The title of this entry is a lot more boring than what rubbish I would usually make up, but I have a lot I’d like to write and not a lot of time as I’m disgracefully already tired at 11:30PM. I’d also like to point out that I may very well be risking my job everytime I write a blog entry, because I seem to remember stuff in training and in our manuals about not giving away AEON secrets and also one about not badmouthing the company. I’ll try not to do any of those explicitly, but I’m sure they’ll turn up on a semi-regular basis. But who cares? I’m not going to stop my mad blogging, and you’re not going to stop reading. Why? Because the internet is a good way to kill time in-between sleeping sessions, that’s why.
I’ll be honest, I won’t be able to cover all my sweet stories, observations, and complains in this one entry. It’s been what, almost a week since I posted anything of substance? I’m far too tired to write a lot. I’ll catch you up on whatever I miss at a later date.
Flew out of the US last Thursday, which was the 7th. Arrived at Narita airport the afternoon of Friday the 8th, but it was quite a comfortable ride in the time machine. I flew United, and my only big complaints were that there wasn’t as much legroom as I’ve had on other airlines, and they didn’t have the personal video screens. Aside from that, I had one of the greatest flights ever because the plane was only around 60 or 75% full, and there was no one sitting directly next to me. I was able to do my normal routine of staying up the entire night before packing and sleeping almost 7 hours of the 12 hour flight to Tokyo. When I was awake, I would listen to my iPod or watch videos on it like the first episode of Psych (which is pretty good). The secret to getting through customs quickly, at least in Japan, seems to be rushing off your plane to the customs line. I did it this time and also last month, and both times I made it to the line close to the front, with only a 10 minute wait ahead of me. Immediately after I get there, the rest of my flight AND 2 planes full of other people show up. If I were to get stuck in that, my wait would probably be an hour or more.
Met up with one of the AEON trainers, and once we had a group of 5, the last people to arrive for the day, we headed to Omiya and the training center. We took a Skyliner express train to Nippori, then took regular trains on the Keihin-Touhoku line up to Omiya. Then took a cab from there to the center. It was like 2 hours of commuting, but we were finally where all the magic begins. And by that I mean where we would be sleeping, training, and being turned into robots for the week. Toured the place, got settled in, met the other people in our training group (there are 18 of us teacher trainees total), and then training started the next day. I’ll get to that soon. Sunday we had a day off, so I headed down to Akihabara with Brian to look at the normal stuff, eat sushi, and marvel at all the freaks (maids) that are taking over that town. We also went to Yodobashi Akiba for the first time, which I swear is the largest store I’ve ever been in. Largest electronics store for sure. It’s about 9 stories tall, with each floor bigger than a Wal-Mart. They have about anything electronic or not within this massive building. Seriously, this place puts Best Buy to shame. I guess since all the maids and otaku are taking over that area, they figured they needed something to keep Akihabara the electronics capital of town.
Training for the most part isn’t bad, but it’s majorly exhausting. We go everyday from about 10:30AM to 7 or 8PM, and that doesn’t even include the 3+ hours of demo lesson prep and homework that we have to do every night. It’s tough work preparing lessons, and everything follows the very specific and detailed AEON methods of teaching. They have this stuff down to a science, for real. During the day, we usually have a lot of lecture sessions, demo lessons, and we practice our stuff. Today and yesterday, we had real AEON students come and be our guinea pigs, so that we could practice our shortened lessons on them. I did a lot better tonight than I did yesterday, and it’s all starting to make sense to me. The hardest part is just remembering and following all the steps in my lesson plan. The main thing that’s making this week bearable is the rest of the trainees. I was afraid before getting here that we’d have a terrible group, full of the typical Japanophiles, otaku, and regular social ingrates. I also got to sample the JET people last month at the Keio, and good lord those people sucked hard. My group here at AEON is way sweet, so it makes things easier. We’re usually exhausted after training, but we’ll go get dinner, talk smack about everything, then head back to do our lesson plans.
The trainers here are great, although I have noticed something about all the long-term AEON staff I’ve encountered so far: their speech has been permanently impeded. They’re all (OK, fine, most of them) so used to teaching English to Japanese people that their language is slow and choppy all the time, even when talking to other native speakers. I’m going to use all of my power to make sure this doesn’t happen to me this year, so don’t worry. I’ll still be the same fast-talking, sarcastic jerk that I always am. Also I won’t talk to you like you’re a retard.
Training goes until this Friday, then we have a 3-day weekend. I think it’s “Be Nice to Old People Day” again or something. Either way, 3 days off is awesome. Then on Tuesday, we all wake up early and distribute throughout the eastern/northern Japan areas to our branch schools. We already got our school schedules and apartment information, and I’m pretty happy. The schedules at AEON, as I knew beforehand, are pretty easy. I have Sundays and Mondays off, and even during the week I have a lot of breaks. I usually work from like 10 or 11AM to 7 or 8PM, but with the long-ass breaks in there this shouldn’t be too bad. I live less than 2 minutes away from AEON and the train station, so you can’t beat the convenience there. The place is like 23 square meters big, which is tiny by American standards but not bad for a Japanese studio. It’s definite bigger than my apartment last summer in Myoden, which is all I really cared about. If you want my address, e-mail or Facebook msg me. I was going to post it here, but since I have a suspicion about a certain A-Team stalker, I’ll keep it private. Snake!
That’s all for now I guess; my eyes are closing on their own which means I need to sleep. I’m actually on a “normal” sleep schedule here, which is weird to me since I’m used to going to bed at 5 and waking up in the afternoon. Now I usually wake up at like 6 or 7AM. Tomorrow I need to get up to plan a lesson, which is the last one we have to plan for training. This might sound like a complicated task, but it’s mainly coloring pictures and filling in blanks on a lesson plan sheet of paper. Then you practice it so you know what to say, and bam. A lot of people were downstairs working on theirs, but I’m lazy and I instead went upstairs to steal wireless and write a ridiculously long blog entry. Goooood night.