Marching Ahead

Just 10 days ago, I celebrated my birthday. It’s nice to be home and to be with the family to celebrate your special day.

It’s been my practice to look back at the year that has passed (May 2014 to March 2015). Here are the highlights:

May

Enjoying Indian food with Phinez somewhere in Tokyo

Me and Phinez enjoying Indian food somewhere in Tokyo. Our trainer, Cedric, treated us to lunch.

June

Me and Satoko in a phone shop.

Satoko accompanied me to my schools and helped me get a phone. It has been very helpful for me as I was very poor at directions and also didn’t have enough Japanese to ask around.

July

The first time I had a car accident.

A picture of my car parked in the Sun Mansion Attrait Lot

My first car accident! An old man hit my car and tried to intimidate me.

I also had a chance to wear a yukata (it looks like a kimono but is worn during the summer and is much lighter and not as complicated to wear) for the first time

Wearing a yukata (traditional Japanese clothes for women during summer) is much less complicated than wearing a kimono

Wearing a yukata (traditional Japanese clothes for women during summer) is much less complicated than wearing a kimono

August

After a week of staying indoors, I got bored out of my wits. I was lucky enough to be invited by my friends in Kobe to spend the summer with them. I went to Minoh Waterfalls and enjoyed hiking.

They also brought me to Tokushima. I enjoyed the long drive and was able to stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) for the first time.
Sitting near the TV in a ryokan

We visited a flower shop famous for its orchids. It reminded me of my grandmother who loves orchids and has been growing them for years in her own garden. I just had to take a picture of the flowers so I can show her.

In front of the flowers

Loved the flowers in this shop! They’re quite pricey, though.

September

After a few months of driving, I started having more confidence in exploring and driving to nearby places.
Wading in the water before exploring the wedded rocks

Posing in Meoto Iwa

Amused by the Gigantic Pillars in Meoto Iwa

October

I enjoyed watching the Peace concert organized by the International Community Center in Ise.

It was great to work with the volunteers and performers.Group picture in front of Misono Heart Plaza

November

The colorful leaves outside Tamaru's English room

Experienced autumn for the first time. Loved the colorful leaves

December

I started to feel I’m making progress in building relationships at work. One of the teachers I worked with invited me to her dance performance.

It was awesome to watch the (flamenco) dance performances. I was surprised that my co-teacher is an excellent dancer

It was awesome to watch the (flamenco) dance performances. I was surprised that my co-teacher is an excellent dancer

Starting to feel like one of them. I was greatly impressed by Kato-sensei's (the one holding the orange paper bag) performance

Starting to feel like one of them. I was greatly impressed by Kato-sensei’s performance

To add to my list of many firsts, I was able to drive to my friend’s house for more than two hours. I finally met her baby and her family members. It was good to be able to attend a church in Japan with my family in Shiga.

Me and my friend's family members in church

My confidence grew after being able to drive for more than two hours. I didn’t feel as lonely during winter break because of my friend and her family members

January

I thought I’d be spending New Year’s Eve at home so I was pleased when my friend Satoko invited me and another ALT to her house. I enjoyed eating crab claws and nabe. It definitely beat staying home.

Dan & I enjoying dinner at Satoko's house

Dan & I enjoyed spending New Year’s Eve with Satoko and her family.

We then went to Ise Shrine to welcome the new year. Imagine my surprise when I learned how Japanese people celebrate New Year. There were no fireworks, no gun shots, no noise. It was even quieter than most evenings and the whole affair seemed serene.

For some time, I’ve been dreaming about going to Nara. So it was like an answered prayer when my friend suddenly invited me to a JET event. I decided to drive since there will be two of us and it will be cheaper to drive than to take the train. It was perfect because I didn’t have much money and I also needed to practice driving.

Posing with Nara's Mascot. Isn't he cute?

Posing with Nara’s Mascot. Isn’t he cute?

February

For one month, I lived with a friend from Seattle. I’m blessed to have very helpful and generous friends. At the same time, I learned about the challenges of having to move very often.

When we get busy, we easily get distracted. But He's always there to remind us that He's in control and He cares deeply for us

March

I love this month!
The kindest principal I’ve met and some of my co-teachers in Tamaru organized a gathering before spring break. He even gave me some snacks to take home to my family.

With my two favorite Japanese teachers. They're the sweetest!

With my two favorite Japanese teachers. They’re the sweetest!

Blowing the candles

Who doesn’t love their birth month? It’s all the more special when you celebrate it with the ones you love.

Now, who’s afraid of getting old?

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