Ça va bien. Et vous?
As a Canadian child, everyone learns French in elementary and junior high (and often high school as well). I believe it's in the hopes that it will encourage more of Canada to be bilingual, unfortunately...I grew up in Alberta where Francophones are reviled. I'm not kidding. It is perfectly normal for people to insult Québec (the French province) and its people. It's especially common in rural areas. This is largely due to the fact that Albertans believe they are responsible for sustaining Québec with oil revenue. While some Canadians dislike the French, the feeling was mutual. At one point Québec threatened to leave Canada and actually held a referendum. The vote was 50.58% against leaving with a 93.52% voter turnout. The 2016 US Election had a mere 55% turnout, and in 2008 (Barack's campaign year) there was only a 57.1% turnout. So yeah, Québec was deeply divided and invested. I've often heard Albertans lament the fact they didn't leave.
I may be Albertan, but my father is from Saskatchewan (the province next door), and my mother is from...dun dun DUN...Québec. While my father grew up in the prairies, my mother had grown up in Montréal-Nord with a large Catholic family. This was before the Quiet Revolution, so health care and education were in the hands of the Catholic Church - along with everyday life. It was the duty of every good Catholic woman to have as many children as possible. The Church expected to have loyal parishioners, but instead my mother and all of her siblings decided they weren't Catholic. When she left home, she left all of Québec behind, and eventually came out west to settle down. By the time I was a child, I never heard a drop of French. When my sister and I were a bit older, she taught us a few things to appease our adolescent curiosity, but that was it.
Part of growing up was pointing out how snobby the French are. Some schools had something called, "French Immersion" which meant that every class would be taught in French. One school I attended had split the school in two, some students were taught in English and some in French. This created a very real division in socializing. French kids stuck together and conversed in French blatantly, followed by sneers and laughter. As an Anglophone, it felt very rude. So began the theme of snobby French. While the French kids stood united in their secret language, everyone else commented on their attitudes. Bienvenue au petit Canada. While that behaviour was fairly tame, when I was in grade 4 during a parent-teacher night, my French teacher reprimanded me for being a failure in French class. She actually scolded my mother. Luckily my mother laughed it off, but I was incredibly embarrassed and hurt.
So why is an Albertan like me learning French? I'm part French, so that helps, but more importantly being bilingual opens a lot of doors. Especially if you ever want to be involved in politics or government. If I can manage to learn French as a second language, it'll be equivalent to a rebirth. Plus, better to try now and not later so I'm the object of public humiliation for weeks after...*ahem*
At the moment, I'm going to be taking French lessons until May. So far I've already learned more than my combined time in school. Who knows, maybe this could work out for me...
Here's the link for the gallery upload this week!
Next update will be February 17!
Hello everyone and thank you so much for visiting! I know it's been nearly two years since I last posted, and I just wanted to thank all of my supporters who stuck with me. Your loyalty means so very much to me. I hope that the coming updates help make up for such an extended absence. As to the reason why I was gone for so long, I could say that I was too busy but I think that's just an excuse. I could also say that it was due to numerous stresses, but again too much like an excuse. The truth lies more with how I began to feel about the site. The longer I spent away, the harder it became to think about. It was like a relationship that had fallen to the wayside, and I just didn't know how to restart the conversation.
Well, now I'm back and the site is going to be regularly updated once again! At the moment, I have put a lot of time and effort into sifting through thousands of photos I've taken, and creating galleries to peruse through. The galleries won't be available all at once, instead I will be uploading a different one each week. Each will highlight a different location, for example, the first gallery to be revealed for this update is Surfer's Paradise, Australia! It is one of the smaller galleries, but I think I'd like to start off slow.
If any of you are wondering what's happened these past few years, I'll clue you in a little. As I'm sure most of you know, I was in Japan 2014-2015 teaching English, and then I returned home to Canada after a very tough year away. After that, I was trapped in limbo. I didn't really have a permanent home, nor a job. Thank goodness I had my partner because he was incredibly supportive. He stuck with me while I was in Japan, and helped me maintain some semblance of sanity. When I came back, the first thing I did was chase an old dream. I decided to study for the LSAT and try and get into law school. I spent months preparing, and even took a course to help boost my odds of doing well. I ended up getting a pretty good score, just a bit better than average, and applied to several Canadian universities. I waited months to hear back, and while I waited I received offers from a lot of American universities, sometimes with offers of free tuition. I would have considered that as an option except it's usually pretty expensive after the first year, and it would have meant being away again. When I finally did receive an answer, none of them were positive. It was really unfortunate, but I think academic competition in Canada is incredibly strong since there's so few spots available. It took me a long time to come to terms with their responses, but ultimately I resigned myself. It was a shot in the dark, but I'm glad I tried.
