One year anniversary…

A year ago today I was a jumble of nerves and anticipation because, a year ago tomorrow, I was due to fly to Japan to start my new life as an English teacher in Nagoya.  It feels strange to look back at my early posts from my hotel room – I was half on holiday and half in new job mode, and probably more  jet lagged than I realised!

And now, I’m sitting here, incredibly settled in my little apartment in Kurokawa (even more so today as I have just bought a new – second hand – chair).  I feel like this is home, at least for now, and certainly for the next year.  So, I thought this would be a good time to take stock of what I’ve achieved in this last year.  Was is worth flying to the other side of the world for?  Yes.  Have I done something with my life?  I think so!  Time to make some lists…

Places I’ve visited this year:

Wow – that looks like a lot of places now I’ve actually listed them!!  And of course, I hope there will be many more in the next year.  I’m planning to go to Kyoto again very soon, to see the cherry blossom…

But it’s not all been about travel, of course.  The main reason for me being here is to teach, and I’ve done a lot of that!  At first I was terrified, and the initial training was exhausting.  Before I knew it, I was at my school and teaching real students – including kids!  I’m still quite stunned by how little preparation you get for teaching real students.  Towards the end of training we practiced on real adults, but we never had the opportunity to practice on real kids.  Anyway, a year in and I’m much more used to it.  I think surviving the hell that was teaching six four-year-olds on a Saturday morning at short notice has mentally prepared me for pretty much anything my school can throw at me!  And I have to say, I may have been a little iffy at first, but now… I love teaching!  And apparently I love kids too!  In fact, I must be doing something right as yesterday I ended up getting a round of applause from two of my kids’ mums.  We’re finishing up the children’s school year, and one mum tentatively asked me when I was leaving.  I said that I would be teaching her son for another year, guaranteed, and she and another mum clapped and looked so happy!  It made my day! 😀

So, I think it’s safe to say that coming to Japan has been a success so far.  I wasn’t sure if I could teach, but I seem to be doing okay.  I was honoured with my company’s ‘teacher of the month’ award in November, which gave me a confidence boost.  And, although it’s never easy, I’m enjoying the challenge of being a teacher in Japan.  No two days are the same, so I don’t think I’ll be getting bored any time soon!

So, what else have I been doing with myself?  Well… studying Japanese, mostly!  Have I improved?  Yes, I think so.  Am I fluent yet? (As all my friends back home constantly ask me.)  Er… no, not even slightly!  haha.  But I’m enjoying the journey of studying.  I have been studying with the textbook ‘Genki 1’ and have almost finished it now, so I will be moving on to ‘Genki 2’ shortly, which I’m very excited about!  My Japanese teacher is wonderful, and now I’m taking two lessons a week – one private and one ‘group’ lesson (with just one other classmate).  I’m really working on kanji right now, as I have pretty much mastered hiragana and katakana, and I need to start preparation for the JLPT 3 Kyu exam in December.  My short-term Japanese goal is simply to survive in daily life, and my slightly longer-term goal is to be able to read menus!

As you can see, life is full, busy, and lots of fun.  People still sometimes ask my ‘why Japan?’ and I do still find it hard to answer that question.  I guess when you feel that pull you sometimes just have to let yourself be taken and see where you end up.

I thought I’d finish with one more list.  This is my current “Top 10 Things I Love About Japan” (in no particular order):

  • Japan’s distinct seasons, and the seasonal food and drinks you find to match in the convenience stores
  • Starbucks Matcha Frappuccio
  • The amazing Kit Kat flavours that just keep on coming…
  • Finding wonderful things you didn’t know you needed in the 100 Yen store (and sometimes discovering small pieces of cheaply priced wisdom)
  • Festivals and festival food! (Especially chocco banana, takoyaki and jagga butter)
  • Moments of clarity – when you take the subway you always ride and suddenly realise you understand the Japanese announcement!
  • Gift wrapping in department stores – often free and always perfect
  • No train delays – public transport you can actually rely on (listen up, London, you could learn a thing or two!)
  • Omiyage – from food to Hello Kitty pens, you can always find a souvenir or gift
  • Convenience stores – they really are so convenient, and the staff in my local are lovely!

Here’s to another year!

じゃね! 😀

6 thoughts on “One year anniversary…

  1. Sounds like you’re having a blast over there teaching. I would love to read more of the way you teach over there. From what I know teaching in Japan is way different from the way kids are taught in the States. :]

    Virtual Kanpai for another great year in Japan.


  2. Thanks for the comment!

    Yes, I imagine it is quite different to how kids are taught in the states – certainly very different to England! Perhaps I’ll reveal more in the future… 🙂


  3. Congrats! Has it really been a year? I remember when I started reading your blog….exactly a year ago! Keep up the good work. The 2nd year looks to be better than ever!


  4. Congratulations. Best wishes for further years in japan.

    It’s nice to be appreciated by students and their mothers. There must be a large potential for staff turnover in the ekikaiwa biz so I can see they’d be happy to know a good teacher is staying on.


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