Christmas Pug Board

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I have a certain affinity for pugs, perhaps because I’m missing my one Fuki-san that I left back in Australia. I frequently sneak pugs into my lesson plans and all my students know the Fuji’s name.
This is the Christmas version of my English board featuring ‘Fuji-clause’ seems to be a hit with my kids!! ^_^

The Scary Door

You are entering the vicinity of an area adjacent to a location. The kind of place where there might be a monster, or some kind of weird mirror. These are just examples; it could also be something much better. Prepare to enter: The Scary Door.

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With Halloween approaching I decided to switch the front door of my apartment from ‘Pug Door’ to ‘(Spooky) Pug Door’. We don’t celebrate Halloween down under so I thought I might jump on the bandwagon now that I live in the orient, oh how I love Daiso (^ω^)

Jet Program Interview Notification!!!!

やった!!!!!!!!!

wewwwwwwww!!!! I just received a letter in the post from the Japanese consulate stating that I passed the first stage of the screening process for the 2012 JET Program and have been offered an interview in February!!!!! As it is my birthday tomorrow I consider this the best birthday present I could ever wish for (that said the Canon EOS 600D I got is pretty flippin sweet!!).

I’v been having nightmares for weeks now that I would receive a rejection letter so it certainly comes as a relief now I can focus solely on preparing for the interview, in fact I feel as though I am almost ready for it since I have spent the last 3 weeks revising past interview questions, crafting and memorizing ideal responses and pretty much intensely researching as much about Japan as possible in preparation.

Participating in the JET program has been a dream I have aspired to for many years now so it all feels quite surreal to finally be facing the interview, I worked harder than I have on anything else in my entire life on that application and to be honest I never thought for a moment that I wouldn’t be offered an interview, which is why I jumped straight into preparing for it after the new year!!

Anyway one hurdle down, now back to studying ^____^

I leave you with the saddest pug in the world

JET Program 2012 Pay Scale and Tax Changes

So finally today there was some clarification from CLAIR about the changes to the remuneration for JET Programme participants in 2012.
These changes have been the subject of fierce debate and speculation on the JET Program and ITIL forums over the past few months since the sliding pay scale and pre-tax remuneration was announced around a month ago when the applications were released.

Here is the news on the official JET Program website……. sadly it’s not the good kind of news
http://jetprogramme.org/e/news/remuneration_change.html

Basically in short the JET Program pipe dream is over with new participants receiving a hefty pay cut as of next year…… which would include me v_v

Up until now, the yearly remuneration for JET Programme participants has been set at approximately 3.6 million yen post-tax.

As of 2012 the new sliding scale will pay will be as follows
3.36m million yen for the first appointment,
3.6m yen for the second appointment,
3.9m yen for the third appointment and
3.96m yen for those appointed for a fourth and fifth year.

See this would be fine and all since it costs contracting organizations a huge amount of money to get new JET’s so its in their best interest to encourage participants to re-contract and this system I believe would work.
My issue is that this pay scale rather than being AFTER TAX like it used to be is now going to be BEFORE TAX!!
Now the tax system in Japan is a tad complicated since it comprises of Income Tax (10%), Local inhabitants tax  (varies by prefecture but around 10%) and JET participants are required to pay a compulsory pension & national insurance which is about  40,000 yen a month.
What will the final post tax pay, well that’s still up in the air and I’m sure will differ from person to person

What really annoys me is that due to a tax treaty American ALTs will be exempt from Japanese tax where as first year, non-U.S.-ALT JETs will need to pay tax out of their 3.36million per year

and the reasons for these changes……
What is the reason for the change in remuneration? (Quoted from http://jetprogramme.org)
-To provide incentive for participants who
are appointed for more than one term.
-To reduce the financial burden for contracting
organisations and to reduce the complicated
administrative procedures when calculating
a post-tax remuneration.

