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Thread: Deterring me!

  1. #1
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    Default Deterring me!

    I've been reading alot into this whole deal.. not just the teaching, but the moving process and the work expected.. yada yada.. As fun as it sounds.. you all are REALLY deterring me and my husband from applying. It seems you all write in an awful lot about your negative experiences.. and that's intimidating.

    I've already lived in Japan for 5 years when I was young.. so the country, the culture etc is still exciting but not scary in the least. However.. the job... you all are seriously scaring me away from doing it. Does anyone have any positive things to say about the work, job. What's really expected of you etc? I was reading an online guide for people who are going and it mentioned needing 2000$ just in case before getting there, and having to get to know the budget person at your school to plan activities for your classes. I might be wrong.. but that kinda removes the whole point of what the word Assistant means if you're budgeting with the school. I'm in America.. and most american teachers in american schools cant even do that. Please correct me, please prove me wrong.. please reassure me that while it is a lot of hard work .. its still worth it? maybe?

  2. #2
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    Aww, hey, yes! I feel bad that we've given you a negative impression of everything here. (Mind you, have you seen the forums at bigdaikon.com?!) But bear in mind that this is a natural arena for us fresh-out-of-uni-never-had-a-real-job type people to vent about things. It's so much easier to write about everyday events that annoy the hell outta us or just plain confuse us than it is to fill a forum full of praise. But yeah, I've had plenty of mind-blowingly fantastic experiences and I've only been here 2 months!

    Just take what you read on people's blogs and certain forums about JET with a pinch of salt. You probably know the saying by now: ESID (every situation is different) and I'm afraid that's how everything pretty much is. I have a unfeasibly lucky placement here, with free rent, a supervisor I love to bits, two schools that although aren't perfect, are bearable, and a perfect location for sightseeing. The girl up the road, however, is in a very different position and is seriously considering going home at Christmas. And hey, we're all different people and cope differently in different situations. You'll probably find it a lot easier with the two of you to support each other, nomatter what the situation.

    Hope that's useful. Have a look at my predecessor's website as he loved it here: www.seijidoesjapan.com

    Laura

    P.S. Don't forget about the excellent pay:work ratio too. And I'd recommend this job to anyone (could be a tad premature as it's still early days for me though!)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Deterring me!

    Quote Originally Posted by aryannrhod
    I've been reading alot into this whole deal.. not just the teaching, but the moving process and the work expected.. yada yada.. As fun as it sounds.. you all are REALLY deterring me and my husband from applying. It seems you all write in an awful lot about your negative experiences.. and that's intimidating.

    ...

    Please correct me, please prove me wrong.. please reassure me that while it is a lot of hard work .. its still worth it? maybe?
    Hi aryannrhod, welcome aboard, and thank you for a most interesting post. In writing a response I'm going to probably go beyond the original borders of your concern/question. Hopefully I won't go too far off track, and that some of the additional comments I make will prove useful.

    I must confess to being somewhat surprised by your perception of these boards, but on reflection I can certainly see how you may view our comments as a deterrent. I can also see how this can be magnified by your own fears and concerns - I know it was the same with me when I started trawling through the web, trying to get info on the JET programme experience - someone else's giddy highs were incredible boosts for me, and other people's complaints filled me with deep foreboding.

    Taking that into two sections - site content and personal experience - I'd like to address each in turn.

    Site content:
    As much as I want to bend my words to placate you, I can't. Yes, we do write about our troubles here, but we also post about the enjoyable and quirky aspects of living in Japan. As the vast majority of current Jets are fresh out of college/university, there is an awful lot of adjusting going on, and this site is being used to share that experience with others who may be in the same boat. It is my hope that these forums provide a way for each individual poster to connect with their fellow Jets and make new friends, as well as providing a small haven for them to cut loose and let of a bit of the mental stress steam.

    The majority of members/most frequent posters here are first-year Jets. As we are currenly finishing our second month in this country, it is inevitable that for some of the rosy tint has worn off. Given the pressure that some of us feel, it makes sense for this site to reflect that. It also shows the people of the site in a good light, as you will find that each and every thread offers help and advice - this is quite a rarity, as with other sites (Laura named the big one), there is an awful lot of vitriol flowing about. This forum has so far been *very* lucky - we have plenty of egos but no posturing - everybody here has shown through their posts a desire to help their fellow members.

