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piiman
March 12th, 2015, 07:24
I worked as an ALT for a shitty dispatch company for 2.5 years. I lived in a fairly inaka city (30 min from a metropolis, however), my apartment was a Leopalace (one of the dorm room-sized ones), and I lived 2 hours by express train away from my wife. Now, (two years later) I live in a bustling metropolis in the continental US working in an extremely well-paid entry level job in the field I'd always intended to work in, for a world-famous company. My wife and I left Japan because we felt like we needed to stop playing around and actually start careers before we got too old to be entry-level. By that metric, I should be ecstatic. I have a nice apartment, a large friend group, a great career track, my wife is in grad school, and yet... all I can think of is moving back to Japan.
We're working on a plan that hopefully will end us up back in Japan in a nice situation, but it'll be two years at the minimum. I doubt that I can become proficient enough in my field in two years to beat out a native Japanese speaker (working on N1), and it turns out I have very little interest in working in this field at all. I was happier as an ALT, even with the lack of job security, retirement options, etc...
I suppose the tl;dr is I miss Japan horribly, and I say that having lived in multiple places around the world as a child and an adult. I know the only sensible answer is to wait out the two years and hope our plan pans out, but it's the kind of plan that could also take six years if the right job doesn't pop up... and I'm terrified of sitting around unhappy for two years, let alone six.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? What did you end up doing? There's no good or right answer, so I'm interested in opinions and other people's similar sob stories.

mothy
March 12th, 2015, 10:13
This is why people shouldn't come to Japan. ALTing is like a drug. And like the worst drugs it will leave you destitute in the end.
You're terrified of being unhappy with your work? I'm terrified of still trying to find ALT work once my rakishly handsome appearance recedes. ALT work should only be done briefly or by those like me who have no other qualifications. You got out. Stay out before it takes everything you love, Michael Corleone.

Virgil
March 12th, 2015, 10:23
This is why people shouldn't come to Japan. ALTing is like a drug. And like the worst drugs it will leave you destitute in the end.
You're terrified of being unhappy with your work? I'm terrified of still trying to find ALT work once my rakishly handsome appearance recedes. ALT work should only be done briefly or by those like me who have no other qualifications. You got out. Stay out before it takes everything you love, Michael Corleone.

Word. Instead of ALTing maybe you should consider a career in education? Hell, you could even teach EFL.

Speaking of devilishly good looks - I've seen a lot of ads in Japan with "Exotic" models. I wonder how hard it is to get into that scene and make some extra dough.

coop52
March 12th, 2015, 11:02
Sounds like you just need a career change, not necessarily involving moving back to Japan. Maybe you should try to find a job outside of your current field and see how you feel after a year or two. ALTing isn't a very good long term choice, and it's really hard to get jobs in fields other than EFL unless you have a lot of programming or marketing or some other experience working in a specialized field. Even translation's hard to get into these days, unless you're willing to have the financial risks that go with being freelance. Maybe you should try going to China, and being the token foreigner that just sits in meetings.

Virgil
March 12th, 2015, 11:07
Maybe you should try going to China, and being the token foreigner that just sits in meetings.

How does one land this job of the gods. Is this real?

coop52
March 12th, 2015, 11:16
It was, at least 3 or 4 years ago. I don't know if those jobs still exist, but you never know. From what I read, companies would contact modelling agencies to hire folks to pretend to be official business people either working for that company or some other famous company. They'd provide business cards and everything. All the foreigner had to do was sit in meetings and pretend to be important to make the company look more "international".

Virgil
March 12th, 2015, 11:24
That's ... bizarre.

uthinkimlost?
March 12th, 2015, 11:47
Any more bizarre than bringing naive uni grads to Japan to "internationalize" with kids?

