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 It's summer vacation in Japan and right now I am in a plane heading to Yerevan, Armenia while stopping in Qatar for a long layover.

YAAAAY!!!
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 Acclimating in Japan has been going okay so far. I think I`ve gotten past the point of being accustomed to a new environment where i cannot read labels in supermarkets or on public signs (which confuses me, because that is kinda everywhere in Guangzhou and here was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wanting to `internationalize` Japan which apparently doesn`t start with public assistance). 

I also think I`m getting better at getting kids to do stuff and planning out a class, even though it still feels like I am working by the seat of my pants. Teachers at my schools complimented me on my progress, and the corporation coordinators check up on me from time to time and give me consistently good reviews, so I think I`m doing all right. I also like to work out some katakana and hiragana on the board so that the kids can sound out certain words or understand some concepts, like for `I can` or `I can`t`, since otherwise they would just not quite get it. 

My previous entry talked about this one guy I tutored, but he turned out to just want to recruit me for his start-up projects, which includes an English language learning service app that initially sounded good until he divulged more details into it. Basically, he wanted me to generate content, like monologue scripts or summaries. When he showed me samples of some people who`ve done it and he wanted me to proofread, I had to tell him that the quality is not great and that just getting me to check grammar isn`t enough to improve it. Then he went on and on about how maybe it`s just `my style` or that I should consider the fact that other people worked hard on it and that they had their own styles, and that English itself isn`t a clear-cut language and everyone has their own understanding of what constitutes correct English...

...And I told him was like: `this story you showed me is basically basically implying that America is dangerous by showing random gunshots outside of a dorm, a vague description of what went down that ultimately led to nowhere, and then saying Japan is safer and he should be more appreciative. This is skirting on some improperly handled problematic content.` 

But go figure, mansplaining has no international borders after being told what English is by a native Japanese guy. Whose background itself isn`t even education, so I don`t have a lot of confidence on this start-up that is one year late and is employed by random people from different parts of the English speaking world contributing hackneyed content via the internet. 

Summer vacation starts July 21st for me, and I will be heading out to Armenia for one week to visit my best friend from college. She`s doing Birthright Armenia by working as a journalist, and she`s also trying wrangle me into going to grad school in France with her. I tend to think that her postgraduate experience is a little more fulfilling than mine since she`s working and gaining experience doing the thing she always wanted to do, has obtained a French-Armenian boyfriend with a 6 pack, and are both living together in a nice apartment in downtown Yerevan where a giant mug of beer is like $1 USD. 

Both excited and terrified that I will be going to Armenia in about two weeks. Mostly because I fear flying, and also because I will be making a layover in Qatar (taking Qatar Airways), and while I don`t think this Arab state will be hit tragically, I do still think that `what if` scenario alongside perishing tragically during an 11 hour flight. 
zen_monk: (Cat on dog smiling)
At a Starbucks in Harajuku, and pretty much waiting around for 6pm when my haircut appointment rolls around. I have what now amounts to a short bob, but the back is much longer compared to the front, and if nothing is being done then I would be forced to sport around an awkwardly layered mullet. I'm hoping to get something that would amount to an undercut in the back but if not that then a nice looking A-line. The hair salon I googled for in Harajuku has some English-speaking folks there, so I'm hoping that the process will go smoothly and that I won't have to just sit in a seat with more awkward silence than usual when getting my hair cut.

But why was I in Harajuku? It was because this morning, I met with a guy named Terry who picked me as his weekly private English tutor to help him be more fluent. He's over 30 and not too bad on the eyes, but he has traveled around a lot before coming back to Japan four years ago. To me, I think he's pretty fluent, but he wants to be so fluent to the point of being like an inspirational TED Talk guy. I'm kinda like, "Getting to the point of being a TED Talk guy takes a lot more work than just being fluent in English, bruh," and he was like "Yeah, but if we practice a lot, I totally think you can help me do it." He also wanted to do more in relation to business, which intimidates me a little since my experience in teaching English has mostly been children, but I think that so long as our meetings is just focused on improving his skill in English and not necessarily in something like free conversation or just practicing, then maybe it'll be okay. 

What's interesting about meeting Terry is that he also runs his own travel magazine thing that acts much like a tourist travel magazine one sees around Tokyo to advertise to tourists and travelers, but his is focused on Kobe. When I told him that I once dallied in SEO writing and writing articles to be published (which never came to be, sadly), his ears really perked up at it and wanted to see if I can produce some writing samples for him. Which I'm like "Okie dokie...?" And he clarifies that if good enough, he would of course pay me. He also mentioned that he's making an English language learning start up company for people in college and in adult life because he wants better resources for them, and he needs a proofreader. So it's pretty weird and serendipitous that my first stab at. Tutoring gig results in more business opportunities for me. 

