Wow, I haven’t written a post in a while. I think it’s because I have been so caught up in what is happening, that by the time I get home to consider writing it down, I am too exhausted to try to put it into words.

Lately my classes have been going better. I had a bit of a freak out and I got homesick and considered leaving JET after my contract is over. But I came here with goals and I still think I have a lot to accomplish. And teaching does get easier the more I do it. Now, when I am planning for elementary school lessons, I feel less pressured to come up with something amazing. I know what works, what to pull from, how to adapt activities, and what materials I need to prepare. Going to elementary school used to give me chest pain the night before just thinking about everything that could go wrong. Now I yawn and know everything will work out. I have a lot of control over my ES lessons, so it’s a nice break from my junior high lessons, where I have no control over what we learn or how we learn it.

So this weekend was really fun it really put me in a good mood. I had been sitting around my house so long that I knew I needed to get out. So Friday, I had a lesson where a few other teachers I work with from other schools came to watch. Mostly I just helped and the homeroom teacher did the planning, so I didn’t have to stress too much about it. My other teachers came and it was really nice to talk to them about teaching activities and methodologies. I learned a lot from the discussion afterwards. I know I have a long way to go to be an effective teacher but I really want to try.

That night, another ALT who rotates schools in the prefecture was with my other teachers watching my lesson. I invited her to my house and we ordered pizza and had a good time unwinding. Fridays are the best. I remembered that in my city we have a horseback riding stable so for kicks I looked up the website and looked at their schedule. I own horses at my home in America, so I really miss waking up to see them grazing. But riding horses here in Japan is expensive. On their schedule, though, they had put down that there would be a Christmas Horse Show. It just so happened that it was for Saturday. I asked my supervisor if she was free, and she said she could take me by there the next morning. So that’s what we did. I got up and went with her to the horse show. They were doing jumping, something I used to take lessons for a know a lot about, so it was really exciting to be back in that atmosphere. My supervisor even knew one of the guys working there who is a high school teacher. He runs the school’s horseback riding club and talked to us about the student he was training. She actually did the best in the show. But it was cold so we left after a few hours.

Sunday my friend from Kyoto came down and wanted to meet up with me. Another ALT friend of mine wanted me to show here where the English bookstore is, so she came along. The three of us went out for ramen, which is famous in this part of Japan, and it was delicious. We got on a bus and headed for the shopping district, and on the way there we passed the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum. They were having a Ghibli exhibit, so we all got off the bus and went to check it out. They had carbon copies of all the Ghibli movies and it was really neat to see how they planned out and drew scenes. I bought two big printed copies of my favorites, a shot from Kiki’s Delivery Service and one from Whisper of the Heart. Then we got back on a bus and went to Tenjin Core. There were so many people and there were Christmas lights and it was really nice to be in a cheerful atmosphere. As much as I like relaxing in my house, people watching while shopping is a great energy booster.

After some much deserved shopping and bubble tea, we went to Hakata Station where they were having a Christmas market. European vendors were selling beer, wine, bratwurst, etc. We got us some brats and sat at a picnic table watching the lights and the people. A man and his little girl sat down next to us and she was so cute that I told him we were both English teachers in elementary schools. He asked where I live, and when I told him, it just so happened that it was his hometown! He used to go to both one of my elementary schools AND my middle school I teach at. It was a cool coincidence. His wife came over later and her English was flawless. Moments like that make me really excited I live in Japan.

We then went and got donuts and hot chocolate before going home. I bought Ender’s Game at the bookstore and I started it last night. It is fantastic so far, and it’s my first science fiction. A lot of people say reading Ender’s Game first ruins the entire genre of science fiction because it’s top notch.

I finished Eleanor and Park in two days. You can read my Goodreads review here. I can’t put into words how much I love that book. I know I will reread it in about a year or so, and I usually never reread books.

Teaching today has been fun so far. I got to sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for my kids and they smiled and sang with me. The first years usually give me trouble but I just need to remember to smile and help them with spelling and vocab and grammar when they write sentences, and I know they will warm up to me eventually. Most of them hate English class because it is so repetitive. I want to change that, but I guess I have to put up with it for now.

One more week of school and then a few days of the office and I’m free to go to Hong Kong! My friend and I are planning our trip and I get so excited when I think about the food, the view, the lights, the people, the languages I’m going to hear, and meeting up with friends. Oh, and the shopping. How could I forget the shopping?

I hope everyone is staying warm! What are your plans for your winter break? What books do you recommend?

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