aWhat else? So besides the harrowing brush with death, something else happened that I thought could only happen once. I was late, again. For the girl who's never been late in her life, I was going to set a record by being late TWICE in the country that SHAMES tardiness. The first time was totally the fault of the person who wrote the directions...but the second time was probably my fault. On my very second day of teaching, I was supposed to have an early meeting before my classes. I totally forgot about said meeting. I woke up, made breakfast, and began to eat when I got a call from my supervisor.
She was like, "Where are you?" and I replied something to the effect of, "just finished eating?"
"What? Did you forget?"
"Forget what?" I said, baffled.
"The meeting. The meeting we're having right now."
Instant, insane, and complete panic. I must have thrown on clothes faster than a magician. I tossed everything in my bag and practically ran. I looked at the time. By the time I was going to make it to the meeting, it would be half over. I sighed and felt immediate resignation. Maybe it would be better if I just showed up early for my classes (to be fair, I had to show up at least 2 hours before as per the Peppy Kids Club policy, but I was always earlier than that). I was at the station, when I got another call.
"Where are you now?"
"At the station."
"Going to my classes..."
"You need to be here. Now."
"I don't know how to get there..."
At this point, she passes the phone off to another teacher whom I haven't met because she can't deal with me. I get specific instructions on how to take the bus to the school. I first have to find said bus, because it's on the other side of the station. I get on the bus, but don't know what to do since this bus is different. The bus driver glared down at me from his perch and practically ripped the ticket out of the machine to hand to me. I muttered the destination, and he just said, "Hai". My stop came and went, I tried to get him to stop just after but he adamantly refused and told me to sit down. I sat down and waited for the bus to reach it's final stop. When I was getting off, I put the money and ticket in just like I did in Nagoya - expecting change in return. However, buses in Utsunomiya have a separate change machine for this purpose. I did not know that. The moment it happened, it triggered the bus driver into an unquenchable rage. He told me what I did wrong in Japanese and I shyly muttered, "Wakarimasen?" meaning, "I don't understand". He then proceeded to yell at me in a mocking tone, "Wakarimasen!? Wakarimasen!!!" The next sentences that followed were slurs against gaijins, I understood that much. I had never been so humiliated and hurt in public. He yelled at me to get off the bus and I did. I then had to run back to the previous stop as I choked back tears. When I finally arrived at the school, I took the wrong entrance (despite the instructions saying the contrary), and found nothing but hostility. The supervisor and my fellow teachers were cold. She took every opportunity to either ignore me, or belittle me. In fact, she soured every opportunity I had at a friendship in that circle. And every subsequent meeting she would remark on how I was, "finally on time" and "not like that other time when I was incredibly late".
When the awful, awful meeting ended, I found out there were no buses back at that time and I had classes to teach. I practically ran. Turned out, it was about a 45 minute walk. Ugh. When I finally made it back to the station, I saw some of my fellow teachers. They actually turned their backs on me and walked away. Then I noticed the station seemed very busy. I try to pay attention to the announcements before I finally take out my phone and find out all of the trains have been delayed to Utsunomiya. Now I was screwed again. I was going to be late to check in for my classes. I called head office and informed them the trains weren't running. They said just wait in the station and keep them informed. It took about an hour before the trains were back, and the train ride to school was about 45 minutes as well. I let head office know my situation, and they resignedly asked me to "try my best to be on time" and let me know it would still be considered my fault if I was late. Circumstances were apparently irrelevant. I spent the whole train ride prepping to run out of the doors when it stopped. And that's what I did. I practically flew by the man taking tickets, although he seemed unfazed - perhaps even found it amusing. I literally made it to the school within a minute of my deadline. I raced to the phone and called in. Head office was mildly impressed, and commented that I must have ran.
The next day was the earthquake. Truly, the week from hell.
Well, thank you so much for reading! If you like, I've made a gallery of photos from Nagoya! Ciao!
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.
Hello everyone! I know it's been ages since I've blogged, so I've decided to give you a little update.
