Spring finally came – and then came summer – and then I came home

Well, I started writing this a long while ago – and now, I’m home – so I’ll share the short bit that I originally wrote, plus my own update.

So, a long while again, as is usual for my blog at this time. Spring has finally come! I was waiting and waiting in March and then at the beginning of April (I think, it’s been a while though, so…) we finally had some hotter days. Now, the temperature is usually above 20c on a good day, so all is well. It’s probably hotter than the UK is right now. Work-wise, things are as usual. I’m busy a lot of the time and there are many projects to work on and often there isn’t enough time. I hope I can make some better progress on them by the end of this month. Today is Wednesday, so I start at 11am and finish at 8.30pm. It would be 8pm but I decided I’d prefer to have an extra 30 mins break in before my last class so that I can be more prepared and energised for it. While it’s nice getting to sleep in until 9am I do prefer starting early and finishing at a regular time, so I can spend time doing other things in the evening, or seeing friends. At least I have the weekend for that, though. I also have some fun news to tell you all soon, but not yet. More on that later.

So what has happened since then? Hmm, well, I can’t really remember Spring all that much. I had a couple of days off during Golden Week and my friends and I went to Aomori prefecture, to Lake Towada. At some point we also went to Akita prefecture, to Kakunodate, but I think that was before. Then, Spring was fast, there was lots to do, and summer came around. It got really hot – one day it was 32c, which was way too hot for me! But, it was an experience I guess.

Summer was busy as I was set to finish on June 16th. So, I spent some of my time preparing for that. When I finished work on June 16th, I then had a few days to close everything up, clean up and so on, which was pretty stressful for me.

I’m pretty tired at the moment so I don’t know what else to say, really!

Before leaving Japan I also spent some time with some good friends, and we had good food (sushi) and a party the night before I left Morioka. I also had some kind friends who escorted me to the station to catch my night bus to Tokyo the next evening.

I’m going to miss Japan and I miss a lot of my students too. But I have somewhere to go for the moment and I will definitely be back to Japan whenever I can visit.

Yesterday, I moved into my new place in Aberystwyth. Well, not new as it is the same home that I stayed in during my masters year. I got a job! I am starting tomorrow. It’s art related. I will elaborate on it soon. It’s a Mon-Fri job which I am happy about – I look forward to having the whole weekend free to meet friends or travel. I’m also hoping to reintroduce my online shop, selling art and crafted things. I will post more when I have more information!

Anyway, thanks for reading this very fragmented post and hope you are all well. More news soon.

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recentlies

Hey friends, it’s been such a long while! I can spend a bit of time online tonight as I won’t need to get up until later tomorrow, so I popped on to wordpress because I have been thinking about updating my blog for a while now. Then, I discovered the beginnings of this old post, from 9th February. It’s now the end of March! So please enjoy the beginnings of my old post and then after that, the start of my new post.

Early February 2015

Life has fallen again into its usual patterns here. I do the work thing in the first, main part of the week. On Saturday night after finishing work I usually crumble to cravings and go get an Indian takeaway. We used to have Indian takeaways every weekend back at home. In the second, smaller part of the week, I try to catch up with chores, study some Japanese, and attempt to negotiate a sort of social life, as much of a social life as possible for a shy, introverted type person like me.

The routine part is good, I suppose, although lately I’ve also been a little stressed about my job. This is mainly because I want to be the best I can be, and I want to deliver worthwhile and exciting lessons to my students so that they’ll enjoy themselves and want to come along. I want to give them something positive.

There are a few events and bits and pieces coming up at work and that’s exciting, because it keeps me busy and gives me new experiences, although I usually end up feeling nervous too.

Late March 2015

Brief weather update: we may have had the last snow of winter last week. We’ll see – my student said it could even snow in April. I have my fingers crossed because I don’t want to continue with using 5 blankets, onesie, jumper, tracksuit bottoms and a hot water bottle at night. Please hurry up, Spring! I’m looking forward to sakura.

