カテゴリ:英会話 教師 札幌( 50 )   

Otaru Daytrip   

Greetings! Maddy here.

I’ve only recently started working at the Chit Chat Café so this is my very first blog. I spent a lot of time mulling over what to write about, especially since I haven’t been on any fun adventures recently- but then I decided I could write about one of my best memories from this summer 😊

Otaru is the loveliest little oceanside town, and I’ve already been down there about four times… and in August, my boyfriend and I took a daytrip to the Otaru Aquarium! First, we took a JR train straight to Otaru station, and even though there weren’t any seats left, we still got to enjoy the view of the countryside and the sea. Afterwards, we waited for a bus that would take us up the hill to the aquarium. It was a pretty warm day so we grabbed bought some cold & sugary drinks (blue Hawaii hehe) from a nearby vending machine.

Once we arrived, we got our tickets and then went inside to explore. We got to see all kinds of sea creatures, and I especially appreciated the jellyfish, the red octopus, and the tiny conger eels. Also, if you go sometime, don’t forget to check out the balloon lumpfishes (フウセンウオ) because they’re too cute to miss.

Next, we had lunch in the cafeteria and we both bought a sort of omelette curry that was shaped like a turtle :P (it was called カメの太郎くんランチ). Whether you are 5 years old or 30, I think everyone can enjoy a plate of turtle-shaped curry. After finishing up lunch, we went to see what marine animal shows were going on. We saw every one of them- dolphins, penguins, seals – but I have to say that the walruses’ performance could not be beat. The trainers would say “aisatsu!” and they would wave their fins at the audience. And they’d say “hazukashii!” and they cover up their walrus faces like they’re embarrassed—soooo adorable. I wish I had filmed it actually, looking back. Maybe I’ll have to go again.

Continuing on, next door to the aquarium was a mini amusement park which included a ferris wheel! Being on a cutesy date and all, naturally, we had to ride it. From the tip top we took a bunch of photos of the view. It was so beautiful, almost like a backdrop from a Ghibli movie (see below~).

Finally, we decided rather than taking the bus again, we’d ride the ferry back to central Otaru. We barely caught the last boat, and had to run down the port to board in time. This ferry ride was quite relaxing and the heat wasn’t so bad thanks to the sea breeze. We also got a glimpse of one of Japan Coast Guard’s ships which was pretty cool!

We wandered around the streets of Otaru a bit before going home. I always stop by the オルゴール堂 so we went there and tested out some music boxes and stared at creepy antique dolls for a bit. For dinner, we couldn’t really decide on a place in Otaru so we just went home and ate Kimchi Soondubu at Sapporo Station!

Anyway, it was a wonderful day spent with a wonderful person. Next time I go back, I want to see Otaru when it’s covered in snow and the canal is lit up with Christmas lights.

Cheers,

Maddy (USA)




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by chitchatcafe | 2017-11-16 15:34 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)

Living Nippon   

For the first time in all of my dozens of years on this earth, I’m the queen of my own castle. I am now living solo.

(In my apartment)


It is almost 7 months since I arrived in Sapporo.

And today, I have listed 7 things I learned about living alone and as an expat in Japan.



#1 Convenience stores
Convenience stores in Japan are awesome. Since I live alone, I find it a waste of time to cook for one. I usually get myself a meal on my way home from conveniene store. You can find almost anything there, and they're always clean, well serviced, and safe.


#2 Food
When I'm not eating conbini food -- I get out and treat myself to a nice Japanese restaurant. I like ramen, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, udon, soba, ebi tempura and the list could go on and on. I like Japanese food very much. Japanese food is great. It's healthy, tastes great, and is fun to eat. Though tons of choices, I was overwhelmed when I arrived how expensive it is to eat out in Japan.

(Food shopping!!! My favorite kind of shopping)

(Takoyaki to go for dinner)


(At Victoria’s — I love Japanese food and steak too!)




#3 Not safe
Sapporo is not safe, it is ridiculously safe. No guns. No drugs. There are some bad gangster folks downtown but there is not very much violent crime.

One thing that I have never seen anywhere else is that people in restaurants leave their wallets and expensive smartphones on the table when they go to the bathroom. And they would go together, so nobody in the party would be there to guard them and their money and expensive electronics would be out in the open unguarded.

Coming from a third world country -- I've never come across such great confidence in strangers!


