Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Patrick- Update for the past few months

Here are some old things I wrote a few months ago but forgot to post to the blog.

Recently, I have been studying like mad for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test that will take place on December 7. If I pass this, I can quit working so hard and be able to casually enjoy life again, in addition to making more frequent updates here on this blog.


Impressions of Switching Schools

Since the students are taking semester final exams all day today, giving me eight hours to sit at my desk, I have some time to update.

So, in August, we all switched schools. I switched from the strictest, oldest school in the prefecture (which was also one of the smallest) to a school that is rapidly growing and near the bottom of the pack. What they both have in common is that neither are pulling from affluent neighborhoods.

At first I was surprised because I jumped from 369 students to nearly 600. But, after having worked here nearly two months now, the far bigger difference is working with new teachers. At my previous school, I worked with some of the most experienced, best teachers. This often let me with little to do, as they didn't need an assistant for most things. At my new school, however, the teachers have much less experience, and so I end up doing a bit more work. This is good, except when the work is correcting papers, since instead of 100 per grade there are now 200, and the students' abilities are lower making the corrections much more frequent.

The other big difference is that students at this school are much more friendly. At my old school, only a few students would talk to me freely. But at this school, many students often crowd around my desk. One reason for this is the difference in discipline. At the old school, students could only enter the teachers' room with special permission, but at my new school they need no reason and so come and go freely.


I have been continuing to study Japanese. Sometimes I wonder if I'm even getting better, but then I look at what I did a few months back and realize that I am at least making some progress, slowly.


Suddenly it has gotten very cold. It went from too hot most days last week to me having to wear my winter coat this week. It seems we have skipped the nicer part of fall.


In front of many stores are little gardens. What often makes for interesting morning scenes is that the employees, not professional gardeners, maintain them. For example, in front of a real estate agency is this elaborate pond, about two meters by six, filled with some flowers and a fountain. Yesterday, on my way to work, I observed a man in his normal work suit and boots taking a net to the pond to clean out the trash.

Another thing that's new on my commute are the unmanned vegetable and flower stands. There are several farms along the way, and by the road are little sheds which included vegetables and flowers and a money box. The items all have prices and you can simply take what you want and then put your money in the box.

In one stand, the money isn't even in a box. It just sits out on a tray. I'd seen this arrangement before in temples but this was my first time to see it on the side of the road.

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