Archive for the ‘On the Job’ Category

Over a week ago I had my last day at the Junior High. As I walked out the door, several teachers followed me, as I was sobbing (no lie), out of the office, down the stairs and waved to me as I said my final sayonara.

After the tears had dried, I made my way to Tomo’s house where her family had put together a goodbye barbecue for me. Now, what do you think of when you think BBQ? Hamburgs, dogs, chips, pasta salad, baked beans, the loot? Well, things go a little differently here in Japan, but oh so scrumptious. I love me some cultural foods, yum yum. First up, sushi. I even learned how to roll my own!

It was an epic failure, so luckily I was only allowed to do one!

Not only was there mouth-watering sushi, but lots of other grillable goodies as well.

The Grill Master at work (Tomo’s dad):

Miss Tomo enjoying the summer evening weather.

And Tomo’s mom even bought chicken especially for me 🙂

Tomo’s dad had met Rach at one of her visit schools and wanted her to join in on the festivities, too.

When it was time to catch the train back to Hirosaki I couldn’t help but shed a few tears of sadness. Tomo’s mom was crying too. Her family was so good to me this past spring! I’m really looking forward to Tomo’s visit at the beginning of September! I better get some planning going! Minnesota festivities, here.we.come.

But first, a full recap of India to come!

I’m about to take-off, Goodbye Tokyo, hello Minnesota!

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The Hardest Thing

So, yesterday was the big speech. I barely made it through the first sentence before my tears clouded my vision and I couldn’t even see the paper. I managed to make it through, despite scorching temps, uncontrollable tears, and three pages of the Japanese version I had to choke through. Goodbye Owani, I will never forget you!

Good afternoon!

Today is my last day with you at Owani Junior High School. First I want to sincerely thank Mr. Kasai and Mr. Ose for welcoming me to this school to work as an ALT. I also want to thank each teacher for all of your time and hard work you put into your job. Thank you for taking the extra time to try to understand my Japanese or even speaking English to me.

To the students, I have so many wonderful memories of Japan, especially in Owani. I will look back on my year here and think about you and how you taught me so many things. When I first arrived here, I met many students at the Nebuta festival and walked with you in the parade. I will remember making crane birds at last years school festival and laughing when I couldn’t fold the paper correctly. I will remember dancing the folk dance in a big circle outside with the boys and doing the steps all wrong, followed by lots of laughter. I will remember practicing speeches with Koki, Masatoshi, Keiko, Shizuku, and Koichiro for the English Speech Contest. I will look back on the cold winter in Aomori and think of my favorite time during the ski day at Mt. Ajara, with students, making jokes, laughing, and enjoying the weather. And seeing some of you at Max Value grocery store, thank you for trying to talk to me! Each smile, wave, and laugh we shared together will never leave my memory. A special thank you to the English Club for wanting to practice more English, play games, watch movies, and study. In the spring, I enjoyed seeing your baseball games, the track team, and tennis players at the sports festival and the band playing at tsutsuji matsuri in Owani. I won’t forget a single day that I played soccer with the 3rd grade boys out at lunch. I need to practice my soccer skills! You boys are too good!

There were challenges I faced in the past year: learning Japanese, trying to speak Japanese, learning the cultural differences, and trying not to break the rules. I spent a lot of time learning the differences and appreciating the Japanese culture. Now I don’t think I fit into the American culture anymore! The biggest challenge though, is saying goodbye to all of you. In life, you will face many challenges. Right now, English seems very difficult and maybe not very fun. But I promise, that if you keep practicing and keep learning new things about English, it will become easier and you’ll start to enjoy it. Maybe you don’t want to be an English teacher, or travel to America, that’s ok. Find your dream, find what you love and practice really hard at it. Don’t let anything stop you from doing what you love. Whether it’s baseball, judo, English Club, science, traveling, all of those things are important. Do what makes you happy. I know I did. Japan is such a beautiful country and I am so lucky to have been able to spend a year with all of you.

I came to Japan right after graduating college and wanted to come here to teach all of you English, but also learn a little Japanese too. I wanted to learn about your culture and country. I also wanted to share a bit of my culture with you, too. While here in Japan, I came to Owani not knowing any Japanese and was very nervous to try to communicate with you. I was a part of your life for a year, but you all have made a difference, you’ve left an impression in my life, and changed it forever. Thank you for welcoming me to Owani, to your school, and to be a part of your lives. You tried your best and you all will have success in whatever you do in the future. I will miss you all, with my whole heart. Thank you for everything.