Virgil
March 12th, 2015, 12:45
I don't do anything of the such with children. I plead Michael Jackson.

x_stei
March 13th, 2015, 23:08
It was, at least 3 or 4 years ago. I don't know if those jobs still exist, but you never know. From what I read, companies would contact modelling agencies to hire folks to pretend to be official business people either working for that company or some other famous company. They'd provide business cards and everything. All the foreigner had to do was sit in meetings and pretend to be important to make the company look more "international".
I had no idea such a thing existed O_o

patjs
March 13th, 2015, 23:18
I worked as an ALT for a shitty dispatch company for 2.5 years. I lived in a fairly inaka city (30 min from a metropolis, however), my apartment was a Leopalace (one of the dorm room-sized ones), and I lived 2 hours by express train away from my wife. Now, (two years later) I live in a bustling metropolis in the continental US working in an extremely well-paid entry level job in the field I'd always intended to work in, for a world-famous company. My wife and I left Japan because we felt like we needed to stop playing around and actually start careers before we got too old to be entry-level. By that metric, I should be ecstatic. I have a nice apartment, a large friend group, a great career track, my wife is in grad school, and yet... all I can think of is moving back to Japan.
We're working on a plan that hopefully will end us up back in Japan in a nice situation, but it'll be two years at the minimum. I doubt that I can become proficient enough in my field in two years to beat out a native Japanese speaker (working on N1), and it turns out I have very little interest in working in this field at all. I was happier as an ALT, even with the lack of job security, retirement options, etc...
I suppose the tl;dr is I miss Japan horribly, and I say that having lived in multiple places around the world as a child and an adult. I know the only sensible answer is to wait out the two years and hope our plan pans out, but it's the kind of plan that could also take six years if the right job doesn't pop up... and I'm terrified of sitting around unhappy for two years, let alone six.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? What did you end up doing? There's no good or right answer, so I'm interested in opinions and other people's similar sob stories.

I can tell you I was in your position a few years ago, was an ALT for 3 years, came home to start a "real career" and got a decent entry level job. I get the desire to want to be back in Japan. However, are you really thinking this through?

You apparently work for a "world-famous" company and have a great career ahead of you. You're going to give that up to go back and slave away in Japan? As I said in another thread you may want to seriously consider what it's like working at a Japanese company. It's not a joke that some of these guys literally spend almost all their waking hours at the office. I'm talking from 7am to sometimes 12am. They'll sleep at the office. All for a salary that likely isn't really competitive with what a talented person would be making in the US.

If your company has a Japanese office that would be the only route I'd recommend. Or see if there are competitors (Western companies) that have Tokyo offices.

You mentioned a plan. What is it? I hope it isn't to go back and be an ALT.

starfish
March 14th, 2015, 15:50
If your company has a Japanese office that would be the only route I'd recommend. Or see if there are competitors (Western companies) that have Tokyo offices.

I would not recommend the former. Japanese companies in the US do not pay competitively as-is, much less factoring in OT.

The latter would be better.

Tyr
March 18th, 2015, 03:30
I'm similar. I'm now working a very well paid job for a top company in my field...but still want to get back to Japan.

Really can't go back to teaching though, my dabbling with a few months in eikaiwa really highlighted for me that's the failure's route. I just hope I will be able to leverage this work for a transfer to the Japanese office or in getting a real job in Japan.

Namisuke
March 23rd, 2015, 06:40
It's not uncommon to get the travel bug. Why not keep your nice job and just vacation in Japan?

johnny
March 24th, 2015, 13:35
I would love to live in Japan, but not as an ALT. If I had a chance to come back doing something I like, I'd snap it up. This job right now is killing my motivation though.

Yes, sir. Do your three years and then ship out unless you really want to specialize in this crazy ALT game.

byakko
May 20th, 2016, 02:53
ALTing is like a drug. And like the worst drugs it will leave you destitute in the end.

Sadly, I agree with Mothy. My 2 years on JET were the happiest of my life: I adapted well, was a good ALT, made tons of friends, traveled, shopped, saved $, and got married. I was happy. Then, we moved back to the US. I took a job in higher education administration while my hubby returned to school. We're living apart long-distance, in debt, no savings, no friends, no travel, I hate my job every day, and I feel like I've been in Stage 2 reverse culture shock Japan-withdrawal for 3 whole years. I'm miserable. What the hell happened? My past 5 years have been like living The Secret Life of Walter Mitty in reverse.

GodInStrafeMode
May 20th, 2016, 10:45
Grass is greener and all that jazz
Find a non-English teaching job that will send you to Japan for work; best of both worlds really.
Teaching English is NOT a career unless you get a masters in it and a cushy uni job over here. Even then, I'd argue that it's not really worth it. But I also hate teaching English so I may be slightly biased ;)