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12.09.2009

Thanksgiving/Christmas

Ben and I had a very delicious Thanksgiving dinner. We cooked a turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sausage/cream cheese/cranberries/walnuts/pickles roll-ups, and warm apple/banana bread.
My students knew little to nothing about Thanksgiving. I tried to teach them about it all week, and I feel confident that I at least left them with the knowledge that it is important to remind yourself what you have to be thankful for. I had my junior high/high school students tell 3 people specific reasons why they were thankful for them and then write about it. Most of them chose to tell 3 of their family members, some chose to tell their friends, and a few decided to tell me that they were thankful I am here to teach them English! One of my high school students, Yoshino, took a different approach to the assignment...

Me: Yoshino, whom are you thankful for?
Yoshino: I am thankful for my parents and my sister.
Me: Why are you thankful for them?
Yoshino: I am thankful for my mother because she cooks for me, I am thankful for my father because he works for me, and I am thankful for my sister because she helps me with math.
Me: Did you tell them all of this?
Yoshino: Yes.
Me: And what did they say?
Yoshino: Nothing.
Me: Why not??
Yoshino: They don't speak English! I thought we were suppose to tell them in English...

Well, at least she had the right intentions. She decided to tell them again, but this time in Japanese.

I looked at the weather for Chicago today, and it says that it's 19 degrees, windy, and there is light snow! Yuck! It's 79 degrees here and sunny! :)
It's hard to believe that I only have to teach for 9 more days before I come home!! I usually procrastinate packing until the day before a trip or even the day of....but I won't be able to do that this time because Ben is insisting that I don't check any luggage, I am pretty sure I have Dennis to thank for this! So I am going to have to do some strategic packing, and really plan out my outfits, instead of throwing everything that I might have a possibility of needing into two big suitcases.

Well, time to get ready for class...after today, I have only 8 more days of teaching before vacation!! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and that they were reminded of what/whom they have to be thankful. I also hope that everyone is keeping warm in this December weather, I know I am. ;)
Sarah, can you believe it...only 19 more days until your wedding?!

...

11.30.2009

11.15.2009

Birthday Ball

Just in case any of you are still worried about the whole ATM fiasco, no need to worry, the ATM has been repaired, my money returned, and the culprit identified: two American dimes found their way into the machine somehow and jammed the coin counter. Anyways.

The 234th Marine Corps Birthday Ball was a blast! I normally work on Wednesday nights until 9:30, but my former Marine boss did not want me to miss out on the ball, so he covered a few classes and made sure that I was able to make it on time. Ben and I spent about an hour curling my hair (he caught on quickly with the curling iron and was able to curl the back of my head), only to decide that the finished product was frightening. With the help of Maki (school secretary), I ended up pulling my hair back into a cute bun and curling the bangs. The ceremony was really nice, dinner was delicious (I got the chicken and Ben the beef), and dancing was a lot of fun. We danced pretty late and then made it out in town to play a few games of pool. I had to teach a Houikien at 10 a.m. the following morning, so we couldn't stay out too late. I posted a bunch of pictures from the night on facebook, here is the link for those of you that haven't joined the book.
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2672571&id=1933097&l=4c263826b2

Yesterday (Sunday), one of Ben's friends (Rob) decided to come over and cook bourbon barbeque chicken, beans, cornbread, and his girlfriend baked a cake! It was a really delicious dinner and it was nice getting to know his girlfriend better, who was visiting from D.C. Ben and I cooked lasagna and apple pie for some of his friends two weeks ago, so Rob thought he would return the favor. How nice!

My boss still has not hired a replacement for Stephen, which means that we are all still helping to cover his class load. The office staff has been stressed out trying to find ways to make sure all of his classes are covered, and we are stressed out because we are all taking on extra classes and extra hours. Hopefully he makes a decision soon!

Tonight, Ben and I are hoping to go see This is it, it just depends on what time he can get off work...he might have to work late. Ben has also been stressed out at work, I can't describe exactly what is going on because I am terrible at the Marine Corps terminology, but I know he is leaving his platoon and taking on a new position that comes with a ton of new responsibilities, all while he is still planning for his big excercise in January-February in Thailand.

I can't believe I will be on American soil in 1 month and 1 week!!!!! I am so excited!!!!!

