Scooter vs Japan

Japanniversary

August 2, 2016
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First off, I wanted to touch on my absence. Aside from getting busy and dealing with some personal matters, I decided to take a step back from blogging. Most notably, I felt that too many of my posts turned into ridiculous gawking; looking at all the wacky stuff in Japan and talking about how wacky it is.

In a nut shell, I hated it. While I’ve had a good time writing, I never wanted this to be about silly gawking at or ranting about Japan. So here’s hoping I can do something different.

Orbital Rotations

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It’s been a year since I came to Kamikawa. Prompted by the anniversary and my a friendly reader, I wanted to look at what has changed for me over the last year.

A lot has happened since I’ve come here, but at the same time I feel like I’ve done very little. I read a lot of comments about “putting you life on hold” this and “losing a year” that when people talk about JET, school, or what not.

I knew coming into this that my views were not the same as a lot of other JETs. I’m in this for the long haul, intending to stay as long as I can. I plan to enjoy the time I have here and use it to try and secure a better future. A year is an incredibly short time, even if you an cover a lot of ground.

Kevin

A while back, I talked about a student I’ve been tutoring. Things haven’t been going so well since he’s been really busy, but we’ve both made some headway.

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The small steps are the best ones.

Since I started tutoring Kevin, her grades have gone up by quite a bit. They are still low on a grand scale, but he got 40% on a recent test, even though we haven’t been meeting lately. Considering he was getting something like 10% when I met him, that is a phenomenal improvement. And he’ll speak to me in English once in a while, which I feel shows a lot of growth.

My hopes for Kevin were never that he become a top student. If he does end up loving English, great, but that wasn’t my goal. Instead, I wanted to show him some new ways to study and provide some simplified help that could get him through junior high. And I feel like Ive done that.

However, there has been another major development on this front. I’ve been having teachers slowly reach out to me to help other learning disabled students. My main teacher has even admitted that there are learning disabled students in class, that the problem isn’t just in English, and that we could be doing more to help.

Remember, this is Japan, a country that demands conformity and hasn’t been great in the past on handling special education. While there doesn’t seem to be a detailed enough diagnosis to work with, the fact that the teachers are ready to admit this and seek out my help is a huge step forward.

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I… I have really short legs.

I really hope that I can continue to move forward on this. Although I’ve not an expert in special education, I am learning disabled and a product of a system that promotes inclusive education. Being trusted to help learning disabled students represents moving forward in my job and an increase in trust and responsibility.

Better education

Another tunnel light has been the increased willingness of my teachers as well as some new and very sharp administration. The Japanese business world largely revolves around the same calendar as the education system; the year starts in April, and with that comes some employee movements. Some of the teachers and administration moved around this year, and my new vice-principal is wonderful.

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We can always use more blue in our lives.

While a lot of Japanese people do see problems in their country, it’s less common for them to know what to do about it. Mr. O have been a wonderful shoulder to lean on when things haven’t gone well in the classroom. He not only knows that there are problems with English, immigration, and other matters that deal with foreign residents, but he is also vocal about why these problems exist and how to improve upon them.

Add to this another new teacher who wants to focus more on communication, one of my teachers wanting to learn more about how to prepare better lessons, and a general interest in bringing change into the classroom (even if it isn’t a lot of change), This year is already shaping up to be far better than last.

My troubled marriage

As I’ve noted before, I have a pretty odd outlook when it comes to talking about the Japanese language. I unfortunately have not really progressed very much in this area. So far, all attempts to sit down and study Japanese just haven’t got over well.

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But that isn’t to say it’s all doom and gloom. My Japanese has gotten better by being here. I have to speak Japanese everyday, talk around my weaknesses, and explain complex thoughts that I lack the grammar and vocabulary for. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Further, I have been paying attention during class and trying to pick up some of the grammar and vocab that the students are dealing with. And I’m making tiny steps forward when it comes to reading, which I feel is the direction I should be moving in. Grinding kanji wasn’t really working, and sitting down with grammar drills isn’t going well without a class structure. But I’m able to (mostly) understand things that are happening around me. If I can get some practice reading for comprehension, that should give a notable boost.

One proof of concept was reading a kids book today. The library had a bunch of books they were getting rid of, and I grabbed a few kids books. I’m planning to give them to my niece and nephew when I go back to Canada for Christmas, but I read through one today at work. Even though I didn’t understand every word or phrase, I was able to read the story with only a few dictionary lookups. I also translated the story later so that the kids can read it later. This took some more work to get the exact meaning, but it was proof that I did understand what I read.

Professional development

Lastly, one of my goals while being here was to come to a decision about my professional future. I’ve been reading up on career requirements and graduate education. While I’m still not sure what I want to do following my time here, I have made some progress.

I’m looking at a Masters degree in TESOL at the moment, specifically an online option. I still have a number of options open, but I’m uncertain as to how viable they are. But following things backwards, it seems like having a Masters degree in TESOL could be a step forward.

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Although a Masters would require more dice. Just a few.

One option this opens up is making it easier to stay in Japan and continue working. Not only would more formal training help make me a more desirable candidate for other ALT jobs, having a Masters degree in TESOL opens up options for temporary post-secondary teaching in Japan. This would make it far easier to keep working in Japan if I wanted to.

If I continue into education as I originally planned, a Masters degree could do two things. First of all, even though the degree would be in English second language acquisition, the skills should be transferable to Japanese. Second, having a Masters degree and a few years teaching experience should make it easier to find work as a teacher in Canada. I’m also told that it can result in a pay bump, which never hurts.

Lastly, if I decide to bypass education and look into special education, it’s possible that a Masters in TESOL and the linguistics coursework that I would complete could help satisfy admissions requirements for programs like speech language pathology. I need to confirm this, but this could make that process much easier.

Best of all, since I can complete the degree online, I can complete the degree now while I’m working in Japan, thus being able to hit the ground running post-JET. This could save me a few years in establishing a career, and if chosen carefully, I can ensure that I am studying at a good school instead of just paying a degree mill.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t aid another option I am looking at; Japanese anthropology. A Masters degree at this point wouldn’t provide many transferable skills nor help set up that career path. This could give me a fall back option while I’m in such a program, being able to teach on the side or continue to find work while doing research.

The future

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Sadly, you can’t even drive 88 KM per hour in Hokkaido.

It’s been quite the year, and I can only hope that future years are as productive.

I hope to make a decision on a Masters degree or other professional path in the next several months so that I can get the ball rolling on. I also hope to make some more progress on helping the learning disabled students I work with, as well as further grow my job here. I have a lot of ideas on how to provide more English learning options for both the students and the adults of Kamikawa. And hopefully, I can find more to write about in the meantime.


