Monday, 10 December 2007

matte hajimette - The Wait Begins

After having got my application successfully away, it wasn't long before I got a reply email saying that it had been successfully received etc. Here is a copy of the email that I got from the Japanese Information and Cultural Centre:

Dear 2008 JET Programme applicant

Thank you for your application to participate in the 2008 JET Programme. All required documents have been received, except for proof of completion of degree, which can come later.

When your studies are completed and your final status is processed, please send either a certified copy of your graduation certificate or a letter from your university stating that you have completed the requirements for a degree (For some of you still studying, this may not be until next year).

Applicants who are selected for an interview will be asked to attend the venue of their choice (as indicated on the application form) in February 2008. You will be contacted at the end of January.

Thank you for your interest in the JET Programme.

So now it's just a matter of waiting until the end of January, when they will contact me to let me know interview details. Don't expect any other posts here until then ^^


Monday, 3 December 2007

Almost There

My deadline for getting the JET application in is 07 Dec - that's in four days. I finally got my second letter of reference on Friday and after having discovered that I need to send in three copies of everything, I now have to get three copies of my passport signed and stamped by a JP, as well as two copies of the letter outlining my expected date of graduation (in lieu of my actual degree).

The initial application process has been a real mission, but I am getting this document authentication done at lunch time on Wednesday. As soon as I have that, I will be able to pop everything into the A4 envelope that I have here, already addressed and ready to be sent. Everything will be away in the mail on Wednesday afternoon and I can breathe a sigh of relief that I've got through this initial part of applying for an assistant language teaching job in Japan.

As promised, here is the essay that I wrote, to be sent with my application:

English Language Teaching in Japan

Going to Japan and experiencing Japanese culture has been a dream of mine for many years. I believe that the JET programme offers the greatest opportunity for fulfilling this dream. Teaching English and interacting with foreign students has long been a passion of mine. From my observations, JET has a good reputation for sending people to Japan to teach English and to experience the culture.

Experientially, I have some teaching time under my belt: the time I spent teaching English while studying for my CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). Although this is for teaching English to mature students, I also have experience with assistant language teaching to teenagers and children.

In 2003 I was given an opportunity to work for an organisation that was based in South Korea. This organisation was teaching young Koreans English by using the Holy Bible as a basis for language learning. I spent six months over in South Korea, just outside of Seoul, assisting many different students with their English language studies and learning about what it is to live in a culture that is so foreign to my own.

Aside from my experience in South Korea (where I also had a couple of opportunities of volunteering to teach children for a few hours), I have also had some interaction with English language students through my parents. Until recently, both my father and mother were teachers of English as a foreign language. My dad is currently a high school teacher but he wants to go back to teaching English to students, much like I wish to do next year. My uncle still teaches English as a second language. I would say that a passion for teaching runs in my family ^^

As far as challenging experiences go, I would say that my greatest challenge would have been overcoming the cultural (and language) barriers that were presented when I was over in South Korea. I was not in a position to officially teach English for a recognised school but I did experience Korean culture and learned to adapt myself to various cultural practices – as well as making a few friends. It was a very impressionable time; a simple essay cannot describe everything that I experienced, felt and learned while overseas. I still communicate with various Korean friends and hope that one day I can go back.

My hope also is that the JET programme will provide me with the opportunity to once again experience another culture firsthand. Being granted a recognised assistant teaching position in Japan is my sole focus and my only plan for when I graduate from university. It is my greatest ambition to dedicate myself to teaching in Japan. I am confident in my understanding of the English language and know that teaching English and learning the Japanese language are both long-term passions that I have.

I look forward to furthering this application process.

That about sums everything up. Once my application is away I will continue looking for a Summer job and start working on this preparation for my Beowulf paper for next year. Technically, I will be doing two languages: Old English and Japanese. Teaching myself hiragana has always proved to be too much of a mission. I need to associate the symbols with something to help me remember them. At least I now have a minor Japanese vocabulary - one that I hope will build as I do the introduction paper next trimester.

