I finally feel settled in at work. The students are starting to chat with me more, and the staff are making more comments with me. It's interesting because the boys seem to talk to me more than the girls. I think the girls are too shy and when I try to talk to them they just squeal, "KAWAII!!!" It's amusing to say the least. So if I were hideous to look at, would they talk to me more?? They know I understand most of what they say, but beyond a question regarding the lesson, they won't really say more than "Hello." I think the pressure of always being scrutinized, however, will never go away. I don't feel this when I am at school. I feel this when I'm walking in the area before and after school, even if there are no students in the streets. I guess part of it comes from the fact that I know that Japanese housewives can be gossips and have quite the spying eyes. In addition, the PTA is highly involved at the school, of course. I won't even take my phone out to check messages while I'm walking because I think they might disapprove of that if they see me doing that. Basically, a teacher shouldn't do something the students shouldn't do, i.e. crossing the street when the crosswalk light is red, etc. And as a foreigner, I stand out in a residential area 10x more than the other teachers. So I just wait until I am A. on the bus or B. out of the area completely if I decide to walk home that day. Once I've crossed over into my own territory, I feel the scrutiny disappear almost immediately. I probably have no need to feel like I'm being watched like a hawk, but I can't shake it. Why? Because at training they basically drilled that concept into our heads: you will be noticed and observed. If the parents see something they don't like, they'll tell your JTE, who will then not say anything directly, etc. I guess I just like to play it safe in the end.
That aside, I have finally received a part-time offer from AEON Corporate! Yay! Once a week I'll be teaching business English of some sort to some people at a company not too far from my house by train. So it'll be super easy to get there after work and then back home. I'm really excited, because once that pay starts, my overall monthly salary will go back up to about 1-man yen short of my previous salary. The Corporate guys seem really cool and I actually liked teaching business English classes before. It'll be nice to have real conversations with students again. I don't know much about the actual class content yet though, and that varies by client. Either way, the offer came at a good time.
Which kind of leads into my next topic, networking. Situation 1: Recently, a university friend of mine asked me to help him out with a website gig for his boss. It wasn't paid, but I was interested in the project, and my friend knew nothing about design and very little about coding, and needed help. So we sat down, designed it, and I got the coding started for him. We were discussing his business and my work etc., which led him into the conversation of his boss wanting to open some kind of trading business with the States and here. It was quite interesting, as his boss is wanting to target foreign women and hire foreign women. That's a first for me to hear something like that in Japan to be honest. I mentioned I would like to get out of teaching at some point in the future. So my friend got to chew on that. Then a few days later he calls me up asking to find out some information on product target locations etc. for this start-up business. I tell him I'll get back to him and when I have some info I pass it along. My friend then tells me that he told his boss he should hire me when he gets this thing started. Haha. I was like, "That's awesome!" So, basically, when his boss starts his new business, I'm gonna hear more about it. Situation 2: I was offered a chance to do some freelance editing work for a really good company through a person I met last year. It's a one-time thing, but if the client likes the way I do the job, if they need an editor again (quite likely), they could basically just hire me out directly, rather than through a proofreading company. And the pay is pretty good, considering it will be a 4-day job. The point of my discussing these two situations it that networking is slowly starting to pay off here. As a foreigner, if you don't network with Japanese people, and get to know Japanese people, it is going to be much more difficult to get opportunities that could get you out of teaching, even if you are not very fluent in Japanese. I like teaching, a lot actually, but I do want to give myself a chance for some career advancement, which is not so often in teaching English. The two situations are very small and might not lead to anything, but the people will meet me, I will meet them, and have a new contact. Network, meet more locals, and small opportunities like these will probably present themselves unexpectedly. These two situations were certainly unexpected.
On a lighter note, I get to go to Kamakura on a day trip next week! I'm super excited cause this will give the kids a chance to talk to me outside of the classroom. I'll also get to talk to the staff more, and just do some sightseeing for pretty cheap. It's also getting me out of the classroom as well. Hehe. I've been to Kamakura several times, but not really as a 'tourist.' So hopefully the weather will be nice and we'll have a good time.