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Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Summer Vacation

I’m back in Japan after a 3-week sojourn in my home country. I was, quite honestly, a little bit nervous about going back after having been gone for a year, considering I’d never been away that long, but I realized almost immediately upon stepping off the plane in Toronto that I really had nothing to worry about. It was like putting on an old, familiar shoe – just as one of my friends had already told me. She also mentioned that the shoe didn’t quite fit as well as you remembered, another point on which she was correct. I think the feeling has more to do with growing up than being in a foreign country, but I also admit that I saw things back home in a new light because of my time in Japan. I’m not going to rule it out completely as a factor in the vague out-of-place feelings I experienced.

A big part of it, of course, is that I’m seeing my home in a more objective light than I ever have. I noticed this in not only my family and friends (having been away from them for a while), but my own culture, language, and the daily life of Canadians. I now have another standard with which to compare them to. They were still amazing and I love them, but until you’ve experienced living in another culture I guess it’s just simply not something you think about.

Coming back, I packed two heavy suitcases full of new clothes and souvenirs, and I still had to leave some stuff behind for the mail. I was greeted instantly by the oppressive heat. It’s almost too easy to forget about it in the cooler, fresher air of Canada, but stepping out the doors of Osaka Itami Airport was like stepping into a sauna.  Everyone was walking about with fans and faces shiny with sweat. Although it was hard to have just said goodbye to Canada and come back to this, the kindness of the people here quickly warmed me up again. I was charmed anew by the clouds of fireworks seen from the train, and the clusters of girls in Yukata, colorful and femenine, with little delicate accessories jingling and swaying with each movement. And when I caught my first glimpses of Shikoku’s lush green mountains and misty valleys, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d returned home. What a strange feeling, to go from home to home, both familiar and foreign in different ways.

It’s not raining now, but this is the first time it’s let up since I arrived yesterday. Last night, the thunder woke me up several times, one deafening crash in particular scared me into sitting straight up in bed. I think the mountains magnify the sound. It stormed away all night long. My JTE informed me that it’s the tail end of typhoons passing nearby.

There hasn’t been much fanfare since I got back. A lot of people are simply not here, I guess on paid leave or summer vacation. Some were excited to see me, others appeared to have barely noticed that I’d even been gone. I can’t help but wonder if some of the teachers notice my boyfriend coming and going and look down on me for it. I don’t care about that so much anymore, because quite frankly he means more to me than they do, but that doesn’t mean I want them thinking poorly of me, either. No one has yet noticed that I cut my hair short while I was home. They did evidently enjoy the Coffee Crisp that I brought back for them, but haven’t yet broken into the Tim Horton’s coffee or Smarties. I have also only seen a handful of students since I arrived, which seems strange. They are around, doing their club activities, but the school seems extra quiet and empty compared to the usual hustle and bustle that goes on during the year.

Already I’m scrabbling for things to do. I’ll be glad when there is a routine and something for me to occupy myself with again.

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Proud to be Canadian

I know that it’s totally lame, but I had to do it. In case you were wondering – yes, it IS very poorly sewn.

Canada flag patch I sewed onto my purse/mini-backpack.

Also, a photo of all the omiyage/Canada paraphernalia I have thus far collected

Isn’t that exciting?! To those of you who don’t know, I will try to explain what ‘omiyage‘ is, to the best of my knowledge. They are small gifts, typically souvenir gifts, that you give to friends and coworkers as a gesture of appreciation or thoughtfulness if you have been away or, in my case, if you are coming into a new place. Particularly for a JET, these gifts can be an important gesture to show appreciation for the work certain people have put into arranging for your stay in Japan. Nicer gifts are generally reserved for those higher up in the ranks, such as principals and supervisors. The gifts I give in Japan may not strictly be omiyage, but they are something like it.

I keep hoping that I’m done sending things to JET, but it seems there is always something else. I need to get my Certificate of Health redone, for example, because my physician left something blank instead of indicating “no, she doesn’t have any of these problems.” Bureaucracy can be frustrating at times. I shall likely continue to stress out until I have been in my home prefecture for at least a week.

In happier news, the first panel comic thingie will be ready soon – that is to say, Kimchi has sent me a script and I need only get my butt in gear and draw the strip.  I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat!

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