Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Is This Thing On?

Wow, I guess I left some of you guys hanging after that post proclaiming I would be back in Japan in 2017. Long story short, I did go back. However, things didn't work out the way I thought they would and there were issues involving the work visa. I won't get into the dirty details here, but it was certainly not the way I had expected things to unfold but that's how things go sometimes. While I was there, I tried reaching out to other English schools but the catch there is that most English schools hire teachers from outside of Japan for the very purpose of finalizing documentation (including visas) before that individual arrives in Japan. Crossing t's and dotting i's as it were. Most schools that will hire you while you're in Japan are counting on you already having a visa that allows you to legally work within the country.

So yeah, it's been a couple of years since. It was scary giving up my job (yet again), going back to Japan and not having it work out then having to return and get my job back. Luckily the company and people I work for are very understanding and I have a good relationship with them. They see the value of having me on the team regardless of my wanderlust. I've just been busting my butt in the mean time, dwindling my student loan down significantly from where it used to be and that was the main reason for leaving Japan in the first place. When you have a goal in mind and you set out to complete it, you can often lose sight of it if it takes too long. I think that makes sense. Basically, my goal was not a short-term one and as time passes, life changes and you end up reassessing things in life. I've been distracted a few times, but I think I'm back on the right path. Getting free from my student loan debt and moving forward with life. I honestly believe it means returning to teaching because I miss the way that line of work made me feel. I'll keep you all posted as things occur.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Official Like A Referee Whistle

So yes, it's true. I am going back to Japan. It's a strange feeling to say the least. I told myself, back in 2014 when I left Japan for the States, that I would be back someday. It's been around two and half years since I made that proclamation and during that time, I've gone through quite the roller coaster of emotions in regard to that decision. There was a long stretch, in the beginning, where Japan was all I though about. It was my motivation, my drive, my inspiration, etc., for working as hard as I could while here in the States in order to get out of debt and return to Japan in a much better financial position. I really thought that feeling I had would be unwavering. However, time changes all and I'm certainly not immune to its affects. I have grown a new appreciation for my home country and all that it offers. I have also been disheartened at a lot of the negative things that come from this place, especially given the current state of nation. That being said, hasn't it always been that way? I'm not making excuses for the US of A, but certainly as long as I've been alive, there has, and always will be, bad lumped in with the good.

I like knowing where I finally stand with this country though. Even if I am leaving for a while to experience Japan in a way I wasn't able to previously, I know that America is a place worth coming back to. Keep in mind, I also don't know what the future holds. Please reread my comments regarding change. That applies to my views as well.

I'm not going to be working for the same company in Japan but I will be in the same city as before. I know some of you might find that strange, but I find a strong sense of comfort in knowing where I'll be and having a support group there waiting for me. The general experience won't be the same either so I still feel I have a lot to look forward to. I'm certainly feeling more prepared this go around than the first time. In 2011, I felt like I didn't have anything to lose and it was almost like I was forcing myself into going. Now, it's really my choice and I'm more prepared.  The prospect of teaching isn't freaking me out, nor is navigating the not-so-mean streets in a language not my own.

The next post will be coming to you from hot and humid J-land!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

That's A Wrap

You can probably tell that I've long since given up on updating this blog. No particular reason really. Maybe just me being lazy, or possibly thinking that the only people that really cared about the contents of this blog were those who I spoke to on a regular basis anyway. I'm still in Japan by the way, but only for another month or so. I've booked my return flight back to Los Angeles for September 6th. Everything in this past month has been quite hectic in the sense that I've had to do a lot of prep for my return to the States in a short amount of time. The company I'll be working for in LA needs me to start on a specific date next month, which meant that I had to give my current company here in Japan short notice with my notice of resignation. I felt guilty about that, mostly because I always do my best to be a valuable asset to any company that I work for, and also because my coworkers and students were stunned with the lack of notice. Thankfully, I'm still able to give my students and coworkers a proper "sayonara" and my company, although wishing I'd stay, seem to be very understanding of my situation and appreciated me being so upfront with all the details. Let this be a lesson people, honesty is always the best policy, even if the news you're delivering isn't always what the receiver wants to hear, they'll end up appreciating your candor and will respect you for it.

