I don’t have classes on Wednesdays. It’s useful to have a weekday free, as it gives one a chance to do all those non-academic things that can’t be done at weekends. Like, visit the dentist for the last time here in the UK.

This particular dentist has dealt with my cavities for about 4 years now. He’s a nice guy, friendly, and quick. As I stood up and put my coat on to leave, I felt it important that I thank him for looking after my teeth. But what does one say to a dentist when seeing them for the last time? I was at a loss for words, and ended up blurting out, “It’s been good, thank you”.

It’s been good“? What was I saying? I’d only seen him about 6 times in 3 years, and every time I had seen him he’d stuck a drill or polisher in my mouth, causing me discomfort. As I walked down the corridor back to the reception, I couldn’t help but think I’d given him the impression that I felt as if I was having to regretfully leave a lover. Not say goodbye to my dentist.

Walking back to uni I passed by Starbucks. I’ve always associated Starbucks with Japan, having never seen one until I went to live there. As far as I was concerned it was a Japanese brand with a Western name, and I liked sitting and watching people in that one in Shinjuku South, next to the train tracks. It was a safe haven for me back then, when I didn’t know the place and looked for comfort in familiarity wherever I could find it.

These days, I try not to support the company, as I feel they are like a Tesco of the cafe-industry, causing the loss of privately owned businesses with character, driving up unemployment and destroying diversity. But sometimes, like today, my desire to back in Japan drives me through the door and up to the counter next to the 4 trays of coloured plastic coffee beans.

I took my Flapalatterino (?!) back out into the Spring sunshine, crossed the road and sat in Weston Park, a fairly large public garden that’s now nearing the end of its grand makeover. I watched the boys playing football as they nearly got run over by a dumper truck, a young mother with a child in the pushchair having a tantrum …and then decided to focus upon the cherry trees instead.

Back in the IC (library), I was delighted to read an email from my tutor telling me that she’d just received a phone call from the head of CILASS to let her know that she’d won £2000 worth of ‘stuff’ in a university-run competition, a prize that will help further develop our language course over the next year. This was great news!

Myself and a few classmates had nominated her for the category of “Most effective use of technology for Inquiry Based Learning”, in recognition of the incredible amount of work and effort she’d put in to developing a new approach to teaching Japanese to final year students. It involved videoing interviews with Japanese people in Japan last summer (I remember her talking about it when we met in Tokyo, and wondering what this ‘IBL thing’ was all about), creating a “Virtual Language Laboratory” and devising lesson plans integrating the materials. In a way we have been the guinea pigs, but I don’t see that as any bad thing. It’s good to be out there, beating a path (did it for years at the Steiner School!).

It’s turning out to be a good week for awards!

Anyway, best get on learning my lines for our Japanese drama highlighting the issues involved in euthanasia. It’s been difficult to reach any conclusions as to whether it should or should not be legalised, as there seems to be a valid counter-argument for particular point. However, in line with the stance I’m adopting for the in-class debate and drama, I’m beginning to feel that fundamentally, it should not be legalised. Leave things as they are, that’s what I say.

(I won’t go into the debate here. It would go on forever…)

tarra xxx