Well, we’ve moved on quite a while from my last post. The events that I wrote were approaching… I can’t really remember what they even were. But, I suppose that means they must have been ok.

As for updates on things like my social life… I think that’s improved somewhat lately. I have gotten to know some friends a bit better and it is nice to feel a part of a group. Unfortunately though, a lot of people are leaving this Spring. Moving back to home countries, or getting jobs in different parts of Japan… I hope they have lots of fun and I wish them all the best. It was lovely to meet them and I hope I can meet them again. Still, more people are moving on soon! I will miss these people!

With the Indian takeaways… I have been trying to convince myself to stop having them for the sake of my health, but I continue. Although I hope I can call myself a little less indulgent than before. Recently I have been enjoying cooking and making weird salads. I have discovered how amazing avocado is and try to find a way to add it into any dish I make, but I am usually too impatient for it to ripen and end up eating weird, hard avocado slices.

I feel like my Japanese study is going well lately. Vocabulary and kanji are good and I have been able to maintain these reasonably well despite spending less time studying them (I want to catch up, though!). Grammar is a stumbling block. I know a lot of people think that immersion and memorisation of sentences is the best way to learn things… despite this, I still enjoy working through a text book and studying grammar. I still get the immersion bit from living within Japan. I do plan to start memorising sentences in the future though (a la AJATT.com), but not now. And that’s okay, because I’m not in any rush to reach N2 level.

Lastly, with art, I have been keeping up a sort of routine in that I usually try to get several hours solid drawing time in every Monday, my 2nd day off. It’s been pretty good. I have tons of ideas, however, yet when I come to execute them I feel confused and not sure how to proceed. The technical bits are ok, but just coming up with a meaningful composition is hard for me. Maybe I’m scared/intimidated, maybe I just don’t have it in me to do that kind of illustrative work – this is something I definitely fear. I should probably start with thumbnails first instead. Try different ways of starting out. Do you think that for some people it is just impossible to do something? Or is it possible to learn something that comes unnatural to oneself? Is this even unnatural to me or am I just lazy? Ok, less questions. I will just keep going and somehow try my best.

This weekend, I have an extra day off so perhaps I will either go explore a new town or I will use this time to super recharge myself, clean everything, catch up on studies and draw loads.

Recent Links

Portfolio: Yay, I finally updated my portfolio a little bit. My friend sent me a photo of the packaging I designed for him, so I uploaded it to my portfolio along with some recent sketches, and updated my description. If you have any tips about my portfolio (or actually, anything in particular) please let me know.

Tumblr: Since I mentioned that I’ve been keeping up with my art pretty well I thought it makes sense to remind you, my dear friends, this is my tumblr, where you can find all of my sketches.

James Victore’s Youtube: So I found out about this guy last year before I moved to Japan, watched his Skillshare videos, and watched loads of his Youtube videos too. He has even more now! So tonight I’m listening to even more! He’s funny, and very motivational for artists! Please listen and enjoy.

Thanks as always for reading. I hope you had fun. I am sorry there are no pictures in my Japan based blogs because I am tired and want to listen to videos now! If you want a picture-based experience of my life, I recommend just following my tumblr.

Elysia

double-trouser weather

Hi friends,

It’s been a while; my first post since November. December was a super busy month as I had to help out as usual at the kindergarten, plus I also had to prepare my own Christmas party lessons for my students. I worked until 20th December, and after my final shift I packed, and my coworker and I took the night bus to Tokyo. The next day, we had our flights to the UK. I had a transfer in Copenhagen, which I thought would be 11 hours. Turns out that I had not really read my ticket properly and it was actually 15 hours overnight. I wandered around for the first few hours looking at all the nice food in Copenhagen airport. Then I holed up in a corner of the transfer lounge on a crickety sofa with my blanket and tried to sleep while many people walked past staring, airport buggies drove past and occasionally parked right next to me.

