Sunday, December 11, 2011

Down with the Sickness

I have been rather ill for the last few days, at first I thought it was just because it is so incredibly cold in my school (they do not allow any heaters on unless it is less then 10C outside), but then it continued at home. I would get chills so bad that being under a mountain of blankets just a few inches from a heater felt like being out on the tundra, followed closely with heat waves so bad that even without any blankets on me I was drenching my bed in sweat. 
This was uncomfortable, but still tolerable. Then came the horrible waves of pain, I convulsed pathetically even while lying in bed and spent most of my time lying around moaning while David looked on helplessly, he tried to comfort me, but it is hard to make someone feel better when they feel as if their organs are trying to explode through their body (all I could think of when writing that was the stomach scene from Aliens).

Then come this morning, I am faced with the decision of if I should go to school or not. I did actually start to get ready, but then doubled over in pain and thought this might not be the best decision. I called my company and the Board of Education, they both told me that that was quite sad but to try and feel better as quickly as possible, which is fine, that’s what you would expect from an employer. Disappointment in the situation, but understanding that you cannot change the current circumstances.
Then, I get a call from my school, telling me I should come in anyways. I explained that I have a fever, am in pain, and that blood is literally coming out of multiple orifices (lovely, huh?), they followed this up with, “so are you sure you can’t come in and teach?”
I bit my toungue, said yes it is a rest day for me, and hung up. This was closely followed with a call from someone at my company, asking me the same damn thing, “so are you sure you can’t come in and teach?”
Did these people miss the part where I said the words fever and blood?

I know quite well that here in Japan, most people still go to school or work while ill, they just simply “tough it out” and wear a mask, which has always been something that angers me, but I try to ignore it since it is their culture and it is not my place to pass judgment on how they run their nation. It annoys me whenever a teacher comes in quite obviously under the weather, sometimes they have even gone to the hospital and then come in to teach now that they have medicine to get them through the day, but that is not me. That is NOT how we do things in America. If you are sick, you do not pass it on to an entire school filled with children, you fucking stay home.  You do not allow yourself pass out in the middle in the middle of class from sickness. And you do not, ever, tell a person who is sick to “suck it up.”
If they want to do that, that is their prerogative, but there is no way in Hell you are going to get me to suffer through a day of work and possibly get 700 people sick.

I apologize in advance if this entry is not entire logical or sounds overly angry, still feeling ill and emotions/logic are a tad bit out of whack.
Example: cried like a baby earlier cause the cats knocked over a glass of tea. Fully know that that is not the normal reaction, but currently my brain seems to be saying “fuck logic.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

School Time

*Note: this is just my personal experiences at one Junior High, and certainly should not be taken as what happens at every school in the country*

  As anyone who is looking at this should know by now, I am an English teacher in Japan (aka ALT), and as the day of classes has been cancelled for me, I thought this would be a good time to write a little bit about what happens here at a Japanese public school.

  An average day for me consists of getting in to school at 8:00am to get settled in for the daily staff meeting that happens at 8:10am, these can last anywhere from a minute, or until almost interfering with first period, which starts at 8:50am. Why exactly I have to be in attendance for these has remained a mystery, because I do not understand much Japanese, so none of it really makes any sense to me, and even if I ask the English speaking teachers afterwards what was covered, they will not tell me. During these meetings I have learned when to say “good morning” and “thanks” on cue, and when to bow at the right time (yes, we bow every morning), but beyond that, I do not understand a single thing that happens during these events. The most annoying part is that sometimes everyone will cheer and clap, and when I ask “what happened?” I typically just get a wave to be quiet or am told “oh it’s nothing,” it has gotten to the point where I do not even ask anymore, I just continue to check my e-mail, say the words on their cues, and just sort of zone out.

