I finally have internet! It's taken a long time (just like everything else in Japan — opening a bank account, buying a cellphone, sorting out rubbish...) but I am now finally connected to the rest of the world on my laptop rather than on my phone with a mere 7GB data limit.
It's been 3 week since my last update, and while a lot hasn't happened yet, I feel like a lot has happened. I lived in Japan 3 years ago for 5 months during a one semester university exchange programme, so not all things are a complete surprise to me. However, while there are certain aspects that I got used to very quickly (food, living arrangements, biking everywhere), work life has been the hardest to adjust to. Unlike before on a student visa, I am now a government employee. Being a teacher is so drastically different to my previous job in a call centre for an insurance company... it's going to take a while to fully feel comfortable in these indoor shoes of mine. (See what I did there?)
Everyone who participates in the JET Programme ends up in a different situation — since we are placed in different prefectures, hired by different organisations, teach a wide range of school levels, encounter different people... and so on and so forth. For the record, here's my situation, in a nutshell:
- My placement is probably between rural and semi-rural — Yuasa-cho is a small town of around 12,000 people, surrounded by mountains; rice fields; and mikan fields.
- I teach exclusively at elementary and I'm the ALT (assistant language teacher) for 3 different schools.
- My biggest school has 400+ students, while my smallest school has 32 students.
- At my 2 smaller schools I teach grades 1-6, and at my biggest school I only teach grades 5 & 6.
- Despite my job title being the "ALT", I plan all of my classes, and conduct them on my own. Team teaching doesn't happen often in my situation.
- I'm not allowed to drive during work hours, so I bike everywhere — depending on the school I am going to, it can take me between 10-30 minutes. And yes, I have to bike in the rain.
- I live in a one-room mansion, which seems to be rather uncommon for a semi-rural placement. Most JETs I know live in a tatami style room with a separate living space, and a bigger kitchen/bathroom.
- I encounter bugs more than I would like to (cockroach count so far: 12. That's more than I've see in my whole life in NZ... I also believe that insects in Japan are on steroids — they are massive and cockroaches can fly). And I don't even live in the mountainous area...
- My BoE (Board of Education) furnished my apartment for me with the main essential items. I only had to purchase items that I deemed essential, but not my BoE (hair dryer, blender, etc).
- Although my town is relatively small and I'm about an hour away from Wakayama city, it only takes me around 2 hours to get to Osaka. It may not be cheap, but placement wise I am very happy!
(Feel free to pester me if I don't!)