Saturday, April 10, 2010


I am an official teacher!

High School
I started my 10th grade English Lessons on Thursday night. I was a little nervous because at my boss decided to give me 4 extra students at the last minute, but I decided I could handle it...since I only had 6 girls at the time. As we walked into the room I went to the white board to cover the Japanese classes' work. As I was doing this I heard a student say "Beautiful!"so, I turned around and uncovered the work and asked if they were talking about the cute anime characters. Then the girl said, "No. You are beautiful." I was immediately in love with my class. The class was extremely fun, and I learned about several new J-Pop being Arashi. I am excited to continue that class two nights a week.

Immersion Friends Club (2nd Grade)
Friday (yesterday) was my first day as a 2nd grade teacher! I already knew all of my students because I have subbed in their classes. It was so fun see their faces when they found out I was their teacher. We placed all the students in lines according to grade. Then, our boss divided each grade into different classes. The last two days we have been practicing routines for the new school year, and we have been reading/reciting the curriculum. Today was finally a nice day so we were able to play outside without jackets!! (This is so nice because we have played outside since I've been here. That means we were playing outside in freezing weather...who cares if there's snow on the ground?) Oh, our class name is Dinosaurs!!! So, I have decorated my room with cute dinos on the wall, whiteboards, and students' papers :)

Word of the day: Sashin
Translation: Picture

I used sashin when I took a picture with a Japanese boy who was wearing a shirt with "Wilson" on the front.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I am sure that my students find my American ways to be odd at times, and I can surely retort that I love the little idiosyncrasies that I see in my students :). This week was St. Patrick's Day as all of you Americans know. When I arrived to school on Wednesday I was prepared to attack my unknowing students without green. So, I walked into a classroom and surprised several unsuspecting kids :) I pinched them lightly and they asked, "Why did you do that?" I briefed them on the holiday and drew a green shamrock on the board: one with 3 leaves and one with 4 leaves (the students then exclaimed, "oh, that is lucky!") Anyway, the kids loved the idea of pinching if they weren't wearing green.

I will have one student starting in April whom I adore. (disclaimer: I don't know who all of my students will be next year, and I'm sure I will love all of them equally) As of now I know I will have him, and he is a doll! We have a unique relationship in which he uses charades and noises to explain what he wants (outside of class...he uses English inside the classroom, but we'll have to work on that). Yesterday, I was sitting in a chair. He walks up to me, pushes his forehead against mine, and draws a straight horizontal line over the tops of our heads to express that we are the same height. (He is probably 3 ft tall?) It was soooo cute that I just laughed and asked him if he was as tall as me. He answered with a "yes" nod.

Random fact: My name is very similar to a store here in Japan called, Jusco. So the kids love to call me Ms. Jusco for fun.

Oh my! I almost forgot to post about the most embarrassing moment of my life in Japan thus far! I was using the subway (as in the train that runs underground) restroom, and I could not figure out how to flush the toilet. I pressed several buttons, and it finally flushed so I thought nothing of it. I was washing my hands next to 2 young college girls and 1 elderly woman when a security man ran frantically into the women's restroom. He looked at the women and peaked his head into the stall I had used. After several moments of awkward stares and conversation in my direction I realized I had done a bad thing. I had accidentally pressed the emergency button in the stall. Oh dear. How was I going to explain this? So, I did the first thing that came to mind...and it went like this. I looked at the man and exclaimed, "OHHHH! So sorry, so sorry, so sorry." This was accompanied by bowing. The younger girls were laughing at me and the security guard was annoyed and left. The only one who comforted me in this embarrassing coincidence was the elderly woman. She smiled kindly and gave me several small nods. I smiled back and shook my head. I'm sure she was thinking...oh crazy foreigner. When I went out to meet my friends they greeted me sarcastically with, "Did you set off that alarm?" It was a good laugh afterward.

Phrase of the day: moushiwakearimasen
Rough translation: there is no excuse (for me)
I wish I had known that phrase for a deep apology to the security guard that day in the subway.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Last night I experienced my first earthquake. I was sitting on my bed watching American television via the web when I felt my bed shaking. I was confused at first and thought that maybe my neighbors above me were jumping around. I quickly came to the conclusion that wasn't the case because 1) Japanese people don't make a ruckuses/noises 2) Japanese people jumping on the floor above me wouldn't cause my walls to shake. After this startling realization I dove to the floor participating in the "Triangle of Life" drill (please look this up because Americans are just now learning how to survive in the event of an earthquake). After about 10 seconds the earthquake was over, and I immediately called home to share the news with my family!