#4 Job

Probably the easiest way to get yourself over to Japan is by getting yourself a teaching job there. Luckily, there always seems to be an abundance of positions available, because Japan always wants to learn more English. For some people, the job market isn't so hot in their home country, so getting a teaching job in Japan can seem like an attractive option.

It is all about your connections. Once you have a base of contacts and a group of friends you can relax. When people first arrive they typically befriend other expats or people who want to practice English, but making an inroad with the locals is the only way you are going to develop a strong work and social network. It is a bit of a struggle at first.

(On my way to school)


(Prepping for my class — but selfie first)

(Walking to school 🍁)


#5 Commuting
Compared to Philippines public transport, Japanese public transport is unbelievably awesome. (at least trains and subways)
Its subway and train systems are crazy convenient, accurate, and make getting around the city so much easier.

But taking taxi is a absoulutely expensive. Once, I was out late at night, I had no choice but to take a taxi. A less than 15-minute drive cost me almost 2000 Yen. I swore not take taxi again.

(Going home from school — I take JR line everyday.)


#6 People
Being polite doesn’t mean it must be fake or unnatural, it can be more of a lifestyle. Japanese people are friendly and polite, at least the the middle-aged generation. Old people may be curious about your background but might not know how to interact with you. Young people keep to themselves on their smartphones and electronics, as I'm sure most are in any country. People here are always ready to help you even though there would be a language barrier.

The Japanese are very friendly, and incredibly welcoming and I was so pleased to confirm this for myself! It's a very different world, and a country that I highly recommend to my friends to visit someday.
(Haloween party at the cafe)


(Random Saturday night at Susukino)


#7 Toilets
Honestly, I’m spoiled now. The welcoming feeling of a warm, toasty seat during your private time makes going to the bathroom in Japan a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

Who knew you could have so many buttons when in the Philippines we just have a flushing option!

Shiela (Philippines)

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by chitchatcafe | 2017-11-09 19:55 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)

Finally summer break, after all.   

So what is there to tell about summer life in Sapporo.

For now I am enjoying my spare time.
Of course I have planned to travel in Japan a little. I am looking forward to go for a few days to Niseko that is said to be a really nice travel destination with great scenery. Start of September I also was invited to visit a friend in Chiba, but up till now my break was more relaxation than eventful. Therefore what have I done with my moderate leisure time so far?

Near to my apartment there is a small café/bar. Because I have a test after the break I currently learn a lot Japanese. But writing grammar exercises and Kanji for hours just is neither the most satisfying task nor the most helpful for actually using or speaking a language. For this I started going to this shop to talk to the owner and other customers. In such a casual setting, sitting together with native speakers, it feels comfortable to experiment with speaking and not being afraid of making mistakes. Already I feel how my speaking has improved.

Another thing I have been doing a lot is reading. Gladly I have rediscovered my capabilities. As a kid I used to read a lot and even the bigger books didn't last long. Over the years I always felt that I had lost the ability to read as curiously and passionately as before. Recently even shorter books took a longer time than I was used to. Over the last two weeks I already read two fairly long books and still going with the next. With his great writing style and amazing world-building I developed a love for the books of China Miéville. The first I read was a historical narrative of the Russian Revolution 1917. In an interesting mixture of compelling writing and proper research it gives not only great insight into many aspects of this significant historical event but also makes for an entertaining reading. The author is quite renowned especially for his works in Sci-Fi and Fantasy.
The Bas-Lag book series, I started reading after that, consists of the titles "Perdido Street Station", "The Scar" and "Iron Council". It is hard to put the trilogy into a genre but it definitely is fiction. The press has called him an author of the "New Weird" which fits very well in my opinion.
"Perdido Street Station", the first of the series, tells a mysterious story revolving around a quirky scientist and his group of friends that face unforeseen troubles. It is impressive, how in these books, a complex society is created with so many minutely described details. I am looking forward to see the other stories unfold now that I have finished "Perdido Street Station".

So much for my summer break so far. In my next blog I hope to be able to report about my travels to you.

Jan (Germany)

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by chitchatcafe | 2017-08-27 12:21 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)

My expenrience with snow in Sapporo   

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Before coming to Sapporo, I have never lived in a place with so much snow before. In October 2016, when I opened the window and saw tons of snow on the street for the first time, I was filled with joy and literally had to run downstairs to play in the snow around my dormitory.


