Interview: Teaching English in Japan
I met Ashley in Queenstown on my way to Fiordland National Park. We were both staying one night before continuing our travels. Ashley was the perfect person to meet on a short stay, because she treated me like a good friend even though we barely knew each other. She is friendly, outgoing, and delightfully weird. Thank you Ashley and good luck in New York!
- Where are you from?
- Did you graduate from college? If so, what did you study?
Sure did. I got an oh-so-helpful radio/television/film degree.
- What country and city did you work in?
I lived in Kitakyushu, Japan. But I worked in a smaller town nearby called Kanda.
- What type of work did you do?
I taught English (and played rock-paper-scissors) at a public elementary school.
- How did you find and obtain that position?
I applied online and did an in-person interview in Dallas.
- Were you required to get an ESL certificate or something similar?
Nope! The only requirements are English-speaking ability and a bachelor’s degree in any subject.
- How long was your teaching position?
The contract lasts for a year. I stayed for two.
- What will you miss most about teaching English and living in Japan?
There are pros and cons to both teaching and living in Japan. But in both cases, I’ll miss the people most. There were plenty of days when I struggled to feign enthusiasm for my own classes, but my ridiculously cute students always cheered me up. It’s likely that I’ll never see them again and never find out what they grew up to be, but I’ll always think about them and wish the best for them. Outside of school, I’ll miss the friends that I spent most of my weekends drinking with by the river. Living abroad creates friendships that are unlike any other. I met people from all over the world, and being so far from home turned them into my family, my lifeline, and sometimes…my sanity.
- What advice would you give to someone that wants to do what you do?
Do it. Do it now. It’s easy to put it off. It’s easy to say you need to save more money. It’s easy to say you’ll do it next year. It’s not as easy to take the leap. However, if it’s something you are at all interested in, I say go for it as soon as possible. It’ll be scary, but so worth it.
- Why is traveling and working abroad important to you?
It looks great on my resume. Kidding… mostly. Honestly, traveling is a very selfish pastime. I do it because it’s new and exciting and I get great Instagram pictures. However, I also think it makes me a better person. It gives me a greater connection to this world and the people in it. I’ve been lost in more places than I can count, and I’ve always managed to not die thanks to the help of many kind strangers. It makes me want to be that kind stranger for someone else. It also gives me the tools to do that. I can communicate without knowing a word of another person’s language. I can understand what someone is feeling when they are outside of their comfort zone, because I’ve been there. And also, it really does look awesome on my resume.