  Next up are classes, I teach a conversation class, so instead of focusing on grammar and such, my classes are mostly games, running around, and trying to get the students to practice as much English as possible. I feel lucky in this regard, because most ALTs I have spoken with simply parrot what the Japanese teacher tells them to and the children do not get to have a lot of fun, also, I am the only ALT I know of in the area that has an actual classroom. It’s pretty awesome to have a private room, especially because it allows me to display students work on the walls and make it feel welcoming with different decorations every month. It takes a lot of time and effort to decorate the place, but the students and teachers all seem to love it, it is fairly common for people to just stop in to admire the walls.
   Prior to summer vacation, I had 18 classes a week that I made all the lesson plans, materials for and taught them mostly solo, then, without even warning me, the 1st year students stopped getting lessons from me. The teachers have never explained why the classes were suddenly switched to grammar instead of conversation, but now 3 of my classes are parroting and the other 3 the teacher does not even want me there… and with not so much as a word.
  The other 12 classes are still completely run by me though, and it can get tough, especially when my JTEs rarely offer me advice on how to tweak lesson plans and, even though I give them plans a week in advance, they often will stop a class to ask questions about what is happening. It is not horrible, but it can get frustrating. The wonderful thing though is that all of these classes have really helped me to get over my fears of speaking in front of groups and I am certainly becoming more confident in my teaching skills as the months progress.

  Once a day, typically directly following the last class period, all of the students go to designated areas of the school to clean. You see, in Japan, schools do not have janitors, they have a workforce of students to do the chores, they do everything from sweeping the floors and window washing, to scrubbings toilets and picking up leaves. It is nice because it teaches the children a bit about responsibility, and all of them will know that if the school does not look good, they will only have themselves to blame for it, the only problem is that most students, after years of doing it every day, seem to simply not give a damn anymore. At my school, students barely clean anything, and instead tend to have sword battles with the brooms or try to shove dirty washcloths in each others mouths, the end result is a lot of teachers yelling, and my schools floors being slightly sticky and off color. I have been told by other ALTs that my school sounds much worse than theirs though, so perhaps just my students do not give a damn about how their school looks anymore.

  It is not all bad here though, I would say that roughly 99% of the 650 students that attend my Junior High School are wonderful, funny and absolutely adorable. It is rare to go through a single day without being told by a few students that I am “kawaii” (cute) or have a boy awkwardly try to hit on me or stare at my boobs. The majority of the kids love to come up to me outside of class and attempt to hold conversations, most of their questions are usually grammar points they recently learned (i.e. “how many ~ do you have?” or “do you like ~?”), but at least they are trying.
  The cutest conversation this week was a 1st year student who, after being pushed forward by his friends, blushed and told me “tea teacher, you are good English teacher and very cute. I love you.” He then promptly ran away.
  Love it.
  By the way, the students call me tea teacher, because my last name is Koca, which is pronounced very similarly to “koucha,” or black tea.  

  Throughout the day, there is a woman that all ALTs call “the tea lady,” because, well, she is in charge of tea and snacks for the staff room, I have heard tales of every tea lady ever being sweet old ladies who just love to talk to you, make wonderful snacks and remember everyone’s favorite drinks….. that is not my lady.
My tea lady tends to spend most of her day zoned out on her keitai (phone), only brings in prepackaged snacks and sucks at making tea. Yes, my tea lady cannot make good tea. Every day I cringe a little bit when she smiles and sets the over steeped green brew in front of me and then later try to sneak into the lounge room without her noticing that most days I simply dump it out.

  Well, without going into the politics of how the actual school is run, and what they do ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ here, that is pretty much my average day in a quite large nutshell.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Vacation – Tokyo

The day after finally getting a car of our own, it was time for our first road trip, destination: Tokyo.
Another BoderLink worker named Michelle was kind enough to offer her loft as a free place to sleep during our trip, which was doubly fantastic since the cheapest hostel that I had ever seen looking around was 2,500Y a night, and there is no guarantee that your roommates there will be good company.

Michelle unfortunately had some meetings during the first day, so Debu and I headed to Ueno on our own to see visit an Edo period museum that I had heard about.
For just 300Y, this museum was a great treat. It was filled with antiques that the surrounding community had donated to help recreate an entire Edo period neighborhood, and everything is touchable. There was a fantastic English tour guide as well, who spent an equal amount of time explaining the museum and having friendly chit chat with us about life in Japan, he even showed off his skills at the Edo period toys that were set up and cracked a few jokes along the way. This museum was well worth the price and every worker was simply lovely to us.
WWII poster about the blackouts

recreated Edo candy shop

common, only 50,000 for a freaking bear!
The museum was directly across from the Ueno pond, which luckily was in full bloom and breathtaking, add to this luck that there was also a flea market that day, and it makes this pond just about the best place for me to be, as I am a bit crazy for flea markets. This one was exceptionally interesting because most vendors had quite eclectic wears for sale, from scrolls that were over 150 years old, to WWII helmets, to an actual bear! I spent at least an hour just wandering around gawking at everything and forcing myself to not buy anything.

