It’s the last day of the year again, and like last year I’d like to reflect on all the things that happened this year, and share some of the highlights of my 2007. One of the biggest events for my family this year was the wedding of my mother and her boyfriend Guido, who is now officially my stepfather. On May 11th they tied the knot in Veldhoven, and I was my mother’s witness (someone who has similar duties as a maid of honor, but without having to wear a pink dress). And crybaby that I am, tears started pouring out of my eyes before the bride and groom even entered the ceremony room and I kept it up until way after the deed was done. It was a beautiful and emotional wedding and Yasu came over from Japan to celebrate this special occasion with us, which made it all even better.
Gui & Moem just married, with their kids
Then just a week after my parents got married, it was party time again. This time it was my farewell party, as I moved to Japan in May of this year. It was a big party and everyone I know and used to know showed up that day to say wish me all the best in Japan. It was great to see everyone, but it was too hard to catch up with more than 30 people so the party kind of felt like working to me. I made sure everyone knew about this blog when they left the party, so that next time I see them there’ll be no need to catch up, because all they need to know will be broadcasted on here.
My party give-aways with the details of my blog on the card and some Japanese snacks in the bag
On the 25th of May, I departed from Düsseldorf Airport to Nagoya in Japan. My parents, my brother and my aunt came to see me off and carry my suitcases to the Emirates check-in desk. We tried to be cheerful, but most of the last few hours together we spent in tears (at least Gui and me).
Gy, Chantal, Gui, Moem and Lou
At one point I really thought I wasn’t able to go through with the whole moving-to-Japan-thing, but somehow I ended up on the huge plane heading for Dubai, where I transferred to a plane with Nagoya as its destination.
Look closely at the fourth window from the right and you’ll see me pressed up against the tiny plane-window
In Nagoya and AEON representative picked me up and escorted me to my hotel near Nagoya Station, where Yasu just happened to have a room for the night as well ;). Two days later, while I was still heavily jetlagged, a grueling training peroid of 9 days started. It totally exhausted me, got me physically ill, but it did prepare me for the job I was going to be doing at AEON Inuyama.
Lousensei freaking out about teaching her first ever lesson (for fake students)
Right after training I was put on a local train to Inuyama, to be picked up by Mayuka (the school’s manager) and guided to my new place of work. The first days, I felt completely clueless but gradually (with the help of the other teachers, especially Joanne) I got the hang of it more and more.
The first night after work a student brought me and all my luggage to my new apartment, which was small (especially the kitchen), but sufficient for me and actually quite roomy for Japanese standards. It was very empty in the beginning, but by now I have added lots of furniture and the place is stuffed, but homey. I just wish it was possible to heat the apartment up in this cold winter we’ve been having in Inuyama.
View from my tiny kitchen
In July Joanne went back home, and she was replaced by Kristin from Cincinnati. So our school organized a welcome and goodbye party at the nextdoor restaurant Al Centro. So until I leave AEON Inuyama in May of 2008, the staff of our school will consist of these 8 people:
Kristin, me, Moe and Kana (top) Noriko, Aiko, Mayuka and Megumi (bottom)
The reason my attention got pulled toward Japan is Yasu, of course. And now that I live in Japan I get to see him much more often than I used to. It’s still quite a distance between Osaka and Nagoya, but it’s a lot better than between Europe and Japan. Since my arrival in Japan, I’ve spent lots of time with him and visited many new places in Japan with him.
Besides being able to see my boyfriend on a much more regular basis, I have also achieved some other things since May, like getting better at teaching and all other aspects of my job and getting more and more used to Japanese cuisine, lifestyle and culture. And even though I haven’t officially been studying the Japanese language, I have picked up a lot of words from my students and on the street, and I always pratice deciphering katakana and hiragana when Yasu is around (it’s just boring by myself and without someone to check and correct my answers).
Teaching a class
The assistant manager of my school likes to use the foreign teachers for the school’s promotion and so far I’ve been published in a magazine and printed on numerous posters and flyers:
My first week of vacation, Obon, I took a plane to Europe to spend those days, including my birthday, with my family at home. I had been quite homesick, so it was the ideal way to get over it and stock up on some Dutch products, and of course have a wonderful birthday.
My 27th birthday back at home
Then my second week of vacation, Shogatsu, I took another plane, this time straight to Amsterdam and Yasu sat next to me! That was last week! I extended the Shogatsu vacation with 3 days, so that we could spend the Christmas holidays with my family and now we’re getting ready for the New Year’s Eve traditions of oliebollen and fireworks.
We were welcomed at Schiphol with these selfmade banners
This year is almost over and 2008 is coming! Next year, one of the first things we will do is fly back to Japan, and just a week after arrival in Japan, I’ll attend the first of 3 Bon Jovi concerts! Good start of the year! Happy New Year everybody!