But anyway, I finally got to the UK eventually and was able to spend 9 days with my family before returning to Japan. I got to Japan on 1st January and my coworker and I spent a night in Tokyo. We got the chance to explore Shinjuku (probably fashionable or something), Akihabara (electronics and stuff for people who are very very into anime) and Ginza (crowded, expensive place for window shopping). Now I’m back in Morioka (cold, Northern place) and I start work tomorrow.

As expected, it’s cold here and there’s some snow… but it’s not too bad. Not as bad as it was in December. Today the sky is clear blue and I can even walk around without my coat zipped up. That’ll probably change soon though, I’m sure. In my post before last I was celebrating ‘trouser weather’, but now we’ve reached a point of ‘double-trouser weather’, and maybe we will even reach ‘triple-trouser weather’ soon. I’m not really looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to March when hopefully it’ll start to get warmer. I miss not wearing heavy clothing, and I miss not spending money on heating. The winter months are going to be expensive since a tank of kerosene costs £10 and I’m not sure how long one will last me…

I don’t have that many updates for you all, since I have been off work and resting at home lately, but by tomorrow I expect my life will become hectic once more. I’ve been keeping my tumblr mostly up to date with my drawings and so on, so for the art front you can find all the stuff there. Today, I suppose, is mostly just a regular, everyday life kind of post that probably only my family (and a handful of strange friends) will be interested in. But I’m okay with that!

I suppose I should talk about my new years resolutions. Of course, we all make loads of resolutions and then they all flake away in January. Maybe we hold out to February, even. And some brave souls even manage to keep up their resolutions throughout the year. At least we can see how far I get. I have a few but I have tried to keep them very easy for myself.

  • Work hard and survive at my job, try to be as good as I can possibly be – but of course without burning myself out.
  •  Once I eventually return to the UK I want to give a proper go at working towards being an artist. I don’t expect to be able to be a full-time artist or anything like that, but I hope that I will get my shop going, keep drawing regularly and try to take part in more cons, competitions and so on.
  • Make soap. This is perhaps a strange one but I would really like to try making soap, because it seems like fun and I like things that smell good.
  • Try to save money every month by sending some of my wages into my English bank account. I already do this, but I want to keep doing it, because I would prefer not to be broke once I am in the UK.
  • Try to do stretches before bed. I am bad with anything to do with exercise, and healthy things. I reckon that if I have ‘do exercise’ as a resolution, it won’t happen, but maybe I can at least start, get 1% there, by beginning to do stretches. I know it sounds very tiny and simple but I have never exercised regularly in my own free time before so… baby steps.

Anyway I hope everyone had a great new year and I hope that 2015 works out well for us all. Let me know if you have any resolutions too 🙂

daruma san ga koronda

21.10.2014

Hi all, thought I should make an update since it’s probably been a while. As per usual with life here, lately I’ve been extremely busy with my job, and have also doing a reasonable amount of stuff during the weekend too. Right now it’s 8.30am and I’ll be starting work from 9.15am and finishing at 6.15pm. After that I will be going out with my friends to a restaurant… probably will not stay out late because I am very tired every day. Going to bed early has become a treat for me, not a punishment as it used to be. I love getting into my warm bed and reading a book… What have I become?

So, work is very busy, that’s nothing new I suppose. From this weekend the week of Halloween themed party lessons begins, and so over the next three days or so I will be quickly trying to do all of the preparations along with doing my usual lessons and admin work. We (my colleague and I) have been here just over two months, and it feels like we started ages and ages ago, but I still feel like there’s so much more I need to learn.

——–

26.10.2014

I made it through the week, and the first two Halloween parties were successful! What a relief. There are a few more, maybe 4-5 next week. This weekend I hope to rest lots. Today I was a little ill so I stayed in bed until after 11am, a really rare thing for me since lately I’ve been waking up automatically at 6.30am every day.

