Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Coming soon ... the next one?

(View from my office window this evening: the sun going down over Ikebukuro)

Back to the chalkface. Lessons have begun and undergrads are now around full-time. Textbooks, paper and pens, not so much. There still seems to be a fair amount of chaos post-quake and this first week I am just introducing the courses and distributing course outlines.

The two things I forget every semsester: whiteboard markers, and just how hard teaching is on your feet. I like to wear suits and heels for the first week and this evening, after my third class of the day, I had to take off my shoes and walk back to my office in my popsox.

I was talking with an adult graduate school student this evening. She had waited 7 hours for a bus after the quake and when she arrived home she found deep cracks in the walls. "So did you get them repaired?" I asked. "No" she said, "I`m waiting until after the next one. The official word from the meteorological office is that the Kanto area (which includes Tokyo) is due for a big shake sooner rather than later. In fact, I get the distinct impression that people just want this big shake to come and then they can relax and get on with life.

I found an emergency manual in Japanese in my uni pigeonhole this morning, and emergency posters have appeared in classrooms. The students don`t bother to read them and I can`t understand them completely. (Although there is one particular instruction that I often see in Japan which I thoroughly enjoy. 無理はしない、Muri wa shinai. Literal translation: Do not do impossible things.) They really should have been up BEFORE the quake. Part-time English-language teachers have not received anything. I checked.

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