Life in Japan. I am not a happy person now. Hmm…that is a lie. I must correct myself: I am a happy person regarding my personal life. Karl is a superb husband. I have a positively charming apartment with everything I could possibly need within it. This melancholy feeling which has steadily crept up on me over the past couple of weeks has more to do with my professional life, or lack thereof, as it were.
Since before I flew to Japan over a month ago, I have been trolling the interwebs for potential employment opportunities in or near our area here in Saitama, Japan. Since I am currently unable to speak any significant amount of Japanese I am limited to jobs teaching English. This narrows the field of jobs for which I am eligible. Furthermore, the status of my visa is dependent. This means I am not allowed to work full-time. I am permitted to work up to 28 hours while in possession of a dependent visa; however, I must acquire approval from local authorities.
Acquiring a working visa is possible. (Hooray!) Unfortunately you must get a job and your new employer must agree to “sponsor” the visa change before you can become eligible for the upgrade. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it is simple. The tricky part comes when you are searching for jobs willing to sponsor the upgrade. Ninety percent of the job listings I have found refuse to sponsor visa upgrades. Please do not ask me why. I wish I knew.
So. Assuming I find the small number of jobs willing to sponsor visa upgrades, I then check other requirements. This is usually when I find the experience expectations. Most places will not even consider applicants without at least one to two years experience in teaching English. Sigh…
Despite these very particular requirements, I have successfully acquired two job interviews within the last two weeks. The first one was for an international preschool called Beans. Each “grade” has a name that has something to do with beans. The youngest children are “Jelly Beans,” for example. Way cute. My interview here went extremely well! I really enjoyed seeing the school and meeting the teachers and kids. Unfortunately, I was not chosen. L Fortunately, this means I will not have to commute five hours round trip every day.
Speaking of commuting, that is another reason why finding a job is difficult. We live in a town called Ogawa-Machi. It is forty-five minutes away from the nearest city by train. This doesn’t seem to bad, really. Once you add the time for walking to the train station and then walking to the job location, time adds up extremely quickly. My interviewers at Beans seemed very concerned that I live so far away. I can’t really blame them. Commuting that far is no fun.
My second interview was a week ago. It was at a place called Saiei International- even further away than the other interview. If I get this job, I would be traveling to different locations within Saitama five days a week, some closer and some further away. Unfortunately, my odds for getting this job are pretty slim as I am one of 2366 applicants. Yikes. But hey! I got an interview at least.
For the past five years I have been in school with an average of seventeen credits per semester. Plus life guarding, being the campus orchestra librarian, teaching seven piano students, planning a wedding (this past year), attending rehearsals, practicing, not to mention trying to maintain my personal life. In other words, I am used to being extraordinarily busy. After graduating, getting married, and then moving to Japan last month, my life feels like it has gone from 5000 mph to 5.
The first couple weeks in Japan were fine, of course. Everything was new and exciting! I am afraid the novelty of living in a different country has begun to wear-out. I am just plain annoyed at times. I want to turn on the TV and understand what is happening and know what people are saying. I want to go to the grocery store and find a huge display of cheese that doesn’t taste like gross. (Wisconsin cheese is what this girl wants…) I want to go shopping and find a pair of pants that aren’t five inches too short…assuming I can find a pair to fit my American sized hips, that is.
I am trying my best to not go stark raving mad…and I find I have been successful (for the most part…). I usually have things to keep me busy. I have also been making friends. A very sweet family has taken me under their wings. I met the lady mother of this family through the chorus I have joined. She is a pianist and wanted to give me a piano lesson. She doesn't speak much English. I don’t speak much Japanese. I explained as best as I could that I had to leave all my piano music at home and also that I have no place to practice. So it turned out to not be much of a piano lesson but she was still very sweet and took me shopping and made lunch for me.
I met her husband as well. He speaks English extremely well. They were very concerned that I do not have a job and am by myself all day. So they have decided that I should come over to spend time with them a few days a week until I find a job. I can practice on their grand piano, play with their puppy, and they can help me learn Japanese!
Tonight I will hear if I got the job...cross your fingers and say a prayer with me!