mmm pineapple

Probably did not entirely purify me
To help combat the heat of Tokyo, we went down into one of the side alleys and bought some frozen pineapple on a stick, and then wandered into a local shrine to purify our souls and get some shade.
The next stop on our trip was the Tokyo University Historical Museum, which a friend had told us had a torture section in it, but after walking the 90mins to get there from Ueno and arriving with no time to spare, it came to our attention that that area is now Edo crafts and that the torture artifacts have been long gone. To quell the sadness in my heart from not getting to see an Iron Maiden, I wandered Akihabara until I found something cute and fluffy to hug. 
Yes, that will do.

With day one coming to a close, Debu and I headed back to Michelle’s to relax and prepare for the next journey: Tokyo Pokecenter.

So, every website that I had read said that the Pokecenter was right beside Tokyo Tower. Awesome. Go see the tower and then run in and see Pokemon, sounds like an easy day. 

Except things got very complicated, very quickly.

For starters, after meeting up with friends, we continued to get lost on the way to the tower a few times, and after a lot of wasted time, finally visited Tokyo Tower, to find it isn’t all that impressive a sight.  Afterwards we asked for directions, because the Pokecenter was nowhere to be seen, we came to discover that it is a few kilometers away from our location. So… walk a few kilometers, the whole while thinking “well maybe that was the closest train station, and that’s why the sites say that.” Nope. There is a train stop just a few blocks from the center, and the center ended up being not nearly as amazing as all the reviews had made it out to be. I mean, it was still neat and fantastically dorky, but was it worth the heinous trip? Hell no.
f you Pikachu!
To make matters more depressing, all our efforts in finding the place had basically wasted our entire day away, resulting in the rest of our plans becoming scrapped for going back to the apartment and moping instead.  

On the plus side, finally found an Women Only train car

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Summer Vacation – Takeda Shrine

To celebrate the beginning of summer, and try to calm my stir craziness, the last weekend before vacation, I talked Debu into taking a trip into Kofu-shi to see the Takeda Shrine. Unfortunately for both of us, that day ended up being one of the hottest and most unforgiving days of the entire year. During the time it took us just to bike to the train station and then walk to Takeda, I was already getting rather red.
Hello Kitty is sacred, who knew?
The shrine was absolutely lovely, filled with many interesting relics, Shinto priests going about their days, and a random Hello Kitty statue

blessed tree

The only issue though, was that during the time it took us to walk around the small shrine grounds and start to head to another area, we had already gone through 4L of water and I was starting to get rather dizzy, even when sitting in the shade. It quickly occurred to us that I was having the early symptoms of a heatstroke, so plans were scrapped for instead trying to find a shaded place with water.
mmm horse
The place ended up being a yakitori shop that for whatever reason had horse on the menu, it turns out that horse does not taste all that great, and also that Debu is great at making me feel bad for dragging him outside into extreme heat.  Who would’ve guessed?
By the time we arrived back home, it was becoming pretty clear that I had received more than just a minor sunburn, it ended up being  a 2nd degree burn that would linger and cause immense pain for nearly two full weeks, all the while making me look like a disfigured burn victim.
The burn was so bad in fact, that multiple days were spent with my shoulders wrapped in gauze and trying to find new ways to do things without the use of much arm movement. 

2 weeks into it
yea, those are blisters. Quite painful.

The process of not moving was going fairly well, until the last day of school, which all of the staff celebrated with a massive enkai (drinking party). During the night I was deemed pretty awesome for my drinking prowess and everyone fell in love with Debu because, well, he speaks Japanese. It all came to bite me in the ass though, as at some point during the night I split open my burns again, and spent the entire next day with hurt shoulders and a hangover that threatened to make even leaving bed end with bad results.
Totally worth it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homesickness Diesease

These 5 months since arriving in Japan have been a strange journey into the inner turmoils that can come about at any moment...

One moment, there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be than right here in Japan, especially when seeing new sides to the culture, exploring a new area, or seeing the looks on the faces of those I have touched since landing here.
Then I start to think about those back home and suddenly Japan goes from being this magical land of wonder, to a sort of prison keeping me from reaching out to my loved ones.