Basically the JET Program is trolling us

Maybe they could try saving a little money by cutting some of the extravagant all expenses paid conferences that are held every year instead if things are that tight, at the end of the day where this pay cut is a drop of water to a government organization it is very substantial to the average JET applicant. 
I  think this initial pay cut may be due to the lack in government funding due to the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. However I am just happy they decided not to put the JET Program on the chopping block which has been rumoured for years. But hey I’m sure this year will be much easier to get into as a result, surely the pay cut will be to deter at least a couple applicants.


Personally, as long as I have a couple 100$ extra to send home every month to service my mortgage I’ll be content, I’m not in JET for the money, I’m applying because it seems like an organic step in my life to achieve my aspirations. JET for me is the stepping stone I have dreamed of for half a decade, so am I disheartened by this news? Not in the least, I’ll be in Japan soon enough! がんばって!

Anyway I’m off, since it was Halloween yesterday here’s a cosplaying Nyanpug!!!


The JET Program Application: Putting It All Together

Oh Haizzzzzzzz,
So I thought I might go into my experience in preparing my JET Program application thus far. Anyone who is applying or ever has applied before will tell you this is certainly a  less than exhilarating ordeal.
There are 2 different positions avalible to Australia applicants which are either ALT or CIR, I will be applying for the ALT position as to be a CIR  applicants must be fluent in both English an Japanese. Overall most JET’s are ALT’s with around 10% in the CIR position.
Also note I will be discussing the Australian application process, however since there is generally only a few difference in the process from country to country this will certainly still be useful to aspiring applicants from the US/UK/Canada/etc.
Basically it comprises of around 9 parts depending on your circumstances, I believe the gruelling amount of paperwork that is required of the aspiring JET’s applicant is not simply the result of the Japan being the crazy bureaucratic nation that it is, but is in fact the first hurdle to prove applicants are not total no0bs, have some grasp of English grammar and can follow the complex instructions that the application demands.
To add injury to the wound, Australian applicants are required to submit 3 copies of the entire application for god knows what reason, all which must be meticulously arranged and ordered without the use of any staples!
Anyway this is the check-list iv taken from the 2012 Australian application.
Documents:
l) Application Form
2) Self Assessment Medical Report
3) Statement of Purpose (Essay) 
Typed, single-sided, doubled-spaced on A4 paper, not exceeding two pages.
4) Letters of Reference from two referees
5) Certified academic transcript of all tertiary courses

6) Certified copy of degree testamur
7) Certified document which shows your nationality

Although these forms came out less than a week ago I have been working on mine for the last 2 months or so. Would that be as I’m on the neurotic side of things….. perhaps, but as application forms are  usually 99% the same it’s fairly safe to use last years forms to get a head start on your application.
Arguably the most important part will be you SoP (Statement of Purpose) which is an essay of sorts in which you will be essentially required to sell your soul to JET in around 700 words , the Australian question for quite sometime has been as follows:
“If you were successful in your application, what particular goals would you like to achieve, and what specific contributions do you think you could make in your position as a CIR or ALT?”
How long did I spend on my SoP, well im actually still working on it and its now in its 23rd inception, luckily for me I have 2 very good friends I work with, one a writer, the other an editor, having them proofread my SoP again and again along with sending it off to current JET’s I have met in the ITIL forum for proofreading it’s really started to shine. With such a tight word limit every sentence has to have a purpose and a reason for existing. I know many applicants write theirs in a night and some are even accepted, for me however i have spent dozens and dozens of hours tweaking it here and there. Will I ever be happy with it, well in certainly proud of what I have written, but content with it…… well that’s ultimately the question.
Acronyms
JET – Japanese Exchange and Teaching
ALT – Assistant Language Teacher
CIR – Coordinator for International Relations
NEXT TIME ON NIHONOMOM….
I am delicious!!!!
Oh by the way you will soon come to learn I have a thing for pugs and think I might just end my posts with them from now on, so to begin with this is my bastard of a dog Fuji, omnomnomnomnom