Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Japanese Language Proficiency Test of DOOM.

A.k.a. the JLPT. I'm currently prepping for level 2, which I'll be taking in one week (!!!) from now on December 5th. I've been studying for it since about September, although with my work schedule and tendency to become distracted by books I haven't been as diligent as I could've been. I've been trying to make up for that by studying like crazy lately.

I thought I'd do a post on the JLPT since I know a lot of people who come over here end up taking it. Level 2 is broken up into 3 sections: grammar, kanji and listening. The grammar is really obnoxious. It's a lot of nit-picky comparisons between grammatical patterns that are almost identical. Here is one example for those of you who can read Japanese, which should illustrate just how obnoxious it really is:

この料理は、作り方が簡単な( )材料も安い。
1.上に  2.上で 3.上は 4.上では

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Halloween and Thanksgiving in Japan... Can it be done?!

Living in Japan means I have many opportunities to experience Japanese culture and holidays, but additionally it means the chance to share my own with my students and the friends I make here. Just because I'm living abroad doesn't mean I have to sacrifice two of my favorite American traditions: Halloween costumes and the chance to pig out on turkey, potatoes and pumpkin pie.

While Halloween is growing in popularity here mostly due to the fact that people like to buy cute stuff with pumpkins on it, there are few people who actually celebrate it. Fortunately, if you want to have your own party the supplies are plentiful and it's relatively easy to find costumes (Don Quixote has plenty, including many you may wish you'd never been forced to look upon.)

Thank god neither of those turned up at the club. ...As far as I know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Summer in Sendai: Festivals!

Summer was unusually hot in Sendai this year. I think it got up to 36/37 C, which is actually only about 98 in Fahrenheit, but when combined with the humidity here... Let's just say I didn't even know it was possible for me to sweat that much. My last post came to you from rainy season, which I heard a lot about before coming, but it turned out to be what most Portlanders would consider a pretty normal June.

So what did I do this summer? Well mostly I worked, but in addition to that I went to a lot of festivals, including the very cool Samurai horse-riding festival in Fukushima prefecture (just south of my prefecture, Miyagi). 

One of the riders at the Soma Nomaoi Festival

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hello World!

So despite the long hiatus, I am actually not dead. Really. As for what I've been doing the past 3 months since I arrived in Japan, here are some highlights:

March: Did lots of training, got to meet a lot of my students at a Farewell/Welcome Party hosted by our school, and basically got settled into life in Japan. I also did a little sight-seeing around Sendai, including visiting a little town nearby and trying the onsen (hot spring) for the first time.

 Visiting Akiu Onsen with the owner of my school, Michiko, and her friends.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sayonara, Portland!

The past few weeks have been a chaotic series of farewell parties, packing, moving to my parents' house, more packing and taking care of Visa business. The best part, of course, have been the parties and the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends before I go. I had a great party at my apartment a few weeks ago with a lot of my friends, which involved a Godzilla cake, Rock Band, drinks and a hell of a lot of potatoes. (It being a potato potluck, since it was MY farewell party and thus my last chance to take advantage of all my friends by demanding potatoes.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back from the semi-dead

Hello all! Sorry for the long absence- my laptop got infected with a fairly nasty virus and it took me a while to get rid of it. Thankfully being a nerd pays off and I was able to remove the thing myself.

A lot happened last month that I wanted to blog about in more detail, but I think I'm just going to condense it to the important bits now. First of all, around the beginning of January I began applying for jobs listed on Dave's ESL Cafe and I received a number of interviews as a result.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Job Hunt

Up until pretty recently my job hunt has not been stellar. I've had a couple disappoints already, due to the bad economy. The first of these occurred last fall.

I graduated in June of 09 from Portland State University in Oregon, and the year leading up to my graduation I started my hunt for a teaching English position in Japan. I was mostly only considering the large eikaiwa at the time. Eikaiwa (英会話) are private English schools. Some of the largest are Aeon, its sister company Amity, Geos and until recently Nova. (Nova went bankrupt in 2007- you can read about ithere. I was also primarily looking for jobs on a website called Gaijin Pot. While a great site in some aspects, the job listings tend be divided into two categories: jobs with big Eikaiwa, and jobs for smaller schools with no visa sponsorship available (which means you have to already live in Japan and have a valid working visa).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Maura's Obligatory Self-Introduction Post

So the other night I was up late job hunting before I went to sleep, and that night I had a dream. It was Christmas, and I was unwrapping a present, which turned out to be the game of Life. I opened it to discover that it wasn't exactly the game I played as a kid. Normally you travel across America in your minivan collecting children, right? But my game board had countries from all over the world and famous landmarks and cool places that I would love to see.

And that's what this journal is about. That's what I want my life to be about.