It is so strange to go from pure joy to misery in an instant. I feel bipolar and insane whenever I start to cry or my heart starts to get that terrible ripping feeling... every ounce of me wants to both run back home and jump into the arms of those I care for, and to continue to fully embracing life here, and it is rather maddening.

These feelings have been coming to a head the last few days as I have had to start thinking about  if I should renew my contract here or go home at the end of the term.
If I go back home, it's back to friends, family, having shoulders to cry on whenever things get hard and to have the comforts from my entire life back in place. Leaving also means that David and I will break up, no matter what, I will have no job and will be living with my parents again.
Staying another year means that I continue having a good paying job, my own apartment/car and continue exploring this country and trying to help with relief efforts whenever possible. Remaining also means another year of inner turmoil and yearning for what is not within grasp.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In Fukushima, Japan for the next two weeks. Spent my birthday sleeping to prepare for the drive and am spending my one year anniversary going into the 20km exclusion zone to feed 80 chickens and hopefully rescue a dog.

Not exactly the most romantic way to spend the days, and I cannot tell if David is actually happy or just putting on a good face, but I wouldn't trade this time for the world.

I had been going through volunteering withdrawal, so being here, surrounded by animals, gorgeous scenery and getting covered in filth daily for a good cause.... makes me feel complete.

Do I really have to return to real life at the end of the month?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Adventure Time

I have been rather absent as of late, and as much as I would like to say that it was due to being far too busy having fun and exploring the country, that is not the truth, I have simply been lacking in the motivation department, and for that, I apologize. I know that not many people read this blog, but the few that do are close friends and family members, and I promised all of you upon my departure that I would keep you updated through this venue, and have failed to do so.  I am truly sorry.

So, with that out of the way, it is now time for me to try and play catch up a bit.

Two weekends ago, David and I went camping with another ALT (assistant language teacher) that I met through a forum called YETI (Yamanashi English Teachers International), it was great for both me and the other girl, because we were apparently both going a bit stir crazy with having a lack of things to do. It also helped, that she lived down in Nanbu, which is very close to Mt. Fuji.  It was great to have a weekend outside of the house, and even better to have one with great company in the middle of a gorgeous mountain region. 
The view of Nanbu
  We started our journey out by going to a small town festival at the top of one of the lower peaks, (which had a lovely view of Nanbu below where we got to meet a very nice old woman who was wearing a crocheted outfit she had made, that featured a bit more skin then I had wanted to see that day. She turned out to be the grandmother of 2 of Tara’s (the other ALT) students, and was kind enough to show us around.

She was also kind enough to treat us to a tea ceremony where we got some amazing snacks 

On the way back down to Tara’s apartment to get ready for the mountains, we passed many gorgeous flowers, and David informed us about how some bees like to get drunk and violent, he always seems to know the strangest trivial information…

I couldn't help but be amused.

Next we stopped for lunch at a little park that Tara knew of, and on the way up there we saw a freaking monkey! Sadly said monkey was too quick for me to get a photo of him, but it still made me pretty happy since I had heard from a lot of my cowokers that it’s pretty rare to see them in Yamanashi.  The park has some great Buddhist statues in it.
The bibs and hats are supposed to help protect children from harm, but to me, they looked a bit silly. 

some of the rapids we played in
After a nice meal, we finally headed to our camping destination, high up in the mountains. The location we decided upon was right alongside the stream and added the wonderful melody of rushing water to our entire stay.
We spent much of the remaining sunlight working our way down the stream and climbing down rapids and mini-waterfalls, it was quite a bit of fun, but I still wish that we had managed to find a good spot to really swim.
Once we had our fill of wandering the water, we headed upwards to check out the local onsen. For those of you who do not know, an onsen is a public bath where people bathe in hot sulfur water together in the nude. It was my first time, and I will fully admit, the first few minutes were rather awkward for me, especially since I had just met Tara that day and here we suddenly were chatting naked on top of a mountain with a bunch of old Japanese women. 
It was still a lot of fun though, and supposedly the hot mountain water mixed with sulfur is supposed to do wonders for your skin, and it was also nice because we met a sweet old woman who told us how her son lives in San Francisco and that she loves how beautiful America is. This encounter was made even better when we later found out that David had met her husband on the men’s side and had had almost an identical conversation with him about their son, suppose they are just an outgoing couple.