I know why I’m here

January 12, 2016
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Some friends came to visit me other the weekend, and one pointed out a blog post about the JET Programme while waiting for their train to arrive. The blog post, titled Why are we here?, shines a critical and rather embittered light on the JET Programme and makes several claims about why it is ineffective.

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To be perfectly clear, I do not view JET or the Japanese education system as magic and rainbows. I am also very critical of it, but for different reasons. While this author tells all foreigners to leave Japan because of these same issues, I instead only wish to highlight what pitfalls exist so that future job applicants, visitors, and policy makers can be more prepared to handle the country.

I came to Japan ultimately for two reasons. First of all, I have been emotionally and intellectually invested in Japan for half of my life. From watching anime to studying its imagery and themes, from thinking samurai are cool to researching the religious implications of their training and ideology, and from thinking about Neon Tokyo to seeing a country struggle to face issues common in the developed world, my interest in Japan has grown and evolved over this past decade and a half.

I came to Japan to continue my education and studies and to get a chance to see Japan as it lives and breathes, rather then view it through a textbook or from outdated statements. Working in Japan through the JET Programme allows me to see the country that I have spent so many years learning about and to practice the language I have struggled with for so long. It allows me a chance to continue to grow and evolve my interests.

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Only imagine those signs written in Japanese.

The second reason I’ve come to Japan is to establish a professional footing for career development. While the author in question berates foreigners and calls them all unqualified visitors who are taking jobs from trained local teachers, I instead approach this as a professional job which I hope to use to establish a brighter future for me and the family I hope to have one day.

Being an Assistant Language Teacher is the first real professional job I’ve had in my entire life. I’ve done some pretty interesting things and working in jobs that have shaped who I am now, but none have had any professional growth options. I worked for my Students’ Union in university and loved it, but it was an elected position with little direct growth. I’ve also worked in two museums and a library, a field which I keep in my back pocket and one which taught me a great many skills that I still use today. But there are few jobs in the museum world, limited growth, and significant budgetary and cultural struggles that leave the field balancing on a sword’s blade. And I have worked in a number of other positions where I have learned many things but always seemed to hit a sort of glass ceiling.

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But working as an ALT is different. There are real stakes in my job and visible goals and successes. The job matters, even if it isn’t handled as well as it could be on a national scale. And when I return to Canada, I will have a wealth of work experience and skills such that I should be able to finally establish a career, something that I struggled to do before JET. I came to Japan because it offered me professional growth that I could not find in Canada.

But coming here has given me another reason to stay. Living and working in Japan allows me to see Japan as it is on many different levels. Living in a small town with one other English-speaking foreigner is a stark contrast from my experience in Canada, and this helps me to understand that the rest of the world isn’t just North American in other places and with different looking people (see my last post for a little more on that topic). It helps me to understand the struggles and sorrows of a proud people who work hard to keep what they have. I get to see a community on the verge of dying do everything it can to make life better while they have the chance. I get to see aspects of Japan that most people simply don’t ever see.

Working in three different schools and visiting three others, I get to see a decent range of Japanese life and observe how people grow into adults. I get to see kids go through similar experiences that I and other Canadian children go through, yet failed to notice when I was in Canada. I get to see things that open my eyes to a greater world, despite being from such a multicultural country. I get to see the good and the bad, the big and the small, and I get to see and appreciate everything as it happens.

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Those are the reasons I am here. And while I implore all JET applicants and ALTs to look critically at the country and understand the troubles of this job before it destroys them, I also implore them to think about one thing. In our interviews, Consulate staff, professors, and alumni screened us to find the most flexible, most adaptable applicants for this job. When you come to Japan, you have to remain flexible. You have to learn to roll with the punches or this experience will destroy you. And you have to accept that this is a country that has to learn its own lessons in its own time. If you can’t do this, as I suspect the author of this embittered blog cannot, then this job will destroy you. If you can’t accept this job for what it is and this country for what it is, then you shouldn’t be here because it doesn’t benefit anyone.

The author does ask a valuable question, and one that I think all foreigners in Japan should think about – Why are you here? The answer may be the same or different for each of us, but it is a question that needs to be answered. I know why I am here, and someone else not knowing why they are here isn’t going to detract from my answer or my experiences.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to prepare to do battle with the frost giant that sleeps in my yard, in hopes of reclaiming my lost shed and parking space.


Posted in JET, Living, Teaching

My life with my predecessor

October 2, 2015
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Another article cross posted for JET Coaster, a user contributed blog for other JET Programme participants. Read the advice, tears, struggles, and joys of a network of ALTs over there.

It’s finally come. I am finally alone.

I should back up a moment to explain. My predecessor, C, is an old university friend of mine. We were in the same Japanese classes together and studied and worked together often. He was offered a job with the town, and is thus staying in town following the completion of his JET contract. He’s been working alongside me for the last two months until Oct 1, when he started his new job.

All you jealous JETs are probably thinking, “Wow! You’re so lucky! I wish I could have bee trained with my predecessor.” But that’s not really the case. I can only describe my feelings about this as a pleasant miasma of oppression. I’m friends with C, and it is really nice having another foreigner in town. And I loved having someone to train me and help me along while I got settled. But working along side him for the last two months has been both a blessing and a curse.

The Good

That young feller is so kind and helpful.

Working alongside your predecessor is really cool. Not only can they help you learn the lay of the land, but they can walk you through your job. I worked alongside C, bouncing ideas off of him, comparing lesson plans, and actually team teaching with him. C left me a wealth of knowledge in his old lesson plans, materials, and such, but was also able to explain what everything was.

The other day, he was going through the ALT’s desk at the elementary school, and he explained how a number of the flashcards were used and even who made them. Instead of just finding them after he was long gone, I know how I can use them, both following the plans of ALTs past as well as well as coming up with my own uses. It’s like sitting on a warm seat, provided that kind of thing doesn’t freak you out.

We also talked about the history of the town and it’s previous JETs. I feel like I’m part of a legacy while also being in touch with it. C succeeded his pred, W, who also stayed over to train him, and has been in loose contact with another previous local JET. Being the town’s JET is suddenly more real that I thought and I can appreciate the history a bit more.

Linguistically, C has been amazing. Since he’s been here for the last 5 years, his Japanese has improved greatly while mine atrophied in menial jobs in Canada. He has been by my side to help me open my bank account, help with the initial call from my internet provider, and translating during the process of buying my car. Since I live in such a small town, few people here know more than a trivial amount of English, so having him by my side has been a tremendous help in meeting people and getting things done.

