Hi, I’m Sarah!

ICE CREAM

Besides eating ice cream, here are some other things I love.

Ohio.

Pets, especially Merlin.

Baking, especially cookies.

Cooking, especially waffles.

Traveling, especially to London.

Taking endless pictures, especially on Instagram.

Vermont, especially when it is the famous leaf peeping season.

Reading, especially YA-literature (Graceling, Divergent, Sloppy Firsts, & so on…)

Trying new things, anything from butterbeer to baking sourdough bread to moving to Japan (only knowing three words in Japanese) to teach English for this year.

——————————————–F.A.Q.’S————————————————-

This is a random blog, so I get some random questions, WHICH I LOVE. If you have any, please e-mail me at dailynibbles (at) gmail.com.

camera equipment

1. What kind of camera do you use?

I have the Nikon d7000 and four lenses: Nikon 18-105mm, Nikon 35 mm 1.8 mm (my favorite), Sigma 50 mm macro, Tokina 11-16 mm 2.8 mm. Lately, I’ve just been using my iPhone for most pictures. I’m lazy!

2. Where are you from?

I grew up in Ohio. Currently, living in Vermont. Past places: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, the Netherlands, London, and Japan.

3. What do you do for exercise?

I used to run marathons – sloooooowly – but moved abroad and got out of a routine. Soon after I returned to the States, I learned that I have genetically horrendous feet for running and three doctors told me to never do it again. Umm, so, my new routine is mostly swimming, which I’m even slower at than running. Hahaha!

4. You used to bake a lot, what happened?

I got a million cavities. Okay, I’m lying, but I had a bad dentist appointment and REALLY cut back on my baking. Also, in Japan, I wasn’t blogging recipes as much because I was really busy, mostly illiterate, and lacking a real oven.

5. I’m going to Vermont, what should I do there?

STAY:

B&B. A lot of my friends would have their parents stay at the Howard Street B&B.

Hotel. The Marriott and The Hilton are right on the waterfront and two blocks from Church Street (Burlington’s version of Pearl Street, where all the shops and restaurants are located.)

SPLURGE! Okay, outside of town, in Shelburne there is a place called Shelburne Farms Inn. It used to be owned by the Vanderbilt family, now it is a working farm and inn. They make their own cheese, bread, etc. etc. Next door, they created a museum with all of the collections from Ms. Vanderbilt. It sounds kooky, but I HIGHLY suggest going to see it someday. (Only open in the spring-early fall, since the museum is spread throughout the property). Anyway, you can book a room at the inn, which looks like a CASTLE. If that doesn’t work out, drive there one day for breakfast. You can still walk around the grounds and be mind-blown.

http://www.shelburnefarms.org/

EAT:

You can’t go wrong with any food in Vermont, and I am sure you will stumble across your own gems, but here are my faves.

1. PENNYCLUSE CAFE. Best brunch. Runner’s up: Mirabelle’s and Magnolia Cafe. But Burlington Bay Cafe has the best breakfast sandwich “The Bay Original” in my opinion: Dakin farms bacon, two eggs and cheddar cheese on a portuguese english muffin WITH crispy breakfast potatoes. (All Downtown)

2. American Flatbread. Best pizza. (Downtown)

3. The Farmhouse. Best burgers. Also has the largest selection of beers on tap. Go for the Hill Farmstead Ale. (Downtown)

4. OUT OF TOWN Starry Night Cafe (in Ferrisburg) or Hen of the Woods (in Waterbury) or The Kitchen Table (in Richmond). Expensive splurge, but the Vermonty foodies love these three places.

5. 3 Needs. My favorite bar in town. (Downtown)

6. Red Onion Sandwich Shop. Get the Red Onion sandwich, which is turkey, Gruyere cheese, red onion, apple, and mayo on homemade bread. (Downtown)

7. New Moon. My favorite coffee shop. (Downtown)

8. El Cortijo. My favorite fish tacos and margaritas. It’s in a tiny diner, on a side street. (Downtown)

9. My Little Cupcake. (Downtown.) Right across from The Roxy (our city cinema theatre).

10. Meyer’s Bagels. (Pine Street) Wood-fired Montreal-style bagels.

DO: 

A lot of people spend a good amount of time on Church Street (which you definitely should because there’s a lot going on there), but here are a few other recommendations.

1. Recycle North. This may be an odd suggestion, but it is my dad’s FAVORITE place to visit. I think he went everyday. It’s a cool place to look for used items and appliances. http://www.findandgoseek.net/listing/recycle-north/donate

Across the street, you can find larger used materials. This organization takes all of the supplies from old houses and buildings, breaks them down, then reuses them.

It is also on PINE STREET, where all the local art studios are located. In September, they have a massive Art Hop. Near Great Harvest bread, in this back alley, is a cool glass studio. I also like to grab food from Fresh Market or Meyer’s cafe (they make the wood-fired oven bagels with Montreal spices on them).

2. Walk along the waterfront. You can sit in the swings on the dock and watch the sunset.

3. Farmer’s Market. http://www.burlingtonfarmersmarket.org/ Every Saturday during the summer at City Hall Park. A cool place to check out local folks, and in addition to great food, you can even purchase some of my favorite jewelry during the summer months. 

4. BEACHES! Leddy, Oakledge, and North Beach are pretty places to check out the water.

5. HIKING! Favorites include Camel’s Hump (Burrow’s Trail), Stowe Pinnacle, Mt. Mansfield (Sunset Trail), and Hunger Mt.

6. SEASONAL THINGS! SUMMER: swimming holes. Get thee to Warren Falls or Bristol. WINTER: snowshoeing (anywhere) and cross-country skiing (cheaper than downhill and I find it a better workout, check out Sleepy Hollow or Trap Family Lodge or the Intervale).

7. BEER! I love the Hill Farmstead Edward Pale Ale, which is on tap at The Farmhouse.

Of course, if you want to drive around Vermont, I love the little nearby towns like Middlebury, Vergennes, Richmond, Waterbury, Waitsfield, and Stowe!

 Also, if you want and up-to-date listing of Burlington happenings, Seven Days is great. http://www.7dvt.com/

6. I’m going to London, what should I do there?

First, jealous. I worked for four summers on a study abroad program in London, which I consider my Spirit City. London is spectacular. I have many suggestions.

