Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Zits the Size of Mt. Fuji

You’ve finally settled into your apartment and your new routine in Japan. You’re in the euphoric peak of culture shock, where everything is perfect and wonderful. Until one morning, as you wash your face, you feel slight pain underneath the surface of your skin, indicating an emerging zit. “Whatever, it’s no big deal,” you tell yourself as you head out to work. However, later in the day, the zit finally pops its ugly head, causing you to rush to the bathroom to pop it. “Problem solved.”
However, the following morning you notice three more giant, Mt. Fuji-esque zits have appeared on your face. You decide it’s best to ignore the problem but every day more zits appear on your face while older zits take a long-drawn-out time to disappear. Sooner or later, it looks like Godzilla has wreaked havoc on your skin, forcing you to feign illness and wear a surgical mask at work in order to hide the blemishes. Despite sympathizing with your pubescent students, your confidence has plummeted and, in a foreign country, you are unsure of your options.

Don’t panic! Instead, let’s talk about acne and learn about some of the options available to you in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Here’s the Deal about Acne

Your skin in the largest organ on your body and many factors can contribute to acne. Acne is a disease of the skin not a skin type that affects a wide range of people of various ages. In other words, your teenage students aren’t the only ones who can suffer from acne. In fact, there are many people who suffer from skin-related issues, like acne, after their arrival to Japan – you aren’t alone! The important thing to remember is that you do not have to put up or “deal” with acne. Nevertheless, if your acne is serious, see a dermatologist (legal disclaimer: done).

Identifying the Cause of Your Acne

Scientists are stumped at the exact cause of acne (you know, since it’s your largest organ) but recent research has identified certain factors that may worsen acne in someone who already has the skin disorder. These factors can be broken down into stress, diet, hormones, and genetics.

Stress
Photo by Jpellgen

Whether you’re upset when automatic doors in Japan won’t open fast enough or frustrated when someone uses difficult-to-understand 敬語 over the phone, research has shown that moments of heightened stress can cause your acne to flare up due to the increased production of sebum, an oil secreted from the sebaceous glands, which mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria to clog pores. Life in Japan is full of daily stressors, but it is vital to relax and unwind at the end of the day. Meditation is a great way to destress and if you’re new to meditation or can’t get out of your own head (like me), the app, Headspace, offers a wonderful guide to assisted meditation. Exercise is also a great option for those who like to actively unwind — just make sure you wash your face. Another app, Pocket Yoga, offers an inexpensive way to get a great workout at home. Tie that in with medication, and you’ll be Gandhi in no time!

Unfortunately, a modern-day Gandhi (or Dōgen — if you want to get Japanesey) can still suffer from acne. Nevertheless, in a moment of stress, the worst thing you can do to your face is to pop your zits. Unsightly blemishes are stressful, but resist the urge to scan your face and pop a zit. This is especially difficult when the craters of Mt. Zitville are staring at you, but it’s best to leave them alone. When you pop a zit, you inadvertently spread bacteria and oils from your hands to you face, causing small gashes that can lead to scarring. In short, keep your hands off your face.

Diet
Photo by Mie Imanashi

There is no solid evidence that links poor diets with acne, but research has shown that high glycemic diets and high glycemic foods, which increase insulin production, are associated with worsening acne. Binging on Japanese sweets since your arrival? Maybe that fifth box of コアラのマーチ wasn’t the best idea. I’ll admit Ghana chocolate by Lotte is amazing but if you notice a correlation between eating sweets and acne, then it’s time switch to healthier options like fruit. You may also need to lower your consumption of processed carbohydrates, such as rice and breads (yes, even melon pan). Milk in Japan, usually whole milk, is high in lactose, which is a type of sugar. Therefore, a low-sugar or lactose-free option, such as Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze, is a healthier alternative.  Everyone bodies react to foods differently, but eating healthier could help your complexion. Sayonara 給食 milk!