Lastly, as I mentioned above, having someone else here has been great. I know someone if I’m feeling down who lives feet away from me. If I need help with my garbage sorting or recycling, help is just a text message away. I can talk with him about movies, dating, foreign residence, and other topics that might be too hard or awkward with a co-worker or other resident.

The Bad

8a1efae8db9d80545e56505dfb8eec41_iMe after a few weeks at work.

While a lot of good has come from my pred working with me, not everything was sunshine and rainbows. I left university with a complete breakdown, and spent years struggling to get back my independence, medically, emotionally, and psychologically. Having C around, telling me what to do, has been insanely frustrating. I finally go to a point where I was ready to be dependent again, only to have to surrender that at times.

I needed C there to help open my bank account. I needed him to translate the call from my internet provider. I needed him to translate the car buying process. I needed him to introduce me to people. It was maddening to have to rely on him for everything. But it didn’t just stop there.

At time, I came to rely on him for everything. I need groceries. Can you drive me there after work? I need something for my house. Can you drive me to the city? No? Well, I guess I’m staying home then. Stuff like that. It was so difficult getting settled that I started leaning heard on my pred for almost everything.

I think the worst was when I needed to buy some rubbing alcohol. One of my toes split along the bendy-fold and wasn’t healing over right. After a few days, I knew I needed to find a drug store so I could get some proper medical supplies. Not that there is anything embarrassing or concerning about, but I lied to him about needing to go anywhere after work just so I could go there myself and be alone. It seems so stupid now, but this was driving me mental. I didn’t want to talk to him about this. I didn’t want to tell him that I might have an infected or troublesome cut. And I didn’t want him to look after me. I wanted to buy the damn rubbing alcohol myself, and I wanted to do it on my own terms and at my own leisure.

Life problems aside, I also felt that my job growth was stunted. It was almost a battle to get him to start relinquishing control in my job over to me, and that control really didn’t fully pass until he started his new job. It was more like I was his assistant than his replacement. But it wasn’t just us. While one of the teachers at the main school started coming to me more and more, the other kept going to him first. He was still the ALT, and it was really confusing where I fit into all of this.

The Ugly

Where does this guy buy his pants?

This is where things get weird. I don’t mean to badmouth him, but I need to call this out. C was a shitty teacher.

Maybe this is a consequence of being a 5-year JET. Maybe it’s a consequence of our different backgrounds. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to be a teacher. I don’t know. But it meant the result was that he really wasn’t that good at his job. He didn’t innovate. He didn’t push for better lessons in the class. He picked favorites among the teachers and gave the cold shoulder to everyone else. He didn’t take on new teaching responsibilities (he did do other things for the town though).

And what’s worse? Everyone loves him. He’s the superstar of the town and he didn’t really do anything. He openly told me that he just gave up a few years ago and did little to push the job forwards. Yet everyone things he is amazing. And here I am, trying to put the students first and improve their language skills, trying to work with my JTEs and other teachers, and trying to build new bonds, and it’s not going well.

Another annoyance was over a semi-private lesson we were teaching in order to prep some students for a week long trip to our sister town. They were having trouble with a presentation they will be giving and the teacher asked if we could help out one more time to get them ready. When the time came, C tried to blow them. Like, literally blow them off. Something to the effect of saying “let them fend for themselves.” I insisted that I wanted to go and help them, because a few hours could really help these kids and change their experience. He agreed and it went well, but it was frustrating that he was ready to dump this the second his obligation was finished (but a few days before his ALT job ended).

Finally, there was a lot of passive aggression going on. He would baby me at times, doing things like telling me how to behave or how to dress (not that I was actually doing anything wrong). He even had the gull to ask me why I felt the need to use and ask people about Japanese sign language, something that is unique and rather important to me.

Moving forward

First thing was to take a deep breathe. I have to take the good with the bad. For some of the dickery, I know that he was just trying to help. For the poor performance, I get that he isn’t on a teaching track like I am and maybe just got tired of the job. Further what’s important now is that I’m here and I’m free to approach my job how I want. I’m free to make my own relationships with my teachers and free to try and build better lessons.

I started my approaching some of the classes differently. Instead of using flashcards to teach shapes, I also got the students to draw them. They were in kindergarten, so it was pretty brutal, but by varying the activities, I can better present the material and do so in my own way. I can build on this and try and bring new ideas into my other classes.

One thing I want to push for is more time in different classes, part of which is something C can actually help with. I teach more classes in high school than anywhere else, yet am only there once a week. In C’s new job, his first assignment was to brainstorm ideas on making the high school more prestigious and improving the English content. I suggested, in the future, hiring a second ALT, thus allowing one to work in the various high school classes while freeing up the other to work more closely with another seldom visited school. He completely agreed, and we might be able to work together on that and other proposals in the future.

I also want to start approaching my schools in different ways. One thing I’d like to do is sit in on a class for the entire day, aside from my teaching time. I’d like to know how a Japanese classroom ticks and what other teachers in other subjects do. I also want to see what life for a Japanese student is like and how I can use that to build new activities and opportunities for them.

On the heels of a JET survey about free time, I want to start exploring what else I can do between classes. I mentioned to one of the administrative staff about putting together super short English lessons that I can teach in the office between classes or as teacher have a few moments of free time. She liked it and wanted to know that that day’s lesson was.

Lastly, I want to push for a greater role in the classroom. One of the teachers already asks me to help mark for her (which is awesome). I want to find ways to build on that while also presenting new content in the classroom. I also want to meet some of the single-student classes and maybe visit them once every few weeks. They are learning English too, and being in a special needs class shouldn’t rob them of that experience.

In my predecessor’s absence, I am finally free to approach my job the way I want to, and that’s not a bad thing. He put in a lot of time and paid his dues, but now it’s my turn. Maybe I’ll do a good job, maybe I won’t. But now it’s my time to try.

What did you learn?

I’m not really sure why this picture is here.

So while the thought of having your predecessor working with you might sound kind of amazing, it comes with some strings attached. There are good and bad things that went with it, and I’m not sure which way I would have preferred. I definitely appreciate all the work he’s put in and help he’s given, but the experience wasn’t entirely positive. When my time comes, I’d certainly like to stay and help, but I’m not sure if I would do it for as long, or if my successor won’t end up having the same feelings. You’ll never run if someone is always holding your hand, regardless of how much you may want that.