RESOURCES:

TRANSPORTATION: I like the Heathrow Connect in terms of getting from the airport (assuming you are flying into Heathrow) into the city. It’s around 8 pounds and takes 30 minutes to get directly to Paddington Station. You’ll see signs for the Heathrow Express, which takes half the time but is much pricier. You buy the Heathrow Connect ticket where you’d buy regular Tube tickets. Once at Paddington – depending on where your are staying – you can take the Tube or a bus to that area. Once there, I would get a TUBE pass for Zone 1 and 2. The Tube system is super easy to use. Check out TFL journeyplanner (for checking Tube delays/closures and directions). Also, eventually, I just used the buses. I liked being above ground and seeing the city. Plus, there were more routes and stops than the Tube. It became much easier to get around.

*On the Tube, you swipe your card to get in and out.
**On the bus, you only swipe to board.

READING: I used these the most: a laminated Streetwise London map and Time Out London (both the website and the weekly magazine). I’m sure you could find apps for these as well, but my phone doesn’t work internationally.

TO-DO:

GO FOR A WALK
: I recommend taking a map and wandering around the city on the first day. Meandering around Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, and Covent Garden is so fun, but I like to walk along the South Bank best. There’s a walking path and it’s just stunning. The river, museums, street performers, etc. It’s very lively.

Actually, you should also check out the city via the city’s bike-cycle program. They’re called the Barclay’s bikes and you’ll see stations all over the place.

If you are into organized walks, I went on a few London Walks (everything from Dickens to Jack The Ripper). They were all great! And, I went on these New Europe tours in Paris and Scotland. They have them in London too. They were fun.

GO OUT IN EAST LONDON
: It’s kind of an edgier scene, but I like it. Head out to Hoxton one night. There’s tons of cool clubs, bars, and lounges. Supposedly, there’s one with a swimming pool on the roof, but I never got to it.

MUSEUMS. If you’re a museum person, they are ALL fantastic. And mostly free. Even if you aren’t a museum person, I recommend checking out a few.

1. Museum of London: This museum is nestled behind St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s not overwhelming, but covers the complete history of London, starting in prehistoric times and going all the way up to today. You walk through it chronologically, which I enjoyed and thought it helped you see the amazing evolution of the city of London.

2. Tate Modern: Even if you aren’t a modern art fan, this is a very cool museum to visit. The museum is housed in an old power station featuring a huge turbine 35 meters high, and it’s situated right on the South Bank. Beside Shakespeare’s Globe. At the foot of the Millennium Bridge. Across the river from St. Paul’s. It just couldn’t be in a more ideal location. It’s also organized in a neat way. The collection is divided by concept: poetry and dream, states of flux, energy and process, etc. It’s just fun! The top floor has a restaurant/bar/lounge area with knock-out views of the Thames. The lawn outside is also an ideal spot to chill. I also like to people-watch in the turbine area. All in all, it’s just a fun place to be.

My favorite way to get to the museum, is to get off at St. Paul’s and walk across the Millennium bridge.

3. British Museum: OK, there’s not many things British in it (and that’s created quite the controversy), but it’s got a mighty collection of artifacts. Here’s a few: The Rosetta Stone, Elgin Marbles, an Egyptian section that spans like five rooms, Assyrian art, coins, china, gold, jewelry, on and on. Don’t miss the clock and watch exhibition!

4. British Library: Many people don’t think about the British Library, but it’s one of my favorites:Jane Austen’s desk and glasses (which are so little and cute), notes from music geniuses like Mozart and Bach, and an entire section of Beatles hand written song notes.

5. Victoria + Albert Museum. GORGEOUS! They have EVERYTHING. Pottery, jewelry, Chihuly glass, antique artifacts. They also have a great courtyard with a beautiful fountain. I would go there some days to just read and drink white wine. Love it.

6. National Gallery. Beautiful inside and out. Full of some of the finest paintings and located right in Trafalgar Square. Behind it is the National Portrait Gallery, which is also fun. I love checking out the Tudor paintings! Also, during the summer they would showcase the BP National Portrait Gallery paintings, which were really cool to check out.

MARKETS:

1. Borough Market: Just go. It’s food market paradise. Get off at London Bridge instead of Borough on the Tube though. Nearby is Maltby Street, which is also A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E.

2. Camden Market: Actually, another friend liked this place better. I don’t think he understood why I liked the Borough Market so much {what??!!} over this one. I found the Borough market more food oriented and less overwhelming, I guess. If you want to experience an alternate universe and get lost in winding passages full of everything imaginable, go here. It’s an experience worth checking out because I think it’s like no other.

3. Colombia Road Flower Market: So stinking cute. A tiny street in East London filled with flowers, good food, pretty boutiques, and street musicians. It’s only open on Sunday’s. And I’m not sure if it’s year round?

4. Spitalfields: It’s near Brick Lane, which is a fun street to walk down to see the vast amount of Indian Restaurants. This market is great for getting artsier gifts and vintage items.

OTHER FAVORITES:

PARKS: In order of my favorites – Hampstead Heath, Regent’s Park, and Hyde Park. At Hampstead, be sure to check out the view of London from Kite (or Parliament) Hill.

SHOWS: The Globe Theatre is very cool, not at all cheesy, but I think it’s only open in the summer. See if you can check out a play at the National Theatre. It’s located along the South Bank.

CHURCHES
: St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey. I recommend going to a service for free to check out the inside. Unlike the museums, the churches charge a fee. Although paying to see the view from the top of St. Paul’s is definitely worth it. And you can play around in the Whispering Gallery.

GELATO
: Scoop in Covent Garden or Oddono’s near the Natural History Museum.

CUPCAKES: Hummingbird Bakery in Notting Hill.

SHOPPING: Harrod’s (really more like a museum…..did you know they even have a pet kingdom?), Liberty’s (It’s behind Regent’s Street, and hands down the prettiest store I’ve ever been in. I wanted to live in it.), Uniqlo (an affordable Japanese chain store with great items), and the markets!

PUBS: Ye Old Cheshire Cheese (one of the oldest pubs…and you really do feel like you’re transported back in time drinking there….authentic fish & chips!), Princess Louise (very Victorian and filled with gorgeous cut glass), The Churchill Arms (it has the prettiest outside and attached to the back is the most amazing Thai restaurant), The Flask in Hampstead Heath (very cool place….we played scrabble and drank beer for hours).

EATS: Actually, I didn’t explore many of the restaurants in London. If you do, the locals said they checked out top table for places to go/deals. I mostly ate at markets. So, I’m not the best person to ask for the best restaurants. I did do high tea at Kensington Palace. Fun. The Breakfast Club in Hoxton. It’s good day or night. You can go for brunch on a Sunday or for a late dinner before going out on a Saturday. The Swan @ The Globe. Pretty, pretty view. Brick Lane for Indian food.

