So, I’ve taken a hike for a while here in the Land of the Rising Sun, but I’m back. Where did I go? I mean, the Internet is right there. So are my fingers. But I decided to take a minor break just to collect my bearings and dive into the restart of my new high school.
What I love about my high school is that the atmosphere is really different from that of the other schools I’ve visited, both Japanese and American. It’s calm with a subdue excitement traced back to the students’ carefree nature and the teachers’ peaceful personalities. It feels fun and productive to work at my school.
Going from junior high school to high school is a bit of a jump. In junior high school, it’s a little more stressful than high school. The students are required to be there, and because the elementary schools don’t have a uniform, junior high school is the place where students suddenly have to conform to uniforms, amongst other things. Junior high schools impose some rigid rules on these innocent students, like constantly monitoring their ties and uniforms, or their hair land eyebrows. Teachers are more strict; they’re tasked with changing former elementary students into young, responsible teenagers. People are stressed on both sides: students for the sudden change and teachers for imposing that change.
As for high school, students pay tuition, but they’re left more to themselves to do what they want. They already know the uniform rules, but they have freedom to pick different shirts to wear, girls can wear pants, and everyone can fix their hair, makeup, and eyebrows the way they like. Depending on the rules of the school, teachers are also free to do what they want. There’s minimum supervision and micromanagement compared to junior high school.
I’m enjoying this freedom from being an English assistant teacher, too. I don’t get as many classes, and since teachers rely on me for activities and cultural exchange, I’m also free to do whatever I choose to. In the free time, when I’m done planning lessons and preparing materials for school or English activities, I’m reading. I’ve read many books since starting as a teacher, including some classics like Martin Luther King Jr.’s Why We Can’t Wait, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and Jack London’s White Fang and Call of the Wild. I’ve picked up some books by Haruki Murakami, or Japan’s contemporary noir-esque writer, George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, and several black civil rights books.
Of course, I don’t read all of the time. Normally after school, I train students for English speech contests, English spelling battles, and other English-speaking presentations. In some cases, I come back home after being at school for 10 hours. I really like my job, and recently, my husband and I decided on a career in speech-language pathology, or speech therapy. It’s pretty similar to this profession, so I’ve just been preparing for that.
But I really needed time away from blogging. It helps to step away and use that time to spend with people in reality or do things for yourself minus the blogging. Hopefully, once I get my bearings down, I’ll be able to get back to regular blogging until the next time I need some time off.
I was just visiting your blog site and I just want to let you know I enjoyed it very much :D. I’m also from Cali moving to Japan later this year for school ^.^ Your adventures seem fun and you seem to be experiencing a lot of fun things hopefully I will too when I get there :X. BTW, we are also a blogging site surrounded around anime and lifestyle/culture, I just followed you on twitter and was hoping you could do the same ^.^ We would very much love to increase our fan base and drive future traffic onto your site/twitter as well. Look forward to hear from you soon!
Thanks for the comment! I hope that when you come to Japan, you’ll absolutely love it! If you have any questions about the move (which is harder than it seems), just let me know.
I started looking at your website. Really cool! I’m following you now too! Thanks!
Oh no! What do you by mean harder than it seems? Where in Japan are you teaching english, if you don’t mind me asking haha. I will be going to school in Tokyo.
Well, I just remember standing in a Tokyo hotel with a bunch of English teachers. We were all excited to move on from the hotel to our new Japanese homes, but those of us who had only visited Japan were really confused. You could feel the confusion as much as you could feel the excitement, really. I was one of the confused. I couldn’t understand anything in Japanese besides, “How are you?” and “What’s your name?” It seems that as much as you know about Japanese culture, it’s not the same as living in Japan, even if you’re an ardent anime watcher or manga reader or Japanese-language learner. So, I wasn’t really prepared for what to expect when coming to live in Japan. I wasn’t sure about living in Okinawa, the most bottom part of Japan, but I’m really glad I’m here now.
It’s absolutely different from Tokyo, which was where I had visited several times before teaching. No trains to take me to the doorstep of my business. No stiff or rigid dress codes. Even time was a little stretched (ever hear of CP time? It’s the same in Okinawa, but you actually show up). Okinawa is really different. But the hardest part is the language barrier. If you don’t know kana and kanji, some things will be a little harder to do. Simple tasks, like going to the grocery store and finding whole milk, not 2%, become a little more difficult than if you were in your home country. Going to the hospital for sinuses or seeing someone about an embarrassing thing become really, well, frustrating compared to doing things on your own in your native tongue. So, if you don’t study any Japanese before going to Japan, it’ll be really difficult. The more, the better.
But it’s all a learning experience. You’ll have fun exploring where the trains take you and amazed at how efficient and fast they are. You’ll also be impressed with little things, like the fashions, people, and overall “city life” that is what makes (the more famous parts of) Tokyo, Tokyo. When you do come to Tokyo, be sure to make some bilingual friends first. Some Japanese students want to improve their English, so they’ll befriend you just for that purpose (and for your great personality, of course!). Wow, I’ve babbled long enough. Hope that helped!
Wow I’m really glad you went to such great lengths to give me such helpful advice and fore warnings haha. Honestly, you made me considerably more excited to go to Japan for study. Not that I wasn’t already ecstatic about it. Now I gotta make sure I brush up my super-market and common sickness terminologies so I can get by better haha. I’m quite glad I came across your blog. It might be interesting to compare and share our experiences of Japan so hopefully we can stay in touch!
I’m glad! It’s well worth the experience of living in Japan! Visiting was great when I came, but living here is a whole different experience that I’m glad I’m doing. This blog is to keep a record of my experiences and feelings from this time in my life.
I know that if you need work or if you wanted to make some cash on the side while you’re a student in Japan, you can tutor some students in English. Some just want to practice spoken English since many of the step tests and exams include speaking English, so you don’t really need to know Japanese. But it never hurts to study some Japanese before you get out here!