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.