In hindsight, I’m pleased I sorted out my accommodation pretty early. I haven’t had to deal with the hassle that my colleagues had to when they arrived. They hung out in the hotel because they had to. I hung out in the hotel because it was in central Yokohama and fully paid for by the company. Of course it was also an opportunity to be surrounded by people who knew me and grab a little social life in Yokohama, which was good.
That intensive training last week really got me tired. Towards the end, I was bored. We were going through policy papers and we ALL got the message. No matter what happened in our schools, we’d always consult the company and not the school to confirm permission of anything. So silly! There are funny things about the company that has given us a semi-negative perspective of the company. For one thing, we are not allowed to use a bike to travel to and fro to our schools. Obviously they’re doing it just to cover their own backs. Also, there was a mistranslation, we’re getting taxed 15% each month and part of it is because we’re posted in Yokohama. Not that I would change my mind in living in Yokohama, but I’d prefer it if I had known back in my time in London how much I was going to be taxed.
Also, we’ve been told we cannot touch the kids. Now, that’s funny because I’ve spoken to many ALTs who’ve touched kids before without getting harassed afterwards, but either my company wants us to learn about Japanese etiquette, or wants to cover their own backs yet again, it all sounds dodge. On top of that, we have to wear a suit… or business attire even if we want to access the office apparently. I don’t understand why it’s so necessary. It’s not like we are going to the office to work. We could be going there just to give in a copy of our passport, but we’d still have to look professional. Hmm, it’s all self- promotion and clever advertising, isn’t it? No!
There are other little bits about the training that I didn’t like such as the lack of new materials we could have used in our teaching practice. We had to do in pairs. We had 10 minutes to prepare them and 5 minutes to do them. It wasn’t easy as first, but soon after it did. It was good seeing other people acting highly energised and making a laughing stock of themselves. I guess this training wasn’t so bad. I mean I l had some practice and also learnt that with teaching kids the most important things to do are to always smile and praise them for what they do. We were assessed twice in our teaching practice and in the first one, I got 43 out of 50, which is good considering that I haven’t got any teaching training whatsoever. Bryan, the yank, got 27, which made him feel like shit understandably. Although, he was hardly ‘genki’ (highly energised) in the voice and his body language was monotone. Like me, he hadn’t trained primary school before, yet he was also shy. I suppose he was shy in front of a crowd too and I can’t really blame him when he had me as a partner, who was screaming on the top of her lungs, ‘HELLO EVERYBODY’ and smiling like a chimpanzee high on coke. Teaching kids won’t be easy. Even if I feel shit one day or very depressed, I can’t show those feelings to my school or else they wouldn’t learn anything.
Any other observations about my current stay in Japan so far. Contrary to popular notion that Japan are the most avid newspaper readers before the UK, I’ve haven’t seen much of that in action. On the tube, practically everyone would be raiding for the London Metro or the London Lite, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Tokyo or Yokohama so far. On the public transport, I’d see maybe one newspaper in one salary man’s hand and that’s it. Sorry, to upset you people but that is definitely how it is for me so far. I suppose I’m being too judgmental. Ok, they do read on the train, but it’s usually Manga comics or Japanese books. The salary man would spend most of his time sleeping, eyes closed or just watching Japan go by through the windows.Yet, I’ve seen younger salary man reading comics, usually of a sexual nature – No surprises there. And besides that, I’ve seen other Japanese commuters reading novels. Reading novels is big here though. They’re probably as normal as London in being too proud with their books. I’ve seen one very kind (old) woman offer me her seat with a English Penguin Classic book, which she had written all over. Other books are for students of English, which only goes to show how much the Japanese are keen to learn such a great language.
Oh another observation. The Tokyoites aren’t a laptop culture. I’ve been in coffee shops and cafés and there are no signs of a laptop besides my own. However, they do enjoy texting or sending emails on their mobile. That’s something almost habitual. I’ve seen grandpa’s with their mobiles. He he!