    That said, reading webforums on the internet is akin to having a conversation with yourself - sometimes your own feelings about an issue or a situation can rise up and colour a thread - fueling personal opinion and anxiety without your even realising it. I'm not saying that this is the case per se, but I would consider the majority of the posts here to be of a non-negative nature. (Ironically, I have to acknowledge that I could be biased in my opinion as I have an overwhelming desire that this site remains as friendly as it was when I first joined)

    In short: This place could be a lot worse, and we all bring our joy and our fear to the table.


    My experiences:
    I'm absolutely loving Japan.

    A quick bit about me - I'm not a recent graduate. I'm twenty-nine, going on thirty. For several years I worked in the entertainment and financial services sectors as a rather high-powered twit with bad hair and a dodgy goatee. Despite this, becoming an ALT and living in Japan has been a long-held dream for me, so I am continually thankful that I got this gig.

    I have a nice school, with great teachers, and a nice wee town to live in (wee being the operative word - I am so glad I brought my DVD's over to keep me company in the evenings). The workload isn't particularly heavy, and I am learning new things every day. Rough figures for me: I teach twelve lessons a week, so with prep time I probably work a 20 hour week, and spend the rest of my time learning Japanese/doing nonsensy things.

    That said, it isn't always a bed of roses. There are miscommunications and personal frustration (borne out of culture shock) that occur every once in a while. Unless you happen to be blessed with an awful lot of good fortune, and/or have an intimate knowledge of the language/culture, such things will befall even the most prepared and enthusiatic Jet.

    That said, if you have lived in Japan for five years, you should be pretty well acclimatised to the culture and way of operating. A lot of the emotions that are currently running through this board may not apply to you.

    The $2000 thing is needed, although I don't think it is that high. Every Jet has a different situation, and for some a whole chunk of change has to be thrown down in regards to such things as accommodation - deposits, key money, etc. This is also exacerbated if you happen to arrive in Group B as your first paypacket is six weeks away (Group B arrives just after the start of the month, while Group A arrives before the start).

    I have never heard of a budget person at a school that helps plan activites. This sounds downright odd, and I would be surprised and intrigued if anybody has heard about this, and can shine some additional light.

    The above is my personal experience of living and working as an ALT in Japan. Other people work far harder than me and other people work less than me. A different situation for everybody, which means that when you read posts on a webforum about the experience you aren't going to get a magic bullet that overwhelmingly says positive things about the experience.

    Right, I've rambled for far too long. I earnestly suggest that you view the posts on this forum in a constructive light, and that providing you don't have any other impediments you and your husband sign up. The experience of living and working in another country is a very enriching one, and something I wouldn't give up for the world.

    C.

  4. #4
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    Well, I think Cornelius pretty much summed up ... everything! I enjoyed reading your post, Cornelius, and there isn't really anything else I can add.

    The dreaded mantra of JET really is Every Situation Is Different and that is the only constant about it (and the paycheck, luckily!); even with people living an hour away from me, our situations and experiences are completely different.

    Unfortunately, I think the down side of JET for many people is the job. I've been lucky and I'm in a great school (although some of the classes fill me with dread!) but I've heard some real horror stories from my close friends here. The fact is, you'll be working within the Japanese Educational System, which produces its own unique frustrations. That's simply a fact of being on the JET Programme.

    To be honest, I have found it difficult so far in Japan (okay, so my encouragement post isn't going well so far, but bear with me!) and have felt quite lonely and isolated, even living in a big city full of JETs! However, some of these feelings may be due to other factors in my life and may have nothing to do with Japan. Anyway, if you've lived in Japan before then surely you know that moving to another country can be incredibly frustrating and upsetting. I think the most important thing is to be aware of what you want to achieve in Japan and why you're going.

    Far too often, the JET Programme is portrayed as a dream job, where you do nothing all day, get paid a fortune and then do Taiko drumming in the afternoon. At the end of the day, you're teaching (usually unmotivated) kids and living in an alien culture.

    So is it worth it? What do you think? How many people on this board have expressed a desire to return home for good? How many people here have been in situations where they simply couldn't cope? How many people here have gone through breakdowns and upsets and not come out of it? Cornelius hit the nail on the head when he talked about webforums being akin to having a conversation with yourself. Believe what you read, but be aware that we're not posting every aspect of our lives here; all the little joys and traumas that are a part of living here simply pass by to be replaced by new ones, and we choose the most significant ones to be communicated to others. Or, as in my case, we just make jokes about willies and sex.