Hormonal
As you age, your hormones change and this may cause an increase in testosterone that could lead to acne. My dermatologist lovingly refers to it as a “second puberty.” Therefore, someone with relatively no history of acne can have a sudden and aggressive outbreak due to hormonal changes. These zits usually appear on the lower part of the face around the mouth and jawline. Also, unlike whiteheads, they are profounder, red, and painful — almost like cyst. Only a dermatologist, who may prescribe a combination of antibiotics or recommend birth control, can treat hormonal acne.

Genetics
You’re grandparents had acne. Your parents had acne. Your older sibling had acne. Now, you have acne. You were born that way (#LadyGaga), but you don’t have to live that way — visit a dermatologist.

Other factors
Call me crazy, but I have a strange theory that there is something in the air or water that can also trigger acne or other related skin issues. My friends and I noted that our acne would go clear up when we visited our home or other countries, but would emerge once more when we returned to Japan. I’m not sure if it’s pollen or hard/soft water, but that may be something to look into.

Acne Products in Japan

It’s difficult to know what Japanese products to use because everything is unfamiliar. Therefore, you could spend an exasperating amount time at the store trying to read labels in order to figure of if the product is a face or hand wash. Nevertheless, here are some products you can try:

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, commonly found in grocery stores, superstores (like Don Quixote), and Aeon (a.k.a. Jusco), is a wash that removes dirt, clears impurities, and dissolves makeup while nourishing the skin. Ladies and Gents: it’s important to develop of nightly cleansing routine that consists of removing makeup and/or washing your face — no excuses.

For a cheaper alternative, try Kose Softymo Deep Cleaning Oil. Looking for a natural solution? Try extra-virgin olive oil!
Mentholatum Acnes Medicated Cream

If you’re looking for an everyday acne cleanser, look no further than Mentholatum Acnes Medicated Cream. This product’s active ingredient, isopropyl methyl phenol, sterilizes skin in order to prevent acne. You’ll be able to spot this product with ease at grocery stores and Aeon – just look for the word “Acnes.” Despite its great reviews, this product can cause peeling and redness in those with dry or sensitive skin. I recommend using minimal amounts of this product, every other day, along with an oil-free moisturizer. If your skin feels tight after using the product, you have inadvertently stripped the necessary oils from your face. This will cause your glands to produce more oils, which can clog your pores and cause acne. Remember, you want a clean feeling, not a tight feeling. Also, avoid exfoliates, as they can irritate the skin and worsen acne.

This company offers other acne products such as spot creams and medicated BB cream.

Strawberry Nose Medicated Concealer



Are you covering your pimples with foundation? Stop that immediately! Covering your strawberry nose full of the redness of pimples or blackheads and/or large pores with makeup only makes the situation worse. Care for your face by covering those pimples with our medicated concealer, while wearing your makeup as usual! The medicated agent kills germs, suppresses inflammation and prevents the formation of pimples! The cute design of the bottle will cheer you up, too.

The only downside is that the concealer is only available in light skin tones and it’s mostly found in stores with a large makeup selection, like Don Quixote.

Manuka Honey
Need a mask for spa night? Try a mix of Manuka honey and cinnamon. Manuka honey is produced from bees that feed from the manuka tree in Australia and New Zealand. As you may not know, honey and cinnamon are natural antibiotics, and Manuka honey is the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of honeys. Manuka honey is found in stores like Max Value or online at iherb.com.

Dermatologist Visit in Japan



The best solution for acne is to see a dermatologist. This can be a bit daunting in a foreign country, but don’t fret - it’s painless. Search “Dermatologist” or (hifuka) on Google Maps for a local clinic or ask a close friend/coworker for a recommendation. Generally, dermatologist’s office hours extend into the late evening and weekends, but you don’t need an appointment - just visit the clinic, present your insurance card, and let them know you are there for acne (ニキビ; nikibi). You will be asked to fill out a general medical form while you wait. Be prepared to wait at least an hour before seeing the dermatologist, as they are in high demand.

