Weekend In Japan: Official

Hoorah!  I found some free time and now I can quickly write about my time in Japan (before I forget everything, ha).
Also:  I have some new *interesting* stuff that happened at school today.  “Interesting” takes place of some other words that could fit more appropriately here…but I’ll let you be the judge.

I got out of work around 7pm on Friday (as usual) and went back to my apartment to finish packing.  I took a slow train to Seoul at 8:55pm  (everything else was booked because of the 3-day weekend) and got there around 11pm.
I checked into my hostel around midnight (takes ages to get in and out of the subway area in Seoul because it’s so massive.  Then made my way to the hostel.)

I stayed at Seoulwise Guesthouse and had a pleasant stay.  Woke up, ate a quick breakfast at the hostel and off again by a bit after 9am.
Took the Airport Train (in the subway station–but a direct line) to Incheon International Airport (rated the #1 airport in the world btw.  And rightfully so.  It’s pretty awesome.  :-D)

Checked in and all that–flight out was at 12:30.  Made it there with plenty of time–airport wasn’t too busy at all.  Only a 2 hour flight to Sendai International Airport and I got a meal included on my flight (both ways!)  Yay Asiana Airlines!  🙂

My friend Bethany (who I was staying with and visiting during this trip) picked me up with a friend of hers at the airport.  We practically had one of those awesome airport hugs straight out of the movies. 😀  It’s been two years since I’ve seen this girl!
Anyway, we drove (well, her friend did) back to Sendai for about an hour.
I dropped my stuff of at her apartment and we went for dinner.  (Ahh! I forgot what it was called…)

Pretty tasty.  The left was just thick noodles with various seasonings (and crunchy things) added in.  On the left was fried shrimp (2) and chicken (1).  Pretty good combination.  I could have had a whole plate of shrimp, haha.

Then we met up with a bunch of her friends from her school and saw Men in Black 3–in 3-D!  I really liked it!..not the price ($22!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  for.a.movie.  Granted, it was 3-D…but REALLY???!?!)
Apparently the movie is a lot cheaper if you don’t do the 3-D (like $10 cheaper) but the majority wanted 3-D.  It was cool though, but I would have rather kept my $10.
In Daejeon, our movies are like $7-9.

We spent some time in the movie theatre arcade and some of us girls did a photo booth thing.  It makes your eyes look huge (a big thing in Asia) and you can edit the pictures you take afterwards…adding hats or glasses, etc.
(Pretty sure this is when we did the sushi part…gah.  If my memory is this bad now…I’m scared for old age.)
After the movie, we (a few of us girls) went to this sushi place that had various dishes coming around the restaurant on several conveyor belts.  Each table had an electronic menu and you could just select what you wanted to order and within a few minutes (people in back had to prepare it) it would come zooming around to your table!  A bit of music would play to signal you that your order was coming–so you didn’t grab someone else’s stuff.  🙂
Note:  I’ve had sushi twice back home and was disgusted by it.  I wanted to try it here only because Japan is the home of sushi…unlike Missouri, USA.
It’s still not a favorite, but I’m not completely disgusted by it anymore.  It definitely isn’t something I’d ever eat again back home, that’s for sure.  I can only have sushi straight from Japan, lol.

After that, we (Bethany and I) went back to her apartment after and watched a part of a Korean drama that she likes (she had been trying to get me into it for awhile, but I never had time.  Now, after watching it a bit from the beginning…pretty sure I’m hooked now too.  Boys Before Flowers is the name.. You can find it on Youtube and some other places.  With English subtitles :))

Day 2//Sunday
Went to a church service with Bethany and some others from her school.  They have this service in a bar that they transform into a make-shift church!  You really can’t tell once they get it set up.  There were probably 20 or so people there.  You really can have a church wherever.  Just bring the people and the music and the rest will follow.
It was also my first multi-lingual service.  It was done in both Japanese and English (speaking bits were translated back and forth and singing would be done in both–alternating songs).  Note:  I sang some in Japanese!  haha.  Granted, I have no idea what I was singing about, but the words were on the screen and you get into a sort of rhythm and start picking up on how sounds are made.

Then, I went with Bethany and her friend Ariel to Matsushima Bay via a boat tour/.cruise.  It was a full day event and really fun.  🙂  The whole bay area was really pretty and strange to think that a huge tsunami had been there just a year before.  Thankfully, it was still pretty much intact because there’s a huge cluster of islands in that area that helped to break up the storm and waves.  I did see some damage (debris) and cracks left in the pavement from the earthquake though.
Bethany did tell me a bit about some other complete towns that weren’t so lucky and were completely swept off the map.  As in…they no longer exist.  That’s…so surreal to think about.  Here you are, standing in a spot in a country that was hit by a major natural disaster (several actually) and thankfully, is still there…but, nearby, there are areas that are no more.

