The month of March marks both the end and beginning of the Japanese school year. As a result some ALTs (Assistant Learning Teachers) will decide to leave, meaning that new recruits will soon start to arrive. Understandably, various companies’ Facebook pages have been flooded with question about visas, training and suggestions on what to bring. But amongst them, as always, have been some bewildering questions or statements;
“Can I bring my Nintendo DS to school?”
“Does Japan have chocolate cake?”
“I can’t wait to eat sushi for school lunch”
“Can I bring my pet cat?”
(Cue Captain Picard’s face palm)
Furthermore, these were submitted by applicants who have been offered a position by a company to teach in Japan. While I can confidently say that the majority of teachers I’ve met are of sound mind, during my three years there have been a number that have challenged that perception. Whether it’s anime-lovers being brought back down to reality, or musicians with delusions of grandeur, it’s both baffling and frustrating to hear about others in the same profession. And I think it boils down to three factors, which I’ll further discuss in the future;
- Failing to recognise that you’re an employee of a company.
- Having an unrealistic concept of Japan.
- Lacking any semblance of common sense.
Living in Japan is a challenge for foreigners and even the Japanese. But working here is even harder. It isn’t the technologically advanced, cutesy, or fundamentally bizarre society that much of popular culture and western media has presented it to be. While the culture and food can be slowly adapted to, it’s the mentality and way of life that some struggle to accept.