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Teach Away & Berlitz Interview

Thursday April 24th, 2014 at 12:51 am

I had an interview with Teach Away a couple weeks go. I found them through a Google search and they had a job that was in a location I liked and also was hiring all the way up to July (which is as early as I could leave). I didn’t find out until a bit later that Teach Away is a recruiting agency in Toronto. Job postings on the site are done by companies who use Teach Away to find applicants overseas but Teach Away takes care of the initial screening process to find eligible applicants. Since I was dealing with a recruiting agency, the overall process was a bit more drawn out since there were extra steps and interviews I had to go through. When I was first contacted, I was asked to fill out a questionnaire and read the FAQ. It was then that I realized what company I was actually applying for, which was Berlitz Japan.

The questionnaire was pretty straight forward, basic questions as well as some more detailed questions. The entire time I’m filling it out, I’m thinking “This pretty much is the interview!” Now, I know stuff like that is for people to get an idea of what your goals and preferences are and a little bit about yourself and the interview is built upon that…which it was. This was probably the quickest interview I had. It was only around 20 minutes but we mostly discussed what was already written on the questionnaire.

I was told immediately after the interview that it was a go to move onto the next step and someone from Berlitz would contact me within a week. I sent the required documents but never heard back. Now, this was also the same week that I almost had a nervous breakdown (okay, it wasn’t that serious). I’ve had a rough couple of weeks with my teaching classes and I was super stumped over my lesson plan that week (which turned out to be my best lesson yet). In between all of this, insert working full time, spending time in TESL class, dealing with life, still taking care of responsibilities, etc. So the fact that I heard back from Teach Away or Berlitz in a week made me think that I never got another interview. I just wasn’t in a good mood.

I think someone in the world felt my anxiety because I received an email from Teach Away maybe a couple hours later. It was my interviewer asking me if I was still interested in the position since it’s been a week. Turns out she never received my documents for whatever reason. Maybe they got sent to a spam folder or maybe it got lost in cyber space. Who knows, stuff happens. I resent them and heard back very soon after from Berlitz and set up an interview.

The Berlitz interview was longer, almost an hour. I thought some of my answers weren’t straight forward but I guess they liked me well enough. I was asked to set up another interview (yes, 3 interviews at this point) with the management team of the location(s) I’ll be working at. That interview turned out to be more of an information session/Q&A but it was very informative. One thing I respect about Berlitz so far is how honest they were during the interview. Or I thought so at least. I was then told I would find out by the end of the week whether not they would offer me the position.

And one day later…..

I GOT THE JOB!

That didn’t take long at all. Course, I’ll never know how many other people were interviewed or exactly the reason why they hired me but who cares. I have a job in Japan! They say everything happens for a reason and maybe that’s right. I was originally really bummed out about not even getting an interview with the JET program but had that happened, I would most likely be on my way to a very small, rural town in the middle of nowhere instead of being placed in a really good location and working with a great company.

Of course, I also have my worries along with my excitement but that comes with making a huge decision to drop everything here along with spending a lot of time and money moving to a foreign country. Teaching in Japan isn’t exactly a dream job for whatever reason, whether it’s culture or expectation, but it’ll always be an adventure…good or bad, and a learning experience. Berlitz, like any other company, isn’t perfect but most of a person’s experience with anything depends on the person. I’ve spent enough time on the internet reading horror eikaiwa stories and such but I’m ready to make my own story. One thing I signed up for when I decided to move to a foreign country is that, move to a foreign country. I can’t expect everything to be like the US, otherwise it’d be the US.

The next two months will fly by fast I’m sure. There’s plenty to do and maybe not enough time to do it. I wish there was someone out there who will tell me everything will be okay but this is a journey I start by myself.

Japan, I’m ready for you and Berlitz Japan…THANK YOU.

Posted Under: Japan, Japan: Interview, Japan: Job Searching
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Review: April Ipsy Bag

Friday April 18th, 2014 at 7:10 pm

I’ve been subscribing to ipsy (formally myglam) since their second bag and it’s one makeup/beauty subscription service that I refuse to cancel. They had a few rocky spots when they first launched but ipsy has quickly become of of the best services in the industry. Not only do you get a new makeup bag every month, but their bags are usually packed with full/travel sized makeup/beauty goodies and the price of $10 makes them one of the most affordable.

