Sunday, May 16, 2010

bfg on emails and no snow

So the news is in.

It arrived when I was meeting the bf so he could both buy me a coffee and keep me company before going over to McGill where JET is offering all short-list and alternates free Japanese language lessons. It was while waiting for my Mocca over ice that I desided to quickly check my e-mail and relate to the lover the details about my day. I am a true multi-tasker.

Two emails from the JET coordinator.

Shrill Scream. Arms Flapping. And a crazy brunette jumping up and down with tears in her eyes: "OMG! Ant! I got it! I am going to Shizuoka-ken."

So yeah folks, it is official. I actually got my first choice! How rare that is... I can't even begin to fathom. I could guess here - one out of a thousand applicants - but I don't have the numbers to support it and I don't want to get in trouble just in case someone other than my dog is reading this. But the chances are slim and I know there are others who requested the same prefecture/city and did not get it. So I am one lucky giant gal. Lucky indeed.

As you may have noticed, I only know my prefecture but not my city/town. Some of my peers have specifics as to exactly where they are going. Here is a good time to maybe elaborate on some of the more intricate things about JET and what I have learned from the many blogs and forums I have stalked these past few weeks in keen anticipation.

When you recieve your placement, it does not indicate which school you are teaching at - which can be a bit frustrating. After ten weeks of waiting, all you get is a place! But there are patterns... if you are given the specifics (i.e. prefecture and city/town) than the chances are pretty hight that you are teaching elementary school.

However, if you, like myself, are only given a prefecture than it is likey you will be heading out to a high school... and several of them at that.

The reason is  elementary schools in Japan are run on the municipal level whereas prefectures administer high school education. Therefore, my contract is with the prefecture of Shizuoka not a particular city. I have read that there are some differences between a Prefecture Alt and Municipal mainly that the provincial government will ask the former to attend events that are away from your school which will require that the JET travel somewhat within the province. The same goes for the municipality. Essentially, I think interacting with the different age groups is in itself a drastic day-to-day experience between JETs. The prep and patience for younger children is just not the same - am not referring to quantity but type of. I am just better with older children in general since I too often take their questions seriously and answer them to the best of my ability which has gotten me in trouble a few times.

What is it about Shizuoka that had it at the top of my list? Well, first off its location. I wanted to find a place that was central in Japan so that week-end trips to Tokyo, Osaka and so forth were financially and schedule-wise feasible. Also, I wanted a city where I could possibly hope to find clothes that could fit the fatso white teacher but not be surrounded by other foreigners. One of my main goals in going to Japan is learning the language - I need the kick in the ass to survive in an environment where to really communicate I need to learn. Too bad, so sad.

There are many things to keep me occupied: museums, temples, Fuji-sama, and the hot springs! But most of all, and this comes from a die-hard Montreal city girl who has spent way to much money on boots in her lifetime, the fact that in Shizuoka it does not snow.

On that fact alone, I may never come home.

So for any future JETs, this may be a place for you to consider. Just be sure that you list the things you like to do on your own. I love going to museums so it was/is important for me to be relativly close to a place where I can revisit often.

In other news, I got another special email this evening. Ash from Toronto sent me a long letter which I hope will be the beginning of a long two month correspondence leading up to D-Day. We met through a mutual aquaintance known as "Favourite Author" who was kind enough to connect us.

Considering the support system is pretty much non-existance, it is nice to be able to make friends with the people who will be having similar experiances as yourself but just scattered accross the country. Today, I spent the afternoon with C practicing Japanese and talking about shoe shopping. Also, I am hoping that we are allowed to pick the other two girls we can share rooms with while at Tokyo Orientation.

Oh god! I am actually going to be in Tokyo. Domo arigato, Mr Robato!


  1. Lucky giant girl, I can feel your excitement!

    I'm about 50 pages into The Brothers Karamazov.

  2. Hey! I'm one of your sempais & found the link to your blog from your FB profile.

    You may already know most of this by now, but if not I figured you'd appreciate some extra info:

    As a prefectural ALT in Shiz, you will be stationed at one base high school & unless you have a night school (for anyone from working adults to working hs-age ex-dropouts) or a special needs school, that will be your only school. You don't do elementary visits at all, & unless your HS is a combined JHS/SHS, you won't see junior high schoolers on work time, either.

    When I discovered this I was thrilled -- I'd be working with high schoolers! Who have been learning English since at least JHS, or in some cases elementary school! I'd be able to communicate with them in English! (Never mind that I can hold my own in a Japanese conversation; I'm here to get these kids thinking in a foreign language, right?) Yeah, well, my kids are really low-level. "How are you?" "How are you?" "No, how are YOU?" "How are YOU?" "How are YOUUUU?? (with pointing)" "Oh! I'mfinethankyouandyou?" The difference between low-level schools & high-levs is amazing. I know some people who really just do vocab games all day; some who assign essays.

    You don't get to choose your roomies for TO; you'll be randomly placed with people from your departure point. Most people have a 3-person room & some lucky ones get a 2-person room. Don't worry; if you don't like them you won't see them very much anyway. You don't spend much time in your room other than sleeping.

  3. Smiles - THANK YOU!

    I had small ideas from the General Handbook but nothing specific. I knew about the different levels which is exciting. I still think though the type of skills a teacher needs to teach older children in general are quite different from younger. Hence, why I think am better suited for older students.

    god - it REALLY sucks that I can't choose my roomies for TO. It may sound picky but I want to be able to trust the people with whom I am sharing a room with... I don't want to lug my backpack around. (I have had some bad experiences with being too trusting in this department). But it is a good idea to force us to bond with others in our prefecture.

    Again! Thank you and any other info you send my way is more than welcome.