Thursday, July 19, 2012

I am the Most Predictable Person...on Earth!

It`s here…Summer break is here!

After being in Japan for 4 months, my first part of teaching is finished. For those who don`t know here in Japan the school year starts about the second week April and runs till about the second week of July. This of course varies from school to school but it`s generally the same time. Then summer break. The rest of July and August is summer break. School then starts back up in September with a break in December for the winter. There are a few smaller breaks here and there but for the most part school is year round.

This has been my first experience teaching this way and after 4 months I don`t feel as if I have an opinion on if I like it. I will say that I don`t hate it so please don’t misread that. I just haven`t been here long enough to form an opinion. Although, if pressed for an answer I would say that I really like it so far. So, there…I like it!

In the 4 months that I have been in Japan I have learned a lot about the people I work with as well as myself. I will save you from the sappy touchy feely self revelation stuff. Something I already knew, and have said before is that living abroad isn`t for everyone.

I know I have told the story here before but after my first trip to Japan I knew I wanted to live here. For others on that trip it was a wakeup call that maybe they weren`t cut out for life away from their comfort zone, which is great! You certainly don`t want to experience that once you have moved your life to the other side of the world. Culture shock can be a cruel cruel thing!

That being said learning the ins and outs of a culture can be one of the most exciting things. Learning how people live, work and learn exposes you to so much. Experiencing new and amazing things (and as I say that I was just harassed by a school board member who saw me at a restaurant last week and laughed that I was only getting a medium…)

This is Japan! This isn`t your mothers country! Once you think you have things figured out everything changes, but that is the exciting part. I have met so many amazing people since I have been here, some from other countries others from Japan. These past 4 months have flown by and I can`t wait for the next 4 months. I have no idea what is going to happen but I`m glad…I hate predictability (haha…I`m like the most predictable person on Earth!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Motivation...It`s Up To You

Things I have learned while working. I am 30…which means I`ve had a few jobs in my day…and starting out a blog like that makes me sound super old. Anyway! As I sit here and contemplate my previous jobs I would be amiss if I didn`t learn anything…from any of them!

16 years old. My dad came home with an application for Dairy Queen. He wanted me to apply. I was content with playing Playstation. But, I wanted a car and that wasn`t going to come cheap. So, I filled out the application and set history in motion.

At Dairy Queen I learned how to work under pressure. I ran the drive through most of the time and you had to keep that line moving! Filling orders with speed as wells as precision is a must!

I also learned how to work alone and keep myself motivated. Since I was homeschooled I was the only employee who could open the store in the mornings and work through lunch. Despite the owner being there she rarely helped out (well if we were super busy she would help) and I was determined to get through the lunch hour on my own.

18 years old. I got a job working for the competition. I was offered better pay at a competing ice cream restaurant in town. At that job I learned that older people can be really set in their ways and fear change. The owner had been doing things his way for years (he also owned a storage business and garden shop). Everything had to be done his way or it was wrong.

18 years old. I started working for Target. At target I really understood the teamwork mentality. Now, I didn`t love every second of my time there, the store manager would never let me work any shift other than 3rd. (The turnover rate was so high and I had been there for 3 years…longer than anyone. He took advantage of the fact that I was dependable.) I also learned how to have fun at work. I met a lot of people and had fun at work. The problem was, as mentioned above, the turnover rate was so high that it made making friends at work hard.

22 years old. After quitting/walking out of Target I was offered a management job working for Hess. They are a gas station and convenience store for those of you who don`t know. At Hess I learned that you can trust no one! I learned that people will stab you in the back without hesitation. The story is far too stupid to tell but needless to say they ended up paying my unemployment for 6 months!

22 Years old. I took the job as an assistant youth pastor. I moved out of my parents house and moved into an apartment I shared with my older sister. I worked at the church for 4 years and learned many things! But, I think the most important thing I learned was to stick to your guns. If you know you are doing something right and there is proof of your success you can`t listen to the doubters. Many times I faced opposition out of pure fear. Fear for changing the old ways, fear of doing something different. But, I stuck by what I knew was right.