So.....yay?
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It's the beginning of June, and have taught for two months now as an English ALT in four Japanese elementary schools. I wish I can say that it's because I've been super busy, but mostly I've become more reclusive as of late. It's probably having to be accustomed to all the small things that need adjusting to when being in a foreign country, and maybe the relative isolation that happens when I'm not surrounded by kids or co-workers, but it felt a lot like I'm an island unto myself when being here. And what happens to solitary island persons is the reconciliation of existing versus non existing. 
 
Well, what I mean is that now that I've been living alone and pretty much trying to make it as an adult, it's kind of like I'm no longer a part of that dependent life. Instead of a school, I'm relying on a company that I'm working with to try to tend to my needs as best as I can, but I have to think on my own what to do about getting doctor's appointments, getting a phone service, and even looking up how to get skincare products or getting haircuts here because pretty much everything is in Japanese and very little English forms. Which is also what's shocking to me, which is that even formal applications like for a cell service or for other basic customer service doesn't have an English language form to read from, or even a website for their company. Or even on government forms, for when I had to register myself to the town I'm living in, or the post office needing to verify my address. Or opening a bank account, which is all in Japanese as well. 
 
These sort of things would probably be much easier if I were in a much bigger city with international presence, like in Tokyo or something, but I'm placed out in the countryside/suburbs so that means not a whole lot of foreigner presence either. 
 
So I guess all these things add up to me not quite assimilating so neatly, and so I do a whole lot of navel-gazing, and what I saw made me really miss being at home and back with my family. It made me think a whole lot of what I'm doing here and if it has some future value whether I really want to make it here in Japan to work in or if I should've done similar work back in the states.
It also doesn’t help that it seems that the life of an ALT is really transitory and that typically dispatch companies and such accept almost anybody who has a college degree and no criminal record to work in. I dunno, it makes me wish that I had come to Japan as a student rather than working in an occupation that looks more and more sketch as I did more research into it as my job. 
 
The bright thing is that I think I like teaching to kids. I wish I would make them do more rigorous work, since English time is once a week for them and certainly not enough time to prepare for trying for fluency (which ought to be the goal for learning a language, but sadly is more for testing despite it being mandatory). All the kids are really energetic, and I’m thinking about what I can do to improve myself and get the teachers to, I dunno, feel more assured of my quality (though I think a lot of them like what I’m doing). 
 
I’m surviving and I think I am doing all right, but I wish I had thought of all this stuff earlier than me being 25 going on 26 and wondering what to do with my life. 
 
 
 
 
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 I am in Mito city for teacher training. Lots of info to absorb but the higher ups giving the presentation and training are engaging and enjoyable. My coworkers who are also new ALTs are a fun bunch too. Two from the UK, four from Australia, and about 6 from the US (three from California), and one Filipina. Pretty fun people and had Indian food last night in an actual Indian restaurant about the Mito station. 

Mito is pretty cold, tho. Especially after the summery weather in California. The trees haven't even gotten leaves yet around the city. But everyone is looking forward to spring and cherry blossoms, and some shops are selling Sakura Mochi and other local things for the event. Also lots of kids already in school uniforms but it might be because they are graduating or finishing their school year, and next week is when school starts. 

Pictures to to come soon!

as a side note: final fantasy record keeper had some soul break events and I got some fine as hell equipment with each of their draw, including FFVII five star equipments and lots of FFX.
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 Still lots to pack and repack. Trying to monopolize space for luggage is a huge pain, since it means a lot of future planning and anticipation. Even way into the night, I feel like I haven't gotten any closer to finishing. 

Welp, at least I finished my taxes on time. 

Also, thanks for all the good wishes to folks who commented on my prior entry. There's lots going on for each and every one of you, and sometimes I just remove myself from the social media radar a lot, but I hope each and every one of you persevere and have awesome days to come this spring.
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 Got job... In Japan. Leaving this Thursday because training starts next week. 

So bye America, catch you on the flip side?

-vibrates restlessly-
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 My first interview with the coordinator in Saitama didn't yield positive results, which resulted me being mentally inconsolable for a couple weeks in the wake of yawning uncertainty towards the future. To make myself feel better, I exchanged my first gen iPad mini for an iPad mini 4, and am amazed at the speed and ease of the processor and how nice a big, high resolution screen is for my games. Then a couple nights ago, the org asked me if I"m down for another interview, and I had a really nice one last night for someone in Ibaraki near the countryside. 

Don't think I can take this roller coaster of internal emotions and expectations, especially since if I do get the position (or any other which as a backup- it's nice to know from a recruiter that they're planning backups for your employment ;_;) I would have to leave the country by the end of next week. 

gahhhhhhhh. 

