When I was teaching school in Alberta, August 1 meant that the long awaited summer break was already half over and soon the countdown to another school year would begin. When I turned the calendar page this morning, however, it was with great anticipation. I’ve really been looking forward to August!
First of all, this month means a change in routine. We have no regular classes next week. All MIL teachers will work Monday to Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. with a scheduled one hour break each day. Like Spring Week, back at the end of March, Summer Week involves teaching three day children’s courses which are marketed as “English Intensive” and are meant to give our regular students a chance to practice their English and prospective students a chance to see what our teachers and classes are like. The other two days are “Fun Days” with age appropriate activities for children and summer tea parties with light conversation for adults. One of the main purposes of Summer Week is student recruitment so there will also be trial lessons to teach. When we aren’t teaching, we’re expected to be working on projects which may include anything from creating flashcards and other teaching resources to cleaning.
On August 9, summer vacation begins and we’re off to Korea! We’re flying to Seoul and spending three days there then traveling by train to Pusan where we’ll spend another three days before flying back to Japan on August 17.
Hopefully, our return flight from Korea isn’t delayed because about two hours after landing back in Japan, we’re supposed to meet Matt and Robin’s plane! How exciting! Three years ago, we visited them in Japan and now they’ll visit us. We have to teach the first two days of their visit but then we’re using days off and yukyu (personal leave days) to get away for an overnight trip to the Fuji Five Lakes area where I’ve booked us rooms in an inn on the shore of Lake Yamanaka with spectacular views of Mt. Fuji just across the lake. After that, Matt and Robin are off to travel to other parts of Japan including Osaka, where they lived for two years. They’ll be back to see us again before leaving Japan though.
Late August will also mark the halfway point in our year here in Japan! In some ways, the time is going quickly. On the other hand, we’ve seen and done so much in the first five months that it seems as if we’ve been here for a long time already.