DAY-TRIP: Depending on the time you have in the city, Greenwich via a riverboat is very cool. The boat ride is divine, the town is cute, and you get to see the Prime Meridian. If you had more time, I’d suggest Bath.

7. Can you tell me more about applying to teach in Japan? 

I got asked this question a couple of times on the blog, and as I was flying home from Japan, I was sitting next to a backpacker – who looked eerily like me with curly red hair and glasses, from Ohio no less – who had the same question. He had traveled around SE Asia for about three months and spent his last two weeks in Tokyo. He’s desperate to get back to Japan someday soon.

I have so much – too much – to say about everything.

THE JET APPLICATION: It’s long.

It is long and it is due soon – late October/early November. It is a multi-page paper application that requires an essay and letters of recommendation and must be mailed to the Japanese Embassy in your regional area. (For me: Boston.)  From there, I don’t have too many tips other than patience. (Really. I decided to apply at the last minute and rushed to turn in my application a few days before it was due. I said I blanked in my interview. I only knew three words in Japanese. It was….eeeek.)

The TIMELINE: It’s even longer.

Late October/early November: Application due.

January: First notice sent to accepted applicants

February: Interviews held at Japanese embassies in your area. The pool of applicants in my prefecture was incredibly diverse.

April: Second notice sent to accepted applicants.

May-July: Successful applicants receive Placements. Frantically checking the JET Forums. Sometimes these roll in LATE. Mine was late June and I was leaving in early July for London. I’m still shocked it all worked out.

At that point, you will probably also know if you are working at an elementary, junior, or high school. Most people with little to no Japanese, will get placed in a high school.

July-August: Mad scramble to wrap up your current life, pack for your Japan life, and process all of the paperwork for Japan. In my case, I couldn’t bring contacts for a year there, so I needed additional paperwork. I also wasn’t supposed to leave the country because my embassy needed to get my Visa for Japan, but I was working in London. So, I had to spend hundreds of dollars (and more paperwork) sending my Passport overseas to Boston and back.

Late July-early August: You are in Japan.

LIFE IN JAPAN: This is way too long.

So, then all of a sudden (joking) you are in Japan. It’s August, mostly likely a million degrees, and you are possibly very confused. At least I was. What now?

After the blur that is Tokyo orientation, you arrive at your school. Literally, get off the plane and go to work.

I’m digging into a lot of my predeccesor notes (borrowed heavily from my friend Chelsea). It’s a bit much. It’s like 12 pages of notes – I know! – but this is the document that I sent to my predecessor and that might be illuminating to anyone thinking about dropping EVERYTHING and moving to Japan to be a teacher.

HERE.WE.GO.

Hello!

This started out as a write-up of my daily schedule, but I have so much more to say. My predecessor didn’t leave me with a lot of information, although I DO have a CD archive of all her lesson plans which I will leave for you. And I will leave you with all of the binders of lesson archives, as well as what I am calling the blue “Everything Binder” on your desk. I’m possibly leaving you with way too much information. Some of this will be interesting to you before you arrive. Other stuff will be useful once you’re here. I came here with no Japanese at all, so I may have gone into too much detail about some stuff that was a challenge to me here. Anyway, here’s some info for you. Enjoy it or ignore it as you like!

Your first month: (Chelsea wrote most of this description and I LOVED it.)

JET will guide you like a baby through your flight and travels to make it to Japan. It can be pretty fun to ride with a hundred random Americans and a few scared Japanese people on the plane, and once you land at Narita, JET will essentially hold your hand to get you to the hotel and orientation. Orientation has some good stuff. I would highly recommend not skipping the Toyama dinner as this is a good place to connect with folks and the Self-Intro session. I was really sick at Orientation and had huge jetlag coming from London, so I missed both of those sessions. You will need to know how to introduce yourself in a little Japanese the first day. I HAD NO IDEA HOW TO DO THIS. It made the first day in Takaoka too intense for me.

You’ll fly with other Toyama JETs from Tokyo to Toyama and be picked up by your supervisor at the airport. Easy-peasy. But be prepared for a long, exhausting day since you will immediately be taken to work. Basically, your supervisor will introduce you to the principal immediately, then to the vice-principal, and probably any teachers hanging around the staff room although many will be on vacation during your first couple of weeks there.

Learn how to say this:

Hajimemashite (HA-GEE-MAY-MASH-TAY, which literally means good to meet you.)

Watashi wa (your name) desu.

Amerika kara kimashita. (I am from America.)

Douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. (Loose translation, Please be nice to me.)

(Teachers might ask how old you are. They LOVE to ask this. So, if you hear Nansai desu ka?, it means, how old are you?)

When you leave to go home, say to the other teachers, “Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu.” It means something like, Oh, I am sorry to be leaving before you.

Then we went to City Hall for paperwork, to my landlady, then to the grocery store. I was so exhausted, I just bought toilet paper (don’t worry, I’ll leave you with some), banana, yogurt, and beer. My supervisor just looked at me and said, “I think you’ll need more than that.” But I was just too tired. I don’t think that I got to go to my new apartment until around 8:30 that night and I was a zombie by that point.

You will have practically nothing to do until school officially starts back up again in September. In orientation, they’ll recommend that you spend that time planning lessons, but I was so totally lost that I had no idea what to plan. This is a good time to read through the Team Teaching Handbooks left on the desk (left side, first drawer) and to look at the scads of extra papers you have inherited. (There are BINDERS from past ALTs of lesson plans.) You can prepare your speech for the Opening Ceremony. I also met with the English Club members, walked around the school, and generally tried to understand WHAT IS GOING ON. This is also the time to ask teachers questions about where things are in the school, etc. so it is in your best interests to ask questions then. This can also be a good time to brush up on your Japanese. Generations of your predecessors have left books of all levels, so you can just nose around and see what suits your needs.

**About Meetings: Sometimes the staff room will completely empty out except for you or maybe you and one other teacher. Don’t be too freaked. My first months here I always got nervous that I was missing some important event. Usually, it just means that they are going to some boring meeting with really technical Japanese I wouldn’t have a hope of understanding. My supervisor usually only translates important events to attend on the calendar.