The rest of the night was spent playing cards, talking, and Tara telling a random conbini worker that I am an alcoholic (which is only partially true…), we had to spend most of the night huddled in our tent since it began raining, but that was fine, especially since the rain left us with a gorgeous fog the next morning.

We all woke up quite early the next morning to investigate the area away from the stream, and what we found were some amazing spiderwebs that a group of spiders had banded together to create. Some snails moving slowly to, well, somewhere. And a rather creepy empty building covered in rust and broken appliances. 

freaking creepy.
this is where every leech in Japan lives
On the way back down, Tara suggested we take a hike to see some gorgeous waterfalls, but we never quite made it to the bottom, because it would appear the trail leading to them is where every leech in Japan lives. During our hour or so on that trail, I personally picked off 22 of the buggers and am not ashamed to admit I was the first one to chicken out and head back up, the leeches just thought I was far too tasty

While still cringing from our encounter with the leeches, well, except David, who actually thought they were really cool and kept messing with them, we stumbled upon some rather strange remains of… something. We still have no idea what it used to be, but it was certainly odd. I did not get to go in as far as I had hoped though, because David pointed out a weird bug to Tara and she freaked out, proclaiming she had had enough bug encounters for the day. 

Upon calming down from all the bugs, it was decided that we should go to Tara’s favorite organic restaurant in the area, which also happened to be right across the way from Mt. Fuji, it also turned out that I had heard of this place from a documentary about the Jukai (aka suicide forest), so I was quite happy to check it out.   The food was quite tasty, although rather pricy since it was all made on site from their own gardens.
neat organic cafe
Overall it was a fantastic weekend, and while we did end up spending more money they we had originally planned, it was worth it to get rid of all my pent up frustrations from being stuck inside.

Now, I will close this off with a cute photo of David and I being, well, cute.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Life goes on

I promise to make a much more in depth post sometime soon, but for now, please enjoy these amazing photos of Japan's progress 3 months later

Ganbare, Nippon!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Japan VS America

I will probably be doing many posts like this over my time here, but here goes part 1 of the  some differences and similarities I have noticed so far during my stay here

1.     Bathing:
In America most people take showers in the morning before heading out and maybe the occasional bath just to relax. 

In Japan, people tend to take a quick shower to clean up and then take a long bath to relax, it is also common for family members to bathe together and even wash each other, and then share the same tub water. Most people also do their bathing right before bed time.

2.      Hand washing:
In America, it is pretty much unheard of to have a bathroom (at home or in public places) that lacks soap and a method to dry your hands once done. Also, bathroom sinks are, well, in the same room as the bath and toilet.

In Japan, a lot of places do not have soap of any kind, and you will be lucky if they have anything to dry your hands with. That being said, a lot of public places that do have something use communal towels, that aren’t that clean, or dry. Also, in homes bathroom sinks, the tub/shower and toilet are all in separate areas.

3.     The toilet:
In America, they all look pretty much the same, there’s nothing special about them and most are not water efficient.

In Japan, almost all toilets have heated seats and many (including the ones at my school and the mall) even sing to you, have built in bidets and have 2 flush levels so that you use less water for less waste. The one in our apartment also has water flow through the top of the tank as it fills, so you can wash your hands, it is very neat and efficient.

4.     Being sick:

In America, you aren’t feeling well, so what do you do? Most likely call out of work and either go to the doctor or rest at home. Also, if someone has allergies or is ill, they take meds and blow their noses when needed.

In Japan, you aren’t feeling well? Too bad. Most people still go to work while sick, and just wear masks and/or look miserable all day. Just recently my principal actually told me he was wearing a face mask because he had influenza, and I sort of wanted to just yell “why the hell are you here?!” 
Also, people who are sick or have allergies simply sniffle loudly all day because it is “rude” to blow your nose. It is maddening.

5.     Cleaning at school:

In America, we have custodians that take care of the entire place for us and are sadly often underappreciated for the work they do every day.

In Japan, they have an army of students that clean the schools daily, not all that well mind you, but for 15mins a day the students become the janitors. And while they don’t do too well at cleaning, it is nice that it teaches them a bit about responsibility, and they can’t blame anyone but themselves for how the place looks.

