Signe and I are doing well. Life here is laid back most of the time, but sometimes the work piles up, then it can be stressful. Signe has taking to cooking and baking a lot lately, she is strikingly good at it. She has a friend that will help her promote her baking skills across Shimane-ken (the prefecture that we live in), so we might be hearing more about that in the future. Check out Signe's blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/ginshari_san/. She updates it often.
Work has been keeping me quite busy. I go to Akagi Middle School (Akagi is the name of the small town we live in) three days a week and there is usually 2-5 English classes a day. There is 1 7th grade class, 2 8th grade classes, and 1 9th grade class. In all there are about 80-90 students. I know most of their names too. I'm pretty proud of that. Ms. Suyama and Ms. Kawashima are the English teachers at the school, and we get along great!
The elementary schools are great, too! All the kids are really cool. There are 4 elementary schools and 3 nursery schools I usually go to on the days I am not at the middle school. All the kids get excited when they see me, It is way fun. I really love my job here!
Trev's After-Work Work
Well, I also do some other things besides teach at schools. About twice a month, Signe and I have an English conversation class for adults. It is really fun; we just sit around and chat. Signe goes to a Mommy And Me circle (that is a cool name for a club) about once a month and hangs out with the little kids too.
We also attend lots of fun events around town like matsuri (a matsuri is a traditional Shinto festival), bunkasai (a bunkasai is a culture festival where you have lots of fun), taiikusai and undokai (taiikusai and undokai are sports festivals where a good time is had by all), and more. Check out Signe's website, http://www.signerose.org/, for pictures of the events!
On top of all that I also write an article and a 'One Point' (that mean only one grammar point will be covered) English lesson for the monthly Akagi town houkou (that is a newsletter). The kicker is that I have to write it all in Japanese and then translate it to English. It is quite a challenge, but I love doing it.
On top of all that I also do a monthly TV show where I teach English with a teacher from the local high school, Mr. Noguchi. My first one is next month. I wrote up a plan for it, so I hope it goes well. I am not confidant that my Japanese is up to par, but I will do my best!
Trev's Japanese Study
I have started the CLAIR (CLAIR is the government organization that works to create the JET Program) Japanese Language Course. It is a self-study course where you do one lesson a day 5 days a week and at the end you do a monthly test. I think there are 7 or 8 months and if you pass at least 6 of the tests you get a certificate. I am taking the intermediate course right now and it is pretty easy. This month is giving verbs, which I already know, but it's a good recap, and I am learning new words and kanji daily.
I am also working on a translation project. I bought a Japanese book and I am working on translating it. The progress is slow, but I feel real good every time I complete another sentence. Right now the title is secret, if I actually finish it; I will present it to the world then.
Trev's Anime and Movies
Signe and I have been buying a lot of movies each month. Since we aren't close to a good rental store buying is a pretty good solution. I am sure one day our collection will rival Mike Chu's, then again... :P
We also got the first half of the first season of ER. It was pretty cool watching though all over again. One of the first sets we bought was the second box set of Red Dwarf (since you can't get those seasons in America), but it was edited and a lot of scenes weren't there anymore. Fortunately, that is the exception, not the rule, but it's still annoying.
As for anime, I have been collecting all the Ghibli films; I am four films away from having them all. I have been picking up Region 2 discs that are subtitled in English like Robot Carnival and Millennium Actress. I have downloaded a bunch of series as well, but haven't had time to sit down and watch them.
Trev's Games and Books
Every now and again I go down to the Go club in town and play Go with the old guys. That is pretty fun sometimes. I haven't been hitting the GBA as much though. I have the second Castlevania game for the GBA (Harmony of Dissidence, its called White Night Concerto in Japanese) and am at a point where I don't know where to go (about 125% complete). I need to finish Golden Sun and Advanced Wars 2 as well.
I have a ton of books in English I have to get around to reading, but I'm not in reading mode as of late, so I suppose they will have to be put on the back-burner for now.
I am thinking of upgrading to a Handspring Visor Prism, there is a place online that can upgrade it to 16 Mb, and it has a rechargeable battery, and is in color. I am thinking of another Visor because my keyboard (which I LOVE) and Springboard modules will all work with it. We will see though, I sort of want a Japanese version, so I will have to continue to look around for it.
My laptop is working great. XP is flying on this thing. I bought Trillian Pro, and it totally kicks butt.
Trev's Piano Lessons
So, I have decided that I want to learn music. I have wanted to for a long time and there is a piano teacher in our town that said that she would teach me, so now I go to piano lessons once a week. I am just starting to do two hands at once, which is tough. I want to pick up a cheap electric keyboard to practice on, but they are hard to find out here. I have been using Aldo's Pianito, piano simulator, for the computer using the typing keyboard, but it doesn't work very well for practicing with two hands.
Trev's One Point Japanese Lesson
So you want to learn a little Japanese. How about starting with some greetings, or aisatsu!
In the morning time (before 10 am) you use the following term to greet people:
In the afternoon you use this term to say hello to people:
And in the evening you greet people with:
Finally, if you are bidding someone good night you say:
Try to use these terms around your friends, it is fun to speak in another language!
Well, that's about it for this time. Feel free to email me I always like hearing form everyone. Until next month, take care everyone!
0854-76-3021 (00181-854-76-3021 from US)