Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life in Japan Highs and Lows

It is the Golden Week vacation here in Japan and that is certainly a good thing. I am lucky enough to have nine days of to spend with friends and family. I have been running a lot and daydreaming of upcoming marathons. I have ben playing with my son and spending time with my wife. I have been eating good food and doing what one should do on vacation.

Japan has more than its fair share of public holidays. There are many reasons to love Japan, but the quantity of holidays makes it even easier to love. Vacation in Japan makes me feel good.

I have to admit though, as of yesterday I started to feel bad. Japan has a little to do with that, but news from Canada hasn't helped much.

After ten years in Asia, I am ready to come home. I have made no secret of that. I enjoy life in Japan, but my home has been calling me for some time. My family supports that and are very willing to pack up and move to the land of bears, maple syrup and people who say "Eh?"

There's a problem though. As you all know, I am a teacher. I am a teacher not just in Japan, but am an elementary school teacher in canada as well. there is a serious problem though that I have mentioned before. There are simply too many teachers in Canada and not enough classrooms for them. I was recently reading that a typical new teacher coming out of a teacher education program in canada can expect to languish in supply teaching (substitute teaching) purgatory for five years or more before landing a permanent contract. I'm not willing or financially able to move my family home and not have a steady income.

I have seriously thought about locating in Northern Canada and that is something I will look into further. Again, my family is supportive.

I had a "Plan B" as well. I have put serious thought into applying for work with the Government of Canada. I come from a family of career government workers and myself spent many summers as a student working at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Finding work with the government would mean a good income and stability; something teaching used to offer when there were jobs for new teachers.

The current Canadian government has recently started to slash and burn the civil service in Canada in a form of austerity measures. News came down yesterday that thousands of civil servants received their pink slips. It appears as if up to 120 of those people at the park that I worked at for so many summers will be affected by these cuts. Lives will be devastated and my home town of Louisbourg will receive yet another kick while it is down. Sad stuff.

It also makes me sad because I had thoughts of working for a government that is now laying off thousands of people across the country.

No jobs for teachers and now, a bleak future for those wanting to work in government. This complicates my "exit strategy" from Japan. This has been a vacation "low."


Hiko Saemon said...

Hey man, it has taken some time but I knocked out a good chunk of your book yesterday and am enjoying it - particularly the more anecdotal/cultural bits.

It's funny how just when you think things look bleak in Japan, you hear about overseas news and it looks like a haven by comparison (although Australia is doing amazingly well). I'm a great believer in planning, but being flexible. The upside I guess of cutbacks is there should be a hiring rebound once the dust settles, but it is sad to hear that so many people are going to be put in such difficult circumstances as a result of these cuts.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


There's teaching in the North, and then there's Northern teaching. You could try the Territories, but teaching in places like Northern Ontario (or Newfoundland) shouldn't be dismissed. It'd be remote. And you'd have to deal with other things (black flies, black bears...) but the jobs are there.

If Japan's not doing it for you, maybe you should try looking in Singapore. I know they're looking for qualified English teachers. English is an official language. The climate is always summer. It's next to Malysia and Indonesia. Within short flying distance to dozens of other countries. Pay's better than Korea. The city is convenient as hell. Stay there for a bit, and then when things look up in Canada, split for Canuckistan.

Jack of all Hobbies said...

Leaving Japan to come home on vacation was one of the easiest things I have ever done. Leaving Japan and coming home to Canada permanently was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

Take time, plan, be optimistic when you can, and temper that with a hefty dose of realism.

I wish I could give you great advice, but then I'd be able to give some to myself.

Hang in there, hope it all goes well.

dsomedia said...

Hi Kevin was very interested to read this latest post as I am thinking of relocation to Kobe.

My wife has family there and we currently split our time between England and Japan. My blog documents that.

We'll be there in a couple of weeks and I was hoping to meet up to get some tips from you. If you think that might be possible please do get in touch.

Whatever you decide to do I hope it goes well for you and your family.

ChefNick said...

No work for English teachers in Canada, dude, sorry about that. You'd better seriously look into doing something else.

I live in Montreal, about the only place that you think there MIGHT be a market for English teachers. Forget about it. Everyone speaks English here and those that don't can learn it from the government for free.

Think your experience in Japan will get you something? Think again, unless you want to be a tour bus guide.

I know how you feel about Japan. Five years there really killed my soul. I have NO IDEA how you've managed ten.