    Okay, I just watched Resident Evil 2 at the cinema (Note to movie producers: stop making 'Matrix-style' fight scenes!) and it's 2:08 am so apologies if this post makes as much sense as a chocolate compass. As some form of compensation, here are the things I really like about being on the JET Programme:

    1. It allows me to be in Japan, which is an interesting country full of great people and a rich culture.

    2. The pay is great.

    3. By working in a High School, I feel that I'm seeing my local community in a much more intimate way - very different from the bubble that you can get trapped in working at a language school or university. Schools function within the community and now I'm a part of that!

    4. Most of my students are great; I love teaching them. Some are annoying as hell, but wouldn't life be dull if everyone was perfect?

    5. JET has a social network that most other jobs lack. Sites like this and similar structures within your prefecture will make you feel like part of a community. How many NOVA teachers have that?

    6. Most people on JET seem to have a lot of free time. This can be a gift or a curse depending on how you look at it, but I like it. My last teaching job finished at 7pm every night for less pay, so I'm happy with how things are now!

    So, to summarise: do JET or you'll regret not giving it a go. And stay away from Big Daikon!
    "If you've got [a penis], or access to one, take a good look at it this evening and ask yourself: how can this possibly be the work of a sane God?"

  5. #5
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    Default Amazing!

    Thanks everyone for such the speedy and wonderful replies. And actually its very encouraging!

    You are right. The culture shock is not too much of a problem for me and the excitement of moving again has bitten me in the bum. 7 years in Texas has launched a rocket in me for cultural stimulation. What can I say? Ex-military brats need to stay on the move! and the move from Okinawa to Texas was a sobering experience. My parents and I have been trying to crawl back to Japan ever since, and now I've convinced my husband to feel the same.

    I must say though, while teaching 40 sleeping high school students vocab words and the in's and out's of basic english does sound a little daunting, who can complain. You're teaching something you know with little to no experience required. It makes the effort worth it and I definitely agree, each individual's unique perspective must be taken into consideration. Not everything is cut out for everyone.

    Thanks guys for opening my eyes. All that reading, I admit, had me quite biased. We will be applying for 2005 and with a little bit of luck and hope...we will be massacred along side other JET hopefuls in the interviewing process.

  6. #6
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    Student teaching in the US is 50000000000 times worse. It is the depths of hell, and you have to pay to do it. Working in food service is 5000000 times worse with no financial reward, toiling endlessly as a slave to the debt from my useless degree. No matter what they throw at me in school at the end of the day, it's over, and I have money to pay my loans and still see Japan. Jet has problems, but in the end, is anything in the US better? Nothing that willl take me with an Art History degree. And teaching? I liked being in the US classrooms better, but I had to be at school from 6:30 to 7 at night most days to make $18,000 a year. (And sometimes I had to come back after dinner to take tickets at a game). Here, 4 pm comes around, and I leave. That alone is worth it.

  7. #7
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    Yay, feel the love and positive energy!

    I just want to add that while I've only been in Japan for 2 months, I've loved every single minute of it!!

    My opinion is that within limits, JET can be what you make of it. I dont have the perfect placement, and I was pretty worried when they showed me my dirty, dingy apartment. However, I absolutely love my school, the English teachers there vary from good to great, and most of the other teachers are friendly as well. I have more things going on outside school than I have time for, and I'm certainly not bored. I used to be the top poster here in ITIL, but since moving to Japan, I've had so little time, and been so busy having fun outside, that I hardly log in anymore!

    Mind you, this didn't all just arrive on a silver platter, I think I can take some credit for it. The apartment is nice now, but it took a hell of a lot of effort to make it liveable. The teachers at my school really opened up after I showed a willingness to be involved with school after my contracted 8:30-4:15 hours. eg, by joining in clubs and non-English lessons. Outside work, I spent ages looking for a Go club, but once I started going regularly the old guys there became really pleased to see me, and boast about their "international" Go club! I made a deliberate affort to not hang out with the other JETs who live nearby, and as a result I met lots more Japanese people, including a great language exchange partner.

    So, what I'm trying to say is this: You get out what you put in.