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So I suck at goodbyes.

In fact, I try not to think about them until the day of, then I realize this.is.it. However, in these past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of time to think and many goodbyes to be had. This week, I had to say goodbye to the 1st graders AND 2nd grade classes. I thought I still taught them next week. Nope.

After walking into the first grade class on Tuesday, I realized that this was the end. Hmmph. Not happy ’bout that. I tried to fight back the tears, but they were inevitable and that lump in my throat grew bigger. I’ll add–I’m kind of an emotional person as it is. We played games for our last class and we had a blast. Probably one of the most fun days all year. This is supposed to be me:

After fun, laughter, and tears, we gathered for a pic and the students presented me with this board:

Names were signed, messages written (some in kanji, dang it), and I thought back on all the fun things we’ve done this year. If I can come away with one thing to share with all of you, it would be to go abroad, specifically Japan, but anywhere is okay. I have learned so much in this past year and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The good, bad, happy, or sad times. It all has shaped me into who I am, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

So, enough sap, I spent an hour after school practicing English speeches with the kids for the speech contest, and then headed back to Hirosaki with Ms. ichi-nensei. However, it doesn’t end there! She said she had a small gift for me and I was more than surprised. We swung by her house and she returned with a huge bag. I opened it and instantly cried (again) when I saw a kimono inside!!!

Look at this beautiful pattern and those colors! Yes, there are rabbits on it, and if you only saw the whole thing, sooooo pretty!

What a way to end the year! I’ll be bustin’ out this baby at the Hirosaki Nebuta on my last day in Japan: August 2nd. Pictures coming soon!

Happy Friday Southeast-asianers! Hello weekend!

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Don’t think that I can’t keep up with the gossip all the way over here in Japan…



Molly walking to the station at 6:15a.m. after a fresh shower in this humid, tropical island known as Japan.

No visual, sorry.



Ms. ichi-nensei hands me my English-written speech which she graciously translated into Japanese. Hiragana to be more specific. –> こんにちは。Yea. Had to translate three pages of that bad boy into Romaji. Luckily it only took me ~10 months to learn that syllabary.



Reading over my goodbye speech and already crying. 14 days from now is going to be taken to a-whole-nother level of HOT.MESS.



Thinking and DOING my to-do list in my last 2 weeks in Japan (+ 1 week in India). Hmmm, what lies ahead?:

  • Pick up a few groceries today (unfortunately at 3 different stores)
  • Go to doctor and get shots for India
  • Get heated table (kotatsu) from Owani–>Hirosaki–>Aomori to sell.
  • Order bus ticket for Hirosaki–Tokyo–Hirosaki (India trip)
  • Pack for India
  • Transfer money back home after July 21 (close bank account)
  • Cancel cell phone on Aug 2nd (must wait until the day before I leave for the U.S.)
  • Move leftover food to Alesha’s
  • Get bike/sell to another ALT on either July 23rd or August 2nd.
  • Pack up desk
  • Pack up EVERYTHING at granny’s. Can’t leave anything.
  • Tax paperwork
  • Goodbye letters/contact info of teachers I like
  • Pack Thursday for Friday’s goodbye party in Aomori. Stay till Saturday a.m.
  • Goodbye parties

There’s more. I just know it. But only one way to handle it:


I’m off to the gym, since I’m already sweating in the office, groceries, bike back to granny’s, do laundry, start packing… Wish me luck. This is going to be a little harder than I thought.

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(Picture taken at the CSB/SJU Annual Father-Daughter dance last spring. The man’s got moves 😉 )

Wow a weekend post! That’s so unlike me, oh maybe because I have internet!!! Exciting yes, but the source of internet is not.so.cool. It’s at work. And it’s Sunday. I worked yesterday too. Boo. It’s not all bad though. You see, I came into the office yesterday knowing I’d be sitting at my desk, forearms sticking to the plastic-y cover thing, pony-tailed hair off my neck, mugginess engulfing the office, and boredom striking (although I can hardly call it boredom when I can be entertained by the internet for days! Food blogs anyone?! They’re my favorite! Actually blogs in general. Slight obsession). Back to my point. The Supe instructed me on Friday afternoon that I could not join the other teachers and watch the activities taking place. First thought: what the hay? I wanna have fun too. Oh wait, each teacher is going to their respective activity, because they’re the coach, be it baseball, soft tennis, kendo, judo, badminton, what have you. And my duty? English Club. I immediately understood the rejected inquiry and got over it. No fun in the sun, okaaaaaaay. 😦

