Let's say it's been a less than dull month since I last posted. Classes ended and "vacation" began. I say "vacation" because according to our contract we still had to be on campus several time during the summer to attend Open House to promote our department and program. While we did have chunks of time off, heading back to campus afterward sort of jerked you right back into teacher mode and as all teachers know it takes long enough to decompress after a semester or year without having to go back to work for 4 hours every two weeks.
During my time off I did find ways to occupy my time. I headed to Kessanuma in the Miyagi Prefecture to go help do some work in one of the more devastated areas of Tohoku region from 3/11. I have done a lot of volunteer work in my life but this was the first time I've ever worked in natural disaster area. It was a very profound experience for me.
After Kessanuma a quick trip home to Saitama and then back to north to Sendai. That was an amazing trip. I finally go to visit the city I had heard so much about when I was a teenager and going to Suttle Lake Camp. The sensei's all met up with me for dinner and then they escorted me around several of the best sight seeing areas including Matsushima. I also got to go to the new high school, which at this point isn't brand new, but it was amazing to see regardless.
I spent a couple weeks working on research and helping a couple students prepare for the TOEIC exam.
During this whole time, I have been battling plant nats. Annoying little bastards. I've been trying a number of things to get rid of them. Currently I have put them in the shower with the fan on and sprayed them all with vinegar, dish soap and water. If that doesn't work, I may have to say adios to this batch. It's so humid here, it's incredibly difficult to keep the soil dry!
I'll return to the Typhoon...
Seoul. Oh Seoul. Have you ever been somewhere and I thought "Yeah, I could have skipped that." Unfortunately that's how I feel about Seoul. While I did like the museums and sites that I took in and I really enjoyed the food I ate I had such a difficult time navigating the people) and the hostel I was staying in was awful) that I wanted to leave 3 days after I got there. I will always view my trip as a good cultural experience where I got to eat some good food, learn some new history, get an AMAZING foot massage and revealed that I do not ever want to stay in a hostel ever again. I still want to go to the southern part of the country. I've heard Busan is beautiful and that is where my friends are so I'll go there, but I doubt I'll return to Seoul...unless it's a day trip because I would like to go to Braai Republic again.
...and wrapping up the summer is typhoon Man-Yi decided to make landfall 4 days before classes begin. I'm safe here in Saitama, nestled behind 4 other prefectures taking the brunt of the typhoon in this region of Japan. The rest of Honshu (the main island of Japan) isn't so lucky with severe flooding and evacuations.
As the summer winds down here (hopefully it's over soon) I begin to wonder if my time here will be more difficult because Autumn and Winter are my favorite seasons in Oregon. Since we are in a similar climate I have high hopes that I'll like it here just as much. Whatever it may be, I'll keep you posted!