Toyama-ken

When I first received my placement, I was like WHERE THE F-CK IS THIS PLACE? I saw the snow wall on Google images and thought….oh hell no. But I have immensely enjoyed my time here – especially the spring and summer – despite being stressed out in the beginning. (I was sick with a horrible cold and confused because of my lack of Japanese and stressed out about work at first). I would have stayed much longer if I didn’t have to go back to work & school. Toyama is a more inaka prefecture, but we’re lucky not to get a lot of the earthquakes and tsunamis that the east side of Japan does. We do have a LOT of rain. Think Northwest Coast of the US. Be prepared to wear rain boots pretty much all year long.

You are lucky to have many ALTs posted with you in Takaoka (14? 15?). More than any other place in the prefecture. I LOVE the ALT community in Toyama-ken. Sheeeesh, I will miss them all so much back home. (edited: THIS IS TRUE. I MISS THEM!) The weekends are super fun because there is ALWAYS something going on. I also enjoy hiking and outdoorsy stuff, which Toyama-ken and the nearby prefectures are known for. Often times, you would need a car to get to trailheads and what not. Luckily, the majority of ALTs outside of  Takaoka/Toyama have cars. Road trips in Japan = LOVE.

You’re also lucky that trains run relatively late to and from Takaoka unlike those to other parts of the prefecture—check out the Johanna line if you’re ever annoyed by rare trains. I end up going to Toyama twice or three times a week for Japanese lessons, yoga, and whatever else comes up.

About the School

Ours is one of the best public high schools in the prefecture. It is one of the University-track high schools and has around 900 students. It has a total of ten full-time JTEs.  The students wear uniforms year-round. The girls wear the Sailor Moon type uniform, while the boys wear a traditional Japanese-style jacket and pants.

The downside: School life can be intense for both the students and the teachers. They are very busy preparing to get into University. (From what I understand, getting into University is very difficult, but once you are in, graduating from University is relatively easy.) It is a lot of tests and grading. Anyway, I was very confused and stressed out in the beginning. I was working on a study abroad program in London up until the day I left for Japan and did not get a lot of details from my pred, so I spent the first few months REALLY confused and bogged down trying to figure out what is going on. I am hoping that you will have a smoother transition.

The upside: Your students are amazing! Their English is really good (if you speak slowly and clearly…..which I really had to work on because I speak fast English). They are energetic and just lovely students. You will have zero discipline issues and they never fall asleep in class (which happens to many ALTs). Feel free to get to know them outside of class! I tried to visit their clubs, and occasionally ran with students. I also worked with the English Club, which was a really cute group of students.

School Life

I arrive at school by around 8:25 a.m. Quickly change into my school shoes and rush to the teachers room. You will need to be here every day by 8:30. (Some days there is a short teachers meeting in Japanese at 8:25 a.m.) First period begins at 8:40 p.m.

When you arrive, you will need to stamp your hanko in the attendance book in the teacher’s room.

School periods are generally 50 minutes long (although sometimes due to special events, the school will use shortened class periods of 45 minutes). The schedules are posted very visibly in the staff room.

Lunch arrives in a flurry at either 12:00 (if you do not have fourth period) or 12:35 p.m. (if you have fourth period). In your contract, it likely says that you will have free time from some random time to another random time, but it doesn’t align with the actual lunch schedule, so you’ll have to just stick to the latter. Many teachers bring their own bentos, but some eat in the cafeteria or order a bento from a lady who comes to our office. I never ordered one, but I believe you have to tell her her a day before if you want a bento.

School cleaning occurs after the last period, usually at 4 p.m. I don’t take a very active role in cleaning, but feel free to join in if you so choose. I usually just take out the trash in the teacher’s room.

After that, according to your contract, you are free to leave after 4:15. Sometimes I stay later, but often I have Japanese classes or other things I have to catch, so I have to dash out pretty quickly. The teachers appreciate it if you stay later, but that’s truly up to you.

Special Schedules:

The Japanese school schedule is a constantly-shifting, amorphous thing. More often than not, classes will be changed or cancelled seemingly inexplicably. Your best bet is to just check the white board with the day’s schedule first thing in the morning. Or you can ask teachers if you have the class that day.

Opening and Closing ceremonies: These will be on the calendar. They’re pretty straight-forward except that you will have to do a self-introduction at opening ceremonies about a month after you get here. I generally just stash my black blazer in my locker and grab it whenever I find out about a random ceremony (of which there are surprisingly many).

Other special events: The week of the school festival will have some pretty cool events like concerts and such, so you can look forward to those. This is somewhat vague, but I’m pretty sure it changes from year to year, so I can’t be much help.

April: In April, the school year changes and with it come numerous sweeping changes. They literally pick up and move your desk to a random, new location in the staff room. Last year there was even a change in Vice-Principals and Principals too.

Year Calendar: (beginning in April)

1 week in May

[1st Term] Mid-Terms; you don’t teach classes. You have to make the 1st grade exams, and possibly the 3rd grade essay tests. You have one week to grade exams.

1 week in late June/Early July

[1st Term ] Finals; you don’t teach classes. You have to make the 1st grade exams. You have one week to grade exams.I would also work at an English Camp right after finals. You get daikyu (extra leave!) for them and they are a lot of fun.

July/August

Half of July and all of August you don’t teach classes (but you still have to come to school). Most people go on vacation now, or try to fit in as many English camps as they can.

1 week in late September/early October

[2nd Term] Mid-Terms; you don’t teach classes. You have to make the 1st grade exams and possibly make an essay question for the 3rd graders. You have one week to grade exams.

1 week in early December

[2nd Term] Finals; you don’t teach classes. You have to make the 1st grade exams and possibly an essay question for the 3rd graders. You have one week to grade exams. ENGLISH CAMP!

Mid-December/Early January

You don’t teach classes (but you still have to come to school). You will have a 5-day holiday off (usually December 29 to January 2). I suggest you take some vacation now and escape the cold ;).

1 week in March

[3rd Term] Finals; you don’t teach classes. You have to make the 1st grade exams and possibly an essay question for the 3rd graders. You have one week to grade exams.

March

You don’t teach classes (but you still have to come to school).

Places in the school:

The place you will spend most of your time is at your desk in the staffroom or the AVC room upstairs, where you teach your first year classes. I also usually grab warm or cold drinks in the vending machines near the cafeteria. I also like the printing room! I’d recommend that you make friends with the office lady, who is amazing and can be a great source of information and can speak some English. She has two young children, a boy and a girl, and lives in Takaoka.

Important White boards in the staff room: The white board directly across from you at the other end of the room is the day’s schedule. I look for my name in katakana each morning (or at the end of the day before) to see what classes have switched periods or dates. Usually, you will get advance notice that your class is moving, but not always. Just look for your name and it’ll tell you what class to go and which period. The board next to the one directly across from you is a monthly schedule. The board in front of you shows how many students are in each class and the number of students who are absent.