But wait, Ms. san-nensei (also the English Club teacher/overseer) asks new Mr. V.P. if I can join her after our English Club duties to the O-Town baseball game, track meet, and soft-tennis match…and he says: YES! What a day maker, not breaker! Wahoooo, free at last. I didn’t have to sit in the muggy office for another minute. Come 11a.m. I was heading out the door, into the blazing sun, and ready to root for my home team.

It was a scorcher outside. As you can see, I wasn’t exactly prepared for the conditions (please excuse my freshly showered, wet-haired self in my p.j.’s.) I’m a lobster, again.

Sweet tan burn-line, eh? Not flattering for the next few days, that’s for sure. After the day in the sun, and going from 8a.m. until 3p.m. without proper nourishment (I don’t know how the Japanese do it). I was about to gnaw off my left shoe, too bad I wasn’t wearing crocs, heard those were edible! Anyway, teach and I finally stopped for some much-needed tempura and cold soba combo. Hit the spot! Home before 3p.m., in bed and watching House. I was too pooped to run in those scorching conditions.

Back at the office today and no such luck in the sporting/spectating area today. Had English Club again though. Movie day. We saw “Jumper”. I think that’s the name. It was pretty cute. Guy can jump to different places, falls in love, tries to save girl/find out his talent/survive the evil “Jumper killers”. Haha, sounds so weird, but it wasn’t half-bad. Plus it’s pouring BUCKETS today. Power’s gone out twice while sitting here! Maybe I should have taken the opp to run yesterday while it wasn’t monsooning. Hello rainy season. Hope the condition improve for my race next weekend! The forecast say showers for the next 5 days. What is this, Minnesota?! Geez.

I hope everyone else is having a super-di-duper weekend where ever you may be! 44 days, I know where I’ll be…MINNESOTA!!! I asked my mom to arrange a gathering at the airport, for hugs, tears, balloons, family, friends, streamers, and a band. She’s workin’ on that. 😉 Feel free to stop by! Haha.

Ok, I’m just being weird now, so back to ‘work’ and I’ll see ya tomorrow, it’s Monday after all. (Lucky for me, it’s really Friday, since I have Tuesday and Wednesday off!) More reason to celebrate!

Ja ne!

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Face of a runner, getting beat by 14 year old’s. Embarrassing.

I know I appear to be enjoying it, but in reality, I was suffering, and that is a true face a pain (mixed with a huge, fake smile).

Back to the weekend and what I happened to pick up while out shopping with Tomo, for a very good price: A rose ring. Love this!

And a green scarf:

I love this little nylons. I don’t know if the craze has hit the U.S. but I think it should. You see, the Japanese rarely go barefoot (I learned this lesson the hard way…as with most lessons, let’s be serious), but you’ll see ladies wearing these guys with cute flats or both closed/open toed heels. Love the concept, and since I’m trying to improve my sense of fashion, I thought I’d tack these onto my must-purchase list. And for Y100 ($1), yes please.

And lastly, fun with Tomo! Hard to see, but these little photo booths, aka Pirikura are super popular here in Japan, and a TON of fun. It was only my second time going, but why had I not been going more?! You take the pics, then you can spruce ’em up with this pen/computer and add all these decals and words. And everyone goes home a winner. Got my own copy:

And at last, this surprise I’ve been holding out on:

But that’s not it. I’m gathering some of my favorite teas and a few Japanese things, unique to where I live here. I wanna do a giveaway!!!! Nothing too fancy, but I wanna hear from lurkers and faithful friends what you favorite place to travel in the world is. Be as specific as you like, if it’s down to the very restaurant you ate at, what you had, the museum, or beach, or just country. You know I’ll be adding to my wish list of places I want to go after hearing from everyone 🙂 I also wanna know why it’s your favorite place. And if you’re feeling extra-sharingly, leave me your favorite (easy 🙂 ) recipe too. I have lots of learning, tasting, and making to do and I could use all the help I can get! So, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post listing 1) Your favorite vacation/travel destination & why and/or 2) A fun and easy recipe that I just have to try! 3)Leave a link on your blog if you have one, and comment telling me you did so! In return, I’ll send you a little love from rural Japan…more than just the bag of tea above. I’ve got a few more items to post. In the mean time, get commenting! Contest/giveaway ends THIS THURSDAY (my Friday) at 2a.m. (because that’s my 4pm…when I leave the office. I’ll announce the winner that day! So, you have 4 days to leave a little love! Can’t wait to hear from all of you!!



