Bits and Bobs

It’s spring break for students here in Ehime, which means I have to go to work and sit at my desk for 8 hours a day trying to keep myself from expiring from boredom. Today I spent five hours reading a book about Heian Japan, which would have been more enjoyable had I not been so tired, before the principle told me to go home. Today was his last day at this school and he said it was a present. Technically, they aren’t supposed to do that (I think I’m supposed to insist that I stay at work or something), but he’s the principle and it’s his prerogative. And today was stupid. You know how many people, aside from the principle and including me, were at work today? Six. Out of about 60.

On the principle’s-last-day front, that’s a Japanese thing that I’m not sure I’ve talked about. At the end of every school year here, there’s a teacher changeover. It’s pretty much completely arbitrary, though some teachers are more likely to get moved than others. My base school lost 10, including the principle and one of the two head teachers. So starting tomorrow things will be really different because we’re getting a new principle. I’m not sure what to expect and I’m a bit nervous because my main teacher said she won’t be there, so I have to introduce myself to the new principle and then ask him to stamp the form for me to have a day off next week for hand surgery recovery. While I’m capable of doing this, I don’t like not having support and wish they wouldn’t spring this stuff on me with no notice.

Anyway, like I said above, I’m really tired and this post is kind of blah. Yesterday was the ceremony for the departing teachers, so there was an enkai (work party) in the evening. Since starting this job, I’ve developed a sense of 義理 (giri, or Japanese social obligation), so I always go to the enkai. Apparently the last two ALTs at this school only went to, like, one each, so I guess I’ve made a good impression actually attending. It’s a double-edged sword, though, because it means they always invite me. Then, even though it was Wednesday, I was cajoled into going along to karaoke for the nijikai (second party). So I was out till 12:30 partying and drinking with my coworkers. Which is so Japanese it hurts. I think it may have figured into the principle’s decision to let me leave early, though. Gestures like that win a lot of ground in this country.

In other news, I really want to go to Hong Kong. In fact, I fully intend for that to be my next international trip. I’ve always been interested in China, but you sort of have to pick one country (usually Japan or China) as a focus if you do East Asia and I went with Japan. But Hong Kong is next on the places I want to visit list. I actually found some absolute beginner Cantonese lessons online and I really like it. I only know, like, half a dozen words, but the tones are kind of like singing. It’s also much, much simpler than Japanese and has the same basic sentence pattern as English (subject-verb-object, as in: I ate the apple). And did you know that Chinese verbs don’t conjugate? There’s only one verb tense. Compared to English or Japanese, the grammar is so easy and straightforward.

In closing, because these long, text-only entries are kind of dull, check out this picture I borrowed from Wikipedia of the Hong Kong skyline at night. Isn’t that fab? I’m so doing China next.

Thanks, Wikipedia.


2 thoughts on “Bits and Bobs

  1. The way they work in Japanese schools really is so different from here in the US. I can’t imagine any teachers going into the school during a break unless they were super dedicated, and changing teachers…why?

    I don’t think I could do those obligation parties, I don’t even like going to parties with my friends, let alone co-workers haha! I’m sure they are impressed/happy that you go XD

    I hope you can have a great trip to Hong Kong!

    • It’s kind of weird, when you come at it from the US, yeah. There’s a big emphasis here on the number of hours you’re at work. It’s more important, in a way, than what you’re doing while you’re there.

      Enkai are… enkai. I think whether someone enjoys them depends a lot on how much Japanese they speak, ha.

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