Paperwork: Usually your supervisor will help you prepare business forms for business trips or nenkyu (vacation time). I left a model sheet in the green folder on your desk, titled “School Forms.”

Attendance Books: Also by the white board with the students attendance are the attendance books. These are organized by years and teachers always grab them to take to class. I don’t have much to do with these (I never carry them to class or touch them in class), but if you’re confused about whether or not you have a class and the book is still there, it may mean the class isn’t happening. Y

Printer: The closest printer is behind you, to your left. Your computer should just print to it. If you want 1-20 copies, you can use the printer inside the printer room or  if it is over 20 copies , leave it with the worker in the room and she will print it for you. Leave the original copy and one of her printer sheets on it. The printer sheets include:

  • You name
  • Date
  • Date you need the copies
  • How many copies
  • One sided or Two sided

There is a color printer in the teachers’ room near the third-year teachers, but I have never used it.

Banking: To withdraw money from the bank, you can just stop by the ATM on your lunch hour in City Hall. Or you can use it at the conbini’s or your card also works at the ATM in Musashi although there is a slight usage fee. The ATM there is to your right in the big room before you actually enter the main building. The Bank ATM has an English option, which is amazing, but the Musashi one does not, so I generally just push buttons until I accomplish what I intended to do.

Classrooms: The classrooms are labeled to correspond to the class number.

First years (ichinensei): FIRST FLOOR

Second years (ninensei): THIRD FLOOR

Third years (sanennsei): SECOND FLOOR

Class Schedule

Ahhh…classes. You will receive a schedule of which classes you are supposed to attend. The written schedule doesn’t change, but classes will change all the time.

You will mainly work with 1st years and 2d years, although you will have to help out with marking third-year exams. I won’t lie. This was a burden for me when I would have third-year marking on top of regular classes. It took me a while to figure out a more efficient marking system. If you find yourself stressed out about it, e-mail me.

First Years

Oral Communication

You will teach the same lesson (called O.C.3.) to seven different 1st year classes a week Classes are 50 minutes long, and it is taught in the AV room. There is a TV hooked to a computer that you can use when necessary. When I first arrived, I used it every class because I taught with PowerPoint.

However, last term we got new books (switched from Sailing to Vision Quest) and tried to use worksheets instead of Powerpoints. The teachers (or you!) might want to change it up. I’m leaving you my lesson plans and teaching materials on the CD, but there are also hard copies in folders (right side, bottom drawer). The teachers are pretty flexible when it comes to teaching, you can use the books as much or as little as you want (as long as you use them).

Lesson plans: Submit lesson plans to the first year supervisor at least a week before class. She will pass it around to all the other teachers and they will make changes/suggestions. The 1st year teachers will give you an overview of what their plans are for the next two terms. Just try to be flexible and don’t get too put-out when something that you put effort into doesn’t make the cut or doesn’t work very well. Try not to get too frustrated and enjoy the successes you have in classes. I have had some really great lessons and some really not-so-great lessons.

Exams: I am in charge of making the listening part of the first year exam. I left some samples in the blue “everything binder” and there are hard copies of exams in my “SARAH” folder. Usually, two weeks before the exam, I met with a teacher to see what sort of things they wanted on the exam. I went through our lessons and picked out what I thought should be on the exam. At first, I went through A LOT of edits/revised drafts. All of the teachers will need to look over it before it is printed or recorded.

Since you are doing a listening section, you will need to record the exam. I usually had conversations in my tests, so I had other ALTs record with me.

To record: I used the Garage Band podcast program (make sure to record on Female voice track) on my Mac Book. I would record and save separate sections of the exam. It was easy to record and/or duplicate sections, import into iTunes, then burn onto a CD. Some ALTs record in the Broadcasting room at their schools. I am sure you could ask a teacher about it, if you don’t have a Mac.

Research course (TKR)

This is a new course that only started last year, so it is still a little under development. There were no TKR classes during the first term, so students will start during the second term. Last term, we did speeches and debate. I believe they will continue with debate as a main project. These are GREAT students and a lot of fun to help out with.

Second Years

You will teach seven 2nd years classes a week, same as the O.C.I class for first years 1st and 2nd Terms, it is a Reading Class. 3rd Term, it is a writing class.

The class is done 95% in English, so you will be doing a lot of explaining. You do not need to make lessons plans for this class, as each class follows the same format. I have started a “Share your Ideas” section, so you might have to write a question for that section though. Also, they will have a mini-presentation at the end of each lesson; this time, they are required to make a mini-research in groups of 4 or 5. I have already given them the instructions, so you can look it up on the CD data I have left you.

Reading (FIRST and SECOND TERMS)

Use Prominence English II Text Book.

1. Students read the chapter before class and complete a teacher-made worksheet

A. The JTEs make the worksheets.

B. They will ask you to check the worksheet for mistakes.

C. They may also ask you to help them make questions.

2. Class format (*Note: some teachers will change this up a bit, and you can also change it to your liking when you feel comfortable enough)

A. ALT reads text aloud

B. ALT reads new words, students repeat.

C. ALT reads text, students repeat.

D. Check worksheet

① Comprehension – Pick students to answer questions

② T/F – first, the students will check their answers in pairs, then you check together as a class

③ Q&A – first, the students will check their answers in pairs, then you check together as a class.

E. Extra Activity – Students will get a new worksheet with an extra activity that they will do in class.

Writing (THIRD TERM)

Use Interface English Writing Text Book.

1. Students translate the pre-assigned sentences for homework

2. At the beginning of class, students are selected to write their answers on the chalk board.

3. The ALT checks their sentences on the board.

A. The Interface Book has the sample sentences for each translation for you to check. It doesn’t have to follow the translation word for word, as even some examples are not so great.

B. Explain any grammar points you think are important.

C. The JTE or students may also ask you questions on the spot.

4. Students will submit original short essays at the end of class that you will have to check before their next class.

Every Thursday, I would stay after school to meet with the English Club. Sometimes they planned activities or sometimes I planned a lesson/game/activity. They aren’t a huge club, but are very genki and excited to speak English. I will miss them immensely.

Students in Japan have half day classes on most Saturdays, but you are not required to teach on that day. They are also pretty much at school every single day for club activities. Meaning, they are ALWAYS at school.

