jetsetonjapan

8

I was doing some much needed sorting of junk and I found my JET application notebook. I thought I would share this with the tumblr world. I really did my research before applying for JET and you can see it in each page of this notebook. I even used this notebook after getting accepted the second time I applied and when I arrived in Japan. I’ll post some of the interesting anecdotes I wrote after arriving in Japan. Don’t judge my messy handwriting or errors please.

jetsetonjapan replied to your photoset “My best friend’s gone. I made my dude come into the city to cheer me…”

I know the feeling! I’m going back to Japan and my good friend will no longer be there. It sucks! I know new JETs will come but it’s not the same!!! *childish tantrum*

Yeah, it’s the nature of the job, but knowing that doesn’t make it easier! And I’m sure all of the new people will be nice enough*, but most of them are very young, and that they’re at such a totally different point in their experience - just starting off while I’m trying to wrap things up here and figure out what to do with my future. 

*except the guy who blows cigarette smoke in people’s faces and already has a beef with another newbie. Dude, you’ve been here two days and there’s already people you’re publicly refusing to hang out with? A+.

Best Friend Appreciation Post

My life would be 500% more productive if I just lived with jetsetonjapan.
We’ve been friends since we studied abroad in Nagoya! We have helped each other with our JET applications, vent about life and everything under the sun to each other, & every time we talk on the phone, we both end up getting things done from cleaning out our fridges, getting taxes done, etc.
I wish I were more self-motivated but thank goodness I have a friend like Jessica that I can multi-task with and interrupt full-blown conversations for encouragement or praise when I’m struggling to get things done.
Thanks Yessica!

jetsetonjapan replied to your post “My right wrist is really screwed, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to…”

Oh no! I know someone that had to have surgery on her wrist here in Japan. She had not problems and felt much better after healing from the surgery.

Yeah, there’s a girl in my prefecture who had to have some wrist/hand surgery and it all seemed to go ok for her.

I know the longer I leave it the risk of long-term damage increases, and it’s unpleasant to be in pain a lot of the time but…

It’s overwhelming to even think about trying to organize anything here. 

I’d rather save my annual leave to travel somewhere fun (because I doubt I’d be allowed to use my sick leave for non-urgent care); my doctor said there’s only one wrist surgeon in Kyushu he’d be comfortable referring me to, and christ knows where that would be; and I’m not sure how ok I’d be getting any surgical treatment in a country where I can’t speak the language (not to mention without anyone to help me as I recovered!) 

It’s a really annoying position to be in, but I’ve put up with it for nearly two years, I guess another one won’t kill me!

It's been official for a minute....

I handed in my recontracting papers a while back and when I did it I was thrilled and then dread sunk in the next day because I really don’t know what I will do next. I came to Japan originally planning to stay just two years and well I think two years is just right. End JET on a high note.
I love my town, all the people that I have befriended and all the amazing experiences (both positive and “negative”)  but I will be honest, the job doesn’t thrill me anymore and I am worn out trying to make the most of it. I am both scared shitless and excited about the future! Hopefully I don’t get the JET version of senioritis, but I think I’ve already got it.

I’m a sucker for mom and pop shops. Today I finally went to the cake shop across the street from my house.

I know. I know. I’ve been living here for a year and three months and I just now go. Well, let me tell you that it doesn’t look like a cake shop from the outside, so I never went.

Either way, I went today and it was so nice! After I placed my order the owner started asking me the usual questions: what school do you work at? And where are you from?

He then told me that his daughter lives in New York (going on 18 years!). He tells me all this while in the back room carefully wrapping up my package. When he comes out he has a bag full of magazines. He might have told me earlier but I didn’t quite catch the fact that his daughter is a photographer! He flips to the pages that he has bookmarked with post it notes and shows me her photographs and then points out her name which he has highlighted. Apparently she graduated from the local high school, went to Waseda and then moved to New York and studied photography.

It’s these types of encounters that I enjoy the most! Getting to know the people around me.

As I was about to pay another customer came in and he started telling her all about me; that I live across the street, that I lived in New York and where I teach. Haha. I love oji-chans!

I will always and forever support the oji-chan and oba-chan shops!

Take a deep breath

warning rant post ahead So… I’ve been absent from the Tumblr world for a while. Why? Because I’ve been very depressed, angry, sad, and conflicted (the list can go on and on) about my job as an ALT for some time now.

Let me give you a glimpse into some of the thoughts that seems to play on repeat in my mind: *I’m sick of being a human tape recorder. I’m sick of the same lesson structures. No wonder everyone hates English! Who wants to do ‘repeat after me’ activity for 45 minutes! *I don’t want to go to work. I’m so unhappy at work. *Why don’t my JTEs understand or speak English!!! (2 of the 3 are like this)

Let me stop there because I can keep going on and on – that’s why I haven’t been posting. I don’t want to be that one angry JET that everyone hates. I’m trying to be positive and trying different approaches as I go, but I’m worn out both mentally and emotionally. I’m so worn out that on Monday afternoon I broke down and cried myself to sleep the moment I got home.