My hanko has a first name, it’s O S C A R

August 13, 2015
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I’m a real boy!
I had this 80% written post about my apartment and some of the differences between Japanese and North American homes… and something happened and it was deleted. So today, you get rambling.

Adjusting
I’ve been in Kamikawa for about a week and a half now (Japan for almost two weeks). I’m adjusting pretty well. My shitty, atrophied Japanese is starting to cone back, but I’m going to need some hard studying to get back to where I was.

I’ve also started cooking and doing some normal things too. C, my pred, is staying for at least 2 more months to help transition me, but he’s been on “vacation,” so I’ve had a bit more time to myself which I’ve been using to explore a little and learn where things are.

My cell phone is set up, my bank account is open, and most of my apartment grown up-y stuff is done, save for my internet, which I hope to know more about today.

As mentioned in the titles, I have a registered hanko, which has made me unnecessarily happy. What is this, you say? Well, a hanko is a kind of stamp used for your signature in Japan. They are hand made so that the imprint is unique (except for super cheap ones used for play and informal uses). Anyways, you register the unique imprint of your hanko (also called an inkan) and get a little certificate directing parties to the imprint file so that you can start using it for official purposes. Essentially, my first name (in katakana) is my legal name in Japan, and I can properly sign for documents as a big person.

Work
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Random Japanese office, not where I work
Although I’ve been at work for almost a week and a half now, I’m at the Board if Education office until school starts again next week. Since I really don’t have any lesson planning to do or any other official business, I’m kind of just hanging out there and doing random slightly job related things.

Last week was almost entirely comprised of road trips, tours of town, and logistical info. But for the last few days, I’ve been doing things like reading JET articles, updating a wiki on the town, and reading/studying the kids’ story Momotaro. It’s pretty funny actually how I can fill my day and look busy while being surrounded by people probably doing real work. It’s like when you take your kid to work and they’re sitting next to you doing their homework or reading Harry Potter.

Things ramp up from here though. We have another day trip, this time to the mountain resort that the town owns. On Sunday, Buttons and I (you remember Buttons, right?) head to Sapporo for the JET Prefectural Orientation, after which I come back home and start in the classroom. I was also invited to a 2 day English camp a few towns over in October.

When going over my trip to Sapporo, I was told that the BoE would arrange my hotel for me and provide the funds upfront for my train tickets and a few other expenses. This was when the first crazy Japanese business thing happened; I was handed an envelope full of money. Seriously. That’s a thing here. So I have this envelope of cash sitting in my backpack to use for my travel expenses. Man, those gunshy JETs complaining in Facebook about carrying cash would have a meltdown.

C and I also talked about what the classroom looked like and what his role has been. In Tokyo, we were learning about some major shakeups in Japanese education, and it’s really interesting to see that at work here. I’m trying to figure out how much of it is my pred not remembering things, how much is him being complacent or lazy (since as a 5 year JET, that is a thing and he’s openly admitted it), and how much of it is me being a genki, wet behind the ears teacher about to have his soul crushed.

But again, I start teaching next week after I get back, so we’ll have to see.

YouTube
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So I’m a little late to the party, but I’ve been thinking about starting a YouTube channel. When I was out on Sunday, I decided to take some video of my walk around town while I talked about living on Japan and some differences with Canadian life.

But since I know nothing about film making, video production, or YouTube, it’s taking a bit longer than I thought. Not that being gone all day and randomly at night is helping.

Anyways, once that’s ready, I’ll try uploading it and I’ll make a commentary/behind the scenes post about it.

What’s next?
The Board told me that I can spend a bit of time in Sapporo and do some tourist stuff. The orientation starts too early Monday and ends too late on Tuesday for me to head in and out, so I’ll be spending about 4 days there.

In preparation, I’ve been looking up sone things to do, both normal and nerdy, and I’ve either been marking them on Google Maps or noting them on my phone. Such sites include the elusive Shingon Buddhist temple nearby and the Yellow Submarine gaming store close to the hotel I’m at.

But I’m also looking forward to seeing my crew from Tokyo (also all Canadian) and seeing hoe everyone is settling. I’ve learned that there are 3 JETs in nearby Asahikawa and knew at least one other who wasn’t a million miles away, so I’d like to get in touch with them and plan some outings. I’m also going to gaijin smash the hell out of my tattoo though and maybe switch my earrings for the trip. Get it all out while I’m out of town.


Posted in JET, Kamikawa-cho, Living

Landed and exhausted

August 5, 2015
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This’ll be pretty short, since I’m very, very tired. I’ve been in Japan for a few days now. Having finished our two day orientation and work seminar, I finally landed in Hokkaido. As expected, C and Mr. K were waiting at the airport. After super awesome Mr. K bought us lunch, we drove the 2.5 is hour drive home. We also stopped for ice cream (mmm… ice cream).

First Impressions

First off, C was crazy excited to see me, and Mr. K was pretty easy going and funny. C provided most of the translation, but we did talk a little bit as I tried to use me bruised, battered, and atrophied Japanese.

As for the drive through Hokkaido to reach Kamikawa-cho, the landscape reminds me a lot of Prince Edward Island. This was pretty funny, since I thought Tokyo seemed like Montreal. For Hokkaido, there were a lot of super small rural areas with houses loosely grouped together, not unlike the very small towns one might see in PEI. There was also a lot of liberties taken with house colors, so I saw bright blue, yellow, and other vibrant coloured houses.

Kamikawa-cho is crazy small. It was raining pretty hard when we pulled in, and we were rushing off for dinner, so I obviously didn’t see much (especially since I’d only just arrived).

Home Sweet Homu

We also went to my apartment for the quickest tour and move in ever. There is a lot of space for such a typically small place. C had left me a number of things and the BOE bought a bunch of furniture for me so I’d have somewhere to sleep and a place to sit down. I can’t wait to get settled and to start plugging some of the holes as far as possessions go.

Meeting

I  met a few of the BOE staff over dinner and drinks. It was really tough due to the massive dehydration I’ve been going through. See, we couldn’t have food or water anywhere in the hotel except the dining rooms and our own rooms. And the tight schedule kept us on our toes, leaving us little time to rest and recover. This meant that very few of us got all the water our bodies needed, meaning I had to be super careful tonight.

Anyways, every one was pretty welcoming and entertaining. C couldn’t remember the names of everyone (since he hasn’t worked too closely with many of them, and he told me that he didn’t know all of his students’ names. If a 5 year JET can’t do it, that takes the edge and expectations off.

Bed Time

I think that’s it for now. I’m about to pass out right here, so excuse me while I post and run. I’m going to be writing up a break down of orientation and tips about it. And obviously, I plan to say more about my town and job, but that’s going to take a little while.

