Friday, October 7, 2016

The summer after freshman year

I'd be lying if I said I didn't dread about summer break three months ago. Just read a post in June, in the middle of all classes saying I was tired and needed to go home while I knew of the fact that I wouldn't go home until next year. I was afraid I wouldn't do anything during the two months break and ended up homesick, longing for home. I should've had more faith in myself. This summer turns out to be the best thing a break could happened to me and I'm forever grateful about how things unfolded.

I started my summer with teaching English in Himeshima, a tiny, remote island in northern Kyushu for a week. Everyday I biked my way around the island; breakfast at 8, going to Himeshima Middle School at 9, lunch at 12, back to the school til evening, dinner at 6, then free time. Every-single-day. I assured you, the food was something to remember. I'm not talking about regular sushi or udon, but full-set of Japanese food in every single meal. Me being myself, I can't take much in one time, so I tried to save it in my bento box for later if I get hungry again. Nope, didn't work like that. I never felt hungry during my stay there, always being fed with lots and lots of seafood, veggies, miso soup...

Not only the food that I missed, but also the students whom I taught. My fond memory about them is our BBQ party, grilling all the meat in the school yard and spending time together. We went to the beach and swam, as well, cause who wouldn't use the opportunity to swim everyday while in Himeshima??? Ah, the memory. I can still feel the morning sunlight kissing my skin while biked along the harbor.

Right after Himeshima ended, I went straight to Fukuoka airport and flew to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to do volunteering in teaching English in a small city called Vinh Long, about 2 hours drive from the capital city. One of the best investment I have done in my life. Investment to myself as a person, investment at my Vietnamese family whom I gained over the course of 2 weeks I spent in Vietnam, lifetime friendship and new grown love to children there.

I remember the day when we left after 9 days of teaching English in a local elementary school and living together in a house with other volunteers in Vinh Long. We were bawling our eyes out, crying so hard with the children that live nearby, who always visited us during our camp. It was so hard to leave, it felt like it was my home... Even though I couldn't understand what the children were saying whatsoever. They couldn't speak English and I certainly cannot speak Vietnamese. Despite the high communication barrier, we connected somehow. The miracle that always leave me baffled. Along the way, they have touched my heart and I'm forever thankful for the chances.

After we left Vung Tau, we stayed in Ho Chi Minh City for a few days, touring the city and had exchange with local university students. 

Anh Quanggg

Midnight food hunt in Saigon

In downtown Saigon

With Yunnn

After Vinh Long, I visited Yun's family in Vung Tau. Yun and I share an apartment in Beppu with Nadya. I stayed in Yun's house for 5 days. SOOOOO HAPPY to meet Yun's parent!!! The first day I was there, Yun's mom told me she is adopting me hahahhaa. After that she always refer to me as her 'lovely daughter'

With Ba

After we cut our hair!

mẹ ❤


she understands my love for seafood❤

After Vietnam, I went back to Beppu and still had about 4 days until leaving to teach English in another island. So the next day I arrived Beppu, I tried my luck to do my first real part-time job. It was in Nadya's baito place, a hotel called Ryotiku. The hotel is small, family business one. They needed baito people so bad, they didn't even interviewed me. I went straight to work the morning after I got back from Vietnam.

I worked there for four days before I left for Kyoto. One thing I learned from that experience: labor work is not for me. All my respect goes to people like Nadya and Yun who work in kitchen in hotels or restaurants. I just....... Can't stand washing dishes, serving snacks, or cleaning tables for 6 hours everyday. In my head every morning I worked, I imagined the brain inside my head started to shut down and I turned into a robot with only my hands moved. Now, it's not as bad as what I've been describing here for sure. Every person is different. Yun and Nadya loves working in the kitchen in Suginoi Hotel much because they love their coworkers. Labor work is simply just not for me. 

first day of hotel work with Nadya

Most probably because I have known there is another job I love and fit me well: teaching English. 

So then after 4 days working in the hotel, I took off to Kyoto to teach in Ritsumeikan Primary School for 10 days and love every single second of it. I love my class, 2nd Grade R kumi. I love dinner trip after work everyday with other APU students that are TAs as well. I LOVE my host family. I have a new family in Osaka, whom I call Okaasan, Otousan and my imoto, Sakurako. 

And the highlight of my Kyoto trip, the one who shows me nothing is impossible as long as we believe, the one whom I will be forever grateful to enter my life and gives me reasons, the one who challenges me and supports me at the same time. The same one whom I'm forever thankful of to God. He loves us so much He gave us a chance to meet in the middle of our long-term long distance relationship.

He got a scholarship to do exchange program in Japan for a week. Out of all places in Japan, he got the team that stays in Kansai area. And out of all time and plans, I was in Kansai at the same time with him because of my work. If I was in any other place, say Vietnam or Himeshima, working, we wouldn't have met. God's plan is precise and I'm forever thankful.

Went back to Beppu after teaching in Kyoto and went straight to work in Ryotiku again. Not for long though. I was working there for 2 days before decided to quit. Then I was jobless for a while. Not for long, though. Soon after that, with my experiences in the summer teaching English here and there, I got an offer to teach long term in a small English school in Oita owns by a British man and his wife, a Japanese woman.

Since then, I got LOTS of offer to teach English. Maybe because I can communicate in Japanese now so I can navigate my way around when looking for job. 

Summer break is a blessing for me. Wouldn't change anything for the world

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