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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 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:



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 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!




That is the phrase you are suppose to say at a restaurant after the server clears your 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 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 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 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!!




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!



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!