I moved to Japan August 16 to teach English. I trained in Nagoya for two weeks, then moved to my placement the first of September. I'm now living in Utsunomiya, Tochigi and I've finished a week of teaching. It's been a week from Hell (more like WEEKS from Hell)! Luckily, it can only get better (I hope).
I will be updating the blog when I can, but for now all the time I can afford is this little post. I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences, and photos! So please look forward to many updates to come!
Thank you for reading!
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.
In my previous post I mentioned being grilled by a Japanese company for a position as an ESL teacher. I've been in constant contact with a representative from the company and after completing a questionnaire, essay and grammar test, along with submitting two references, and a copy of my degree and passport - I finally have an answer. While it is conditional on submitting a third reference, the representative told me she is 99.99% certain she was going to hire me. She wants me to start looking for flights to Toronto for orientation day. My tentative start date is August 18. I told her I would be more comfortable with waiting until it was official. I won't have the third reference until next week, so at least it gives me some time.
Time? Time for what? Well, last Friday (April 4) I had an interview with another possible employer who hires in Quebec (technically a government job). The interview was really successful - it was comfortable, I answered the questions professionally and there was chemistry with the interviewer. He said he would give me an excellent recommendation but it was ultimately up to the employer in Quebec whether they wanted to hire me or not. It's for a position as a language assistant and it would be very similar to the Japanese job. They'll take longer to reply with an answer so I'm hoping that I hear back from them before I send in my third reference, and confirm my position with the Japanese employer. If I was offered a position in Quebec, it might change my mind. Staying in Canada and learning French has other advantages.
While that's going on, I received an e-mail yesterday from yet another employer. I applied for a media relations/communications job months ago, and finally I hear back with: "After an initial review of your application, you are currently in the group of remaining candidates being considered". I just stared at those words. Then they asked me to complete a 40+ minute questionnaire. What is with employers and questionnaires? Anyway, I thought, why not? So I completed the questionnaire, and now I'm waiting to hear back. Yeah - that's right - three potential employers all at once. I didn't see this coming.
I've spent months and months scouring around for a job. Applying to as many as I could and hearing only negative responses in return. I was beginning to think that I was un-hirable. I was actually settling in with that attitude - thinking about completely throwing myself in to my writing and forgetting about a conventional job. Which was a painful concept to accept since being broke sucks. You still need money to subsist as a writer. Now I'm suddenly in a position with at least one guaranteed job and a possibility of two others. If I do hear back from either or both, then I honestly don't know what I'll do.
Each job has its positives and negatives, and they're all in different places. One in Japan, one in Quebec and one locally. While I will be confronted with some difficult decisions, I also know that I've wanted to live in Japan ever since I was a little girl. I've been in love with Japanese culture for as long as I can remember. This is a dream opportunity that may never knock again. I could say the same about the Quebec opportunity but the reality is I may never have the chance to work in Japan again. The only thing really holding me back is the trusted words of my third reference. It's my Japanese professor from university - we met again last year at my boyfriend's work Christmas party. It was like fate. Anyway, she said her friend worked for the same company and had a really negative experience. I'm waiting to hear back why she had problems - if it was related to the employer directly in some way, I may have to reconsider.
Anyway, I clearly have some upcoming decisions. Either way, things will change in a big way. What's really exciting, is that I'll have the opportunity to share my experiences with my readers. For now, it's a wait-and-see game.
Update time! What have I been up to? Goodness gracious, these past few days have been interesting. Well, perhaps not so much interesting as they have been stressful. When it rains, it pours.
On Thursday (March 20) I received several e-mails in regards to applications I've sent out. Let's go back in time for a moment - I've been applying for teaching jobs in Japan since September. I haven't heard anything positive until recently. I spent a long time painstakingly re-writing my cover letter and even more painstakingly writing two separate essays. Essays - what for, you ask? Well, it turns out that pretty much every Japanese company hiring foreign teachers requires an essay as part of the application. So I poured my best efforts into writing two excellent essays. I sent them off along with my resume and cover letter, then prepared not to hear back. I almost immediately heard back from one company. They asked me to attend a group interview where I would present a 30 minute lesson plan - then maybe a personal interview.
