May 15, 2016

Feelings of Spring

I haven't posted in a while! Part because I've been pretty busy, but also because I was having laptop issues so I had very limited internet access. But I have a lot to post about so here we go!

Spring is a busy time in Japan. The old school year comes to an end, and with it comes graduation ceremonies and farewells to students and staff. It also marks the beginning of a new school year, as there is only a short few week break between school years in Japan. Of course there is also Hanami, flower viewing parties, and a whole other whirlwind of events and things going on to keep everyone super busy.

In February, the third years were busy preparing for high school entrance examinations – and I was tasked with helping a few students who were wanting to enter schools that were International/English focused. The exams are tough, and often have many aspects to them. I helped the other teachers make answer keys for previous written exams for students to study from, and coached students to prepare them for English interviews. It meant working a bit extra, and staying at work late, but it was worth it. All the students I coached got into their desired schools, including two who got into a very difficult international program. One boy at the end of my last class with him, cried when he said thank you to me on behalf of the whole class. It was incredibly touching, and really reinforced to me why I want to be a teacher.

Graduation itself was also really touching and emotional. I was only with the graduating students for about 6 months, but I did get to know them really well, and see them grow even in that short time. I'm also a big baby when it comes to stuff like that, so when their homeroom teachers started crying, and the kids all started crying, I just couldn't help myself. After the ceremony I was able to talk with some students, take pictures, and even received flowers from a few. I will really miss classes with them, and seeing them in the halls everyday.

After graduation things got pretty boring for me at work. As an ALT I'm not involved in preparations for the new school year really, so I was left to just desk-warm for a few weeks. But I kept busy outside of working hours.

The third year teachers had an overnight trip to Awaji Island to celebrate the end of the school year, and I went along. It was a really fun two days and we did so much cool stuff - made pottery, went strawberry picking, went to an onsen and ate a lot of delicious food!

It was really great to spend time with the teachers I work with. Many of them left in the new school year, including the OTE I was the closest with. She's still in Kobe though, so we talk a lot and make plans to hang out, but I still really miss having classes with her. I did get to know non-English teachers well, and many of them are in my year group this year so I will get to spend more time with them.

Of course it's not spring in Japan without having Hanami!
I actually didn't do too much in terms of Hanami this year, but my boyfriend lives near a very beautiful area for seeing Sakura so we had a little picnic, and I attended a few other small ones with friends. 

Overall spring has been great but super busy. I've attended concerts, gone to special cafes, traveled... All in all a very exciting time of the year!