    As for the money side. I brought about $3000, and I spent it all before my first paycheck. BUT, i could have easily managed with $1000, ask your Pred how much you need, if necessary, take a loan, and you can pay it off after a couple of months. Its not worth the hassle worrying about money on top of all the other stresses during the first month.

    Best of luck!

    Matt
    Mabushiii!!!

  8. #8
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    That's a good point, Paul. I think a lot of it just comes down to luck; where you're placed, who you're working with, etc.
    "If you've got [a penis], or access to one, take a good look at it this evening and ask yourself: how can this possibly be the work of a sane God?"

  9. #9
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    Okay so my experience of JET as a job.

    It`s bloody womderful!
    I can honestly say that being an ALT is a real pleasure. I am at three junior high schools and each of them have been incredibly welcoming. i mean the staff and the students!
    The kids are a real joy to teach. They`re really well behaved and are really intereseted in you, just because you are a foreigner.
    You will find yourself (probably) hearing a chorus of "Herro!" Wherever you go in your town from school kids.
    They even cooked me food!
    A great aspect about being an ALT is that you are never on your own. In my classes there are usually 2 teachers AND me, and I only have one class which is around the 40 students mark. The resy or more like 30 kids. The kids are, as I have said already, incredibly polite and respectful, but if there ever were a problem it is the teacher`s responsibility to sort that out. You are really just a support. That said, if you decide you want to take more of a leading role in the class, if you suggest something it might very well be accepted as a good idea.
    Teaching English can be great fun, the pay is great, the work is as challenging as you want it to be, you become an instant celebrity, and there is a good network of ALTS all over Japan.
    Don`t even think about not applying! I can`t recommend JET enough!

  10. #10
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    ESID
    ESID
    ESID
    ESID
    ESID
    ESID
    ESID
    "If you've got [a penis], or access to one, take a good look at it this evening and ask yourself: how can this possibly be the work of a sane God?"

  11. #11
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    Paul! It will get better for you! It must get better for you! I've just noticed that you're in Osaka-fu, not that far from Universal studios! You must stay, and open your doors to freeloaders who need somewhere to stay while enjoying the thrills of universal studios! We're here for you buddy!
    You may be a king or a little street sweeper but sooner or later you dance with the reaper...

  12. #12
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    So far nothing has seemed negative to me, even very pointed complaints about hours and costs (and random near-deaths)! I may be missing something huge - but even the worst things written read like cute, exasperated wheezes, survival rants expelled and forgotten. Even when this isn't the case, it's better learning about the bad stuff going in - because no amount of knowledge is too much, and there's no reason to spoil yourself reading all the good things that can't be put into words anyway!

    Very happy reader! Aryan-san, don't be put off!

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    Quote Originally Posted by reed
    because no amount of knowledge is too much
    I have to disagree with you there. I have a good friend who likes to produce paragraphs like this:-

    "So, I just went to the toilet and........

    ...


    ...... and that's why it really stinks in there at the moment, sorry!!"

    In my book, thats TOO MUCH INFORMATION! :twisted:

    Matt
    Mabushiii!!!

  14. #14
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    What happened in the toilet, Matt? :?:
    "If you've got [a penis], or access to one, take a good look at it this evening and ask yourself: how can this possibly be the work of a sane God?"

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    Keep in mind that most people tend to vent and ask for advice about bad stuff going on, but rarely need help or advice when most things are going well.

    I just came here after spending 4 years in Texas and love my situation. I think mine may be a little rare, but not sure. I teach 5 classes a week at a top academic high school. There are 10 English teachers in the school, and all of them speak excellent English. The students are wonderful and many have done homestays in the States. My JTE's are great. My apartment is nice (although very tiny and not free). I like the city I live in and love the JET friends I've made. I left a good job and great friends in Dallas (can't stay put for very long for some reason), but am definitely glad I came so far.

    One thing to keep in mind - if you and your hubby are both applying, there's a chance you won't be placed in the same area. I know of 3 couples here on JET and they are all within an hour of each other, so it sounds like they do their best to put couples near each other.

    Good luck!

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    on the other hand, there is an unmarried couple from the UK that got placed in the same town as me... and got given apartments right next to each other!! They're both one room apartments, so they suddenly just got double the floor space as the rest of the ALTs in their building..
    It's offical... I HATE EARTHQUAKES!

  17. #17

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    And theres a couple in Okayama who are living together as well.

    I don't think I can add anything extra to what has already been said...

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