Why must my conspicuous consumption punish me in the future. 
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 Last night my interview/casual chat with one the coordinators with an elementary school seemed to went really well. So well, that the end of that talk has them saying "We would really like to hire you for the position, but let's talk with your recruiter first," and I'm just like in a state between "Whoopee!" and "What???"

Which is that, I wanna mention that to my recruiter but I also want to play it smooth and wait it out until they message me whether I got the job or not. But also it's like "does that mean I'm hired or that I seem desirable as a candidate?" Because one is much more definitive than the other, and I want to quit my part time job now for that plane ticket!





** I also went on Glassdoor to check company reviews for that recruitment place, and people's reviews are abyssmalllll. The only consistent upside is that it gets people there and that being with children is awesome. I'll just err on the side of caution and keep my expectations realistic, methinks. And keep a stiff upper lip. 

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 Gonna have a casual chat with an elementary school recruiter in Saitama prefecture and if I am liked I would then have to go to Japan by the end of March????

Yes?? I am ready? LET'S DO THE THING.

March 2016

Mar. 2nd, 2016 02:05 am
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 So last I wrote here was in December 2015 days before a  solo road trip to San Francisco, and now it's three months after and in a way lots have been developed.

I learned that driving for 8 hours is a long time (which became an additional 3 hours than planned because I did not account for Bay Area morning traffic going northbound from San Jose), and that driving in the dark means I don't see large swaths of farmland and only infinite darkness broken apart by intermittent red tail lights. It's a neat experience. While surviving San Francisco morning traffic and waiting for my room to get ready at the inn I checked a room out in, I walked around a lot. I also Uber'ed a lot, which is a terrifying standard that's very normalized. Part of that normalization also includes Uber rideshare, so sometimes there's the chance of carpooling with silently awkward strangers. 

Walking around San Francisco was fun, and it was never without a whole block of neat cafes and tourists walking about and I walked through the various piers starting from Pier 99 and up north up to the Ghiradelli factory. The hot chocolate there, by the way, was delicious. Met up with a friend, and we spent the evening eating and talking, and that was pretty much worth the trip. Otherwise, tho, whatever romantic ideals I had about SF was a little... not so much shattered, but the romance is kinda gone after driving through it with its slow pedestrians, and that after a whole night of rain, morning full of bright sunlight is not good on hilly roads slick with water that reflects into my eyes when driving out to southbound 101. 

Part of the slight disillusionment also includes the fact that everything there is trendy and expensive, and that when people write about its gentrification, it's really... really...gentrified. Walking through random neighborhoods, which are nice walks by the way, made me realize that there's a lot of the usual city flavor that was lost, namely that it feels like there's a generic flavor to the city and that it feels weirdly safe to walk about alone along the circumference of the city. Not that i expect evil city temptations everywhere, and that i have the self-awareness of rock, but maybe it's just that it's so crowded that everyone really do just keep to themselves.

The drive back southbound was excellent, tho. 

Other things that happened was that I finished my online TEFL program, and now I got my shiny certificate to send to my recruiters in Japan and South Korea, and hope that something is biting in the near future. I think I'm leaning more towards Japan, since I gave all of the required documents for their program and it's possible that all that's left is to wait for when they'll place me in a school. So hopefully I get to go out of the country like all my other fellow postgraduates who blog about this on their facebooks. 

I think what's the most positive thing in 2016, tho, was that I get to patch things up with my best friend and we're talking again. After 6 months of not talking, it's really nice to really talk about why the thing happened that it did and that we're trying to keep in touch while she's in Armenia for the Birthright internship program doing journalism. She tells me that apparently Moscow airport sucks and that Yerevan itself is pretty cool, including that view of Mt. Ararat.

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 I drove at 3:30 AM and arrived in San Francisco at around 10:30 am. Night driving was actually fun and San Francisco is a terrifying place to drive in. Also terrible traffic. How can people live in this place and drive?
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 At 3 AM, I am going to drive about five hours to San Francisco.

Hopefully it will be an awesome drive and that I don't waste Friday by sleeping in my hotel room all day.
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 My parents and my little bro are right now in Hong Kong, leaving me and my older brother alone at home to try and take care of that homestead for a while.

Party!!!

Except not, since all it means is guilt-free eating and gaming while trying to make less waste as possible. Although, I did made impromptu plans to travel to SF this Friday so that I can visit at least one person while having enough time to just get out of town for a while to the more family NorCal area I was so familiar with. 

I have never driven to SF before. Hopefully I will survive that road trip without much mishap. 
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Made an excuse to accompany my brother and his posse of nerdy friends to a movie theater downtown so that I could abscond myself downtown to be within our own respective devices.

