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I never seriously thought I would go

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I never seriously thought I would go

Postby BetterSense » Sat 06.16.2007 3:11 am

I'm surprised there isn't a 'going to japan' 101 sticky or something.

I started studying japanese because, well, for no reason, except I think it's hilarious, and hard. I know if I ever went there I could learn so much japanese, it makes motivation to study from here hard to come by. But it was no priority.

Flash foreward: I score this (completely monolingual, incidentally) GF (soon fiancee) that was actually planning to go to do missionary work. But she was a bit tentative about going by herself, so I'm like, never fear, your knight in shining armor will go as your escort, and I started to get excited.

Then I found out that 'planning to go' means she doesn't actually have a plan at all.

Then I found out that I need a good reason to defer a graduate school scholarship, and 'going to japanese to raise my language skills to a more professionally useful level' sounds like a decent reason. So now, I'm like, well, I better take charge and start planning something myself. Or at least get info to stuff in the deferrment application envelope.

I've never formally studied japanese but I think I could manage the JLPT 3. JLPT 4 would be way easy at this point. Our biggest obstacle is that we are both poor. What are our options?
I know you believe you understand what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby keatonatron » Sat 06.16.2007 6:38 am

BetterSense wrote:
What are our options?


Well... what exactly is your goal? I gathered that you want to go to Japan. Your soon-to-be-fiance GF is "planning" on doing missionary work, and you want to claim to study Japanese to get your scholarship deferred.

So... Are you asking about how to do missionary work? Or how to study Japanese? Neither? Both?

What do you actually want to do here? How long do you want to stay? Once you've figured all that out, we can help ;)
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby Gundaetiapo » Sat 06.16.2007 9:44 am

I'm surprised there isn't a 'going to japan' 101 sticky or something.


It doesn't make sense to have a sticky since this is a topic that many people can contribute to over time. It so happens I created a stubbed [wiki]Going to Japan[/wiki] article in the WagaWiki for precisely this need. However, since I've never been to Japan I'm unqualified to give the article any meat. Nobody has stepped up yet to write it. God forbid the article is still empty when you get back, perhaps you can give it some content.

I score this (completely monolingual, incidentally) GF (soon fiancee) that was actually planning to go to do missionary work.


Putting missionary work on hold until you finish college is an option to weigh. I suppose it depends on how long the stay in Japan would be and how much time is left in your education. If the scholarship is not deferrable you'd be a fool to drop it for a chick however.
Last edited by Gundaetiapo on Sat 06.16.2007 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby BetterSense » Sat 06.16.2007 1:03 pm

What do you actually want to do here? How long do you want to stay? Once you've figured all that out, we can help


I guess I'd like to get some kind of work as a teaching assistant or something. She's not set on the missionary angle. I can't stay more than about 8-10 months.
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby keatonatron » Sat 06.16.2007 10:35 pm

That's a tough one. The best program would be JET, but you have to graduate first and you have to stay a year.

The next best thing would probably be getting a job at Nova or something, but that too requires a college degree and you have to stay a minimum of 1 year.

You're biggest problem will probably be your visa. Without a job you can only stay 3 months, and if you get a job they will most likely want you to sign a one-year contract.
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby Kozue » Sun 06.17.2007 1:04 am

If your girlfriend isn't "set on the missionary angle" then for what reason exactly do you guys want to go? I thought the reason for your trip was that she wanted to do missionary work there, and you decided you could basically tag along for the ride for fun. I'm not sure I understand the purpose of your trip in the first place. 8-10 months really won't teach you a ton of Japanese, especially with an English-speaking girlfriend with you that you will talk to in English all the time, and as an English teacher for your job. I think you're probably over reaching with your expectations, especially since you have never formally studied Japanese, and only picked it up because you found it funny. Doesn't seem like you have much interest in the culture, so once again, not the best reason to go out there.

With that said, obviously going there is your decision. Your plan however is still a bit unrealistic. As someone said, they will want you to sign a year contract if you join any type of English-teacher position. There are truly not many (read: any) positions for a non-Japanese speaker that will last only 8 months. Most jobs like JET also require a ton of interviews in the U.S. first, and you don't usually get to pick where you want to live, as in, what region. As for the pay...typically it's 250,000 yen for full time work per month. You would both have to work full time to afford rent. I don't know how you plan to learn Japanese if all you do is teach English all day.

As far as housing, you'll run into more problems. Long term rent requires 2 years lease most of the time. 1 year will be bare minimum. They will want a proof that you have a Visa before they let you sign anything, and for that, you'll need a steady job. You could stay at month to month places, but expect to pay upwards of 4k a month for something decent, without factoring in the typical 2 month's rent worth of deposit they will ask of you.

The thing is, Japan is not the place to go if you don't have any money, especially if you won't be there long enough to get a job and sign for a long term apartment. This seems like it would be a total waste of both your time and your money, considering that it doesn't even really seem like there is any actual reason as to why you'd enjoy being there, other than being amused by the language for 10 seconds. As for your girlfriend, if like you said, she's not set on doing missionary work, then she probably shouldn't. It's hard work, even more so if she doesn't speak a word of the language- what will she even do there? You can't reach out to Japanese people if you can't speak the language. This all just seems really...unrealistic and unthought-out. If I were to give you advice I would say, go to grad school, and let your girlfriend find another summer vacation for you two.

