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