From City to Country: My JET Experience

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Saying Our Goodbyes | お別れをする

And so my two years on JET ended. This shall be my last post on this blog.
それで、ジェットプログラムの二年間が終わった。これはこのブロぐの最後一回書くことです。

I thought for a long time on what I should write. And then, I decided to write about the happy memories in my last month on Ikina.
何を書くべきなのか、長いあいだ考えた。そして、生名にいる最後の一ヶ月の思い出について書こうと思った。

1. Visiting Singapore with my students 教え子と一緒にシンガポールを訪れること

Two students came with me to Singapore for a 6D5N trip. We went to many places in Singapore and forged many good memories. I was angry with them on several occasions in that week because they spent money wastefully and attempted to go off on their own. There were some unhappy memories but I regretted for not being able to make full use of the week to be good company to them.

二人の教え子は私と一緒にシンガポールに五泊六日で来た。シンガポールには、たくさんのところに行って、たくさんのいい思い出を作った。彼らは無駄のお金を使ったり、自己行動したり、してたから、私は何回も怒った。その度、よくない思い出もあったけど、六日間全て彼らにいい付き合いをしてあげることができなくて、後悔した。

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2. Farewell Fireworks Party お別れ花火会

Some of my students’ parents organized a farewell fireworks party for me. It is a party I would remember for life. I saved a watermelon which I had grown for the party. Although I have hoped to eat it together with all of them, we didn’t have time and I packed for them to bring home. It was the juiciest watermelon I had ever eaten! I also got a present from one of my best students. He gave me a toy car. It moves automatically by winding up the spring inside it. It was a simple gift and I was very touched. I hope that they can stay the way they are now and that we can catch up together again when I return to visit.

生徒たちの親は私のためにお別れ花火会を計画してくれた。本当にありがたい一生忘れない花火会だった。そのために、自分育てたスイカを保った。皆と一緒に食べたかったけれども、時間がなくて、持ち帰りになった。食べたことがない美味しかったわ!いい教え子の中の一人に、プレゼントをもらった。玩具の車だった。巻いてから自動的に走れる車です。すごく簡単なプレゼントで、すごく感動した。彼らはそのままいてほしいです。そして、私は戻る時にまた一緒に話すといいです。

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3. Farewell Dinner with a Wonderful Family 素敵な家族の送別会

I was invited to dinner with the Takebayashis. They were a bunch of great people and they were my best friends when I was there for two years. Saying goodbye to them was very difficult. Their two girls, Mao and Miu were joys of my heart. It was always fun to play and joke with them. I hope to go back to visit them again.

竹林たちと一緒に夕食に誘われた。彼らはすごくいい人たちで、二年間で大変いい友達だった。彼らと別れるのはとても難しいです。二人の娘さん、真央ちゃんと美雨ちゃん、心の幸せだった。一緒に遊んで、冗談して、とても楽しかった。また訪れに戻りたいです。

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4. Farewell Dinner with my Eikaiwa Members 英会話の人たちの送別会

I was invited to a farewell dinner with my eikaiwa members. They spent a lot of time making nice dishes for me. Although we didn’t talk much during the dinner, I felt that a lot of words were put into the making of those dishes. I really hope we can meet again. I wish them the best of health.

英会話メンバーたちに送別会を誘われた。たくさんの時間をかかって、料理した。食べるあいだに、あまりしゃべっていないけど、料理をしたうちにたくさんな気持ちを入れたと気がした。本当に再会ができるといいです。皆が健康になりますように願います。

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5. Running with the Teachers 先生方と走ること

I was invited to join in a run on the last day before my departure. It was the first time that I ran 6.4 kilometers. I was shocked! But we talked along the way, covering less than 8 minutes per kilometer, and I still could catch my breath after the run! It was a most memorable and fun run! I hope to run again with everyone!

出発する日の前の晩に、生名小の先生方にランニングを誘われた。初めて6.4キロ走った。びっくりした!でも、走りながら、しゃべって、1キロ8分よりちょっと速めで、走ってからまだ余裕があった!とても楽しくて、いい思い出のランニングだったわ!また皆と一緒に走りたいです!

6. Sending Me Off 私の見送り

I only heard of three or four people sending me off on my ferry back, but to my surprise, about ten people came to see me off. I was very touched and very grateful.

見送りをしたい人、三人、四人だけと知っていたけど、十人ぐらい来て、驚いた。とても感動して、感謝した。

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Those were the 6 great memories I had in my last month. I will always cherish them. A friend of mine said that I need to post this so that I can get closure. I hope this helps. As much as I don’t want to say goodbye, life has to go on. There were good times and there were bad times, but I choose to remember the good times. And we can always keep in touch over the internet, on LINE or on Facebook. I definitely won’t forget all of you. And I want to meet everyone again, someday. Take care, my friends.