Hope everyone is doing well,

Nikki

11.04.2009

ATM

I spent about 45 minutes at the bank today just trying to deposit some money! The ATMs here are wonderful, they count your money and change, deposit the money for you into your account, and stamp your bank book with all of your transactions since the last stamp in the book.
Well, today, I think I put too many coins in the ATM and the teller had to come over and spend about 45 minutes fixing it! I am sure she was thinking "Damn American", and in the end, the problem did not get resolved! They have to call me back.....oops!!

10.24.2009

There is a typhoon passin' by and...

it has been raining for a week straight! I just opened my balcony door and soaked my tatami mat because the rain is currently falling horizontally.

I don't like it. I'm out of books and it's too dangerous to ride my scooter to the bookstore in this weather...looks like I might actually study Japanese!

We'll see......

10.20.2009

Japanese

I am still hoping that one day I'll wake up and just start speaking Japanese, but I don't know if it will happen that way.
Do I really have to study?!

The new phrase I learned is: "Ita-daki-mas". I is pronounced 'ee'.
You say this phrase before you start eating food that someone has placed in front of you, usually the person who puts down the plate will say "Dozo", which is a really polite way of saying "Please, go ahead", and in response, the receiver says "Ita-daki-mas", while putting your hands together, as in prayer, and slightly bowing your head.
Feel free to try this next time you go out to eat at a Japanese restaurant, the servers will love it! And after you are finished eating, say "Gotchi-so-somma-deshta", which is super polite, and means "Thank you for the meal", or something along those lines.

See people, learning Japanese is easy, right?!

10.19.2009

IE Island

Hello! Ben and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary by visiting IE Island last weekend and staying at a nice resort. We took a 30 minute ferry ride from a port near his apartment to the island and the resort picked us up from the IE port. We rented bicycles once we checked out our place and explored the island. IE is a fairly small island that is known for it's production of peanuts...the island is even shaped like one! We climbed Mt. Gusuku and were able to see the entire island from the top...it was a pretty spectacular view! We had an amazing dinner at the resort that night, and also a great breakfast the next morning. We didn't swim in the ocean because the weather was kind of cool, but we did put in some time in the jacuzzi and Ben put in quality time in the sauna while I used the massage chair. It was a very nice, relaxing, short trip. I posted some picture on facebook of the vacation, here is the link:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2659532&id=1933097&l=0135388dac

Ben left for Thailand on Sunday and was suppose to be home on Halloween..we were planning on going to his friend's Halloween party. But now it looks like he won't be home until the 1st of November, so I might just go to the party with Maki (secretary at my school) and her fiance.

I heard some pretty crazy news the other day: Thomas, my boss from the country club, no longer works at the country club!! I never thought I would see the day!
So Thomas, for your shout outs to me in the employee e-mails, here is my shout out to you, in my blog: Lincolnshire will never see a greater food and beverage manager than you! You knew how to keep your employees happy, and truly knew how to teach us. I cannot look back at my college years and not think of LFCC, it was such a huge part of my time at UofI! I may have dreaded working, as any college kid would, but I knew that all of my friends would be there, including my boss, and the thought of the countless amounts of essays that were probably due the following week could be forgotten about while I was working. We were such a huge, dysfunctional, Lincolnshire family, and we have you to thank for bringing us together. I met some of my closest friends there, and even have Lincolshire to thank for bringing me and Ben together! Who knows where I would be right now if I didn't work at Lincolnshire....
I hope you always keep the "Best Boss of the Year" award, but it should really say "Best Boss of a Lifetime"! I can't wait to find out what is next for Thomas Wilsey and Sidney, so you better keep me posted!
"Now you're gone, I realize your love for your employees was strong, but we miss you there and now you're gone..."
Hahahaha I really hope you read my blog, Thomas.


That's all for now,

Knee-Cole.

10.08.2009

It's already October?!

Let me start by saying time is flyyyyyyyying by!! I cannot believe I have been here for practically 4 months!! The weeks go by so fast and the weekends even faster. Ben and I haven't been able to make it off the island again, but instead had two canceled trips! Our first one was canceled due to the Marine Corps: Ben's Marines were having a very busy week/weekend and he wanted to be a good leader and stay with them throughout the weekend. Whatever.
We were still able to spend all day Sunday exploring the northern area of the island, which was a lot of fun. We did some hiking and swimming. We took a ton of pictures, and here is the link:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2651211&id=1933097&l=b7add6845e
You should be able to view them even if you don't have a facebook account.
We tried to plan another trip off the island last weekend, but it was canceled partly due to the weather (a typhoon was in the area) and partly due to the Marine Corps, yet again.