Today, I experienced a longer and perhaps stronger earthquake. I was with my friend at the time so it was more relaxing. She calmly turned off her kerosene heater as I dove to the floor. Her sister was skyping with us and was able to experience Japan firsthand.

Other news:

Two weekends ago I went to a beautiful cabin overlooking the Pacific Ocean with the new staff at MeySen Academy. Our school owns this cabin so we are allowed to rent it whenever it's not being used! It was gorgeous. We took a walk down the rocks and cliffs and watched the waves lap over the dark stone we were standing on. I saw a live starfish! On the second day of our stay we went to a local fish market, and I tried a bit of raw whale. I couldn't continue chewing it because it was raw, and I envisioned it living as a cute whale. So, I had to spit it out. The market closed early because a Tsunami was on the way!! My friends and I were so excited to see it so we camped out on a cliff overlooking the water. (The estimated height was only about 15 feet, and we were way above that so we were safe.) After four hours of waiting in the chilly wind we returned to the cabin defeated...only to find out that the Tsunami had come 3 hours earlier and only reached the height of 10 centimeters. So, I guess I saw it...but just thought is was a regular wave. Disgusted. haha

I started Japanese lessons last week!! I am learning how to read and write in Hiragana. I am loving the class, and it will be extremely helpful as I'm living here. Hopefully, I will be able to communicate with people more!

Phrase of the day: sumimasen
English: sorry or excuse me

Monday, February 22, 2010

Loving Life!

I drove myself home from the Maruyama alone!! It was an empowering feeling because 1) I have only driven once with my boss and co-worker 2) it was dark outside and I could navigate in the dark 3) I only took the wrong turn once! However, it did the thought that I might get lost in a foreign country and run out of gas in the middle of nowhere did cross my mind.

I started observing a different teacher this week (hence driving myself home), and I have the cutest little boy in my class. His hair is nothing short of amazing. Visualize this: edgy/banged/asymmetrical/euro mullet. He also wore bright yellow skinny jeans and a black hoodie with embellished with a skater emblem. To add the finishing touch he was rocking some comic book inside shoes. He and I were immediate friends. Did I mention he was in 1st grade?

P.S. I also love that Japan has heated toilet seats everywhere. I will be in for a rude awakening when I get back to the U.S.

watashi wa Ms. Wilson desu


My name is Ms. Wilson

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Driver's Ed.

Today I learned how to drive on the left side of the road!! It was quite an experience, but I am a beast so it didn't take me long to learn..haha. It was weird because the steering wheel is on the right side, and the blinker and windshield wiper levers were switches. I only mixed them up once so as I was turning my windshield wiper was swooshing like crazy :)

I have been in training with a first grade class, and half of them will be my students starting in April!! (2nd grade) The other half will come from the other 1st grade class. Can I just say that Japanese kids are soooooooooooooooooooooo darn cute? Well, they are. Every single one of them. Sometimes when they overhear teachers talking above their level they will yell out, "What is that?!?!" translation: "What are you saying?!" They want to know what we're saying at all times haha

On a happy note...Japan believes in Chocolate and many other treats in the sweet variety. I went shopping for snacks yesterday and came home with 3 chocolate bars, 2 ice cream cups, and one waffle cone ice cream sandwich. I also ran across the most delicious candy: haichu? I'm not sure how to spell it (think taffy/gum but dissolves quicker than both and you can swallow..unlike gum). I am not usually a candy person, but I can't stop buying it! Oh, I also buy this koala bear icing filled cookie (think pizza roll but crispy and not juicy or hot).

Anyway, I love and miss you Americans.

Phrase of the day: Choto Mate -- Take it easy. Or my favorite translation--Easy Tiger

Friday, February 12, 2010

My first day of work!

Today, the immersion friend's club (from both campuses) went sledding. So, all the kids were in either 1st or 2nd grade :) They were adorable. On our ride to the mountain to sled (that's right...a mountain!) the kids would say, "You have yellow hair." or "Your eyes are blue!" It was so cute. When we arrived the kids grabbed my hands and we ran to grab our sleds. By the time we reached the top of the "hill" I was dead. It was such a climb...I only did it 4 times. haha So, the rest of the time I pushed kids on their sleds or had snowball fights with the kids. When we got back to the school (around 12:15) we played for 30 minutes until parent pick up.

Tonight is our girls' Valentine's Party!!! I think there will be 40 attendees, and we are all bringing snacks and playing games. I guess I should go shopping to pick something up...

