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  • Starting over

    I was recently laid off from work, and the day after, my fiancee of four years walked out on me. The day after that, a very good friend of mine decided that the job he had dreamed of doing for years just wasn't what he thought it would be and quit. So, heartbroken and lonely, we've both decided to just drop everything and go back to the place we spent our youth - Tokyo. We actually met back when we were studying at Waseda, and so we know our way around Tokyo pretty well. We are fluent enough in the language that we are able to translate just about anything, and we have a few connections over there. But basically, our plan is just to show up as tourists and stay in youth hostels while working odd jobs and looking for permanent employment, of course, as English teachers for the time being. So, I'm looking for advice, and you guys seem like really nice, intelligent people. Has anyone here pulled this off? Do you think it's likely we'll find work quickly? About how much money do you think we should bring over? Any place you recommend going for work? Any kind of worst case scenario contingency plans? Well, I'm sure I'm forgetting a question, but any kind of advice you guys can share is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

  • #2
    Re: Starting over

    Interesting post. Similar thing happened to me years and years ago, but in another country, in another part of the world. Will play sort of devil's advocate to you! I also lived in Japan once with 2 "best friends", and when jobs did not work out as planned in Japan, one threatened to sue the other!

    Don't know if running back to your past will help. Japan has changed a lot since you were here. What were good times a few years ago, could be totally different now - friends, environment, study/ work. It is very hard to recapture a glorious past, and often better to move forward, rather than back.

    Bring as much money as you can - (no limit!) - as you have no plan - it is just hit and miss by your mail. Consider ATM card - Visa? Citibank?

    Stay in youth hostels? Not so practical. The ubiquitous "gaijin houses" are probably better. More chance of meeting someone, and finding short term English teaching jobs. And when you get a job and need accommodation, you'll need the 6 months deposit, and guarantor.

    Make the most of your connections, but how good are they? Write in advance if possible. Have proper CVs and documentation prepared. Are they really people who can offer work or jobs? There are many types of "friend" out there.

    You'll need proper degrees for visas - or 10 years documented relevant experience. With that, teaching jobs should not be hard to find. May need a trip abroad to get visa changed. And suits for the job.

    I wonder just how good your translation skills are? It is a very dynamic language, and if you have any concrete idea on what you really want to do.
    If you are serious about translation work or similar, a PC/ Mac, connectivity and contemporary dictionaries are a must, and a phone for access. Many aspire to that kind of work, but a speciality is often needed, e.g. medical, engineering, finance.

    What are your long term plans? English teachers for the rest of your life? Or do you hope something will turn up? Economic slump in Japan continues, unemployed figures continue to increase, and if you are hoping for some success, you should have something unique to market or do.

    What jobs did you do before? Maybe useful to keep within your skill sets, rather than try to do and learn the unknown. Would they be transferrable? It also helps with credibility. Spirit of adventure, initiative and will to succeed are good, but something concrete is also important. Ask yourselves, what do you want to do? Where do you want to be in 5-10-20 years time?

    There are some forums for jobs in japan - see other threads - but do not think many people have found jobs through them. Headhunters/ recruiters - likewise do the rounds, but they need to know what you want to do.

    We guys (and girls) are really nice, intelligent people, but I wonder if running to another country will resolve your situation, it might only make things worse.

    Anyway, just my 10 yens worth. No doubt others will write too.

    Trip Hop (Ms.)


    • #3
      Re: Starting over

      Trip Hop:

      Thank you for injecting a dose of reality. That viewpoint is certainly welcome. My friend and I are trying very hard to be realistic about all of this.

      I should clarify some things. First, I should have mentioned that we are both still 23, so, we actually are still pretty young. We were both in Tokyo the years we were 19-20. Yes, you're right, neither of us really expect it to be as great as it was back then, but at this point, neither of us have anything keeping us in the U.S., and we want to have one last adventure while we are still young.

      As far as translation skills, actually, my friend was working as a technical/military translator for the U.S. State Dept., so his skills are quite good. As for me, I have let my skills deteriorate, but I'm sure I could get right back on the horse if I had to. I am 2-kyuu proficiency level and was studying for 1-kyuu when I left Japan.

      Neither of us plan on spending our lives there. We both plan to return to the U.S. in 2-3 years.

      Any advice greatly appreciated! Thank you!


      • #4
        Re: Starting over

        Well, go for it then!

        There are periodically adverts for translators and rewriters in the press, notably the Japan Times on a Monday, but freelance can take 4-6 months to build up an income from that. (see requirements in previous post.) Teach in the meantime. A lot depends on connections, and try to develop a speciality.

        Teaching - well you just need the degree for the visa. US English is popular, and 2 young guys should be able to get a post easily - you can choose the big schools, corporate classes, private lessons, or not - plenty about that on other threads - not my field of work.

        But a last adventure at 23? Come on! Life is not so regimented/ predictable is it?

        I came here in my mid-30s, wanting a change after getting to the top in my previous job; got to be a director in a company in a second career, and now have own business at 50 or so, and I'm looking at moving on to somewhere else new in a few years.

        Life is an adventure!



        • #5
          Re: Starting over

          My advice is stay where you are. The last thing Japan needs now is another couple of useless 'so-called' English teachers complaining about the food, the people, the culture, and why things aren't like they are back home. Make a life of it in your own country. Don't come over here to rob the populous on the pretense that you have some kind of abilities in English, or Japanese. You may have scored well on the proficiency test years ago, but I doubt that is the case now. I'm sure you friend's Japanese is wonderful, but the fact is there are enough translators and free-lance nothings in Japan as it is. Make a living in your home country, and stop running away from your problems, just because life has thrown you a couple of curve balls. You will be a better person for it.


          • #6
            Re: Starting over


            Thanks for the kind words of encouragement. We will both take them to heart. We have fairly well mapped out a plan of action and should be there soon. I will be really happy to be back in Tokyo - I know this may be hard to believe, but it is just so much more laid back there than here in L.A., and I would say over all, I was happier there. Ideally, we would both like to do something more fulfilling than teach English, but in the meantime, as you say, it will pay the bills.

            You are right about adventures - what I meant was, it is far easier for us to just up and leave the U.S. now than it would be at, say 30, with maybe a wife and even some kids.

            Well, thanks again. Any more advice from others still welcome and appreciated!

            P.S. - What is it that you do, TH? That is a really interesting story. Maybe you can e-mail me?