Written from later in the evening… For the remainder of my day, after finally getting up, I ate some indulgent chocolate corn flakes breakfast with milk (the milk here is really good). I then decided to cycle up the main street where I live to find a pretty river lined with a few super shops and cafes. I was recommended by one of my students to check the area out, and found a shop that I loved. I wanted to buy loads of their stuff, but want to save my money until payday… Unfortunately I didn’t have much time and had to head back home in order to eat lunch and make it to the Halloween event on at the place where I work.

I made pasta with pesto and salad for lunch, a dish that I eat almost any time that I cook (not every day as I often have odd working times), because I am lazy and I still haven’t gotten round to buying that many ingredients. After that, I cycled to work to spend a couple of hours observing, participating in and helping at the event there. It started to get a little cold at around 5pm so I decided to cycle back home, put away some stuff and then head to the train station to wander aimlessly around the shops. At the post office, getting cash out, I ran into two Russian ladies I’d seen before around town (there aren’t many foreigners up here!), so I said hi and chatted to them a bit. We exchanged contact info, and they later added me on facebook. Maybe we can become friends?

Anyway, I headed to the station, taking a quick detour to one of my favourite stationery and homeware shops. I am looking forward to future paydays so that I can buy some of the lovely things from the shop; indoor shoes, letter writing kits, even a few zines – although from a quick look I realised I’d have trouble trying to read the handwritten, tiny Japanese. Worth a shot though, right?

At the station I wandered a little, video called my mum and sister, giving them a tour of the shopping centre. I showed them all the dried squid snacks and curry packs in Muji, along with a couple of my favourite other shops, and then gave them a tour of the underground food section – restaurants and grocery stores. I have to admit now that I went to McDonalds for dinner and had a hamburger… after that I bought a cream puff from Beard Papa’s (strange name, I know) and then decided it would probably be time to head home.

At home I showered and got into my slacker clothes, a pair of black tracksuit bottoms and a men’s jumper I bought super cheap on sale in the UK. I watched the film Fargo with my colleague and now here I am, typing away. I enjoyed Fargo and definitely want to make a point of seeing the TV drama version too. I loved the Minnesotan accents and the snowy bleak landscapes. Steve Buscemi is a cool actor too, although I pretty much disliked all the main characters except for the main police lady and her husband. I felt sorry for the lady who was kidnapped and I felt sorry for the man who pretended his wife had died. I think he needed a good friend, or some talking therapy.

Who would have thought that I could spend so much time writing about a fairly uneventful day? Oh well, no need to worry about whether or not I sound boring, because if I am boring then people simply won’t read this, and I’m fine with that!

I hope to go to bed early tonight, reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, maybe call my boyfriend and my family too, and then wake up nice and early tomorrow. Then, I can take my bike and have a more extensive exploration of the bridge/river area. There’s also a shop I want to check out by the city station, although odds are that I won’t be able to afford any of the products actually there. It’ll be nice to look though. I’ve been avoiding spending money lately, afraid maybe, or simply too self-restrained! I’m trying to loosen up and I would like to do a little bit of shopping tomorrow if I may.

It’s trouser weather!

Dear friends,

This past week has been very busy for me, but I’m happy to say that now it’s Sunday and I’m on my two days off. Then, on Tuesday, we finally get paid… of course, from Tuesday onwards we will be at work all day and I usually finish at 8pm or later, so I won’t be able to spend that beautiful yen… however next Sunday my fellow teacher and I will go on a Treat Yo Self day inspired by Parks and Recreation’s Tom and Donna.

Anyway, Autumn is slowly rolling in and here up in the North East it’s finally the weather for trousers, jumpers and cardigans! I’m excited to start wearing knitwear and tights although I will definitely miss being able to walk around in shorts and sandals. I’m hoping to pick up a chunky cardigan next weekend since I only have one small, thin cardigan from Uniqlo. Up here it gets to -10c sometimes and there is frequent snow. I know it’s not that cold compared to my Norwegian friends’ -30c winters, but it’s colder than back home!

