Friday, December 30, 2011

Snowboarding pics!

Me and David at the top of the slope


Me again!  This is after a successful run with no falls, haha

One of the ski slopes

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  Hope you all will have a wonderful Christmas day.  I talked with my parents on skype this morning (although it's still christmas eve in America!) and opened some presents, it was very nice!  Now I'm getting ready to start the day, I'm having a Christmas dinner party later tonight and I still have some last minute preparations to do.  My parents got me some nice soft pajamas and I don't feel like doing much besides lazing around my room in them, but I have to get going!  They also got me a nice makeup kit though, so that will be fun to experiment with after my shower.

Tomorrow I'm going to head up to Harajuku to look for cheap snowboarding gear, and to Shinjuku to go ahead and get my bus ticket and figure out where the night bus departs from.  Looking forward to snowboarding and going to hot springs in Yamagata when my vacation finally starts!  I have to go into work on Tuesday, but there are no classes that day.  We'll just be cleaning, I think.  I have to get all packed and ready tomorrow though, because I'm going to be leaving directly from work to go to Shinjuku and catch the night bus up to Yamagata.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mostly foods

Cappucino at the coffee shop near my work

Sundubu jjige at a Korean restaurant in Shimokita

Here I am at work!  I'm getting ready to leave so I don't have my jacket on and I'm wearing my hat

My new haircut!  It doesn't look as good as when it was first done though

Milk tea at a cute cafe in Shimokita

They drew a smiley face on my green curry at the place we went for dinner, haha.  (It doesn't look green because I picked the wrong filter!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Here are some photos to tide you over!

The girls of the training group, at a Kyoto style izakaya in Omiya

At the entrance to a big shrine in Omiya

Purikura taken in Shibuya with two of my fellow trainees

The whole group at the end of training

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Work and Halloween

I had a week of observation at work, where I observed the departing teacher's classes and also a few of the head teacher's classes, and now this week I'm teaching my full schedule.  I got my internet just a couple days ago, and I'm glad to have it!  Apparently I got everything super fast, almost none of the others in my training group have internet or even phones yet.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised though, the only reason I got mine so fast is because I didn't wait for any of the Japanese staff to come with me.  Normally someone will accompany you to get your bank account and also to get your cell phone, but the school is super busy so I told my manager I could do it by myself.  I really wanted that bank account so that I could get a phone!!  Once I got my phone, internet wasn't such a big deal since I could access it through the phone, but I actually managed to get internet pretty fast too.  My apartment is already set up for fiber-optic internet and the landlord has a deal with the provider, so I didn't need to go shopping around for it.

I went out for Halloween with another girl from my training group.  It was pretty fun!  We dressed up as gyaru (it's a Shibuya fashion subculture) and went to dinner, to karaoke, and out clubbing.  There were lots of people dressed up in Shibuya so it was a good atmosphere.  When we took purikura though, the place was packed!  There were so many girls wanting to take photos in their Halloween costumes.

Me and Jacqueline, after getting ready in a department store restroom!

We took purikura photos with this group of Japanese guys that we met while walking around Shibuya

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Training is over

Training is over, and I'll be heading to my school on Monday!  For now I've got the weekend free before starting up work proper.  Went out last night with a bunch of my fellow trainees to all night karaoke here in Omiya, and am now recovering before heading into Tokyo this evening.  This has been a really thorough and fun training!  They are really clear about expectations and the workload, and there's been a ton of practice in preparing lesson plans and actually teaching.  We got to teach mini lessons to actual Japanese students as well, which was awesome.  I'm looking forward to meeting everyone at my school;  apparently the other native English teacher is really cool, so I'm hoping he'll be up for going out and about in Shimokita after work.  A lot of the other trainees here are going to be working in the Tokyo area, so we should be able to still hang out.  A few of the guys are going up north, so I'm definitely thinking that a winter vacation up in Niigata or Yamagata might be in order.
Me and a few of the other trainees at the seminar house

