Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hasta Luego Japan!!!


Goodbye snow and hello sunshine!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm off to Vietnam and Cambodia tomorrow for Christmas and New Years...

I hope you all have a FANTABULOUS holiday and I'll see ya in the New Year!

Mid Year Conference

During the first 3 days of December JET held its Mid-Year Conference... Which means that all 200 JETs in Hokkaido gathered together in Sapporo. It was so strange seeing so many gaijin (foreigners) together!!! Lucky for me the conference was held at a hotel right across the river from my house... Here's the view of Nakajima Park from the hotel.

The conference itself was quite disappointing... but it was good fun to have everyone together!

The weekend before the conference a few of us hit up the TV Tower for drinks and had a stroll around the German Xmas market...



















JET also threw a fund raising Winter Ball where we all got spiffied up, then ate, drank and danced the night away!









Snowy Shrine Market

Here are some photos from the Toyohira Shrine Flea Market near my house... I read about it in a brochure so I thought it would be a big indoor flea market - but it ended up being a tiny little snowy outdoor market right outside the shrine... Was a pleasant surprise! :-)













Monday, December 15, 2008

Niseko!!!

This past weekend, a group of us Sapporo JETs decided to go on our first skiing/snowboarding adventure!!!!!! We took 2 cars and made a road trip out to Niseko to hit the slopes (and carve some GNARLY lines) on Annupuri.

All of us were absolutely clueless, so we decided to book a skiing lesson on Saturday and then a snowboarding lesson on Sunday... I felt soooo bad for our Japanese instructors since we were OUTTA CONTROL! We were all crashing, diving, sliding down the mountain with absolutely no control.

At the end of Day 1, a few of us decided to take a gondola to the top of the mountain and ski down.... ooooooh boy what a mistake that was!!!!!! Some tumbled down the whole way on their ass.... as for me I went FLYING down - screaming at the top of my lungs cause I couldn't STOP!!!! I made the friggin' "V" which I was taught in my lesson but I think it only gave me turbo speed. I finally forced myself to wipe out on the steep section so I wouldn't die... but I landed smack on my wrist. (I was too afraid to land on my bum since my tailbone was still badly bruised from my bike wipe out the week before.) But all was good because at the bottom of the mountain some cute rescue first aid men iced me up and we sang happy birthday for one of the guys who had a birthday! The rest of the gang finally found me in the first aid pit and had to drag me back to the hostel.

Day 2 was even worse.... snowboarding... UFFFF..... I spent the entire lesson on my ass and sliding down the mountain. At least I was smart enough not to try the mountain slope... we stuck to the steep bunny hill. We all wobbled out of there with whiplash, more bruised tailbones, sore muscles and more... but it was well well worth it!!!

We were able to scarf down a big meal, take a long bath and warm up by the fire at the cozy hostel cabin!

We're already in the midst of planning our next snow adventure. Hopefully next time will go a bit smoooother. YIKES!

To see pictures from the weekend you can go to: http://callieinjapan.shutterfly.com/1225













above: jeshi in his creepy formal xmas skiing attire



above: our dysfunctional skiing/boarding family

below: one of crystal's wipeouts and a picture of the split second where I was able to stand on my board!

Sapporo Illllllumination

After a week of being sick as a dog.... I finally decided to get my butt outside and enjoy the snow and Sapporo Illumination and German Christmas Market.

Last Thursday, I met my friend Shingo after school and we walked up and down Odori Park frolicking in the snow - the lights were sooooo prettttttty... especially with the powdery snow that came falling down on us. We were frozen to the bone so we stopped for some hot mulled wine and split a deer burger with apple on top at the German Xmas Market. Felt a bit odd to be eating Rudolph at a Xmas market, but it was DEEEELISH!!!

We then snuck up to the top of the TV tower for some views over Sapporo then walked around town a bit to see some more lights and had a cup of hot cocoa before I headed home for bed. Was good to finally get out and have some fun after being bed ridden for a few days!!!
















School Xmas Party!!!


We had our Xmas party at both of my schools last week... For this party I taught them some Xmas songs, I showed a slide show of pics from home so they could learn how we REALLY celebrate Christmas (they were seriously bummed we don't eat KFC!)






Then I had my kids play "STUFF SANTA!!!"... I had 2 teams of 4 and gave them each a minute to make santa fat with as many balloons as they could! It was quite funny to watch them. The record was 18!!!!!!! Poor Santa looks like he has elephantitus.










video

Thursday, December 11, 2008

YES WE CAN!!!!!!

Obama is EVERYWHERE in Japan... They are lovin him and eatin him up here!!!!

Now when I pass my kids in the hallways they either scream:
1. ALLIGATOR!!!! (from my intro speech my very first day)
or
2. YES WE CAN!!!!

But it's not just my students who are usin' his campaign slogan - even the stores are using him here in Sapporo to sell crap... This I found at a jewelery counter! hahaha...

Annnnnd... if you so desire - you can buy your very own Obama mask!!!!!

and conviently placed right next to him was this boob suit and 6 pack/tanned suit.... ooooh how I love Japan!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fishy Japanese medicine...

Uff.... together with my Japanese exam, loads of students having the flu and some other personal crap I've been going thru... my body finally caved in and got sick! ufffffff..... not fun...