Now, to go and have lunch and then play some more Final Fantasy VII (fainaru fantashi ga daisuki) :O


Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Sashiburi desu - It's Been A While

You know, I'm not even sure how to accurately say "Long time, no see" in Japanese, but it sure sounds like they say "sashiburi desu"; or a variation of that. I wonder what it literally translates as... See, here's where a Romanji (I don't get why people say "Romaji" since there are Roman characters and Kanji characters. It's not "Roma"; it's "Roman" o.O Besides, Romaji sounds teh ghey) - where a Romanji translator would be very handy for me. I could type in a phrase in English and get the Romanji equivalent - or at least the most popular. Gah, I need to learn the structure and the basics still ><

Aaanyway, it has been two weeks. I've just been slack with my updates. Not that much has happened, actually. I am still waiting for a letter from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Vic. As soon as I have that letter - stating my expected date of graduation next year - I will throw an essay together (which I'll inevitably post a copy of here as well) and send my completed application in. Then it's just a matter of time before I receive a response as to whether they want to continue the process. I'm confident that I will be selected, despite not yet having my degree. It isn't 100% guaranteed but there is no way I will slack off when I'm so darn close.

Animé. Well, that's one thing I haven't slacked off on. I am watching quite a few currently airing series. Thank God for fansubbing! I'm glad that there are nice people out there who record animé episodes from Japanese television (NHK I think the channel is called), and even nicer people who are able to translate for those of us unlucky enough to not yet understand what's being said...

This season, I'm watching: Bamboo Blade (not bad - I'm sure it will get good when there is some action happening; I've actually got to catch up on this as episode 4 recently finished downloading); Clannad (funny - especially when the protagonist's friend gets beaten up when he keeps picking fights with the strong girl at school - but it's also kinda serious to some degree); ef - a tale of memories (very artistic and a strange but unique idea of a twin girl whose memory only lasts for 13 hours - more on this further down); Goushuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun (very funny. I feel sorry for the main guy because of the "training" that his sister puts him and his (incredibly hawt) charge through); Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (I liked the fighting in the second episode. I have three more to watch to catch up. Not finding it interesting enough to bother right now); Night Wizard (a very cool mahou -magic - modern fantasy. The idea of finding the seven coloured gems for the bracelet reminds me of collecting the dragonballs in DBZ. Nice effects); Prism Ark (only seen one episode but I like it. It's another mahou fantasy animé with some pretty hardcore looking cuties); Suteki Tantei Labyrinth (interesting mystery / thriller animé).

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that anyone is continuing to fansub Prism Ark or Suteki Tantei Labyrinth. They both seem pretty good and I hope that more episodes comes out. I am also watching a series from last season, Seirei no Moribito - as I mentioned in my other animé post. It's incredibly well detailed and has a fantastic story so far. Very impressed with it and will continue watching right through to the end. Of course, I'm still watching Naruto Shippuuden and keeping up to date with that, and am slowly catching up with Bleach. I'm at about episode 103, so am nearing the end of the Bounto arc. Episode 146 is the latest.

I was going to elaborate on ef - a tale of memories. I'm not going to go further into the storyline, as so far not much has really happened. But I like the idea behind it, and I especially like the stylistic elements of this series. What I wanted to say is that I recognised the voices of two of the male seiyu (Japanese voice actors), both of whom are "main" characters (the story follows different people that are interconnected in various ways, so I'm not sure there is any such thing as a main character. If there was, it would be Chihiro, since she is the girl whose memory only lasts for 13 hours due to an accident four years previous).

Hirono Hiro 広野 紘 is voiced by Shimono Hiro 下野 紘 (who incidentally is the same age as me ^^). I recognised his voice as that of Kamina Ayato in RahXephon. Asou Renji 麻生 蓮治 is voiced by Takagi Motoki 高城 元気, who did Raki from Claymore. I guess I was just impressed that despite not knowing the names of these seiyu previously, I did pick up other characters' voices they did that are known to me. I think Takagi-san has a very distinct voice and that I could recognise it anywhere.

Well, that was just a little bit of trivia that's of personal interest to me. I will keep watching and enjoying these animé series as I await a response regarding my JET application for next year ^.^


Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Animé Update

Since posting my Great Anime Review, I have started on other series and made significant changes that affect my viewing. Firstly, I replaced my old FTP programme with Filezilla. I then set my Xbox FTP up properly, so as to gain access to my Xbox via my computer - this is incredibly important for file transfer. I downloaded the latest XBMC (Xbox Media Centre), thus bringing my Xbox up to date, enabling me to play every standard current video file format. This solves my .MKV problem. I can even play files that have been compressed, straight from the zip or rar file! And, now that it's been updated, I can do updates straight from my Xbox through the Scripts page (T3CH updater).

