Will You Marry Me?

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So today I can tick ‘destroying the hopes and dreams of a 9 year old girl’ off the bucket list after causing the biggest scene yet of my teaching career.

I was eating kyuushoku 給食 (school lunch) with with my 3年生 (3rd grade) students, casually chatting with them in basic Japanese as I do every week.
One of them was one of my favorite students a cute little genki thing I shall call chisa for the purpose of this story.

Frequently students will ask me questions like how old are you? what are your favourite foods/hobbies/sports, where do you live, occasionally though i get the are you married question.

This was what I thought I was being asked by Chisa-chan, to which I responded muri muri 無理 無理 (impossible), the girl burst into tears and ran from the room despite the calls from her classmates and teacher.
Completely perplexed as to what was going on the other students began to scornfully repeat hidoi hidoi 酷い (cruel) as if they were telling me off.

As I was pondering as to what had just happened, the English teacher pulled me aside and said ‘gomen Daniel-sensei, her parents are divorce recently’. It was then I realized my misunderstanding, what she had asked me was not, ‘kekkon shiteimasu ka’ 結婚していますか (Are you married?) but ‘anata wa itsuka watashi to kekkon shimasu ka’ あなたはいつか私と結婚しいますか (Will you marry me one day?)

Sigh what can I say, must be the epic movember tash I’m rocking that’s making me irresistible to women (even if their only 9) ( ̄◇ ̄;)

What The Hell Is Thanksgiving?

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Ok so I’m an Australian, we don’t tend to really get into most European holidays let alone American ones.
So my knowlage of Thanksgiving is that it’s got something to do with Indians, turkey and maybe candy corn……
Now I’d heard that Japanese people tend to assume all gaijin are American but had yet to experience it before today.

Conversation 10 minutes before class with ES sensei who speaks very little English.
OTE: Daniel Sensei, today Thanksgiving yes.
Me: Yeah I guess, but…..
OTE: (cutting me off? Today class change Thanksgiving shoukai OK?
Me: But I’m Australian not American and I have a lesson planned based on this weeks grammar point.
OTE: Ahhhh sou desu, Australia Thanksgiving class ok. Byebye. (Runs out of the staff room)

FML (−_−;)

Today’s Elementary School Highlights

-Spending soji 掃除 (cleaning time) in a spartan gladiator battle to the death using taiko drums and sticks with three 10 yr olds.

-Having an entire go-nensei 五-年生 (5th graders) sabotage a class where the grammar point was ‘Do you like ~~~?’ by the lot of them asking nothing but ‘Do you like penis?’.

-Being challenged at, engaging in and failing miserably at a mouth capacity competion,with a the resident fat kid using terrible kyuushoku bread.

– And I saved the best for last, whilst playing ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf?’ with yon-nensei 四-年生 (4th graders) I had one little darling hump the sheep when he caught them after yelling ‘dinner time’.
I informed him he must be from New Zealand…… He didn’t get it, not that I expected him to XD

-Daniel out (^∇^)

Return of The Jikoshoukai 自己紹介

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Having completed 28 Jikoshoukai 自己紹介 (self introduction) classes since my arrival in Japan it’s easy to see why I have developed a certain distaste for them.

When I first arrived I spent 2 days straight on my computer creating this 60 slide long (One Piece themed) masterpiece introducing myself and my country to my students.
What I ended up with was a 50minute long theatrical journey through Australia’s history and culture featuring singing, terrible Japanese and even taste testing!

My chuugakko 中学校 (junior high) version is fully digital, where as I toned down the scale and complexity of it for my shougakko’s 小学校, simply printing and laminating the slides.
These lessons require an astronomical amount of genki and motivation on my part as I usually bring the genk to the table and end-up singing a duet (always Queen) with the OTE by the end of each class.

Arriving at my Thursday shougakko I discovered that apparently there was one 4年生 (4th grade) class that had somehow slipped through the cracks and been fortunate enough to avoid a class with me up until now!
I slowly came to the realization that god forbid, what my OTE was implying was that I would need to do yet another jikoshokai lesson this afternoon ( ;´Д`)

Just returning from the, it was actually went a lot smoother then I was expecting, perhaps in my mind the thought of Jikoshoukai was just slightly jaded after repeating it so very often before natsuyasumi.
Alas here’s to not having to do another one until April wewwwww \(^o^)/

My JET Program 2012 Melbourne Interview Experience + Bonus Advice

This is going to be a long long longpost!!!!!!!!
So today was the day of my ALT JET Program interview at the Melbourne consulate and honestly things couldn’t have gone better, no surprises Melbourne’s weather lived up to its notoriety with it being 35 degrees but also storming in the afternoon with insanely heavy flash rain!

So I’ll talk about what I did to prepare for the interview a little later on, but I’ll first recap what i did to get into the right state of mind in the morning, I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time relaxing before my interview rather than cramming since iv been working at it for weeks and to be fair if I didn’t know what I wanted to say on the morning of the interview revising wouldn’t help!

– I woke up really early as I couldn’t sleep due to nerves

– Had a high fibre breakfast

– Played with my pug Fuji for a while.

– Swam 50 laps in my pool.

– Had a shave and shower.

– SUITED UP!

– Verbally went through all 30 or so questions I had thought up extended answers to in a mock interview pretending my interview panel was this kitsune mask on my wall.

I was lucky enough that my brother offered to take me to my interview, usually I wouldn’t ask but it was 35 degrees and the last thing i wanted to do was sit an hour on a bus/train/tram in the heat on the way to the consulate. I arrived super early (like 2 hours) as I wanted to be 100% sure that even in the worst case scenario I wouldn’t be late however no such thing occurred so I waited until around 45min before to actually enter the consulate as not to appear too keen.