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Omiya

At the training center in Omiya!  I got my schedule for when I get to my branch school, but I still don't know where my apartment is because I'm getting a new one, not the one that the teacher I'm replacing is in now.  Crossing my fingers that it's a bit closer than the 30 min the old teacher's apt was from the school!
Took a walk down to Omiya station with some of the other trainees, it's a pretty far walk but there's a bunch of stuff by the station, lots of karaoke and restaurants and even a couple department stores.
I was doing pretty well this afternoon, but the jet lag is definitely hitting right about now.  I've got some stuff to do beforehand but it's gonna be another early night tonight I think!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Hanging out at my hotel in LA, about to take a nap I think.  My flights from Jax to here went quite smoothly, no delays or anything!  It's so much better to have a suitcase with four wheels, I can push it around instead of having to drag it behind me and the difference is amazing.  When I have some spare cash I think I'll go ahead and get a small one with four wheels as well, it's really worth it to upgrade.
I'm going to have to leave super early tomorrow morning to catch the airport shuttle and make my flight to Japan!  Hopefully the neck pillow will make sleeping on the plane easier.  I'm so tired already from getting up at seven this morning in order to finish packing and make my flight here, I'm going to be dead on my feet if I can't get any sleep on the plane!  Then training starts the very next day... wish me luck!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wait, it came!

Okaaaay so the COE actually arrived today!  I had totally written it off as a lost cause and was all set to switch everything over to leave on the 31st instead, but now all of a sudden the 10th might be back on.  I rushed over to the post office after getting all my documents together and overnighted it all to Miami, complete with overnight return envelope.  Cost a ton, so they better come through and get it to me in time!!  I'm going to call the embassy on Monday and explain my situation and hope they can expedite the visa process for me.  I'll also have to call my recruiter and tell him that the COE arrived after all, because things were already in motion for me to switch everything over to the 31st.  Everyone wish me luck!!

Friday, September 30, 2011


Well, it looks like I'll be in the States for an extra month : (  My COE was lost by the post office!  Why do I always have such trouble with the mail?  Anyway at this point it's looking basically impossible to make it to the Oct. 11 training, so I'm going to have to change my flights and my contract and go for the November training instead.  It's a hassle, but at least I still have my position, and I'll still be able to go to Shimokitazawa.  Japanese immigration have issued me a second COE, so I just need to wait for that one to get here (and hope that there are no problems with it this time!) then send it on down to Miami.  I guess a plus side to all this is that I won't have to rush around trying to beat a really close deadline anymore, and I'll be able to keep working for another couple weeks and get a couple extra paychecks.  I'm sad that I won't be able to meet up with my friend from the interview at training, though.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

COE issued! One last step to go

My certificate of eligibility was finally issued from Japan, so now I just have to wait for it to get here so I can send it off to the Japanese consulate in Miami and get my visa.  Can't wait for all this initial paperwork to be over with!  At least I'm able to mail it to Miami instead of having to go there in person, like I had to for my French visa.

Less than a month to go, and I still have stuff I need to get, too.  Gotta pick up a nice, versatile suit jacket for work (suit jacket is required!), and I still need a new carryon suitcase to replace my old one that was broken on the flight from New York to Jacksonville.  I would like a new big suitcase too if at all possible, one with four rolling wheels so it would be easier to carry.  I should also probably pick up either a backpack or a large duffel for short trips while I'm in Japan.  Now I'm regretting not getting a giant Longchamp travel bag when they were on sale in Paris!