Contents Include:

1) Cover | Fix Mattifying Primer with Anti Acne Treatment (0.5 fl 0z)
2) Mary Kay Jelly Lip Gloss in Berry Me (.32 fl oz)
3) Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Glide On Eye Pencil in Black Velvet (0.03 oz)
4) City Color White Gold Eyeshadow
5) Kiss Lashes in Flirty

I’m loving the bag this month! The makeup bag has a very cute, retro design although I don’t entirely like the material that the print is made from. To me, it feels like it’s the type of material where dust and other sediments attach easily to.

The eyeshadow and lip glass are great for spring and the upcoming summer. I’ve gotten several Urban Decay eye pencils in the past but I never say no to more. I love liquid eyeliners and gels more but these are very creamy and definitely one of my first picks for a eye pencil. I’ve seen some people get a hair spray product that I’m glad I did not receive. I think the lashes took their place? I have so many hair products that I don’t even know what to do with. The lashes are more useful and I like how these look natural and thick, it’s totally wearable for an everyday look. I haven’t tried the primer yet but I’ve been needing one so thanks ipsy for taking care of that for me!

Posted Under: ipsy, Reviews
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Me vs ESL

Tuesday April 15th, 2014 at 11:34 pm

I realized today how burnt out I am with trying to juggle work, classes, lesson planning, teaching, looking/interviewing for potential jobs, social life, and other life activities such as family, working out, blogging, cooking, personal hygiene, etc. I’m usually done with the rough draft of my lesson plan on Sundays but I’ve had a severe case of writer’s block this week. I really have a new level of respect for people who work full time, go to school, do homework, and still have time to manage a family and do everything else.

Is what I’m doing that exhausting? Mentally, yes. Physically, no. This is not to say I regret my decision to pursue teaching English or that I had no idea what I was getting myself into (although I never imagined lesson planning to be what it’s like) but I can’t wait until the month is over and things start to die down a little. Once the job search is done, that’ll be another huge load off of my shoulders. I’m more stressed about it than what I should be. More sleep would also be nice.

I’ve never been this go go go before. I feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time by choosing to juggle everything at once. From what I’ve heard, what we’re required to put into our lesson plans is a lot more extensive that what most schools/teaching companies require. I’m not familiar with other TESL certification courses or schools but I can say that even after two classes I feel like I’ve learned a lot, both about myself and about teaching. I can definitely say creating my own lesson from complete scratch is not an issue anymore. It’s not the most fun thing in the world but it’s challenging and can be a very rewarding experience.

I hope anyone looking to teach English as a second/foreign language will take it seriously. Teaching ESL in a foreign country appeals to many people since it provides the chance to live in foreign, exotic places doing something you’ve spent your whole life doing. It seems easy enough. However, it’s a lot more than just knowing how to speak the language. Trying to teach it to someone who has little knowledge of the language and trying to convey meaning with language they may or may not understand is harder than what it seems, especially when you get to grammar and function.

Imagine trying to teach irregular verbs, words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings, words that are spelled the same but are pronounced differently depending on whether they are a noun or a verb (ie: a record vs. to record), vowels having different pronunciations depending on the verb, up to 16 different sentence tenses and how to use them/how they can change the meaning of a sentence, conjugation, defining and non-defining clauses, etc. I could go on and I actually feel like these are among some of the easier points.

I definitely feel like I’m still a long way from that mountain peak.

Posted Under: ESL - teaching
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A Few WordPress Plugins

Sunday April 13th, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I had a chance yesterday to do some much needed updates to my blog. One of these was installing some more useful plugins. Plugins aren’t something that I’ve had much of a chance to look into in the past but they can be very helpful to maintaining a blog. WordPress is very popular for having thousands of plugins, it would take hours just to look through the popular ones! Below are several that I’ve installed so far. I recommend anyone starting a blog to look into these.