P.S. I forgot to mention…I experienced my second encounter with the po-po last night. Funny story kinda. I was walking from school to the station, and I saw a cop car drive by, no biggie. Then I saw the officers park at the station. Strange. The two men in their fancy vests (no gun included in Japan), started walking slightly towards my direction. I didn’t avoid them, but just kept walking. They picked up their pace (probably thinking I’m a fugitive of the U.S., running to rural, northern Japan in search of a new start and promising future…or just happened to land here because my Board of Education hired me and I was assigned this town. Most likely the latter. The conversation went something like this:

Cop 1: Hello, where do you come from?

Molly: Now or originally (as in my country?)

Cop 1: Now.

Molly: Oh, O-Town Junior High, kara kimashita. (That was my Japanese effort).

Cop 1: Wow, your English is very good.

Molly: <Well, that is my native language (did you mean Japanese?)> Thinking this. But said: Oh, thank you, yours too.

Cop 1: Are you teacher?…Where live…have card?

Molly: Oh gaijin (foreigner) card…why yes, yes I do. Here you go…

Ok, not that exciting but kind of funny that I was approached for, I don’t know, suspicious activity of some sort? I guess it happens to a lot of ALT’s, but it was my first questioning of why I’m here…after 10 months of living here. Guess I wasn’t too suspicious till now. Strange, very strange.

Oh, and I DIDN’T make it to watch the soccer game last night 😦 I fell asleep. Such a lame-o. But, I’ll be attempting another coffee meet-up tonight with the same girl. This time it’ll be daylight, therefore a success, since I’m such a granny.

That’s all, hope everyone’s having a wonderful week! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win some of my favorite Japanese teas! Ends Thursday (Central time) at 2a.m….so I guess that’s technically Friday at 2a.m. Haha.

Ok, bye.

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I took the plunge, faced the fear, and tackled the challenge. #25 to be exact.

I ❤ Indian/Nepalese food. MMMM. Makes me even MORE excited to be traveling to India at the end of July (if it wasn’t for this nuisance of a visa app process, bleh.) Looks like I wasn’t only dining alone, but I had the whole place to myself! Lucky for me, the Nepalese manager speaks a little English. 😉

I ordered the ‘yooj’ (how do you shorten ‘usual’…hmmm. Anyway, Set A: Chicken Tandoori with a side salad, and Chicken Curry and Naan. I finished about 1/3 of each (curry and naan). 1) Because it was only 4:30 and I still had to run (and not get ‘the runs’), and 2) I really wanted leftovers for lunch for the next two days instead of cooking.

Ok, so I’m no pro at the whole foodie picture-taking talent, but it’s a work in progress.

Eating out alone was kind of nice. I took my sweet time, chatted with the manager and enjoyed the Indian music videos on T.V. while I ate. It was a little hot in there though, and with the addition of a spicy meal, I was practically in puddles. Oh well, it was oishi, and I would definitely recommend solo eating to others, heck, I might make a habit of it. 😉

After my quick bite, I headed home, and watched a lil F.R.I.E.N.D.S. to relax and wait for my NEW FRIEND to call. You see, we have 2 new teachers at Owani, that’s right, 2 more!!! They are both 21 years old, and students in university in Hirosaki. One of them saw me running and instantly knew who to ask for a buddy. YES! Only 10 months too late…I’m leaving soon and I’ve just found the perfect running buddy!!! We jogged around Hirosaki for a good hour, chatting the whole time (well mostly me, as I’m sure that doesn’t surprise many of  you), but her English is fabulous! AND, even though she is student teaching now, she will graduate with a Humanities degree and wants to become a reporter! I told her she should come visit in Minnesota and get a job there! You all know how clear the mid-Westerners speak right. 😀 (I’m obv a little biased, but I have heard that many of the news people/reporters who are hired nationally are from the Midwest because of their clear accents…I’m just relaying what I heard 😉 )

After a cool evening sweat sesh, I was ready for beddy. We all know 4a.m. is gonna come too soon. :-/


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