My Japanese is progressing nicely, although I’d like to put more effort into it. I found the international centre last weekend and I signed up for them to look for a language ‘supporter’ for me. And just today I went back there, found some advert for somebody wanting to meet English speakers and sent them an email. Mostly because I fear that my social life will be non-existent for 11 months unless I force myself to make some friends…

Hey, did I ever show a picture of my completed donut? Please see below, along with my as of yet unfinished hot cross bun. I hope to do some more needle felting tonight. I’m not sure what to do next. I wanted to do a pretzel but maybe that would be too difficult?

a needle felted donut with cream icing and brown sprinklesneedle felted hot cross bun Hmmm… I started writing this post early in the morning of today, and now it is 5pm and I’m not sure what else to add to this. In a bit I’ll head to my colleague’s flat to watch something or other. I’m not sure if it will be a film or some episodes, who knows? I’m going to take my needle felting and Japanese text book up so I can do some bits and pieces while watching. I’m not somebody who can sit through a whole film without fidgeting, unless it’s at the cinema…

Anyway I’ll finish up here. I don’t have many plans for tomorrow, except that I have to go in to work briefly to try to understand the office printer before next week starts, as everyone will be expecting me to use it and in my past attempts the printer has decided to eat every piece of A4 paper I carefully fed into its mouth. I hope tomorrow pays off. Aside from that maybe I’ll do some wistful window shopping, the day before pay day. And psych myself up for another busy week ahead before our most exciting indulgence day in a week’s time!

Thank you for reading and support and everything.

E

Mini post ☆ ミニポスト

Hello friends.

I’m in bed, about to do some reading. But I thought I’d make a mini post beforehand. It’s my sixth week of work here (or so I believe) and I wanted to write a little update to say what I’ve been up to. This week my parents have been in France and so I have had less time chatting on skype with people from home.

So recently, where to start… Work has been as usual, always challenging and always learning new things. I’ve had several difficult lessons lately that hurt my confidence a bit. But each time or rather each lesson I am learning and improving, I feel. I want to be good at my job. Some of my challenging issues are classroom management, discipline and time management. I’m usually good with time except when there happen to also be disruptive kids, as that slows everything down.

I’m expected to be researching more about my job during free time but since starting I have always found that I’m pretty tired after work and don’t want to do too much requiring thinking. I did listen to a couple of question and answer videos by a well known youtuber called gimmeaflakeman. I’m not really sure why he’s called that but he’s funny and friendly and has a lot of videos about his esl career so I watched a few of those on my day off.

As for the Japanese language and how that’s going, for a while I felt like I was only improving in tiny amounts. But yesterday I finally got back into my kanji (Chinese characters used in Japanese) study and I feel a bit better about my progress. I’ve started studying from a book called Genki 2, very popular among Japanese language learners. It’s mostly been revision for me so far, which is good. It’s helped solidify certain things which my other book left a bit flaky.

… Man this post is dry. Sorry friends. Don’t worry though! One day my posts will be swamped in beautiful drawings and exciting tales and news, or so I hope…

I also managed to find the international centre yesterday, hooray! It is at least a half hour walk from my apartment, not so fun. But it’s in a really fancy, giant building which also has several cafes, an environmental centre, uni library, etc. maybe I’ll take some pictures next time I go there! I signed up to look for a Japanese language supporter to help me study but maybe I will do better to get private lessons once I get paid?

… Yep, I’m counting down the days to pay day and already planning which days I will go out shopping. I have a carefully curated list of items I want to buy including a giant cardigan, leggings, shower mat (actually my shower is broken at the moment but I want to buy the mat in the hopes that one day it’ll be fixed), shoes, more shampoo, lush soap, etc. I’ll probably end up buying a tiny amount of the stuff which I fantasised about since I feel guilty whenever I spend money. We’ll see. Maybe I can take photos of my haul?

Bleh. I should finish soon. Next post will have pictures probably. Hopefully! Lastly I will just say that Broadchurch TV series was great, and I’ve almost finished the anime Durarara, which is pretty good. I’ve also started on American Horror Story season 3. AHS is pretty problematic and very tacky at times. It is like a guilty pleasure. However I appreciate this third season as it’s mostly about women’s stories and interesting lady characters. I think I’ll finish AHS off and then consider resuming Twin Peaks.