Oh! I have been meaning to mention how we play sports all the time in Japan. Every Tuesday and Thursday we play volleyball, and every Wednesday we play hockey. Now, these games aren't your "let's goof around and kinda play" games, but they are more like, "if you aren't hard-core you better learn now" type of games. I had bruises the first time I played volleyball all over my arms. And everyone is really good so I've been stepping up my "A" game. (Shout out to Grace Christian Fellowship)

Well, that's about it for now :) I'm doing laundry in my extremely small washer right now, and I need to change loads!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Well, today was the first day of training. All the new staff and some old met at the Maruyama Campus to learn about the curriculum and our job expectations. We got to watch several videos of a K4 classroom. The name is pretty self explanatory, but it was a class full of 4 year old Japanese kids! The video we watched was taped on their 11th day in the English classroom. I was completely amazed at what the kids had learned by that day! (The only language used in class is English so the kids have to pick it up quickly) At the beginning of the video their teacher instructed the boys to sit in the back row and the girls to sit in the front. A couple students went to the wrong row, and the other kids quickly told them "no! no! no!" Then, the teacher led the students in several songs using motions and read through short poems with pics. These help the children identify sounds and pictures, and they eventually learn those as a word.

After training, our recruiter challenged us all to a game of Japanese dodge ball....Now, I don't know if you've ever played Japanese dodge ball, but it is legit. I fell down twice bahaha and I just started improving as we ended our 6th game. Basically, the rules are to stay in bounds (think basketball court but smaller) and the people are divided into two teams. Each team is then required to stay on their half of the court. If you are hit you run and stand out of bounds behind the opposing team, and you can catch fly balls and hit the other team out. That's the gist....

I forgot to mention the other day that when we went downtown we went to a 100 yen store (about equivalent to a $1 store), and it was 10 stories high so I stocked up on things for my apt. We also visited a 3 Coin store (300 yen or around $3) and I'm obsessed with it! I bought some sweet organizers and cute accessories there...needless to say I can't go shopping again for a while.

Yesterday, I went grocery shopping for the first time, and man....that was an experience. There were fish just hanging out in ice water for you to pick up with pinchers? (can't think of the word haha) and crabs climbing out of their baskets on the loose. Did I mention that everything is in Japanese, too? Yeah, it's hard to buy when you're not sure what everything you just have to guess sometimes. I will be making a video of my apt as soon as I can figure out how :) Love you guys!

oh and phrase of the day: kisu shite (means kiss me) so use it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Hello all!

Firstly, I would like to say that I LOVE Japan!! Oh my...where do I even begin? 4 days ago I walked left my home and landed in Chicago for my connecting flight to Tokyo. The majority of the passengers on the plane were Asian, and that was when I first realized that I was really moving to Japan. My flight was long, but I was accompanied by a friend so we watched movies on the plane (Whip It and This is name a few), ate, and talked through most of the 14 hours.
When we arrived in Tokyo I experienced culture shock for the first time. I was surrounded by Japanese speaking people who did not know much or any English. I went through a series of checks (like looking at my visa and passport), and at the customs line I was greeted by a very happy, kind Japanese gentlemen. He tried to converse, but I did not understand a word he said so I started blushing (because I felt dumb!) and he did too hahahaha I bowed politely, and I think he wished me luck. After customs all the new teachers carried their luggage to the bus and we got to Sendai around 1 a.m. We were all extremely exhausted, but it was so hard to sleep when we were looking at our technologic apartments! (I'll go into more detail later) My apt. was stocked with food, completely furnished, and included a welcome painting on the door!

Then, the next couple days we completed alien registration, health insurance, and opening a bank account. We also toured both campuses (Takamori and Maruyama.)

I can not explain how great it is here. I love everyone that I will be working with for the next year. We have been visiting each other's apts., eating meals together, playing volleyball (we play every Tues. and Thurs. in public school gyms with the American and Japanese staff), and going downtown. I have bruises on my arms from playing volleyball with beasts on Thurs. haha...and the ball is as hard as wood.
Today, we went downtown to do some shopping (clothes and apt. stuff), and I must say that I looooooove being a city girl because 1. there are great places to shop and 2. there were people everywhere!!!

I have composed several lists about my experiences. If I didn't give enough info let me know and I would love to elaborate!!

Japanese People
  • everyone stares! I can't even tell you how many times people have taken pictures of me. hahaha
  • Japanese children are sooooo cute!!! They love to talk to us so they yell out, "Hello!" and "Bye Bye"...and that's about the extent of their English. haha (excluding the kids at our school)
  • Japanese teens and adults also love to try out their English so they may walk by and hear us speaking to each other approach us, whip out their English phrase books, and start talking to us!
  • Japanese guys are delish. They are usually extremely shy, but a few have approached me and tried their English on me :D
  • I now know about 7 or 8 words/phrases. I need to learn Japanese....badly.
P.S. Check out the Japanese boy band "News" and prepare to fall in love.