Thursday, October 13, 2016


So this post is nearly a month late, heh. I procrastinate a lot, I really do.

This year marks the first birthday I've spent away from friends and family back home. The day started out pretty much like any other. I've never really been the kind to celebrate birthdays - I however willing celebrate any ang paos that come my way heh - and I was pleasantly surprised that some of my students wished me in the hallways. Hey, they actually listened to my 自己紹介.

As it turns out, my colleague - a JTE I co-teach with and has been my mentor since the very first day I started work - is the kind who loves celebrating birthdays. She initially tricked me by saying she would need me for the last 15 minutes of her class to help teach some phrasal verbs and check through the content. I even took the time to complete the worksheet during my lunch break. 

At 2.50pm I went up to the class and... it was empty, but the lights were still on and bags and books still at the desks. So here’s what happened. My school buildings have an empty platform area on the side where most of the windows are for emergency evacuation purposes, and the whole class hid outside on that hidden evacuation corridor - then sprung out and started singing Happy Birthday. 

Then, they presented a bouquet of flowers that were supposed to resemble mentaiko.
MENTAIKO!!!!! (Later, my colleague told me that the florist said it was legitimately the weirdest request she ever received, but she was so humoured by it too so she complied. and I think she did a beautiful job!) I also received a can of mentaiko & cheese flavoured Jagariko.

 Yes, I mentioned in my 自己紹介 that mentaiko was my favourite Japanese food. Again, +100000000 points for listening to my self-introduction :') My colleague also decided to use that period to make a birthday card earlier with the help from the class - and very ingeniously turned it into a learning activity for the students. Each of them gave me a recommendation of things to try and places to see in Tokyo. 

The day after my birthday, two students from the same class came to my desk to hand me a birthday gift that they bought on their own. This one totally left me in tears (again) because I truly hadn't expected it. I haven't expected any of what happened the entire week, considering it was only the 3rd week since the school term began. I mentioned in passing that I like to read, and I enjoy Japanese literature, so these lovely girls went out and bought me a book to read and to learn Japanese at the same time.

And on the subsequent day - a Friday - the very same colleague invited me over to her home for a birthday dinner. (!!!) At this point I’m honestly wondering what I did to deserve all this. My colleague is so generous and I admire her so much for it. I’ve always enjoyed going over to her place to play with her daughter – she’s nearly on her way to turning two. She’s so adorable and it took her a while to warm up to me but nowadays when she sees me she gives a big smile, and it’s such an endearing feeling.

I still feel like I don't deserve even half of the kindness and generosity that the people in my new phase of life has given me. I'm taking so much from them, and I have so little to offer in return. Since moving here I've been holding on to more pessimism that I'd like to admit and I have to thank my friends for always helping to keep me in check. So this year, I will take it upon myself that as I turn a year older, I seek to be more appreciative of the things around me, to give back in whatever ways I can, and to find always joy and wisdom in all the good and bad, the big and the small things in life.

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