zen_monk: (Default)
 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: (Default)
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. 

March 2017



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