Once you are called, you will be presented to the dermatologist who will quickly examine your face (sans makeup, ladies). There may not be much of an exchange between you and the dermatologist because this is a fairly common disease. Depending on the severity of your acne, the dermatologist may proscribe a combination of medicines:

Basic
  • Antibiotic creams, such as clindamycin
Severe
  • Oral Antibiotics
  • Vitamin B12 and E
  • Kampō, Chinese traditional medicine, for detoxification

Be sure to use the medication as proscribed, but here is some insight: the antibiotic creams can cause drying, irritation, peeling, and redness. Make sure that you are using a gentle face wash (not medicated) before applying antibiotics. Moreover, avoid spreading the cream on the bags of your eyes, as your skin is thin and highly sensitive in this area. Also be forewarned that your acne may temporarily worsen before clearing, so be patient. Nevertheless, if you do not see result by the second week, visit the dermatologist once more so that they may prescribe a different medicine or additional treatments.

ファイット!



There is no simple solution for curing acne and it’s not an overnight fix. Try to identify what factors in your life, whether stress or diet, have changed since you’ve arrival to Japan, familiarize yourself with Japanese products and if your acne worsens, visit a dermatologist who can prescribe the necessary medications. It’s a hard battle — one that I am still battling — so to everyone fighting acne in Japanland, 頑張っれ!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

JET Lag

 I had a week to recover from JET lag before starting my first day at work

 The JET Handbook has a small chapter dedicated to reverse culture shock, but I'll sum it in one sentence: no one cares about your JET experience. That sounds pretty harsh but the reality is that most people will not be able to relate to the experience despite finding it interesting.

I was back to where I started, physically, but I was a different woman than the one who boarded a plane over two years ago. If I could visit my past self, I'd give her a big hug. And then a small shove to toward the plane because we'd create some sort of disaster when seeing each other...what was I talking about?

Oh yea! As you learned from this post,  I secured a good job before my return and I focused all of my energy in setting up my life in Miami. Unfortunately, that was more expensive than what I previously imagined; no thanks to my cat, Tiger, and his visit to the veterinarian the day after my arrival. Oh Tiger. But I managed.

My first real moment of reverse culture shock occurred on my first day of work. I was so overwhelmed with the newness of everything that I looked at my Taketomi star sand and said, "Was I really there?" I  realized that I was no longer an English teacher in Japan and, weirdly, my experience felt like a dream. Another moment of reverse culture shock occurred at the grocery store. I idiotically made the mistake entering a Super Walmart. I felt completely overwhelmed and left without buying any food because there were too many unhealthy choices.

I've previously stated that I hate change. Now, I know that I can handle any unknown situation as long as I focus on the benefits. I can also cope with change by creating a routine, one that ultimately benefits me. That right! Your girl as gone all philosophical! So if you're wondering, I can handle the supermarket now.

I wasn't too worried about my social life when I returned because my birthday fell on the weekend that I returned. I was use to "chill" nights every weekend with my OkiLocos, but it was great to go out with my ladies and have THE WORST BIRTHDAY EVER! My all-time-favorite restaurant really let me down in more ways that one. And the following day of snorkeling was 5% LESS OF A DISASTER! When did Jellyfish season start in Florida? It was great seeing my friends and catching up with people I haven't seen in forNEVER! They've really helped smooth my transition back home and I can't thank them enough. Thanks you guys!

Right now, I am focused on growth - both professionally and personally. I told my friend the other day about an event that I want to attend and she said, "Lmao, you're into that?" I replied, "The point is to try something new...I'm not trying to be that stubborn, crazy girl I use to be." Ok, I'll always be crazy and a bit stubborn and, although you'll never see me waste my money on a Miami Dolphins' game (DefinitelyNOTSorry), I want to be exposed to different things. Listen, I use to hate swimming and after Okinawa, I'm a mermaid. 




So my advice to JETs returning home:
  • Start your job search early
  • Meet with friends
  • Be a tourist in your own hometown
  • Focus on growth
  • Do you


Sayonara.




Sunday, August 30, 2015

Yaya's Goodbye Rap

Iacinta (a.k.a. Yaya), an OkiJET from New Zealand, wrote the awesomest rap EVER! She's a downright sweetheart and the most coolest girl I know! Thanks Yaya! This made me ugly cry at the airport. I plan to visit you in New Zealand soon! Hobbit holes!


