Thursday, December 15, 2011

End of the Year

I have been horribly naughty with not updating this blog recently and I could inundate you with the million excuses, but whatever. It has been great here in Japan. I really feel like I have grown so comfortable here and I really enjoy working with my students. Especially in the junior high. The students are really funny and I am actually pretty impressed by their level of English. We have numerous conversations regarding Arnold Schwarzenegger, whether we would rather be beautiful and stupid or ugly and a genius, and what the ideal age is for getting married. One day I asked them who their heroes are and everyone mentioned someone on the island and when I asked why they are the student`s hero, they always either said the person is handsome or strong. I enjoy the conversation class because we can just chat and speak in a casual manner.

Tomorrow, the students in the high school and I are making christmas cookies. It was my favorite lesson last year and I doubt it will disappoint this year. I turn on Christmas music, put up some decorations and the whole home ec room smells of delicious chocolate chip cookies from a recipe my mom has always had in the cupboard. They really seem to enjoy the break from the monotony of their studies, even if they don't really celebrate Christmas.

In Japan, Christmas is more like Valentine`s Day with cake. It`s a day for boyfriends and girlfriends to go on dates and families will eat Christmas cake. Other than that, there is nothing religious about it. A lot of my students told me they get a couple of Christmas presents but the big holiday for kids in Japan is New Years because that is when family members give them lots of money. The older you are, the more money you receive, until you graduate from high school. A lot of my students say they don't receive an allowance so this is the money they use to buy things they want during the rest of the year. I suppose it`s good. It teaches them budgeting skills early on.

I know that I have grown quite attached to this little island because I think of how I am going to Mozambique for a few weeks on Sunday and I get sad thinking that I won`t see them for a few weeks. And I will have a whole lot of omiyage to bring back. Omiyage is gift-giving and it's huge in Japan. It is polite to always bring back some kind of edible treat or nick-nack for your colleageus at your job. I have no idea what I could bring them back from Mozambique that is edible and legal to bring into Japan. But I am up to the challenge. I wish you all a very merry Christmas or Hannukah or whatever holiday you celebrate and a Happy New Year!