On another front, I unlocked the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone) in my router, allowing Torrents to flow as they should. Seirei no Moribito, Gundam 00 and Suteki Tantei Labyrinth have all downloaded. I watched Seirei (Sacred Spirit) and Gundam 00 and they are both pretty cool ^^ I intend to watch Suteki (Wonderful) before the week is out. I also have the latest Naruto, Bleach and the Bleach movie now, so tweaking my router has really made a difference to my downloading.

Update complete.


Hontou desu ne - Document Authentication

Today, I had a Justice of the Peace sign some copies of identification and qualifications that I need to send in with my JET application. I first made copies of the documents:

My passport and birth certificate:

Passport and Birth CertificateI put the two on one page for efficiency. My passport number has been blanked out for security reasons. This is the Internet after all...

My Diploma of Christian Ministry, which I earned from a year at Faith Bible College - 2002:

Diploma of Christian MinistryBible College was one of the best years of my adult life. I just hope that everyone who went through with me is still going strong for the Lord. I'm including this because it is just further proof of my past studies.

Finally, my CELTA:

Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults
This proves I am an official teacher of English to foreign students. Level 4 is post-secondary school but pre-university level. It is a key qualification as a part of my application process and should give me a greater chance of being selected to go to Japan to teach. It proves that I already have a certain amount of experience teaching English to foreign students.

Once I had these documents copied, I went to the Whitepages and typed in JP, Alicetown, Wellington. I found a Justice of the Peace who lives just around the corner from me, so I put the documentation into my bag and walked around to have the copies stamped, signed and dated. Bit windy outside today :/

The last thing before I post off my application to the Japan Information and Cultural Centre is to propose two references who can vouch for me as a suitable candidate for the JET programme. I have chosen the senior pastor of Hope Centre, my church - Ps. Seth Fawcet - whom I have incredible respect for, and one of my tutors from this last trimester, Charles Ferrall, who took me for English 243, Contemporary Fiction. I am waiting to hear back from my tutor before inputting his details, but once that is finalised, this application is away and I can sit back and wait for them to contact me regarding the next step of the application process.

Now I just have to get through the two more exams before my study year is officially over and apply for next year's papers (and student loan and allowance) to finish my degree by June.

It's all happening.


Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Animé - The Great Anime Review

One thing I do with my spare time is continue to watch animé. Whether what I watch delivers or not is, of course, up to my own personal preference (and mood) and whether I actually enjoy something enough to keep watching it through to the end. My preferred genres are sci-fi, action, martial arts, adventure and comedy, although some thriller, supernatural and detective stuff is good too. I'll mix my genres up if something looks good. In fact, I'll try just about anything because most animé could be considered mixed genre.

But give me guns and grenades, magic and mechas and I'm (usually) all over it.

A note on files
I avoid .mkv wherever possible for two simple reasons: firstly, my graphics card (GeForce 7600 GT) doesn't like them. It often decides to stop halfway and crash my system. Secondly, my Xbox can't read that file format, and so I can't watch them on my 29" TV, sitting comfortably in my armchair. I can convert .mkv files to .avi, but the programme I have been using keeps crashing, so this is turning out to be a bit of a mission for me as well.

Currently Watching
Here are the animé that are either currently running or that I am currently watching for whatever reasons.

Bleach - current
Shinigami waving their zanpakutous (soul slayers) around. Bleach is in to it's 140s but I'm not quite at episode 100 (episode 96). I've been struggling to catch up because I'll watch a burst of episodes and then get sick of it and have to take a break. It gets tedious and frustrating at times because of the way that battles and such drag out but it is still cool and I know that once I get through this story arc, things will pick up again.

Naruto Shippuuden
The carry on series from the popular ninja animé Naruto (that had ~220 episodes) that I heard is playing on Cartoon Network these days. I don't think I could bear to watch that in English. Shippuuden doesn't air again until next week, unfortunately, and the last episode was a double (Shippuuden special, 29-30). I'm still enjoying this, even though there is some of that frustration of things being drawn out and/or repeated too often.

For some reason I keep leaving this for a while. I started watching it months ago but am only up to episode seven. It's just not doing it for me, but if I get sick of anything else I'll go back to it. I guess purely supernatural stuff just isn't as good as other action series.

