Monthly Archives: July 2012

Crunch Time | Ya falta poco

Visited Chapel Hill for the last time on Monday. I’ll miss the feeling of driving down the highway with the windows down, listening to the radio and driving by endless trees. I definitely won’t have that in Japan, since I’m not allowed to drive a car for work purposes! So much for pretending to be back in London while driving around recklessly on the wrong side of the road…

It was great seeing friends for the last time! I went out of my way to drive slowly past the Old Well while leaving Chapel Hill. So sad… But with all the freshmen walking around aimlessly and clogging up the sidewalks, I was also glad to leave!

So sad 😦 #nostalgia

Having events like goodbye parties and goodbye dinners is definitely fun, don’t get me wrong, but they make the whole saying goodbye process longer than it needs to be, I think. I hate goodbyes! It really has been fun seeing friends and family for the last time, but it’s not like I’m going to China or anything! I’ll be back before you know it… I think.

And now, I’ve been stuffing all my new America-sized clothes and shoes into my suitcase since I’ll literally be “Big in Japan”. While I won’t has as much trouble as some of my larger coworkers (in terms of shirt and shoe sizes, thankfully my clothes sizes are somewhat readily available in Japan), I’d rather not worry about finding dress shirts and whatnot in Japan. It’s nice to be able to take one more suitcase than I could for study abroad, but one of those suitcases is probably going to be filled solely with NC stuff. Thankfully, I managed to get great items from tourist centers, universities and sports teams! Don’t think I should name any individual organizations, but they should be pretty obvious… I did manage to get a lot of baseball cards from local teams to hand out to my students!

I always feel like I’m forgetting something when I pack. Lately, I’ve been texting myself reminders so I don’t forget to pack certain things, like an external hard drive and wireless router, among other things. Surprisingly, it seems like certain electronic gadgets are more expensive in Japan than in the US, like cameras, for example. However, apparently Macbooks are about the same price in Japan… so as soon as my first paycheck arrives in the mail, best believe I’ll be on a train headed to the Kyoto or Osaka Apple Store. Maybe Southern Shiga has one! I’ll definitely have to check. What’s more, I get a teacher’s discount from Apple too! Score. Thanks for nothing, Microsoft 😛

I would post a picture of my suitcases to make this post more interesting, but just looking at them has literally given me a headache. So, instead here is a French pop song I found when I googled the phase “Big in Japan.” The singers are the same people who sing the song “Hello.” The video is kind of strange, but it reminded me a bit of the movie Lost in Translation, and it definitely showcases a wide range of things you would see only in Japan, like sumo wrestling, Shinto shrines, Japanese arcade games, crowded streets in Tokyo, etc.  I’ll be able to see all those things in real life starting on Sunday! I just have to survive a 14 hour flight from Atlanta to Tokyo… I might not make it. We’ll see.

Spanish coming soon


Welcome Letter | Carta de bienvenida

 The other day I received an official welcome letter from my base school. Now I know what subjects I’ll be teaching!

I’ll be helping with English I and some Oral Communication classes. In particular, I’m excited about the American Studies class, it has 40 students and is like an American social studies course. The class is taught entirely in English. There are also Independent Study students that need help with their final translation projects, so I’ll assist them with their work for one hour a week.

10 days left and I still have a long list of things I need to gather for my trip… ack! These past few days I’ve basically been running around town asking for free goodies from tourist offices and visitor centers and I’ve managed to collect a veritable treasure trove of pens, pamphlets, posters and postcards to give out to my new students. Hopefully that’ll get them excited about North Carolina… I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff?

 El otro día recibí una carta oficial de bienvenida de uno de los colegios donde voy a ensenar. Y ahorita ya sé qué materias voy a enseñar!

Ayudare con Ingles I y algunas clases de Comunicación oral. En particular espero ensenar la clase de Estudios americanos, tiene 40 estudiantes y se parece mucho a una clase de ciencias sociales estadounidense. La clase se imparte íntegramente en inglés. También hay estudiantes que realizan Estudios independientes y necesitan ayuda con sus proyectos finales de traducción, así que les ayudaré con sus trabajos por una hora a la semana.