(Picture 1:  us on the massive long bridge (252 meters long) that lead to Fukuurajima Island (island full of just natural beauty–great for a picnic or a light hike)
Picture 2: picture off the island (Fukuurajima)
Picture 3: gorgeous trees near the Zuiganji Temple
Picture 4:  Creepy caves (Dokutsu) near the main temple–Zuihanji Temple)

Anyway, after sightseeing, we got back to Sendai around 8 or so, then went to one of her friend’s houses and hung out and had tasty breakfast burritos.  We all stayed for a few hours and then we went back to her place and went to bed.

Day 3//Monday
Up around 9–and the three of us (same group from when I drove into Sendai) went to Starbucks and then headed back to the airport.
I got there around 11:30 and had a flight out (the only international flight! haha) at around 1:50pm.

I had a really great time over there and would love to eventually make it back.  It’s so expensive over there so it’s actually kind of nice that my trip was short.  😀

Work stuff:
So, my school/boss has a tendency to make quick/hasty decisions that..well…are “interesting”.  Granted, she’s the owner, so she can do what she wants…but ya know.
Anyway, my boss took all of the games out of the school today and notified us that we were no longer able to use the laptop in the classroom because they think that the kids are being “exposed to too much media”.
So, we cannot use the laptops for Sesame Street videos, songs, clips for social studies class (to explain concepts such as: mudslide, etc)…nothing.

I would have thought a warning would be a good first step, or a “hey, let’s cut back on the use of technology in the classroom” sort of thing…but hey, who am I to say.  Anyway, so that’s the new policy at our school.

I was watching Cinderella with my kindergarteners in class today (could have stemmed from that, but they’ve never had a problem with watching any sort of clip on them before, so I dunno.  Maybe she’s having a rough day.)  because our units are meant for 4 weeks and this month had 5 weeks–so we can’t start the next unit til next week.  We’ve been busy and I thought they’d like to have a fun day today (we only watched it for 2 of their classes  (30 min)) and they had class the rest of the day.
Anyway, we’re normally in charge of running our own classes, so I thought my kids might like a fun day. Could have come from that, but we all use the computers at some point during the week in our classes.

I dunno.  Ah well.
Good thing my kids already know their ABC songs.
Anyway, I’m a bit more ranty than I thought I’d be, but I just think that’s an “interesting” decision.

Aside from that, There’s a lot more I could say about the goings-on around here, but I’ll save it for in-person chats.
I’ve found a new phrase that helps me get through my tough days:
Do it for them.  This is about the kids.

A spin off of “But…think of the CHILDREN!”  lol.  It works though.  I’ve heard some say that they’ve stopped caring, and I’ve thought of that a few times too, but I really can’t.  I know that we deal with a lot of crap from this school, but I can’t withhold all creativity and my own energy just because the bosses do crazy things.
These kids are still kids and they’re making memories that will stick with them forever…whether I decide to care or not.  So, I have to care.  Because they care…and I AM making an impact on their lives.  Who knows, they might remember all of this when they’re older and decide that they want to do things the way that they remember doing it when they were kids (like myself)…and I can’t deprive them of the fun that they SHOULD be having as kids.  They’re in MY class, so I’m going to try my darndest to make sure they they are able to learn and live up to their potential…and have FUN doing it.
Whether it’s more work for me or not is beside the point.
It’s not about me or my school, it’s about them.  

It should always be about them.  Not in the “you’re so great, I’m going to give you everything you want” kind of way…but…I can’t just do the bare minimum because
1. I’ve never been that kind of person and it’s not in my nature
2. If I do the bare minimum…as their teacher…what can I expect from them?  They won’t get anything out of being in my class…and I can’t do that to them.  I want to inspire them to learn and to be great and to do great things…and to be good people.

I know I can’t do that completely because I’m not going to be with them for the rest of their lives…but I know I can lay the groundwork.
If I remember things that I did in kindergarten, who’s to say that they won’t remember what they did in Stacey teacher’s class when they’re 25?

and THAT is why I have to/want to keep working at this…no matter what obstacles are continuously put in my path to  make things more challenging.

//I feel like I’m making my job sound super glamourous…like I walk into class with a gold cape around my neck shouting “Let’s LEARN and MAKE SOME MEMORIES!!!” or something.
Uh…it’s not like that.  lol.  😀  And no, I don’t own a gold cape.  haha 🙂