The funny thing is that I don’t hate my life here at all! In fact, I really like my life here in Japan and I like my town, too. I just don’t enjoy my job, specifically my role in junior high school. Yesterday, I just went to kindergarten and didn’t go to JHS and felt amazing!

Why am I writing this post? Because today I actually did a lesson at JHS and it felt good! It feels nice to be useful! It feels nice when you don’t spend your entire day doing nothing or just being a human tape recorder. It feels good to work.

I gotta hang in there, just three more weeks before I go back home for the summer. I’m going to take that time to think and figure out what my goals are and how to have better communication with my teacher for the next installment of my JET experience, because I don’t want to be miserable like I have been lately.

In the meantime, just breathe.

Rant post over

Oh Hey Tumblr! I didn’t see you there!

Oh snap! Did I forget I had a tumblr?

It’s been a minute since I have posted! – Sorry about that! So, why have I been M.I.A for such a long time you ask? Well, I’ve just been enjoying my second year on the JET programme! Compared to last year this year has been 100% better! I was bitter in the earlier half of the year but after I came back from America, things got better. When I came back from America I came back to a new JTE and boy do I love the fact that she is organized and is a really good teacher - actually she was here when I first arrived but promptly left on maternity leave. I won’t lie, initially, I was reluctant about her coming back because she always seemed cold and distant to me but as I worked with her more I realized that if it were just my other two JTEs I wouldn’t be doing much.

So what have I been up to?!

1.    I got a “new” car (it’s a little older than my other car but it’s in better shape) and promptly hit a pole and dented the passenger side back door during a typhoon while driving less that 10km. I was turning into the school parking lot and it’s a really sharp turn. Don’t judge me. Also, the muffler fell of a month ago. Hurray!

2.    I climbed Mt. Kurikoma for the third time! I wasn’t prepared for the crazy mist and air force winds but I somehow made it to the top again. Even though this was the third time climbing this mountain, each time the weather was completely different making the experience really fun.

3.    Slowly but surely overcoming my social anxiety and meeting new people in my community, I even danced to the fortune cookie song for a video. My terrible choreographed dancing (which I had to learn in 10 minuntes) is uploaded somewhere on the internet. Both in normal clothing and as Snow White. *Cringe*

4.    Had an emergency dentist visit. Luckily for me I’m friends with the dentist that both works and lives across the street from my apartment. I taught English for three session for my neighborhood and the dentist and I have been drinking several times. Initially, I was against the idea of going to the dentist in Japan but I can’t complain too much because it only cost about $120 to get a root canal! My mom had a root canal and had to pay $1000 even with insurance!

5.    Drove all the way to Fukushima (about four hours from my town in Miyagi) and spent the weekend at a campsite near Mt. Bandai. Climbed Mt. Bandai (unfortunately didn’t make it all the way to the tippy top) and then biked to see the Goshiki-numa (Five colored lakes). It was great fun kayaking, barbequing, enjoying the beautiful Fukushima landscape and just chillin.

6.    Experience my second Bunkasai and this time I enjoyed it a lot more because I wasn’t just sitting and trying not to fall asleep but I spent the entire day being cameraman and taking pictures. I took tons of pictures and the school used many of my pictures for their monthly color printed newsletter!

7.    Participated in the local Halloween party. I dressed up as Snow White and prepare a “Find the eyeballs in the bucket full of worms” game. I boiled 8 bags of spaghetti and made about 12 eyes using ping pong balls. After I did it I felt like it was super wasteful but the kids really had fun! All the mothers would come up to me saying that their kids had fun. Yay!

8.    Started doing an Eikaiwa class every Thursday at the community center.

9.    Finishing up my pottery class. Near by the pottery studio, in between the rice paddies and the forest, there is a large wood burning kiln (Kama in Japanese) and I was invited to help! I made the local speciality called Hatto (which is a handmade noodle), help empty out the kiln, learned how to cut apples to look like they have rabbit ears, and everyone talked to my mom via FaceTime. It was such a wonderful experience!

10.  Went apple picking with one of my kindergartens! This school has never invited me to any excursions and when they called me to ask if it was OK to cancel my Enlglish lesson and join the excursion, I was beyond thrilled!

11.  I biked about 100km (round trip) from my town to the coastal city of Kesenuma. That was a bucket list achievement! I am super proud of myself but I won’t have been able to do it without the help of my friend that agreed to go even though it sounded crazy to everyone else and my Kesenuma friends that hosted us and took us out to onsen and dinner. (I’m not too keen on onsen but my body needed it after biking 55km). The same weekend Amanda was being a bad ass mama and Kina-chan finally graced us with her presence.

