Greetings from Japan!!
The past two weeks has been rather surreal. I still think I am really in the UK but only the primary language is different. Of course there was a lot of trouble in actually getting here. I will never be flying via British Airways ever again! I am really disappointed in the fact I was not allowed to fly the day I wanted. I arrived to training a day late; however I wasn’t the only one so I felt a little better after hearing that. Although, seeing as training already started, that meant that I didn’t have any time to get rid of the jet lag and adjust to Japanese time. For the first week I had very little sleep at around 4-5 hours as I kept waking up around 3:30am or 4:30am. I was able to sleep better in Morioka. I think it was because the training was more relaxed and I felt less pressured to do the tasks. However, I was able to meet the most amazing group of people ever. As well as making friends with other Brits who are venturing off to other parts of Japan and the two other British ALTs who are in Iwate Prefecture. I was able to make really close friends in Morioka and I do miss their company over the past couple of days.
However, since I’ve moved to Kuji-shi, I’ve managed to feel more at home. I have been meeting other ALTs every day and have gotten to know most of them rather well. Having that little support group has really helped me. Plus it helps that they speak better Japanese than me. Although I have been told that I am more than a beginner at Japanese then I am. I don’t know if that is true. But I hope to improve at least over the next two years.
Today was a very big day for me. I introduced myself to the Board of Education in Kuji. I did feel a little out of place as I kind of interacted with people but I mostly just sat there quietly and tried to listen to what people were saying. Then I was taken by my IC (Independent Contractors or “Helpers”) to my schools to greet the Principle, Vice Principle and the head of the English Department.
The first School I went to was one of the JHS’, it seems like a very big school and I have still yet to find out which classes I will be teaching. But the Head of English seems very nice and supportive. I even introduced myself to the teachers in the staff room in Japanese. I didn’t really expect it but they all smiled at me and that made me feel so at ease.
The JHS I went to was very small in comparison. I think there is a total of 50 students through out the entire school. The 2nd and 3rd years only consist of 15 students in each year. Very small indeed, but that means I get to learn less names. I was shown my desk in the teaching room. It really made me feel like part of the small group of staff. I was even given a tour of the school and spoke to the 3rd years. They seem like a nice group. I think I might even get to help decorate the English room as it seems pretty bare at the moment.
Then lastly, after a 50 minute drive I arrived at the HS I will be working at. It is definitely the largest school of the three. Everyone seemed to be interested in this new Gaijin (Foreigner) in their school. Students were staring at me and smiling, to which I smiled back. Two female students seemed very happy to see me and said Hello to me. It is so strange to be treated this way. I was shown where my desk would be and introduced to the two other English teachers I will be working with.
I did have an interesting chat with my IC about holidays and going home. They suggested that I stay in Japan for the summer as I will be able to cope with that. However, going back to the UK during winter may be an idea. It gets cold in Japan and it is easier to get depressed during that period of time. Especially if I wish to stay in Japan for two years or more, going back home for a holiday will help.
Who knows what will happen over the coming year. But at least the first part of the greetings is out of the way. It’s the next part which is going to be embarrassing as it’s a greeting to the Students during assembly. I’ve heard stores that the students do something to greet the new teacher before they introduce themselves in English to everyone. I am so glad I have experience in being in front of a large group of people. However, that has been either singing or dancing. It has never been talking about oneself.
So wish me luck!!