The waiting room was nothing like what I was expecting based on things I had read in forum posts and blogs, no JET aluminum to talk to, no cheesy JET program video. I guess there a US/UK thing……..

Basically just a desk in the consulates library with a jug of water on the table, there were no bonuses for arriving early unless the lady at the desk was noting my check in time.

They were doing 3 interviews at a time in separate rooms with half an hour for each. Also I didn’t notice any body walking out of the interview shaking or anything, everyone had a smile on their face which was very reassuring and it was very comforting to see everyone had had similar experiences preparing for the interview.
There was one Japanese looking girl sitting in the waiting room when I arrived, I tried my best to chat to her, but she was very quiet and answered all my questions with short one word answers.
As the awkwardness grew progressively thicker my imagination began to run wild as I got this sneaking suspicion that she was some sort of spy from the consulate to see if we would make small talk when put in a room with a stranger. Eventually I realized I was perhaps just on the paranoid side of things XD
As her interview was half an hour before mine she was soon off and replaced by the other 2 applicants who were to be interviewed alongside me, luckily these guys were a lot more chatty and we got along just fine discussing the painful ordeal that is ‘JET Program Interview Hell’, even shouted to each other がんばれ as we headed in.
Keeping consistent with everything iv read about the Australian interview process it seems like we really do get it easy, par usual there was a former JET participant,a consulate employee and a native Japanese speaker who was incredibly friendly but whose job now escapes me.
There was no 3 meter void between myself and the panel, I was simply seated on the other side of a regular desk and they didn’t play was good cop, bad cop with me either and they all seemed to be genuinely interested in me and what I had to say.
I’m thinking I might just utilize a couple of these fantastic web-comics from this series called ‘Life After the B.O.E.’ in future posts,
which are all about life on the JET Program(me).
They are done by a former JET CIR named David Namisato.
If your interested check them all out here:
Honestly the entire interview was an absolute blur but here’s the questions that I remember:
– Tell us a little about yourself, why do you want to do the JET Program?
– How will JET fit into your career goals?
– What would you include if you were to present Australian at a local cultural fair?
– Would you be happy to sing karaoke in front of your co-workers at an enkai?
 (I said i love singing even though i am terrible at it, then i asked them if they would like me to sing, the consulate employee said ‘sure please sing a song you would sing to primary school children’, I had been practising ‘heads and shoulders, knees and toes’ for weeks ^_^ However I also came with backup plans, if they had asked me to sing a song that would be appropriate for highschool I had prepared to sing ‘Hot n’ Cold by Katy Perry as it would be good to teach opposites, and I had ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ memorized like a boss in case a cultural song was asked of me)
– What do you know about current social issues in Japan?
– So I see you picked Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture do you have some attachment to these places?
– What if you are put in an inaka placement, how will you cope?
– Tell us some of your strengths? What is your greatest weakness?
– What would you do if the JTE made an obvious English error during a class?
– A couple questions in nihon-go about myself.
– Do you have any questions for us?
At the end of the interview they asked me to re-fill out my medical forms as apparently the second page of it had mysteriously gone missing, I totally impressed them by saying well I can actually do one better, I brought along a copy of my application so here it is a copy of the original =P
Then they we had a chat about me being allergic to oysters and how I will need a doctors certificate to bring an eppipen into Japan, then i jokingly asked to please not be put in a town where oysters are the regional speciality (which is Hokkaido) as I might die of anaphylaxis!
Now I’ll tell you a little about how I prepared for the interview…….
As I mentioned in my previous post ever since i got back from holidays over new years I have been spending a couple of hours a day revising pretty much every single conceivable potential question I could think up and find on the internet.
I had so many amazing answers to questions that I worked on and practised over and over for hours, unfortunately I didnt get asked most of them as there’s only so much time in that room but here are a couple extra that you might want to prepare for that I didn’t get asked but others did:
– Why do you want to teach in Japan and not Korea or China?
– What 3 Items would you bring to represent Australia?
– What would you do if a child was misbehaving in class?
– How would you deal with inappropriate questions from a student?
– What do you know about the Japanese school system?
– What things do you know about Japan?
– What would you say if a student asked you about whaling?
Now I am very fortunate in that I have a job where quite often I find myself with very very little to do but sit around and look pretty for much of the day, so I have been dedicating this immense amount of downtime to studying up profusely,after almost 2 months of this I ended up filling up 2 whole work books with potential questions and answers.
Do you really need to work as hard as I did?? Probably not…… a lot of people probably get in who didn’t but at the end of day if you really want to be a JET participant isn’t it worth the effort?
The absolute best resource you can utilize is jumping on the JET Forums, now there’s the official one http://www.jetprogramme.org/forums/ however I very much preferred I Think I’m Lost (ITIL) http://www.ithinkimlost.com/.
I have used it daily since I started my SoP last year and users are more than happy to help with every step of the JET application process.
DON’T JUST LURK!! JOIN THE COMMUNITY!!
Just a note though that forum has a 1337ist vibe and theres a couple moderators that seem to take pleasure in ripping on weeaboo’s.
Also if your reading this looking for interview tips, although I have tried mybest don’t discount  google(ing) every conceivable mash up of JET Interview kinda search terms you can think of ‘eg. Melbourne JET Program Interview 2012’, you will be amazed at the amount of helpful blogs(like this one ^_^) you will stumble upon.
IF YOU HAVE READ THIS FAR…….. THE CAKEIS A LIE!
and now its finally time to get insanely drunk, get on with life and forget all those interview questions I have been cramming my brain full of for the past few months wewwwww

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!!!