Oooooh man. The above phrase was one of the notable quotes by the director of AEON East Japan, Mr. Miyake, and he was right on the money. The past few days have been nuts and mega busy. So let’s try to recap this adventure thus far.
The last few days of training were pretty hectic. We had a full lesson to prepare and demonstrate in front of 2 other trainee teachers, a trainer (who was evaluating us), and another Japanese AEON staff member. This wasn’t really that big of a deal, but a lot of people were having a cow over it. It reminded me a lot of school when you would have a big project or assignment due, and you have people going nuts over it. There are always people who study way too much just to suck up to the teacher. There are always people who pull their hair out over an assignment because they over-think it. There are always people who can’t get past step one. Then there are people like me, who cruise through assignments thanks to a combination of mutant skill and sheer laziness. How does laziness play into this? Why would I spend loads of time on something, when I can be lazy and do a decent job without stressing out over things? I’m being modest here. I can put minimal effort into things and still be awesome. I’ve learned to do things right the first time, because I’m too lazy to have to do it again.
After all the training and demo lessons were over, we received our official company lapel pins and Instructor nametags on Friday night. Thank goodness. We all went out that night, which was fun because we got to bond as a training class. With pins and nametags, we are officially teachers at AEON. Luckily, since we finished right before a three-day weekend, we got to take it easy before being dispatched to our branch schools. I slept pretty much all day on Saturday, then headed to a restaurant near the Omiya Seminar House called Bikkuri Donkey for dinner with Brian. The restaurant’s name translates to “Surprise Donkey,” which makes little to no sense in whatever language you put it in. No, they don’t serve donkey meat either, which is a shame because I wanted to add it to the in-progress “Animals Anthony has Eaten” list. They did, however, have 400-gram hamburger steaks and plates of fries with watery ketchup and mayonnaise that turned into the first meal in Japan where the food was bigger and more than I would have expected. So if you’re ever in Japan and want to eat a giant salsbury steak for super cheap, check out Bikkuri Donkey. Went down to the Ueno Zoo on Sunday with Brian and Bryan, which was sweet. Monday, again, I did absolutely nothing, which was good rest for what was to come.
Tuesday morning all us new teachers had to get up balls early to clean up the Seminar House and pack things up, etc. We eventually took cabs to Omiya station, and were hanging out there for a few hours until we actually left. One group left after an hour, and my group left an hour after that. I understand why we got up so early, but seriously, the entire time we were given free time at Omiya station, I was thinking how much nicer it would have been to get 2 hours of extra sleep. After a fun hour or longer train ride, my group met our managers at Akihabara station. From there we grabbed Sobu line to our schools. The trainers totally lied to us about most managers not speaking English, since they all completely did. My manager Emi took me to the Ichihara Goi school, which is literally across the street from the station. I also got to move into my apartment, which is amazing because it’s not only a lot bigger than I expected, but it’s only like 3 blocks away from my school. I have no idea why this wasn’t mentioned to us earlier, but apparently it’s AEON policy (I’m pretty sure it’s not just my school) to buy an incoming teacher all kinds of stuff for their apartment. In addition to the furnishings and appliances in the apartment, I also had waiting for me an entire table of towels, dishes, kitchenware, and soap, etc. Then we walked to the nearby Ito-Yokado department store and bought shampoo and stuff, then a load of groceries. It was sweet that the company paid for all these initial set-up costs, since I was pretty sure I would have to myself.
Over the first two days of work, I was talking to my departing teacher John a lot about the job, teaching the classes, and so forth. I observed his classes and then by the end of Wednesday I was teaching my first lesson. I now understand why I heard training is the worst part of the AEON experience. While the lessons and stuff are for the most part what we talked about in training, the atmosphere is absolutely different. At training, they made it seem like we would have to be practically dancing up in the front of the classroom like a zombie. Classes are much more relaxed, and I’m having a lot more fun with it. The staff I work with are awesome, which is good because despite the job being only 29.5 hours a week technically, at least for now I am working everyday from about 12:45 to 9:30PM. Once I’m more efficient at preparing lessons, I’ll be able to leave during my breaks and everything during the day, which will cut back on my in-school hours by about half. Overall though, this job is a lot of fun, and about a billion times better than the crap they fed us in training. My staff isn’t a bunch of super-excited AEON zombies, so I suppose the trainers are just an anomaly.
While I like the job, at least thus far I finish every day absolutely exhausted. You wouldn’t think this would take so much out of a person. I think I’ll get used to it within a few weeks, but for now my routine has been waking up every morning around 8 or 9, walking around the area for shopping or something, then going back to my apartment about an hour before work to shower and get dressed. I then walk the whole 3 blocks to school and start my workday. I leave work around 9:30PM usually, and grab food then go home to watch TV before passing out on my Tommy O’Brien-style floor mat. The Goi area where I live is a little country, but I still have almost anything I would normally need within a 5 or 10 minute walk, like a department store, an electronics place, a bunch of restaurants, etc. Oddly enough, there are also a lot of hostess and snack bars in the area, which makes it kind of sketch, but oh well. Oh, and did I mention that my apartment is in the sketch neighborhood? I’m pretty sure the only other places surrounding my apartment building are these sketch hooker bars.
I’ll be getting a cell phone tomorrow I think, FINALLY. The stupid Gaijin Card registration process is taking longer than expected, so I won’t have my actual card until like October 11. Without this card, I can’t sign up for a DoCoMo phone like I had planned on. AU can register a new phone without the gaijin card, so I’ll probably just get that tomorrow because I’m dying without a phone. I also don’t have internet at home yet, so I need to try and get that. I’m writing this blog in Word and will just upload it next time I have a chance. There’s not even stolen wireless here. Tokyo Game Show this weekend.