Mum asked me a question when I spoke to her the other day which, if she knew more about my daily routine probably wouldn’t have asked. I therefore thought perhaps I should tell you about my daily routine, just in case you are insane enough to consider coming to Japan and teaching English and/or doing karate, or are just curious. So, this is my average day:
6.30am (6.20am every other day, for hair washing!)
Crawl out of my futon, usually aching, and get into the shower.
Emerge feeling marginally better. Put away futon. Make and eat breakfast – fruit, yoghurt and granola, coffee or green tea, maybe porridge, miso soup, rice or eggs.
Get ready, prepare mid-morning snacks (usually carrot sticks and a boiled egg, or rice crackers and instant miso soup)
Run down the street to the station which, despite being a mere two minutes away, I always end up running to. I usually see the same guy standing under the tracks doing his morning exercise. I say good morning and he replies whilst laughing at my on-going struggle to get somewhere so close on time.
What time I get to school depends on which one I am at (I teach at three), and the transport time to get there. There is usually a cup of green tea on my desk, given to me by the OL. The OL is the “Office Lady” (I think that’s the literal translation), giver of hot drinks, server of lunch, do-er of general admin and cleaning, and the most important person in the staff room. Get on the wrong side and you’re doomed to small portions of lunch, no cups of coffee and a life of misery. Get on the right side and you can expect extras for lunch and snacks at break times. Last year the OL used to drive me to the station on her way home, shaving a good 20 minutes off my journey! When I arrive I double-check my schedule, which changes with alarming frequency, do any prep that I haven’t done yet, surf the net on the iPhone or do some embroidery at my desk till lessons start.
First period. All lessons are 45 minutes with a 5 minute break between.
Morning break. Time for coffee and snacks – woo! By this time I am ravenous. A bit more crafting or surfing then it’s time for periods three and four.
Lunch time – double woo! Exhausted by this time, and lunch is a chance to relax, although that is difficult for the first part of it, given that I have to eat with the kids! It’s normally good fun though, and we chat in simple Japanese. Since I’m at new schools, I’ve not eaten with all the grades yet and still have to endure the kids looking into my blue eyes and proclaiming them to be “sugoi” – great, cool, amazing.
Return to the staff room, wash my tray and chopsticks. Sit and chill at my desk. At this school, which I am only at for one day a week, sadly, I have been furnished with a laptop at my desk – bloody brilliant! Can finally catch up on some long neglected blogging. Normally I either read news and blogs on the phone, or do some embroidery (posts on that to follow soon-ish).
1.45pm till 3.20pm
Fifth and sixth periods. If I don’t have class I prepare lessons for the next weeks lessons. I write my lesson plans in Japanese, photocopy them and give them to the teachers, so they are clear with what’s happening. If I don’t know the Japanese I draw little pictures of stick men to demonstrate :) If I have nothing to do I try and use the time to study Japanese and work on my kanji.
2.30pm to 4.15pm
Home time! The time I can leave depends on the school – once I week I can leave at 2.30pm, since I have nothing for sixth period, once a week I have to wait till 4.15pm to have meetings with the teachers about the next weeks classes, and the other times I can leave at 3.30pm.
Get home. The journey takes about an hour, including stopping at the supermarket or local store, and I immediately start making dinner as I’m again starving by this time. Then I relax, watch some TV on the iPhone (have got addicted to Glee, which I watch on in00b.com, an excellent site that streams .mp4’s directly to my phone. Don’t use it unless you have unlimited data though).
At this point most people would start winding down, but I can’t do that too much as it’s time to head off to the dojo. On Mondays and Thursdays I train in a big sports hall. Class starts at 7.30pm, but I normally arrive between 6.30pm and 6.45pm to warm up and practise. It finishes at 8.45, and I’m usually home by 9.30pm.
On Tuesdays and Fridays I train at the main dojo, which is smaller but more atmospheric. The size means its better suited to kumite (fighting) drills and partner work, so the practise is usually a lot more hectic! Training starts at 7.30pm, and because it’s immediately preceded by the kids class, and the dojo is too small to accommodate extra adults, I usually rock up at 7.20pm. It doesn’t finish till 9.20pm, so I’m not normally home till 10pm.
Wednesdays are my only night off, and reserved for exciting things like cleaning, laundry and food shopping.
Grab a shower, read a book, try and wind my body down. I frequently suffer from insomnia – both my mind and body don’t really stop – so drink some chamomile tea and try to stop thinking about anything that requires concentration or causes excitement or stress, which especially rules out karate!
The only thing I do regularly at the weekend is karate on Saturday mornings with the Chukyo University team at 10.30am – mercifully not too early. Although the training is quite hardcore, the fact that I’m doing it with handsome young students makes it worthwhile ;) I used to study Japanese on Sunday mornings, but stopped as I didn’t want to commit extra time, and also I was just too tired to take in any new information. Spend the rest of my time hanging out with friends, walking in Nagoya, eating out and shopping, or monging out in the flat.
And that’s about that. Hectic but rewarding.