Ahh, summer vacation – no school, no homework, no extracurricular activities, just two whole months of freedom!
Oops, no, wait, that’s Canada.
All of the junior high school and elementary school students in my city had their first day back to school after summer vacation today, but summer vacation in Japan was very different than what I’m used from growing up in Canada. In Japan, or at least in my prefecture, the vacation was only one month long! On top of that, the students and the teachers actually don’t get any time off because the students still have their club activities (sports teams, science club, brass band, etc.) every day, so the teachers need to supervise that. When the students finish their three hour club activity, they have to think about the mountain of homework that’s assigned for them to complete during their month off. After all, the first day back after summer vacation is actually a day of comprehension tests in the five core subjects! (Remember that the school year in Japan starts in April, so students in Grade 7 in July are still in Grade 7 now.)
Because the teachers still had to go to school every day (unless they took annual leave), so did I. There were no classes, so I spent a lot of time studying my kanji, catching up on world news/the internet, coaching my two speech contest students, and just hanging out with my JTEs whenever they were free. However, I did use some of my own annual leave to take a trip to Australia earlier this month! It was incredible – I spent six days in Sydney, seeing all the sights, hearing all the sounds, and eating as much Western food as I could (including fish and chips!!!). The weather was perfect – 20C and sunny every day! It was definitely one of my favourite trips ever. :)
But now I’m back at school for the new term and I’m in a little bit of a funk. I always get sad after coming back from a trip because you go from somewhere new and exciting where you have no responsibilities back to real life where you work 8:30-4:15 Monday-Friday and suddenly have to clean your own apartment and do your own dishes again. :P
Not to mention that life was so easy in Sydney! Signs were in English. Shopkeepers spoke English (with Aussie accents <3). Menus were in English. Street addresses were a thing(!) and were in English! One of my friends reminded me that it was my first time in an English-speaking country in a whole year – she was right (Hong Kong over Christmas vacation doesn’t count!). It was surreal! Now I’m back in a country where I don’t speak the language fluently, my reading comprehension is less than that of a second grader’s, and I don’t always understand what’s going on at any given time.
But I digress.
I love Akita. I love it when I can read a new kanji “in the wild” for the first time. And I love my schools. But I’m already looking forward to my next vacation…
Arashi Blast in Hawaii, I’m coming for you!!!!