Thursday, April 14, 2005

Getting Settled In Japan

by Kristin

Although I'm liking Japan, I'm not thrilled about the job. I'll find out tomorrow how my life is going to fare over the next 5 months when I get my schedule. The staff at my school are all very nice and helpful when it comes down to school matters. However, they have been extremely unhelpful in things such as setting up a required bank account, getting our foreigner IDs, getting set up with furnishings and necessities for our apartments, etc.

On top of that, during the training they spent the three and half weeks drilling their ineffective teaching method into all of us. It's a method that I don't like and will use as little as possible. After observing several classes taught by the directors, we started teaching while then being observed by a director. We would then have feedback with the observing director, which I found they always tended to focus more on negative aspects rather than positive. I won't turn this into a bitch session.

However, if things just aren't working out with this job I'm not going to let it ruin my Japanese experience (which is what happened in Korea). There are other options (one being a job offer at a university in Bangkok) which I'll explore. Assuming things go o.k. with this job, there's potential to make some decent money. Plus, I'm really going to start pushing to do massage (now that I'm in a country where I can charge what I'm worth again....I just couldn't compete with $3 an hour Thai massages in Bangkok).

I could also have the potential to pick up private students. However, after teaching all week, I don't think I'm going to want to do it on the side. So, a friend of mine and I are probably going to start hostessing. Basically we'll be working in a lounge type setting getting drinks and lighting cigarettes for business men who are wanting to converse in English. It pays $20 an hour to just sit and chat...not bad. I'll give it a try anyway. If there's anything sketchy about it (like the job I had at Rio in Gainesville...the Hispanic/Latino club I got fired from for not following the rules....HA!) then I'll quit.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm just finishing up an 11 day break from the training. During that time, I've gotten an apartment that I absolutely love! And, this time it's a proper apartment. It's tiny but it has a kitchen and dining area in the first room that you walk into. There's a bathroom off of this room, which has an actual tub, hot water, sink, and toilet that flushes. Then there are wooden, sliding doors separating the next room where I sleep. Traditionally, the doors would have the very thin paper square sections. However, mine have frosted glass. Also, there should be a tatami mat (like a bamboo mat) in the bedroom. The landlord took it out, though thinking I would want my apartment "Western style". So, there's linoleum instead.

I'm on the top floor of the building (5th floor) with a balcony looking out at a river. I bought a washing machine yesterday, which my friend and I lugged up (there's no elevator) to my apartment. It's out on the balcony. Driers are not common here, so I have some hemp strung across the balcony to use as a clothes line.

Apartments come with no amenities. So, I had to buy a stove top, refrigerator, washing machine, etc., etc. I've pretty much finished supplying my apartment. I bought the stove top off a couple of teachers that were leaving. I found the refrigerator and washing machine at a recycled (used) shop, which delivered the items to my apartment at no extra cost (but they dropped them off outside, not wanting to help carry them up since I don't have an elevator).

Many Japanese people sleep on futons on the tatami matted bedroom floor. To save on buying a futon, I popped my tent up and am sleeping in it. We didn't have our first warm night here until last night. So, I've been having to run the heat. I don't have central heat. There's a dual unit for heat and air on the wall in my bedroom. It can be kind of drafty. However, I've been pretty cozy camping out on my camping pad, in my tent with my sleeping bag. I love it!! A couple of my friends saw it and really liked the concept as well. However, they think it's something temporary until the weather turns warm. Then, they think I'll want to make it more of a "proper" bedroom and really "settle in". It's true, the tent might get hot but I like the way it looks in my room and I also like the fact that I don't have to worry about buying more things to fill space. Seeing as how I tend to move about once a year, I don't really think that "settling in" is in my nature.

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