A Travellerspoint blog

Co-workers, students and friends

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What a hot and humid day it was here today!!! My hair just doesn't stand a chance. I know, I know, having a bad hair day, (well, bad hair summer) is no big deal compared to some of the bad things that could happen, but, I'm tellin' ya, this kind of himidity could drive any western woman bonkers after a few months. Luckily, the humidity stops around September. I CAN'T WAIT!!

So here are some pictures of the many awesome people I've met here so far. But, in general, the Japanese definitely hold up to their reputation and then some. They are the kindest, politest, respectful people you'll ever meet. For example, I have never even seen one case of "road rage" here at all. If you are in someone's way, or pull out in front of someone, they just bow and let you go ahead of them. The same goes for walking or riding a bike on the sidewalk. On weekends, Saty, the building where I work, gets so extremely crowded, so bumping into someone is just inevitable, but when it happens, I always see the Japanese quickly nodding or bowing to eachother and saying "Sumimasen," which is a very polite, "oh, excuse me for being in your way." I'm sure the Japanese get frustrated just like everyone else, but you would never know it. They are always so afraid of offending someone that if they got upset with you, they would just smile to you and then go home and scream into the pillow or something!

My students are, well, they are just dream students. Of course I have the occasional "too cool for school" attitudes from some of the junior high and high school students, but that's nothing compared to what you would see in many American schools. I teach all ages, from three to eighty-six. Some of them take English becasue they want to travel to the UK, America, Canada or Australia, or because they need to use English for business, but surprisingly, I'd have to say that most of my students take English as a hobby. Some students are interested in American movies or sports. One of my favorite students is a bus driver who is crazy about American football and the NBA, and could probably tell you more about the players and teams than most American fans! I even have several bored housewives that want to learn English and have no plans of actually using it outside of Nova!

There is such an interesting mix of teachers at Nova. In Matsue, we currently have two Canadians, two Americans, one English, one Irish and an Australian on the way, who will actually be my new roommate next week. At our sister Nova, the school in Izumo city, there is a Scotishman, two English, an Australian and a New Zealander.

Now, I am living with the one Brit at Matsue, Rose, but she is leaving in August to take kung fu for a year in China! It is so much fun hanging out with so many different kinds of people with so many different accents. I've learned quite a bit of British English and you'd be surprised at just how different it can be! For example, we call potato chips, "chips" right? Well, the Brits called them "crisps" and they call french fries, "chips." And, if I ask Rose if she wants to do something, she doesn't say, "No, I don't want to," she said, "Ai cont be osk't!" A policeman is a "bobby" and a cell phone is always a "mobile." So as you can imagine, the conversations in a room with such a diverse makeup of nationalities can be quite interesting!

Posted by jbennett 00:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Shimane Town

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Shimane Town is another small, peaceful city about thirty minutes by bus Northwest of Matsue. My friend Mary, the only other American now, and I went here on one of our days off. It was so nice to just hang around the coast and walk along the jagged beaches. The harbor here is just so charming and there are several little hikes up and down the cliffs.

The people in Shimane Town are very friendly, too. They aren't that used to seeing foreigners, so a few of the locals talked to us, and Mary and I, well, we "tried" to talk to them in our horrible Japanese.

One very sweet elderly lady sat in front of me on the bus and kept turning around to ask me questions. The only question I could really make out was "where are you from?" That was the only question I think I even came close to answering. But, after a few tries she finally just gave up and gave me a piece of candy!

It's funny, I know I have to sound like a caveman or something when I try to speak here because although I've picked up some words for things in Japanese, I still haven't learned how to really put them into a proper sentence. For example, if I need to ask if a train or bus goes to a certain city, I can pretty much just say "Bus? Hiroshima? Yes?" and then do a little grunting and pointing. Or, in a restaurant, in most cases, I just can't read the menu, so I just have to point to the picture of the food in the menu and kinda grunt then look up at the server like, "I'm helpless, will you please just bring me what's in this picture?" But, what's even worse after that is when they ask me something else, and I have no clue what they're asking, so I just say "okay." Then I end up with extra seaweed or horsemeat. Yep, I'm a cavewoman in Japan.

Posted by jbennett 00:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)


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Mihonoseki is a charming little coastal town just about 40 minutes northeast of me. The Nova manager in Izumo city, Andrew, who's from New Zealand, drove me and another new teacher Barbara, from England, to the top of one of the high peaks. There is a charming little lighthouse and you can see for miles and miles into the Sea of Japan. I went to this gorgeous place after only having been here a little over a week - not a bad way to start off, eh?!

Posted by jbennett 00:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Matsue Cherry Blossoms

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One of the most famous things about Japan, the cherry blossoms, bloomed beautifully this year in March. There are festivals throughout all of Japan to celebrate their blooming. In Matsue, that was a big festival at the castle. Many people came to the castle grounds and had picnics and drank sake under the rows of flowers. I went to a picnic in Izumo one night and sat under the trees with a few friends.

They started to bloom about the third week I was here. It's just so peaceful to stand or sit under a cherry blossom tree and look up and see nothing but a beautiful blue sky and thousands of perfect white and pink flowers. When you look up, such a peaceful view really makes your forget all your worries.

These photos were taken around Matsue that week.

Posted by jbennett 00:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

First Entry at last!

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Well, I've been living in Japan for approximately three months now and I've got SO MANY things to write about and SO MANY pictures to put up!! Overall, I absolutely love living here. It's by no means a walk in the park living here, but the beautiful scenery, amazing people and wonderful experiences make the difficulties all worth it.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most about living in Matsue is the breathtakingly famous sunsets on Shinji Lake, which is about a ten minute cycle from my apartment. So here are a few shots of some of my favorite sunsets:

Posted by jbennett 00:00 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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