So that’s all for now. I hope I can get something more meaningful up in the next few days, but now I’m still wiped right out. Till next time.


Posted in JET, Living

Guide Posts

July 31, 2015
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Hopefully this one won’t be mopie or depressing.

I’m sitting in my hotel right now, a bit after midnight. I just finished watching this weird coming of age sorta not really film, and the other day I watched Terminator Genisys. And for the last few weeks, every single person I talk to has asked me the same question; “How long are you going for?” Or “when are you coming back to Canada?” What the hell do these four things have in common?

I can’t remember when I started learning Japanese; it’s that long ago. It was towards the end of high school. I’m almost 32 now (fuck I’m old). For about half of my life, I’ve had my eyes on the prize, and that prize was JET. As long as I can remember with Japanese, I’ve wanted to be a JET. I’ve remained flexible and taken life as it’s been dealt to me, but I’ve always been looking to JET with an almost single minded devotion.

JET was the reason I went to university (well, that and roleplaying games, but that’s a very confusing tangent). JET is the reason I stayed with Japanese, even through the troubled marriage allegory I occasionally joke about. JET is why I want to become a teacher. It’s why I took my TESOL program. It’s why I’m still single. It’s why I’ve perhaps made far to many decisions the way I did. I have used JET to try and plan out my entire life and career. And although things took a few years longer than they maybe should have, I think it’s worked out pretty well. Through thick and thin, through all the BS and problems I’ve been facing over the last several years, it was JET that kept me going.

So now that I’m a JET, and I’m about to return to Japan for the third time, everyone’s asking me when I’m coming back to Canada, or how long I go for. When I got accepted, I explained to people that it’s a 1-5 year contract, or that there’s work available in Japan after JET. Now, I just tell everyone that I don’t know. Because I really don’t.

In Terminator Genisys, John Connor (time Jesus) used his mother’s knowledge of the future and his paranoid upbringing to plan the resistance against Skynet, the unhappy supercomputer that keeps kicking sand in humanity’s face. He was seen as a genius when he’s really just a cheating dick. Anyways, when Kyle Reese (his homie) was about to go back to the past to protect Sarah, John’s mother, from an assassination attempt by Skynet, he was asking John about the future. John explained that from that moment, he didn’t know anymore.

In seven days, you will–Wait, wrong movie.

In this movie I just watched, the same thing happens, except without all the time travel and robot body builders. This kid graduates from high school and goes off the college. Before leaving, his mom has a bit of a breakdown (because parents really like losing their shit when their kids become functioning human beings). She was upset because she didn’t know what to do now. She got married (and like, thrice divorced), had kids, got a PhD, landed a good position at a college, raised her kids up who had now all gone on to college, and had moved into an apartment, no longer needing a large house for her family. She broke down because she didn’t know what to do now, a question that also kind of troubled the protagonist, who felt pulled in every direction growing up.

That’s sort of where I am right now (except without my kids leaving home, or a rogue AI trying to kill my mother). Now that I’m a JET, I don’t know what to do or where to go. I don’t have a guidepost to look to anymore. I don’t have a path to follow. That doesn’t mean my life is over. No. I want a family and I still need to establish a career post-JET. What I mean is that I’m not chasing anything anymore in the way way that I’d been chasing JET.

When people ask me how long I’m going to be in Japan, the answer I want to give is “as long as it takes.” I need to figure out where to go from here. I don’t know what to do anymore, and I need to ride out JET or whatever other position I can get until I find that answer.

And I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. Did JET become like a road trip, where the journey was more important than the destination? Have I been following it too closely that I haven’t been thinking about other options? Am I now free to choose my fate? I don’t know.

Again, this isn’t the end of the line. But it’s not the beginning either. I’m not even sure if it’s a middle. I guess it just is.

What he said.

So here I am, staring up at the ceiling of my hotel room. For the first time in my life, as far back as I can remember, I have no idea what to do. But I think this time around, I might just see what happens. At least, that sounds like a great idea to 1AM sleep-dep Scooter. I dunno. Maybe it is a good idea. Maybe it’s a horrible idea. Maybe that’s the point.

Coming Soon on Scooter vs Japan

I’m gonna talk about toilets and construction equipment. And maybe Skype. Probably something profound in there. We’ll see. Stay tuned.


Posted in JET, Living

Time’s Up

July 31, 2015
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That’s it. I’m going. I’m packed and on my way to my departure city. I spent all night and all morning packing. God, I hate packing. I thought I’d figured it out this time, but I still had too much. And although I slashes a lot and left a lot of things I wanted to bring with me, I was still left with too much.

So sorry Air Canada. But I’m gonna be that guy. Three checked suitcases. Granted, one of them is really small, but I still have three, plus my small carry on suitcase and backpack. What a crap show. This will actually work out well, because my small checked suitcase has my formal clothes in it, so I can send my larger suitcases forward to my apartment and only be in Tokyo/fly domestically with the two small ones. But I still have an extra bag, and that’s still going to cost quite a bit.

suitcases1

What pushed me over were my computer, my gifts and prizes, and my teaching aids. Even though I purpose build my computer to be as small as possible, it still takes up half of my carry on. And all the gifts, free pins, flags, and pens, as well as the few other classroom aids I bought really added up. But for as bad a failure as this is, I drew the line with a small suitcase. Sure, I could have bought a full suitcase and filled it with the books I wanted to bring. But I didn’t. We’ve been advised not to overload our checked luggage and not to bring additional bags. Hopefully a smaller bag will get some sympathy and appreciation instead of overloading the plane and risking someone’s (or my) luggage ending up on another plane.

Hardship and Tears

It also finally hit me. Sort of. The other day, I pulled my car keys off my key ring (my dad is going to store and look after it while I decide whether to keep or sell). And that was tough. But I broke up when I was about to leave my dad’s, and checked my car to see that it was locked. Then everything started to hit me. See, I’ve been through a lot over the last few years. Buying a car felt like I was finally getting back on track. Giving it up was a heavy blow again, since it felt like I was giving up a piece of the independence I’ve been struggling with.

Spider-man gets it.