After three years, I realized that a majority of the pictures I took during my time in Japan were food and snack pics. I guess I'm always fascinated at the differences in snack culture, especially in far-Eastern countries. While my time here in lovely, sleepy Oita is coming to an end, I'm grateful to all of the people that I've met. I feel as if I've made connections with people that will last a lifetime and being an English teacher in a non-English speaking country has helped me develop and see a side of myself that I may have never known existed had I not come to Japan in 2011. I do want to go on record by saying that I still love Japan and I dream of coming back some day, although in a more urban, lively environment. I'm definitely not a country boy. At the risk of sounding incredibly cliche, thank you Japan for changing my life. 今までありがとうございました。

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Yen - A Shadow of it's Former Self

August has come to a close and it's still annoyingly hot and humid here. Currently it's raining, which makes for all the more uncomfortable situation. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to fall's arrival. I miss the dry heat of California and next summer will be much different. That being said, I've pretty much decided that I'll ride out my current contract (which ends in June of 2014), and I'll return to California. That means I'll have spent two and a half years of my life here in Japan. Part of me thinks that isn't that long, but the other half can't quite believe I've been here this long. One huge disappointment is that the yen is so incredibly weak right now (and has been for the past half year), so sending money back to the States hasn't been as exciting as when I first arrived. I'm pretty much cutting even with what I send home but when I first got here back in 2011, I was getting a few extra hundred based on the strength of the yen. If only I had a crystal ball.

So with summer school a thing of the past, I now have to focus on parent observations, which start Tuesday. The parents observe the lessons, all except the grammar classes. I'm not sure what the reason behind that is; maybe it's too dry for the parents to give a crap. I'm not even nervous about these P.O.'s like I was in the past. I've realized they're definitely not a big deal. Most of the parents are either lost, focusing their child's siblings, or messing with their cell phones. I pretty much do my lesson as normal, albeit with a small speech beforehand to welcome parents, let them know about what's going on in the class and any other information they might need to know. This time around, with my friend's help, I've created a quiz about myself that I plan to give students and their parents, which they'll do together before the lesson begins. Basically, how well do you know Jason sensei!? They've had a couple of years now to get to know basic things about me, so it'll be interesting to see how well they do...at least for me anyway. With that, it's going to be a busy September, with the inclusion of me covering Japanese teacher lessons at two different schools the first week. My birthday lands on a Saturday this year, which would be cool except for the fact that it's also the same day as our September staff meeting. Maybe I can lay a guilt trip on everyone and get a free lunch out of it. ;0)

Maple and margarine hotcakes sandwich.

Basically meat and mayo shoved inside.

Red beans and mochi. One of my favorite Japanese treats.

Hot and spicy potato strips.

Terrible grape soda.

Best Doritos I've had here. Very hot.

...really satisfies you.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer School - That's a Wrap

Yes indeedy do, summer school has officially come to an end. I'm incredibly happy about this fact and now it's time to return to some normalcy around these parts. The last two weeks were a bit of whirlwind in terms of schedule and fatigue certainly started setting in a bit. Truth be told, the classes that I had for SS weren't too bad at all three of schools. However, I had to help out at another teacher's school, teaching his last two classes of the day. His last class was a bit of a nightmare. It was just five girls, but they were five ball-busting girls. At times it was like talking to a brick wall and when I did get through, it was all for not because they really seemed misplaced in the advanced SS course. Luckily, it was just two days with these troubling gals and now they'll go back to being the other teachers problem when regular classes resume again.

Today, Saturday, we had a staff meeting, which is highly unusual as most of our staff meetings are held on Mondays. I think I liked it being on Saturday better though because Mondays tend to suck no matter what, and having to get up at 9am for a meeting makes it extra crappy. I had a good time at the meeting, as it's usually a nice period to socialize with some of the other teachers I don't get to see so often and our boss isn't really a hard-ass. After the meeting, four other teachers and myself went to a cafe for lunch and chatted about one of the teachers drinking problem. It wasn't behind-the-back gossip, as the teacher with the problem was at the lunch, openly discussing it. It was quite fascinating to hear someone speaking firsthand about a substance abuse problem, their awareness of it and the challenge to nip it in the bud before it gets any worse. So yeah, life could always be worse.

In less heavy news, I beat the incredibly awesome game, "The Last of Us", but I've started it again on the, "Survivor", difficulty level, which really is a pain. There's definitely less items along the way to pick up and they've taken away Joel's ability to, "hear", where the enemies are, so you really have to be on your game. I have one week of regular classes next week, starting on Tuesday, before a week of vacation begins. I don't have any plans, but that's okay. Time to save a little dough. I wrote this blog listening to the soundtrack for the film, "Prince Avalanche". It's music by Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo. Not too shabby.

Mint-chocolate ice cream bar. Pretty rad.

Pepper-salami flavored Doritos. Too salty.

Korean kimchi Pringles. Yeah...not for me.

One of my favorite curries to make.

Little box of french fries from the corner store.

Basically a carbonated, energy-drink version of Powerade.