12.  The following weekend I biked another 22 km (round-trip) to a part of town that I have never been to! It was worth it! Found two awesome slides, a floating bridge that goes across the lake and had delicious soup curry! (Still gotta have soup curry in Sapporo)

13.  Spent the day making crepes and takoyaki (acutally chicken and sausage yaki) with a family in the next town over. It was so much fun! We also played homemade bingo and the mom made homemade prizes!

14.  Finally, I invited all the ALTs to my house for Burrito night!

I’m going to do better about keeping up with tumblr this year!

Today's Conversation

Kindergarten student: Jeshika-sensei!!! おっぱい!!! runs towards me and high fives my boobs

Me: -_-

KG student: Jeshika-sensei!! おしり! touches my butt

Me: -_- (thank god I wasn’t kanchoed)

KG student2: sniffing my pants your pants smell good.

Me: really? Thank you? stick leg out

Three students: press their noses against my leg and take a big sniff いい匂い!! smells good!

KG student 3: your legs are so soft

Me: -_-

There is no such thing as personal space at kindergarten.

7

This was an awesome weekend!

Participated in the annual Miyagi International Art and Culture show. I exhibited some of my ceramic pieces I’ve made in pottery class, I ran a mosaic workshop, and cringe sang a multilingual version of ‘Let it go’ with three other ALTs.

I also met Mary Cagle of cubewatermelon!!!! I super fan girled about seeing her work in person! Funny thing is I would always run into her at parties and never knew she was cubewatermelon!

Today's conversation
  • Japanese person:※▲◎△◆※×☆です。
  • Me:そうですか?
  • Japanese person:え。◎☆△※▲◆※×ですよ。
  • Me:えぇぇ...
  • Japanese person×☆〒◎◆:◆※×☆
  • Me:はい。
  • Japanese person:○◎(☆※○◆×ね。
  • Me:そうですね。
  • I have a terrible habit of pretending I understand something when I don’t and it had gotten a little out of hand. The teachers at my school talk to me super-fast but little do they know that I there are times where I don’t understand a single thing. I think I started doing this because I realized that if I kept asking them to speak slower or I told them that I didn’t understand, they didn’t speak to me as much. Yet, if I pretended to understand (usually I can get the gist of something) more of the staff started talking to me.
  • My ESID when it came to Japanese ability was set really high. My predecessor is a former JET that is married and has lived in Japan for ten years and speaks perfect Japanese - she is now private hire by the BOE. When I first arrived one of the English teachers even told me that it’s going to be difficult for them because the previous ALT spoke fluent Japanese and they never spoke in English. I minored in Japanese but there is a lot of school/work related vocabulary that I never studied in school, so it can be challenging. Plus Tohouku ben was not easy for me to understand at first—especially old people.
  • If you read this please please don't freak out! This is just my ESID experience. I may have taken the comment about my predecessor to heart and let it get me down about my own Japanese abilities. My first year was a bumpy road full of culture shock ups and downs and I often let things get to me easily. Plus there are plenty of people that come who don't know any Japanese and have amazing experiences!
  • 頑張れ!
Today's conversation
  • Me:Hey, you!
  • Student named Yu:Yu? *pointing to self*
  • Me:Yeah, you! *realizing how funny this is*
  • Student:Yu cool?
  • Me:Yes, you're very cool.
  • Student:やった!!
  • ☆*:.。. o(≧▽≦)o .。.:*☆ *runs down the hallway screaming in excitement*
  • It's been a while since I've made a "today's conversation" post. As you can tell I haven't been updating my blog much.
  • Either way this was too funny! Most of my student encounters are when I'm going to the restroom and this one is by far the best! Haha
Flashback journal: Questions

These are questions that I wrote in my JET program application journal during my first week on JET.

1. What are the 1,2,3 grade students learning?

2. What plans do you have for me?

3. Will there be a schedule for me?

4. Can I help with cleaning?

5. Can I make name tags for the students?

6. Have you thought about teaching phonics?



Answers:

1. I figured this one on my own

2. No. ( This year I made sure they had plans for me!)

3. No. (This year I made an excel spreadsheet that my JTEs can just fill in)

4. No. (This year I’m in charge of cleaning the staff room)

5. No. (This year I made name tags for all of my ES students! More than 500 name tags!)

6. No. (This year I have them all studying phonics)

Notice how every answer was a no? That’s why my first year absolutely sucked! This year is so much better. I’ve been teaching phonics every time I go to class (which isn’t often) and yesterday even the teachers learned something new! I’ve got this!