Monday, 24 February 2014

It's not a holiday

Well this week has been odd. You could say that it was a regular week in the life of a Japanese student so I don't have any exceptionally extraordinary tales to tell but I will use this opportunity to talk about how I'm feeling and how things work here in Japan.

Bear with me though, it may be hard to follow. There are fewer photos than usual because I didn't get the opportunity to take many.

It all started on Monday, I had a cold. Just the standard sore throat and runny nose; "she'll be right" I thought. I must of been pretty tired because from form time through to the end of first period I was snoring with my head on the desk. Everyone was kind enough to leave me be! So I tried to study some Japanese later but I just couldn't keep my eyes open. All the while my nose was running something wicked. That day there was no club activities so I just relaxed after school and worked away at a speech I have to give on Sunday.

Tuesday was when it all hit the fan. My alarm is always set for 6:00 am now and I always make sure it is set. I actually double check it and sometimes even triple check it, Monday night was no exception. But, come Tuesday morning it turns out it was either off (unlikely) or I slept through it. I was woken up by Rieko and was late for breakfast, not a good start to the day. (Yes, this is going to get pretty negative, it picks up though.) I got to school for some more sleeping. I just couldn't understand anything today, I couldn't work out why. Normally I can get the jist of what people are saying to me but today I just couldn't. It was quite annoying. "Oh well" I thought, I got back to doing notes for my speech.

 The day wasn't so bad until I got to kendo practice. I was still quite bogged down by my cold but because I didn't get to go the previous week I was determined to train. Not such a good idea. I geared up all ready to go but I had put the helmet on wrong so I held everyone up a bit. Not the best feeling. This night I just couldn't do it, I mucked up most of the moves and I couldn't understand anyone! I was there in my mask about ready to literally cry in frustration when I thought: "Take a deep breath-*big breath*-and just scream it out on the next strike" So I did just that. Kendo is quite convenient in the sense that you can just scream at the top of your lungs. But of course, something went wrong. My voice cracked as though I was 12 and I damn near squealed. I just felt worse. However, I was determined not to let this bring me down and I thought I could find relief in karate training later that night.
No matter how tough it is, there is always something to smile about!

I got home before I went to karate and i had about half an hour of downtime. I listened to some music and decided that I would just smash it at karate. "Bugger this cold, bugger my sore feet, I'm gonna go and let it all out at karate" and I did just that.

*Just a quick note: I've got severely dry feet with quite a few cuts and cracks on them making walking difficult for me, let alone stomping about at kendo and karate.
It is like walking on a knife!
Looks pretty tough though.

So I got to karate and played tag with the kids before actual training started. The lightheartedness of the silly game lifted my mood a bit. Training started and soon enough I didn't have the time or energy to spare to even think about the day that seemed like so long ago. We are training for a tournament in April so we did a bunch of high intensity work. Here I am with a sore throat and a minor cough, doing 300 roundhouse kicks, all to be as fast and strong as possible. After which I just about threw up and found that I had boosted my cough to something near percusis. My lungs felt like they were on fire but it's a feeling I know all too well and I love it.

We did some strength exercises and then it was time for what I had been looking forward to: fighting. That fella I talked about a while ago was there (2nd in Japan, smashed me) so I was looking forward to having some really good fights. Me and this guy, Fuyuki, are quite good friends now, I swear we are tarred with the same brush.

Him and I started fighting and it was just magic. We smashed each other, landing the perfect hits and smiling all the while. He got me with a very powerful head kick that was buffered by my adrenaline, I got him back with a mean axe kick though so it was all good. We fought many times; in one bout he swiped out my legs causing me to hit the deck and roll away whilst in another fight I did the same to him. It gets better though, I remember feeling completely futile against him just a few weeks ago but this time I got him good. I lined up a plain front kick, aiming at his guts and launched with all that I had. My aim was true and it saw him into a crumpled pile on the ground. This sounds quite malicious but it's not. I felt bad for a second but from the crumple on the ground came a big thumbs up. Definitely tarred with the same brush.
Fuyuki, Brennan, Sensei
Once again, there is always something to smile about!

