I've been living in Japan for more than a year (474 days to be exact). So, I figured it’s about time I shared why I’m here. As usual, I’m #latetotheparty.
My First Time in Japan
The first time I stepped foot in Japan was in November 2015, when I spent eight glorious days adventuring around Tokyo with my older sister. At that point, I had no interest in Japan. I only visited because my sister was keen to visit and I didn’t have any strong objections. ╮( ˘ ､ ˘ )╭ I didn’t know much about Japanese history or culture, and beyond Konnichiwa, Arigatou and Sayonara, I knew very little Japanese. I had never watched a Studio Ghibli film and didn’t know anything about Otaku culture.
My first time in Japan and I was hooked. I knew I would be back again, I just didn’t know when. It wasn't Shinjuku’s bright lights or the robotic toilet seats that had me hooked. It was, strangely enough, the customer service of THIS Starbucks, near Shibuya Mark City and Shibuya station. Coincidentally, there’s a great, and FREE, vantage point nearby, if you want to see everyone’s favourite scramble crossing.
After that first visit, I just knew I would be back to live in Japan. I had no idea how it would happen, I just knew that it would. Sometimes, things just have a way of working out. My older sister knew of the JET Programme from one of her university acquaintances and suggested I try applying for it.
And the rest, as the over-used cliche goes, is history. 。.:☆*:･'(*⌒―⌒*)))
Japan on JET
Fortuitously, the application period for the 2017 Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme intake had opened just after my second trip to Japan in 2016. I started Japanese language classes, researched prefectures other than the ones I had visited, requested letters of reference, and probably wrote about 30 different versions of the application’s Statement of Purpose. I was so serious about moving to Japan that I even hand-delivered my application to the Japanese Embassy in Singapore. (￣▽￣*)ゞ You know, just to be sure they got it.
Fast forward to today, it’s been 2 years since I applied for the programme, and here I am, living and working in Japan as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) in a rural village in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan. Being an ALT on JET is like being part of a lottery, not everyone who applies to the programme gets accepted, you never know where you’ll be placed, and you don’t know what age group you’ll end up teaching.
Unlike my previous teaching job where I taught little humans between the ages of 6 and 12, I currently teach between the ages of 3 and 15. I’ve also had a class with the tiniest of humans, who were between 4 months and 2 years at the time. And I suppose, I also technically “teach” adults when the English Conversation (eikaiwa) club meets once-a-month.
Living here has definitely been an eye-opening experience, one that I hope to share more of in the posts to come! ╰(*´︶`*)╯♡
Til the next one!