Just an honest opinion.
Last edited by Kozue on Sun 06.17.2007 1:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby BetterSense » Sun 06.17.2007 3:49 am

OK. I have a college degree; that seemed lost on a couple. Maybe we will just go visit someday, for a few weeks or something.
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby Mike Cash » Sun 06.17.2007 5:16 am

I couldn't help but recall the title of Robert Bork's book, "Slouching Towards Gomorrah"

We could start a series:


Slouching Towards Japanese Study

Slouching Towards Missionary Work
Never underestimate my capacity for pettiness.
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby keatonatron » Sun 06.17.2007 7:06 am

BetterSense wrote:
OK. I have a college degree;


Well that changes everything! Kozue made it sound a lot worse than it is...

If you can commit to doing a full year, I would suggest looking into the English schools. I don't have any experience with them, but I looked at Aeon's website a few years ago, and they find housing for you and pay a good portion of your rent. You won't get rich on an English teacher's salary, but you CAN get by just fine for the year without any extra income.

Also talk to your girlfriend and see what it is she really wants to do. She can't be covered under your work visa, so she'd have to sign up too (but if you live together, you'll essentially have twice the income which would be nice!)
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby Kozue » Sun 06.17.2007 11:20 pm

Yeah, I definitely painted a "worst case scenario", because I feel that with such a huge undertaking, it's healthy to take those into account. I knew the OP had a college degree, since he was mentioning deferring his grad school.

But I wrote my post under the assumption that the OP could not, or would not, commit to a full year, since he said he was going for "8-10 months max". Also, as far as I know (and I don't know very much so I'm completely sorry if this is inaccurate) the only schools that will pay for your housing and set it up for you are the ones that go through programs like JET. To get into a program like that, you have to apply well ahead of time, AND while you can request where you live, if you want to be in Tokyo, it's very unlikely to happen, and you'll probably end up somewhere out in the boonies, like most of my friends did. It would also be unlikely that both the OP and his girlfriend get selected, and if they do, that they are needed at the same location. If only one of them is going to do the teaching thing, I'm not sure they allow a second person to live with you while they pay your rent. In my friend's case, they did not. Also, there's pretty much no other way for someone who doesn't speak a word of the language like the OP's girlfriend, to get a job doing anything else. No job = no visa = go home.

If you do go through something like JET, then yeah, aside for the location itself there isn't much to worry about, for sure. Most of my friends have given me positive feedback on their experiences. But the thing with that is that you need to set it up well ahead of time, and you need to not care where you end up working. You also do need to commit at least a year, as far as I know.

And my last point, which I tried the best I could to get through in my last message, is that...to go to Japan, live in a small apartment, and teach English for relatively slim wages every day of the week...you have to WANT to be in Japan very badly for it to be worthwhile. If you don't truly want to be there for reasons more than "I want to brush up on my Japanese, which I only took up in the first place cause I thought it was funny", I'm pretty convinced, although I know nothing about the OP, that he will hate it. That's just my opinion, and I could be dead wrong. But I really didn't read from his post that he actually had a big desire to go other than "eh, what the hell, why not", and I think there are countries that would be much better suited to that kind of attitude than Japan. The people I know who hated it...REALLY hated it. And they were the people who didn't particularly want to be there in the first place, but who just had nothing better to do with their time.

If you think teaching English to a bunch of little kids all day (or conversional English to adults, whichever..) will make you happy, and if you don't care in which prefecture you end up living with the knowledge that you'll just end up in a building full of other American students who came to teach English and that you won't really get much of an immersion of the language especially with your significant other there who doesn't speak a word, if simply being IN the country will make you happy in and of itself, then go. If not, I'd strongly consider only going there for a vacation of 1-3 months, instead. I really think that what you want to do can't be done with any true benefit as a couple...if you have someone to speak to in English ALL the time, your Japanese is not going to improve whatsoever just because the guy who sells you groceries can only say "thank you" in Japanese. It'll be much harder to make local, Japanese friends, as an American duo, as well. You're just a pretty self-sufficent unit that way. That's the main reason I see the intent for going as failing.

Yes, again I am painting the bleaker picture, but I know many people who wish it had been done for them before they made the decision. I am sorry not to be more upbeat about it, but I am hoping that it will be at least a little bit helpful. If not, I'm sorry if anything came out too harshly. I have *never* taught English in Japan, and never will, so, take what I say with the grain of salt that this is all that has been relayed to me through a good dozen of friends, and what I have myself gathered while researching relocation options.
Last edited by Kozue on Sun 06.17.2007 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: I never seriously thought I would go

Postby keatonatron » Mon 06.18.2007 11:13 am

Kozue wrote:


A very long post.


Also, as far as I know (and I don't know very much so I'm completely sorry if this is inaccurate) the only schools that will pay for your housing and set it up for you are the ones that go through programs like JET.


Like I stated in my last post, Aeon will find and help pay for housing. I think I remember hearing that Nova has a similar program. And with those schools, you can choose where you want to live.

And my last point, which I tried the best I could to get through in my last message, is that...to go to Japan, live in a small apartment, and teach English for relatively slim wages every day of the week...you have to WANT to be in Japan very badly for it to be worthwhile.


I'm not at all "pro-eikaiwa" or anything, but I really think it isn't as bad as you make it sound! I haven't done it myself so I don't know what it's like, but what I've heard a few times is "you work 20 hours a week, and make 250,000 yen a month." I live in Tokyo, and I only spend about 150,000 yen a month. Granted that's only for the bare necessities, but if I had an extra 100,000 yen of play money, I'd have a pretty good time!!

If you scrimp and save, you could probably only bank about $12,000 a year, which is why I said you won't get rich doing it. But that doesn't mean you'll be living off bread crumbs.

I really dislike the people who have lived in Japan for 20 years and are still English teachers with very little Japanese skills... However, I have no problem with the people who do it for just a year to get a better idea of what Japan is like than they could get from sightseeing. If BetterSense is interested even a little bit, I think he should pursue it!
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