Friday, 5 February 2010



Well, I have to start somewhere. My name is Gwynnie and I am 23 years old. I graduated from the University of Manchester back in July with a BSc in Psychology, and as of March I will be living in Japan and working as an Assistant Language Teacher! This exciting move is something that I am terrified about as well, but as I hold my breath and await my placement offer, I thought that I would start to write what will hopefully be an educational, entertaining and enlightening blog (I can't always promise that level of alliteration, but I will try). I will be leaving many loved ones behind in the U.K. for the year, and so my hope is that they can read this to see what I am up to... other ALTs in Japan can laugh and relate to my stories... and those of you who are thinking about doing the same can learn a little about what it's actually like to live and work in the Land of the Rising Sun.

I grew up in rural North Wales. I speak fluent Welsh as well as English, and come from a predominantly Welsh area; a primary school of 20 children. It is a beautiful part of the world, but I was too big a fish... even as a child, I knew that I wanted more than to stay there forever. Manchester has been my home since September 2006, and as much as I love it here, I feel that I will feel like a caged animal if I don't do my best to experience as much of life as humanly possible. For me, this involves travelling, learning new languages, meeting new people and throwing myself out of my comfort zone... where could be more different from the norm than Japan?

Upon graduating, I applied for several jobs in the UK. I also found a small flyer in the bottom of my bag for Interac, a company that sent English speaking graduates (of any discipline) to Japan to teach. I wanted to travel... I wanted to work... so I figured why not apply? I didn't think much more of it until a few weeks later, after receiving rejections from pretty much every job that I had applied for, my dreams shattered and the prospect of the dole becoming more and more likely, when I received a call from Maria from Interac. To cut a long story short (because I don't remember the exact order of events) I travelled to York for a face-to-face interview and an example lesson on camera, as well as being given a phone interview and being told that I was accepted! I would originally have gone to Japan back in August 2009 but they told me that they had more spaces in March 2010 and could I wait until then? This suited me, and I said yes. Well... March is nearly upon us...

As I write this, I am waiting for a phone call from Interac to offer me a placement. The Facebook group "Interac 2010" is a mixture of people who have already received placements and anxious souls like myself, afraid to leave our phones unattended for more than two seconds. Apparently they are prone to calling at 6am so it's lucky that I wake up at that time for work! My stomach is in knots and my mind is trying to convince me that they won't call me, or if they do that it will be to tell me that they don't have a place for me after all, or something... sometimes they will employ people as "alternates", meaning that I would be paid to shift paper for them until a placement became available, which doesn't sound too awful either. Preferably, though, I will get somewhere which doesn't get too hot in the summers and which has a decent number of other ALTs (or just English speaking people in general) so that I don't feel too stranded. I have a few Japanese friends who live around Tokyo, who I met on pen-pal websites a while ago... it would be good to be relatively near them, but I know that there is no chance of being in Tokyo without experience and a good level of Japanese (which I have started to learn).

I will report back when I know. Until then, the nerves will eat me...


  1. You'll be fine! Looking forward to reading all about it!

  2. Well written! A very nice read. :)
    You're going to be great... and the phone call will come! I promise~~!~ Be seeing you in Japan for sure! Yoroshiku, ne!

  3. How exciting, I wish you all the very best and I look forward to your updates! x