Because I people keep on asking me the same questions, I decided to type this up. I know people ask these questions to get to know me, but I’ve heard them so many times that I really, really don’t want to answer them again for the 100th or so time. =\
- Why did you decide to go to Japan?
Well, the answer to this goes back to my teenage years. I was a babysitter and the kid I was babysitting was really into Pokémon cards at the time. I watched the show — I was young, everyone did after school! He brought home Japanese Pokémon cards once and I got interested. I asked if I could have one and I either bought it off him or traded one of my cards for it. From there I searched online and found out what language it was, where it came from, After finding out it was from Japan, I began looking more and more into the culture of Japan, its history and anything I could find. I listened to j-pop, watched anime, centered my school projects around culture specific things regarding Japan, etc. The rest is history.
- How long have you been in Japan?
I’ve been here since April, 2011. Feel free to do the math. 🙂
- How did you get a job?
I used a website called Dave’s ESL Café. They have an international job board and I searched high and low on there for jobs and submitted many applications and coverletters. Eventually I found one.
- Wait, so what kind of job do you have?
I work for an eikaiwa (English conversational school). I do not work in a high school or elementary school. I work in a school that is optional. That people choose to pay an extra fee and join so they can practice or learn English. As a result, classroom sizes are small. It ranges from 1 student to 8 students. It really depends if anyone shows up. Sometimes the normal students call in sick, etc.
- So… do you teach kids or adults?
Both. I teach toddlers, elementary school kids, jr high school kids, sr high school kids and adults. Of course, not all in the same class. Usually earlier in the day are the kids classes and then evening classes are adults.
- How late do you work?
A typical work day begins at 1pm and I leave around 9pm. I have a 2-3 hour break in between those times, but I don’t usually return home until after my shift is over.
- Oh, so where do you live?
- Why did you choose Kyushu?
Please see Q#3.
- Do you need anything specific to get a job in Japan?
I believe at the very least need a Bachelor’s degree.
- What do your students call you?
- Do you work in a large school?
No. I wouldn’t say the building is large. It’s on the 3rd floor of a building that houses many other shops/offices.
- How much do you get paid?
Seeeecret. Sorry. It’s none of your business.
- Do you need to know Japanese to work at an eikaiwa?
No, you don’t need to; but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to know some. It’ll make living in Japan easier on you.
- What do you do in your free time?
I practice Kendo. Currently, as of August 4th, 2013, my level is shodan.
- What do your parents think about you living so far away?
Well, I’m an adult so it’s my decision, right? Obviously my family misses me. My mother and my grandmother worry about me, and I love them for it. Most of all, they want me to be happy. They understand this was my dream and I have achieved it. They wouldn’t ever try to stand in the way of that dream. They support me and are always there for me, even time zones and worlds apart.
- Is it true about how people want to touch your hair or skin?
I really haven’t had strangers ask to touch my hair. I have had friends ask, and I usually allow them. Random people don’t ask to touch my skin either, but once when I was in an onsen (hot spring) an old lady asked if she could touch my arm and shake my hand and she did so without giving me a chance to answer. Aside from that I did have a coworker ask me if they could touch the bridge of my nose because Caucasians tend to have high bridges whereas Asians typically do not.
People generally get pretty excited when they have an interest in Japan and they are speaking to someone who lives in Japan. I get that and I welcome the questions, but I am bombarded with these questions daily, and after a while it becomes a pain to write out my responses every time. I am asked the same questions in person to, in Japan, from not only other foreigners but also Japanese people. I have been interviewed by television channels, by papers, I have even been an extra in a movie, and in every one of those instances they ask me some of the questions provided above.
I find that when it comes to my time in Japan, I would rather talk about the things I am involved in rather than my work or my job. I know a lot of people are interested when it comes to jobs in Japan because they are curious about finding work here themselves, but I don’t really feel that I am the right person to get that sort of information from. I really got lucky on my job placement — and I got the job early on. Moreover, if you don’t have a degree in something English related or have any experience teaching English there is a good chance you will be looking for a job for a very long time. Eikaiwa has become more competitive and they want people who have a history of teaching or have some sort of degree that deals with English. I don’t have a teaching license, but my major in college was English literature and my minor was linguistics. I also took a TEFL course, which is generally not all that important since the area of study isn’t exactly regulated, but some eikaiwa schools don’t know that!
Anyways, if you want to get to know me, try more personality related questions. Work related questions bore the heck outta me.