I'm really glad for my Jessica McClintock job, haha.  I'm getting good hours so my last couple paychecks have been decent.  With homecoming season starting to be in full swing, maybe I can start making some commission too... lately sales have been too low for any commission but they have been picking up.  I'm still gonna be short the amount the company wants everyone to bring to Japan with them (since I won't get a full paycheck there until a couple months in), but hopefully I'll be able to manage with whatever I can scrape up.  It's not like I'm a stranger to living frugally, so it should be fine.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Job searching

All my paperwork has been completed and sent off, so now it's just waiting time for a while.  I'm currently job hunting, with all the fun that goes along with that.  I'm looking for just part time retail stuff again (I can't really look for anything long term that might be difficult to quit since I'm leaving in two months!) but July is the slowest time for retail so not many places are actually hiring.  I've put in applications for a couple places, now just waiting to see if I get a call back for an interview.  I want to start working soon so that I can start earning money as soon as possible, haha.  My bonus from my tutoring job in France won't stretch too far after a plane ticket to Japan!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Back in Jax

After three delayed flights, I'm finally back in Jacksonville!  I haven't been on an on-time flight for the entirety of my stay in Europe.  At least I didn't have to sleep in the airport this time. 
I was meant to get into New York around 8pm on Tuesday, then meet up with my friend.  I didn't end up getting into Penn Station until 10:30pm.  I met up with my friend, and we had to go straight to Brooklyn to her friend's house (they were letting us stay overnight there).  We didn't get there until around 11:30 or so, after lugging my suitcases up and down staircases because there were no escalators or elevators in any of the stations we had to transfer at.  The next day was fun though, we had breakfast at this little diner in Brooklyn and then headed into Manhattan to see the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Met.  It was super cool!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Abbey Road again

If only we'd found two more people!
This is probably the best Abbey Road picture!  Me and a Japanese girl that I met there.  We went back and forth so many times trying to get a good shot, haha


I got a specific job offer with Aeon!  The offer is for a school in Shimokitazawa, a neighborhood located in Setagaya-ku, four stops from Shibuya on the Inokashira line, four stops from Shinjuku on the Odakyu line.  If I got a bike, I could probably bike from Shimokita to Yoyogi park.  Shimokitazawa is an awesome neighborhood!  Back when I was first in Japan, when I was living in Ikuta, my roommates and I would sometimes go out in Shimokita, and when I was living in Shinjuku I would go there sometimes for shopping or concerts.  Shimokita is filled with cool little independent shops, vintage shops, cute cafes, cool bars with live music.  The scene there is young and creative, and I'm super excited that I got an offer for such a cool place!  Because I told my recruiter that I would be okay with suburbs surrounding any of the major cities, I was a little worried that I would get placed way out in Kanagawa or something.  The start date isn't until October, unfortunately, but I can deal.  Besides, this way I'll have some time to do some part time work in Jacksonville to save up a little bit of cash before I go.

The school is pretty small, with 250 adult students and only 35 kids.  There's one other native teacher, I didn't ask where he's from but it's a guy.  There's also one full time Japanese teacher.  That's one thing I like about Aeon actually, they employ Japanese teachers as well as native speakers, so the students are able to learn both in their native language and in full immersion English classes.  I think my recruiter said that the other native speaker has been there for 3 years, so I'm gonna take that as a sign that it's a good school to work at, haha. 
Shimokitazawa at night, stolen from a google image search

Street in Shimokita, also stolen from a google image search

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Job offer!

I got a job offer with Aeon!  It's just a 'general' offer though;  apparently what they do is offer you a position, make sure you're still interested, and then let you know when something opens up that fits both your criteria (mine was that I absolutely did not want to live in a rural area) and the branch manager's criteria (i.e. they try to have diversity at all their schools, so if a position opened up in, say, Yokohama, but there were already two Americans at the school, I might not be able to get it).  So, I guess cross your fingers that something opens up fairly quickly!  I would much rather go to Japan with Aeon than with new Nova, considering all the troubles that new Nova has faced since its bankruptcy back in '07.  I'm glad to have the offer, anyway;  I was actually about to start looking for positions in Hong Kong instead if I didn't hear from Aeon or Interac soon.  I could learn Chinese, right?  Well, this offer is fortunate for my Japanese!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Picnic on the canal