Faltan 10 días para mi viaje y aún tengo una larga lista de cosas que tengo que conseguir… estos ultimos días he corrido la seca y la meca, o sea de aquí para allá y allá para acá, solicitando materiales turísticos como panfletos y postales para mostrar a mis estudiantes. Espero que estos materiales les motive a aprender sobre EE.UU.

Luck | Suerte

“In 2005, major business magazine publisher Toyo Keizai Inc. ranked Ritto as Japan’s No. 1 Livable City, noting the city’s safety, convenience, and pleasantness.”


“En 2005, el gran editor de revistas de negocios Toyo Keizai Inc. clasificó Ritto como la Ciudad Habitable Nº1 de Japón, teniendo en cuenta la seguridad, la comodidad y el agrado de la ciudad.”

Que suerte.

Alphabet Soup | Sopa de letras

This morning I got an email from my future supervisor at my main high school!  Ever since I found out I was going to Japan I’ve receiving information piecemeal about my situation next year. It probably won’t feel real until I get my contract in the mail… I looked up how long it takes for mail to arrive from Japan and it looks like a week is the average.

My supervisor apparently lived for a few years in NC! So crazy. Apparently I am the first ALT from NC to go to my high school, since Michigan and Shiga are sister states so they usually take people from Michigan. Although my predecessor is from the West coast so maybe they just take people from everywhere, I dunno.

The wait is almost over. In three weeks I’ll be on a plane to Japan… But before that, I just realized I’ve probably been throwing around a lot of JET acronyms without properly explaining what each one means. Perhaps after reading this you’ll understand better what my role in my community next year will be.

  • JET Programme – JET stands for Japan Exchange and Teaching. I think “Programme” is the British spelling since JET started in the UK in the 80’s, but “Program” is also acceptable. Participants are all called “JETs”.
  • CLAIR – Council of Local Authorities for International Relations. This Japanese government agency promotes international relations for cities and regions of Japan, and is the agency that oversees the JET Program.
  • ALT – Assistant Language Teacher. This is my position!
  • CIR – Coordinator for International Relations. With this position, you can work in offices of local governments or other organizations like universities or convention bureaus.
  • SEA – Sports Exchange Advisor, these guys promote international exchange through assistance in sports training. I think there’s like 6 of them in Japan right now, they aren’t that common anymore.
  • JTE – Japanese Teacher of English. I will be helping the JTEs at my high schools with their classes.
  • BOE – Board of Education. In my case, this is my employer.
  • TO – Tokyo Orientation, two days after arriving in Japan of information and presentations about adjusting to life in Japan.
  • ESID – Every Situation Is Different. I am really sick of hearing this one, but it really is true. JET experiences can be wildly different. For example, you could live in an urban setting, teach at elementary schools, live in a tiny apartment, and walk to work each day. Or, you could live in a rural setting, teach in high schools, live in your own house subsidized by your employer, but have to buy a car and drive 45 min. to work each day. So by hearing people’s experiences with JET, you can get a general idea of what to expect, but you also have to keep in mind that these experiences might not be applicable to every single area.

Spanish version coming soon! It is going to be interesting to try to translate these acronyms into Spanish.


Volunteers Planting Rice in Shiga | Voluntarios sembrando arroz en Shiga

 Here’s a video of ALTs planting rice in a town on the west side of the lake. The ALT that I’m replacing is in this video! It is really neat that people from so many different countries came together to help out a community (that probably isn’t the one they even live in). This event will happen in 2013 so stay tuned for a video of me sloshing around in a field of mud 🙂

 Aquí añado un video de unos profesors de inglés sembrando arroz en un pueblo en el lado oeste del lago. El muchacho que voy a reemplazar aparece en este video! Es genial que personas de muchos diferentes paises se unieron para ayudar a una comunidad aunque quizás no viven en ella. Este evento va a ocurrir otra vez en el 2013 entonces por favor estén atentos para un video mío chapoteando en el barro 🙂