When I Smile, My Headphones Fall Out

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Well, well, what a roller coaster! I wish I could post all my recent entries but I still don't have internet. I'll get it soon! Trust me, no one's more frustrated than I am. Everyone sends me emails, but they still think that I'm having issues with the heat! Ah, if only.

So far I have about 20 pages written. It's long and not always humorous, though it's never sad.

In the end, I'm happy. And I'm getting over culture shock…for right now. It comes and goes, and I get super depressed, and then the next minute I'm super happy. I've gotten used to feeling a lot of anxiety and I just remember that soon I'll feel better. As much as I love my apartment (and I do), the main source of my depressing feelings are that I live alone. In the end, that's my biggest problem. I'm getting over being stared at and I'm learning Japanese slowly. I always know enough to get me by. It's only frustrating when I want to tell one of my many stories or explain myself. I can't. I just can't. And I know that the people I'm talking to don't think any less of me, but I feel less about myself (does that make sense?).

I'm disappointed in myself but then I'm also proud. I've been told that the previous ALT’s never ate food that still had eyes, and most of them didn't speak any Japanese.

When it comes to food, as you will read in my big batch of posts, I love all Japanese food. I'm actually shocked and amazed at myself! I've tried some pretty weird things and actually liked them!

For example, when I was waiting for the plane to Kochi from Tokyo, I bought a bento lunch box that looked interesting, and one of the rice balls had a these little squiggly noodles that were about an inch long. They were crunchy and pink so I picked one out and asked someone what it was. He told me that it was a tiny fish. I took a closer look, and lo and behold, it still had its eyes and scales and spine! I could see everything! I shrugged, put it back in the riceball, and continued to eat. It was crunchy which made me a little queasy, but I made myself get over it when I realized that it didn't taste bad at all.

There is something that I think one day I'm going to be forced to eat and that's Natto. I don't have any interest in it other than staying as far away from it as I possibly can. It's a type of bean that has been fermented and it ends up growing this gooey clear mucus so that when you pick it up with your chop sticks you get this string of goo that goes everywhere. I hear that not only does it look and sound gross, but it smells wretched as well!!!

Well yesterday I was at the Shinozaki's (where, as you'll read, I've been spending a lot of time at…Ex-Boyfriend’s family) and they gave me some fresh okra. I have never been a big fan but then again, this time it wasn't fried like the Southern okra dish usually is. Instead, they chopped it up in very thin slices and…I don't know what they did with it but it had the gooey stuff that natto has all over it!!! I almost died. It didn't smell bad it just looked gooey!! AHHHHH. Kae (Mom) gave me a little bit and told me it was a challenge. It didn't smell bad and I for whatever reason, I am always up for new foods, so I ate it. Needless to say I didn't go back for seconds. But it actually tasted kinda good. It tasted fresh and the gooey stuff was a tiny bit salty. That's all. I just couldn't get over the slimy feeling in my mouth. Maybe next week I'll start craving it. That's the norm for me I suppose.

I'm not going to get into a lot but I've been making my home here slowly. At times I love being here and at other times I just want to go home and die. Seriously. It's always the two extremes. They come in waves and they tell me these feelings are normal. Maybe I shouldn't be telling anyone this because I'm not supposed to know myself, but the JET program likes to keep it on the DL that every year a couple of people will kill themselves. They don't want to go home because they feel like they're letting everyone down, but they don't want to be here either. I can totally see that. I know it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, but since I've been here, I feel a lot of obligation towards everyone. I want to make them proud and I want to impress them and I feel like I should do my job well and not half-assed (which I could totally get away with!). I somehow doubt that'll happen to me, but just know that it has happened before to other people. They have a very nice support group from what I hear. All I need are friends…and maybe a roommate. Christina, where are you?!?!?!?!?!

I've met some of my students and they all seem really happy and excited, and I can't wait for school to start on September 1st! They say that being an ALT sucks in the month of August because there's not a whole lot to do except to be bored (and write blog entries). When school starts, I'm sure things will get a lot better! Oh, every time I see a student walking by the teachers’ room and staring at me, I smile and wave and they smile and wave back. It's a great feeling! But then my headphones fall out! ;)

5 shared their love:

Deborah Pettingill said...

Some of what you are feeling is common to being a starting teacher no matter where you are - the "will they like me" part of it is universal. I am glad you are adapting. Zach wants your email - is that OK?

Dipple said...

Hey Puddin' Pop......I'm glad that at least some of the time you are happy over there. But, please don't whack yourself, that would totally suck because where would we get our Nina love from if not from you??? And then where would we be???? :p You know that we all love you and that we all support you no matter what. Big Love Muffin Kiss Kiss. :* Have fun with the kids, you'll make a kick-ass teacher. And remember: It will get easier/better!! You'll get to know the kids and learn what works well and things will, miraculusly (spelling?) seem to get easier. It's quite amazing actually. So have fun and remember that we are all there for you, even if you just need to pick our brains for anything.

Kimi said...

Nina!!! Kiss, Kiss and a HUGE hug  –

First of all – first with eyes, Ewww!!!! I hope you don’t think I will that when I come to visit. Yuck! You are the brave one!! And I mean that. Look what you are doing – leaving everything you know and going to Japan. Even if you came home you could never disappoint us, because you went and tried something new – and that is what is important. I know that you will do a great job and the students will love you!! You will make everyone proud as long as you try – and I know that you will give it 110%, but if you mess up don’t think it’s your fault. Being a first year teacher you are going to make mistakes and it is ok, just admit it and thing will work out. Being a first year teacher has its advantages – because you can use that “Opps, I didn’t know” card several times. (Of course, not for the same instance  )

I also, know what you mean about the okra, my dad cooks them the same way. They don’t taste bad, but the slime is disgusting. I prefer them fried.

and a cure for the head phones - buy the ones that go over your head...hehehehe

Well, I miss you and cannot wait till I can talk with you.

Love you!! Kim

Jessica said...

Nina....There's no way in any universe that you could ever disappoint any of us...You're living your dream (a rare and exciting thing)...and if this dream doesn't work out (which I know it will because you rock!) there are more dreams to come...No one ever gets only one shot at happiness and I think you'll find that the longer you're there, the happier you'll be. It'll be easier once school starts and you get more interaction with the kids. Teaching offers above all a sense of accomplishment and amusement on a daily basis. Don't worry about the low days we all have them, just look forward to the next good one and before you know it, its right in front of you. For the time being, I have a huge hug waiting for you when you feel down....remember to vents your frustrations to your old email buddy and if I only get it in one huge document, I will sit down and laugh and cry with you just like you were here. For now smile and think about when guys used to be the biggest dilemma you had to send me. All the love in the world for the tiniest of love muffins. *Kiss, kiss grrr..." Love you much!

Anonymous said...

Nina, wow! (By the way this is Chrissy). I think I know what you are going through, but of course not exactly. When I moved from home to CVI (wretch!) I really had a hard time. I felt really anxious, I couldn't sleep, I cried constantly, it was bad. But eventually I made some really great friends (Christina, Darcy, Dez, you, etc.) and things really just got better. I suddenly stopped thinking about what I was going to do next with the infinite amount of time that I had and just enjoyed myself. So don't worry, it will get better, I promise. I really enjoy reading your blog so keep it up. I miss you!

 
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