My Japanese is coming along at a snail's pace and it takes a lot of discipline to sit down and study. It is too easy to get by with the little Japanese that I know and the little English that most people know...but I am still determined to learn Japanese! Ben leaves for Thailand next weekend, so maybe I will be more motivated to study when he is gone. I do feel motivated to learn Japanese by my need for friends! It is very hard to meet people when you do not speak the same language, so I have still not had much luck making new friends. Of course, I am friends with the staff at FES, but they are all male....which is fine....but it would be nice to have a few girl friends. I get along great with the school's secretary, Maki, but she is planning a traditional Okinawan wedding ceremony and is very, very busy.

School has been busy. I am teaching 2 additional private lessons now and 1 additional outside class at the Naha airport. I really like both of the adults that I started private lessons with, and the lessons at the airport went well this week. I am teaching the air traffic controllers, and they have a lot of personality! These additional classes have made my schedule a little hectic right now, but I am sure after a few weeks I will feel comfortable fitting them in and having less planning time.

We make a pretty big deal out of Halloween at F.E.S. and it has been fun decorating the school with pumpkins and skeletons. The kids love it, because they don't have anything like it in their Japanese schools. Grant (my boss) wants the staff to wear costumes the entire week of Halloween, and even some of the students will come in costumes. I am excited for my students to be able to celebrate such a fun holiday--too bad they won't be able to experience trick-or-treating.

The weather is cooling down and I actually have my A.C. off and my windows open!! It's about 10:30 at night right now, and the temperature is 81 degrees. I am excited to be able to sleep with my windows open.

That's all for now.....send me e-mails!