I flinched. Okay, fine. I can do that. I can come up with material and what-not for a lesson plan. Then I noticed the deal breaker - they want me to attend an interview in Ontario. For the curious, that's about 3500 km away from where I presently reside (~2100 miles). That means spending almost $1000 to go for the *chance* at an interview. Not to mention the inevitable plane trip to Japan - the company doesn't pay for that either. I sighed heavily. Of course. Bad news is always disguised as good news. To my chagrin, the second Japanese company was also interested, but also required a trip 3500 km away. Apparently this is a common thing for Japanese companies hiring ESL teachers. They typically have a recruiting center in a few major cities and don't see the need to accommodate anyone outside of the area. They have the luxury of being that picky.
What does it mean for me? Well, I won't be working for either of them - that's for sure. I very politely declined their offer for an interview, then sat back and banged my head against the desk. So much for that. Despite those obstacles, I have applied to 2 more Japanese companies. Guess what? I did that Friday (March 21) and got a phone call on Friday. A very pleasant and friendly woman greeted me, letting me know she was interested in my application. I spoke to her again yesterday (24) - she confirmed that she's interested in hiring me. Then she started listing off things I need to do. I need to write a grammar test, write an essay, fill out a questionnaire, send in copies of my passport and degree, and send her 3 reference letters. Not to mention an official interview and orientation in Toronto - if I even get that far. Sigh.
Does it ever end? Jump through this hoop. Jump through that hoop. Now do it backwards. Now have someone record you doing it with commentary. Oh did I forget to mention that she wants it within the week? Well - that's clearly impossible. The best I can do is next week. Which is fine - however it will push back travel dates (if I get the job).
Besides that jumbled mess of nonsense. I've also heard back from another interested employer. I've received an e-mail and official letter giving me an interview time for a position as a language assistant. It wouldn't be in Japan, but actually across the country, in either Quebec or New Brunswick. Both of those provinces are largely francophone so they require English teachers. More specifically, T.A.'s. Despite being within the country, the distance exceeds 4000 km (~2500 miles). One thing is for sure, the culture would be vastly different from where I live now. Alberta is known as "oil country" since the "tar sands" are the biggest contributor to the economy. Whereas Quebec is known for their maple syrup.
I would love to live across the country. I've never been that far east and at least I would still be in Canada. There are a lot of positives to that. I'm really looking forward to my interview. Unfortunately, my French isn't that fantastic, but I don't think that's what matters. I'm enthusiastic, friendly and enjoy teaching. Besides, if none of these things pan out - I still have 2 other companies I'm keeping on the back burner. One in Spain and one in France. Negatives: they don't pay well, I'd live with a strange family, and I'm not Catholic.
Anyway, now you can understand why I've been super busy. I have a strong desire to update Shadow Vault however with these latest events taking precedence, it's been increasingly difficult. Besides complicated job applications, I had serious back pain last week which prevented me from writing. Not to mention with April coming up, I have 6 birthdays to prepare for. What the hell? That's almost everyone I know.
So where does that leave Shadow Vault? I will do my absolute best to update it this week, if only in fear of not knowing when I'll have the time to update next. Besides that, please wish me luck on my job search. It's fucking impossible out there.
A few of my readers have asked me about the status of My Left Eye and I realized that I haven't updated since March. I would have expected my eye to stop flashing by now because according to the opthamologist it should have been gone a long time ago. Yet, it still flashes sometimes. Not all the time and sometimes it's subtle, but it still happens.
I realize that after this period of time, that perhaps I need to speak with my doctor again. Somehow I have a feeling that it shouldn't still be happening. Clearly my eye is not detached (after thorough investigation) but perhaps it is something else. I only wish I knew.
For the time being, I will think about scheduling an appointment. I don't want to waste my time again only for some specialist to say it will go away on its own.
On an unrelated note, it's very likely that I will be moving to Japan!
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!
I jumped from a plane today! That's right, out of choice.
My sister and I have been thinking about skydiving for years. We finally decided to do it about three weeks ago. We made the reservation and next thing I know, the day is today and we're in a plane.
