Hey all, just a quick update to let you know the news. I got the apartment, which I'm very pleased about. My coworker Tracy is going to move in, and I'll get her stuff when she leaves. So that all is looking very good. Another piece of news that many of you may not be aware of, I'm currently looking at changing jobs when my contract comes up for renewal.
I interviewed with a company that places native English speakers as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in public junior high schools to help with English education. I've thought long and hard about it. Nova is one of the highest-paying employers in this field, although they do make some of that back in apartment rentals and other ways to bilk us gullible and helpless teachers out of our hard-earned yen. Nova also is very much a vacation-type of school. You can change the days you work with other people and work it out so you have several days off in a month to go travelling somewhere or do something. It's very convenient. But lots of teachers complain about how unteacherlike the company is, how we're not really teachers, etc. You have to take the good with the bad. And I've decided that I would rather be in a more teacherlike environment. I've also realized that I'm nowhere close to learning Japanese in a useful capacity, as I found out when I went to the realtor and I had to have her write notes of what she wanted to tell me so I could have someone else translate for me. Working for Interac in public schools should put me more into the culture and the language than working for Nova.
There are some good points about Nova: it pays quite a bit (compared to other Enlgish schools), you can swap your vacation days around, and you don't really have to even think to teach lessons.
There are also some bad points: you're essentially encouraged not to have anything to do with Japanese culture in any way. You're prohibited from socializing with students (a fireable offense), the Japanese staff is randomly swapped around every few months, partly so that we won't get to know them, and the workdays are timed such that you have to work when any of your Japanese friends are off or there are any interesting holidays to see.
This doesn't mean it's bad overall, it just means that it's not for me. Ana loves it there, despite the problems, and I do quite enjoy interacting with the students. Like any teaching job, the students are what make or break the job, more so than the company. If I remember, I'll try to dig up a link to the English-language newspaper that had an interesting article on the treatment of EFL teachers. Some people (at smaller schools, I think) were fired and the reasons given were that they clicked their pens, didn't eat all of their lunch, or some other laughable reason. Nova by far isn't the worst, but it isn't the best for me.