Martin Conway

Teach Enrich Empower

Snow monkeys and serene temples

Before doing a TEFL course with The TEFL Academy I was working in bars and doing some other menial jobs that gave me very little money and even less satisfaction. I wasn't at all sure at this point what I wanted to do with my life other than go travelling but I knew that just going backpacking again wasn't an option.

I thought I would give teaching a go as it seemed like the only way I was going to get paid to see the world. As soon as I started the course, however, I realised that teaching was not simply a means to an end but was actually something I loved for it’s own sake (once I got over the nerves of actually standing in front of the class). The comparison between doing these uninspiring jobs where I felt unappreciated to having a group of students attentively listen to my every word was a breath of fresh air.

I was able to find work in Brighton immediately after completing the course and very soon after I found a job advertised in a local Brighton paper to work in Japan. I had always wanted to visit Japan but it would have been a very expensive country to visit as a tourist so I relished the opportunity of working there. Obviously I had some trepidation about leaving Brighton for TEFL and moving there but on my very first night I was taken in as part of a local festival as an honorary member of the village and got to carry a huge carriage through the town that led to a stadium with dozens of other carriages from other villages where all the carriages, full of fireworks were set on fire while we drank beer and I got to use what very limited Japanese I knew at the time.

“I found a job advertised in a local Brighton paper to work in Japan.”

I had always thought I would like to become a regular teacher in England but knew from my own experience of being a child in England just what stresses a teacher would have to endure, but in Japan the teacher is one of the most respected professions there is and the children treat you with the utmost respect. It was wonderful to see how different cultures approach education too as the children and the teachers in Japanese schools clean the school before and after classes.

During my 18 months teaching in the central mountains of Japan I was able to explore lots of the country, from the exciting and bustling cities to the serene villages and temples. My lifestyle there was great. I had a great studio apartment a 5 minute walk from my school, a company car, enough money to live a great life there and still save a little. In my 18 months there as a newly qualified teacher, working very few hours at times, I still managed to save about £6,000 without really trying.

I saw snow monkeys, went kayaking and did lots of snowboarding. I also managed to learn quite a lot of Japanese and found the people of Japan to be very helpful and welcoming to Westerners. I plan to go to other countries and see if I can have an equally fantastic experience elsewhere.

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