Kobe Days

34.6911° N, 135.1973° E

1 Comment

Ladies in the Dunes!

Within a month of arriving in Kobe, there was a reason to get out of it. 敬老の日 was the perfect excuse to go exploring in the nearby prefectures. It originally started with a plan to visit Shimane and a fellow Singaporean, but a couple of FB conversations turned our plans into a meetup in Tottori instead to see the sand dunes while it was still summer.
Cut for too many pictures =P…


Leave a comment

Back in Kansai (Kobe ALT edition)

More than a month post-TO, I’ve pretty much settled into a routine in my new life here in Kobe. Kobe really is a city which is very easy to be a foreigner in…even if I’m often told I look (and act) extremely Japanese. (And not just by the students.) Furthermore, the Kobe welcome team (consisting of the Kobe Education Centre or KEC, 2 CIRs and a bunch of senior ALTs of whom many are ‘unicorns’) made sure we never felt lost or confused the first few weeks we arrived.

Said first few weeks were busily spent on orientation. Senior ALTs brought us around, showing us where to go for cheap eats, where to hang out on Fridays and where to buy our necessities around our homes. We helped out at the Kobe Summer School, got Japanese language lessons where everyone made a speech (and I had the worst luck of giving my speech after a magician performed!!!!!!! -________-;;;;;;), and received 2 days of ALT training. KEC went out of its way to make sure that all its ALTs are well-settled in, unlike some other COs I have heard about.

With all the orientation out of the way, work finally started. I’m posted to 2 schools – a junior high school (my base school) and an affliated elementary school. I spend 3 days at the JHS and 2 at the ES. There are 3 ALTs at the JHS, so each of us take one grade level. I’m in charge of the 2年生s, and almost everyone will agree that they can be a handful, being sandwiched between the bright-eyed bushy tails 1年生s and the forced-to-be-serious 3年生s. I’m trying to bribe them with presents from Singapore, and it seems to work in some classes, though not all.

In my ES though, I’m the only ALT for all 6 levels. I have 41 classes of students from 1年 to 6年, so trust me, it’s a huge challenge! Right now, even for my self-introduction lessons, I have to tailor it to each grade level and help them revise what they learnt in the previous semester. My kids are all so smart, though!

Of course, it hasn’t been all work and no fun, so here are some pictures to show you what else has been happening in my life.

奈良燈花会 8月14日

First visit to USJ 26 Aug

Awesome delicious cake from the JHS Girls’ Night Out 1 Sep

Make-them-hungry Singaporean food pictures for my self-introduction

Collect-them-all! English passport for my JHS kids

Trip report for Tottori to follow soon!

Leave a comment

Of observatory visits and wifi parties

TO started with breakfast, which, as has been mentioned many times, was really decent. Fortified with food and coffee, we went into the conference area where the opening ceremony was going to be held. Kobe JETs were right in the front of the room, which meant it was going to be hard to get away with dozing off. (Dang!)

Before the actual ceremony started, we had a lesson on how to bow. It was…interesting XD

The keynote speech was given by someone who looked extremely familiar to most of the incoming JETs. There was a collective gasp of recognition and laughter when he told us who he was, and I even got a picture with him. Since he seems to be the regular presenter for the keynote speech, I’ll leave it a secret for the 2013 JETs to find out who he is 😉

Lunch followed after, and some of the Singaporeans decided to brave the catered lunch despite warnings from our senpais. Me, I had an appointment to keep with said senpais. Awesome lunch! :9

Presentations continued into the afternoon, and it was a challenge for some of us to stay awake through all of them. (Not naming names here! LOL.) Honestly speaking, though, although each presentation had something useful, it became hard to get anything really concrete out of them as the presenters were always careful to point out that ‘ESID’. That made asking questions somewhat difficult.

With the last session over, we went back to the rooms to refresh ourselves and get ready for the welcome reception. Now, I was informed that the food runs out really fast, but it didn’t really turn out that way. Then again, it could be because after the first round, I snucked over to the Tohoku side of the room where more Singaporeans were gathered and the food was replenished. Hehe. 😛

Plans were made for a wifi party at the boys’ room that night, so after the reception, we made a conbini run. The Lawsons near Keio Plaza continually ran out of food and drinks as JETs after JETs raided it. I wonder if they’re already used to it.

