Thursday, January 31, 2013

Year 24 Day 1

       When my plane touched down late last night, I felt a warm affection for Thailand. When I say "warm," I mean it in the figurative sense, of course. Even more so, I mean it in the literal. If you're a fan of heat, we could say that it settles like the warmest down comforter you've ever felt. If you're not a fan of heat, we could say it hits you like a bus.
       Either way, I was thrilled to be in the same country as my elephant again, though I will have to return later to pay her a visit. After only a few hours in Bangkok, it was time to meet my new hometown, Vientiane, Laos. Even after one evening here, I am hooked.
       Vientiane is a small city when compared to other capital cities. There are no skyscrapers and no malls. Despite it's condensed size, it is extremely diverse and represents many international cultures. In the span of a couple hours, I applied for my Laos visa, found cookies I haven't been able to find outside Great Britain, ate a smorgasbord of Italian food, and finished the evening with coffee Haagen-Dazs. If you we're worried about me at all, please note that I can buy Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix if I get homesick. 
       However, with my stay here, I am really looking forward to figuring out what is distinctly Vientiane. I've already seen a small picture, but I'm itching to discover more. I'd say though, for the first day of my 24th year of life, it's time for bed. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ocean View

I looked out to sea after sunset, and this was, no joke, my first view of the scenic Japanese coastline.

Sagami Bay

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tokyo Days

January 26, 2013

My dear students,
       A couple of nights ago, I woke up while it was still dark, looked at the clock, did a little calculating, and realized that you were in art class. It was a strange feeling, knowing that I could picture your day, but knowing that you probably can't even begin to picture mine. I suppose it's time that I fill you in. 
       I haven't fallen into any routines yet, as I still have not reached Laos. I've been getting to know Tokyo, which, as it is the largest metropolitan area of the world, takes some time. I did my typical routine, hitting as many major sites in one day as possible, and I managed to buy souvenirs at the base of a temple, stroll through shopping malls devoted entirely to electronics, listen to vendors shout out for me to buy their seafood, and maneuver through the complex maze of trains and subways.
       Japan has vending machines with both cold and hot drinks, and I obviously found the coffee drinks to buy and sip while standing in the crowded trains. I've practiced the art of smiling and nodding along when I have absolutely no clue what people are saying to me, and I've almost learned how to tell how expensive something is when its price is listed in Japanese yen. (If you're wondering, there are about 90 yen in one dollar. Try adding that to a chart in Number Corner.) 
       My chopstick-wielding skills are still improving, and I managed to eat even a salad with them today. I also admitted to thinking a dish was delicious before finding out that the crunching was not only the lettuce, but squid tentacles. Ignorance surely is bliss, and I may or may not look more closely at my food from now on. Maybe I don't always want to know what's in it. 
       No matter what each day brings, I wake up excited for the possibilities. When the day ends, I go to bed exhausted but happy, and apparently full of squids. Isn't that really what life is all about? 

Miss Ross

Top row, first two on the left. That's the good stuff. 


Monday, January 21, 2013

Chapter 1

My Dear Students,

       Tomorrow is the beginning of new adventures for all of us. For you comes a new teacher, bringing new ideas, new experiences, and new opportunities. For me comes a new country. To be honest, I’m not yet sure what all that brings, but I suppose I’m about to find out.
       My coffee machine has been stored away with the message “Coffee Maker, FRAGILE, PRECIOUS, DO NOT DROP” written on the box in Sharpie, just to be safe. One can never be too cautious about these things. Your letters to me are tucked safely in my backpack, and I will read them when I am missing Valparaiso.
       For the first week, I will be with family in Japan. Then, on my birthday, I will fly to my new home in Vientiane. I have never asked for a new address for my birthday, but I suppose there is a first time for everything. Maybe you should ask for an address in a foreign country for your next birthday too. The worst your parents could say is “No.”
       After that point, I really am not sure what to expect. So, right now, all I can do is triple check my to-do lists. Hopefully, they will be completed by the time I fly tomorrow, just as you are finishing your lunch. By the time I touch land again, you will be fast asleep, regaining energy to continue your new adventure. You will do wonderful things, and I only hope I can do the same.

Miss Ross