I smile because I have no idea what’s going on.
It’s been a while readers. Sorry. Due to some technicalities, I wasn’t able to post at all last month. I had already written this blog out, but because my pre-written posts were somehow deleted, I’m going to simply highlight things that were interesting for that day (at least for me). Also, “simply?” Ha! This is a LONG post! Mind you, this was supposed to be posted months ago, so some recent comments and events may have been added. (I guess you can call this blog “long ramble”). Sorry for the lack of pictures (and especially for such a long post)!
Tuesday; September 1, 2015
Reworking My New Schedule for Others: Even though this was the second day of school, I had already been preparing for my daily routines by waking up at around 6:15 a.m. and leaving for school by 7:15. However, Yuchi suddenly told me that someone from the senior one class I was in wanted to walk with me to school. So, I had to wake up at 6 o’clock and be out the door by 6:50 just to walk with a girl I never met. Still, it was nice talking with her after meeting her at Roppongi Station. She knew a little English and told me she would be studying abroad in San Francisco soon. Good for her! (Update: I don’t walk with her anymore).
Morning Service: We have a variety of routines for morning service. For one, we could have the service in the classroom. As always, we sing two hymns and say a prayer, but sometimes, the teacher or the student will give the sermon. And sometimes, we just turn on the class TV and watch the service taking place LIVE in the auditorium. Secondly, we have service in the auditorium. After everyone gets their Bibles and hymn books, we line up in order of student, or seat, number and head down to the hall in a somewhat orderly fashion. There, teachers give the sermons, but sometimes, students returning from a trip (abroad) will talk about their trip. And once a month, there is an English day, so service is led by English teachers, who speak – of course – in English. But no matter which routine we do, there are always students who have dozed off in the crowd, heads down, heads bobbing, snoring, and everything!
Classroom Introductions: Since I’m an exchange student who goes all over the school to several different classes at different grade levels, I had to do a self-introduction in nearly every single one of my classes. And nearly every time, the class would say in awe, “Sugoi!”
Skirt Problems: I’ve got 99 problems, and being in a skirt is one. By now, I learned how to flip my skirt when I sat down because if I didn’t, it would bend and fold underneath me and make me uncomfortable. That or expose my compression shorts. Also, it is extremely hard to find my skirt pocket amongst the hundreds of folds and ruffles. I didn’t even know my skirt had pockets until someone took something out of theirs. And for having such a long skirt, the wind really loves to swoop it up high for everyone to see! But worst of all, I found out that NO ONE in a skirt is safe. Normally when I find myself around crazy girls, I sit because they will randomly come up behind someone and flip their skirt. And I didn’t just see it once; I saw it in at least every class I had been in! So much so that I realized I wasn’t the only smart one who thought of the idea to wear shorts underneath the skirt just in case some rambunctious student decided to do a sneak attack!
Studying is VERY Important: I would actually be on break from Toyo Eiwa for a week after this due to testing the next. So, a lot of the girls had little to no time for anything else. For an English PowerPoint presentation, one girl told how she studied all day everyday on her summer break: woke up, ate, study, lunch, study, dinner, study, and sleep. Also because of this constant studying, the girls are always going to bed after midnight, so they always complain about lack of sleep and nothing else, except for being hungry. On the trains to school, I even see the girls whip out their textbooks or notes and bury their noses in it (sometimes falling asleep on the pages). Even my host sister locks herself in her room all day to study. I never really see her leave unless she is going off to cram school.
Me studying Kanji
(One time, I had a day off, so I really didn’t do anything except a little writing and drawing. And I went through a few kanji flashcards. I think I even went out to explore the neighborhood that day. When it was dinner time, my host dad asked me what I had done that day. Excitedly, I told him how great and productive the day was! I told him how I went out exploring, how I worked on some art, and how I almost finished a story I had been working on. However, his response to me was, “Did you study?” For a moment, I paused, wondering if he cared about anything else. So, I just nodded, and immediately, almost in a sigh of relief, he said, “Oh, good, good!”).
Sleeping in Class: As mentioned above, the girls barely get any sleep. So in every single one of my classes, without fail, there is always someone conked out on their notes or someone with a drooping or bobbing head. Even during morning service, some of the girls (in the front row!) are just dead asleep, snoring like they are the only one in the room. And it is always so funny to me! However, it was in one of my English classes that I saw over HALF of the classroom dozing. What made it even funnier was that the teacher was teaching a lesson on how to say “I don’t like (something),” so he would constantly use the example, “I don’t like it when people sleep in my class!”
No Personal Space: “Can I touch your hair,” a girl would – or wouldn’t – ask after already touching my hair. And yes, A LOT of girls would just randomly come up to me and start touching my hair, even if I didn’t know them! (I even had to smack one girl’s hand away because she just randomly came up behind me and grabbed, GRABBED, my hair. I told her to stop, but she persisted, tugging on my curls. Even after I smack her hand away, she simply giggled). I was a bit approachable this day, so everyone just let loose and surrounded me, waving hello, asking basic “Get to Know You” questions, stroking my hair (of course), and shouting out their names to me. They would even start touching the things on my desk, analyzing and opening my stuff! Luckily, I was saved by the bell.
Looking at Clubs: After school, I went around the school with my homeroom teacher to look at different clubs: cooking, gardening, basketball, art, writing, sewing, chemistry/biology, movie making, tennis, ping pong, dance, tea ceremony (traditional and modern), French, English, and so many more. And nearly every time I visited a club, the members (especially the dance and volleyball members) would tell me to join and or to see them at the kaidesai festival (or school festival). (One thing I thought was very interesting was that clubs practice before school, after lunch, AND after school).