Only nine days left till I'm back in the States!  The weather's been pretty nice lately, so I've been taking advantage and picnicing all the time.  I went to the canal St Martin with a friend last night, and we hung out near a group of Italians who all had guitars and were singing, and some (presumably) Americans who were setting off fireworks.  I'm going to miss the cheap wine and all the awesome picnic spots when I leave!
All my friends are leaving this week to go on vacation!  I'm going to have to entertain myself this weekend.  Well, it's probably a good thing that no one will be around, since I still need to work on going through all my stuff and getting my suitcase weight down.  Also I need to visit the catacombs, since I still haven't been.  I think that the catacombs are the only tourist thing left here that I haven't done yet.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A few more London pictures

Some of the hanbok on display at the Korean cultural center near Trafalgar square

Close up of a gate at Buckingham Palace

Statue of... Wellington, I think?

Stained glass windows inside Westminster Abbey

View from where I was sitting in Westminster Abbey

Coutyard around back of abbey

Thursday, June 23, 2011

London in words!

I had a busy day on Friday!  Of course I was hoping that I wouldn't have all of Sunday to sightsee (and I didn't!  I got a second interview), so I went ALL over London on Friday, despite the rain.  I was supposed to meet my friend for breakfast, but my phone wasn't working at all so we missed each other : (  I instead got coffee and a sandwich, then commenced my journey.  I went to Buckingham Palace first, since it is quite close to Victoria Station where my bus came in.  Took some pictures, then went up through Green Park and Hyde Park before coming back to watch the changing of the guard.  After the changing of the guard, it was up through Green Park again to try to find the hotel where my interview would be held the next day.  I got a bit lost and ended up on Park Lane, had to backtrack, bought a map at the Wellington Arch, and finally managed to find the hotel.  Fortunately it was actually really easy to get to once I had a map to reference.  After I found the hotel, I decided to head to Abbey Road, on the tube since it had started raining again.  I got a day pass, good for tube and buses, which was great since London is really big.  At Abbey Road, I met a Japanese girl who took my picture, and then we got another girl to take our picture together posing in the middle of the intersection.  She has all of those pictures though!  Once she posts them on facebook I'll steal them and put them up here. 
 I thought about visiting Regent Park since I was in the area, but it was raining and I'd already been to two parks, so I skipped it.  I skipped the Lord's Cricket Grounds too, although I ended up passing it on a bus.  I went down to Westminster and walked through Trafalgar Square, and passed a Korean cultural center which had a free exhibition of hanbok, traditional ones and modernized ones by current Korean designers.  It was a pretty cool exhibition!
After Trafalgar Square I went down to the Houses of Parliament and saw Big Ben and Westminster Abbey (where Will and Kate got married, haha).  I passed Downing Street without even realizing it, too.  Then I took the tube up to Piccadilly Circus, and walked around that area and bought a postcard.  I stopped for coffee again there, too, and a couple people were nice enough to let me use their phone so that I could call my couchsurfing host and arrange to meet him later that night.  I hung out in the coffee shop for a while, resting my shoulder which was starting to ache from lugging around my bag (no lockers at the station!).  When the coffee kicked in and I got a second wind, I headed up Regent Street and looked at all the shopping that I couldn't afford!  There was an Apple store there that I popped into to send an email to my parents.  I used a Macbook Air, which was tiny and hella expensive.  It was like a thousand pounds, which would be what in American dollars?  Two thousand?  Close to that?  Anyway.
I made it all the way to Oxford Circus, but by then the rain was really pouring down so I took shelter in a Nike store where a DJ was playing.  Then I made a break for Topshop, discovered there was a little cafe there in the basement (this was the biggest Topshop I've ever seen...) so I rested my shoulder some more and waited for the rain to let up a bit in the Topshop cafe.  I was there for like half an hour and the rain just got heavier, so I ended up heading for the metro again and went across town to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.  The rain was still as heavy as ever, so I literally just dashed out, took pictures, and dashed back to the metro.  It was a pretty cool bridge though so I'm kind of sorry I didn't get a chance to explore it further.
Then it was to the bus to go to meet my host!
Stay tuned for part II:  the interview and further sightseeing on Sunday before the second interview!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Me on Abbey Road

The Beatles coffee shop, lol

Big Ben

Me in front of houses of Parliament

Tower Bridge

Completely soaked at Tower Bridge.  It rained all day on my one day of sightseeing

Westminster Abbey

Inside Westminster Abbey

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Picture roundup

Birthday dinner at a friend's place, with macarons, salmon and goat cheese salad, and handmade sweets from Tunisia

Parc des Buttes Charmont

By the lake at the park

I amsterdam, by a museum that I can't spell, with a bunch of other people also taking pictures

Amsterdam central station

On a pedalboat on the canals

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's summertime already!