After an awesome wifi party that night, plans were made by the ‘pontang’ gang for breakfast the next morning. As for what happened after…it’s a secret between members only 😉

For lunch though, most of us decided to abandon the catered lunch (many people expressed their regret at having had lunch that first day) and headed for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building right across the road. Tip to all new JETs: there’s a staff canteen on the 32nd floor which is open to public, and very affordable with a great view. Highly recommended! Be warned that it gets really busy, though, so run there after you’re released for lunch to get there before the crowd does.

Packing commenced after the last lecture as we were told that our bags had to be ready before we headed for the embassy dinner. We packed everything except for the essentials, including our sleepwear. (This is important later.)

The Singapore embassy hosts a dinner for the new incoming JETs every year. It was excellent, as expected (with nomihoudai!), and I finally got to thank my mentor face-to-face after all that time. One thing, though, was that after all the tips from our senpais to get the contact details of STB Japan at the embassy dinner, we were told by the representative (in a very Japanese way) that STB will no longer support our requests for Singapore propaganda promotional material. Disappointing, to say the least.

Back at the hotel, plans for our last wifi party were in full swing. Since all of us had already packed our pjs, 8 of us turned up at the boys’ room in hotel-provided yukatas and proceeded to have an awesome final photo session before we headed our separate ways.

Some of us had to leave earlier than others the next morning, so there were many goodbyes said as group after group headed for the airport or the station. TO felt like one big orientation camp, and it felt sad to be leaving all the other Singaporeans we’ve grown close to over the past few days.

But…we’re off! Next stop, Kobe.

Leave a comment

Happy month-niversary!

Happy month-niversary, 2012 Singapore (and all Group B) JETs! The month flew by really fast for all of us as we settled into our new homes and new jobs. I’ve started teaching as well, and have done 6 self-introduction classes so far. Those kids now know more about me and Singapore than they ever wanted to know. LOL.

Now that I have my internet and no lessons to plan for tomorrow, I guess now is a good time as any to recap about the last couple of months. Although my JET journey officially begun last October with my application, the month before leaving was when things really became real.

Between coordinating freebies from MICA and the orientation, I had the chance to meet many of my fellow JETs before we left. We are a really awesome and friendly bunch of people this year! With the help of N-senpai, we created a Facebook group to share shopping tips for omiyage and up-to-date exchange rate information, discuss internet options and compare our future rents. Most of the 2012 JETs actively participated in the group, and the jokes and comments made me ROFL so many times in the sometimes tense run-up to leaving.

A group of us started a Whatsapp chat (purple liners plus 2 westies woot!), and it became a form of support for us. The night before we flew, we were plagued by uncertainty and exhaustion as we struggled to repack our bags for the last time to make sure we’re under the maximum allowance. Why are we packing up our lives like this and leaving for an unknown place? What if we’re making a mistake? Most of us didn’t sleep that night, but knowing that other people felt the same made it easier to pass the night.

The mood lightened once we actually got to the airport, and smiles were exchanged as we checked in. There were many hugs and tears at the airport when we left, and as all 23 of us gathered together and headed for the plane (and our new lives), a sense of camaraderie was built, fueled with excitement and anticipation.

Which promptly was set aside once we got onto the plane and fell asleep after lunch, knackered out from the tension and late-night packing. (o_ _)o.。oOO

The shut-eye gave us enough energy to get off the plane and start the long journey into Narita and Tokyo though. Most of us got onto the same bus, and that gave us a chance again to talk to one another. Excitement grew as we passed by Tokyo Sky Tree, and knowing that we didn’t have the time to visit this trip made us promise one another to meet in Tokyo again to go up on it (and visit Disneyland, and Ghibli Studios…).

When we finally arrived at Keio Plaza (after a long drive with slow traffic), all we wanted to do was to put our things down and go for dinner! A gang of us took over a ramen place just down from the hotel and had a loud dinner, culminating in us scaring the poor Japanese guy in the next table as we asked him to take a picture for us.
喜ビコーラス サン!ハイッ!|*>ω<)ノ  (>ω<*(>ω<*(>ω<*)幸セー♪

A conbini run later, we headed back to our hotel rooms for a good night’s rest and preparation for the start of TO the next morning.

(To be continued…)