Clothing at school:

In summer, I wore pants with t-shirts or button-down tops (usually ¾ sleeves). In winter, I wear pants, corduroys (I have a lot from living in Vermont), and sweaters. Uniqlo (a nice cheap Japanese clothing store) also makes heat tech long underwear. All of us ALTs use them in the winter. I usually have an extra fleece or blanket to wear out in the halls because it’s so cold.

School shoes were either TOMs or clogs.

Apartment things:

Although, it is expensive, it seems that many high school ALTs have to pay more than middle school ALTs. The upside is that you have a pretty sweet apartment! I always felt safe in Japan, but I was annoyed that I could not leave the windows open during the hot summer months because I was on the first floor. Otherwise, I really loved my apartment. It’s a nice place in a pretty good location, almost equidistant from your school to the grocery store. The train station isn’t that far away either, compared with some of the others’. I rarely saw or heard my neighbors, and when I did, they only spoke Japanese. I wanted to talk with them more, but my Japanese wasn’t good enough. Overall, it is a pretty and quiet apartment. It is also a nice space for having dinner parties.

Paying bills/rent: Most of my bills come out of my bank account automatically. You will also pay some bills (Internet) at the konbini (any convenience store, Family Mart and Lawson’s are super close to your apartment). That is super easy to do. Basically, just take the bill and your money and give to the clerk. They’ll stamp it and give you a receipt.

Staying warm: You have a couple of heaters, as well as the actual wall heater/AC unit, which works pretty well as long as you just use it to heat the tatami room. (Keep your bedroom doors closed.) Trying to heat the whole place is impossible and costly.

I had my supervisor help me get my kerosene the first time. And initially, I was like, “Ahhhh, I can’t use kerosene!!” But in the winter, when it is cold, it is the most cost-efficient and cost-effective way to stay warm. The gas station down the street would actually deliver gas to my place for me since I didn’t have a car to drive there, fill up the tanks, and bring them home. My supervisor would call them, then I would leave out my gas tanks. They would stop by, fill them up, and leave them outside my door with the bill in my mailbox. I then had a few days to pay the bill at the gas station in person.

As far as using the kerosene, I would use the purple electronic gas filter to just fill up the tanks. It will stop automatically when the tank is full. Then put the gas in the heater. Hit the big button to turn it on. It will beep and shut off automatically, or you can crack open a window, to let in some fresh air. Again, I was worried about using them at first – and many ALTs do not use them – but honestly, I had no problem with them. I also never used them in my bedroom, preferring to just use the Wall unit.

Trash: Gomi! Chotto muzukashii. For the most part, your trash will be divided in two separate categories: burnable and non-burnable. Use only clear trash bags (I get them at the 100 yen store at Aeon Mall) because our trash is sorted for us. Burnables (organic waste, paper scraps, etc.) are collected twice a week on Monday and Thursday mornings unless one of these days is a holiday. Non-burnables go out on Wednesdays. And once a month (on the trash schedule), you can put out larger things you want to get rid of. Your trash goes in what looks like a white shed thing right outside the apartment. Right near our living room window. Cute.

Tatami: Again, here, your best bet is to look up tatami care online. Try not to spill anything on it, particularly liquids, and vacuum as often as you can. They recommend twice a week, but I’m just not made that way, so I do it once a week in general. Tatami is very sensitive. Try not to drag anything across it or keep anything too heavy on it. It’s a pain, but it is much warmer than regular flooring in winter, which is nice.

Bedroom: Traditional tatami room! If I was staying longer, I would have bought a real bed. I just used the futon for a year. (edited: Ugh. I hated that futon.)

Kitchen: You will have to turn the gas (there is a valve under the stove, which you will turn on before cooking, then off after you finish cooking) to use your burners. (edited: I MISS GAS BURNERS!) The same with the water for your washing machine. There’s a nozzle on the wall you have to turn on at least the first time.

Drains: I don’t understand how these work very very well. The shower drain is gross and always has standing water in a cup-like apparatus at the bottom, but this is how it is designed to function. Just try to clean out frequently and drop bleach tablets down there occasionally and that should be okay. The kitchen sink drain has a cup you can pull out to which you can attach little nets to catch food. Kind of gross. But, I guess it keeps the pipes from getting clogged. Same with the bleach tablets there.

Rice cooker: Just put rice in and press the big, colored button. It’ll do the rest.

TV: The Board of Education leaves you a TV, however, they changed the channel system. So, I needed to buy a $100 box to unscramble channels, and even then, I heard there were only like 5 stations. I never ended up using the television, and stuck it in the closet.

Washing Machine: The Board of Education also leaves you with a washing machine. It is only cold water, so you can’t ruin your clothes. I just put in my clothes, add some laundry detergent, and press the biggest button. It will start, cycle through, and then you have to hang your clothes to dry. I left some drying racks in the closet. When it was nice, I would put my clothes outdoors, but in the winter, I put them near the heater.

Around town:

So, Japan doesn’t do street signs. And many streets turn out to be dead ends. But, I will try to direct you to a few important places and advise you that an iPhone with pins is your friend.

To get to school from your apt, I will draw you a map!

[walking—approx. 25 min.]  [Biking—approx. 12 min.]

Cool restaurants:

1). If you continue on the busy road near the school (blue crosswalk one) and turn to the left, eventually you’ll get to a restaurant named Kheir (left-hand side). This place has a great vibe.

2). Also check out Soup Curry south side of the station.

3). We also like Aladdin (Indian food) in Toyama.

4). Ask Clarissa or Ariana or Josh. They know good food places.

Favorite places in Japan

Everywhere is really cool. I wish I was staying longer to get to explore more of the country and Asia in general. Here are some of the places I was able to visit my first year.

1. Tokyo: Orientation and for a few other weekends. Most ALTs take a bus (cheaper, but longer) or the shinkansen (more expensive, but faster)

2. Osaka: There is an AJET sumo trip in the spring! Osaka is a very cool, relaxed city. Again, you can take a bus for the Thunderbird train to Osaka.

3. Kyoto: I went there for spring break, when the cherry blossoms were blooming. MAGICAL. The entire city, which is beautiful anyway, looked like it was covered in a blanket of pink petals. It is only 30 minutes from Osaka!

4. Mt. Fuji: AJET organized a trip in the Fall when I first arrived. Hard, long, tiring hike, but the most stunning sunrise EVER!

5. Hokkaido: Going up to the Northern part of Japan (which is considered like the Alaska of Japan) my last week. Excited to see all of the beautiful nature and enjoy cooler summer weather!

6. Lots of places in and around Toyama-ken. Gokayama and Takayama are cool small mountain towns. Very traditional with unique food. I also did a lot of hiking around the Tateyama area.