But it wasn’t just the car. I started to break up about leaving my dad’s house. I said a while ago that there was a perception shift you need to make when doing something like JET; that you are moving and may not return for a long time. The last time I walked through my dad’s hallway. The last time I’d use his bathroom for a very long time. The last time I’d lock his front door. It’s tough. It still hasn’t hit me that I’m going to Japan yet, if it even will. But it hit me that I was leaving. When I went to Gaidai, I broke up at work before I moved to my dad’s for the summer so I could pack and prep. I said that I was walking out on my life, and that was really upsetting me. That’s how I feel now, but with far more weight and reality. I am walking out on a lot of hardship and problems I’ve had since I finished school. But I’m again walking away from friends and family, only this time for a longer and more uncertain period of time. I’m walking away from all of the things I enjoy and hobbies I’ve tried to start. This time I really am walking out on my life, and I’m really having a hard time dealing with that.

Now What?

So I’m heading to my departure city a day early. I just don’t want to be running around Friday morning, rushing 3-4 hours to get to my hotel to check in, then dealing with the flurry of pre-departure orientation and the reception we’re attending. I want to be in the city tonight so I can take things at my own pace. It’s expensive (the theme of the last few days), but I think it’s better this way.

Once I get there, I’ll fire some texts and Facebook messages out. Maybe I’ll hang out with some friends. Maybe I’ll meet up with a few of the other JETs that are already there. Maybe I’ll spend the night with my dad. I haven’t really decided yet. Maybe I’ll pass out on the bed, having very little sleep over the last week. Maybe I’ll go out and are a movie. Who knows. All I know is I’m busy tomorrow, fly on Saturday, get to Tokyo Sunday (time travel!), spend two days in training and seminars, then fly to my town on Wednesday.

Random Closing Positive Note

Among all the trouble and stress of today, among losing a book I just got and forgetting a piece of medication at home. Among all this+ something funny happened. While looking through my desk drawers as I was packing, I think I found the missing install disc for Windows Server. I bought the wrong sized hard drives when I set up my file server (the computer in my carry on) and was planning to replace those after I got settled. I guess I’m going to be installing the intended operating system after all, which should make my server easier to manage and more stable. Wicked.

Oh. My server’s name is Castle Grayskull. And I will soon command the hard drive open.

Unless I think of anything else to post, see you on the other side.


How to Pack for JET (sorta)

July 27, 2015
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Here’s another cross post from TheJetCoaster, which has lots of other tips from super keeners on life, JET, and how to be a dirty foreign barbarian.

suitcases1

Every JET

When I think about packing for this move, I try and think about what I need and what I want… And then I got get a drink. And then after I’m done drinking and crying, I go back to thinking. How the heck do I pack for a multiple year move in just 3 suitcases?

Once I’ve processed all the liquor I just put into my blood, I try to remember that I’ve done this before I moved to Japan in 2009 to study abroad, so I’ve had to pack like this before. But there are two key differences between this and that trip.

Difference the first: I am going for much longer this time. When I was studying abroad, I didn’t have to worry too much if I left something in Canada. I was only going to be there for about 9 months. I didn’t need my cherished childhood toy, nor my book collection. I could safely leave things in Canada and return to them later. With JET and this move, that’s not really the case. I do not know when I will be returning to Canada. This means I need to be very careful with what I pack and what I leave, since those decisions are basically written in stone.

Difference the second: I am no studying abroad. This is actually a nice save here. When I was studying abroad, I was inclined to bring this and that textbook with me. I needed a large amount of Japanese language materials, but I also had other materials I needed to bring with me for other disciplines. As a JET, much of that is less important. Sure, I’m still going to be learning Japanese (and in a proficiency level I’m less comfortable with), but I’m not doing it formally. I can also find some of these materials locally should I need them. So sorry, Genki textbook, but you gotta stay behind. But I’ll look you up in Japan if I need your help.

So what does this mean? Well, everything and nothing. Because I’m moving to work instead of study, my academic needs are much lighter this time around. I don’t really need to be hauling a suitcase full of books with me. But because I’m moving, I need to bring extra or different items with me this time. In my mind, the two sort of cancel each other out.

There’s sort of a third difference as well (give me a break. I can’t count). This time, I’m a little better prepared and know more about what is available to me and what isn’t. I’m going to touch on this later, but it’s a good point to keep in mind moving forwards.

What to pack? Step One.

I don’t think I will ever forget what my school’s Exchange Coordinator said during my pre-departure to study abroad. Standing in front of a room full of university students, all bound for different countries and different experiences, she said one thing that applied to all of us; one thing that we all needed to remember.

You are all going to countries  that sell shampoo.

Those few words resonate with the frequency of the galaxy, and are so important to remember at every stage of packing. Never in my life have I heard some good advice that keeps coming back to me, whether I am leaving the country or moving down the block.

This phrase and the meaning behind it is going to come up again and again, and it has already impacted how I look a pre-packing.

Step Two: Clothing

So the first thing to consider packing is probably clothes. As a teacher, I’m going to need my suit, ties, formal shirts, and dress pants. Check. I also need my man shoes (check) and other similar formal wear.

I don’t like going commando, so boxers are a must (check), as are socks. This is basically where packing takes it’s first nose dive off the side of a mountain. Without trying, I have amassed a large collection of socks. Most are for casual daily wear, but some are for formal situations, while others have a more silly time and place. But I don’t have a lot of formal socks, because that has never really been a thing. So I’m going to have to pick though my daily wear socks and cut them with my formal and other socks. I guess check?

So I;ve got my formal wear. Now what. Well, I’m going to need some casual wear for the weekends and for when I need to gaijin smash. I’m going to be wearing my favourite plaid shorts, so those don’t need packing. Jeans are right out. Ahh. The first cut. See, I’m going to have several pairs of pants with me, and bringing a few pairs of jeans is pointless. It’s also very hot and humid in Japan (compared to Prairie Canada), so wearing heavy thick jeans isn’t something I’m excited about. Lastly, I can buy jeans in Japan. There’s that phrase again. If I don’t want to dress like a grown up, I can always go somewhere and buy some jeans.

Now for the rest of the casual wear; shirts. I love wearing t-shirts, but I really am not going to need that many. Maybe 5 or 6. I dunno. I have a LOT of shirts, so so that’s going to take some time. But again, I can buy clothes in Japan, so if I only bring a few t-shirts with me, it’s not a big deal.

Shoes are super easy. I’ve already decided on my man shoes. I have a pair of runners (check), and if I can find my sandals, I’ll bring those two. I don’t actually own winter boots, but that’s something that would just take up space anyways, so that’s a Japan buy.

I think that leaves things like winter wear, sweaters, and jackets. Just like shoes, I live a simple life. I have my leather jacket, which is quite warm and I wore all winter (check). I’ll bring some gloves and a toque, and maybe a scarf if I can dig one up (check all around). And that’s it. If I need anything more, I will buy it when I get to Japan. Winter is months away and I have no intention of taking up valuable real estate with tons of winter wear I’m not convinced I need.