Nikki

9.14.2009

Tokashiki Island

Nama being cuddly
Nama playing

Tokashiki

Tokashiki

Rock climbing

Tokashiki

Sitting in the aisle

Ferry ride

Ferry

Ferry

Ben had last Monday-Tuesday off because of Labor Day, so we went to Tokashiki Island! We left for Tokashiki early on Sunday morning without a plan, but brought a backpack, tent, and cooler. We took the 10:00 a.m. ferry from Naha to Tokashiki, and what a ferry ride it was! Apparently, there was a typhoon happening somewhere in the ocean that made our ride extremely rocky and nauseating. I remembered my only other ferry ride from the coast of California to Catalina Islands for Julie's wedding as calm and scenic (minus the wedding party feeling completely hungover from the night before), so I chose to sit outside and we gave up Ben's seat inside so that we could watch the ocean. Well, shortly after the ferry passed the no-wake zone I realized that this wasn't going to be a calm ride. The first few waves that the ferry went over were kind of fun, it felt almost like being on a roller coaster--don't get me wrong, I love roller coasters--but I would never voluntarily continuously ride the same roller coaster for an hour! I started feeling really sick, and Ben just kept telling me to look at the horizon. At one point, the waves started crashing over the side of the ferry. Let's just say it wasn't the ferry ride I was picturing or hoping for. By the time we arrived at the island, not only was I sick to my stomach, but I was also tasting salt water, and I had dry skin.
Ben happened to grab a pamphlet for Tokashiki Island so we knew that the two beaches that we had as options were on the opposite of the island from where the ferry dropped us off. We weren't exactly sure how we would get there, but we were confident that we would find a way. When we got off the ferry, we were met by half a dozen buses with the drivers holding up signs in Japanese. Ben figured out that these signs probably told the destination of each bus, so I brought the pamphlet to a few of the drivers and pointed to one of the beaches, Aharen beach, and he pointed us in the right direction. We had to sit in the aisle on the bus, each end seat had a fold-over seat for the aisle, but besides that, it wasn't that bad of a ride.
Aharen beach is absolutely gorgeous, definitely the most beautiful beach I have ever been on. The water is so clear that you can see any fish that is swimming near you, and the fish are tropical! We (Ben) set up our tent on the beach, and then we headed to the small shops to buy some snorkeling gear. Ben and I spent the rest of the day snorkeling in the ocean and taking underwater pictures of the beautiful fish. People around us were feeding the fish, which made them crowd around us. This made me kind of nervous, because the fish would no longer swim away if I started splashing. One even bit both Ben's and my toe! Yikes!
We couldn't believe how close to the shore these tropical fish swim, and it was really cool seeing a lot of the same fish snorkeling that we did at the aquarium. Ben has the underwater pictures on his computer so I will have to post those later.
The majority of the people that we rode the bus with to Aharen beach got back on the return ferry at 4:00 p.m., which meant that they took the 3:00 bus back to the port....which meant that these people paid 60 dollars for a round trip ferry ticket, took a 1 hour ferry ride there, a 1 hour ferry ride back, only for a 3 1/2 hour day at the beach! Ben and I were shocked at all of the people who left at 3:00...but the more we swam/snorkeled, the more we realized that this beach is definitely worth taking a day trip to visit, if that's the only time you have. We decided to clean up around 4 and try to find something to eat, and we ended up paying 1,000 yen ($10.00) to shower. It seemed a little expensive, but it was the only place that we knew of that had running, clean water. We left our tent on the beach and decided to walk around the small town surrounding the beach to see if there were any restaurants open, only to find that the two restaurants we came across were both closed. I spotted a sign in a building that said "Information" in English, so we went in there and a little 4 yr. old girl came out from behind the counter. It was pretty funny, because besides her, the place seemed empty. An older man came out after a while and informed us that the restaurants close from 4-6, and he also said that we weren't allowed to camp on the beach. He showed us a camping ground that was literally right behind the beach in the forest, so we moved our tent into this little patch of campground behind the beach that was nicely shaded, and only had to pay 500 yen a person ($5.00) to sleep there.
While we were lying out on the beach, Ben and I met a nice couple who could speak English that stayed even after the 3:00 bus left the beach, so we knew they were staying the night on the island. We invited them to dinner and had a really fun evening with them. It turned out they were staying in Naha only about 5 minutes from my apartment, so we ended up making dinner plans with them in Naha the following night!
Ben and I were expecting to wake up Monday morning to the blistering hot sun, but our campground was kept cool by the tall trees so we ended up sleeping in until that day's bus arrived with the newest batch of tourists. We spent the day on the beach and took the 3:00 bus back to the port and the 4:00 ferry back to Okinawa. This ferry ride was much smoother, and we stayed outside the entire time.
Monday night, Ben and I met our new friends in Naha for dinner at a really interesting restaurant called Naha Harbor Diner. The restaurant is located in the top of a big banyan tree! So the tree isn't real, but it was still really neat to eat outside while overlooking Naha City. Alex and Julia (our new friends) were really good company, and we had another fun night with them. They both can fluently speak 3-4 languages and love traveling. Julia is from Germany and Alex Belgium. Julia's native language is German, Alex's Dutch. They both speak each others' native language, but use French to communicate with one another. They can also speak English, and either 1 or both of them can speak Latin! They were a really nice couple, and I think Julia got Ben seriously interested in Germany's Octoberfest! Is anyone interested in a trip to Germany next October?? Rebekah, Dave?? John, Beth?? Julie, Ryan?? Andy, Theoni?? Sarah, Steven?? Karen, Sam?? Katie, Ella?? Kathy, Ashton?? Matt, Mel?? Donnie, Hannah?? Sahej, flavor of the month?? Amanda, new guy who you already plan on marrying that I still haven't received an e-mail about?? Christie, Ryan?? Ewa, Natalia?? Mark, Jesse?? Susan, Leslie?? Oops, I mean, Leslie, Ben?? Thomas, Kevin?? Heather, Andy?? Rachel, Emily, Laurie, & Kristin?? Tiffany, Ben?? Carly, Emma, Damien and Austin?? Mr. and Mrs. Howard Martin?? Hahhaa, okay sorry, I will stop.
Julia also informed us that my Grandmother's famous cucumber salad originates from Germany, which explains why I have never known anyone to make it besides my Grandma.

It is official, Ben's sister Sarah is getting married! Congratulations Sarah!! I am so happy for her and Steven, and I cannnnnnnnooot wait for the wedding! They have set the date for late December so it looks like I will be home for Christmas. How wonderful! I will be able to see my family for a couple of days, witness Sarah and Steven profess their love for each other in front of all of the people they love, and spend another New Years in Highland with Ben's family! It is going to be a great trip.

Well, today is Tuesday, which means it is the start of my work-week. I had a nice, relaxing weekend and even spent the day shopping with Maki yesterday (Maki is the secretary at our school). I can't believe how fast the weeks are flying by, and how the weekends are flying by even faster. This experience will be over before I know it, hopefully it doesn't go by too fast!

Hope all is well back in the States!

Nicole

8.31.2009

Worms

After finding a small tapeworm on my desk, I brought Nama to the vet to confirm that he does, indeed, have worms. :/
The veterinarian gave Nama some medicine, and told me to give him the second dose after two weeks, which is next Thursday, and hopefully, after that, the worms will be gone! Besides this small problem, Nama has been healthier than ever! He is so playful and cuddly, I think he is enjoying his life off the streets.

