Friday, December 08, 2006

Cockroaches and boyfriends

My second newspaper column was published this week. It’s generating rave reviews. Two different people told me it was “interesting.”

I wonder if “interesting” means the same thing in Japan as it does in Canada (“It sucked but I don’t want to hurt your feelings”). Perhaps the humour of my musings on cockroaches and boyfriends was lost in translation.

I was just following orders. The editor asked me to write about my impressions of “Sakawa life.” He also told me to keep it short and simple because the town’s official translator can only read rudimentary English.

For those of you who can’t read Japanese, I’ve cut and pasted the English version below. Enjoy! Or don’t enjoy! Just don’t tell me it was “interesting.”

Settling in

By Sarah Marchildon

I’ve only been living and working in Sakawa for three months but I already feel very at home here. I am constantly amazed by how warm and welcoming everyone is. My social calendar is so full I don’t have time to feel homesick!

Many people ask me if I have had any trouble getting used to life in Japan. I tell them there have only been two major adjustments for me: 1) getting over my fear of cockroaches and, 2) not being asked out on dates.

There’s not much I can do about the cockroaches (high-pitched screaming doesn’t seem to affect them much). But I’m working very hard to learn as much Japanese as I can so I can find a boyfriend. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long, cold, lonely winter.

As for school, I’m having a lot of fun teaching English and getting to know the students. Junior high schools in Japan are very similar to junior high schools in Canada. But in Canada, students don’t have to clean the schools like they do here, and we don’t have anything like your national sports day. Undokai was a very interesting experience for me. I was impressed to see all the hard work and preparation by both the students and teachers in the weeks leading up to the big day. It was a real treat to be able to watch (and participate in!) undokai at several different schools.

In my spare time, I’ve been enjoying playing volleyball and tennis. I try to get out to the pool as often as I can and I run with the students at Sakawa Junior High School once a week. I need to exercise a lot because I’m worried I will get fat. The food in Japan is very delicious and all I do is eat and eat and eat!

I am also taking tea ceremony classes every Thursday in Kuroiwa and I study Japanese every day. I’m learning many useful phrases, such as “You are handsome” and “Are you single?” As you can see, I am enjoying Sakawa life very much.

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