For my first year of Japanese at school I was fortunate enough to have a lovely visiting professor, Chung-sensei, helping to teach 1-2 of my daily Japanese classes every week. After the year ended she completed her 1 year with us and the school unfortunately had to let her be free to go off and teach wherever life took her. Having her was fantastic though, and despite the scary kanji stroke-order lessons and no-nonsense attitude of diving right into it, I’ve really missed her as a sensei. Why is this relevant? Because I got to meet up with her again today (along with Ana, Steph and Lizzie)!
Chung-sensei is currently a professor at Okayama University, which is sadly far away from us in Kyoto – okay, it’s like 3 hours but also a bit pricey so I’ll count that. However Chung-sensei was free this weekend and able to come see us, so she did! We went to this interesting Italian-fusion type place called Saizeriya, where we were treated to some good food and multi-color pens from sensei. Living it up in here. We ended up talking about everything from how you call your parents to queer issues in Japan to nuclear energy in Japan’s future (I lit up at the last one, as I’ve done so much work on the topic) and ahhhh, it was all amazing. Another cool thing is that Chung-sensei is working on building up this grand new Discovery Program at her school. It seeks to combine the best of the US and Japanese education systems, taking in 30 students each from Japan and not-Japan, with courses in both Japanese and English to promote sharing in the languages, culture and education. It’s a 4-year bachelor’s program, and based on the sounds of it and her passion for the program it’s an awesome experience that I highly suggest you spread the word about! Talk to high schools, youth in your life and anyone/anything else that builds up to undergrad with an interest in Japan about this opportunity, please – publicity never hurts.
Unfortunately our time together came to an end, but we all have her business card (I love getting them so much, ahh) in addition to regular contact info, so I’m excited to following up on a lot of what we talked about. It’s always nice to see old teachers, especially when they’re so cool and hard to reach. Alas, some final hugs, a sensei selfie and a ‘sayonara’ later we parted ways. Oh it was such a grand time.
Lizzie, Steph and I hit up this foreign imports store afterwards, where they had everything from Swiss Miss hot cocoa to Kraft mac & cheese to yerba mate and way more. While a lot of it was crazy pricing compared to home (duh) some things, like coffee marshmallows (which I haven’t even seen in America) were ~$1, which I found reasonable. 2 major memorable things; 1 box of Kraft was ~$3, which was bs, while a whole bottle of ground cardamom, which is like a crazy $15 bak home, was ~$6 here. If America lets me ship it in you can be certain I’ll have that baby home and waiting for me when I go home in 6+ months.
Headed home after that to find more weird mail from Japan at our doorstep on my behalf. Some of it is health insurance related, some of it is about my pension (what?) and one thing wants me to pay because I turned 20 here? I don’t really get any of it and neither does okaa-san, so it looks like the AKP office gets to wake up to the sight of my lovely face on Monday morning – lucky them. It was an otherwise mellow wind-down to the day, complete with weird German fruit cake called Stollen that was, to be blatant, quite disgusting. We all tried it and agreed; it was doubly unfortunate as a food, first because it was icky and secondly because there were raisins in it, so we couldn’t feed the rest to Chiro-chan. Okaa-san deemed it up to otou-san to finish it on his own in the next few days. Bless her badass soul.