~Skammie~

Archive for the ‘Japan Goodness’ Category

A little bit of change for the Christmas season! =)

As I have mentioned in my previous entry, my 日本に行くぞ~ series has sadly been discontinued.

Those of you who have followed along my “journey” to go to Japan know that I have been planning this for quite a long time.  But in the end, it had to come to a close. 😦 Let me explain.

From where I left off last time, I had given up hope on JET and instead was looking forward towards OMF. Some preliminary steps have been taken, and my interests were stirred.  So I went on and discussed more with the head quaters about my Christian walk and other issues to help me find a suitable placement in Japan.  All things seemed to be in motion, especially when I heard that they were holding meetings in Japan to find a supporting church for me.

A few weeks passed and it’s already well into September.  No news.  I emailed them back and inquired about the progress and when I may be able to leave for Japan.  This was their reply:

“As regards timing goes, I think I mentioned that time is needed to develop a prayer and financial support team and this often takes a year.”

One Whole Year. Are you kidding me?!?! I had expected to leave before December, because when I met with Phoebe and Pat back in July, they mentioned that it would be ideal for me to be sent over in time to help out with the Christmas rush.  I guess that would work…if I were to help out with Christmas 2009.  *sigh*

So one big miscommunication and my dreams were crushed, once again.  They did suggest alternatives, like doing short-term missions instead of a year long one.  I also considered joining the English conversational schools, and even expressed my interest in becoming a GABA English instructor by submitting a preliminary form (GABA has shorter contract terms than the other schools, which has a 1 year contract).  But all this searching-around-and-hoping-that-something-would-work-out-but-not-really-getting-anywhere was really draining me out.  In the end, I decided to take a step back from it all and did not pursue further with any options.  Perhaps all these doors that keep slamming shut in my face is a sign from God that I shouldn’t be doing this…at least not now.

But I do not and will not give up so easily on Japan! *Fingers crossed* that I can somehow fulfill my new dream of a month (or more! 🙂 ) of traveling all around Japan in the future.  Hm…I wonder how that may work out with school/a job?

I had thought that this next post of the 日本に行くぞ~ series would announce my acceptance into JET. But nope, I have given up hope. 😦

Let’s backtrack. A month and a bit ago, I received a letter from the Consulate General of Japan. Mom told me about it on the phone while I was at work, so I was super excited, expecting to be THE letter. I rushed home to open it…the first words that met my eyes: “Invitation to the JET Preparation Seminar”. I scanned through the first page, and the next, and the next, hoping for the good news to pop up any time.

It never came.

The whole letter package was just to inform me of this seminar, a reception , and to promote those courses to help you learn Japanese and how to teach English. The reception was to “celebrate you participation in the JET programme”. OK, that obviously excludes me. And I don’t have much interest in those courses. The Preparation Seminar though, seemed useful. The topics were as follow:

  • Now to Tokyo – What to prepare
  • Your First Month In Japan – What to expect
  • Money and Taxes – self explanatory
  • Culture Shock – How to deal with it
  • Living in Japan Workshop
  • Working in Japan Workshop
  • General Q&A

After checking that Alternate JETs can participate in this, I registered. I figured, even if JET doesn’t accept me, this should still be helpful when I go to Japan. Because i will go, one way or another. 😀

So then a month ago, I went to this Preparation Seminar. It was quite a formal work conference with everyone dressed in very proper business attire. The agenda for the day (9:40-5:00) was laid out for us; it was a rigorous schedule with set break times in between.

After hearing a speech, we played a BINGO ice-breaker game. It was there that I found out there were other Alternate JETS there! In fact, there were about 5 of us out of ~35 people there. I was encouraged when some ex- and current JETs told me that I’ll probably get in. “Just keep waiting! Even start packing your bags!” I was hopeful! …but not quite to the point of actually packing my bags already.