Now, I am sitting in a Starbucks after a merry meal at McDonalds's, because I forgot my wallet back home and so I have neither card nor license so that I could imbibe in either food function or drink function. Which is a shame, because I was looking forward to establishing new haunts while there is someone willing to drive around my sorry slush butt. 

In better news, this means I have some time to myself to actually commit to penning down my Kain/Tifa thoughts, because even after a couple of years I still have yesterday to write down anything substantial enough to warrant why my devotion to this OTP is warranted and that I cannot just wallow in old FFVII feelings and opinions while Liam O'Brien just goes around having new voice jobs, so I have the constant reminder of two characters around in my life. 

Another good boon is that I have all of next week free from work, so if I really do decide to go on some whirlwind adventure on the West Coast, I should plan ahead readily and divide my budget to either fit in a San Francisco romp, an LA adventure, or to even travel up to the Pacific Northwest blindly with neither friend nor adversary to greet me there. mostly because I am somewhat tired of a dry winter holiday and also somewhat sick of seeing people traveling about when I am still afraid to go on the HWY 101 for any kind of California destination. 

I'm a poor excuse of a Californian.  
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I work at a pizza place while I try to get myself certified for a career, and that pizza place happens to be right next to campus. That means non-stop students wanting pizza while on their last week of finals! Weekday is suddenly the weekend, and it's just nonstop lines out the door. 

Why can't students go home and eat cereal while they study, gdi college people. 

However, I asked for this coming weekend to be free so that I can spend time with the whole family where Lil' bro will come back from his first quarter at UCLA and right before the whole fam goes to family vacation in Hong Kong. 

I, however, will not be going to Hong Kong and will instead house sit with my other brother. In hindsight, staying behind feels like a missed opportunity. But maybe this weekend, I might try to go out by myself and maybe attempt a road trip! 

Definitely thinking of San Francisco, but also thinking ahead about traveling further through cheap airlines. 
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 As FFVII trailer goes live and somehow looks well along in development than other certain games have been since their official announcement (both by the same director to boot), it's like old fandom got a fire lit up under their bottom again and reigniting old sores. I guess I can say that I've been into FFVII for a long time, handful of years and nowhere near more than 20 for some folks, but compared to how I was while really into it and now, I'm trying to be more into an interested "meh" stage while trying not to remember my older feelings. Mostly this is because I realized my tastes have changed, and also because how I thought of the game is now more significantly different. 

But here I am, yougling FFVIII person who believes that Squall is the most relevant protag now than he was in his time, that cranky overdone recent grad baby that guy.
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I passed my CBEST test for becoming a substitute/prospective teacher in California! Time to find the jobs that need that requirement and hope for more opportunities to get the hell out of SB.

Also so been thinking very keenly about doing some solo travel for the winter holidays, if it turns out I have time for that. Been thinking of going out of state like in Seattle or maybe Portland for it. Or I guess, pass out more resumes in the Bay.

ah haha I'm going nuts from job hunting. 

So I went

Nov. 20th, 2015 12:19 am
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 So I went and dropped some money on something I've been thinking about obtaining for a while, and so now I signed up for a 120-hour TEFL online program to get certified. This came after getting an interview for teaching English abroad, and I realized that if I really want to distinguished myself from other applicants (and especially ones whose superficial qualifications would get their foot in the door with greater oomph than me), getting certified would definitely help. 

As well as bolstering my resume in other teaching applications too. 

What i sometimes don't get is what the outrageous price differences are if I chose to sign up for TEFL through like University of Toronto and whatnot, but sometimes I gotta bite the bullet and just try out this non-scammy looking website since many English programs in non-English speaking countries allow some pretty sketchy candidates anyway. 
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 And got called back for an immediate hire! :DDD

I applied for the Bay Area Americorps (BAYAC) and was called back for trying to get me working as an immediate hire after Thanksgiving. On the one hand, yaaaay I am wanted and qualified and will be trained and certified!

On the other: where the hell am I going to live in the Bay Area and how soon am I getting that housing and it costs HOW MUCH???

Alas, President Bill Clinton; should've had your organization adjusted for inflation and rising standards of living (in California). And gentrifying hipsters! 

Ideally, I have no preference on where in the Bay Area that they will assign me so that my potential job pool is wider. However, Redwood City is expensive and so is Palo Alto and the rest of the Peninsula like how dare you upper middle class technologists. On the other hand, East Bay is cheaper and I am very amenable to an Oakland or Berkeley experience. Then again, there's a loooot of cities that i never realized existed outside of big name cities, so for all I know, I might be far away from the ocean. 

edit: suppose I Airbnb it??? Shall I contribute to the ongoing service of a sketchy faux-hotel service???

July 2016

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