My eikaiwa classes were a surprising source of therapy this afternoon. I went to work feeling pretty dismal (I don’t think my poor boss knew what she was getting herself into when she ended up taking a position that puts her directly in charge of the (rather homesick) foreign teachers–not that she had any choice in the matter, but still) and was honestly dreading having to spend two hours making friendly conversation…but my fears ended up being unfounded.
Pretty much the entire beginners eikaiwa consisted of my explaining why I’m going home in June, and explaining and rationalizing my feelings of homesickness in simple English and slightly broken Japanese, for an audience of really kind and sympathetic elderly Japanese people–even if they can’t empathize since I’m fairly certain none of them have spent an extensive period of time abroad (and I’m sure many of them have never been abroad), they were really sympathetic and encouraging, and I did feel a lot better afterwards.
The subsequent intermediate eikaiwa also lapsed into free discussion, but just general talk about the US and travel, and we ended on the oh-so-cheery note of crime rates in other parts of the world. And then we went out to lunch at the amazing Italian restaurant in town (where the chef was totally eyeing me, because I’d just been in there on Wednesday with Julie and Hannah and had told him I’d be back the following week, since Louise and I are heading there as soon as we arrive), where the ladies expressed great interest in making sure I see a proper tea ceremony and dressing me in a kimono. It hit me that it’s really amazing how enthusiastic they are about sharing their culture with me and making sure that I feel welcome, and any time I hang out with them, in class or otherwise, my spirits get a big boost.
Couple that with the brilliant weather we had today–Louise, if the weather was like this, you only need to bring one layer at most, and pack a few short-sleeved shirts while you’re at it–and I’m feeling a lot better right now. I’m looking forward to having this weekend to rest up a bit and having a minimum of classes next week before our 5-day weekend kicks in.