Year in review (2014-15), blogging

You didn’t think there would be more did you? How could there be more. We just had a post about cycling! CYCLING. However, at this point we are up to about 58 posts and there is still a week this blog celebrates 365 days of content. On average this worked out to more than a post a week, and while I am too slack to get the numbers, with an average word count of lets say, 400 (we have some really short posts), that is about 23200 words! Although in practice Musical, and things like this helped buff out those numbers considerably… But that still isn’t a trivial amount of writing given how little time I feel I put into this.

This is the first time I have done a blog that wasn’t ultra specific nor targeted towards at more specific audience than people interested in me. Overall that has made things a lot easier. I haven’t been too concerned with writing of high quality, and oddly, compared to my writing for my other blogs I ignore, is generally better.

The blog has been a big mish mash of things, which is a really nice change for me. Maybe not so great for making an audience, but nice for me! And really, what is a blog other than writing for yourself and then just hoping someone else might like it?

Overall though, I found I most enjoyed the more focused posts than I did a lot of the general wishy washy travel kind of writing. You can click travel to see how poor I am at that. Even the super interesting statue in a tree turned out to be a relatively poor post. One of the things I have really learned about blogging though over the year is that the best content, like all good stories, has arcs. The writing I don’t like that I’ve done all suffers from the fact that while it covers interesting ground it fails to result in an arc of any kind. So, now that this has really settled in my mind as a problem to solve, expect some fixes that way.

Musical Diaries might be something I try and keep up after the musical in a sense. I came to enjoy the short format they ended up as, just a short summary and a few asides about the event. Currently I am not convinced they are of great interest, but that I suspect is more a result I usually write them when I don’t have much time.

Since I have written SO MUCH, it is probably worth pointing out a few of the things I either enjoyed writing most, or I think are good pieces. There two aren’t always one and the same though.

Some of my favourite pieces through the year though are

9monsters and gay app dating in Japan. (follow up planned)

Study using games

Musical audition

ESL game breakdown Bowling

The Day the toilet attacked me

Rhythm games

Interview with the director of Fantastic Boyfriends: Legends of Midearth

I am certainly looking forward to updating the blog as we go into my second year of JET, and hopefully, maybe, possibly, spend a bit more time actually improving my writing.



Year in Review (2014-15), Cycling

This seems like it’s almost silly in terms of how this is being broken down right? While writing this I am concerned this is going to be a more detailed than social side of things?

So, when I got to Japan, the bicycle I got was… terrible. Awful. I foolishly assumed the problem was me, but the problem was a bicycle that was fundamentally not build for me. So, after a few days and more blood than I was prepared to lose I gave up entirely on the bike. Assuming that at my current size I was just not cut out to ride a bike. My trouble with cycling back in Australia prepping for the trip was equally terrible, helping that assumption.

This naturally resulted in me walking to most of my schools. Which I am extremely glad I did. Thanks to those walks I had the time to greet students, I had the chance to take so many great photos and just stop and enjoy the scenery. It also made me a little famous as many people saw me walking to school(s) each day. Which helped add a little more conversation into my daily life.  Although it only made the summer worse. Once the weather was less cruel, I loved exploring Saijo by foot. And thanks to that time I spent, even going so far as to talk to the next city (12km), I enjoyed getting to know the area by foot.

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Typhoon prep at elementary school.

So, the typhoon is coming. Obviously, I have prepared all the suggested assortments. All my handheld consoles are charged, spare batteries prepared. Oh and I cleared my balcony of things that might fly away, and bought enough food to last a week, and filled bottles with water to last a week too.

Anyway, I was at school today (well, yesterday). I didn’t have any classes though, because it’ll be the last day of school. But I had to attend anyway. So, the vice principle decided to use an additional strong tall person with no classes help the typhoon proofing of the school.

The first curious part of this whole scenario is who was doing this. While, I’ve never been involved in a project like this in Australia, I assume that it is not the principle, vice principle, and school… secretary(?) doing the task. Oh and the English teacher (me)

I assume most things had been taken care of previously, but we took down the tents by the swimming pools, and generally collected anything loose around the school grounds. It was pretty interesting in a sense. I mean, it was just basically yard work with a little more importance, but this really emphasizes one of the things I like about Japanese schools, that I am sure teachers back home might be less thrilled with. The school is everyone’s responsibility, and since, we were the staff who didn’t have pressing concerns at the time (teaching, helping students, etc) why would anyone else do a job we all had the time and ability to do.

Maybe school size plays a part here? But while the school isn’t LARGE per se, it also isn’t small, with most year levels having 3 classes.

There is something really nice about taking down tents with the top people at the school, and the fact that this wasn’t just a job left for the Janitors. (which, people aren’t employed for specifically at schools, although there are staff whom it is clearly an additional part of the their duties)

Currently looks like I’ll survive this weather quite fine though, so don’t be worrying.

Musical Diaries, 11-14 Catch up

I have been a slacker haven’t I with these things. In real life and blog life that speech contest, and this interview  took more of my attention than it should. But it resulted in me missing a practice and a few posts about practices. I can’t remember what dates line up with what events, but generally things have been going very well.

The biggest change?


It doesn’t sound like much, but finally having some music I can play at home to ensure I am getting the tune right is a life saver. I used to be able to sing from sheet music okish… But I have apparently forgotten and so listening to the music to follow is a great help. I had been struggling to really memorize the lyrics to my songs and this helped it all just lock in. There are a few bits that I am stumbling along more than I should, but without the pressure of the speech contest either it should be all good. Now that the music is setting in so much more, the main opening dance is too! Which has been a big challenge for me.

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Year in review (2014-15) Teaching

This is the real meat of the year I guess. Teaching is after all what I am here for.

I feel I have certainly come a LONG way in teaching since I started. Particularly with Elementary Schools. Junior High School, I must admit I struggle with a little more than I should, and never feel like I am improving. I suffer from trying to engage the students in anything more interesting than hi how are you, and even if I know they know the grammar, it takes so much work to get anything more from most students. This is only really a problem at one of my middle schools but it is frustrating.

However, I am a lot better at getting classes without much energy to have a little more, I make a lot of students smile during some of vocab repeat stuff using different pitches and tones which I enjoy, and many students seem to too. My activities, once people understand them, seem to go over well with teachers and students. Sometimes the nature of the specific grammar point means making a “fun” activity is a little more challenging or forced, but usually, despite feeling like a number of my Junior High students really don’t like me and are trying to put me off during classes (which is sadly effective) I am generally getting through and students talk about me fondly when I am not there supposedly. On the flip side though, I feel like I get along with most of my Junior High School teachers really well. Which helps me get through the classes.

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Year in Review (2014-15), Social/Community Involvement

Of course, one of the best things about going to a new place is meeting new people! … ish.

Personally, I have never really very good at making new friends. The combo of generally not following the same media as everyone else, having niche interests and a disinterest in drinking don’t help that much. However, so far I feel I have pretty well on the making friends front given my usual self. Karaoke is also a big help here, as while others might say you need alcohol to have it work, I just love singing!

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Year in Review (2014-15), language

I think for every JET, not matter their ability, language is a great and consistent battle.

Even if you can speak well, kanji are a minefield. While I don’t use a dictionary everyday in Japan now, most days I do. And I either consider a victory or day of not enough Japanese conversation if I don’t use it. There is always something that crops up where I need a little boost to work out what it is that is going on. Language, particularly early on was a stress for me. I didn’t really study much in the lead up, and so the first 2 months or so were mostly me just getting used to speaking and using the language regularly again.

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