Yo! Yo!
Let me tell you 'bout Gabie
Pretty girl from Miami
Likes having fun in the sun
Making Nuns Buns not puns

Nights out on the town
She'll be tryna "get down"
Causing good kinds of trouble
Sippin' drinks without bubbles

Ain't got no time for shy guys
So she gives them the side-eye
Such a powerful stare
That makes the typhoons disappear

But don't mistake her kindness for fierceness
For she is actually just fearless
We will miss dear Gabie sorely
But we'll catch up one day, won't we?
Surely!
Woooorrrdd.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Saying Goodbye

“Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.” - Charles M. Schulz


I was uncomfortable informing the Kinderbabies at my Monday school that I would not return after summer vacation. They were confused because they cannot yet comprehend time or space. They believed I returned home to the U.S. every night and then flew back to Japan every morning. It took them a few minutes, but they eventually understood - Gabi-sensei would not return to play with them anymore. Some cried while others hugged me and said,「また遊びに来て下さい」or "Please come back to play [with us] again [sometime]."



My three schools and board of education put in the effort to say a proper goodbye with assemblies for the students and farewell parties for the staff. I was presented with cards and expensive gifts but more importantly, I listened to touching speeches from those who thanked me for my two years of service in Ginoza. I was moved and ultimately heartbroken to say goodbye to my students and the people who were my second family. 



Speaking of second family, I didn't realize how difficult it would be saying goodbye to the OkiJETs until I was ugly crying in the club with my besties. Okinawa hosted a diverse group of JETs who came together during my final year to form a great community and support system. Luckily, I now have new places to visit on my travel bucket list!


I will return to Okinawa someday as a tourist but for now, I bid my OkiJET experience adieu. I'll miss the mad dash out of my apartment to make it to work on time; the rolling hills with the most beautiful sunsets; my kei car and its missing door handle; Hey boy heeeyyyyy; gossiping with my coworkers; all of my past and present kinderbabies; the incredible view from Matsuda Elementary; traveling to nearby countries; "Chill" nights; Thursdays a.k.a. beach days; Joshikai in the bathroom; pushing my students to do their best; Shommi, "I see you;" Spa nights with Yaya (surely); giving everyone the side-eye; Kanna Beach, my thinking spot; the talkative principal who held the longest staff meetings; Snapchatting during those meetings; walking down the hall and hearing "Gabi-sensei;" delicious onigiri, the love of my life; my sweetheart student neighbor; weird Japanese holidays; school lunches; arguing with Ian; scaring students by yelling "No Japanese!" during an interview exercise; eating three bowls of tofu cereal and immediately regretting it; doing eyebrows; obsessing over Nutella; 何人, 美人; having Genki Time with Hayley; my students singing the alphabet backwards; secret changing; Indian food; serious discussion with Nic and Matt; Aly's Line messages of truth; that student who told me my makeup was too dark; Tka's Line calls, discussing fecal matter with everyone; telling Mark he can't get to second base; my sassy dance teacher and the dancing grandmas; the way my students would say "What" or "oh my God;" kissing that cute Hawaiian JET (figure it out haha); popcorn; Bad Bitch nights; talking to my Japanese-American students; the call to assemble the ladies; Tka's dancing during a dancehall song; Japanese chocolate; Ashley's dancing and insight; the male teacher who told me to focus on myself; the teachers who cried with me when it all went down; my frenemy who was actually a friend; the person I thought was a friend, but turned out to be a frenemy; Eisa; not functioning the next morning; and salsa dancing with my instructor.


I'll miss it all! 

As for this blog, I'll add my experience with reverse culture shock and include a few retroactive posts.  But to my readers: whether you stubbled upon my blog, kept up with me for years, or creeped, thank you.  Seriously, thank you and good luck with your adventures.


P.S. can I now say the word "bully?" ;)


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Finding a Job After JET

I've got to keep it real! I've heard horror stories about JETs failing to find good jobs after returning from Japan. 

