Figured I take a moment to gratefully acknowledge the legions who are apparently reading a site that had no intention of gaining a following. In addition to the comments which you, fearless reader, can make at the bottom of each entry, I’ve been getting some email. Here we go.
First, from Jon. He asks a lot of good questions, so my responses will be intercalated:
I’m a graphic designer, but I haven’t found any work here in the past few months. I wanted to see Japan and live in entirely new surroundings, NOVA didn’t sound like it would be impossible, and did the interview and got in.
I’m really curious, do you still enjoy working for them?
In a word: yes. Originally, I wasn’t going to say much more than that, but since students who give one-word answers to open-ended questions tick me off, I’ll give you a bit more.
There are frustrations that go along with every job. But the work at Nova is so intuitive, it’s easy to see how some teachers turn their work at Nova into their life. The approach that works for me is to treat it as a means to an end. When the final bell sounds at 9:00, I leave boring lessons and boring students at the school.
Plus, talking to students is a great way to get questions you have about Japan answered. They just may not understand you.
Do you have time to enjoy any of the holidays or see any cool shrines or good places for photography?
Sure. Currently, I haven’t been doing much on my weekends except work overtime, in an attempt to save money for several upcoming visitations from friends and family. It is frustrating, though, when you want to check out some celebration or event and you can’t because you’re working.
When you moved there, how was your living situation? No one mentions their first roomate in any of the blogs. I’m nervous because I’m bringing my laptop and my video cameras, are the rooms fairly safe? Can you switch roomates with other people?
My first two roommates were a Brit and a Aussie. The Aussie left two months after, and I moved to Hiroo about two weeks after that. They were both good gents to live with, and I still grab a drink every once in a while with the Brit.
The rooms have doors but no locks, so you wind up trusting people you’ve never met. I haven’t heard any stories about kleptomaniacal roomies, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there were. It’s just one of those risks that you take when you move here. Even though the crime rates in Japan are on the rise, they’re far, far lower than in the U.S. If you’re really worried, it’s probably a good idea to not announce to your roomies the $5000 camera you brought from the States.
Also, when you arrived, are the locations mostly in suburban areas? There’s no way to choose where you want to wind up right? Where are some cool locations to work?
You will be living in the ‘burbs, if you go for a Nova apartment. They’re all at least 30 minutes from Tokyo, and often further. There’s no rule that says you have to live in a Nova apartment. If your heart beats for the urban Tokyo lifestyle, go for it. A Web search for “gaijin houses” will get you going in the right direction.
Where you want to work depends on where you wind up living. I’ve done the ultra-brief commute, living a 10-minute walk from my school, and I’ve done the traditional Japanese commute, 80 minutes and two trains. Without question, the long commute sucks necrotized donkey testicles. But you shouldn’t have to deal with that unless it’s self-imposed.
Cool places to work depend on your working style. Do you want a breakneck pace to your day, or do you want a school where you’ll be on a first-name basis with every housewife and salaryman who comes through the door? If you can handle the heat, Shinjuku or Ikebukkuro are the busiest schools around. Heck, they’re probably two of the busiest English schools in the world.
Ebisu is a cool place to be, but it’s not as busy as the ‘Juk or ‘Buk. Other good places whose busy-ness I can’t vouch for would be Ginza, Hibiya, Akihabara, Yokohama, Minato or Takadanobaba.
Hope this has answered your questions.
And now for something completely different – here’s Tween:
The NekoBasu(from Studio Ghibli’s release of “My Neighbor Totoro/Tonari no Totoro”, an anime movie) is used at the BurningMan. If you don’t know about the
BurningMan, or Totoro, get a search engine! =D
Tween is referring to this photo, from my trip to Burning Man last summer.
I won’t mock Tween any more than necessary, since he obviously doesn’t know how to take a thorough look at a Web site before sending off rude little missives. Since Tween brought up the subject, my commentary on Burning Man is available here. (Which is really just me trying out the PermaLinks.)