Monday, January 17, 2005

Counting My Blessings

My Japanese class started tonight and I really loved it. It's 6:00 - 9:00 PM on Mondays and Wednesday. (That is a long time to be in class.) I had all kinds of little anxieties, especially when it came time for me to do my dialogue in front of everyone. "Tim-san, Kochira wa Marines no Chris desu. Dozo yoroshiku." It went pretty well. All of my classmates are 18 or something. They were all pretty lost in regards to the material, and the entire time I was thankful that this is my second go around taking the class. Even in the first night I learned some new vocab. But my main feeling was that I am SO GLAD that I am a student instead of a teacher right now. (After three terms, I'm taking this one off from teaching.) I walked by my classroom to see if anyone else had it -- they didn't. It was dark and empty. I kept thinking about all of the intense preparation that goes into teaching, and, in my opinion, it's way harder to be a teacher than to be a student. The students show up and learn if they want. The teacher has to be an expert on the subject matter and just about anything else a student could throw their way.

Tonight while driving to class, I started thinking of all the things I'm thankful for about having access to a US base overseas. I don't live on base (I'm thankful for that, too), but I do some of my grocery shopping there. I also gas my car there and use the US Post Office, the beauty salon, and the travel agency. I've seen movies on base (they used to be free, but now they're $2.50 for adults, and it's just like a theater back home except that we stand for the National Anthem before every picture starts) and I sometimes use the gym (that's free.) I eat at the foodcourt sometimes (Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway, Baskin & Robins, KFC and a potato place.) I don't mean there aren't issues or things to complain about, but that's a different blog post, and right now I feel really lucky to have access to the base and all the comfort it brings. I can buy the basics at reasonable prices, (not necessarily the brands I like, but they have just about everything you need) and the PX even has a small Hallmark section (where everything is 20% off every day.) I mean, it's nothing like living in the US and having everything at your fingertips. But I don't mind it very often. They do a good job of making people comfortable and having reminders of home. We have a small bookstore and a little coffee cart, and a car dealership and both indoor and outdoor pools. People used to tell me it was like a tiny American city plopped down in the middle of Japan, and that is exactly what it is like. I especially feel lucky because my job allows me to travel back and forth between two bases often. Because of that, I get a lot more variety than most people. Bases vary in what they provide, especially between the different branches of service, (those Air Force folks get everything!) I choose to live (way) off base and spend most of my time off base with the Japanese, but I feel really grateful that it's there as a resource when I need it. Like when I want to go to a movie where the snacks are popcorn and gum drops instead of dried shrimp and beer. Or eat a meal where there aren't eyeballs on my plate looking up at me.

I have friends that have moved overseas for jobs that are a lot less cushy than mine. Mine isn't as cushy as people think it is, I guarantee that, but I do have a lot to be thankful for.

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