  • Akismet helps to filter out spam comments. You can view to see which comments were filtered from your blog admin screen.
  • Alpine PhotoTile for Instagram is a plugin/widget for displaying Instagram photos on your blog/sidebar. It’s very easy to use and if you are unfamiliar with how to work with widgets, the plugin provides a shortcode for you to place on your blog.
  • Contact Form is a plugin for creating a nifty contact form. There are a variety of options of what you can do with it, and even more if you upgrade to the paid version (for example: using one form to email multiple departments). One of the features that I like is the form allows your visitors to attach files to their email. I really like this plugin but I’m currently having issues with Gmail filtering the messages as spam and haven’t found a way to fix it.
  • Custom Smilies is an easy way for you to use your own customized smilies. You simply upload the images and create a shortcut code for the smilies. When creating new posts, smilies will appear at the top for you to insert with ease.
  • Search Everything allows you to take the WP search function a little bit further. You can customize it to select what files and pages you want the search engine to pull from, highlight search text, and more. If you want to customize the look of your search bar, simply edit the searchform.php file or if you are using a custom theme, create a searchform.php file and upload it to the directory.
  • WP DB Backup allows you to auto backup your WordPress files and have them emailed to you as often as you like. I haven’t had much chance to try this plugin out but it’s great for people who often forget to do manual backups (like me). Server crashes and mishaps happen so it’s always a good idea to keep backups.
  • WordPress SEO helps you to optimize your blog with a simple plugin. With easy to follow directions, you can easily better your search engine optimization. When posting, you can view a snippet preview of how your link will appear on Google, choose focus keywords and meta tags, and choose a SEO title.
  • WPtouch Mobile Plugin gives your blog a simple, mobile theme when viewed from a cellular device. You can customize the colors of your blog and if you upgrade to the paid version, you can select different themes.
  • Posted Under: Domain
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    WTF Gmail?

    Saturday April 12th, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    I keep forgetting that Gmail likes to label everything as important after a certain amount of time. I guess after a while, if it’s still in my inbox or folders, it should be important. I really wish it would stop doing that though. If the option is there, it should be something that I label myself.

    Also, there’s no option for me to delete emails from my phone. I only have the option to archive, which labels everything as important. Because of this, I wanted to clean out my Gmail a bit tonight and I went ahead and deleted everything in the Important folder.

    I went back to my inbox and noticed that a lot of my emails are gone. It took me a few seconds to realize what had happened cause believe it or not, I did this once in the past and completely forgot. (sometimes I fail at life) I managed to salvage a few emails but I’m not about to go through 7000+ emails in my trash to find what I wanted to keep. I can only hope whatever got deleted wasn’t that important.

    Also, at this point, I cannot figure out how to stop the contact form emails from automatically going to the spam folder. Filtering them does not work because of where they are sent from and I can’t find a solution.

    Gmail, why you give me problems all of a sudden?

    And all of them stemmed from me wanting to improve my coding skills a bit after all these years.

    Posted Under: Rants
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    Half way there

    Saturday April 12th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I was so sad to miss this year’s cherry blossom festival since I had to teach in the morning. The weather was perfect! In the past, it would either be cold or rainy or both. Unfortunately, the festival this year missed the cherry blossoms by a week or two but everyone still had a lot fun. Hopefully, next year I’ll be in Japan to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom :<3

    My second practicum went fairly well. I still have a hard time getting timing right but the students enjoyed the activities. I made a matching game and a crossword puzzle for them. Last week I went over by about 10 minutes, this week I was short about 10 minutes :( This week's lesson was easier to teach and the students had a much easier time learning the language. The benefits of teaching vocabulary versus grammar, I guess. I'll get it right next week, third time's the charm?

    I applied to a couple more jobs yesterday, I hope to hear from them within the week. Applying for jobs is kind of stressful when you're not making any progress. I say this and I've only interviewed for 2 jobs *needs more patience*.

    Photo moments from the last 2 days:

    My first tonkatsu ramen, it’s impossible to find these in Nashville. I can’t wait to try some in Japan since I didn’t get a chance to in my last visit to Tokyo. The flavor is good but I thought it was a little too salty and had too much grease. Are they normally like that? The pork was amazing though, I’d take a few of those with rice any day.

    The last of my birthday presents from a friend finally arrived, Sailor Moon headphones from Japan. These were on back order for months! They are super comfy and the sound quality is great.

    What chuu looking at?

