About Me

maker, creative, living lightly, local, craft, minimalism, and taking joy in the small things

Thursday, 14 February 2008

6 months more

I have been in Japan now for more than 6 months. I had hoped that 6 months would be a big milestone, but really it means nothing more than half of my time here is done. I suppose I have realized a few things. Teaching is not for me – I don’t really enjoy doing the classes, though I do like preparing for them and making the materials. That’s not to say I don’t like the students or teachers, but I am getting a bit tired of being a performing monkey/human tape recorder. Too often my job involves me saying English words or phrases, and having the students repeat them. At some other schools a visit from the ALT (me) just means fun and games – the students don’t actually expect to learn anything while I am in the classroom. It is becoming obvious that the teachers don’t expect me to teach either – my visits are cancelled when the students need to study. I have been told that classes are more efficient without me. Obviously I took it personally in the beginning, but now I don’t care. They have a lot of material to get through in each textbook so the students can pass the tests, and get into high school. So it’s not that I am a terrible teacher, but my visits are meant to be about spoken activities, and the students aren’t ever tested on their speaking abilities. I must say though, it does make me wonder why they bother to organize this JET program… However, some of my friends in other places work quite hard – often at school until after 5pm (when I go home at lunchtime) and involved in the lesson planning and marking. I suppose it’s because I go to so many schools that I am usually only asked to prepare a warm up game. Sometimes I get asked to make a worksheet, but then inevitably the school changes the plan and the worksheet I’ve made is useless!

I don’t want this to sound like I am having a terrible time. I am cold – as most of you know. It’s not colder than Canberra (though it is colder than Melbourne), but the heating here is terrible, so it’s that I am always cold which is the problem. I am beginning to feel like winter is never going to end. A week ago February was really nice and sunny, but over the last few days the weather has worsened, to the point of snow all day yesterday (Feb 13). I am struggling because I am not used to being cold all the time. Riding my bike everywhere means that I can’t wear my super heavy winter coat because it’s too restrictive. I wish I had thought about that when I was packing!

I do like Hagi – I sort of have a routine now, though there is no routine with my school visiting schedule. I have Japanese and Ikebana classes, and I have made some foreign and Japanese friends. My Japanese is very slowly progressing. I spend a lot of time asking people to repeat themselves, and speak more slowly! I maybe understand 5-10% of what’s going on around me! It’s quite frustrating only understanding words here and there – though it does motivate me to learn more!

I am glad I came – I have definitely used this break well. And it really is a break for me – given my work hours! Our contract has our working hours as 8.30-4.15 but I am usually home by 2pm! I am definitely going back to Canberra to do legal workshop so I can be admitted as a lawyer. I think I will do it part time over 12 months so I can get a decent, and relevant, job at the same time. I also think I will continue to work on my Japanese when I get back – I feel like I have made a lot of effort so far, so intend to keep studying when I am back in Australia and take a proficiency test next December. I hopefully don’t see myself in Canberra after I have done workshop – so September 2009 should be the end of my time there! Not that I know where I am going, but I think that it will be time to leave ‘Canboring’.

About half of the group I started with are leaving Japan at the end of the contract – the other half are re-contracting for a 2nd year. It’s been great to make friends with people from all over the world. I have also used Japan as a good travel base – though I have only been to Singapore for Christmas so far I have a few more trips planned – Bangladesh, a trip around Japan and then to Korea. Me being here has also meant a few of my friends have/will do trips to Japan! Geoff will have been here twice, and a few others will get a different experience by visiting Hagi than just visiting the big cities in Japan.

Of course I’ve missed people back home. It’s been strange living by myself – not that many others would fit in my apartment for more than a night or too!

I am glad I came, but I am looking forward to starting the next phase of my life in September!

1 comment:

Captainowie said...

Hey, I know how it feels when your trip overseas turns out to be less than you'd hoped - chin up, it'll be over before you know it. Let us know when you start counting down the days!
Cheerio, Owen.