After a whirlwind of new experiences, it was time for some formal training. We were up at the crack of dawn ready to storm the beaches, office attire equipped and hair done up. Our first days of orientation involved introductions from different company representatives and reminding us that this would not be easy. They compared it to hell. They smiled, and we laughed, but we were mistaken - it wasn't a joke. The President of the company graced us with a brief introduction. He was an older Japanese man that didn't speak a word of English, and was accompanied by a translator, another man in the company. He asked us who we thought the top 3 private TESL schools were in the country. Interestingly, the top 2 had invited me for interviews, but I declined (it was 3,500 km away). This is when we found out PKC was the top 3 company for teaching English in Japan AND they had the same number of schools as KFC had restaurants. He was incredibly enthusiastic about this fact, and before he left we all recited in unison our new creed, "Otsukaresama desu!". It's essentially a formal way of thanking someone for their good work. We were sternly instructed to say it every time we saw a co-worker, started or ended a phone call with the office, and at meetings. It was a sign of respect. (However, it eventually became a tireless mantra that seemed to lose all meaning.) Each day we were up early, and each night we came home late - then everyone tried to relax/study in the wee hours, leaving maybe 4 hours for sleep. The first few days were learning how to deal with emergencies, and filling out incident reports. Then came the really brutal days - trying to learn the curriculum and teach it to students.
Back in 2014 I moved to Japan and had the experience of a lifetime. I was all set to be an English teacher, and ready to move to my first big Japanese city, Nagoya. It's located in the Aichi prefecture in central Japan. I spent a hot and humid August training, teaching, and exploring in the "peaceful" city.
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.
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