We drive out to the place, it's almost an hour out of town. I had already went to the bathroom about 6 times but of course, I needed to go again. So my sister and I rushed off to the bathroom before checking in. After that, we filled out waivers and watched a short orientation video on jumping and landing.
Then off to get ready. We meet our instructors. My sister's? A man about her height (she's 5'11") and not only an experienced jumper but also a pilot. What's my sister? A pilot. Skydiving was the next logical step apparently.
My tandem instructor? A tall, Danish man with over 4000 jumps under his belt. I felt like I was in very safe hands. Although he didn't let on he was experienced until much later. He certainly liked to play up some very dark humour while the plane was climbing, I digress.
Sig (my instructor) picked out a jumpsuit and helped me into the harness. At one point he asked me to spread my legs so he could tighten the harness around my crotch. Then he stood and adjusted the ones around my chest. That was all very intimate but of course absolutely necessary. I want it as tight as possible - I'm pretty sure that's the point.
After a brief explanation on the harness and what to expect, we meet our videographers and head out to the field. It's not only the two videographers, instructors, my sister and I, but three professional skydivers. Each one had their own custom jumpsuit and chute. One guy had a purple jumpsuit with the golden lettering, "Curious Chris" (a Curious George reference, no doubt).
The little plane starts up. The propeller whirrs loudly. They set up a little ladder to get inside the large bay door but it's quite steep and very windy, so I require the assistance of my instructor in order to get into the plane. I get inside and sit down, straddling a sort of long bench. A clear shutter is brought down, blocking the large exit and we start going down the runway. I haven't had any time in small planes, so the take off is quite different from a large plane. Of course, my sister is used to even smaller planes than this one, so she handles it like a pro the whole way up.
The ground shrinks away. The climbing is steep and takes a long time. My sister chats up the people around her easily, talking about learning to be a pilot and her flying experience. I watch the view, I can't help but enjoy the plane ride itself. Sig points out familiar landmarks. It was like having a tour guide, I really enjoyed that. I look at my videographer's wrist and see the altimeter rising. We're getting closer to our altitude.
Finally, we reach 12, 500 feet. The giant, clear shutter is opened up and all that's left is sky. The professional solo divers go first. I watch them. Two men and a woman. I can't believe they just did that. My videographer climbs out on to the bar, waiting for me to come out. My instructor helps march me to the door. I crouch, like taught, and look out. Oh god. My instructor reminds me to cross my arms over my chest and look at the camera guy.
Scariest moment of my entire life.
I scream. Apparently my sister says she can hear me scream after I jump (she jumps after me). I want to scream more but there's so much air filling my mouth that I can't dispel any. Instead I look around me. Holy fuck. Everything is so far and beautiful. A perspective I've never had. The weather is perfect, absolutely perfect. Not a cloud in sight and it's warm, and I'm falling. Actually falling. I can feel gravity pulling me down. The view is so awe inspiring that I don't know how to feel but to be amazed. I actually flail around a bit, kicking my legs and such - only because I'm so excited that I don't know how to express myself (since I can't talk).
Then he pulls the chute. We instantly shoot up into the sky. It was at that moment that I realized how fast we were falling because I watched as the videographer fell to the Earth like a comet. I was frightened for his life!
The first thing that happens when he pulls the chute is my legs fly up like I'm sitting. The same thing happened to my sister. The force is so great that it sucks you up.
That's when you really get to enjoy the view. Wow. I've never seen anything like that. All I could say was, "Wow" mostly. My instructor was holding on to the...oh gosh, what's the word? Well, they're handles that control the parachute. He asked me, "would you like to hold them?" I said, "sure!" Next thing I know, I'm steering the parachute! We did a couple 360s for fun (with his help of course)! Wow! So fun!
Finally, it was time for the landing. He brought us in easily and we landed softly. He unhooked me and I jumped up, incredibly excited. My first words, "I want to do it again!"
Obviously, I had the time of my life. I feel like a whole new person. Would I recommend? Oh yes I fucking would.
P.S. What did I wear? I wore my green Paris, France t-shirt my father bought when he was there years ago. I thought it was the perfect symbol.
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