The seminars were more well done than I had expected! The speakers were all animated people, very funny and created a relaxing mood while being informative at the same time. For example, I learned that maple cookies and ketchup chips make good omiyage to bring there. I also learned that instead of signatures, the Japanese people use a stamp, called “inkan”, for everything. And also of course, important things like getting a “gaijin” card (foreigner’s card) and how to obtain an International Drivers Permit.

The 2 workshops were a little different. Instead of speakers presenting to us, we were split up into groups of ~10 to discuss possible sticky situations that may arise. These situations were the worse case scenarios, which hopefully doesn’t happen too often, but I did manage to learn from them. The main message was to make sure things are communicated properly to avoid misunderstandings, and one way to do that was to get everything confirmed in writing. Yep, definitely a good lesson for me.

So if you ever get a chance to attend a JET Preparation Seminar, I strongly suggest that you do! It was beneficial, no doubt!~

————————————–

Alternate JETs usually get bumped up to short-listed JETs by mid July via a phone call. It’s now 1 week passed that, and I have already given up hoping to be contacted by JET. 😦

Therefore, I have moved onto my 2nd option from long ago: Missions with OMF.

A week ago, I submitted my preliminary form, and have already been contacted by them. In fact, just yesterday, I met up with the Pacific Region Coordinator, Phoebe, and Pat, a missionary who has served in Japan for many years. It was a causal chat, discussing some of my interests in ministry, some of the needs of Japan, and some things I will need to consider and pray hard about. Although I don’ t know what the next step is, or if they will even take me, God is definitely in control and leading me somewhere. Where He shuts one door, He will open another. I’m excited to see what He has planned for me; it probably will be so much better than I can ever imagine! 😀

“Dear Sarah,
This letter is to inform you that you have been selected as an ALTERNATE ALT candidate for the 2008 JET Programme. Alternates may be informed of an available position at any time up to the second week of December, 2008…

Are you SERIOUS?!?! No, I’m not mad that I didn’t quite make the cut (I know it’s subjective anyway), but that I may have to wait until DECEMBER to know if I will finally get bumped up or not?! That’s just ridiculous!! It’s like they think people have no life but to wait around for them or something. Now what am I supposed to do?! 😦

I wonder if I would have felt any better if they had told me right away that they had rejected me. And stupid big fat envelope got my hopes up too when I saw it…

I guess I have no choices left now but to:

  • Confirm that “yes, I accept the alternate candidacy and will wait for any availabilities, although it’s plain stupid that I may have to wait THAT long ><
  • Start applying for my 2nd choice: OMF
  • (And depending on how OMF responds, start seriously looking into possible 3rd choices)

Ah, and it’s finals season again! I’m in no mood to get going on those tasks. But if I can squeeze out a bit of time from my studies, I really should get cracking on planning the next stage of my life. *sigh* I absolutely HATE how things are up in the air like this, but I guess it really forces me to trust God through it all.

Anyway, good luck to all my fellow test-takers! Ganbatte!~

REALITY
First off, today is March 29th! Which means it’s a certain someone’s birthday~ 😀
HAPPY 26th BIRTHDAY, TAKKI!~ I hope your celebration (with Tsu) is as much fun this year as it was last year!

滝沢秀明へ:

もう26歳の滝沢君がいろんな人に差し響きました。私もあなたのために変わりました。五年前、雑誌に一目ぼれしてしまった、今も悔いません。日本にずっと行きたい理由はいっぱいありますけど、滝沢君に会いたいのが大切です。歌手とか俳優とかアイドルだけじゃなくて、ロールモデルです。秀君が子供の時から一所懸命ジャニーズの仕事をするし、疲れる時もファンの喜びのために諦めないし、本当に皆に尊敬に価します。でもね~体に気をつけたほうがいいですよ!日々パソコンで疲れ切たそうで、細そうな滝沢君が見ると、私は心から心配しまいました。去年女方や少年倶楽部にダンスのグルップをプロデュースこと、いろんな新しい経験がありました。今年も頑張ってくださいね!日本に行けたら、絶対に楽しみしています。秀君は私の “First Love” だから、いつまでも支持していますよ!お誕生日おめでとう、滝沢くん!