6.     Shoes:

In America, you have a pair of dress shoes that you wear to and from work, slippers for lounging at home, and tennis shoes / sandals for wandering around. You can wear your shoes anywhere you want and except for more formal occasions, you can pretty much wear tennis shoes / sandals anywhere.

Oh Japan and shoes…
In Japan, you have a pair of shoes for being outdoors, then when you arrive somewhere, you take those off, put them in a locker and put on your indoor shoes, if you don’t have shoes there, you wear “guest slippers” (which tend to be gaudy). Then, if you want to go to the gym (here comes the fun part), you need to take off your indoor shoes and, in my case, put on your outdoor shoes, walk to the gym that is a separate building, and then put on your gym shoes. This can get annoying if you have special events taking place in the gym.
Then, you get home, promptly take off your shoes and put them in your shoe cabinet and either go barefoot or put on your indoor slippers.

7.     Teacher’s Clothes:
In America, teachers go to work, work in, and go home in the same clothing.
In Japan, teachers typically go to work wearing a suit and then change into casual wear in the teacher locker room. This often also involves their indoor shoes being tennis shoes or sandals.
8.     School Security:
In America, there is at least a few security guards, if not also a cop or two and metal detectors. A lot of schools also now lock their doors during school hours to keep “strangers” out.
In Japan, there is no security at all and most doors are never locked beyond a few classrooms that aren’t in use (mostly so students don’t goof off in them during breaks)
9.     Pets
In America, most pets are treated as part of the family, they are all fairly well trained and it is almost unheard of to leave your pet outside at all times, especially during inclement weather.
In Japan, areas like Tokyo tend to have tiny dogs that they dress up in elaborate costumes and residents often parade them around in shoulder bags or strollers, it is not uncommon to see a dog that looks like it never walks on its own. While in the more rural areas, dogs are simply guardians and not only do they barely get attention usually, but they are considered “spoiled” if they are ever allowed inside the house, even during a typhoon. Either way though, many Japanese see their pets as a status symbol instead of a living creature.

While we’re on the subject of animals…..
10.                        Animal Shelters:

In America, they are everywhere. Many of them are also non-kill, they commonly offer free/cheap spay and neuter and people see adopting shelter animals as “saving a life.”

In Japan…. They are incredibly rare from what I have seen, in fact, from what I can tell, there is not a single animal shelter in the prefecture I live in. On top of that, most are not no-kill and the most recent figures (2009) show that many shelters only adopt out around 20% of their animals. That means roughly 80% of shelter animals are being kill each year.
This is mostly due to the fact that Japanese people hate “used items,” and so most do not want a “used” pet, or anything that is no purebred. Also, it is sadly common for Japanese people to simply get rid of their pet or completely neglect them once they get tired of them, leaving countless strays and abused animals all over the country. 

11.                        School:
In America, you start learning about lots of subjects at a very early age, and unless you get into a charter/magnet school, chances are you will already know what ES, MS and HS you are going to by 1st grade.  In Middle School (junior high) and High School (senior high), students also get a say in what classes they take outside of the mandatory core subjects (i.e. math, science, English and social studies).
Lastly, most schools have a cafeteria where all students eat and nearly all have school buses to help students to get and from school.

In Japan, from what I have seen and heard, elementary school is only about learning the language and having fun. Seriously, there does not seem to be a lot of actual learning going on there besides language skills and touching on the basics of a few subjects.  Then middle school is suddenly very strict and quite hard, and it always surprises me how many of the students seem like they have already given up. This look of defeat is also because on top of middle school being difficult, at the end of it, you have to take a test to get into high school, and if you do not get into a good high school, chances are you won’t get into a good college, which means you won’t get a good job, which means by the age of 14, most of your life is already decided. Did I mention that students also do not get a say in almost any of the classes they take too? Yup, in middle school almost all of the classes are predetermined, and most high schools are “specialty schools,” where students will be primarily focusing on one end destination. Oh, and your classmates are the same, in every class, which is supposed to be to help build a sense of unity, but it can also be horrible if you do not like said group of people (I have multiple students that clearly fall into that group, and they seem miserable every day.)
Lastly, students do not eat in a cafeteria, a couple of students go get all the food and supplies, then they all eat in their homeroom class, once again, with that same group of people. Also, most schools do not have buses, so it is up to the children and parents to figure out how to get to and from.