Summer begins.
Japan is a country known for its four distinct seasons, but it should be known for having five distinct seasons: winter, spring, rain, summer, and fall. The change from the rainy season to summer could be clocked with an egg timer. Last Sunday it was drizzly, gray, damp, and relatively cool: just like it had been for weeks. Then Monday morning an oppressive, thick heat, dazzlingly bright sunlight, and the raucous sound of millions of cicadas filled the air. Summer has finally arrived, and shows no signs of slowing until September.

Summer will bring many changes to my life. It will be the closing of the first chapter of my Japan experience and the opening of the second and final chapter. This, as they say, is where the plot thickens. Several main characters will be replaced with new ones: my two American colleagues will be returning to the States, my close friend from Canada (who has been teaching ESL for 6 months here in Shimonoseki) will be going back home, and several members of the local Japan English Teachers (JET) program will be leaving. I am very sad to see these dear friends and confidants go. I'm worried that none of the new arrivals will be friends, and that I will be alone. Will these new characters become protagonists or arch rivals in my Japan story? I know one new character will inevitably become quite important to me: I will be joined here by a new co-worker, a graduate of Northwestern. I'm excited and anxious for her arrival. Will we work well together? Will she be weird? Will she think I'm weird?

Summer is also the high travel season in Japan. So, in true Japanese style, I'm taking a long vacation abroad-- to CHINA!!!! I am bouncing-off-the-walls-excited about this trip. As many of you know, two summers ago I lived in China for a month, studying the music of a minority group there, living with a host family, learning Chinese language and culture, and doing some missions work. That experience was one of the defining periods of my life. It forever changed my view of the world, music, culture, people-- pretty much everything. I also fell in love with Chinese culture. I am very excited to go back into this culture and see it from a new angle: coming from life in Japan. I'm sure China will seem much dirtier, more confusing, and louder than Japan. I'm looking forward to comparing notes on these two very different cultures. I'll be traveling with Rachel, my American colleague, to Qingdao by ferry to visit a mutual friend. Then we'll travel by overnight train (hopefully) to Beijing to see the Great Wall (one of the new 7 wonders of the world!!!), Tianamen Square, the Forbidden City, etc. Then Rachel and I will part ways: she'll go back to Japan, then promptly turn round and go back to the States. Meanwhile, I'll travel by plane to Southern China to hang out with people I met on my missions trip 2 years ago. Then I'll come back to Japan to recuperate from my vacation and wait for school to start up again.

So that's what's new with me. What's new with you? Please update me on life in the States! What's the hot news? Has Paris Hilton really reformed?! (Just kidding. Please don't mention Paris Hilton.)

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written by Ruthie @ 5:22 AM  
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Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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