The JET Program (and teaching in Japan) is an amazing experience for personal and professional growth. However, this experience may be disconnected to your home country and/or your career path. Therefore, if you've signed the papers stating that you will not continue on the JET Program, immediately restructure your resume and begin your job search. 

In February (yes, February), I began restructuring, well, my life. I took down old photos from Facebook, updated my Linkedin, put my Instagram on private, and worked on the content and overall look of my resume.  I researched typography and learned about contrasting fonts and styles in order to make my resume pop. I also asked a friend, who studies design, to suggest any changes. You'd be surprised at the difference!

Speaking of friends, my two best friends handled my resume and cover letter. It was important to have another person proofread the content, correct mistakes, and suggest changes. To this day, I can't thank them enough! Love you both!

In late April, I began to actively search and apply for jobs. I signed up for alerts on indeed.com and notified my references that they may receive calls in the near future. During my free time I would apply for jobs. This was the most difficult part of the processes but I knew that if I wanted to be anything other than an executive/administrative assistant, I needed to work and find a career or a career-building job. 

I received an email for an interview in late July. It was my first time participating in a Skype interview and, due to the time difference, I would interview at 10pm. On the day of the interview, a typhoon directly hit Okinawa and caused my internet to disconnect. I panicked but since I still had electricity, I used iPhone as a hotspot and Skyped from my laptop. The interview went well and I was asked to interview again the following week. Long story extremely short, I was offered the position and I had a good job secured before returning home.

Finding a job prior to returning home is a possibility if you put in the work. But more importantly, do not give up! The more jobs you apply to, the better your chances are at finding a job!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Heading Home

Moving out of Japan was a process

I felt like a hoarder as sifted through two years of acquired, yet pointless possessions. 
Why do I have a hot sandwich maker? Have I ever used it? No? I'll just leave it behind. Geez, when was the last time I wore these pants? Whoa! They are way too big now! Bye Felicia (#IceCube)! 
I filled up three suitcases, shipped two boxes, and threw away countless bags of trash. It was a process, but I was prepared because the JET Program offers an After JET Program Guide that outlines and discusses the procedure of your return home.

Read it!

The most stressful aspect of this was contacting my successor and discussing items I had for sell. In comparison to other JETs, I didn't have much to sell but despite offering my things at a more-than-reasonable price, my successor only bought the bare minimum: curtains, a low table, fridge, microwave, washer, wifi router and iron (with board). I could understand passing up my Nitori furniture, but my two-year old gas stove? Luckily, other OkiJETs bought the rest of my things and my successor finally agreed to purchase the most expensive item on the list, my car. 

Why u no buy my stove?

My contracting organization, my town's Board of Education, made sure I disconnected all of my utilities. However, they were confused about the pension refund, something not usually done in Japan unless retired. I couldn't be more grateful for the General Information Handbook and Justin, the middle school ALT, who explained some of the more confusing parts of the pension refund to my tax representative. 

Here is some advice:
In regards to moving back home, be organized, plan, and think "Snoop Dogg" - keep your mind on your money and your money on your mind. Packages sent home were inexpensive (via boat), but canceling my cellphone plan and paying for overweight and extra luggage fees was pricey ($200+). Moreover, depending on your apartment contract, you may be required to pay an exorbitant cleaning fee; double if you have tatami.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Working with Special Needs Students

It may come as a surprise to you but working with special needs students or teaching at a special needs school is not a rare occurrence on the JET Program. All three of my elementary schools provide assistant teachers for students with learning disabilities or a seperate classroom for students with special needs.


For students with learning disabilties, continue to teach class and play games like normal but keep in mind that they may have a hard time learning and remembering English. Therefore, competitions where they have to quickly say words may end with the student crying from embarassment. Instead, have group games or pair them with a friendly student who can assist.

For special needs students, English class is more like English playtime. Nevertheless, catering to different disabilities for varing ages can be a challenge. I recommend asking the teacher about the students disabilities and planning lessons around their needs. Pinterest is my go-to for lesson plans. Cooking and crafts are ideal with special needs students, but don't be afraid to get creative. One of my students' favorite lessons was Twister! They didn't sell the game until the new Rycom Aeon opened this spring, but I printed and laminated dots that I taped to the floor. They had the best time speaking in Japanglish while twisting themselves into a knot. 