Recently Finished
I try to keep up with some current animé but do go back to series that I just never got to watch, either because I was too preoccupied with other things to consistently watch it or because I just didn't have the opportunity to. The following are some series I have recently completed and that I recommend.

Death Note - recent
This finished a few weeks back. Randomly, it was 37 episodes. I was a bit disappointed with the ending but it was actually inevitable when I think about it. Still, I'd have liked to have seen Yagami Light become the ruling god that he was trying to become. Nice animation and the content just really interested me from the beginning. I enjoyed most episodes. I think it dragged a bit as it got into the 20s, but after he beat the first L it picked up for a while. Overall, I did enjoy it and would recommend it to anyone that enjoys thrillers and doesn't mind a bit of drama.

Claymore - recent
Another disappointing ending - for anyone, I'd say. There was so much left open that I really, really hope they release an OVA. Apparently it shied away from the manga and that was really its downfall. The kakusenshu (however you spell it - awakened beings) weren't explained well enough and the last battle between Clare and Priscilla was so meh. Way too much korosu (I'll kill you!) , although I must admit, Clare looked freaking awesome in her awakened state. The fighting throughout most of the series was great, however, and the story up until the end was actually quite good.

RahXephon - old
I only just finished watching RahXephon last night for the first time - and it was awesome. This series is getting quite dated; I think it aired in 2003. I really enjoyed it, despite being confused for most of it - even after reading the wikipedia entry, which actually helped to grasp things a lot more. I was even pleased with the ending, although I'd like to see the TV movie that was made because it will fill in a few more gaps - and just simply because it's over QQ and I want to see more.

The animation was consistent and the CG was pretty nice. The motif of music and concert that ran through the series was really cool, too, but kind of added to the confusion - I think too much was left unexplained until the end, and even then some things didn't make complete sense (the whole Quon / Maya / Ayato relationship is a little unclear to me). But the concept of tuning the world was truly original, and the red/blue motif in that last episode was so freaking classy it almost made me cry.

The amount of people that died was pretty sad, though (which also brought tears to my eyes), so it sure delivered emotionally. When main characters die at the end, it hurts. In fact, due to that, it was a bit of a tragedy, despite the happy ending - and to me, endings where he gets her are always depressing anyway, because they are a reminder that reality just isn't one big happy ending. Some of us are destined to be alone.

D.N.Angel - old
I actually finished watching this quite a while ago - a few months - but I'm mentioning it because it still stands out as a series I completed this year that was worth watching. I'm not sure what genre to slot it into (supernatural, cutesy romance, fantasy), but the pace, the story and the character development were all well done. The concept of a supernatural art thief and his supernatural nemesis was just cool. And the whole animé was really kawaii, too. It left me feeling happy at the end.

Currently Downloading
There are a few titles that I am trying to get currently because they piqued my interest. Please note that some of these are from last year or 2005, so not all are current animé. The biggest reason I struggle to download anything is because torrents hate me - or my router, or my ISP, or something. I might have a file that is showing 300 seeds and it sits there for weeks in utorrent, mocking me with its 0.00 kb/s. Go figure o.O

Seirei no Moribito - finished
This looks like a cool shounen (guy) series. I heard that it's a mixed genre, but it contains fighting and some fantasy elements. Should turn out to be one that I'll enjoy - if the torrents will go. The only problem for me is that I can only find .mkv files to download - but that's a problem I'll have to sort out once I get the first episode.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 - current
People say that they really are milking the Gundam franchise for all it's worth. One thing I'm a bit hesitant about is that the main characters seem to be teenagers. I'm thinking it could turn out to be like that latest Transformers; I didn't even watch a full episode and I had a bad impression of it. However, despite having never seen a Gundam episode (I have the full series of both SEED and Destiny but haven't watched any from either - yes Darrin, T.T) I am willing to give this one a shot - if the first episode will download.

Texhnolyze - finished
My brother recommended this. It sounds pretty aesthetic in nature with talk of having to really engage the story with all of your brain and admiring it for its artistic rather than thematic qualities. It sounds somewhat similar to Serial Experiments Lain, actually (which I found pretty out there, having watched just seven episodes a couple of years back). Here's hoping it decides to finish downloading because it does sound like a bit of an interesting watch.