Getting Lost on the Way Home: Since Tuesday is club day (some clubs only happen once a week), Yuchi could not walk home with me, so I was on my own. Walking to the Roppongi Station was easy for me, but I ended up getting off at the wrong station. Luckily, another train came less than two minutes later. Still, when I got off at the next stop, I didn’t really know where I was, so I turned to the first person I saw and asked in broken English where I was. And it was at this point that I was beginning to think everyone knew English because the lady I asked spoke it fluently. (I’m not complaining though; I was lost!). In the end, I ended up exiting the wrong side of the station, so I had to wander aimlessly around the station until I finally recognized my surroundings.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Remembering Names: The girls bombarded me all day, shouting their names to me and asking me to remember them. It was already hard for me to recognize them because, in complete honesty, some of them looked the same to me, and I couldn’t tell them apart. And I don’t feel bad for saying that because THEY SAY THE SAME THING! (I asked my host mom if she could point to her daughter, Yuchi, in a school album, and she told me that she couldn’t tell because all the faces were the same!). Still, I did start to distinguish them by their complexions and shapes of their face. And to remember their names, I would right them down on a sheet of paper, which really helped. I got some names quicker than others because I heard some from anime: Akane, Shiho, Natsumi, Midori, Nagisa, etc. And when I did remember someone’s name, they would be so ecstatic! “YOU REMEMBERED MY NAME!” they would squeal! (There was one girl who came to me EVERY SINGLE DAY just to remind me of her name. So when I finally remembered, she went ballistic!).
Commute: I started commuting to school on my own now since Yuchi always has to be somewhere. And I noticed that kids in elementary school (and possibly lower) commute on their own. Sometimes, a parent will be with them or sometimes they will be in packs with other students. Either way, I find it very interesting, and either way, I always get stared at. Also during my commutes, I figured out that one measly minute can make a HUGE difference during rush hour. Normally, I get on the train early enough to where it’s not so crowded; however, when I got up late one day and sprinted to the station, I missed my train! Another one came along, but this train was so jammed pack that you could see the windows fogged up. Also, workers had to shove and stuff the people inside! I somehow got stuck in the middle of two men, which was very uncomfortable. (It was a little fun, however, when the train would rock, and I’d lean against and fall on people. Ah, good times).
Two-Faced Girls: Don’t even get me started! It’s very true that some Japanese people (especially girls) can be extremely shy. Some of the girls at my school definitely are. There was one time when I was standing in one place for whatever reason, and I could hear two girls giggling. I’m not kidding when I say the girls were literally two feet away, and they were debating on who would approach me first. (After I waved at them, they looked at one another before quickly rushing into my face!). Though the girls tend to be shy, they quickly turn into a rambunctious bunch. They arm wrestle each other, sing at the top of their lungs, dance, turn down the hallways, pull each other’s skirts up, sit on each other’s laps, do the Titanic Pose for whatever reason, etc.! (One girl constantly kept waving at me). But that’s another thing I realized; the girls are always laughing and doing what they can to have fun! And it’s funny to me because when some of the girl’s laugh, they either clap, cover their mouths, or do this horrific laugh where they only suck in air. No releasing, so it ends up sounding like a dying seal! (One time, we had a sub come in, and she told us how the teacher’s father died. And the girls started LAUGHING! Confused, the sub told them again, and they STILL laughed. Turns out that they were laughing at the sub because, from what they told me, “She is so cute!”).
Prohibited: Snacks and or sweets at my school (or at least in class) are PROHIBITED! Phones are PROHIBITED, so they get collected in homeroom class at the start of the day. Also, wearing a jacket, sweater, or whatever around your waist is PROHIBITED! (I did this twice, and my homeroom hounded me like a dog!). If any of these things are done, a student lose points (I’m actually not sure what these “points” are), and if they lose so many, there are consequences. Sometimes, a student simply has to write a letter of apology.
Teaching and Grading Method: The students don’t use calculators (at least not as much as the people in my school). However, I’ve noticed that a majority of the students have electronic Japanese/English dictionaries, and they use them very often. Also unlike my school, they still use chalk boards. (My school uses SMART Boards, basically touch screens). As for classes, teachers teach straight from the textbooks, reading word for word of everything, and the students just sit there, basically copying the text. As for class schedules, the students only have a class one to two times a week. For example: algebra only on Wednesday and Friday, music only on Monday, reading only on Tuesday, etc. As for graded papers, they look like a mess to me because the teachers mark incorrect answers and circle correct ones. (At my school, we just mark out the wrong answers).
Example of my friend’s graded test
Preparing for Sports Day: Sports Day is a big deal. It’s basically an entire day dedicated to games, so in gym class on this day, we spent the entire class practicing formations for marches and handoffs for relays. (The gym teacher would occasionally ask me if I understood his demonstrations, and I’d just tell him “Wakarnai,” or “I don’t understand.” The girls would then laugh at me). It was also during this time that people kept asking me what my times were in certain running events. They kept trying to ask me to be in the relays since I “looked’ fast! Anyway, we also practice one game where a group of five girls per team would take turns rolling a huge ball across the room only to carry it back. It was actually pretty fun. (Random comment: Though over half of the girls in my gym class can do the middle splits, hardly any girls shaves their leg, and we are constantly in shorts. I mean, you would mistake them for men if you went based soly on their legs. In America they would probably be called mini Chubakas and everything, but they just don’t care, unlike most American girls).
Other Experiences or Observations:
The teachers and students burn through paper like crazy! They are constantly giving handouts!
A classmate saw me wearing a watch on my right hand and asked if I was left handed. Apparently, one’s watch hand depends on whether or not they are right or left handed; if it’s on your left hand, you are a righty and vise versa. Also, some wear their watch with the time parallel to their palm instead of it parallel to the back hand.
There is literally a yellow girl in my homeroom class!