Here’s the catch though. I’m overweight and I know it (clap your hands *clap clap*). I also have short legs and wide shoulders. I know from past experience that some clothing just won’t fit. Japanese boxers are the worst (at least the ones I bought. Pants probably won’t fit me well either, since I’m not an androgynous 100 pound Japanese cross dresser. But I’m short like a Japanese man, so that’s a plus. And most Japanese people have smaller feet like me, so shoe shopping was a dream. And socks… don’t get me started on socks. I have a pair of socks from Uniqlo from 2009 that have lasted longer than socks I bought last year.

But at the end of the day here, the recurring theme is that I can pack light and buy anything else I need after I get there.

Step Three: Books

I sort of touched on this already, but I plan to bring far fewer books with me this time. Since digital media has become more common, I can buy novels and the like online, so they don’t have to take up space in my bag. I can go pretty textbook light as well, though I do want to bring some English grammar books and other learning aids (check). And I scanned a lot of my TESOL material, so no 5 inches of textbooks there. So hopefully, I’m gonna be pretty book light.

Step Four: Gaming

NERD!

Here’s where I drive off a cliff again. I’m a tabletop gamer. Just like last time, I expect to bring a certain number of gaming books and board games with me. But I need to be SO careful here, since I have single board games that can fill a suitcase and take up half my weight limit. So here’s how I’m thinking about this.

First, my living conditions are different. I’m not that close to any large expat communities like I was when I lived outside of Osaka. And there aren’t a lot of them even around me. My town has me and my predecessor (who told me he’s received a position with the town). I think there are some JETs around me, but that is literally around me in a circle. The likelihood that I can find gaming groups is much, MUCH smaller than when I was in Osaka. So bring a lot of games isn’t as necessary or valuable.

Second, specific to roleplaying games, I own many in digital form. Since I will most likely be playing online, having physical books isn’t as important. Sure, I’m going to try and bring a few of the smaller ones in case I do get a local game going, but I can pack pretty light.

Third, I am aware that many board games are available in Japan, either in Japanese or as an English import with a Japanese crib sheet. In the case of the latter, it’s often the same game I can buy in Canada. For the former, I can find English crib sheets or even the full rules online, either from the publisher or on BoardGameGeek.

So I can leave some games here, even if I really enjoy them (like Forumla D) since I can buy the after I land, and I can leave others that I love but are unlikely to play at this time. Also, I can buy most (but not all) gaming books I’m watching online, which I am increasingly doing anyways. So that’s kind of a check.

Step Five: Other Hobbies

I do other stuff too. I swear. *cries* Anyways, I would like to again bring my rock climbing harness, since there are a number of gyms in nearby Asahikawa (check). I’m also going to be bringing some bookbinding supplies (I tried to get into that but lacked the time and room where I live now), mostly since the tools are pretty small. And if I have a printer at home and find any craft stores to get the rest of the supplies, I’m good (so check). I don’t think I’ll bring any origami books or the like with me. Although it was surprisingly hard to find non-kids books, I can just cross that bridge when I get there.

Same goes with a lot of other hobby and interest stuff. No point in packing around my several hundred disc DVD and blu-ray collection since I can stream movies, watch TV, and hit up some rental stores. I will try to bring my Arduino and electronics kit, provided I can get it small enough and through airport security (I still have to make that phone call).

Step Six: Computers

See that “s” on the end. Yep. Nerd. This is a tough and stupid choice, but one that needs to be made. So let’s start with my laptop. That’s a check, or rather my main laptop is a check. I’m not bringing my other two (yes, I have three laptops. Get over it). My desktop is also staying home.

Dramatization. May not have happened.

That leaves my mini-PC and my file server. Yeah. I have a lot of computers. I purpose built a file server (to handle redundant storage and to prevent data loss) to be as small as I can make it, yet be a full PC so I can better maintain and control it. It’s still really big and very heavy, but that’s the hand I was dealt. And my mini-PC is coming with me, which I may convert into a media centre-settop box kind of deal.

Lastly is my tablet, which will be coming as well, though I may be replacing shortly. So that’s lots of big, heavy, stupid checks. Note that this is pretty excessive and due to my specific needs and neurosis. I wouldn’t actually recommend anyone bring a desktop PC or as many computers as I am bringing. Computers can be bought and built in Japan. I’m only doing this because of careful planning over the duration of about two years.

Step Seven: Personal Affects

This one is both easy and hard. Since I can buy shampoo in Japan, a lot of toiletries are going to be left. I’m going to get a cheap toothbrush, a travel bottle of mouthwash, and I have some little bottles for shampoo and body wash for a few days. I’ll have a towel, but that’s mostly for suitcase padding to keep other things in place, and so I can have a shower my first morning.

I’m also going to try and bring a small quilt that belonged to my grandpa, since it made a really good blanket and cuddle buddy last time. But my suitcase is getting full, so I’m not sure about that. I’d also like to bring my zafu, because I am a terrible Buddhist. But I also know that I can buy religious materials after I land, despite how ridiculously hard it was last time, so this might get cut too.

Aside from that, I can’t really think of anything. Photos and valuables are staying here, aside from legal and personal documents. I’ll surely have a bunch of knickknacks and small items, but nothing major. And of course, my gifts, prizes, and teaching aids. Oh. And that silly amount of loose tea I have. Basically no weight but does take up a little space (yes, I can buy tea in Japan, but this stuff is expensive and probably won’t keep).

That might seem like a lot and it probably is, but there is going to be a pretty heavy slash and burn as I pack. Stupid crap or replacables like casual clothes, board games, and my zafu are on my endangered list, as is anything that isn’t totally vital for my job or sanity. Ironically, computers are probably quite high up. I paid good money for my server and it holds all my important documents and off device storage, so if any cuts had to be made, it probably won’t be here.

Advice?

Pack light. Seriously. I know it doesn’t look like it, but that’s basically an itemized list. We are really attached to physical things, and all this is going to do is weigh you down. So many things can be bought in Japan once we are paid that it makes at least half of what we pack completely pointless.

Perhaps the best way to pack is to take half of what you want to bring, lay it out, and then pick up half of that and put it away. And then maybe do that another time. I actually do feel, file server taking up my carry on suitcase aside, that I am going to be travelling a bit lighter than last time. I’m going to be really light on clothes, bring fewer board games with me, and may actually go bookless (save for a few texts and classroom aids). Everything else is pretty small and manageable.