Will I ever try again? Probably not, things being what they are. Canadian law schools don't hold interviews and put almost all of their weighting on your GPA and LSAT - you need a 4.0 and at least a 170. Just so you know, that's impossible to do with an Arts degree. I did well, but I never hit anywhere near a 4.0, mainly due to the fact all of my assignments were essays that were subject to the professor's opinions. I didn't know anyone who had an "A+" average, it was simply impossible. In order for me to attain the grades necessary to get accepted in to law school, I would literally need to go back to school for a degree in science, and that ain't happening.
While I was waiting to hear back from potential law schools, I got myself a job. I believed it was just going to be temporary since I would get an acceptance letter any day, but after I was categorically rejected I was once again stuck in limbo. I ended up keeping it for a long time until I just couldn't do it anymore. I worked in the call center for a major utility company, and came face to face with cubicle life in a corporation. Let's just say, I was never able to drink the Kool-Aid, and each day I could feel my soul being sold for pennies. Then I made a decision, 2017 was going to be my fresh start. I gave my notice and have not looked back.
So what am I doing with my life now? The first step for me was returning to the site. I think it's a big part of who I am, even if I did neglect it for so long, I'm happy to be back. On top of that, I've decided to buckle down and learn Canada's second language, French. I did take French in school, as does every Anglophone Canadian, but what I remember can be summed up by "Bonjour". I know it's a big commitment as an adult, especially since I'm terrible at learning languages. I managed to get by in Japan with basic Japanese, but I never learned how to properly converse. There was a huge mental block there, and I was better at reading and writing than I ever was at speaking.
Next, I'm hoping to become more politically involved by joining a party. If you're not Canadian, I'll quickly break it down. There are many federal parties you can vote for, but there are really only 3 that have any significance. There's the Liberals (left), Conservatives (right), and the New Democrats (left left). Right now the Prime Minister (equivalent to President) of Canada is Justin Trudeau of the Liberals. His father, Pierre Trudeau was actually Prime Minister years before him, and Canadians were so nostalgic that they voted his son in despite his real lack of experience (sound familiar?).
I want to join a party because what happens in my country is important to me, and I want to be a part of the conversation. I've always been politically inclined, but to be honest, deciding what party to join is a pretty big deal. I would finally be putting a label on it, when I've always felt it's important to remain moderate and generally impartial. I believe trying to maintain objectivity is crucial when analyzing an issue, but the truth is we all have our biases.
Anyway, that's all I really have to say for now. I will be updating weekly, and I'm scheduling the next update for Friday, February 10. Thank you so much to all my returning visitors, and of course thank you to anyone who's new to the site! Now please feel free to check out the first gallery: Surfer's Paradise.
5. What do you know about Japan, Japanese culture and language?
What do you know about Japan? If your thoughts are something along the lines of, “I love anime!” or “Sushi is delicious!” but without any depth, or real knowledge, seriously reconsider. Yes, anime is fantastic and there is an innumerable amount of merchandise to find, your love for anime can be satisfied by just visiting Japan. How about sushi? Yep, also amazing. The sushi, sashimi, yakitori, tempura, and every other food is outstanding. Japanese food is probably the best food I’ve ever eaten, yet that can also be experienced by simply being a tourist. In fact, probably better experienced as a tourist since working here with minimal pay means largely cooking your own food and not eating amazing food every day. Suffice to say, if you truly want to live in Japan, your knowledge of Japanese culture and language should be exceptional. You need to be more than adequately prepared.
4. Do you like children?
Do you absolutely love being around children? Have you worked extensively with children before? If you haven’t worked with children previously or even feel somewhere in the vicinity of neutrality towards children – think again. While it’s assumed from an Anglo-Saxon point of view that Japanese children must be as polite as Japanese adults, the opposite is true. Japanese children are terrors. I’m not making this up. Why is that, you may ask. Well, the culture of raising children in Japan means believing babies are basically gods, and they can do no wrong. Hence, Japanese children are allowed to do whatever they like without being reprimanded. Yes, they are spoiled. They lack discipline. So how do they turn in to intensely polite adults? Through rampant passive aggressive shaping to invisibly force each child into eventually learning that being part of the group is the most important aspect of their lives. They acclimatize to the notion around the time they reach the age of majority.