My victory was short lived as in the next round he found more energy and just gave me hell. So of course I gave it back. The night ended in ear to ear grins, pained laughs and a lot of uncontrollable coughs. It seems as though I made the cold worse. Also, my feet were in a pretty bad state. But I was no longer burdened with the rubbish that brang me down that day. I got back home and fell into bed.

I woke up and turned my head to see the alarm clock. Or rather, I tried to turn my head. Oh dear. So I stood up and realised that when I got kicked in the head last night, my head moved very rapidly to the right and I was suffering from whiplash. Great. I have put my neck out. That day at school was difficult; I was coughing a lot, limping a lot and I couldn't turn my head. Because of my ailments I was unable to do kendo but that was alright. That night we did some more work on my speech.

Thursday was painful. At kendo, I was stomping about and screaming away as you do when I saw something red on the floor. Oh? there is a bunch of red spots everywhere... I looked at my feet and sure enough, I had some new cuts. On my both my big toes and both my heels. I don't know if you've ever tried but it's really awkward to walk without letting your heels or big toes touch the ground. After training I limped back to the nurses room where I had my feet taped up. That night at karate was a laugh. With my taped up feet I was slipping and sliding about everywhere. More lung burning kicks ensued that night.

Friday was cool, My speech is finished and now it I just need to memorize it. I got my feet all taped up again and because of the way the tape has been put on I can't really move my ankle so I looked quite pathetic as I hobbled everywhere very slowly. I went to badminton club after school with some girls in my class which was great fun. I could only play a bit because of my feet but that was fine, the girls teams were quite fun to watch.
My finished speech.
I proudly showed it to a girl in class who plainly pointed out the spelling mistakes.
Not the response I was hoping for

Today was Saturday and I abused the fact that I had nothing to do by sleeping for most of the day. I biked to the local 100Yen shop (something like a two dollar shop but with a much bigger range of products) I got some stuff and came back to home where I did not too much.

A little while ago, my parents sent over a parcel loaded with Kiwi chocolate but there was something else I didn't expect at all. While I was skyping them one night, I expressed my desire for a plate of Mum's nachoes. I had  slightly home sick day and I was really craving some nachoes; the way Mum makes them. So in this parcel which I was expecting to be full of chocolate was a bag of my favourite nacho chips, a recipe for how to make them along with the special ingredients that Mum uses. I couldn't have been more blown away!

So just tonight I made nachoes for my host family. It went well! We used chopsticks and had rice on the side! A truly multicultural meal; A Japanese meal of New Zealand style Mexican nachoes. They were only a wee bit different from Mum's, not quite as good but they certainly cured my fleeting home sickness!

A bit about school

I want to talk a bit about school in Japan seeing as I don't have much else to ramble on about this week. School here is a lot different to what it is in Japan starting with the actual school. The building itself is quite different. That sounds alien because in New Zealand every school is completely different with it's number of classrooms and the layout of said rooms. In Japan, every school building is pretty much the same; One big building with five or so floors. The layout of the building is almost always identical to every other building. I could go to a completely random school and know my way around.
My class room.
Yes, that is a chalk board and also yes, those are tennis balls.

The first year student's (That's year 11 or 5th form) rooms are on the top floor whilst the second years are on the 4th floor and the third years are on the 3rd floor. There are specialised class rooms on the second floor and the first floor is where the meetings are held.
What the teacher sees.

Teachers have staff rooms on every floor where they do their behind the scenes stuff. Unlike NZ, the teachers change class rooms here whilst the students stay in their home rooms for most of the day. This is quite weird. To add to the odd conduct of school, there is a 10 minute break after every period. After fourth period there is a half hour break for lunch. Also odd, after lunch, all of the students and teachers clean the school; from wiping down the desks to sweeping the corridors and even shoveling snow outside!

During class time it is a lot less interactive than NZ school. The students listen and write down everything that is put on the board. They don't normally ask questions at all, it is quite weird for me. Before every class starts the students stand up, bow and say "please" (In Japanese of course) then at the end they do the same but say "Thank you."

Apologies for this disorganised mess of an update but I just haven't had the chance to do anything proper just yet.

I will have to do a better job for next week's update (This week)

Whilst I had some ups and a fair few downs last week, it's all part and parcel of life. It helps me remember that this is not a holiday. These experiences are just a good form of character building.

Until next time!

Busy socialising

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