    Posted Under: Daily Life, ESL - teaching, Food, Photos
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    Friday Five

    Friday April 11th, 2014 at 9:59 am


    (Source)

    FRIDAY FIVE

    1. Realistically, where do you think you’ll be five years from now? What job will you be working, will you have family/friends/pets, where will you be living and how? Hopefully in Tokyo, working as a translator/interpreter in business or a gaming company. I’ll be living in a nice apartment with my 2 cats.
    2. Unrealistically, given a perfect life, where do you want to be five years from now? Still Tokyo, but traveling all over the world.
    3. What’s the big barrier keeping number one and two separate and distinct, or is there one? It depends on what kind of job I can find and who’s willing to hire me and give me a chance.
    4. Utterly and completely abandoning realism, make up where you’ll be in five years. Alien abductions and portals to alternate universes are encouraged. I’ll be a Gundam pilot. Yep, definitely.
    5. Where did you believe you’d be now, five years ago? Pick a crucial event of the past five years and tell us where you’d be now if it had been different. I think I thought I would have been married. Had my ex not shown me what a huge douchebag he really was, I’d probably still be with that SOB cause I was that naive.

    Posted Under: Friday Five
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    Distant Worlds: Final Fantasy

    Thursday April 10th, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    This show was absolutely beautiful, so worth it!

    I had to leave my TESL class early (much thanks to the teachers who made it work for me) in order to make it to the concert on time. The traffic downtown was horrible. There just happened to be a hockey game going on at the same time in the arena across the street. I was lucky enough to find parking in a close lot although it cost me $15 ;_;

    Blurry photo is blurry :/ I snapped it quickly with my cell phone because the show was about to start. This was during intermission and I didn’t have a chance to get a better one.

    The seats were good, $49 for second floor but you could still see the stage perfectly and the sound quality was great. I LOVED the video clips that went along with the music. It really brought the music to life. I wish they sang a song or did a piece from FFX-2…maybe in the future?

    Now I want to go and play all the Final Fantasy games.

    I blistered my feet tonight, ugh. I bought a pair of boots from Wet Seal months ago on sale for $12. I love the style and the heels are only 2 inches or so. However, my feet would start to hurt so badly after a few minutes of walking There was almost no support in the boots and the arch of the shoe was way off. I definitely won’t be wearing them anymore, it’s a good thing they weren’t expensive.

    Posted Under: Concert, Daily Life
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    NO, I DON’T F*CKING WANT MEDICAL COMPENSATION

    Tuesday April 8th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    I’m so sick and tired of getting these spam calls repeatedly.

    I told them nicely I wasn’t interested the first couple of times. When I asked them to remove from their calling list, the guy on the phone ended up insulting me. I told him it wasn’t the first or second time I had gotten calls from them. He kept trying to tell me that it’s not possible as it’s the first time he and his department have called me. I told him I didn’t care (regarding how many times I’ve been called), I just wanted him to remove my number from his list. His response was “If you don’t care, then you are not an American citizen!” Uhhh..what? He clearly didn’t understand me although it is true that I don’t care about medical compensation. I have health insurance and have no need for so called medical compensation from someone who can barely speak English.

    I’ve done a little research on them and it seems a lot of people have the same problem. They seem to be calling from overseas (India is my guess judging from the accent). Normally, I get a man that identifies himself as “John Smith” and states that he’s selling medical compensation. Other people have had rude responses as well, some have been cussed out or have other random responses like I did. They either call from an unknown number or a random number for FL, etc and if you try to dial back, it’ll say the number is not valid.

    Most of the time, I don’t bother picking up anymore. Sometimes I get calls every week, sometime I get calls 1-2 months later. Every now and then when I get bored, I’ll pick up for the hell of it. However, it’s not so much fun to insult these people. His English is very poor and he has very limited understanding outside of the basics. When he called today, he kept asking me if I was Spanish and re-starting his scripted speech until he eventually hung up.

    It’s just a lame, annoying scam with no solution outside of changing your number. I know everyone has to make a buck somehow but this is too ridiculous.

    Posted Under: Rants
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    Sunday Social on Monday

    Monday April 7th, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    First of all, I just want to say my heart just leaped. A job I applied to this past Saturday contacted me back! More info later.

    SUNDAY SOCIAL

    1. When did you join twitter? May 2011?
    2. Who is your favorite non-celeb to follow? @OJessicaNigri
    3. Who is your favorite celeb to follow? @JonnyBones
    4. Have you ever had a celeb respond to a tweet? Nope :( but I have had people I admire respond or favorite.
    5. What is your favorite store/brand to follow? @teeturtlenews
    6. Give us three tweeps we should be following. @VampyBitme, @Xiaxue, @xjenyang (cause why not me)

    Posted Under: sunday social
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