Mind you, you may have students that are bound to a wheelchair, but that doesn't mean that they can't have fun - just research! There are also great ideas online for students with severe mental disabilities, such as Down's Syndrom. The goal is for the students to have fun with you and use a bit of English. Teach them fruits while you make a parfait together or colors while you paint - the ideas are endless! Most importantly, enjoy your time with them; it's precious!

This is Jua. 
She's a special needs student who evaded her handlers.
I found her in the English room and played with her for a bit.
Jus enjoys English but this day she was testing my Japanese.
She saying "sekai" which means "correct" in Japanese. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Dentist in Japan: They'll Rip Your Teeth Out

Yea, I'm one of those people that floss daily

 I shouldn't have to remind any adult that dental checkups are necessary, but, I'm going to do it anyway - if you work in Japan (or don't), please, please, please do not skip out on the dentist. It's covered by medical insurance and therefore, it is cheap. Speak to other ALTs in your area and ask where they go for their cleanings. If they don't have a recommendation and they are an ALT veteran, feel free to judge them and never ask them for anything ever again. Not Just kidding.

Once you find a dentist, there is no need to make an appointment - just walk in, sign in, hand them your insurance card and tell them why you are there.



However, be ready for multiple visits because Japanese dentist complete one procedure at a time. For example, if you need your teeth cleaned, the the dentist will clean the bottom row one visit and the top row the next. Moreover, if you have multiple cavities, they will fill one cavity (maybe two if they are tiny) each session. It can be exasperating, but remember it's cheap.

Here is the fun part: dentist in Japan do not use anesthetics when filling a cavity. Thankfully I was forewarned, but I was frightened nonetheless. The dentist actually made fun of me for stiffening at the sight of the drill, but he assured me that it won't hurt. The only felt  uncomfortable when he blew air into my freshly drilled cavity. It was a strange cold sensation that was suppose to register as pain. I know, I'm weird.  I have nothing but wonderful things to say about dentist in Japan so practice some dental TLC and visit your local dentist!

Also, be sure to ask for white fillings! They are inexpensive and look better than metal fillings.

Good Luck!

Monday, July 20, 2015

School Food Porn 2.0

Lunch time in Japan is still my absolute favorite part of the day! Before coming to Japan, I was pretty hesitant about the food but now, I'm all for it. I'm a pesky pescatarian so if it has meat, aside from fish, I pick it out. Check out some my school lunches below! 

Love that salad! So yummy!


I'm not a big fan of white rice ;(

I asked them to serve me less rice. That day was sakura rice! Yep, sakura flowers in the rice!

The Luna case hold medicine. Today was muchi day. I ate it begrudgingly. 


I forgot my luna case so you can see my medicine in the glass cup. Today was natto day <3

Bread days are my favorite. These strawberries are from Ginoza!

Okinawan taco rice without the taco meat. I loved the mozuku soup and the pumpkin croquette!

Benimo or Okinawan sweet potato (purple) was so good! 

The final school lunch: Nan and Curry. 
I wondered about Nan Day earlier that morning so when I opened the bread container and found nan, I freaked! I absolutely love Indian food and Nan is my guilty pleasure, so this was a great way to end my final Kyuushoku.

You'll be missed!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Living in Japan Makes You a Weirdo

There is a wonderful post floating about the Internet called, "10 Ways Living in Japan Makes You Talk Like a Weirdo," and it's one hundred percent true! If you've never lived or studied abroad in Japan, you won't understand. Sorry!  However, if you are about to embark on this JET journey, get ready for Japan to change you in ways you never thought imaginable!

My favorites from this post are:

"Nani kore?" means "what's this?" I use this when I am utterly confused, which is often.


Omiyage is souvenir-like food from wherever you just visited
Sometimes, I get creative and use Espanihonglish! For example, in Ishigaki, I said, "Donde esta the beach desu ka?" It came out so naturally, it freaked me out for a second.