My school sent me home early yesterday so I could go to the doctor. Of course it was a challenge finding a doctor that could speak English... but my JET advisor recommended me to go to this ladies' clinic. It was like stepping back into the 70's... the decor, the carpeting, the old skool examining table and meeting room. But the doc surprisingly spoke great English!!!! phew!!!! He took one look at my throat and told me I had tonsillitis. I had no idea what that was but it didn't sound too good.... They sent me into this room and had me breathe in this psychedelic foaming steaming clear crazy bong looking contraption for 5 minutes... I was coughing uncontrollably... but I've learned to just do as they say and not ask too many questions. hahaha....

Then he gave me loads of these silver condom wrapper looking packages.... He didn't explain what they were but instead just said take one of each 3x a day for 7 days... Take a look at the video below of me trying out the meds... ewwwww....... I still am completely blown away that Japan hasn't caught on to the whole "capsule/pill" invention yet.... Instead you swallow these gross powders and inhale crazy fumes. I swear I gag every time I have to take these crazy rotting fishy miso tasting powder drinks!!! ewwwww....

video

And it doesn't end there.... He somehow convinced me to get on the exam table to get a PAP smear. The PAP examination room is this strange mysterious room with a magic curtain... your legs go under the curtain into another room which you can't see........ (sorry for those of you who don't like details... but.....) All I know is that he did NOT use gloves!!!!! EWWWWWW.... are you serious!??!?! What the !(@!(*&@(!*&@????? I later read online that in Japan many doctors do not use gloves because they want to show their patients that they respect them... and I guess by using gloves it makes the patient feel as if they are "dirty." @*#(!*&#(*!@&#)(!@ I am still quite disgusted by it..... but hey! This is Japan... :) and I guess I can't complain too much because I only paid an equivalent of $8 for the check up, exam and meds!

Oh deary me... each day is quite the adventure...

Monday, December 8, 2008

A KFC Christmas!!!!!!

Here in Japan - their idea of a good ole American Christmas would not be complete without a big finger lickin' Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner!!!!!

I heard rumors about this when I arrived in Japan but never believed it to be true.... until NOW! ooooh yes..... the Kernel is decked out as Santa everywhere! and there are loads of commercials featuring the Christmas fried chicken goodness:
http://jp.youtube.com/watch?v=mM9IeRXxdTA (please compare this video with Jesse's chicken picture below)

So to celebrate our Japanese test being OWATTA (finished!!!!)... Crystal was kind enough to order us a big bucket of Japanese KFC Christmas fried chicken AND a few bottles of sparkly Hello Kitty Champagne (1% alcohol and 999% pink sugar!!!!) mmmmm....



Crystal's awesome neighbor Eri also made us some scrumptious Japanese Christmas Cakes because we were too cheap to fork over the $50 to buy one at KFC.

We spent the night lickin our fingers to the greasy goodness, sittin on the toilet and then dancing to awesome christmas, 80's and pop music!!!!!!























You can get more awesome greasy details of KFC Xmas on Crystal's blog:
http://thiessentwosomejapan.blogspot.com/2008/12/mr-december-and-kfc-christmas.html

Japanese JLPT test is OWATTTTTA!!!!!!!

IT'S FINALLY OVER!!!!!!!!! (the JLPT - Japanese Language Proficiency Test that is)

When I arrived in Japan 4 months ago - the only Japanese I knew was Konnichiwa, Domo Arigatou Mr. Roboto, and a phrase my Dad taught me: "Don't touch my moustache." (Which I later found out when skewwed correctly means you're welcome: doughie tashi mashete.)

But even with that limited knowledge, all of the other JETs were telling me to sign up for the JLPT Level 4 test (which somehow means the easiest level). They said I could pass it easy peasey without much effort.... So a few of us dumb fools believed them and signed up for the test.

We later found out that we would have to memorize 100 kanji (which was the easy part) 1,000 vocabulary and then learn craploads of crazy grammar. AHHHH!!!!!

So I've pretty much given my soul to the Japanese grammar books these past 3 months in order to pass this damn test!!!!

When we arrived for the JLPT test bright and early Sunday morning - a group of my students were waiting outside to document me!!!!!! hahahaha... They seem to love videotaping my every move here in Japan. I arrived with a few other JET's who crashed at my house but my students froze when they tried to ask them questions.

I won't let you know how the test went until I know for sure in February when they release the results!!!!

The actual test taking time was only 2 hours long but they somehow managed to drag it out for 5 hours!!!! When we finally finished - guess who was waiting outside the doors in the snowy cold weather?!?!??! yup!!! my students again!!! I guess they found out the finishing time and wanted to catch our reactions. hahaha... Crystal I think shed some tears for the camera when she disclosed that she thought she was finished with all of the listening questions only to find out there was one more left to go!!!! whooooops. all of her answered must have been one off on the answer sheet. :(

Here are some shots of us post-JLPT... sooooo happy to be DONE!!!!












Thursday, December 4, 2008

Last Lunch... sniff.......

Sadly today was my last lunch with my senior students.... sniffff......

After this week the 3rd (final) year students will only come to school occasionally in the mornings. They are busy preparing for their University entrance exams!

Every week at my second high school I would eat lunch with the same group of girls... They taught me about Japanese pop culture, boys, and some essential Japanese slang while I taught them about American teens and showed them how delicious it is to eat an apple whole (they still think I'm nuts). On the last day we had a small party with pictures, candy and chocolate!!!

I'll miss em as they head off to University.... sniff....... a few of them will still come to meet with me since they need help with the Uni English Entrance interview!!! yikeeees...