Master of Epic - finished / short series
This just sounds really funny. It's an MMO parody animé, and as the World of Warcraft fan cum otaku that I am, I'm sure that I will enjoy this. It sounds almost as random as Excel Saga and I hope that it delivers just as much crazy humour :O

Suteki Tantei Labyrinth - current
Not sure what to say about this as I don't know that much as yet. It's a crime thriller but is a shojou animé. I don't tend to lean towards shojou (girl) series but this actually sounds like it could be good.

Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihorito - finished
I just typed that without checking back ^.^ Aside from having a tricky title, I think this one sounds like my type of animé. It's a samurai one, set in the bakumatsu period.

To Be Seen
There are a number of titles that I want to see but they either don't have the torrents available or no one has translated them. Such titles as Noein, Law of Ueki and Astraea Testament all sound really good, but I may never get to actually watch them. The older an animé gets, the harder it is to track down. You just have to let them slide on by and hope you can grab some from the next wave.


Monday, 15 October 2007

Taisetsu ni - The Important Things

Since I can't really do much with my application until I have my academic record, etc. I'll post up a pic. Because life is about the important things:

Until I have something else of importance.


Friday, 12 October 2007

Tabi - The Journey Begins

Had I the Japanese proficiency I one day hope to possess, I'd have titled this first entry with all of the equivalent Japanese words. As I can't read Japanese writing as yet, Babelfish doesn't do me any good here, either, in making my own haX translation ^^ However, I'd like to make that a motif of these blogs as the ability becomes available to me.

The reason for this blog is to hopefully document the process by which I apply as an Assistant English Teacher in Japan, go through the application process and, if accepted and all goes well, actually get a position in a school over there and get to employ my 1337 language and teaching skills. I also intend to continue keeping a record of my experiences if all goes according to plan and I find myself at this time next year well established in a school somewhere in the islands of Nippon, teaching my heart out.

My desire to go to Japan is three-fold:
  1. The otaku in me screams "animé paradise!" O.O Being the long-time fan of animé that I am, what better place than its land of origin. One of my dreams over the years has been to learn to speak Japanese and to better understand the culture. I will one day watch raw animé, unhindered by the language barrier. But it's not just animé that I'm looking forward to: I really enjoy Asian culture and cuisine - Japan presents me with the opportunity to experience more of both.

  2. As a Christian, going to a pagan country presents a real challenge. The missionary in me wants to see everyone in the world converted to Christianity, and going into a place as spiritually dark as Japan will not only be a real challenge to me, ministerially, but will test my spiritual resolve and provide me with many opportunities to share the gospel of truth.

  3. Japan is close to South Korea. It's just a small hop over to that peninsula where I once spent six months of my life. Catching up with friends won't be so much of a tremendous difficulty once I have settled and actually manage to sort something out. I miss my Korean friends ^^
So how does this all start? Well, I've resolved to go to Japan to teach English after I graduate from Victoria University Wellington next year. It's a decision that I have thought about, prayed about and come to the conclusion of doing something about. JET is probably the most widely known programme for sending young Kiwis over to Japan to teach upon university graduation. Upon being reminded of this recently via email, I shot over to the JET website and proceeded to download and print both the application form and the guidelines for the JET 2008 intake.

So now it's just a matter of sending in the application form together with all of the necessary documentation in order to apply for a position in next year's programme. So far, I have requested my academic record from the university as well as a letter that shows my expected date of graduation. I still need to sort out two references and an authenticated copy of my proof of nationality (passport photocopy signed by a Justice of the Peace), but this application is well on its way to completion. This is just the first step, but I intend to keep this blog apprised of the application process and any other steps that are taken in my journey to Japan.

Currently, I am in my third year of university and will graduate with a BA in English Literature in June next year - in time for being accepted into the 2008 JET intake. I already have a Diploma of Christian Ministry (DipMin) and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA), as well as some teaching experience (during my CELTA training) and assistant teaching experience (when I was over in South Korea in 2003). The only thing necessary to apply for an English language teaching position in Japan is a bachelor degree from a recognised university. These academic and experiential extras that I have are a bonus and should help in securing me a part in the 2008 Jet programme. Having a real interest in Japan and Japanese language and culture - and a love of rice and fish - is also helpful.

Now I just have to do well in my end of year exams (over these next two weeks) and focus on finishing up my degree next trimester. Applying for a job in Japan is the "easy" part - it's proving my worth and following through with competent study to finish my degree that I will struggle with. Perhaps these blog entries and my intent to update this journey will provide me with the motivation needed to reach the end and continue on towards my goals.

Until I post again.