Adjusting to Japan has been an adventure within itself. The history and culture of Japan differs so much from that in Canada. The best way I can think of describing it is organized chaos. There is so much happening all at once, but everyone follows the rules and directions, so it does not become chaotic. Its been difficult, as our first week here comprised of us getting used to having “new families” and homes, the beginning of a new semester and assignments due within the first week, as well as adjusting to a new schedule and way of life. On top of that, there has also been some not so fun challenges that have popped up. Transportation costs are much higher than I expected, so I have had to cut back on many things to adjust for this, as well as find creative ways to get to school cheaper.
That being said, these past two weeks have gone by in a flash due to all that we have had to do. Between our morning Japanese classes, our school visits, and our assignments it feels as though the days plan themselves almost. The Japanese classes have been incredibly helpful in helping me adjust to life in Japan. I am not even close to being fluent, but I can now have a basic conversation with people in Japanese, ask for directions, be able to tell the time, and know my numbers (which has been very helpful when purchasing food).
We have had two school visits at this point, and they have been complete opposites of one another. The first school was a rural elementary and jr. high, that only had 24 students in it. It was very interesting to see the dynamics of the classes as many of them had one teacher and two students. The largest class we saw had five students in it, but it was a split grade class. During my past practicum I relied heavily on group work and discussions to facilitate my lessons, and was struck at how difficult it must be to plan a lesson with only two students.
The second school we visited was a Jr. high which was affiliated with HUE. The school was closer to what we see in Calgary, with the average number of students being 33 per class. The dynamic within this school differed greatly from the dynamic within Shippu, as there were more students in a class than Shippu had in its whole school. In Shippu each student knew one another, regardless of grade, as they have to put all of the grades together for classes like gym. In the affiliated Jr. high, it was more of what we see in Calgary where you know your class and a few others from your grades, but there is no connections between the different grade levels.
These past two weeks have been incredibly busy, but so rewarding! Seeing the differences and similarities between not only Canada versus Japan, but within schools in Japan itself has been super intersting to note! I can't wait to see and learn more!
(The average class at the affiliated school)