25 August, 2014

jet programme: first 2 weeks (part two)

Following my last post.

After arriving in Yuasa, the first thing we did was head to the Board of Education (my contraction organisation). I was first introduced to the remainder of my co-workers at the BoE, then made my way to all 3 schools I'll be teaching at. Luckily my supervisor had advised me of this in an email beforehand, so I made sure I looked somewhat presentable when stepping off my plane. I had to introduce myself each time I met someone new (they take self introductions very seriously in Japan), so I kept my speech fairly short.

During pre-departure orientation back in Auckland, I was advised to repack all my luggage make sure my お土産 (omiyage, gifts/souvenir) were with me as I'd need to hand them out when I first meet everyone (mine were in my check in luggage, which I had planned on sending directly to my prefecture from Narita Airport). I was told that if I missed this first opportunity, it would be very hard/awkard to do so later on. I stressed slightly over this as there was no way I'd be able to fit my valuables, electronics, 4 days worth of clothing and omiyage for 50+ people all in my limited 7kg carry on. In the end, I decided not to rearrange my luggage and I've been handing out my omiyage at random times throughout the summer break with no problem whatsoever (ESID guys, ESID).

After heading to the supermarket to pick up a few essentials, we made our way to my apartment. I've been pre-arranged a one-room mansion, meaning it's a one person apartment with literally one room (the name says it all) as my living space/bedroom. I do have a separate kitchen and bathroom, but they are very small. Looking at the space initially and seeing my 2 giantic suitcases (they arrived safely!) propped to one side... I was apprehensive as to whether I'd be able to fit everything or not. I've definitely made it work, but I'm still hoping to be able to utilise my space a bit better.

japan wakayama yuasa view
view from my apartment
I started "work" the very next day at the Board of Education. As I mentioned in my brief update, there's technically no work assigned to me yet. I've been sorting out a lot of paper work in the first few days, such as opening a bank account; buying a phone; registering my address with the town office... but for the most part I've just been at the BoE. This is the best time get acquainted with the textbooks we will be teaching from, but regrettably I haven't been using my time to its fullest. I've prepared a powerpoint presentation for my first week of classes (the theme is self introduction — see, I told you) and thought of a small game I can do with the kids, but I'm not sure if it'll work well. I may have a degree in Linguistics & English Language Teaching, but my knowledge is all theory based, not practical. If I'm not doing that, I'm either blogging, window online shopping, or checking my emails over and over again. (Please, don't be like me — use your time wisely and prepare some lesson plans! However in my defence, I don't have internet set up at my apartment yet, so... at work it is).

I've been assigned 3 schools — I go to my main (and biggest) school on Monday, Wednesday, Friday; my second school on Tuesday; and my final school on Thursday. While my main school is close (under 15 mins by bike), my other 2 take around 20-30 mins. I'm really unfit, so I'm hoping this will change for the better...

I can't believe how fast time has flown by — I actually start school tomorrow! I've heard that a lot of schools outside of my area don't begin until September, so we're about a week early. I've got a 30 second assembly speech prepared, class presentation sorted, and an activity up my sleeve (that I'm really hoping will work). Wish me luck! 

20 August, 2014

jet programme: first 2 weeks (part one)

It's been well over 2 weeks since I've been in Japan (wow has it been 2+ weeks already?) Which means another update is in order! Nothing has changed much since my last update, but I thought I'd briefly talk about what has happened in the time I've been here so far.
Lets' start off with Tokyo Orientation, shall we? We had 2 days jammed packed with seminars, speeches and presenations to prepare us for our new lives in Japan. It started on August 4th, just a day after we arrived in Tokyo after an 11 hour flight (and a 2 hour bus ride). We stayed at Keio Plaza in Shinjuku, which was very luxurious! I do feel bad for the other guests who also stayed at the same hotel during our orientation, especially when there are over 900 of us trying to use the elevators all at the same time... (I had to wait 30 mins for one of the lifts once ಠ_ಠ)

japan jet programme 2014

Because Tokyo Orientation is very formal, we had to be in business attire for the presenatations. Shirt, blazer, tie (for men) — the complete works were required for the opening ceremony, while "cool-biz" was allowed for the remainder of the sessions (which simply meant no blazer and tie necessary). Wearing a suit in the middle of a Japanese summer is not exactly my first choice when it comes to clothing, but as long as you stay inside the hotel, it's bearable. While the seminars were very in depth (sometimes too long), and full of information, I felt like a lot of it wasn't particularly relevant for my situation. For instance, I won't be able to apply the key points from the session on teaching grammar and/or writing at my elementary schools. As much as I dislike the infamous JET acronym — ESID, which stands for "every situation is different", I'm finding it more and more relevant as each day goes by. (I might elaborate on this in another post).

Besides the lecture-esque presentations, we ended with a buffet dinner on the first night. I was finally able to meet other Wakayama JETS — there's only about 15 new Wakayama JETs this year, quite a small group compared to other prefectures such as Hyogo or Nagasaki. Unsurprisingly, they're mostly from America, but coincidentally the only other New Zealand Wakayama JET (he's from Wellington) has been placed in the town right next to mine. On the second (and last) night of the orientation, we were kindly welcomed by the New Zealand Embassy in Shibuya.
On Wednesday, I gathered with my fellow Wakayama JETs at 7am, and we headed to Haneda Aiport for a domestic flight to Osaka. It was only a short flight, meaning it won't be too impossible for me to fly to Tokyo, (as long as I have the funds to do so!) My supervisor, another colleague from the Board of Education, and the other JET in my town came to pick me up at Kansai Airport. After an hour or so of driving, I finally arrived in Yuasa!

Part 2 here (coming soon).

07 August, 2014

small update

Hello everyone!

It's been a while since my last update (read: April, oops) — I'm still here, I swear! Life has been a little crazy in the past couple of months, but I now finally have some time to blog. (And by that, I mean I have nothing else to do). Recently, I quit my contact centre job, and moved overseas to Japan to start my teaching career (sort of).

I did it through the JET Programme.

The purpose of the programme is to promote international exchange between Japan and other countries, and they do this by employing foreigners from overseas. (You can read more about it here). I've been wanting to do this ever since I first heard about it in high school (exerpt from my Statement of Purpose, much?) and now I'm finally here after about 7 years. It was an extremely long process — from application to interview, waiting for acceptance, placement, and more waiting... and while I can't exactly say if it's worth it or not yet, I now have another thing to cross off my non-existant bucket list!

I've been placed in a small town called Yuasa in Wakayama as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher). I only arrived yesterday after being in Tokyo for a 2 day orientation, and I'm here at the Board of Education (my contracting organsation), typing away. It's the summer holidays so there are no classes until the 25th, but since I'm being paid by the government, I physically have to be at the BoE (or one of the schools), with nothing to do. It's a little silly in my opinion, but at least I can use this time to work on some lesson plans, study Japanese, and blog a litte.

While I intended for this for be primarily a beauty blog, it's taken a very different direction. I'll definitely continue my reviews once I've settled in a bit more, but for now, we'll see how it goes!