I went home for Christmas at the end of December and I got to see almost everyone I wanted to see. I missed a few people and I'm sorry for that, and hope I'll get to see them next time I'm in Canada. I'm on the fence about going home next year for Christmas. I may just stay in Iwaki and save some money. This year's trip was really expensive, and if next year is the same, then I'm not going to go. But, I did get a few cold days that made me appreciate getting back to Iwaki, and I got to enjoy more than a week of snow! So that made me quite happy.
Now being back in Iwaki, I miss being in Ottawa. Why? Because, although it isn't as cold here as in Canada, it is still below 0 degrese celcius and our houses are not insulated and we don't have central heating. My water pipes have frozen 5 times in the last month. I have a new found love of electric blankets too, but that doesn't help my apartment stay warm. I am looking forward to spring. Spring and Fall are DEFINITELY my favourite seasons in Japan.
While I was home at Christmas, I decided to try to save as much money as I could this year. I realized at Christmas that I really hadn't saved any money last year. I had paid off part of my loan and done a lot of travelling around Japan, but I hadn't put any money aside for when I finish in Japan. So I decided that this year I wouldn't travel, and I would put as much money as I could into savings. I even opened a tax free high interest savings account. I feel so proud! lol
Then I got back to Iwaki, and the first day of work we had a BOE meeting. And 5 minutes after I get there, Susan comes over with a magazine about Hong Kong and says...are you in? lol OMG!! 3 days back in Japan and I'm already invited to go on a trip...to HONG KONG!!! and then LITERALLY 2 minutes after that, Chelsea runs over and says "Okinawa, Taiwan, Korea!". I blinked and asked, "in one trip?" and she said, "YES!"....OMG!!! So there goes my plans for saving money. I am only doing one trip...I decided that I do really want to go to Hong Kong....I had been thinking about it last year too. So I am going to Hong Kong at the end of April. The flight and hotel have been booked. Now we are trying to figure out where we want to go and what we want to see and do while we are there. I am NOT planning on doing any more travel this year...but there may be a few short trips to Tokyo at some point.
More and more houses are being torn down around my apartment building. I noticed 2 more yesterday and today that are in various stages of being demolished. That brings the tally up to 9 houses in a 2 block radius of my apartment. And of course, that's not counting the many houses closer to the beach that have been gone since I moved in back in August. So far only 3 houses in my area (2 block radius) have been rebuilt. The place is looking kinda empty now.
In other news, March 16th is Kosen Rufu Day (Buddhism) and the youth are putting together a performance. Youth (under 30) acorss the entire prefecture are participating. Our celebration is going to be on April 1st instead of March 16th because of lingering earthquake stuff...but I am really looking forward to it. Practice meetings started last week and will be every Tuesday and Thursday night. Iwaki group will be singing 3 songs and dancing one of them. I have been given lyric sheets and I'm already working on learning the words :) Junko has been driving 4 or 5 of us from Yotsukura into Taira for the meetings every week. I'm going to have to get her a nice present as a thankyou for always driving us to the meetings.
This past Friday we had a BOE meeting and we were given our confirmation about recontracting for next year (August 2012-August 2013). I got my confirmation that I have been recontracted again. So I will officially be in Iwaki until August 2013 :) I also got my first review from my three schools. The review is 9 questions about how I do at my job and each question is graded from A to D. I got all As and Bs this time around. =D I'm glad everyone seems to like me and how I work. The kids seem to like me too which makes me pretty happy :)
After the BOE meeting on Friday we had a welcome meeting for Colin, the newest High School ALT who came in December last year. He had only met me and Chelsea before Friday, so it was a great chance for him to meet some of the other ALTs in Iwaki. There were 12 of us there, including one other High School ALT whom I had not met yet, Andy. We had a good time, ate way too much food, and possibly drank too much (not me, I only had one alcoholic drink, but I enjoyed it a lot) :p Then Mareli and I came back to my place and watched some SGA and had a sleep over. I made us some banana chocolate chip pancakes for brunch, and made hamburgers and poutine for dinner.
Things are going well, except for how cold it is. This is, apparently, the coldest winter in the last 10 years. Which I can believe, as I don't remember my water pipes freezing at all last year. lol. But we are already in February now, so hopefuly it will warm up soon. My Japanese lessons are going great too. My teacher is awesome!
and that's enough for now :)
I hope everyone has a great week!!