Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It's Not Them, It's You!

I’m not a big fan of rage writing, but today is just one of those days. 

A couple weeks ago, one of my friends asked me to fill out a questionnaire for her website dedicated to helping applicants “get into the most competitive English teaching program in Japan,” the JET Program (woot). I was a bit taken aback by her thought-provoking questions, but I remember lingering on one specific question:

What do you think is the hardest challenge for ALTs on the job? 

At first, I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was the language barrier? Maybe it was the differences in our cultures? Maybe I could just invent some generic answer, but whom would that help? Instead I wrote a short, professional summery of what I believe is the hardest challenge for ALTs, leaving out the long, unprofessional summery for you to read shortly. 

Challenge #1: Get over yourself!

There! It’s written in this subsection’s title; I feel better already! There is a huge problem with overinflated egos and ramped nationalism among the foreign population in Japan. ALTs expect to be catered and fussed over, and then complain when their 15-minutes of fame ends unexpectedly. ALTs also have a habit of focusing on how thing are done in their own countries and instead of seeing things in a different perspective. Why is that Japan is “rules over logic,” when in reality it’s “when in Rome…?” 

I can hear some mentally saying, “Gabie, you’re such a hypocrite!” 

Am I? I am a complainer! I love to complain. I am complaining in this post. If there were a job out there where I could complain all day, I would do it. But I also get over it and myself, fairly quickly. At first I complained about Japanese "meteorological" bus companies calling the shots, but you know what happened next typhoon? I, like every other Japanese person on this island, waited for the announcement from the bus companies. You live. You learn. You move the hell on. I don’t let it change my opinion of Japan, and I don’t scream out to the far corners of the Internet that I hate the country that hosts me despite the fact that I willingly applied for this program. 

Challenge #2: What is your purpose? Oh, you have no purpose? Ok...

The reason we are here in Japan is to teach English, right? But what is your purpose? I’m not talking about some existential bullsh*t. How are you spending your free time? What are your goals? What do you want to take from this experience? Or are you just here to f*ck around? I mean that literally too! There are too many ALTs that come to Japan without a single purpose other than to find a Japanese boyfriend/girlfriend/bangbuddy. If you do reader-who-I-hope-this-applies-to, then get ready for disappointment. I am not saying that love can’t be found and sex can’t be had, but your “extracurricular activities” shouldn’t define your time in Japan. Period. 

Challenge #3: Work Culture

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have a good relationship with your coworkers. Sometimes it’s out of your control, but you know what is in your control? You’re attitude? No matter how I feel that morning, I plaster a huge smile on my face and “Ohayo gozaimasu” the shit out of all of my coworkers. Who would be mean to a happy, energetic, pretty-pretty princess! It not “fake it until your make it;” it’s “reap what you sow.” However, the most important thing is that you show up on time and work hard. How can you expect your coworkers to bend over backwards for you, when you don’t stand up straight for them? Suck it up, get genki and work hard and maybe you too will get away with breaking rules every once in a while. 

TL;DR: Get over yourself, quit f*cking around, and work hard.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there. I've been reading through your blog and just had to leave a comment on this post because THANK YOU.

    I'm an incoming JET for this next year, and this is after I've spent five years working at a school for gifted kids where I've had a lot of similar experiences to people on JET. But your advice is on point here. While I was applying to JET, there were several current and former JETs that just bashed Japan and bashed us applicants for every question or every comment.

    But I feel like it's those JETs that are the ones you're talking about here. I just don't get how people can start a job and expect their workplace to cater to their whims and for everything to go smoothly. Students can be little shits. Coworkers can be super disrespectful. You can be expected to work 120 hours per week (true story, I currently work 120 hours a week). But you have to suck it up, smile for your students because they have stuff going on, and do your job.

    So yes, thank you for being honest. I think more people need to know these things.