold. For the last week I've just not felt well and have spent much of my free time sleeping due to sinus headaches. Yay!

I know I have a Part II to my last post to write up, but honestly it still makes me sad to think about leaving that last school so I would rather post about this. Plus, I think this may be more interesting. Maybe.

In Sapporo, the board of education has us change schools halfway in the year, so from May to September I am at one school and then October to March I am at another school. It's a very stressful, depressing time because leaving schools is depressing and starting a new school is stressful. This year was no different. I left my previous school on a Tuesday and then started at a new school on a Wednesday (all while fighting off the beginnings of a cold). It was very, very hard for me to leave this last school, as I'd been there for a year - October 2013 to September 2014 - and it was honestly one of the best schools I have ever gone to. Needless to say, my first day was going to be a rough one.

My shoe locker in the entry
This was only amplified by me making what is perhaps the most annoying mistake anyone in my position can make. I had forgotten my indoor shoes. So, in Japanese schools everyone is required to change out of the shoes that they wore to school into clean "indoor shoes". This is done for a number of reasons that I don't feel like getting into at the moment. If you're curious I suggest reading this. Due to my forgetfulness, it meant I was to spend my entire first day in awfully uncomfortable slippers provided by the school. These are generally small with zero padding and live up to the "slip" part of "slippers" very, very well.

Per my contract, I don't have to be at school for the morning meeting (which usually happens thirty minutes before first period) but on the first day the principal wants to introduce me to the teachers and staff. This means that I am usually sequestered in the principal's office for twenty minutes trying to come up with some sentences in Japanese to impress my new coworkers all whilst fighting back my nerves and making awkward small talk with the principal.

This principal, however, wanted to interview me. He began by asking if I was from Orlando, Florida. After I said that I am he told me about how his daughter had been there, and then asked me about Disney, Universal, and the Kennedy Space Center. Once that was out of the way, he asked me about my history teaching in Japan, mainly confirming what my company had given him. Then the questions about Japan started: "What Japanese food do you like?" "How are America and Japan different?" "What surprised you about Japan?" etc.

This entire conversation was done in both English and Japanese, and once he felt he had enough information on me he told me how his son is living in Canada and then stood up to show me something on his phone. It was a picture of his dog, a miniature dachshund, which is his "best friend". Then, he pretended to be a dog. At this point I honestly thought that maybe I hadn't woken up yet and was in the middle of some strange stress-dream.

The introduction to the staff went well, I had decided to plan ahead on my welcome speech and written something in Japanese the week before, which got me many compliments from my new coworkers. My morning, however, was still very stressful. I had to give my first lesson during first period, which gave me very little time to unpack or prepare or adjust or really do anything. I also had to give a speech on TV to students, which lead to a gaggle of third year boys crammed in the staff room doorway to get a good look at me as I left the broadcasting room.

It had been a while since I had started a new school and I'd forgotten just how much attention my appearance garners. The entire day was filled with groups of boys or girls following me down the hallways trying to convince each other to talk to me. Eventually a boy would muster up enough courage and introduce himself to me, which would lead to a good five minutes of me answering questions about myself, normally in the vein of if I'm single or not, how tall I am, and what my age is.

Worksheet I use during my introduction
The lessons themselves went well enough, the first day was just second years, and at that age (13 and 14) the students vary quite a lot in regards to how interesting they find me. Overall, the English level at this school is quite high and the students are much better at listening than my prior second years, so it was already an improvement. I am also required at this school to eat lunch with the students, which is a mixed bag in most cases, especially at the beginning when the students aren't used to me. I could (and most likely will) write an entire post about eating with students, so I won't go into too many details other than to say that eating with students is usually just me sitting quietly trying to shove food in my mouth for the ten minutes I am given to eat.

There's really not much else to say at this point. I'm still adjusting to the new school, having finished all of my self-introduction lessons this past Tuesday. Usually once I get through an actual English lesson with each class I finally feel at ease, as I know what to expect. Overall, I think I'll enjoy this school. The teachers seem really good and friendly, and the students are engaged and good at listening (so far). I've honestly yet to have a "bad school" in Japan, so I feel very lucky and I'm really not even sure they exist.

I'll try to get another post up Monday or Tuesday, as it's a long weekend (health and sports day, wooo!). Hope you have a wonderful day!

My desk! It's small :(

I've also added this post to the Lotus Collective Daily Diaries. You can see more posts there!