26 years old. While working for the church I started going to college. I was also working at GameStop part time. Once I left the church I was working at I started at GameStop full time. I worked there while I was finishing college.

What did I learn at GameStop? Well…I learned this. That if you get robbed at gun point don`t expect your District Manager to care at all. Also, I learned how to deal with some of the dumbest people in the world!. (Customers! Not Employees!!) I also, made some amazing friendships! I also sadly learned that `Tiny Dancer` is not part of the Rock Band track list…

I write all of this to say one thing. I don`t regret any of the places I`ve worked. Nor do I want to bash any of the places I have previously worked. Some places were great and other places where less than stellar. But, in the end I learned something for each and every experience. Had I not learned anything my time there would have been wasted.

So, no matter where you are take time to learn something from it. There is no experience too small and no job too menial. You can learn from every experience. It`s up to you to decide whether or not that experience was worth it.   

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

3 Months In Japan

I often think about the impact I have as a teacher.

When I was in second grade a teacher (not my normal teacher, it was a teacher from down the hall) sat us down and told us about an assignment that she had for us. We all sat in wonderment as to what she would have us do. She slowly began to take stacks of magazines, newspapers, and fliers and placed them on a long table at the front of the class.

"I want you to take a magazine and I want you to find a picture of anything. But it needs to be a profession. Something you want to do when you are older. What do you want to be?"

"Are you kidding me? What do I want to be!? Is this my lucky day? Because, if it I'm going to ace this project!" I thought to myself.

I grabbed a People magazine, a few sheets of blue construction paper, and glue. I found my way back to my desk and started flying through the magazine.

"Where is he...I know he has to be in here somewhere. I have to find him!"

I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I knew who and what. Then when and where would work itself out, I was sure of it. And then, there he was. Padded vest, jean jacket, and acid wash jeans. Michael J. Fox

Could it get any better?? Marty Mcfly, Teen Wolf, Alex P Keaton!! This was it! I made sure to cut carefully and precisely. As each cut was made I imagined what my life would be in the future. "Andrew Higgins", my name in lights! Who knows, maybe Mike...(we were friends so I could call him that) and I would get to be in movies together. At the very least we would be best friends. Going to parties, driving around Hollywood, and just being the best of friends.

As I finished cutting out Mike I placed him on the blue construction paper. I didn't put the glue on right away because I wanted to make sure he was positioned correctly on the paper. I managed to look around to see my other classmates progress, only to see that I was the only one who and already picked someone out of the magazine. Clearly this wasn't any easy choice for anyone but me. I regained focus on my work and when I decided where I wanted Mike on the paper I applied the glue and firmly placed his picture on his new background.

"How am I the first one done?? Oh well, this is great. Me and Michael J Fox, actors, friends, and pretty cool guys."

I stood up and made my way to the front of the class. I placed my masterpiece on the teachers desk and waited for her approval.

"What's this?"

"Oh, this is Michael J Fox (clearly!) I want to be an actor when I grow up!"

"Do you know how many of my classmates wanted to be actors when I was in school?"


"Most of them. And do you know how many actually became actors?"


"None of them. You aren't going to be an actor. You need to go pick something different."

That is where the story ends in my memory. I have no idea what I settled on. Was it a doctor or a fireman like so many of other classmates? Was it a construction worker or maybe a taxi driver? I honestly have no idea. The only thing I can remember is the crushing blow this "teacher" left me with. A second grader with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. A second grader who now has to settle for less than perfect.

This whole story leads me back to my opening sentence. What impact do I have on my students. I truly hope that I am 100% nothing like this second grade teacher! If I am anything less than supportive, encouraging, inspiring, caring, investing...then I am not being a teacher. I am being a baby sister. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Japan Checklist (Photo Blog)

I've done a lot of things since I have been in Japan. Here is a short list, with pictures! Enjoy!

Attend a cherry blossom festival

Get lost in my own school

Get lost in my own city

Plant rice

Participated in earthquake drill (Not my picture!)

Participated in attack the stranger drill (stranger played by me)

Buy Gundam figures

Hang out with a person that cosplays (Not my picture!)

Learn lots of Japanese... OK maybe not