For more laughs, there is an awesome Tumblr blog with hilarious ALT-ism: Inner Thoughts of a JET

Enjoy!


Ishigaki Island Adventure

The rowdiest OkiJETs assembled for my last vacation.

Photo: Tristan Salvenera
I'm sure you know by now that Okinawa is a tiny Japanese island located fairly close to Taiwan. I currently live on Okinawa's main island, Okinawa Honto, but I recently had the opportunity to visit Okinawa's southern-most island, Ishigaki.
Sixteen of us met up at Naha International Airport to board an hour-long flight to Ishigaki. From there, we separated into three groups and dined by ourselves until we met up the following morning for snorkeling and scuba diving.
Cami, an Ishigaki OkiJET, organized the snorkeling and scuba diving! Thanks girlie! The snorkeling spots were absolutely amazing. I'm not the best swimmer (or so I like to tell myself), but I enjoyed floating about and checking out the sea life. Scuba diving was also a lot of fun, but I would have liked more freedom to move around. I also become a bit seasick coming out of the water so once I put my gear away, I hoped back into the water in my wet suit and relaxed for a bit.

Later, we were dropped off a Paniri Island, a privately owned island where we ate lunch, got in trouble, and jumped off the peer. Paniri Island had the most beautiful water I've ever seen! I should know, I've swam in the Caribbean. Trust me when I say that the Pacific Ocean is where it's at. Sorry, not sorry Atlantic.


Our night was eventful; one of my favorite parts was watching the boys go completely HAM during a Taylor Swift song at karaoke.


On second day we all took a 15-minute ferry ride to Taketomi Island. This island is known for their traditional Okinawan architecture, Shisa, star sand beaches, and water buffalo cart rides. We rented bicycles and rode to Kondoi Beach, a shallow yet absolutely gorgeous beach, where we lazed about and then moved to Kaiji Beach to find some star sand. Star sand isn't actually sand, it's the remains of tiny star-shaped crustaceans. It takes some effort to search through the sand in order to find them, but a small shop near the beach sells small bottles of star sand for \300. It's great omiyage!




That night, we ate, drank, and spent way too much money at an izakaya. Later, we migrated to a bar for more drinks as well as pool and darts.


It was truly a wonderful vacation with only a tiny bit of drama. ;)


Want to know more about Ishigaki? Click the picture below!




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Ryukyu Star and My Bungee Jumping Shenanigans


Okinawa JETs have their own online magazine called the Ryukyu Star, where you can read awesome articles by your fellow OkiJETs. 

Click on the photo for the Ryukyu Star's Summer Issue

This past issue, I contributed an article and a video on my bungee jumping experience at Macau Tower, the worlds highest commercial bungee jump. 

To read the story and watch the video, click on the picture below!




Enjoy!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Self-Introduction Lesson: All About Your Gaijin Weirdness

This posts is photo heavy
 
New JETs are due to arrive in a couple months, so here is an example of my self-introduction lesson (for elementary) with a corresponding game. Good Luck!
 
Nice big picture of yourself!
If you're from the U.S., point out which state.

As you can imagine, this slide was a hit with the kiddos.


The teachers enjoyed this one, as there are no casinos in Japan


The kids had no idea what a panther was! On the other hand, do you know what a tanuki is?

305 til I die!

Kids love Iron Man!



They freaked when I talked about alligator tail. Many students expressed that they wanted to try it as well!

This slide was also a hit for obvious reasons.

The only photo of my dad smiling. No lie!

Police officers are cool in Japan

My cat's name is actually Chin-Chin, but it's not a good word in Japanese.

I regularly dye Panda's hair. At first she had a pink Mohawk but since it's too close to her eyes, she now sports a pink tail.

They really liked Mrs. Pricklepants


This was also a popular slide

 
Throughout my presentation I had the students repeat vocabular words, like "alligator," in order to prepare them for my self introduction game.
 
A pair of students share a paper and the students place their hands on their head. When I say a vocabulary words, the students must quickly circle the corresponding picture. The fastest student receives one point. A variant (for younger students) is to have the students point to the picture instead.