Friday, April 9, 2010

The Early Months of Childhood Discontent

Early months in Tokyo were difficult at best!

My job (note: to be called JFH or Job from Hell henceforth) had no set salary - but was based per lesson. Being new to the location, and working day hours rather than night, made me lessons booked rather sketchy. There were days I went in to work at 10am and stayed until 6:30pm - to have only 2 lessons. Needless to say, my paycheck was not adequate to pay living expenses.

To compensate, I started picking up some private students. Personally I love private students. I a paid more than when working for someone else, I set my own schedule, there is more freedom in lesson plans, and I like to feel my students are similar to friends. They are fun, energetic, and intelligent.

With my paycheck, I would pay for my commuter pass and part of my rent. With private student fees, I paid for groceries and household items.

AND I spent a lot of time apologizing to my landlord, begging forgiveness from the landlord. I would have to go to the rental office and apologize and apologize...
It's embarrassing enough to be late with rent in ones native country - imagine doing it in a new place with a language barrier. And in a place with high importance on image and correct behavior. I immediately failed in correct behavior!!

This leads to my daughters discontent...

With no extra money, we were not able to view the city, visit museums, go to Disney Sea or Sanrio Puroland. No Ueno Zoo or Takeshita Dori shopping.

Meals were hauntingly similar. Rice and gyoza. Ramen and gyoza. Rice and ramen. (note: interestingly, packs of ramen can be purchased at 10/$1.00 in the USA, but they are 1/125yen here. It seems that since they are MADE here, they would be cheaper. I considered having my ramen packs imported from the States! Friends could jam about 30 in an overseas envelope and send them bulk mail.)

My daughter was bored also. Fortunately a Japanese native friend helped me enroll her in elementary school. The process was very different than I am used to. Here, I had to go to the city office - for questions and document review. Then to the actual school for an interview meeting. Then back to the city office to turn in documents from the meeting. Then back to the school with the stamped confirmation from the city office. (note: why can't things be faxed? and why are the meetings so long? In a way, the length and extra time was amusing and quaint. In other ways, it was confusing and perhaps needless?)

But at last, school attendance could begin.

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