Sporadic Happiness (in Japan!)

(formerly) updated every Wednesday

#3 My swank free household items

on December 21, 2011

Hello everyone!

Two announcements, then on to today’s post.

1) I have decided that I will have a new post on this blog every Wednesday (Japan time), so look forward to them!

Right now I’m full of ideas, so I’m writing some posts in advance and then will post one each week, so I don’t run out too quickly!  I’m also keeping notes of ideas for new posts to keep the fires burning!

2) On my last post I hinted at a post about English words used in Japanese.  I’ve begun writing about this subject but haven’t quite finished yet.  Look forward to it in a future post.

Now, let the enjoyment begin!

Today I will talk about one of the benefits of being on the JET program (or rather, getting my specific placement).

They used to use the phrase ESID – “Every Situation Is Different” to describe what your placements are like on the JET program.  A lot depends on your placement – what your housing will be like, how many students or schools you’ll have, what grade levels you’ll be teaching, how many fellow JETs will be nearby, etc etc.

Even the three of us in the same town have very different placements.  I live on an island of about 2000 people including some other “foreigners” such as Philipinos, Brazilians, and Chinese; another girl is on an island of 3000, and my boyfriend is on an island with about 200 people where everyone knows everyone else.  Quite the difference.  Not to mention our teaching schedules are entirely different from each other, and we all have different housing situations.  Last year when I was on an island of about 1800 people (in the same town) I lived in a giant old house all by myself.  Now I live in a smaller cozy apartment since switching islands.  (By the way, they gave me the opportunity to switch; I didn’t request it, but did agree to it.  My situation is rare, but things like these happen sometimes – the town was actually downsizing us ALTs from 4 total to 3, after one decided not to re-contract).

Anyway, we lucked out by being placed in our town (which consists of 4 main islands and a few smaller, including non-inhabited, islands).  We lucked out for a lot of reasons – the people here are very friendly and warm, the scenery is gorgeous, the weather is relatively mild, and we have tons of citrus in the winter (our prefecture is known for Mikan oranges)..  But what us JETs especially lucked out on, is that our BOE (Board of Education) supplied us with a hefty amount of nice, new appliances.

It’s worth mentioning that these presents weren’t rained down on us out of nowhere – one of the other ALTs complained about not having heaters in her apartment.  I think she was ready to go buy one on her own (a hefty couple hundred of dollars).  Before doing so though, she complained directly to the mayor and his wife, which certainly got things moving quicker than if she’d gone through any other channel.

She originally just asked for heaters, but what we got instead, was a bounty of new things we didn’t even know we needed.  Here’s what we got.

We each got 1 or 2 new air conditioners – they actually act as both air conditioning and heating units.  Japanese houses and apartments don’t have central heating or central cooling so people rely on devices like these, or else space heaters and fans, or a combination of them.

These are placed high up on a wall (near the ceiling) and hence are actually rather ineffective in heating the apartment (warm air rises…).  I generally use this as a means to make sure the apartment isn’t freezing, but rely on other devices for heat (post on this specific topic coming soon!).

We also got new gas stoves.  Not exactly sure why, since my old one worked just fine, but who’s complaining right?
Shiny.  Good thing I just cleaned it the other day!  Stoves in Japan are these stand-alone devices – nothing like the giant stove/oven combinations we’re used to in the US.  The stove reminds me more of a sort of camping stove – it’s portable.  You could probably hook it up to a gas can if you wanted to.  Here it’s hooked up to gas that runs through the apartment.  You can’t see it in this picture, but that orange tube at the back attaches to a gas pipe, and you have to actually turn it on when you use it and off when you don’t.  They teach us to keep it off at all times when we’re not using it, to prevent fires should an earthquake happen.

We each got a brand new set of table and chairs….a rather classy and comfy set at that:

Some of us got new microwaves:

Some of us got new washing machines:

And the real kicker – each of us got a brand new flat screen TV:

The last one seems excessive, and it is, really.  Well, there’s a slight justification for it; as of July earlier this year, analog TV broadcasting would go away and everything would become digital.  If you didn’t have a digital TV, you basically wouldn’t be able to watch TV anymore.  So the BOE decided to provide us with new digital TVs and this is what we ended up with.  It’s a shame I don’t watch TV that much.  But when I do, it’s great.  Also sometimes I (though more often my boyfriend) play video games on it, and that’s a good use for it too.  But even so my boyfriend and I tend to park ourselves in front of our laptops more often, us being one of the first computer generations after all.

To sum it up, we’re lucky, and I sure realize it. We didn’t have to pay a single cent for any of this – not even delivery fees.  The items came in spurts somewhere between April and July of earlier this year, delivered directly to our respective domiciles.

Who knew complaining could get you this much stuff?

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3 responses to “#3 My swank free household items

  1. Wow! This is pretty cool – you must be valued employees. I’m interested to know what the JET programme is like and how you have found teaching in Japan. Japan was totally my first choice of places to work (rather than Korea) but unfortunately Korea made much more financial sense for us. We haven’t ruled out working there in the future though. Do you know much about how else to get jobs in Japan, rather than through programmes such as JET? I had a job offer in Tokyo but we found it hard to locate a job for Dan as apparently its rare for jobs to be advertised for people residing outside of Japan.

    • The JET programme is extremely varied depending on where you’re placed. Out in the countryside where my boyfriend and I are, we have just a few schools each, and an adult conversation class one night a week. We have the same schedule weekly – so for example I go to my middle school Mon, Thu, Fri, to the elementary school on Tue and to the preschool and board of education office on Wed. Some JETs go to multiple schools in one day. I think standardly most JETs have something like 4-8 schools, but many can have 20-40 or more, and only visit each school about once a semester. It really varies.

      Overall the JET program is pretty nice, as with the middle and high school levels you are team-teaching. At the elementary level you are generally on your own. Most JETs have a combination of middle (junior high) and elementary schools. It’s rarer to teach at preschools and to teach adults – those are usually experiences just us rural JETs get (the city JETs have too many other schools to go to).

      It’s true that a lot of people find work from within Japan. Many JETs move onto other similar teaching jobs in Japan afterwards. I think generally people go through either the JET program, or through eikaiwa school chains like ECC or Gaba. You can also go through various recruiting agencies. You might be able to secure a job on your own, but I’m not sure. I do know though, that unlike Korea, most places in Japan will not pay for your airfare over (besides JET). So if just one of you were to find a job in Japan, I would take it, and have the other person follow on a spousal visa and look for a job once in Japan. I think it’s easy enough to change a spousal visa to a work visa once inside. Also you’d be set up with housing by the one person who gets the first job anyway. Also unlike Korea, you usually have to pay rent on your house/apartment, but it’s usually subsidized (at least on JET).

      JET is a good deal in that the pay is better than eikaiwa schools, and it’s a very secure job. At the same time, you’ll often be asked to participate in events outside school hours (sports days, culture festivals, etc), and even when there’s no school in session, you still have to report to work. With some other agencies (interac maybe?) I hear you don’t have to go to work when there’s no school, and don’t have to go to things on the weekends. It’s slightly less pay, but personally I’d prefer the time off than having to go into work and pretending all day to look busy. You only need so much money to be comfortable.

      That’s a more long winded answer than I meant it to be, but if you have any other questions, let me know!

  2. wow thats awesome, i can only hope ill get anything near as awesome when i arrive next month!!

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