I Think I'm Turning Japanese
 
Today, I am 28 1/2. Yet, I feel like I am 5, starting kindergarten. Well, scratch that. When I was 5, I remember being really stoked about my Hello Kitty lunchbox and being in awe of all the colorful things in the room, and giddy that I was wearing the same plaid jumper as all the other girls in class. So it was more like when I was 6, starting 1st grade. Because, that is when I already sort of knew what starting school was about, but I was nervous because I had just gotten used to the routine of Kindergarten and would now have to start from scratch with a new teacher and possibly some new friends.

 

The biggest difference between then and now, aside from the fact that I am wearing wedge heels and my Hello Kitty lunchbox has been traded in for some onigiri, is that I am starting over in not just a different location, but with an entirely different language.

 

Thank god for Kobayashi-sensei!

 

My daily commute will be about an hour and fifteen minutes. This does not include walking up the big hill leading up to the school, which I didn’t have to do today because my vice principal (kyoto sensei) was  kind enough to pick me up in his car. The ascent felt like it was at an 80 degree angle. It is probably only about 300 yards, but they are the steepest 300 yards I can imagine. I don’t think I’ve ever had to walk a hill that steep in San Francisco before!

 

The beauty of having a school this high up in the hills is twofold: the mansions surrounding the school grounds indicate that many of these kids will be upper class (and therefore presumably better behaved, fingers crossed), and the view from most of the school is incredible. You can see most of the city, including the boats on the harbor, and a couple bridges. Hopefully I will not take this for granted and I can appreciate how lucky I am every day!

 

I was nervous about meeting the staff and thought I would be really bowled over with the hustle and bustle of everything, even though it is still summer and less busy than normal. Luckily most people in Japan are observing Bon, which is like the Japanese version of Day of the Dead, so there isn’t a whole lot of overwhelming activity, and those teachers that elected not to take the day off and return to their home city are very casually hanging out and are very friendly and willing to put me at ease.

 

Still, sharing a staff room as they typically do in Japan will take a lot of getting used to, as well as looking up at the whiteboard and seeing things written in Kanji. I have to use the handy dandy guide that our sampai Kevin made for us to decipher to important events that may be mentioned on the daily schedule.

 

Kobayashi-sensei took me around the school and introduced me to some of the kids. I have to keep reminding myself that in the US these kids would be 7th-9th graders, meaning around 12-15 years old. It’s hard to remember when the kids are still so small and cute! People weren’t kidding when they said that Japanese kids were more immature than what I’d be used to. It’s definitely not a bad thing. There is an innocence to the girls I met that would have made me think they were still sweet 3rd or 4th graders! Kobayashi made them use their English on me, and not only were they excited to do so, but they also just seemed excited to be standing next to me. I hope all of the students there are like that!

 

I am only here for half a day (the phone people are coming to my apartment to set up my landline), so it will be a nice transition.

 

More tomorrow…
 


Comments

mom
08/24/2010 20:44

Loved reading your blog...finally!!!
Sorry I did not even remember your half birthday, but I WILL BE THERE ON YOUR FULL (real) BIRTHDAY!!!
I can tell by your writing that you are enamored with Kobe and your new adventure.
I'll look forward to more blogs as you sail along.
Kampai!
Mom

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