それらは私の最後の一ヶ月にあった最高の六つの思い出だった。いつまでも大切にしている。一人の友達が、こういう最後のポストを書かなきゃって言って、なぜなら、自分の気持ちの閉鎖するように。それが役に立つといいですね。私も別れたくないけど、人生は進まなきゃ。いいこともあって、よくないこともあったけど、いいことだけ覚えたい。そして、私達はいつでもラインかフェースブックで連絡取れるから。私は絶対皆さんのことを忘れません。そしてもう一度皆さんに会いたいです、いつかに。 友、お元気でね。

Ikina Marathon | 生名マラソン

Today is the day of the Ikina Marathon. It is my second time taking part in it. For the first time in history, the marathon this year offers a half-marathon course, apart from its usual 3km and 10km courses.

Of course, needless to say, I ran the 3km course as I am never good at running due to my ankle and knee injuries. When it is not easy for me to decide to take part in the race having injuries that hurt every day on every step I take, I hate it the most when people sneer at me and say,”Since you are so young, you should run the 10km and not a mere 3km!” And I get that quite a lot of times.

Registration Counter
Opening Ceremony
Bazaar Chocolate banana

Nevertheless, I put on a knee guard and did my best for my 3km course. I scored a personal best this year on my timing compared to all the races, though not many, I have done in my life so far. And that is good enough for me. I bought a chocolate banana for myself and went home.

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Playing in the snow! | 雪で遊んだ!

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It snowed very heavily yesterday. I wanted to build Olaf but I forgot what shape Olaf is.
In the end, I ended up building a weird-looking snowman with green hair and his pet rabbit, with a carrot. I had lots of fun!

昨日雪がたくさん降った。
オラフを作りたいけど、形を覚えていなかった。
結局、変な雪だるまと彼のウサギそして一本にんじんを作ってしまった。
でも、楽しかったよ!

Home Sweet Home! | ただいま!

Flower Display at Singapore Changi Airport

On my flight today, I had three meals! First, a snack (rice crackers), then lunch (Japanese menu as usual), then tea (bread). The food was very tasty. I watched Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2 and Planes.

Rice Crackers Lunch (Teriyaki Chicken)
Raisin Bun

After a 7.5-hour flight, 30-minute bus, 30-minute ferry, I’m home!
What a nice and cool weather here!

Dinner at Hiroshima Airport

But, for the first time in the last two years, I felt a tinge of sadness and loneliness when I left Singapore. Perhaps it is almost time for me to head back. Or perhaps it is because I don’t know how my life is going to turn out in Japan, what with my third graders graduating and the possibility of me being reallocated to other schools come April.

A little insecure, tired, lonely and sad, but looking forward to meeting my kids again.

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Day 6. Last Day in SG! | 六日目、最後の日!

Miraculously, I still received quite a few of New Year packets this year. Whenever I said, “I’ve already started working, so you don’t need to give me anymore”, people replied,”I’ll stop giving you when you are married. So go and get married soon.”

Red packets Papaya and Banana

Today is my last day in Singapore. By far this is the most enjoyable homecoming of the three so far. I had time to do the things I like, such as going to movies, swimming, and shopping, and I start to feel that I can get used to the life here in Singapore again. But there wasn’t a day that I didn’t think about my kids and my community back in Japan. So no regrets.

I met up with a JC friend today for lunch. It has been 2 years since we last met up, so we had lots of things to catch up. I still remember how he used to call me at night and ask me for help with his math problems, and now, he is a math teacher in the Ministry of Education and doing his Masters in Math soon. And me, someone who is brilliant at math, is now an English teacher. Life is really amazing and one never knows how one’s future is going to turn out.

We had lunch at Muthu’s Curry at Race Course Road. I have not had Indian food for sometime and ordered my favorite Indian food, naan, there. We also had Cottage Cheese with Spinach gravy, Chicken Tikka Masala, Assorted Naan Basket, Prawns 65 and lime juice.

Red packets Prawns 65
Spinach with Cheese Chicken Tikka Masala
Assorted Naan Basket

Then I went to my church and paid a visit to my ex-teachers who taught me Japanese. I also joined the evening service at the church. It was a good get-together.

Church Teachings of a Joyous Life
My Japanese Teachers
Dinner at home: Claypot soup
(broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cabbage, carrot, beancurd, pork ribs, shallots, yam and fish)

And so, tomorrow is the day I’m heading back to Japan!
I’m feeling a little sad that I’m leaving so soon but I’m also looking forward to meeting everyone in Japan again.

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Day 5. CNY Visiting! | 五日目、親戚に訪れた!

Today is the first day of the year of the horse and it’s Lunar New Year!
Happy Lunar New Year everyone!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Yesterday, I watched a little of the countdown on TV before going to bed. I saw lion dances and dragon dances during the show. Here are some photos for those who have not seen them before.