Ultimately, everyone’s packing is going to be different, but this will hopefully give people and idea of what they may or may not want to bring.

Thank for watching.


Arnie Says: “It’s not a tourist!”

July 19, 2015
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Might have to buy myself one of these.

When i first went to Japan in 2003, it was as a tourist. IT was post 9-11, and our school trip the year before was cancelled. Since most of us were at the end of the line and wouldn’t be around for the next trip, we planned our own touristy trip through the school. We spent 10 days going to temples and museums, and even went on a tour of Sharp’s R&D building. We also went to a car dealership (so began the stupid tourism).

I don’t remember doing a lot of planning or prep for this trip. Obviously that was done, since we have a charter bus and a tour guide for part of the trip, but I don’t remember a lot of personal prep. We did some fundraisers and had to buy currency, but aside from that and packing, I really don’t think there was much else for us to do. We were only gone for 10 days, so we didn’t need to get visas or notify our banks. We didn’t need to really do any logistical things because we would be back in Canada in a week and a bit.

When I returned to Japan in 2009, it was as an exchange student to attend Kansai Gaidai. This trip had tons of prep. Since I was going to be gone almost a year, there were a lot of affairs to get in order. I had to sort some things out with my school, I had to notify my bank of my departure. I even completed my first will and had to decide on a power of attorney. But among all this, I was still going to be coming back to Canada inside the year. I needed to make sure all my ducks were lined up but if anything happened, I was still coming home. If something really truly went wrong, I just had to hold out until the summer. If I ran into trouble, my dad could just drop some money into my account.

Now, in 2015, I am returning to Japan for a third time, and under a third set of parameters and conditions. This time around, I’m not a tourist or an exchange student. I’m not traveling to Japan. I’m moving to Japan. I don’t have a return ticket (I didn’t when I went to Gaidai either, but that was because I couldn’t get a return that early). I don’t have a departure date. That’s very important here.

Perspective

I am crushing your head.

There is a notable and significant shift in perspective that I am making with this trip. No. Move. As a tourist, there is a certain way to do things. You follow this or that advice you read about, and go about trip planning as a tourist would. As an exchange student, I had to step that up a bit, but I was still doing tourist-level planning. Like I said, I would be back in Canada within a year. If I forgot something at home, it wasn’t a big deal. If I missed something, I could fix it later.

Later. That’s a good work here. This time I’m moving. There isn’t a later right now. Even though my contract starts at one year, I don’t plan to return to Canada should it not be renewed, unless something serious happens. If I’m, not a JET, I hope to find work elsewhere so I can spend some time in Japan getting back on my feet and building a career. So for me, there is no later. If there’s a problem, I can’t fix it later. I’m moving to another country, and that takes a shift in perspective to make sure everything lines up right and to make sure I and those around me understand what this move is.

Be Prepared

I do NOT remember Scouts being like this.

I spent a lot of years in Scouts and my dad continues to do maintenance on a Scout camp, long after my brother and I left the organization. The Scout’s motto (as well as that catchy jingle from the Lion King) will probably haunt my dreams until the day I die.

Be Prepared.

I can’t think of a better phrase to sum up moving to another country. I keep seeing all these completely and miserably stupid comments from other JETs about not bringing enough money, not wanting to plan for this or that, or not shifting their perspective and thus not being prepared for this move.

You cannot approach JET, Interac, ECC, or any other kind of employment as a tourist; you are just setting yourself up to fail. You simply cannot prepare the same way as a tourist does. You have to shift your perception to understand that you are moving (not traveling), and then need to become prepared for that move. You have to make decisions that support moving, not based on tourism.

So while I’m be bringing every stick of Old Spice deodorant I can fit in my bag, I need to prepare myself for the time when I have to start buying local products again. I have to prepare myself to start cooking differently, using different ingredients and eating different foods. I have to bring enough learning aids and novels with me, since English language books stores are uncommon. I am moving, and have to be prepared for that move, just as I would prepare for a move in Canada or another country.

Expatriotism

In 200 metres, keep right at the foreigner.

Just as I need to shift my perspective, I need to shift my identity. In two weeks, I’ll be traveling to Tokyo, and in less than 3, I will be moving to Hokkaido. Even when at Gaidai, I still identified as a traveling Canadian. Although I actually was an expatriate (someone of foreign citizenship residing in another country, I didn’t identify as one. I was only there for 9 months or so.

But again, the beat that dead horse, this is a move and I don’t have a return date in mind. In about 2 weeks, I will be an expat. I will be a Canadian living in Japan. I will be a foreign national. I need to change the way I think about Canada and the way I live.

I will need to pay more close attention to the issues facing foreign nationals. I will be out of Canada so long that I will not be apart of cultural phenomena. I will not see the majority of my political supports. Heck. I’ll be voting by proxy for the first time. I will be living away from my friends and family on such a level that I may not see them for a very long time. I haven’t even met my niece yet, and that’s not likely to change until she is much older.

I will be living a different life. I will not be a temporary resident (well, yes, but you hopefully get my point). This isn’t a road trip to Japan. This is almost my identity now, and I need to come to terms with that. I need to change how I view myself, my citizenship, and my identity, because clinging to a tourist’s thinking is only going to hurt more and stunt my time in Japan.

And the moral of the story is…

Moral number 6…

As a JET, or as any other foreign national taking work in Japan (or anywhere else), You have to understand and come to grips with the fact that you aren’t a tourist. You have to realize that you cannot continue to do things the way you are used to. You have to change, and you have to be prepared for that.


Posted in JET, Living

JET Programme: Tokyo Orientation Tips

July 17, 2015
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What does the “reblog” button do?

This is great intel than cannot be lost.

My Time In Japan

So, Tokyo Orientation. Not long to go now for all you 2015 incoming JETs – 10 days to go if you’re in Group A! If you have ever done an online search you may have come across many posts about orientation, full of useful information. Well, now it’s my turn, and hopefully some of the information I will provide from my own experience last year will help you get an idea as to what to expect when you get here.

Before I continue with this post, I’d like to direct you to one of my first posts on this blogthat I wrote last year about my time at Tokyo Orientation and the ‘smurfs’.

Disclaimer: As always, these posts reflect my own experiences and I provide only the knowledge that I have at hand. Some things may have changed a bit for the 2015 Tokyo Orientation, so don’t take the…

View original post 1,535 more words


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About author

Scooter is an ESL teacher and Japanese anthropologist. He hopes to document his thoughts of living in Japan, continued cultural studies, and to provide advice for others looking to hop the pond.

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