(So many grammatical mistake, and I don’t know how to correct them all…if sensei saw this, she’d probably not be too thrilled ><)

Another thing was that there was heavy snowfall yesterday and heavy hail today! It’s practically April already! Was it seriously reality?! o.O

FANTASY
I’ve been meaning to write about these dreams for a while, but have been totally putting it off. So now that I’m finally writing, a lot of it has disappeared from my memory already… *boo* 😦 But apparently, based on my subconscious mind only, this is how I see the following celebrities:

  • Tackey = my playfully flirty crush
  • Tsubasa = my over-enthusiastic teacher
  • Aiba = my SUPAA AIDORU!! (Super Idol~ ^^)
  • Massu = my hot passionate lover
  • BoA = my celebrity rival who doesn’t stand a chance against me *muahaha*
  • Kame/Nakamaru/KAT-TUN = a group of cool, chattable bunch of boys

To DreamLand~

Thank you everyone for wishing me luck on the JET interview! Here’s how it went (or what I remember of it…)~

I arrived at the interview location around 10-15 minutes beforehand, and signed in at the reception desk. They found my name on the schedule and highlighted it to show that I made it. From a quick glance, I was apparently the last in my time slot to come! :S It seemed like there were about 18 names on that page, but I didn’t know if that was all the interviews for the day. I do know that they held interviews for more than 1 day in Vancouver though…so I really don’t know how my competition looks -.-”

Anyway, there are these questions that I had to answer beforehand to bring all my info up to date. From my initial application, I chose the location to be “semi-urban”, but now that I thought about it, I think “rural” may be a better choice for befriending Japanese people (ie. a smaller community). Since I wasn’t sure if I should put that on the form, I asked the receptionists. They were really nice and gave me directions on what to do. They also asked me the reasons behind my decision. I told them about it and one of them, an ex-JET, shared briefly that when she went to a rural placement, she had a great time too! Then they gave me a free JET calendar and wishing me luck, told me to wait by the assigned interview room in 5 minutes.

I made my way there and found that there were multiple interviews happening at the same time in different rooms. (I think there were about 4 or 5.) There was a chair outside each room where the next person to be interviewed would wait. When I got there, the chair outside the interview room beside mine was already occupied by a guy. Ah~ The nervous atmosphere of waiting. I sat down and waited, watching people go by once in a while, some smiled encouragement at me. The interview in the next room ended first, and one of the interviewers (the Japanese one) came out for a bit. When he passed by me, he said something along the lines of “Just take deep breaths” or “Calm down, don’t be nervous”…that was nice of him! He seemed like quite a friendly guy, too bad he wasn’t my interviewer though. 😦

The interview session in my room finally ended, but I couldn’t go in right away. One of the interviewers (the Canadian one) popped his head out to let me know that they’ll be with me in a bit; it seemed like they need to have mini post-interview meetings. So after a couple more minutes, they finally invited me into the dreaded interview room…

Enter the dreaded interview

You are probably wondering why I’m updating so much these days. The only reason is because I have a one week break from school this week! Yatta~ But I still have SO much to prepare for all those weekly presentations and projects after the break…ugh. And then finals will come in April. 😦 Can’t wait until it’s all over in May…

Anyway, continuing with my 日本に行くぞ series…yes, I’m still working my way to Japan, slowly but surely 🙂
Here’s an update of what’s going on with the many options that I’ve checked out:

  • The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) [1st choice]
    FINALLY heard back from them in mid January (after a 2 month wait) since I submitted my application back in November! They informed me that I got an INTERVIEW in mid Feb…more specifically TOMORROW!!! Since hearing this good news, I’ve been asking practically everyone I know who may be able to give me hints for the interview. Much thanks to Matt, Hannah, and Rebecca for all your insights! 😀 Hopefully I won’t bomb it tomorrow.
    [Status = nervously prepping for my interview :S ]

  • Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) [2nd choice]
    I got in contact with their Asia Ministries Coordinator, and got many of my questions answered. The downside to this is that it’s voluntary work (aka. no income). My parents have said that they’ll financially support me in this, but I still feel like I should make at least some money to support my fangirling obsessions myself. They’ve told me that if I joined JET, I can still help out at a local church. That would be ideal because then I’d be able to have an income AND do a bit of ministry on the side; this trip would be so much more meaningful that way.
    [Status = need to fill out a “First Steps Form” so that they will have an official record of my info and interests, but my progress and decision in this largely depends on the results of JET]

  • English Conversation Schools [3rd choice]
    Known as Eikaiwa in Japan, these privately-operated companies look for overseas English speakers to teach conversational English to both kids and adults in an outside-of-school setting. It’s basically like the alternative to JET, but generally with lower pay (and probably not as great working conditions). There are ~4 recognized ones:

    1. NOVA: -> The biggest one, but went bankrupt in Oct 2007
    2. GEOS: -> their website
    3. AEON: -> their website
    4. ECC: -> their website
    5. GABA: -> their website

    [Status = poked around their websites, but have not seriously looked into them, since I’m still placing my bet on JET]

  • Pioneers
    [Status = given up because of lack of correspondence]
  • Peppy Kids
    [Status = given up because of lack of interest]
  • A Christian organization that teaches English from a church in Japan
    [Status = given up because of lack of correspondence]
  • Working at MacDonald’s
    [Status = just totally given up 😛 ]

Everything is still so up in the air right now…and that’s not very comforting, but I guess I should just focus on finishing my degree first…

Goodies!

Posted on: January 11/08

I come bearing goodies!

While I was in HK a couple weeks ago, I bought some magazines and photobooks of asian (mainly Japanese) singers. These are mostly Chinese versions (simplified chinese which I can only sorta half read -.-“) and made in China. Anyway, there was this set of 3 photobooks featuring Japanese idols. On the cover, it was advertised to have photos of T&T, SMAP, Kinki Kids, NEWS, KAT-TUN, Kanjani8, W-inds, D-boys, and WaT. So I bought it…

But turns out the 3 books in there were entirely of a)Kanjani8, b)WaT and c)D-boys (I haven’t even heard of them until now!)

Well now these photobooks need new homes! My friend is a WaT fan, so I’ll give that one to her. But the K8 and D-boys photobooks are up for sale!

Kanjani 8:
K8 1K8 2K8 3K8 4K8 5

– 130 pages
– LOTS of juicy interview articles, diary entries, and lyric (dated up to 2006)…all in simplified Chinese
– an entire section dedicated to Ryo-chan
– includes some photoshoots with Uchi Hiroki
– $18 USD + shipping fee

D-Boys:
D-Boys 1D-Boys 2D-Boys 3D-Boys 4D-Boys 5

– 112 pages
– basically all full page-sized photos (as shown), with minimal words (for profile info)
– $17 USD + shipping fee

Notes:
– prices are negotiable…my main goal is for them to go to someone who’ll enjoy them much more than me! 😀
– accepting concealed cash only (USD or CAD) at your own risk
– willing to ship anywhere since you are the one paying for it (shipping rates are usually ~$10 give or take)
– photobooks will be wrapped in a protective envelope
– I will not be responsible for any damage/loss during shipping
– if interested, please leave a message and I will reply back to you in an email! If more than 1 person is interested, don’t hesitate to let me know because I just may have a way of getting
more copies of these (including the WaT photobook since it comes in a set of 3) until Jan. 22! 😉 So don’t wait!! (I can post up WaT sample pics too if people start asking~)

Please help me spread the word to anyone you know who may be interested! Thanks a lot!~ 😀


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