For the past few months, now, it has been my intent to write an article of epic proportions entitled Boot Camp. See, when I arrived in Japan, the company didn’t send me out to Kumagaya to start teaching right away. Oh, no. First there was an intensive, one week training course where they drilled everything there is to know about teaching into my eager little head, and the eager little heads of about a dozen other trainees. I knew that it would be prime storytelling. But, it is now officially two and a half months since I’ve been in training. Putting pen to paper on Boot Camp has been a difficult process and now, I fear, the time to write it has passed. I just do not feel inspired to write an epic on the subject of my training. Still, there were so many noteworthy incidents that happened to me in training; so many encounters with the people that I met, that I would be amiss if I did not share them.
Continue reading Tales from Boot Camp
I got to the bus stop, and it was only about 5 minutes until the bus pulled up. I think I’m starting to get busses in Japan figured out. They work like this. You get on through the back door. Immediately to your left is a ticket machine, so grab a ticket. On your ticket will be a number. Today, my number on the ticket was “2.” That means that I got on at the second stop on this route. When you look towards the front of the bus, you see something akin to a menu board in a fast food restaurant. It lists all the numbers of all the stops, and beneath each one, a price. That’s how much your bus trip is going to cost you. As the bus pulled away, the price under “2” came up as 170. So, if I got off at the next stop, my bus trip would cost me 170 yen. The farther you go, the higher the price gets. After a few stops, the price under “2” soon rose from 170 to 210. Now, if I got off, my trip was going to cost 210 yen. I kept going and soon the menu board flashed the symbol for the bus stop closest to the cable car. Yes, these menus also tell you what the next stop is. Just like busses back in Canada, you pull a string to say that you want off. So, I was about to pull the string, when someone else beat me to it. Apparently, a lot of people were going to the cable car. I looked up at the menu to see that “2” had risen to 300 yen, so I began fishing 300 yen out of my pocket. Now, to finalize your bus trip, you get off at the front of the bus, and drop your money and ticket into a little slot as you step out. It’s just that simple.
Continue reading Don’t Panic: The Thrilling Conclusion
Soon, the train slowed to a halt at one stop, and something was announced. I’m pretty sure the meaning was, “Last stop! Everybody off!” I had reached the end of the line. I stepped off the train and looked at my watch. It was 1:30. I had been riding for an hour and a half. I walked passed the conductor, and out on to the streets of…where was I? I looked back at the quaint little train station and saw a sign that said, “Mitsumeniguchi Station.” I was in Mitsumeniguchi. Now, what was I going to do in Mitsumeniguchi? According to the map, I was as deep in the heart of Chichibu National Park that I could reach by train. There was a bus stop across the street, and people were already lining up to go deeper into the heart of the park. I thought that I had been sitting for long enough, and that first I may stretch my legs for a bit. I would explore the streets of Mitsumeniguchi.
Continue reading Don’t Panic Part 2
I had been in Japan for a shade under two months, and there was just two days left in my summer vacation. I had already accomplished the majority of my goals. I had done some shopping in Tokyo. I had seen The Powerpuff Girls Movie. I had done some more writing. I had just one major goal left to accomplish. Fairly close to Kumagaya is Chichibu National Park. It’s a mountain national park, with hiking trails through forested mountain valleys and babbling mountain steams. Now, ever since I got to Japan, I had seen nothing but city. When I first arrived in Tokyo, I was in a city. I had my training in Omiya, which looks like its outside of Tokyo, but the truth is it’s all city in between. I’m now working in Kumagaya, which looks like it too is a far ways from Tokyo, but the truth is it’s all one massive, teeming, megacity. “Urban sprawl” is an understatement. I had a deep desire to see some greenery, so I knew that, before my vacation was over, I just had to get out to the mountains.
Continue reading Don’t Panic Part 1
What would you do if you couldn’t do your job? It’s something you see in Hollywood interviews quite a bit. “If you couldn’t be an actor, what would you be doing?” So now, I’m asking you. It’s a job I ask myself quite a bit when my current job just seems to be a little too much and I start longing for something simpler. Sometimes, it manifests itself in the from of my education. I’ll just get up, walk towards my blackboard, and start scratching out quadratic equations. When my coworkers ask me what I’m doing, I’ll just say, “Remembering a simpler time.” Only problem is, sometimes wanting something simpler can turn into a classic case of “Be careful what you wish for.”
Continue reading 10 Minutes