As for books, I finished the third book in Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, and am on the final book of the series. I will be so sad when it ends. Luckily I brought my dad’s kindle with me, including 100+ books that I want to read. Tad Williams is also planning writing three more books within the same universe so I’m excited!

Anyway, I’ll go now. Thanks for reading this somewhat blah post, if you managed to get through it that is! I’ll just say this is mostly for my family and the few people who seem to enjoy reading about the mundanities of my life! Lots of love.

E

Settle

Dear friends,

I’ve been in Morioka for about a month now and since I managed to get hooked up to wifi at my apartment finally, I thought it would be a good time to write an update post. I can’t say this is going to be a very picture heavy post at all so I won’t be offended if you don’t stay to read this. But to those who want words and are happy trawling through my long ramblings, thank you for sticking with me! If you are looking for more pictures, less talking, I have posted some sketches I’ve done since arriving in Japan on my regular art tumblr. Also, if you turn your eyes to the left of the site there is my instagram feed. I haven’t posted many personal/Japan photos, just art.

So, this is three or so weeks on from my last post. I have been at work for four weeks and am mostly working independently now, which can be frightening, but I’m getting to grips with it a lot more now. I have a few difficult classes, and teach from age 2 to 90. My work is fairly varied and as I said before, the hours can be a bit weird as it’s a private language school.

I’ve been walking around the city a lot and finding my bearings over the last few weeks. I know where most of the useful places are now. For example, there’s a super shopping centre about an hour and a half’s walk from my house (or a 20 minute journey if I walk to the station and catch a bus). Inside there are lots of nice shops I’ve never heard of, plus Muji, Uniqlo, Baskin’ Robins ice cream and a Mexican themed shop with loads of lovely clothes and accessories. My friend and I also found some good cafes nearby plus a wonderful Italian restaurant.

mexican and/or central american inspired shop front. clothing store within a shopping mall

Mexican/Central American themed shop – sorry if I got the specifics wrong, I don’t know enough about the culture. But I would like to learn more and learn to speak Spanish ><

I still need to find out how to go to the doctors’ surgery if ill and how to get my teeth cleaned by the dentist as I didn’t have time to have a checkup etc. before flying off. I need to find the international centre too, because I’m in serious need of Japanese lessons. My Japanese is very patchy which is a pain, so I have borrowed a text book (Genki 2) from a colleague, but also want to get some lessons to speed up my learning.

I had a few problems with things not quite working in my apartment but I am slowly smoothing those out now. Hmm. I’m not sure what else to update on regarding everyday life…

Oh, lastly, there are several fabric shops around here which makes me feel very happy. The biggest one has a small section dedicated to needle felting, and I have wanted to give it a go for a very long time since my amazing friend inspired me. I managed to budget enough to be able to afford a small starter set this weekend, so I’ve been playing around. This is my first attempt. I found it pretty difficult and I get frustrated easily with craft – probably because I’m so messy but I really admire and want to make cute, clean work – however it was fun and I enjoyed watching the TV series Broad Church while making it. My next needle felt item will be a donut!

needle felt soft sculpture tiny loaf of bread. beige and cream

My attempted needle felted bread loaf.

Anyway, today is my day off (I get Sunday and Monday off) and I am finishing off this blog post and then have some letters to write. After that I just want to slack about now that I have internet, cook my dinner, etc. I started a drawing in my sketchbook which I’d like to finish. I’ll probably take a photo of it very soon for tumblr and instagram. It’s been difficult finding time/motivation to draw much, but I have managed to do a bit every day or two. I don’t have many materials here but I plan to get hold of some more pens and colours after I get paid.

I’m not sure what to say next, so until the next post, goodbye! Thanks so much for reading. If you have any questions about expat stuff or whatever please let me know in the comments.

E