Ben was in Thailand for two weeks. He returned on Saturday and got very sick on Sunday-Monday, but is feeling better now. While he was gone, I spent a lot of time exploring Naha and hanging out with the other F.E.S. teachers. We spent one day at the beach from noon-8pm, which was quite the adventure! Andy, Stephen, and I were suppose to meet a friend who was going to take us to a beach party last Monday. The friend never showed up, so we decided to walk to the bus terminal and take a bus to the beach anyways! The bus schedules didn't really match the buses that showed up and the bus drivers said that they went to different places than were on the schedules we were given...so needless to say, we ended up spending a lot more time at the bus terminal than we had wanted. We finally made it to the beach a couple hours later, relaxed in the sand, and cooled off in the beautiful water. The friend that was suppose to meet us finally called and informed us that he accidentally overslept because he was out partying until 7 am! He was very apologetic, though, and eventually met up with us and we had a great time with him and his friends for the rest of the evening.
Stephen, Andy, and I also had our monthly dinner with Andy's adult class last Saturday night, which was a lot of fun. We went to an Izakaya near the school and had a lot of really good food, and I even ate sashimi for the first time!

There is a shopping center here called Jusco that can satisfy almost any consumers' needs. It is three levels, and has a huge grocery store on the 1st, many different clothing stores on the 2nd, and home appliances on the 3rd...all under the same roof and name! It is a pretty amazing place and is only a 10 minute scooter ride from my apartment. I go there for most of Nama's needs as well. Something funny happened there the other day that reminded me of my Grandma. I was standing in line getting ready to check-out and there was a sweet looking old lady standing behind me with a cart full of groceries. It was her turn to place her basket on the conveyor belt, and I have to admit I was a little worried about how a small old lady was going to be able to lift a heavy basket onto the belt. I was getting ready to help her when she turned around and started yelling, until finally this old man came and lifted the basket for her. She started hitting him in the back with a newspaper and muttering stuff under her breath at him, and continued to do so while he loaded all of her groceries on the conveyor belt! It was priceless....and even though I couldn't understand what she was saying to him, I could only imagine it wasn't very nice!

One food that I have really started to miss while I have been out here is barbecue chicken pizza from LFCC! Ben and I tried to make it two nights ago for dinner, and even though it was pretty good, it just didn't compare. I don't know if anything will ever satisfy my craving for bbq chicken pizza made by Mike in the kitchen with a side of an oring/ff combo split with Rebekah. :/

I am looking forward to this week because I have a day off on Thursday for Obon. Obon is a Japanese holiday that consists of three days when their ancestors come to visit them from heaven. I don't know too much about Obon, except that the ancestors come on the first day and leave on the third, but I bet I will learn a lot about it from my students this week at work. Ben has a 96 this weekend and luckily got Monday, Tuesday off! We are hoping to visit another island and go camping! I am very excited! If we do go to another island I will be sure to take and post plenty of pictures!

I hope everyone is doing well back in the States! Please keep me posted,

Nikki

8.05.2009

Typhoon!


There is a typhoon approaching Okinawa! So far, it has been extremely windy and rainy, but nothing too unbearable. We'll see whether or not it hits us this weekend, pray that it doesn't!

This past weekend was a lot of fun, but also very sad. It was fun because the entire staff, including our boss Grant, went out and celebrated the new teacher's arrival, but it was also sad because we had to say goodbye to Sarah. I am really, really going to miss her.
Here is a picture of Sarah with one of her classes:
This is me teaching one of my favorite classes:

On Sunday, Sarah, Ben, Bob (Ben's friend who has a crush on Sarah) Josh (teacher I replaced), Nagi (his fiance), and I went to the Okinawa aquarium--which is the second largest aquarium in the world! It was a lot of fun and we saw some reeeaalllyyy cool fish!
This fish was my favorite, I forget what it is called but it's huge and so weird looking!
Ben's favorite sea creature was the giant lobster, his mouth was watering just looking at it! This picture really does not do justice to the size of the lobster.
We also saw a dolphin show which was really fun. I think this is a picture of a whale-dolphin(?) but I'm not sure....I just know it's not a regular dolphin.
I really, really loved the turtles! They were adorable!! I wish my little sister Melanie could see the turtles in person, I think they would be her favorite!
One of the coolest aspects of the aquarium is the giant fish tank....here is a video I found on youtube that will give you a taste of what it was like looking at the tank:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9BXcYXAf3s

