Of the many reasons I love my placement on JET, one of the most practical stems from the proximity of my school to my apartment. While a lot of other JETs have to take the bus, drive, or bike to their schools, my morning commute clocks in at a quick four minutes on foot. (And if I’m particularly in a hurry, I just duck through one of the chain-link fenced gaps near the back of school grounds and shave that down to two minutes.)
Anytime one of my students asks me where I live, I just point out the window of the classroom. From my apartment’s balcony to the school’s baseball field, it is a literal stone’s throw. It’s incredibly convenient and has made my life pretty stress-free when it comes to getting to work…
It’s no secret that I really, genuinely, totally love my job. I look forward to going to work every single day, and so many of my fondest memories of my time in Japan are from time spent in the classroom. Being a JET, especially at a school like mine, carries a whole lot of perks. And for me, the greatest perk of all is getting to work with kids who are motivated, intelligent, and energetic. (Though that last one doesn’t always apply when I have lessons with them during Monday’s first period…)
It’s the little things, like how one of the baseball players whom I thought didn’t really care for my lessons yelled “Alex-sensei’s lesson today?! YES!” when I came into class last week, that really make me love my job even more, because it makes me feel like the attachment and fondness I feel for the kids I teach goes the other way, too. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, that manifests concretely.
Case in point: in the next month and a half, 青森高校 will have its annual sports day and school festival. As you might have seen in thesepostsfrom last year, each of the homerooms – both students and teachers – get their own T-shirts. Even though I’m part of the first-year teachers, I’m not linked to any specific homeroom, so I’ve never managed to wrangle a jersey for myself. Continue reading It’s the Little Things→
After mentioning it in my posts for what seems like months, the end of the school year has finally arrived. Yesterday was the last day of the term, which means school will be weirdly quiet for the next week or so. (However, this being Japan, AKA “land of the students who try too hard,” lots of kids are still coming in for extracurricular academic classes.) Continue reading Goodbye Blues, Part II→
The sounds of Aomori winter elicit extremely specific reactions from me. For example, the clatter made by a gigantic, fifty-pound chunk of frozen snow falling from my apartment building’s roof and caroming off of the metal railings of my balcony garners a mini-heart attack. The howling symphony of the wind at two in the morning, accompanied by the constant rattle of my rickety windows and creaking of the walls themselves, gets a resigned groan and further burrowing underneath my thick, doubles-as-a-soundproof-barrier duvet. The steady dripping of water from the roof gets a grin, because it means that the snow is starting to melt. (This might be my favorite sound, and thankfully it’s starting to become more prevalent.) Continue reading A Dreaded Sound and a Welcome Sight→
Yesterday, Aomori Koko was overrun by oodles of hopeful, eager junior high school kids taking our school’s entrance exam. In Japan, gaining entry to high school is much like getting accepted to college in America; it isn’t really based on where you live. Instead, you have to take an academic exam, and then based on your score, you’re either admitted or denied (womp, womp).
As Aomori Koko is the most prestigious school in the prefecture, lots of students show up to take the exam. (This also results in two other things: complete chaotic madness in the parking lot from all of the parents milling around and me getting more wide-eyed stares of “Wow, that is a tall 外国人!” than usual.) Continue reading They Seriously Pay Me For This?→
Despite the rather ominous tone of the title, this is a wholly happy post. I think the last time I was this happy to put a pen to paper was when I signed my initial acceptance of a position within the JET Programme. In fact, I think there was a ten-second total turnaround time from when my supervisor handed me my recontracting form.
Despite being away from my friends and family, I’ve decided to stay in Japan another year (at least), through July 31, 2014.
Even though I do greatly miss parts of the life I left behind in America, I’m not ready to leave Aomori yet. In between teaching lessons, eating sushi, and paying off student loans, something really strange happened: I went ahead and built a life here. It’s not as stable or complex as the one I left behind in America (not by a long shot), but it’s not one I’m ready to abandon just yet. Aomori will remain my home because I love this job and, more importantly, because I love this life…
…and also because I’ve only recently discovered how cheap tickets to India and Nepal are from Japan, and I don’t plan on leaving till I take advantage of that.