I want to have some consistency in these posts. But it’s a little hard with a schedule so out of whack.
Today was my first day in some while that has had a semblance of normalcy. I sat at my desk in the middle school, waiting for things to happen, preparing for class, reading about educational theory. I had an English class. It wasn’t perfectly normal: the first four periods were marked by special activities (an assembly of sorts where all the upperclassmen introduce the different school groups to the new students as well as some kind of homeroom activity). That said, within the Japanese school system, these kind of special activities are common enough.
It’s been weird primarily because it’s the start of the Japanese school year here. The last year ended with goodbyes to lots of teachers, goodbyes to some of my favorite graduating students, a lot of people catching the flu (including the temporary closure of a school due to lack of students) and the scheduled permanent closure of an elementary school. During the two week “break” (it’s hard to call it a break when students are often required to show up to school daily for all day sports practice), I spent a week in Tokyo meeting a good friend who came from America before bringing him up here to see the nice Japanese countryside. He left on Sunday to which I had half a day to prepare for the start of a new school year—one marked by a change in my base school (I now spend the majority of my time at the elementary school instead of the middle school) and the start of an intensive English program in my elementary school led by myself.
Catching a glimpse of routine has been comforting. Maybe even nostalgic.
One of the reasons I wanted to sign my work contract to stay for a second year (in spite of meeting up with old friends in Tokyo that make me really question it from time-to-time) is that I think normalcy is an important part of my foreign experience. To be in a place long enough that things seem plain or boring is a good thing.
I don’t want to impose any idea of “a good traveler” or “the right way of doing things” or anything like that. We all have different goals in traveling the world. While I might find a week-long trip to a place fun or eye-opening, it’s not what I aim at.
I like to see how well I can function in different places over a long span of time.
It’s a personal test of sorts. Can I adapt to a new way of life? Can habits I’ve formed be unformed? Traveling is a way to catch glimpses of the world and see things you’ve never seen. But I don’t actually like traveling very much. Funny, as I’ve been to over a dozen countries. That said, traveling is not my forte.
I like living in other countries.
And so when people ask me for travel advice, I try to avoid an answer. I’m not really one for traveling. I’m one for finding normalcy.
When the time came to re-sign my contract, I did it happily. More than that. I was eager to re-sign. Because in spite of having been here for six months or so at the time of contract signing, I hadn’t found my routine yet. When things happened in my school or town, they were surprising. Unexpected. I was constantly at a loss for what I should do. What should I wear? When should I show up? How should I act? Was fighting to the death with my coworker okay?
When August rolls around and the period of my second contract begins, I believe that will be my first time of true comfort. At that time, I’ll finally be able to say “I’ve done this before”. It won’t all be easy—there will be surprises. Even in America, I’m shocked fairly often. However, like America, I won’t be caught too off-guard when it happens.
In any case, this week of entertaining my friend and then jumping back into a new school year really threw off my groove. I can post today and that’s good, but I’d like to find some posting consistency.
I realize this is all just an excuse too. I should have been better prepared. Or maybe I should have posted saying that I would be out all last week. Or I could have finally posted something saying when my posts will be coming. Have something real to hold myself to instead of just an idea.
Shoulda coulda woulda.
In any case, sorry for the week long hiatus. I’m looking forward to getting back to this.
I’ll leave you with another amateur cell-phone picture of hanami, because all the cool kids are doing it, and because it symbolizes a lack of permanence, which I guess is semi-related to this post.