Today is Thursday, which means I will probably go to Banter House tonight (fun place off of Kokusai Street that has open-mic night), depending on the weather. Sarah and I have gone to Banter House for the past four Thursdays, so I think it might become a tradition...even though it will never be the same without Sarah. It is a lot of fun hearing the different Japanese singers, some of them even sing American songs! I quickly found out how much Japanese people love the song 'Stand by Me.' Here is a video of a really good acapella group that I saw a few weeks ago singing it:

video

Here is a more traditional song, in the video, you will also see Stephen, Sarah, and then the new teacher Andy:

video

Well, now I need to get ready for work and hope that the typhoon does not rain on me when I have to drive to my outside-class tonight on my scooter!
Hope everything is wonderful back in the States, I love receiving e-mails from everyone, so keep them coming! nchhokar313@gmail.com

Missing everyone,

Nikki

7.22.2009

1 month!!

I have officially been here for over 1 month! I can't believe how fast time has gone by! I still haven't been too homesick, but there are definitely a few things that I miss:
1. family, friends, and church
2. Mindy (my dog)
3. being able to communicate with people
4. college (I really, realllly miss U of I)
5. good pizza
6. not seeing cockroaches everywhere I go at night!
7. working at the country club (I miss my LFCC family so much!)
..................................................................................................
While there are quite a few things that I miss, there are many new aspects of my life out here that help fill the void, such as:
1. making new friends, being with Ben, and hopefully finding a church soon
2. seeing stray cats everywhere I go at night
3. learning a new way to communicate with people
4. the stability of having a real job
5. good sushi (still experimenting!)
6. feeling safe everywhere I go at night (there is little, to no crime in Okinawa)
7. loving all of the employees at F.E.S.
....................................................................................................
On Saturday night, I went out on Kokusai street with the teachers, Ben and his friends, and one of my students, Mayo! She is 25 or 26 and really, really sweet!
Here is a picture of me, Sarah, and Mayo:
On Sunday, we all went to a festival that was about 20 minutes away. It was a lot of fun! We didn't stay for the fireworks because it was so hot out and they were late at night, but we played a few games and walked around.
On Sunday, Sarah, Stephen, and I spent the day up north in Ginoza (where Ben lives). We ate taco rice for dinner (yum!) and relaxed all day. Monday night, Ben took me to see the new X-Men movie, which was the only movie playing that day....so we didn't have much of an option. The movie was, ehhh, okay. But it was still fun to be able to go see a movie since I haven't done that in a while!
Then on Tuesday morning, there was a solar eclipse! According to Wikipedia, this was the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, lasting 6 minutes, 39 seconds...and from Okinawa, we were able to see nearly 100% of it! It was pretty cool, I watched it with these 3 old men (in their 70-80s) that live in my building that were also out on the patio of our building...they fed me tempura and let me use their goggles.
Currently, I just finished teaching at my Houikien, and yes, the students are still tackling each other to say 'Bye' to me...I am thinking that I need to come up with a solution for this, because many of the students get trampled and start crying, but the teachers seem to be o.k. with it. We'll see.....
Time to start getting ready for work! Keep me updated on life in the States!

Nikki Sensei (What the students call me, "Nikki Teacher")

P.S. I recently posted an album on Facebook of most of my pictures from Okinawa thus far, but if you do not have facebook, I think you can still look at the album here:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2616691&id=1933097&l=32325d5738

7.15.2009

Cicadas!

Cicadas are everywhere!! My students are bringing them in to class as their pets and the teachers had them at my Houikien this morning! The kids were all sitting around in a circle passing the cicada around and squeezing it so it would make noise....it literally sounded like it was screaming!
Apparently many people's homes are infested with cicadas/cockroaches...I have yet to see either one in my apartment...keep your fingers crossed!

Gross.

7.13.2009

Gotchi-Sou-Somma-Deshta

That is the phrase you are suppose to say at a restaurant after the server clears your plate...it means 'thank you for the meal.' I used it for the first time last week after eating taco rice on Kokusai and again last night after Ben took me out for dinner. I ate a futomaki sushi roll and Ben had tuna sashimi...it was very good!


