Originally uploaded by ...and....
Last weekend it was off to the big city for a german Christmas fest, an ugly Japanese proficiency exam, and two days of conferencing. Really -- the most fun was eating sausages with chopsticks.
Aside from sausage eating, it was good to get out of town for a few days. My job might not be particularily stressful, but living in a foreign language definitely takes a toll. And getting out of town to see some movies, drink some coffee at Starbucks, and interact with other native speakers is good for you.
Lets break it down.
"Studying" at nearly every Starbucks in Sapporo. Which basically just made my head want to explode. Lunch at the festival. Dinner and commiseration with other test takers at my favorite Mexican restaurant in Sapporo. An early night. Except for watching free soft core on the hotel TV. 3D, virtual reality aliens! It was too funny not to watch.
The test. Unlike any other big test I've taken, this one didn't start until ten-ish, and was really slow moving. For instance: we actually waited the full 20 minutes before the test started just in case some of those people who weren't going to show changed their minds. A three hour test took the whole day to write. No wonder I was tired afterwards. Some parts were good, some parts were bad. We'll see when I get my results in February. Dinner and commiserartion with other test takers at my second favorite Mexican restaurant in Sapporo.
Slept in, read in coffee shops all day. It was fabulous. Took myself out to see "Children of Men", or as it's called in Japan "Tomorrow World". Not the best movie ever, but it was in English, and I like Clive Owen.
Tried to do some shopping, but was disasterously unsuccessful. Have decided I don't really like shopping. So maybe this year nobody will ge a Christmas present. Met up with other ALTs for James Bond viewing. Definitely worth seeing. I can't remember the last Bond movie I saw in a theater and actually liked. And that new Bond -- me-ow! Finished the night with karaoke at Thriller and dancing by myself (and three other ALTs).
First day of the conference. My hangover was happy things didn't start until 10:30, and further happy to find that the morning was all speeches that I didn't really need to listen to.
This year's conference was geared more to discussion and attempted to actually be something useful for ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) and JTLs (Japanese Teachers of Language). We were put into discussion groups and talked about a variety of issues. It was much more interesting than having someone drone on and on with no actual knowledge of what our jobs entail.
The evening was a dinner and date auction. For the children. I spent 5000 yen on the worst date ever -- he didn't even come and introduce himself to me! To be fair, he did apologize the next day. Think that I should have really gone up for auction -- I'm sure I could have made much more money... Nijikai was fun too, but ran out of money. Ouch.
Last day of the conference: workshops and idea sharing. Lots of great ideas, but as always, it may be difficult to put them into practice. My JTE prefers the "uncreative use of the textbook" to creative use of the textbook.
After the conference, I went to a highly recommended (all my gajin friends go there) hairdresser in Sapporo and got a much needed haircut. Pictures to follow. Or you can just wait two weeks to see it for yourself.
Then it was back home. I tried catching the early train, but there was an accident along the line. So all the trains were delayed heading back my way. Ugh. I ended up on the last train home, the one that doesn't get in until 11pm. Discovered it had NOT stopped snowing since I left home. And everyone had moved their cars around. So again, mine was stuck way out in the parking lot, all by it's lonesome. Except for all the snow. It wasn't too TOO bad though. I was able to 4WD it out of there. Mwah hah hah. 10 points for freaking out the neighbors.
One day of school to round out the week. I got to help teach in one class (yay!) and grade recitation tests in another (boo!). I still hate recitation tests. It doesn't teach anything about communication. But that's a whole other rant posting.
The evening was my office bonnenkai. I was exhausted, but ganbatted until the end. Snuck out at the end of the nijikai to say hi to my friends at my favorite bar, and ended up being joined by the rest of my office. It was fun times as usual. Made a deal to take one of my co-workers to the gaijin bar in Asahikawa. While trying to convince him that he could learn English if he actually tried speaking in once in a while. So now we have a bargain. He only speaks English, I only speak Japanese. And we will actually correct one another's mistakes. We'll see how it goes.
Snow shovelling. One hour. Onna no matsuri = Women's Festival. Basically a party with all the women I know in town. Eating, drinking, gossiping. All the good stuff. We made takoyaki and ordered in pizza. Stayed at the bar for forever. More fun times.
Snow shovelling. One hour. Finished. The car is freed from it's snowy bonds. I am dismayed to find my downstairs neighbor has shovelled the snow from his walkway onto mine. Really hoping that was a one time thing. Rounding the day off with playing with paper for HAJET. Which is really what I do best. And watching TV on the internet. Thanks to the sister.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Two more weeks!!! Eeeee!!!