24 May 2012

Diary of an ALT: Getting to school

How to get to school if you’re an ALT
Step 1) Pace your room frantically between the hours of 6 and 9.30p.m. waiting for the e-mail with the details of your school for the next day. In between  pacing, and possibly snacking, pause to check Facebook for a minute. Realise 2 hours have gone by and re-check your e-mails. Has the e-mail arrived? Congratulations! Move onto Step 2. Still no e-mail? Prepare more snacks. Prepare to harrass the lovely receptionists at the company.

Step 2) Read the e-mail and a) sigh with relief/jump for joy when you see you have only a few classes,  a detailed lesson plan and directions to the school have been provided for you or b) scrunch your face in depression and bewilderment when you see you have to repeat the same class 5 times in one day and the instructions you have been given simply state “please communicate the word to the children and play the game with them”. Also the whereabouts of the school is a mystery. If you have chosen b) please see Step2.1. If you have chosen a) please move onto Step 3.
Step 2.1) Scan the school information again for any clue as to the meaning of the “word” and the “game”.  If you find the number of the lesson hidden within the paper somewhere you may move onto Step 3. If you see nothing and you’ve been staring at it so long it begins to look like one of those 3D pictures chances are it’s not there. (Also you have gone mad, seek professional help). Fetch some more snacks, and juice; juice is good, and prepare to harrass the lovely receptionists at the company. (Or if you’re feeling particularly daring: decide you will work it out tomorrow, eat your snacks, watch a movie and go to sleep).
Step 3) Prepare a totes awesome class to wow the socks off those Japanese kids. Smile smugly as you eat your snacks. (These ones are strawberry mousse filled panda heads). Go to sleep.
Step 4) Awake at the craic of dawn bloodshot and bleary eyed. Squint at your cereal stupidly, and attempt to multi task by eating and drying your hair at the same time. Fail when you blow your cereal onto the floor. Grab your belongings, and map to the school, and run out the door. Squeeze onto a streetcar/bus/subway wedging yourself between chattering students and serious looking salarymen. After a while you will either a) get out at your correct stop and walk towards your school or b) hop off at an incorrect stop because you were only half listening and you were busy thinking about cake. If you choose b) please see Step 4.1.
Step 4.1) So you got off at the wrong stop? If so then your name is probably Ciara Long and this is a regular occurence in your daily life. For god sake keep your mind off snacks and nonsense and pay attention! Find a street car heading in the right direction and try again.
Step 5) Follow the caution children signs and thank your lucky stars that all Japanese Elementary schools are huge carbon copies of each other and instantly recognisable as the giant cinder blocks with windows that they are.  Plaster on your super happy face and approach the front door. Well done! You have made it to school.


  1. So glad I have one set school. XD

    1. I'm kind of jealous. I imagine it makes it so much easier to get to know the kids, and get to school! Then again when you only see them once a month you're a massive novelty... Still think I prefer your way though.


Thanks for the comment random human. I will put you on my list of people to rescue when the zombie apocalypse comes. Promise.

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Maira Gall