Friday, August 22, 2008
Training and MY BIRTHDAY!
Ok so, Over the past two days I've been at this mountain camp training with other ALTs for my company. Here's what happened... I woke up around six and took a shower, ate some breakfast (Strawberry yogurt and frosted flakes YAY FOR AMERICAN CEREAL!) and made my way to the train station. After getting there I met up with the other ALTs. We all headed to Ujiie by train. After we got there we were broken up into groups and got into cars and headed to this mountain town which has a prefectural (kind of like equivalent to a state) center, the name of which I forgot. It was a really cool facility. After meeting the other ALTs I was surprised to how much they didn't care. They joked around all the time which made it fun but I was like wow they have some lewd humor.
While at the facility there were very few workers and everything you did you had to clean up yourself. From our rooms to the halls ways to the public bathrooms, if we used it we had to clean it. Somewhat of an interesting concept considering everyone kept things clean because they knew that'd have to clean it later. Once at the facility we broke into groups again. I had a group of 5 but the average number was 6. The camp almost felt a bit militaristic with its strict schedule and rules but that is somewhat just Japanese style. They tend to be very punctual and very strict about rules.
Once we got there we were told all about the facilities rules. We also were shown a long demonstration on how to properly make your bed (futon sheets pillows/pillow case). We were told how to correctly fold everything and it was kind of funny how strict it was. Right after this we each person from the group had to volunteer to help with meals, and volunteers got to choose what they wanted to help with. I chose to help with dinner.
After that we went to the gym and did some surveys asking us how we'd rate our teaching ability. Of the 40ish people there about 10/12 were new including me. We just rated how we thought we'd do. The other gave a self evaluation which was to be compared to the schools rating of their performance. After that we played some team building games. Some of which we're pretty entertaining, other were a bit boring and didn't seem like they did anything for me haha.
After that we went back up and relaxed. Then it was time for me to help out with dinner. I went down at about 4:00pm to the BBQ area. My job was to get this coarse charcoal (broken up but nothing like American briquettes) and grills and started a grill up. It took a while to get it started because the charcoal was not like the easy stuff we have in the US. I had to fan the thing down for like 20 minutes to keep it lit haha. It was cool though being a part of setting things up. After the BBQ we just hung around and talked. There was a great sunset that night. We also watched some olympics but they only covered Japanese athletes (i guess that's normal since I'm in Japan ahaha). It was funny, they said that the Japanese women's softball team beat the American team and they showed the following picture:
They talked about how Japan was a small monkey, yet it was able to beat the giant American bear hahha. Kind of funny (underneath the pic is written Japan America).
After that I took a bath in a public bath haha. Many foreigners have trouble with it but I really don't care. After that I went up to bed.
The next day I had to wake up at 6:00am again... this time we had breakfast and then cleaned up. Then we went on this mountain trail hike. Our group got so freekin lost its not even funny. We were supposed to turn at this marker that said 10, we got all the way up to 37 (wrong way) and even past that about 30 mins haha. Even though we got beyond lost I got some good pictures out of the Japanese country side out of it.
Luckily (thank god) we found a taxi and I waved it down and we took a taxi back to the camp start line hahahha. We we're the only group to come back in a taxi ahahha everyone laughed at us but I was just happy to be alive and not lost. The people in my group were from New Zealand, Austrailia and England haha. I was one of two Americans in my group. It was cool to talk to them and I feel like I picked up a little bit of an accent I talked to them so much hahaa.
After that we had some lunch and then did one more clean up session. Then we had some lesson planning then the other ALTs left. The new people sat behind to sign contracts and do some paperwork.
Even though more than likely I won't see alot of the other ALTs because they all work so far away it was a good experience. It also got me more excited to start teaching.
Once all that was over with we finally got back to Sano by train. We we're going to have a little party and meet everyone by the station at 8:00 but only a few people showed up. While waiting for everyone to show up I met this Japanese guy Ebi Numa. He was a nice guy and he did his best to talk to me in English and I did my best to talk to him in Japanese. Aparently he just graduated high school and now he has an internship at a bakery. We talked about what we both liked and disliked. It was cool. The whole reason I started the conversation was because while waiting at the train station there was an earthquake. I was like CRAP! and I translated to him "That was an earthquake right?!" He said yes then we just started talking lol. After that all my friends showed up and we went to find a bar. We finally found one a couple blocks from the station. It was a nice place called HORMONE SOUL! hahaha. I got a sushi birthday cake there. Kinda cool even though I couldn't eat it. Although I did eat fish that NIGHT! (an accomplishment for me but it tasted more like bacon than fish).
All and all a fun day/night. Tonight we're supposed to meet again at the station at 8:00 and party it up.