And picnic season is definitely here!  I'm going to another picnic today, at the Parc Buttes Charmont this time.  I'm going to have picnic'd at every park in Paris at this rate, haha.  Parc Monceau was really pretty, and I got burnt laying out in the sun with my friend.  Oops!  Fortunately it wasn't bad, just a touch of red on my legs and shoulders that has already faded.  I'm remembering sunscreen today though!  Also we will be opening our wine immediately - last time, we got so involved in talking we forgot to open the wine we had bought, and by the time we remembered it, it was HOT.  I'm so happy the sun is back!  The weather has actually been approaching 80 degrees lately! 
I found a pair of running shoes on sale for only 20 euros, so I'm going to pick them up and start jogging.  There's a Paris 10k race in June that I'm going to train with a couple of my friends for.  I've never run something like that before, so wish me luck!
 Amsterdam tomorrow!  Our train leaves at 10.25, and we'll be in Amsterdam around 12.30 I think.  It's slightly cooler in Amsterdam, but it's not supposed to be too bad.  I still have to pack!  We'll only be there for the weekend though, so I'm just gonna throw some stuff in a tote I think.  I'm hoping my little canvas tote I picked up from the Musei Vaticani will be up for the job.
Anyway I better get going, I just realized how late it is! Already 10, and the picnic's at noon!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Not much has really been happening since my Spain trip and new year's... I've just been hanging out in Paris, going out with friends, working.  The weather has finally turned nice!!  We've had a solid week of amazing temperatures, it's been great.  The sun has been out, and it's been in the 70s, the flowers are blooming all over the place, it's fantastic.  I've been doing a lot of picnics with friends in the Tuileries and at the Sacre Couer.  Now that I have my French bank card, I can use the Velib system and bike around Paris, too.  I tried it out for the first time yesterday, it's kind of cool.  The bikes themselves are a little hard to ride (really heavy, and the seats are super slippery) but it's cool to be able to just rent a bike to get wherever I'm going instead of taking the metro, or even just to bike around for fun. 

I'm having my birthday party today at a friend's apartment in Paris after (yet another) picnic in the Tuilieries.  I'm gonna have to miss part of my own picnic, though, because I ended up having to just bite the bullet and make a doctor's appointment to do something about my ear.  It's been hurting for six days now, ear drops didn't have any effect, and the pain seems to be getting worse.  Fortunately one of my friends who's been living here for a while gave me some advice about finding a doctor, so I managed to find one who speaks English who is 'conventionne secteur 1' which apparently means that he has to charge me the minimum price for my visit.  So I'll be going there at 2pm today.

Anyway that's about all!  I'll be doing some more traveling soon, I'm going to Amsterdam with a friend over Easter weekend.  I'll post pictures from that trip after I'm back. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

A couple pictures from Spain

On the beach in Barcelona at night
At the arts and sciences complex in Valencia
In Madrid;  the bear and tree are the symbol for the city
Skeleton piano in Valencia

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years!

My internet connection has been super spotty lately so I don't have all my Spain pictures up, but I have some from new years to tide you over in the meantime!  My friends and I did the tourist thing and we went to the Eiffel Tower for midnight, where we watched the fireworks and drank champagne straight from a bottle that we bought from a dude on the street, haha.  Afterward we went to a house party in the 5th and partied all night!  The champagne was definitely flowing, and I felt it the next day but it was a nice way to ring in the new year.