A Japan Guy Review: My First Year Teaching As An ALT In Japan (Part 2)

By Donnie | Articles

…read Part 1 of this article…

Wait, are you supposed to start with the bad news first? Damn it! Ah well, I won’t say anything if you don’t. Let’s take a look at some of the downsides of my first year as an ALT in Japan.

I’ll try to say these as tactfully as possible. They are my honest opinions, but I’m still working here.

I honestly felt that initial training wasn’t at organized or as effective as it could’ve been. I think I was okay because I AEON training was so incredibly thorough. But I would imagine that a person who was new to Japan could feel like they were in a bit of a whirlwind. There were teaching demonstrations, but I don’t think it was enough to make a person feel confident about walking into their first lesson. No disrespect.

UGH! This probably tops my list of the “not so good.” I was aware that I’d be taking a pay cut to change jobs. I sincerely thought that the time freedom would balance out the money, but it’s truly a tough call. I have more time to do things now, but with the pay being so much lower, I have to use my free time to try to earn more money, so it kind puts me back at square one. I’m sure people want to hear numbers so I’m cool with that. I went from making 310,000 /month in last AEON contract to making 240,000 with Interac. There was a slight pay increase for the second contract, but the deficit still to big to ignore, so it looks like I’ll be doing more side jobs.

The biggest issue I have is with health insurance. I really enjoyed having the National Public Health Insurance plan. Initially I thought everybody had to be covered by public health insurance, but there is a loophole with the number of hours you work that can allow a company to bypass this rule. It’s all fine and good until you have big expense to come up. I remember having to get a CT scan this year and I literally had to empty the remainder of my bank account just to pay for it. I was reimbursed, but that money comes like a month later.

Administrative Staff Changes
I didn’t like the fact that all three of the staff members who hired me, interviewed me and helped to get me started at Interac had all stopped by the end of my first year. I’m sure they had their reasons, but it really makes me a little uneasy. I can’t remember what business book I was reading, and I don’t know everything about Interac behind the scense, but isn’t it a bad sign for the company if there’s high management turnover?

I’m the only foreigner at my job
Deja vu, right? Yes this was on the good list, too. The negative side about being the only foreigner is that I really miss joking with my English-speaking co-workers, I miss people understanding exactly what I trying to say…every nuance of it.

Honestly, if I had to do it all over again, I would have waited for about six months longer to change jobs. Doing so would’ve given me more of a financial cushion. That’s been the biggest lesson. If I didn’t have to worry about that, that would take so much pressure off of me. However, me having those lean and hungry months from time to time has really done something to my head. It has become my mission to find out how to cure all of my financial woes for good!

All in all, I must say that the job I have is a great experience. It’s rare to have an opportunity like this, to be able to live and work in another country in a school where people know, like, and trust you. Is Interac perfect, not by any means. But, I know that no company is going to be perfect, so instead of griping, I’m going to continue to do the best I can to be a great teacher.

Donald Ash

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Read previous post:
A Japan Guy Review: My First Year Teaching As An ALT In Japan (Part 1)

It’s official, I have signed on for an additional year as an ALT. I will have a chance to teach...