|what||I've gone to Japan on a program called either the JET Program or
the JET Programme, depending on which brand of English you subscribe to.
Program allows native speakers of English all over the world to living
and work in Japan for 1-3 years as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT).
Each ALT is paid approx 3,600,000 YEN per year. Depending on the exchange
rate that's usually around $31,000. Oh did I mention that is tax free? So
this is what I take home. Not impressed? multiply what you actually take
home on your check times either 24 or 26 depending on how often you are
paid. I was making less at my tech computer job. Strange.
Plus you get ample time off, reimbursed for most work related travel, you are very close to cool countries in SE Asia and Australia, and it's really cool.
|why||There are so many reason why I did this, mainly because I felt like
my life and my job was a big treadmill. No matter how much effort I put
out, I never really got anywhere. So I figured I might as well try this
and see if I am in the wrong career to begin with. It's an amazing
opportunity that will open so many new doors when (if) I return. Maybe
I'll get there and hate my job, then the only difference would be I hate
my job, in Japan. I've put up with an awful lot so they'd have to beat me
everyday for me to hate it (knock on wood).
The application process starts in September and I made my final decision when they laid off someone at work who I thought really did a good job. I realized they had no loyalty and decided to start opening some options for me. I thought of bartending school and then moving to the Keys, or finding something to do in Vegas, or staying in Atlanta but finding a totally different career path.
Then 9/11 came and I decided I rather be out of the big target country and in a neutral out of the way place.
Ironically now North Korea is threatening to bomb Japan. Who knew, just can't win.
|when||The program (well it's really a job) starts August 1st, 2002 and
lasts for at least one year. I can apply to renew for up to 3 or 4 years
total. 4 years is a long time, but by that time you can renegotiate so
many times you can end up with a sweet contract. We'll see.
process for JET is semi-complicated. Only because they make it that way.
It takes about 9 months to fully get accepted and there are several steps
in between. I'll go over them briefly here.
Application - I had to fill out this long application, have two people write reference letters, get a physical, write an essay on why I want to do it, gather all my transcripts from every school I attended, and then wait. This was in September.
|living||I have a
small, but decently sized, apartment in the city. It's about a 10 minute
walk to the station, a 30 minute walk to my base school, and a 15 minute
walk to all the bars and cool restaurants in the city.
The apartment itself has two rooms each with 6 tatami mats. Each room is about 8 feet wide by 10-12 feet long. There is a remote controlled Air Conditioned/Heater and two overhead lights. There is a big kitchen, as well as a shower/tub room and a toilet room. I have a washer but have to hang my clothes out to dry.
|daily life||My weekday
life varies each day of the week, but here are the basics:|
|food||When I have
money I eat out about 3 times a week and eat home the rest, unless I am
meeting friends on the weekend, then obviously I eat out.
My favorite restaurants are two sushi kaitens (conveyors), a fried meat place, three curry rice places, a really bizarre Malaysian type place, and sadly McDonald's.
Pictures will come soon.
|job||I work three
days a week at Higashi High School and then travel once a week to
Hobara HS, and once a week to Adachi HS. I have two other visits to
Fukushima Boys school which is supposed to be one of the very best.
The job for the most part consists of me either acting as an assistant teacher and speaking English a lot, or acting as a Human Tape recorder and repeating sentences over and over. I am usually in 2-4 classes a day and might stay after to assist with extra activities. A native speaker can really help students learn.
While at school I say Hello or What's up to every student I pass. I try to get them to talk to me about anything. I gave them an email address and maybe %1 have written me, but at least it's not zero. I feel a good connection between my base school students and me. I try to act in between a teacher and a student. I'll help them along when they need it and tell them to be quiet as well.
|friends||I have a
number of friends in the area and will gradually add their pictures. Some
of the friendships will be lifelong and some will end the second we part.
That's usually the case though.