3. What do you know about the company?
You should very carefully pick the company you’re going to work for. While it is incredibly difficult to know what the company is going to be like from purely perusing their website or visiting rambling reviews or blogs on the matter, I would make a couple of suggestions. Don’t believe all the propaganda the company sells – they can and will exaggerate for their benefit. Most companies will have you believe they are doing great things for you, but the fact of the matter is, you’re doing them a favour and not the other way around. English teaching companies are big in Japan and highly competitive, they’re all looking for fresh meat to put through the grinder. The biggest problem with private companies is that they are unmistakably profit driven. That means employees are put on the back burner, especially in Japan. Customer service is of the highest significance, and expect no reward for going the extra mile – it’s simply expected. It can be incredibly stressful when dealing with finicky parents and undisciplined children. I would suggest finding a company that teaches adults, or one that hires for the public board of education. Less pressure, more time with fellow employees and never having to deal with parents. (Want my advice? Check out Interac or JET. Avoid ECC or iTTTi.)
2. How well do you deal with isolation and being away from home?
As a Gaijin, you will always be an outsider. After having spoken with many other Gaijins from various nations, and living here for various amounts of time – they all report the same. If you appear anything other than Asian, expect to be treated like a perpetual alien. Japanese people are notoriously xenophobic. I cannot stress this enough. There will be times when people will be afraid of being near you, or you’ll receive judgemental stares. You can feel the cold aura all around you. Be prepared to feel isolated and alienated. This is even truer if you happen to be female. It takes a long time to develop friendships with Japanese people, and sometimes their intentions are only to be friends with someone non-Japanese, like a novelty. That’s not to say there aren’t Japanese people interested in having authentic friendships, but you’re more likely to find like-minded people in a metropolis. Rural areas can be unwelcoming at times.
1. What are your expectations while living in Japan?
My last point ties in with my first point again, since I believe it is once again the most important. Before I arrived in Japan, I perceived Japanese culture to be one aligned with beauty, and simplicity. While Japan is beautiful and clean, the only type of simplicity that exists is perceived simplicity. Japanese society does its very best to appear uncomplicated and consistently beautiful. It is however, the exact opposite. Honesty does not exist in Japan. I’m not trying to be callous or inconsiderate, but brutally truthful. No one in Japan will tell you the truth, and if they do, you would never know it. Everything is hidden and veiled behind thick curtains and multiple walls of civility. The only aggression that exists here is passive. If someone doesn’t like you, they’ll never reveal their true feelings or intent. Instead, they’ll continue to be dishonest and passive aggressive.
Perhaps I sound intensely cynical or jaded. You could argue that my experience is singular and I’m largely affected by my placement with this particular company, in this particular area. That might be true. I might be an irregularity. In that case, here’s my closing statement. If you do choose to go to Japan despite my warnings, please keep the following in mind. Choose the area you want to be placed in – I recommend near or in a large city. Do some research and find out what interests you the most about Japan, then aim for living near that area. If crowds are not your thing, and you would prefer a smaller area, consider that it will be infinitely more difficult to make friends and communicate (unless you’re fluent in Japanese).
Ultimately, I would suggest just being a tourist in Japan. Touring and sightseeing will satisfy all of your casual needs like delicious food, interesting cultural oddities and tonnes of awesome shopping. Living here will drain the life out of you. You slowly conform to the robotic culture of work, sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep, drink heavily, and work some more while pretending that it’s your favourite thing to do. What’s different from any other place? Trust me, the Japanese work ethic is intensely different. You’re expected to work as hard as possible without any sort of praise, (or for that matter overtime) and be grateful for it. If you even raise your voice to mention the possibility that you’re at all unsatisfied (even if you’re prompted), you will be judged extremely negatively. Expect to be reprimanded.
Japan is a fascinating nation with a truly bizarre and magnificent culture. There are many things I’ve enjoyed while living here, but the things I’ve enjoyed most about Japan have come from my brief times spent while behaving like a tourist. Time off is usually spent trying to unwind from a stressful work week, so when vacation time finally rolls around, it’s the best time in the world. I had the chance to visit Hakone, Tokyo and Nikko. Beautiful and quintessentially Japanese locations – but only appreciated off work.
