10 September 2007

After 10 days...

Just between classes now. Taught my first week of classes last week. I have one class on Sunday mornings, then about 7 classes each day from Monday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday are days off.

I usually have 2 primary school English classes each morning or early afternoon. Then about 3 or so small English classes of between 1 and 5 kids. During the week, there I'll teach 2 Bible classes in the evenings, and also a few adult classes each week.

The kids classes are fun! It's like being on Play School :-) only without the TV cameras. Many games, activites, sounding out letters, words and sentences. They're lots of fun. The adult classes are great too. I get to learn a lot about Japanese culture and build some good friendships with some of the people here in Hiroshima. I look forward to growing the numbers at the Bible classes.

There are so many bicycles here! Most bikes ride of footpathes and share crossing with pedestrians (different to Australia). The traffic flow of cars, bikes and pedestrians is less "aggressive" and more "polite" you could say. Not as hectic. I don't think "helmet" is in the vocabulary of the people here in Hiroshima. No-one wheres helmets. Often you see bikes with umbrellas attached to handle bars to give shade or keep the rain off. At night, bikes usually have one white head light, but I haven't seen a red tail light yet. It's quite relaxed. Haven't felt stressed.

And, I think I need to moderate the frequency of my visits to the hyaku-en shoppu (Hundred yen shop). It's like Crazy Clarks or Silly Solly's, but the 100yen shops are better (in my opinion). Unless priced otherwise, everything is only 100 yen (or about one Aussie dollar). Items range from towels to food, electical cables to seeds, chopsticks to hammers. It's great! (but I've been spending too much there). Good cheap maps of Japan and Hiroshima, kids books for me to learn Hiragana, writing paper and plastic containers are some good things I've bought. But there's one catch... the first time I bought only one item from the 100yen shop, I handed over a 100yen coin, and the shopkeeper looked at me funny... then I realized that 5% sales tax was added to the price... so in actual fact, everything costs 105yen. I highly recommend shopping there.

Went for a great bike yesterday with George! I thought it was time to head towards one of the many mountains that surround Hiroshima. It's very mountainous here (actually, all over Japan). We rode almost half way to Miyajimaguchi (west). We rode through some quite neighbourhoods. Everything is so compact. Parking is a headache if you don't have a pre-planned position. But, really nice Japanese homes. Quiet. We rode part way up a mountain and got a good view of Hiroshima. Then found our way back home following Route 2. There are so many rivers, islands and bridges in Hiroshima!

Church is interesting. Have been twice so far. Not so many youth. Mainly older people, some families, and some children. Met some youth already, and look forward to making some good friends here and inviting more people to come. There are about 100 to 200 people here. It's all in Japanese, and sometimes some translates for George and me. The songs here are hymns that I know in English. I don't understand the words, but I know what the words mean because I know the English words to them. I can read the Hiragana and sing along in Japanese (as long as the song is not too fast) but I don't understand the words. The members here are very friendly, often wanting to help. They share their food with us and make us feel welcome and supported. Sachiko (Director of English school) and Daniel (her Australian husband) are great friends.

Shopping for food is fun. Not really knowing if something is soy sauce or some aloholic beverage. Most written in Japanese. Prices in Japanese. Can't read ingredients, so I make good use of pictures. I can read some of the katakana which has helped a few times (eg. ハンドソオプ = hunddo sorpu = hand soap). Daniel and Sachiko helped us out yesterday and showed us where a few really good cheap import shops. The import liquor shop had some great stuff... actually, I don't get alcohol there, but very cheap rice (2500 yen for 10 kg... normally about 4000 for 10 kg... so much more expense for rice here in Japan), and cheap other western type foods. Also tucking in some Asian foods... okinomiyaki :-) Prices for foods here are more expensive, but other material things can be cheaper (elecronics are cheaper, some furniture and household things are cheaper). Petrol is about 140 yen per litre.

Internet here is comfortable... to say the least. 4 Mbit/sec is a basic connection and we have this speed at home. It's relatively quite cheap here compared to Australia. Unlimited downloads. Not meaning to make anyone feel envious or anything...

The people here are nice. Quite polite and decent. I'm looking forward to making some great friends, learning Japanese, and appreciating a different way of living.

Time for class...

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