In February 2017, I joined an event to build a snow sculpture for the Yuki Matsuri, and had a really happy day at Odori Park. It was really amazing that they could create such huge and magnificent snow sculptures with intricate details. The festival was absolutely wonderful, and attracted so many foreign visitors to the city. It was also very fortunate that they celebrated the 30 years of Final Fantasy 7 with a big sculpture of the two famous characters of this legendary Japanese game, and I had the opportunity to be in Sapporo to witness it.


In March 2017, I went skiing for the first time in a Cross Country Skiing event, and it was one of the most memorable days of my life. I did not expect skiing to be so much fun, and tiring at the same time. It was such an enjoyable workout and I kept smiling no matter how many times I fell. I was utterly joyful when I could finally ski down slopes well after some practice. Cross Country Skiing has become the newest entry on my list of favourite sports. I am very glad to be living in Sapporo, the city with beautiful white snow.


Hoang (Vietnam)

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by chitchatcafe | 2017-03-11 14:16 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Trackback | Comments(0)

Christmas Eve 2016   

Happy New Year, everyone! In this blog entry, I would like to write about my first Christmas Eve in Japan.


I have only resided in Japan for a little more than 3 months, but I have been fortunate enough to experience so many novel things in my life. I have seen snow before, but only in Sapporo have I ever witnessed such a great amount of snowfall. When I opened my room’s window in the morning and saw the thick snow on the street, it was such a miracle!


In my opinion, Christmas Eve 2016 was the first time that I have ever properly celebrated the coming of Christmas. In Vietnam, the country where I am from, Christmas is an occasion to go shopping, or hang out on the street with friends and lovers. However, typically, we almost never stay home and have dinner with our family during Christmas Eve.


This time in Japan, I celebrated Christmas Eve by enjoying a lovely warm dinner with my classmates from university, with the thick cold snow laying outside. Some of us prepared the main dishes, while others brought snacks and drinks. It was probably the best dinner that I have had in Japan so far. After the meal, we played card games, danced to music, and chitchatted until late.


On the way back together, we had plenty of fun throwing snowballs to each other. Prior to this, I could only read about this fun activity in Manga, so I was very delighted to try out the actual snowball-throwing game. Everyone was laughing so hard. It was such a heart-warming time amid the chilly Sapporo winter night.


Hoang (Vietnam)

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by chitchatcafe | 2017-01-11 17:10 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)

My Sapporo Experience so far   

I have been in Sapporo for almost 3 months now and I have experienced so many new things it seems as if everyday I do something I've never done before or eaten something I've never tried before.

When I first arrived I was expecting really cold weather and lots of snow it when I arrived it so hotter here then I could have imagined and I thought to myself is it always going to be like this?

Later as I got settled and the autumn season started to kick in the rain, the wind and the cold weather reminded me of my home town and I felt a bit more at ease considering I am in a different country.

I was told many stories that when winter comes it would be colder then I could imagine and of course they were right. It doesn't snow often in England I have seen it snow maybe about 4 times in my life and whenever it did it seems the whole country would stop and panic as if the world had ended.

So now that winter is here and the snow has fallen to me it's truly amazing I've only seen this much snow on TV everything had been turned into a glorious white the roads, the buildings even people when they walk outside in the snow storms is covered with soft powdery snow.

I'm honestly enjoying every moment dispite the freezing cold temperature I can't wait to so more and I am fascinated that the people living here think it's just normal I'm looking forward to my first ever white Christmas and I'm so happy that I get to spend it in Sapporo.

Tristan (United Kingdom)

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by chitchatcafe | 2016-12-14 14:46 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)

First Sapporo Winter   

So I have been in Sapporo for two months now, time has gone very quickly. The weather also changes very quickly.
One day the leaves were turning gold and crimson for the Autumn and the next white snow was laying across the fallen leaves.

The first snow came early in November this year. I woke up in the morning and opened my curtains to let the sunlight through the windows.
"SNOW!!"
I was suprised to be greeted by whiteness. Snow glittered in the sun and the cars in the carpark below lay covered in a fresh heap of powder. Immediately I went down stairs to the front of my dormitory and started building a snowman. It didn't take long for me to be joined by another resident of my dorm. Together we sat outside, our fingers growing numb as we rolled balls of snow.
We built a large bear out of snow and decorated it with sunglasses and a scarf.

In Australia it does not snow in very many places. We have only a couple of ski resorts on very small mountains. Even in these areas the snow is very little and ski resorts must produce artificial snow to keep their resorts running.