Before dinner, we went on base and Ben showed me where he works. It was nice to finally see his 'office' and meet some of his Marines. On Sunday we tried taco rice from King Taco, the creator of taco rice...it was amazing!! I look forward to eating taco rice very often. Saturday night after work we stopped by one of Ben's friend's houses for a cookout, his wife is from the south-side of Chicago! What a small world--we got along great, naturally. They have a beautiful home and two really cute black labs.
I am looking forward to this week of work as I am feeling more and more comfortable with my job. Some of the other teachers are talking about visiting another island this weekend which I would love to do.
Watching the Home Run Derby on mlb.com right now, but need to start getting for work soon! It's 10:45 a.m. here and already 89 degrees with a 75% humidity.
Hope to hear from everyone!!

Nicole

7.09.2009

Houikien

Houikien means daycare and preschool/kindergarten combined...I think! I just got back from my Houikien classes (1030-1130 a.m.) and I can't get over how the kids trample each other just to say 'bye' to me!! It's funny and sad at the same time. There were at least 4 kids crying when I left my first class (really small kids, 3 or 4 years old). I wonder how long that will last.

Sarah, Stephen, and I went out two nights ago to Kokusai street looking for taco rice. Stephen and Sarah are other teachers, and Kokusai street is the hoppin' street in Naha City. It is lit up at all hours of the night, and it consists of bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops. It is a fifteen minute walk from my place, or $6-8 cab ride. Taco rice is not really a taco, but more the ingredients for a taco sitting on top of rice. It's really tastey! So we headed to Kokusai street and found some really good taco rice at this hidden Izikaya (bar and restaurant combined). There are so many Izikayas here, almost around every corner you turn!
Last night, the three of us went to an open mic night on Kokusai street to hear some Japanese talented singers. It was at one of Stephen's regular hangouts, and some of the singers were pretty entertaining. The first guy was comparable to a death metal singer, so he didn't do much singing....he basically just yelled the entire time and made really strange motions like he was being tortured. It was quite the show, I really wish I had my camera. Then we headed to this other Izikaya called Rehab that is owned by a Canadian (Paul). He was really nice and used to teach English in Okinawa five years ago, and then he met a girl, bought a bar, and settled down! Strange how often that happens here... Paul happened to know the new guy, Adam, that is coming to teach at my school in a few weeks to replace Sarah when she goes back to Arizona. What a small world! I guess Adam used to teach with Paul back in the day. I wonder what the new teacher will be like. He's from the north-east coast of America, but he is currently teaching in Tokyo. I guess he is sick of the big city life in Tokyo and is ready for the slow-paced atmosphere of Okinawa. We'll see!
I'm not sure what I am going to eat for lunch, maybe a grilled cheese and a pickle?? Reminds me of home and my family!
Time to get ready for work tonight, 2-930!
Hope everyone is having a wonderful day!

Nikki

7.04.2009

Teaching English in Japan

I have completed my first full week of solo teaching here in Okinawa! There are still a few areas of my job where I am unsure of what is expected of me, but I think that can be said for any new job. Overall, I feel pretty comfortable in the classroom and most of the students are already warming up to me....they are all really cute! I teach Tuesday-Friday from 2-9:30, Saturday from 9-7 :\ , and then two preschool/kindergartens a week from 10a.m.-11a.m. The kindergartens are a lot of fun! On my first day, the really small kids kind of just stared at me in awe. They were so funny and I couldn't help but laugh at the looks on their faces when I walked in. After my lesson we sang the 'Good-Bye' song and I wasn't prepared for what happened after. Apparently it is common for Japanese kids to curiously poke at adults in various places of their bodies (this was really awkward), so after we finished the song, all 35 of my Japanese preschoolers ran to me as fast as they could and were literally climbing over each other just to get a chance to touch me. They all wanted high fives and would start crying if I missed them, and while I was giving high fives, other kids were clinging to my legs, poking at me, 1 kid was trying to hand me my bag while another kid was trying to pull it down and look into it.....and this happened in every preschool/kindergarten class I taught! It was a very interesting experience, but at least I am prepared for it when it happens next time! It felt like an ambush!
I am finally all moved into my apartment and I love it! It is the perfect size for me, and I will post pictures of it later on when I get everything organized the way I want it. There is a kitchen area with a small table, a living room area with a couch and a T.V. which is basically just an extension of the kitchen, my bedroom, a bathroom/shower, and then two small balconies. I have a washing machine on one of the balconies but no dryer. Instead, I have clotheslines on my balcony to hang all of my clothes...this is going to be an adjustment, but a pretty easy one. It makes sense that most people hang-dry their clothes here because it is so hot.
I am slowly getting used to the food here, there is definitely a lot of sushi and noodles, and I am trying to ease myself into the raw fish. Luckily, Ben was able to bring me on the Marine base so I could go grocery shopping and buy tons of American food. We went to the beach last weekend with 1 of my teacher friends (Sarah) and a bunch of his Marine friends and it was a lot of fun. We wanted to go jet-skiing but all of the jet-skiis (sp?) were at the shop on that particular day, which was unfortunate. But it was a beautiful day and they did have kayaks available, so we kayaked to a few different coves and saw a ton of crabs! The crabs were huuugggee and plentiful and Ben was really tempted to try and catch some so he could cook them for dinner! We swam for a bit in the ocean and played catch on the beach, I played with the new baseball mit that Ben bought for me as a surprise!
This weekend we wanted to experience the nightlife in Naha (city where I live) so Ben and a few of his Marine friends came down to Naha and two other teachers took us out for a night on the town. The first bar we went to was called 'American Idol' and is a karaoke bar owned by a Californian! It was a really fun night and we even tried the Okinawan McDonald's, which everyone swears is better than American McDonald's...I thought it tasted the same.
Ben had a cookout at his place yesterday and then we lit off some fireworks at the beach to celebrate the 4th of July. The fireworks were very G-rated (mostly sparklers and fountains) but it was still nice to be able to enjoy them, even in Japan.
I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July back in the States! Don't forget to e-mail me about everyone's updates!
Nicole

