Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I taught my first lessons today! Woohoo! Not as bad as I expected. The most nerve racking part was my introduction speech in front of the whole school in Japanese. I fell asleep so early last night, I didn't manage to practice much, but I still wowed the crowd somehow.

Elementary school kids are far different than the older junior high kids I saw yesterday. The elementary school kids are balls of never-ending energy and they aren't very shy. Walking through the hallway everyone will call out "Audrey Sensei!" "Hello!" or "See you!" It's cute and fun. On my walk home my name was called from far away and I could see some kids waving from the second floor of a building. I feel like a star.

For elementary school the lessons are easy and it's all about the games. My job here is more to get kids used to foreigners and to make English fun so they'll enjoy it more when it becomes more serious.

School lunches: At elementary schools I'm required to eat the school lunch with the kids. Everyday I'll eat in a different classroom, usual first or second graders and I have to eat everything given to me, no matter what it is, because the kids have to eat everything too. Everyone also has to drink one milk at lunch and all the kids have toothbrushes to brush their teeth with afterwards. It's pretty interesting. Today I ate with the first graders and man, were they cute.

Tomorrow I get to help out with swim lessons so I'm really excited!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


There's a big waterfall just outside of Omura called Ryutosen (dragon head place). It's beautiful! After a short hike we reached the biggest waterfall and jumped right in. The water was a bit cold but it was so refreshing. A little way down the river is another waterfall with a rope for swinging into the water. Although it took me 5 minutes, I finally managed to swing out and jump in the water. It was really fun and not really that scary.

I also collected a few tadpoles in a water bottle and took them home. They lived temporarily in a jar on my desk, but two died, so I felt bad and freed the remaining one.


I went to Sasebo, a big city north of Omura with an American military base on it. My friend's mom works on base, so we were able to go on and enjoy American foods and buy American products. I bought some candy to use as gifts, but really three weeks isn't quite long enough for me to really miss American things enough to fully appreciate the experience, as my friends did. I also went to a little park that was American territory. The place was filthy, litter everywhere and almost every person that walked by was overweight. Reminded me what I'm not missing in the US.


I got a bike! While my area is relatively hilly, having a bike is very convenient and why not get the extra workout? I really like riding around and I can basically go anywhere I want pretty easily and quickly. I'll need to ride to one of my schools, but my other two schools are very close, maybe a 10 minute walk. My house is in such a great location!

A typhoon passed over Omura last week, I slept through the worst of it, but I heard some heavy rain and wind. It continued to rain until early afternoon. We were supposed to visit some schools on bike yesterday, but we were told to stay at home because of the typhoon, so I had a free vacation day.

I'm getting this cooking thing down I think. So far I've made:
-stir-fry vegetables with rice
-goya (a bitter squash) and scrambled egg
- potato slices with onion and garlic
-scrambled eggs with green pepper and onion
-chicken pieces marinated in miso and pieces of an orange, then sauteed with broccoli, carrots and onion.
-chicken pieces with bell peppers, onions and a few globs of some kimchee that wasn't very good to eat by itself, however, as the sauce it was actually pretty good.

Everything has been surprisingly delicious, I could just skip culinary school and become a chef at this rate.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I've spent the last few days on Iki. It's an island at the northern tip of Nagasaki prefecture, very close to Korea and is known for it's beautiful beaches and Kobe-equivalent beef. There are some ALTs up there, so I went with 3 of the Omura ALTs to visit them and spend some days in paradise. It was so beautiful and fun! The water was crystal clear and not that cold, and the weather was perfect. There were some tentacle-less jellyfish and some fish swimming around too. At night we did fireworks on the beach and looked at the bioluminescent creatures that glow in the water at night. It was a great way to spend my last few days before I have to start working. Plus, I made some new friends, had some delicious beef and apparently Japan's best pizza (it was quite good).

Nagoshi Matsuri

Last week was the Nagoshi Matsuri (End of Summer Festival) in Omura. It is a three day festival that started out Sunday with an amazing display of fireworks, shot from the airport. Some friends and I sat by the water and watched. I had been in Nagasaki the night before and saw the closing fireworks for their festival, however, those were not as spectacular despite being a much bigger city than Omura. Omura's lasted for half an hour and were huge and might have been the best I'd ever seen.

The next day of the festival I met up with some friends and we just walked the main street and got food at several of the food vendors. The main drag was filled with little stands selling yakitori (grilled meet), okonmiyaki, shave ice, roasted corn, grilled octopus and more. The stands are mostly set up by local restaurants, so I got the name of some delicious places that I'll have to try later. We also watched some taiko drum performances. An ALT that is leaving performed with her taiko group on the main stage. It was fun walking with other ALTs because their students would nervously approach them and say hi and try to speak in English.

On the final day of the festival my friend I dressed in our yukata (summer kimono). I'd say more than half of the girls and young women wear yukata at summer fesitvals. My friend and I both noticed a difference in how the local people reacted to us when we had the yukata on. They seemed to be more accepting of us, seeing that we were making an effort to be a part of the culture, but man was it hot! This night there was dancing down the main street, as well as some on the main stage. So many of the townspeople participated. It was quite an experience and I'm already excited for next year!

Spider Survival!

This guy was outside my door.

Due to the need of survival, I have killed 4 spiders in my house already. It's heroic really. The one last night took a long time and lot of bravery. My coordinator had brought me bug killer spray, didn't work on this big honker though. He was humungus and really fast, so it took all of the dexterity and courage I had to get him.
There are spiders everywhere outside. I saw some dead ones on the ground today that were so big I thought they were crabs... seriously. The body was about the size of a quater and it's legs were about three inches long each. If one of those gets into my house, I will be calling people to help me kill it. (Good news, none of them are poisonous). I've seen some outside and there are fast and scary. Apparently there are also a lot of giant centipedes. They're won't kill you, but you're supposed to boil them to death, because word has it that if you squash them, the scent of their blood will attract more. Creeeeeepy!


my back yard

My aparment is 2 stories; the kitchen, living room and bathroom are on the first floor, then I have 2 tatami mat rooms on the 2nd floor. It's biiiig, I don't know how I will fill it all by myself! I live at the bottom of a big hill and have a big forest behind me.

Omura is great! Apparently it's considered to be rural, however, I'd relate it more to Ann Arbor than Dowagiac . The town is quite laid back and everyone so far is friendly. I'm contracted by the Board of Education, which is super relaxed and the other new ALT and I don't have to go into work for 2 weeks! Most people started the day after they arrived!

My experience with the plumber: My shower was leaking a little and my washer needed to be hooked up so the plumber came. Not only was the appointment for one set time, he was early.

It's really hot and humid. When I don't have the air conditioner on in my house, everything feels damp. I'm lucky because I have an air conditioner on both floors, I've heard that others just have one on the first floor, so a lot of them have been sleeping in their living rooms. I don't even use it at night, it's not too hot to sleep if I have the windows open.