That being said, living in Japan has had some truly positive outcomes. I’m more confident and self-assured than I’ve ever been. A lot of my fears have dissipated – although not entirely, I’ve experienced a noticeable difference. However, I don’t think that travelling to Japan is necessary in order to achieve these kinds of positive results. I think living in other countries would be just as satisfying, if not more. If I could recommend somewhere else that is similar to Japan but friendlier, I would say South Korea. It had been suggested to me numerous times but I was stubborn and insisted on Japan (for numerous reasons). Regardless, I can only offer my personal experiences and advice. Decide on your own if Japan is right for you – if not, please visit! It’s worth it to have an adventure – see the sights, eat the food, and enjoy the culture.
March 5, 2013
Information session on teaching English abroad (conveniently located at my alma mater).
September 2, 2013
I officially complete my 100 hour course on teaching English as a second language, and receive my TESOL/TESL/TEFL certification.
September 18, 2013
I attain a federal criminal record check (with photo and fingerprints) in order to apply to a range of companies.
September 17, 2013 - March 20, 2014 (185 Days*)
Struggling job hunt rages war on my time, and emotions.
March 21, 2014
I'm contacted by numerous Japanese companies, including one long phone call discussing my goals and intentions. I'm asked to consider the position thoroughly, then contact them after I've made a decision.
March 24, 2014
I officially register with the company's website and await a reply. I immediately receive a call back and continue with an interview over the phone before proceeding further. I'm informed that I will need to send a scanned passport photo/signature page along with my university degree, a professional looking photo, and a minimum of 3 reference letters (2 work and 1 character). On top of that, I must complete a grammar quiz, and fill out a questionnaire consisting of various work related questions and an essay.
April 10, 2014
I discuss my upcoming decisions about deciding between jobs in a blog post.
April 24, 2014
I receive my final reference letter from my university Japanese professor. I immediately send it to DJ and finish that part of the hiring process.
July 10, 2014
My father drives me to Calgary, Alberta to visit the Japanese Consulate. They approve my work visa and instruct me on the immigration process after entering Japan.
July 16, 2014
As part of the final, official step for moving to Japan - I visit my doctor for a note declaring a clean bill of health.
July 21, 2014
I receive my work visa in the mail.
August 14 - 16, 2014
My plane leaves for Japan. There are stops in Vancouver, Canada and Taipei, Taiwan before landing in Nagoya, Japan.
August 18, 2014
A two week orientation begins, instructing new employees on curriculum and method.
This week I've been working on a final exam for the online grammar course I've been taking to finish my TESL certificate. I'm nearly finished! I'm really excited to pass the exam and start looking for jobs. I could have started earlier but I wanted to finish the grammar course first. Just makes the most sense to me.
In the meantime, I won't be able to put up SV XVII tomorrow (Friday, August 30). I would have suggested updating it Saturday, however my mother's birthday is on Saturday. So I'm in a bit of a bind. I apologize, my dear readers but you'll have to wait until September 6 for the next Shadow Vault update.
Wish me luck on my exam!
Edit: I passed!
My entire life I've yearned to explore and travel the world. I wanted to do more than travel the world in fact, I wanted to leave it entirely! I desperately dreamed of being an astronaut.
For the past several months (more accurately, for the past several years) I've been seriously considering my options for world travel. Presently I don't have the money to pay for some sort of lavish vacation so I thought to myself there must be some other way. Then it hit me. Maybe I could do what others have done and teach English overseas.
Such a wild thought! I mean, to think of travelling abroad to an unknown country in order to teach English to people who speak a foreign language. It would be nerve wracking to say the least! However it would also be an adventure.
An adventure. I have always imagined going on an adventure. To travel to some sort of distant land and meet strange, new people. To eat unusual food and see fantastic things. It's everything I've dreamed of. Not to mention all the experiences I could gather and use in my writing.
Before my break-up, I never thought it was a legitimate option. Now it doesn't matter. I can be free to do what I like! I really was trapped. Given the option of freedom, I want to fly away to another country and live there instead!
