Stories of Teaching in Japan - A Rant Needs an Edit

by Jacob
(Canada)

My experience here has been great over all for my personal development.

I've always been a late bloomer and slightly introverted when on my own. I went through a really rough patch after high school well through graduating university before coming to Japan. Basically finished university after two tries due to not really seeing a goal for myself and not trying. Low and behold I got in JET and it has since been good for me.

The ALT's and a few other foreigners in the city I'm in have been great. We go out drinking too much but we don't argue, like to hang out occasionally but not too much and generally don't get on each others nerves. The Japanese friends here have been amazing as well with great English and setting up events for people of the city to meet and make friends both Japanese and foreign but not for "I wanna practice English" reasons. I really love that I have made actual friends. Not to mention trying a ton of random things I never thought I would.

As for work it has been mostly fine as well. Aside from the usual bull that comes with the ALT life of school vs. BoE vs. JET/Company it has been good. Kids are nice and teachers are cool for the most part. Of course there are some kids I flat out just ignore instead of feeding their desire to be noticed. Generally have 3-4 classes a day in JHS and like the free time after work.

Like I said its been good for me mentally and socially. Though like someone else said, coming to Japan or any other place, won't magically fix your issues and it definitely did not for me, but it helped me a ton thanks to being surrounded by great people.

Now I'm moving on from JET and I'm very nervous and anxious about starting at a new company in a new city. Since I never intended to stay and just wanted to try living outside America, having the desire to be successful here has been making my head spin.

There are a ton of things I want to do but am not qualified for so I plan on using my next contract as an ALT to get some certs as well as my Japanese skill up. I definitely have the time for learning a few more things.

Long winded post but I will say for sure. Would I choose another job... in Japan yes. 100% JET, ALTing, and Eikaiwaing all have extremely limited potential if at all. They just do. I enjoy teaching but I see the roof on it and I want to move to a bigger house. I noticed last year none of my dreams included teaching long term so I don't plan to. I've given myself two more years in Japan to find something better or more interesting than this and hopefully I can find it. It was a great experience but if I could have the (what will be 5 years) in a different field with actual progression I'd take it. If I was determined to be in the education sector I'd probably have a different opinion.

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Nov 05, 2019
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by: John

Hi Jacob,

Your experience is really not that uncommon. Many that are unsure of what they really want to do or don't really have a life calling kind of wind up in Japan.

I would definitely say that improving your Japanese and getting certification is a a step in the right direction.

There are other things you can do here in Japan besides teaching if you have a unique skill set. (Meaning something you can do that most Japanese can't).

But you are spot on correct about the glass ceiling here. If you have enough education you could get into university teaching. Another route is to run your own show and start your own school. Serious money can be made there and you're your own boss.

Yes, it is hard to work in a field that you don't have so much love for. I have met many who drag themselves into classes with hearts full of regret which eventually turns into cynicism.

I will give you a bit of advice. The longer you stay here the more "Japanised" you become. This makes returning to Canada more difficult. There are many ways this can play out. For example meeting a dream girl and starting a family will make living here much easier and fulfilling no matter what the job is that you may be doing.

So keep your eyes open for opportunities, make as many Japanese friends as you can - this can give you in roads into new jobs etc.

Best of luck to you

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