the last few weeks have been busy and uneventful all the same time. how's that possible? not sure, really, but seems to be.
most of november i concentrated on studying for the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) level 3. Last year i passed 4 th level and thought i'd take it again this year. 3rd level was definitely a challenge since i hadn't done any serious studying for it until late September; i'd only been studying kanji. So the last couple of months have been semi-intense japanese study and the i think i did all right on the test this past sunday, the 2nd. At least it's over and i do think i've learned quite a bit, hopefully i can retain it and keep up at least half the studying pace. The listening portion was the toughest by far during the test, which proves that a) i should listen to more Japanese by watching TV and talking to people and b) that standard spoken Japanese is entirely different and much faster than the Okinawan dialect i've come to know and appreciate. Though of course it is only possible to understand middle aged women on Okinawa, who speak slowly and clearly. The men speak a language i can't even begin to understand, and it's not as if they're speaking hogen, i know they're not, but sometimes it's like i've never studied any japanese and have just stepped of the plane and been thrown into the midst of an unknown, inarticulate, hurried, and full of jargon language. it's tiring but amusing.
this week has been slow at school. 2nd graders (8th grade equivalent) have been preparing for standardized tests in japanese, math, and english, which has meant practice of past year's tests and no need for me in the classroom for last 2 weeks. They finally took the test on thursday and i fear probably didn't do so good. Undoubtedly there are a handful of students in the class that aced the test, but a large majority is average or lower. which is sad.
3rd graders were on a school trip this week. It's a traditional trip that happens annually for 3rd graders, and from Okinawa all 3rd graders seem to go only to Kyushu on a pretty standard itinerary of Fukuoka, Dazaifu, Nagasaki, Mitsui Greenland (an amusement park), Mt. Aso, etc. They get back today around 6pm to the school and will be greeted by steaming hot soba and onigiri. Every day of their trip we have received faxes of their experiences. Students have made out sheets where they would write little comments from the day's experience, mention how cold it was (and they lucked out, it was cold and even snowed!), there was even a sheet mentioning all the december birthdays they celebrated while away. The librarian has been coloring the faxes and posting them up on bulletin boards for 1st and 2nd graders to read. Fun.
This week i also managed to catch, fight and win over a cold. It wasn't anything bad, but i was afraid i'd turn into the dreaded influenza that we get scared with every once in a while. I seem to be over it and feel good enough to go to karate tonight.
After the JLPT on Sunday i had the pleasure of meeting a russian speaking woman that lives in Naha. After 2+ years, i finally meet a genuine Russian! Very exciting! She's been living here for five years, has an Okinawan husband and an adorable son. We met for a quick meal and had a pleasant chat. She says there are a few other Russian speakers on the island that she knows of, so maybe i'll get to meet some of them through her as well. That'd be fun.
And on the Russian note, i started teaching Russian to a friend here. So far we've had one lesson, but it went well. Think we'll have one more before winter trips and then pick up after that. It's strange thinking of ways to teach the language i didn't have to think much to learn myself. I don't remember much from school, only a few simple spelling rules but the grammar will be tougher. There are quite a few good sources on the internet, i've discovered, so with their help we're gonna attempt these teaching sessions.
The rest of the time the last week has been occupied by planning for trip to Thailand. Going there with the lovely Shelley and and we're gonna have a fantastic time, as we usually do when traveling together. Nothing's set in stone yet, which somewhat worries me, but i have accommodation for the first time in Bangkok and the next day Shelley and her bf fly in, so we'll take it from there together.
Started watching the 2nd season of "Heroes" and 4th season of Bravo's "Project Runway". "Heroes" is not as good as last year, but still entertaining enough and i am really enjoying Project Runway--haven't watched it in two years and i think it's even better than 1st season.
well. think that's enough blabbering for now. hopefully will have more to write before i leave for Thailand.