6.21.2009

Konichiwa!!

Hi friends/family!!
I am currently sitting in my hotel room in Naha, Okinawa! It is almost 1:00 p.m. on Monday afternoon and it is about 85 degrees outside! The sun here feels much hotter than it does in the states, I would say it definitely feels like its in the nineties and very, very humid. I am staying at a hotel that is called 'The Weekly Mansion' which is quite the overstatement! It is pretty small, but it has a stove/sink/microwave so it will do until my apartment opens up.
The flight was long, I had to switch planes three times but was able to sleep quite a bit. I was also fed three meals and had a decent movie selection to choose from. I landed here Friday night around 10:00 p.m. and the administrator of the English school and his wife picked me up from the airport (Grant and Satomi). They took me straight to the school so I could call/email home, which is about five minutes from the airport in Naha and a few blocks from the hotel where I am staying. It seems that everything in Naha is very close together, there are plenty of shops, food places, gas stations nearby.....there's even a McDonald's and a beach within a 5 minute scooter ride! I rode the scooter/mo-ped for the first time on Saturday and could not stop laughing the entire time I was riding it, I guess I just never pictured myself putting around town on one of those! I will try to get a picture on here of me driving the scooter soon..
I spent all of Saturday at the school shadowing another teacher. I will work from Tuesday-Saturday, and Saturdays are the longest days. I arrived at the school around 9:00 a.m. and did not leave until 7:00 p.m.! I will be teaching three classes in the morning (they are 1 hour long), have a lunch break from 1-2, teach two more classes in the afternoon, have another break from 4-5, and then teach two evening classes. I will be able to take full advantage of the hour breaks once I move into my apartment because I will be able to just walk right upstairs and relax (my apartment is on the fourth floor of the building where the school is!).
Sundays and Mondays are my days off, and I have to be back at the school at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Ben and I were able to spend all day Sunday together, which is going to be one of the only days we will be able to see eachother, since he lives about an hour north of me and I definitely can't drive that far on my scooter!! His place overlooks the ocean and is right across the street from the beach! I can't wait to get my tan on...
Well that is about it for now, I do not have too much to say about my job because I have only been there for 1 day and I was pretty tired, so I will post again in about a week when I really know what will be expected of me at my job...hopefully I will be in my apartment by then too!!
I miss everyone from back home and would love to hear updates on what is going on in everyone's lives! Feel free to email me often at nchhokar313@gmail.com.
-Nicole

P.S. The first picture is of the slippers on my balcony. In Japanese homes, there is a small tile entryway where you are suppose to remove your shoes, and then there are usually slippers that you can put on to walk around. I also have these cute slippers on my balcony so my feet don't get diry! The other pictures are of the view from my hotel balcony.

6.02.2009

Hi Everyone!

Hey friends/family!
This website is where I will keep everyone updated on my life in Okinawa, Japan. I leave on June 18th and start teaching English as soon as I get there. I am very excited and will let everyone know what my life is like there as soon as I can!!

Nikki

P.S. I think you will get an email every time I post if you click "follow" on the homepage.