A little about me

Yokoso: That means welcome in Japaneseūüėä

So yes, what’s going on here, what is this blog all about? Well, you’ll be following me (Estelle) on my JET programme experience in Japan! You might be a¬†potential, new or experienced JET yourself, a lover of Japanese culture… or maybe a friend or family (I certainly HOPE you’ll be following me!) sticking around for any tips, tricks and Japanese adventure.

I’m very excited for this 2017-2018 experience since I’ll be teaching English in Japan. That’s right: ONE. WHOLE. YEAR. Am I excited? You bet! Am I crazy? Maybe! Why am I doing this? Here’s a little bit of my story…

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The yukata is real but the background is Photoshop magic ūüėõ

I was originally studying Business and Fashion in Toronto  when I was suddenly overcome by a passion for Japan! Up until then my knowledge was pretty limited -sushi, geisha and the (amazing!) Ukiyo-e to Shin Hanga book by Chris UhlenbeckРbut it was most wonderfully broadened to language, history, takoyaki and JRock!

It took me less than 6 months¬†to make a life changing decision: move to Montreal to do Japanese studies. My goal was to be able to work both in Canada and Japan in order to be a bridge between both cultures, and I knew that I needed to learn the language as well as everything I could about the country to make this happen. I survived 6 hours of Japanese class every week (and countless hours of homework!)¬†which has given me a lifelong appreciation for learning a language so radically different from my own (I’m fully bilingual in both French and English, also my kanji skills are still abysmal).

I participated in as many cultural activities as I could, from being a volunteer contributor to Coco Montreal, making mochi at the JCCCM,¬†and devouring the delicious bento at the Botanical Garden’s yearly O-hanami.

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Credit: Espace pour la vie

Nearing the end of my studies,¬†I accidentally came upon CLC Montreal, a language school* in Monkland. Life is full of happy accidents and this is one for which I’ll be forever grateful.¬†Not only was I lucky enough to work doing marketing, I was also able to teach English to Japanese students! This was more than just a cultural exchange, I made close friendships and¬†became familiar with how the Japanese learn English.

CLC days!
Credit: CLC Montreal

Now you’re probably thinking “Estelle… edit, get to how you became a JET!”

Ok, ok. Life went on as it does after my time with CLC Montreal and I hadn’t applied to the JET programme because the timing didn’t feel right. Although I love Japan and had traveled there many times, I never saw myself living there on the long term. What would I do when I returned to Montreal, 5 years later, with no CV and network? It was really important to me to get proper work experience first.

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My last trip to Japan: Sanno hie jinja in Tokyo

Looking back on it now, as I get ready to leave, I’m very happy that I made that decision. Had I done the JET programme at that time of my life I may have been too rigid in my expectations and desires for its outcome, whereas now I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity! Fast forward to last fall (2016) and I was finally ready to apply.

And here I am now, about to leave to Japan for a fully 365 days. Let’s do this! Gambarimashou ūüôā

*If you’re looking to learn¬†Japanese there are some GREAT language schools here in Montreal:

Nihongo Montreal run by Patrick Chaury, former colleague, friend, and a go-to teacher for the Japanese Consulate and JET programme.

ALI Montreal¬†where you’ll be taught by Daigo Shima,¬†former student and an English teacher himself when he was in Japan.

 

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