Titles are Hard.

My girlfriend arrives in Kobe tomorrow.

Needless to say I am excited.

I don’t know how much that excitement seeps through in this post but it might help you to picture it if I tell you that I have to break off ever 5 minutes to do a cartwheel.

I have spent all week cleaning my house in preparation for her imminent arrival and now it is finally clean and tidy. Well except my game room but that is a whole other problem.

My San-nensei graduate on Wednesday, I had my last ever class with one of my ichi-nensei classes today and very shortly I will be moving to another school.

It feels like I am entering a new stage of my life. I had my bachelor period in Japan and my grace of adjustment and now it’s time to get down to business.

I had been getting into a bit of a routine and now it is time to spice everything up again and turn the process of being here into an adventure again.


So last Friday my friend Ben was bored at work and decided to see if he could get a “You know you’re an ALT when…” meme going on via e-mail. I don’t know how much sense this will make to most of you but here is a list of some of the funnier ones including some contributed by myself. Annotations are in brackets.

The concept of teaching more than 16 classes a week sounds preposterous.

You wonder why Japanese people don’t get fat if they eat “Japanese food” like
you do.

You know the “Azuma Legend”.
(The azuma legend is about my “boss” azuma-sensei the head of the JET programme
in Kobe. Azuma-sensei is very softly spoken and friendly but he’s one of those
guys that inspires instant fear and respect. The Azuma legend is about the time
before he became the head of the JET programme when he was a general trouble
shooter for the Kobe Education Centre. Now it won’t surprise anyone who has
worked in one but riots in Japanese schools are not unheard of, particularly in
Kobe just after the earthquake when everyone was in a pretty bad state. In fact
one famous story about a school in Kobe is that a boy beheaded a student and
stuck his head on a spike on the school gates. My friend Damon actually works
at the school where that happened, although apparently it’s very nice now.
Anyway one day there was a riot out in a Kobe school. The teachers basically
barricaded themselves in the staffroom and called the KEC. Azuma-sensei came
down and walked into a class that was kicking off. One boy took a swing at
Azuma-sensei with a baseball bat he had for baseball club and Azuma-sensei
CAUGHT IT IN ONE HAND and smacked the kid down. I don’t know what happened to
the rioting kids but every ALT in Kobe knows the azuma legend.)

The only Japanese you know is: ichi, ni, san -nensei, Kyoto/Koucho-sensei and
(I entirely sympathise)

You find yourself bowing while talking on the phone.
(I do this too)

You can`t eat lunch without an audience (“No I don`t use chopsticks to eat a
sandwich or a banana.”)

You go to the toilet for a sleep.
(I have never done this but I gather that Dave does it a lot)

Students greet you in the corridor with “How are you I’m fine thank you and you,
ha ha ha ha hahaha haha!”
(Yes they do, damn textbooks!)

After an hour you realise that the only other person in the staff room is the
janitor. And he’s sitting in the kyoto sensei’s chair reading a newspaper.”
(barely a week goes by without this happening to me)

You spend 5 minutes, with san-nensei, saying “No, what’s the day…day…day…d- a-y. Not date. DAY. What’s the day today? Today… what…is…the…day? Monday
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday and ( ). Not the weather. You’re 14,
not 40. Not date… not daTE. No T, just day—-. Yes, it’s Friday, well done!”

The warmth of your clothing depends on the temperature and not the date.

I know I’m an ALT because I get letters that begin “To Mr Dabit, I like
spaghetti. What J-pop do you listening at?”
(obviously just Dave but it makes me laugh)

The laminator is your bestest friend. And you slowly start to realize almost
any small flat thing you own is now laminated.
(I love my laminator. Without it some days I wouldn’t have done any “work” at

You’re the last one in the staffroom and you have no idea why.
(this happens everyday)

No one, not even the English teachers, understand what your saying.

You have no idea what your bills mean , but you pay them anyway.
(yup, when I remember)

You’re the only one who thinks that insulation is a good idea.

You’re the only one that wants to spend a few bucks and TURN UP THE DAMN

You don’t own a pair of inside shoes.
(Japanese people usually have separate shoes to wear inside, I always forget to
bring mine and thus whenever an assembly is sprung on me my feet get cold as I
wander around in socks)

Kids notice you pass the classroom even if you creep by with ninja stealth.
(Entirely true, and yet if you sneak up behind them during break they never,
ever notice. Japanese people have ridiculously poor personal space perception.
It must be because the country is so crowded.)

Half the school is empty and the only hint as to why was given a two days ago
when someone said cryptically “Student make newspaper”.

Suddenly all your classes are cancelled and nobody told you until an hour before
they were meant to start.
(thus meaning that frantic rush job you did to get the worksheets finished or
the extra you put in the night before WAS COMPLETELY POINTLESS!)

You are not allowed to use the photocopier in the staffroom without an audience.

You have set answers to the questions “what Japanese food do you like?”
and “where do you go in Japan?” that you can reel off in seconds.

You have a burning hatred for the man responsible for the phrase “dondakee”
despite never once seeing his TV show.

You are the only teacher whose desk is covered in art materials. Even the art
teacher has less coloured paper and pens than you.

You hear the bell ring but have no idea if it is time to teach your lesson or

right, and that signals my bedtime over here so short and a bit in-jokey as it is that’s your Thursday night post.

With poker-night and my recently arrived girlfriend the blog schedule is going to be in flux for the next few weeks. I’ll probably decide on a new schedule once I know what Fran’s schedule is going to be.

I do aim to try and actually increase the amount of posts per week too or at least get some better content than this last month.

See you next time.


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