I really love Sapporo covered in snow. The city looks beautiful surrounded by mountains and the naked winter trees turned white by fallen powder.

In Australia my family and friends are uploading photos of barbeque lunches on the beach and boggy boarding in the waves. Yet here I am in Sapporo, the snow is falling and the temperatures can be negative numbers. Completely opposite.

I'm looking forward to surviving my first Sapporo winter!

Jessica (Australia)

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by chitchatcafe | 2016-12-02 14:48 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)

First times   

I arrived in Sapporo a week before the Snow Festival, and since then, this city has been the place where I had a lots of « first times ».
It is the first time I really try to settle somewhere else than in my own region. I have travelled a few times, but it was always about trips and vacations. Even in Austria where I stayed two months to learn German, I did not have to settle, to find a job or an apartment.
It’s also the first time I live in a city, a big one especially. And with that comes a lot of new experiences. A lot of chances to meet new people, to create a new circle of friends. Even if I still miss forest and mountains, Sapporo is surrounded by nature, which is great when I need to escape the city.
Sapporo is also the first city where the culture is so different from mine. Even if you can find different ways of living in Europe, in the end we all have the same culture.
There were a lots of others « first times », there will be even more, and I’m glad about it. Writing a blog is one of them, I hope I can handle it !

Kevin (France)

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by chitchatcafe | 2016-06-01 16:56 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)

The ‘pouet-pouet' doll back from the past   

Hi everyone,

It has been a long time since my last post! I hope you’re all keeping well!

I am not a Tokyo lover but I spent 2 days there, last month. Although it wasn’t anything like a relaxing trip, I managed to do some sightseeing and wandered around Nakano-Broadway. I didn’t know what to expect but I must say that I am very pleased with my find!
This place is the headquarter of any bargain-hunters, a bit like our popular flea markets in France. You could spend hours in there and yet not see everything.
Anyway, I was strolling up and down this 3-floor building when I happened to pass by a retro bookstore, selling mostly some kinds of old dark magic books. Don’t ask me who or why some people would buy those, but the fact is that in the display window of this mysterious shop, sat a tiny blue doll. I had no interest in any of these books but the doll, though, stroke me. To tell you the truth, it was the exact replica of a tiny doll I used to play with when I was 2 years old or so, except that this one was blue and mine was beige. I loved that doll just because you could press its belly and hear a squeaky ‘pouet’! I played with that doll for years but like any children’s toys, comes a time when you put it away cause, you know, it’s too ‘babyish!’. Anyway, seeing the very same doll 30 years later, miles away from my country, staring at me through the window, I had to ask the old guy running the store if it was on sale. After a quick look he said ‘oh yeah, 500 yen’! So I didn’t think twice and I bought it! And there it is, my ‘pouet-pouet’ doll, back from the past sits now on my desk and guess what, it ‘pouets’ very well!
And you guys, have you ever found any treasures at a flea market, car-boot-sale or at any other rummage sales?
Until next time!

Claire (France)

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by chitchatcafe | 2016-02-19 16:43 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)

Happy New Year everybody!   

And so, it’s the start of a new year and four years after many people believed it would be the end of the world (thankfully, it didn’t happen), we have arrived in 2016. I started the year the same as I usually do, by making a short mental list of New Year’s resolutions that I will succeed in failing to achieve again no doubt. Still, you never know…

Christmas Day was great fun and it was nice seeing Joshua opening his Christmas presents, but it would have been so much better if I hadn’t woken up at 4am with severe toothache. I couldn’t get back to sleep as the pain was so bad, and I was a little concerned as to how the day would progress, but then I said to myself. Hey James! You live in Japan! In England, I doubt that there would be much hope to be seen by a dentist on Christmas Day, but here, it was just a 10 second walk across the road from my house to the nearest dentist.

And so, several needles, drills and some root canal treatment later, I was ready to go home and prepare the Christmas meal. By the time everything was ready, the effects of the anaesthetic had worn off and I could dig in to some roast pork (as there’s no chance of fitting a turkey in our rather small oven). Everything went well and the dentist, my hero for the day, was forgotten.

I hope that you all enjoyed the Christmas and New Year season, without the need for any dentists, and look forward to seeing you soon!
Hopefully you have all recovered from the shock of being back at work by now ;-)

James (UK)

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by chitchatcafe | 2016-01-06 15:03 | 英会話 教師 札幌 | Comments(0)