お疲れ様でした ...hmm. How to translate this into English.
It's a Japanese 決り文句, (kimarimonku) or a "set phrase". There are about a billion of these (learning them was real real fun) and...hmm. You say these at certain set times, and use them every single time without fail or else you'll be stared at and judged for your lack of cultural awareness / be kindly asked to gtfo out of Japan (kind of but not really.)
Examples: everytime you're about to start a meal / eat food that someone has made for you, you must say いただきます (itadakimasu) to express your gratefulness. Then, when you're finished eating, you say "ごちそうさまでした" (gochisousamadeshita). No questions asked; do this or else you'll look like a colossal fool.
So I guess with お疲れ様でした (otsukaresamadeshita), since we say it everytime we conclude another joyous day at the Kindergarten, and my friends say it after our hang-outs come to a close (so so so formal, but I'm getting used to it) it's...a phrase you say when something ends? Or something? Idk. Nothing makes sense in English here. But that's your Japanese lesson for the day. Absorb it.
Sorry about the lack of blogging. I've been so busy last week; mostly because I've been putting some of my lessons into fruition! <3<3 Mind you, the regularly hired English teacher on Tuesday forgot that he was supposed to come in, so as I was hanging out with some of the 6 year olds, I got pulled aside and was asked to lead English time like right now, yes we mean right now, lol have fun and got to the English building where a group of the 年中's (ages 4~5) were sitting there, waiting for them to teach them. I was absolutely horrified; I had nothing with me for my prepared lesson plans; I wasn't supposed to start until Thursday. But I mean...when duty calls...
I opened up with the "Hello song" which I knew the kids were familiar with since they sing it every time the other English teachers lead English time. The song goes a little like this (to the tune of frère Jacques):
How are you?
How are you?
Very, very happy!
Very, very happy!
After I made them do that a couple of times (having them do Okay...SPIN! or some shit) I realized that I would have to do something else, or else face sudden death. So I had all the girls stand up, taught them to say "I'm a girl!" complete with anti-feminist hair flips and makeup pantomimes. Then I had them sit down and had the boys stand up and say "I'm a boy!" while flexing and growling. Don't hate; it got them to remember how to say 'girl' 'boy' and determine which one they were.
After this, I again realized that shit I have about 10 minutes left...so I decided to do the best I could with the birthday game without having Fei to back me up; I had them (try) to make a circle, stood in the middle, asked "Who here is 4??!!" while holding up 4 fingers. Some of the kids smiled, nodded, and held up 4 fingers and stood up. Others held up 5 fingers and also stood up. And, there were some precious children running around and playing with toys. sigh. Thankfully this group ended early, and I sang the goodbye song (Goodbye, *dramatic arm circling* everyone! *clapclap* Goodbye, everyone! *clapclap* Goodbye everyone, see you *pantomime binoculars* again *wave*) then frantically tried to think of more productive things to do with a full 20 minutes of class time for the next group. These were yellow-hats; きくぐみ. Notoriously known for having severe issues with paying attention. They actually weren't too horrible; I was able to kind of sort of hold their attention as I read them "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", but I already knew in advance that the circle game was a bust. I could see it in the teacher's eyes that she somewhat sympathized with my pain, but there's only so much you can do when you can only speak English for 20 minutes and the only other adult in the room knows not a lick.
BUT IT'S OKAY BECAUSE THE NEXT TIME I HAD ENGLISH TIME I WAS PREPARED, YO.
Fei lent me her iPod (a purple nano...brb, crying over my lost child) and her speakers so I could play "If You're Happy And You Know It" loudly enough to drown out my horrible singing, and played this for the kids after the Hello song. There's a Japanese version, so they pretty much knew what to do, but just listened to the English translation and tried to piece the two together. LOVE IT WHEN CHILDREN LEARN.
After that, Fei also lent me about 40 laminated color circles that the Kindergarten uses for English. I familiarized them with red, yellow, and green, the proceeded to (sort of) play red light/green light. I did a couple of pilot tries to see if they could get the concept of the game, but there's something about getting a room full of kindergarteners to run and then telling them that they have to really stop running now seriously that doesn't work. Blargh. But my supervisor happened to pop in as the kids were finally getting it, and nodded approvingly and took pictures/video of my angel of mercy who correctly put up the right circles when I yelled "Okay...time for yellow! Now, show me red! Good! Now, green!" Eventually all of the kids wanted a turn 信号(stop light) and were swarming me, all screaming "ME PLEASE! ME PLEASE!" so I switched it up and played a more inclusive game with the circle of colors; I randomly placed them all around the room then asked them to "Find me something ____!" and see if they were able to correctly identify the colors. Mind you, there was always that kid who would say the Japanese equivalent exactly after I gave the instruction, so I'm not entirely sure if they all knew the colors in English. But hey, at least someone understood!
I was feeling pretty good, read them another book, then sang Goodbye. It was a pretty successful lesson and I did the same thing the next day. I gotta admit I was a little frazzled when my advisor gave me a full schedule for July. ACTUALLY TEACHING AHH HELP.
Anyway, apart from boring school shit, I've been hanging out a lot with Fei and some girls from my dorm! After frustratingly finding out that my debit card works at no nearby ATM's (Ummm can I get paid now? In cash? Soon? Kthanx) I asked Fei if she could lend me some money for a train ticket. She asked where I was going, I told her that I was going to get some Korean food/drink with some fr---OMG HOLLY I LOVE KOREAN FOOD CAN I COME TOO OKAY I'M COMING.
So an hour or so later and we're in
|The bear and the duck.|
大泉学園 (where the dorm is). I had loads of fun, and will be sad to say goodbye to these lovelies in September :(
|Eating Korean in Japan...I feel like I'm being trolled. But I don't care. WAS DELICIOUS.|
|Lhariza, Ahreum, and Fei! Being cute and Asian of course.|
That awkard moment when you realize, sitting at a table with 2 Filipinas, someone from Thailand, a Chinese-born Japanese person, and a Korean that you're the ONLY NON-ASIAN PERSON THERE. literal story of my life for the next 2 months...
|Mint literally does that pose every single time a picture is taken of her. Also; note how stupid I look doing the peace sign. I promise I will perfect this by the time I return to Evanston.|
So I awkwardly asked Mint why her name was Mint (not hating, just really curious) and she says that literally all Thai people have nicknames because their actual names are too long and complicated to use in everyday conversation. She says her mom...really likes Mints. And, yeah. My mom named me after Halloween but that is nowhere near as awesome.
|Group shot! Didn't realize my hair looked this dumb...|
And now for a brief session on why Ahreum is my new favorite Korean:
|We couldn't find a place to throw away our tissues, so Ahreum fashioned a little purse out of hers. Like, what?|
|Didn't look nearly as cute as her. A problem I face with many people here...|
|Hi, I own this space.|
Also, I get to see Harry Potter before you do. Lol.