Dragon Dance Lion Dance

Today, I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and the view from my kitchen window is great! I spent the morning making some lanterns out of New Year gift packets (or ‘red packets’ as we called them in Singapore) and hung them up by the door. I had a simple lunch before setting off for my ‘visiting’. In Singapore, when we say ‘visiting’, we mean ‘going to relatives’ homes to visit and get-together with our extended families’.

Upon reaching my uncle’s house, I presented the two oranges that I’ve brought with me to my uncle and wished him a happy year ahead. He then exchanges the oranges with another two of his own and returns them to me. This gesture is also customary during Lunar New Year. I was still a little full from my lunch, hence decided to choose to eat bee hoon and not rice there.

Taking the train bee hoon with duck meat, sea cucumber,
curry chicken, vegetables & ngoh hiang

This year, I was able to join in the conversation with everyone else more, because everyone was eager to hear about how Japan was like. There were many comments on Japan’s political stand as well as questions to satisfy their curiosity about the language. One of my cousins told me jokingly that I should start searching for girls to marry over there.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel Youth Olympic Park

I always visit the River Hongbao festival on the second day of Lunar New Year. But this year, I decided to keep my second day free as I will be going back to Japan on the third day of Lunar New Year. Hence, my mother and I decided to visit River Hongbao after our visiting today. The River Hongbao is held every year at the Marina Bay Floating Platform, a platform built over water near to the Youth Olympic Park and directly opposite the Marina Bay Sands hotel.

‘Delicious Foods’ Look! Japanese okonomiyaki!

When I arrived at the event area, it was already 7pm. The place was already swamped with hordes of people. Many people were buying food and there were long queues leading everywhere. We walked around for about two hours, taking photos of the beautiful light displays, watching a little of the stage performances, and throwing our coins to make wishes for the new year.

Here are some photos I’ve taken there:

River Hongbao
Entrance God of Fortune Year of the Horse
Bumper Cars Amusement Park
Game Stall Kentucky Derby
Pirate Ship Carousel
Bungee Jump Swirling Teacups
Booth for Guessing Riddles
Zodiac Sign: Horse Zodiac Sign: Rat
Zodiac Sign: Ox How is the Ox this year?
Zodiac Sign: Tiger Zodiac Sign: Rabbit
Zodiac Sign: Dragon Zodiac Sign: Snake
Zodiac Sign: Goat Zodiac Sign: Monkey
Zodiac Sign: Rooster Zodiac Sign: Dog
Zodiac Sign: Pig Vegetables mean ‘wealth’
Wishing Well Aim is to hit the bell of the wish you want
Pineapple means ‘wealth will come’ Floating Platform
Marina Bay Sands hotel Look how crowded it is now!

One more day left before I leave for Japan.

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Day 4. It’s Shopping Time! | 四日目、買い物に行こう!

Today is the eve of Lunar New Year, so the highlight of the day is the family reunion dinner. As shops will be closed for several days following the Lunar New Year, today is my last chance of doing my shopping for souvenirs and necessities to bring to Japan. After having homecooked fried rice for lunch, I set off on my shopping trip. Look how nice the weather is!

Fried Rice My Neighbourhood

Chinatown is full of Chinese New Year shops selling candies, snacks, flowers, willows, as well as people! It was already so crowded although it is not yet night. As next year will be the year of the horse, there are horses everywhere.

Chinatown Lots of Coins!
Leading horse More horses!
More horses! Shop selling decorations
Shop selling flowers & bamboos Shop selling willows

I bought a sandwich ice-cream from a roadside stall. This type of ice-cream, I believe, is something special that you can only find in Singapore. I also rode on the newly opened Downtown Line. Next, I went to the Philatelic Agency to get a proper stamp album for my new collection of stamps as my old album has run out of space. Lastly, I went to Funan Mall (a place that sells electronics like Akihabara) and got myself a cup of almond oreo with big pearls. It is my favorite bubble tea flavor since university.

Chinatown street Singapore sandwich ice-cream
Downtown Line (Chinatown) In the train
Stations Fines
Philatelic Agency Bendy Bus
Funan IT Mall Almond Oreo with Pearls

My reunion dinner this year is the same as what I have every year. One, stir-fried sea cucumber, mushrooms, pork knuckles, and chestnuts. Two, steamed fish and sour plum. Three, Yong Tau Foo soup with fish maw and Chinese cabbage. I also wrote a chinese character using the brush and decorated it in my house for good fortune. It is a combined character for the saying 招财进宝,日进斗金, which means “Bring in money and jewels, and may your wealth increase by the day”.

Sea Cucumber Sea Maw Soup

Combined Chinese character

What’s left now is to wait for my New Year’s gift tonight!

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