Monday, June 21, 2010


I'm heading to Japan at the end of July, for a year of teaching with the JET programme. They seem to be rather disorganised, so I'm getting tiny trickles of information about where I will be working and living. At the moment, I know I'll be in Fukushima city, in Fukushima prefecture, and working at a variety of junior high schools, and some elementary schools. There are about 70 schools in the city, and it seems that the JETs are posted to random schools for short times. This is good, as I won't need to remember names, but bad as I won't be able to build a rapport with the students.

The preparation for this move has been long, difficult and extremely busy. I finished my TESOL diploma course, after 3 years, with a final word count for all modules of: 107,069. I'm glad it is done, even though it caused me a lot of pain and stress.

I've gone paperless - scanned most of the documents, photos, and sheet music I want to keep. There's no point paying international postage for all that paper!

To raise money for the move I'm selling most of my stuff. This has been very difficult, it is hard to part with collections of things. But it has certainly opened my eyes about what is and isn't important, and my buying patterns have changed enormously because of it.

I've still yet to assemble an appropriately professional wardrobe, although I have grey skirt suit set, and some really comfortable black suit pants from Sportscraft. My plan is to hit the Camberwell secondhand shops at some point to see if I can find a matching black suit jacket and some nice shirts. I also need to find new shoes (indoor only) for wearing while teaching - I'm sure I'll be doing a load of standing and walking (and commuting between schools, but that's a different pair of shoes).

I'm not looking forward to the muggy summer in Japan. Fukushima has a very humid average of 30 degrees in summer, and 0 degrees in winter (there will be snow). Packing for a year for this is very difficult! I'm considering taking an extra suitcase and paying for the extra baggage, instead of shipping a box at a later time. I don't know which is best.

Trying to catch up with people before I move, so I'll be in the city at QV Max Brenner on Monday 28th from 4:30pm until about 8pm.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another haphazard update


It feels a lot more real now, that I am going overseas to work. My interview was a few weeks back, and although the interview was very tough and the interviewers asked some very difficult questions, I am quietly confident of being accepted. Waiting until April to find out, is rough.

Other huge and scary changes have additionally spurred me to get rid of all of my 'stuff', right now. Well, most of it, anyway. Sorting through 20+ years of accumulated stuff, noting just how much it depreciates, how it is not appreciated, how difficult it is to split shared stuff, and how much non-physical emotional weight it has, is scary. Clutter really weighs you down!

It is a liberating feeling to get rid of it. Perhaps one way to cure anyone of an addiction to consumerism, and change buying patterns for good. I had already scaled back my pack-rat tendencies substantially, but I think this is blowing away the dregs. Especially as I'm having to do this urgently, instead of spreading it out over several months. However, I will need significant help to drink through my tea collection!

The recent changes, plus increased fitness (an average of 20-25km per day when travelling!) have resulted in me dropping weight and size at an incredible rate. Many milestones reached in the last few months - out of the obese weight range, down to size 16 jeans (which are now loose, 2 weeks after I bought them!), becoming the most flexible I have ever been - all very motivating.

I am horrified at the cost of renting / share houses, the lack of availability, and the unwillingness of people and agents to accept short term 'contracts'. When did it get so difficult, inflexible, and so incredibly expensive?

Starting a second set of Japanese lessons, over Skype, is interesting - seeing how technology can be used for tutoring, is encouraging. It will be a few more weeks before I'm comfortable with this style of lesson I think - it is very different even to a private tutoring session. The extra tuition, and using Japanese with more people casually, seems to help with vocabulary retention, and with being able to understand spoken Japanese.

Saturday, January 9, 2010



Japan so far has been fantastic, I had a wonderful time at the New Years course in Fukuoka (Asahi Nihongo). Contrary to my usual nature, I enjoyed spending time with people, and wished I had put the course at the end of my trip. Travelling alone after have fun during the course is difficult!

Finally meeting my long-time email/Skype friend in Kitakyushu was lovely, and we spent a (long) day walking around Mojiko, Shimonoseki and Kitakyushu. I rushed back to Fukuoka and bought my first obi, and have simply had to go into every kimono shop I find! I had no idea that the range of kimono fabrics was so varied.

Kyoto is daunting - too many people, too large a city, and I don't feel safe walking around in the dark, unlike in Fukuoka. I've already been approached by an older (homeless?) guy who wouldn't stop talking about how awful Sydney, Australia and the English language is (in English). Kyoto is also the first place in Japan where I have seen a plastic broom - everywhere else I have been have used natural bristle brooms.

I will explore Kyoto's tourist sights over the next week, and do a few day trips - next up is catching up with more online friends!

Travel log (in progress)
Kyoto photos