7. Outside of Japan: The best time to do international travel – either go home or travel SE Asia – is over winter vacation. I went to Thailand and Malaysia for two weeks, which was a really great time to take a break from Toyama-ken, which was SO COLD.

Ganbatte (good luck)!

~Sarah

73 Responses to Hi, I’m Sarah!

  1. Haleigh says:

    I would love to visit Vermont, or even move there. I lived in Sweden with my husband for 2 years and I desperately miss the cold weather after moving to the South recently.

  2. Kendall says:

    Just found your blog, and I’m loving it! Definitely adding you to my Reader. :)

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks Kendall! It’s a work in progress:)

  4. Lauren says:

    I’m so glad you commented on my blog because I found yours. I have seriously been sitting here for the past 45 minutes reading post after post after post. I just couldn’t stop. I love your pictures and writing style. I am hooked.

  5. Great blog!! I am so glad I have found it and get to ad it to my daily list of reads ;)

    All the best!

    XXOO
    Kris

  6. Hi Sarah,

    Visiting via (never)home makers and just wanted to say hello! I am a native Vermonter and was living in Burlington up until a few years ago. I ran a relay leg of the Vermont City Marathon; it’s a great race!

    Erin

  7. Sarah says:

    It is a fun race! I love the drums on Battery St. hill and the fresh fruit people have out for us. I’m hoping I’m successful at completing the full marathon again:)

  8. Caty says:

    Your blog is so inspiring! Words, foods, travels, setbacks of daily life. You’re humble about your approach on fitness and food and I love it! Thanks for doing what you do. :)

  9. Lindsay says:

    Just came across your blog through Yoga Pose May – it’s great to see more Vermont bloggers they are a rarity

  10. Memoria says:

    I received a Master of Education degree in the same discipline as you and still don’t know what to do with my life either. I’m working on another grad degree, but I’m still confused. You’re the first person I’ve met outside of my past cohort who has this degree haha.

    You have gorgeous photos. I’m so jealous of all your camera equipment!

  11. Effie Ntlc says:

    I received a Master of Education degree in the same discipline as you and still don’t know what to do with my life either. I’m working on another grad degree, but I’m still confused. You’re the first person I’ve met outside of my past cohort who has this degree haha.
    +1

  12. Terry Hesson says:

    Sara I did’nt no you were such a cook. Your Mom gave me your blog site a while back and I got hooked on it. You have some kind of busy life, I could’nt keep up. But I do stay busy with Miranda’s two babies. Next time you come home I expect one of those healthy meals you cook. Enjoy your trip to London. Later Terry

  13. Jennifer says:

    Love your blog, Sarah! I’m going to try and make the Fried Apple Cakes tomorrow morning (it’s supposed to be rainy and chilly here in Chicago). Keep up the wonderful work! It’s very inspiring. :)

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks! How are you doing? Are you still in Chicago? I hope you enjoy the fried apple cakes. I might make them tomorrow too:)

  14. Mads says:

    I love your blog…your pictures are incredible!
    Your post on pizza dough has lured me in.

  15. Ashley says:

    Can’t wait to meet you! I love your header…it’s so personalized :)

  16. Barb says:

    Sarah, I know more of you via your blog than my daily interactions with you. Why is that? You are a closet extrovert!

    • Sarah says:

      Hahahaaa. I’m stealth like that Barb:)

      • Barb says:

        Sarah, I really think you should pursue your love of food; it’s so obvious! Did you know Deb H.’s daughter will be attending NECI? The daughter that travels the world and teaches English to Japanese children. The two of you are similar like that; don’t like to stay put in one place for too long, loves to travel……

  17. Noreen says:

    I found your blog while researching Tartine bread. Your details fill in the blanks and I love all the pictures. Now if I can just get a starter to live! I’ve baked Italian rustic bread from Carol Field’s ‘The Italian Baker’ but wild yeast is new to me. It’s cold here in Seattle, the perfect time to smell bread baking. I love your blog, keep writing.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Noreen! I’ll have to try out the Italian rustic bread. I’ve just recently become into bread-baking. It’s a fun challenge!

  18. Loving your blog!

  19. Alicia says:

    love your blog! :-)

  20. Just found your blog and I am enjoying your recipes and photos! Congratulations on making Freshly Pressed!

  21. akeerie says:

    Just stumbled on your site from freshly pressed. I love the feel you’ve given to your blog and your about picture is great!

  22. plappern says:

    Also landed here from Freshly Pressed… Nice blog indeed!

  23. Amanda says:

    I happened to stumble upon your blog and really enjoy reading it and your photos are great!

    Have a great day!

    Amanda
    http://bullfrogsandbulldogs.wordpress.com/

  24. kristastes says:

    was browsing freshly pressed and found you…love your blog!!

  25. that’s a really cute introduction!

  26. racwalt1 says:

    hey! I use the same theme you do. How did you edit the page tabs css to get them to go down the side like that. I have been messing around with it for hours and can’t get it to change font or alignment. I want mine to stay across the top, but change color etc….
    If you coud clue me in that would be great :)
    http://www.collegehillrenovation.com

    • Sarah says:

      Hi! On the wordpress dashboard, under “Appearance” there should be a “Menu” tab. On that tab you can create a custom menu. I called my “sarah’s blog menu.” That’s where I added the “labels” (baking, breakfast, etc) and took away the “pages” from the main menu. Otherwise, they would show up along the top. I still have my pages, but I created images and linked the page to the image. This is done through widgets. I used the “image” widget, added the html link of my image (I had uploaded them to my flickr) and then put in the html link for the page. Hope that helps!

  27. befaster says:

    Just found your blog, and I might have to start baking now… groan, so hungry! Haha. Great photos, love Scotland as well, and look forward to seeing more cool posts!

  28. Nicole says:

    I’m really enjoying your blog. I too love crafting, traveling, The Hunger Games, pets and running! Merlin is adorable. =^_^=

  29. Awesome blog! I`m really happy I came upon it :) I especially loved reading about your Scotland adventures! I`m a travel agent and it I found it was fun and helpful. Are you from Burlington? I`m from Montreal and usually go once or twice to Burlington in the summer by boat. Love it there! Anyways just wanted to congrats you on your blog. I`m just starting off in the blog world and your work really inspires me. Keep it up!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Cynthia! My friend Laney and I looooooved Scotland. Seriously, might be my favorite place that I’ve traveled. I am in Burlington, which is also a great city, but I’m leaving in a week. I’m working on a program in London for July, then moving to Japan.

