Nick Summa '08
Working in Japan
After studying Japanese at Mount Union, the next logical step was to move to Japan and find a job that incorporated Japanese somehow. I found a job teaching English through a private English school and have been working there for a year and a few months now. I teach all ages (my youngest student is 3 and my oldest student is in her 70’s), and I enjoy the variety my week entails. Unlike your average nine-to-five job, I work noon to nine Tuesday through Saturday. It is a bit of a different schedule than I was used to in America, but being able to sleep in is a fantastic perk.
With the school I work for I speak English in class, but if students don’t understand or have a question, my proficiency in Japanese allows me to help them quickly translate a vocabulary word or understand a grammar structure. My students find my ability to speak Japanese with them comforting and many ask me to visit their homes and meet their families. It’s a great support system when you’re feeling homesick. However, living in Japan, I must continue to study vocabulary and the Japanese writing systems to survive doing the simplest things, like going to the grocery store. Seeing my students succeed in English helps maintain my motivation to study Japanese.
The school I work for helps me a lot with living in Japan, but it’s not always easy communicating and getting around places. That being said, the obstacles make me more independent and make for great embarrassing stories later on. I think anyone studying a language seriously should find an internship or job in another country. You can see objectively the pros and cons of life in your home country as well as take in new experiences and make new relationships. I feel that after my time in Japan is over, I won’t only have a few years of work experience, I will have another chapter of my life that I can say I successfully completed.