So I registered for a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Certification course and it starts in June. I'm very excited. It takes about a month or so to finish and then I can start looking for work! I still haven't decided where I'd like to go yet. Here's a list of some of the countries I'm considering:
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
If I really had to narrow it down, I'd have to say that I'm probably leaning more towards Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. I think the sort of cultures present in those countries might be something I can enjoy. Especially France. Okay, maybe I partially have my mind made up. I just need to do more research.
I would have said Japan was my number one choice however I am all too aware of Japanese culture. It is quite patriarchal, racist and sexist. Not really something I like. I prefer people to be equal. Although I do speak some amount of Japanese. My Japanese is probably just as good as my French. Very basic.
Anyway, I will keep you updated. Especially in June! I can't wait to start!
In the past few weeks I've seen one particular date over and over. I thought to myself, what a strange coincidence. Each time I saw today's date I was reminded of what that date used to mean to me. September 6 is the birthday of someone I knew. At one point I knew them as a best friend and at another I realized they were a bully. I couldn't be friends with a bully.
Bullies are one of the most egocentric personalities. They can be narcissistic, focusing their concerns on their own lives while disregarding all others. This sort of behaviour seems common in schools. This is probably due to the social hierarchy, forcing adolescents to socially combat each other for higher status. That combined with each adolescents' feelings of insecurity creates a ceaseless need for recognition. Some do it by getting the best grades they can, others throw themselves into the claws of their peers and still others become bullies. They harass their peers and berate their friends, all in an attempt to cure low self esteem.
Growing up is one of the hardest things to do and being an adolescent is definitely one of the most difficult times of anyone's life. Everyone must overcome challenges in order to mature into an adult and sometimes those challenges can overwhelm us to the point of surrender. To everyone out there still experiencing the horrendous reality of adolescence, I salute you. I know you have the strength to put it all behind you and become a healthy adult.
All 2009 2012 2013 2014 2015 Actor Adolescent Advent Adventure Aging Alberta Amusement Park Anger Anime Anniversary Anxiety Art Astronaut Athletes Audio Australia Author Autumn Badminton Bake Bbc Bear Beer Biological Birthday Blind Body Book Brain Busy Calm Canada Career Cartoon Castle Cat Cbc Cell Change Chart China Christmas City Clean Clothing Coffee Comment Competition Concert Conflict Contest Corporation Cosplay Culture Dance Dark Dead Death Deceit Depression Director Disaster Disney Documentary Dog Dream Drink Driving Ds Earth Earthquake Egg Election Emotion Emptiness England English Espresso Essays Exam Excited Exercise Exhibition Eye Failure Family Famous Fashion Fast Fate Father Favourite Feminine Feminist Festival Fiction Films First Fog Food France Free French Friend Fun Funny Future Gallery Game Gender Glasses Government Grammar Haiku Halloween Happiness Hate Head Health Heart Hell Hidden Hike History Holiday Homage Home Honesty Horror Hot Housewife Human Hunt India Indonesia Injury In-law Italy ITTTi Japan Jewellery Job Kanto Key KFC Knowledge Labels Lake Language Laughter Law Learn Legalize Life Liger Liquor List Loss Love Lyrics Magazine Map Marijuana Marriage Masculine Mature Meet Men Metal Metallica Metric Mie Miss Mobile Monday Money Mortality Mother Motivation Motorcycle Mountains Murder Music Nagoya Nature Nerds New Nightmare Novel Obsession Ocean Okanagan Olympics Optometrist Pagan Pandaria Panic Parents Partner Passion Past Peace People Phone Photo Pirate PKC Plane Poetry Politics Prescription President Protest Psychology PTSD Québec Queen Racism Radio Rain Reading Recipe Reincarnation Rejection Relationships Relax Release Religion Remember Rent Resolution Resort Restaurant Review Rhyme Riot Road Robot Rural Saskatchewan Scary School Science Search Service Sex Shadow Vault Short Story Simpsons Sister Skydiving Small Snow Soul South Korea Spaces Spirit Sports Spring Starcraft 2 Star Wars Station Statistics Statues Stay Stereotypes Store Story Storytime Strategy Stress Submission Success Summer Sun Sunday Survey Teach Technology Tesl Theatre Theory Throne Top10 Tour Train Training Trauma Travel Trip Trivia Troll Tunnels Tv Unknown Usa Vacation Valentine Vampire Vending Machine Video Video Games Vision Voice Waiting War Warcraft Weather Wedding Week Wine Winter Women World Wow Writer Writing Yoga Youtube