  30. hey Sarah,
    thanks for inspiring ! :)

  31. Amy says:

    Hey :) just found your blog and i absolutely love it! Your photos and recipes are so beautiful and really compliment each other! I especially like the look of those pink peanut butter hugs! Yum! Must try x

  32. Stephanie says:

    Hey Sarah! I’ve nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog Award!” Here’s the link: http://ontheroadtord.com/2012/06/18/one-lovely-blog/ Congrats! I’ve been stalking your blog for a while and just love it! :)

  33. Hi Sarah! I love your blog (I’m not sure if I commented before and told you that) your pictures are beautiful and everything you write is awesome! I just wanted to let you know that because I enjoy your blog so much I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. http://wp.me/p1GRQ3-bX :)

  34. patylk says:

    Hey Sarah, Your blog really inspired me, that travel section made me really go with you during your trips, and since i am so much in love with london city you cant imagine what am feeling right now away from it all… btw your pictures of food are so mouth watering that am already starving and heading to the kitchen. waiting to read some more! xoxo

  35. I’ve nominated you for a Sunshine award. Here’s the post:
    http://sushisushibento.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/sunshine-award/
    I can’t wait to hear more about how Japan is going!! Teach us some words and phrases too!!

  36. Hello Sarah, Happy New Year. I eally like your blog and nominated you for The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.
    As always participation is an optional, please feel free to check
    http://rabbitcancook.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/starting-the-2013-with-love-and-awards/

  37. Hi Sarah! I’m from Malaysia, just happened to saw your post on Kuala Lumpur trip..and I absolutely love your posts on Japan life! Nice photosss you have! xoxo

  38. Hello Sarah! I’ve nominated you for the Epically Awesome Award Of Epic Awesomeness following my nomination by Heather from bitesnbooks.wordpress.com. You can see your nomination here: http://frenchgirlcuisine.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/epically-awesome-award-of-epic-awesomeness-nomination/

  39. Hi, I am glad I discovered your blog! I studied Japanese for 6 years at school but never had the chance to visit. I had language exchange friends (including one who is still a good friend 10+ years on) so looking at your blog brings back some memories.

    • Sarah says:

      That’s awesome! Your Japanese must be amazing. Japan is an incredible and unique place. I’ll be sad to leave in August:(

  40. gustatori says:

    What a great experience that you’re living right now! So happy that you’re sharing all of your pics/thoughts! http://www.gustatori.com

  41. everyinch says:

    Wow! I really love your photos. I’m also teaching in Japan, but I’ll be staying for two years. Also, as I was skimming through your posts I saw that your friend is trying to convince you to move to Portland next, and since I lived there for college and a few years after, I can say with extreme confidence that it is The Greatest Place in the World.

    • Sarah says:

      I am jealous you are staying. I am REALLY going to miss Japan! Glad to know that Portland is THE GREATEST PLACE IN THE WORLD though. I will work on making it happen!

  42. Minchan says:

    Hey Sarah. It’s a really good blog. Seems like you love adventure and challenge. Sure after Japan you should go to Korea or Indonesia.
    Thanks for inspiring!

  43. Hi, I am a follower of your blog, and I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. Have a look at my post http://soufflesaviour.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/liebster-award/ for more details. Thanks and goodbye!

  44. Ally says:

    Sarah! Thanks for your awesome email, and for reading about my dating adventures. You’ve got balls for living in Japan for a year. I know because I lived in China right after college. It totally shaped who I am, and Asia is a magical region. Great photos. I can’t wait to read more of your blog.

    • priscillafoo says:

      Hey Ally,

      Probably you might want to visit Singapore if you haven’t cos Singapore is a beautiful place although its a very tiny island just right below Malaysia. We have so many things to look at here in Sunny Singapore. Oh by the way, its sun all year round!

  45. Christina says:

    Just wanted to let you know I enjoy reading your blog! Thanks!
    http://daydreamtourist.com/2013/06/17/big-thank-yous/

  46. Insung says:

    What a great blog you got here! I really enjoyed everything here especially pictures! I am looking forward to see your future posts!

    • Sarah says:

      Hello and arigato! I feel like I have been lazy in Japan, mainly using my iPhone to take pictures, so thank you for the sweet comment.

  47. Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long)
    so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly
    enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any points for beginner blog writers? I’d
    genuinely appreciate it.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi! I’m sorry that your first comment got eaten. (Ugh, annoying.) Gosh, I have NO IDEA what I am doing with my blog, but thank you for the compliment. I think that the only thing I have been doing is blogging regularly over the past few years. My pictures aren’t great, but I have definitely improved from my first few posts (even using an iPhone camera). So, I would just say keep doing it! You will find your voice and it will start to feel more natural.

      Ganbatte!

  48. prep2eat says:

    Former VT’er. Beautiful place to live :)

  49. juliette says:

    Hi Sarah, LOVED your blog like so many others have said I got hooked quickly!

  50. mmmarzipan says:

    Hi Sarah! I just came across your blog and love it already :) Happy to follow!

  51. priscillafoo says:

    Hey Sarah I am so thankful that you posted everything about the JET Programme!

    They are finally opening the recruitment in my country – Singapore and I am extremely excited and I can’t wait to sign up for it! I am getting help from my Japanese Language teacher for a recommendation letter.

    Have you got any tips for the interview? I am not sure how is it being done (or it might be different) but i would like to know abit more so that I can prep myself for it! :)

    Cheers
    Priscilla

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Priscilla! There was another teacher in my prefecture from Singapore (a country that I would LOVE to visit, hear spectacular things about!), so I will reach out to her. I think JET might be a little different in the application process country-to-country.

      Re Interview: It’s hard when you Google it online! So many different tips and stories pop up. I wasn’t quizzed on anything about Japan (famous people, geography, politics, etc). I’m not sure if I got lucky? Or if they knew that I had no background in East Asian studies or Japanese language? My interview was pretty relaxed compared to what I’ve read online. That said, I tried to study about Japanese history, learn some vocabulary, made sure I knew my statement inside and out, and had prompt answers for why I would be a good candidate to teach in Japan.

      Ganbatte!

  52. Your a free-spirit. I like that. I am too. Always waking up in the middle of the night and screaming “I want to learn to windsurf/surf/poi dance/skateboard/mountain climb/speak Polish!”. I found a good guy to keep me grounded. Still free but now I have someone to talk me down from the really outrageous things.
    Merlin is adorable and I bet your excited to see the Divergent movie coming out soon!

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