Leprechauns

Thursday mornings I’m scheduled to teach English at a countryside middle school and trek all the way there, but today they had exams or something so I wasn’t required to go in; instead I went to my main school and desk-warmed.  Being the great NYer I am, I efficiently used this free time to prepare a lesson for next week!  I saw a post on FB from a facilitator from EPIK’s orientation on St. Patrick’s Day, and thought I could work with that.

So I’m doing research on the holiday, the origins, related and associated things, and figured maybe I’ll include a section on leprechauns and have the students draw a comic strip.  Naturally they have to learn what leprechauns are, what characteristics they have, and implement that into their comic strips, but it was shocking to see what little visual aids that was readily and immediately available over the internet!  I remembered watching many cartoons, animations and/or movies on the little lads, and yet came up short.  Ideally I wanted a short clip displaying all their famous features, but there was always something missing!

It’s not finished yet, but it’s almost there I suppose.  It’s difficult coming up with a very educational and fun lesson plan that helps the students’ English language abilities in the long run!  Ever since I left NY to study Japanese in Japan, and now coming to Korea to teach English, I become more and more appreciative or my former teachers, and acknowledge those who can speak and/or teach foreign languages – especially as a foreign language in a foreign country!

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TT – How I Came to Japan

Go Go Nihon

Go! Go! Nihon is an organization that I found online that is well established on the web.  They have their own website, YouTube, Facebook, Skype and Wiki pages.  I found that this was evident enough to be legit and worth taking a risk on.  Why use an agent you ask?  Because their motto is that they’ll help you with the full Japanese visa process for free.  Considering that I was still working at the time, 50-60 hours a week to say the least, I decided to ask Go Go Nihon for their assistance.

Process

  1. Find a school
  2. Inquiry
  3. Apply
  4. Go to Japan

Before you get started…

You need to research which part of Japan you want to live in.  Do you want the city busy life?  There’s Tokyo of course but also Osaka.  Do you want something more half city, half traditional and calm?  That would be Kyoto.  Or perhaps you would love beautiful weather all year round?  Okinawa.  Maybe you love or want to experience the colder atmosphere, Hokkaido.  Japan is a little smaller than California but quite long, thus the weather and climate is different per town and city.  Beside the lifestyle and climate, can you afford to live in the place that you’re thinking of, like Tokyo?  Please research carefully; GGN has some decent material on the major cities in Japan.  This took me weeks to figure out because I’m from NYC and love the city life so it would be a nice transition to go to Tokyo, but I was worried about the expenses so I was looking at Osaka and Kyoto.  I decided to choose Kyoto over Osaka because my ultimate goal was to come and immerse myself in the culture while learning the language.  After you choose your location, you can see the available schools that are associated with GGN and decide.  They have some useful info on their website listing the differences of each school, and videos on their YouTube channel of the school, campus, former students, and teachers.

Contact GGN

After you figured all that out, contact GGN to actually start the process.  They will ask for some official documents so that they send an application to the school.  If the school decides that they’ll sponsor/accept you as a student, the visa process will start.  The visa process takes an extremely long time taking months!  So do not think you can just hop on over here.  Also something worth noting that many would not actually expect is that the government requires documentation that you have at least ¥2,000,000 ~ $20,000 so you can support your stay here.

Regarding Accommodation 

GGN will take care of everything so you’re on track to come to Japan.  You may be forced to book your flight before getting your visa because of the long process; because the price may rise if booked last minute, depending on many factors.  Approximately a month before the semester that you’re applying for, GGN will reach out to you regarding accommodation.  They will ask that you fill out a questionnaire and provide some details as to what you have in mind.  From there, they will look around and provide some options from which you can either accept, find your own accommodation, or the school’s if available.

When I used GGN, their accommodation assistance was very limited to say the least.  But they have ensured us, former GGN applicants, that they are working on improving it.  Kyoto wasn’t that popular for GGN before, but has been gaining popularity.  Thus, GGN’s staff has also increased over time.  I’m sure they’re providing better service as each day passes.

Visa

After you receive your “visa”, it’s not actually a visa yet, it’s a Certificate of Eligibility, you are to take it to the Consulate/Embassy and apply for the visa with the COE.  You’ll need a visa/passport photo, the COE, and passport to get a visa so make sure you bring it all to knock it out in one go.

Arrival

Finally, take your luggage, passport, and visa and go to Japan!  At Japan’s customs, you’ll have to provide your passport including the visa and COE.  The agent will take your COE stapled inside and you’ll be issued your residency card, your Japanese ID.  Hopefully you have some sort of accommodation and you move in.  But that’s not all!  Within 14 days of arriving, you need to go to your ward’s city hall (shiyakusho/市役所) and register your living address.  I had trouble with this because I didn’t know what constituted as a public office and such.  I decided to try the Japanese Post and yeah, you can do it there.  The written form you have to fill out is in Japanese though.  It was painful writing all the Kanji in my address that I’ve never seen before!  After many sweat drops, I got through it and handed it to the guy.  But that wasn’t actually it… During orientation for school, we went to the shiyakusho and properly registered.

And with that, YOKOSOU!

What do you think about using agencies like Go! Go! Nihon to go to a foreign country?  I’m thinking about going to South Korea as my next step, do you think I should use another agency?  I’m welcome to all recommendations 🙂