Miyazaki Awaits

Miyazaki Awaits

Placement announcements for Melbourne finally arrived just in time for the weekend!
Come July, your big city, little vegemite will be living and working in Miyazaki-shi, a small city along the grand coast of Kyushu Island!

I won’t deny I was pretty daunted when I first typed Miyazaki into google maps, watching on as the pin kept dropping further and further south, almost to the bottom of Kyushu island. I’m not sure what I expected exactly but I definitely didn’t anticipate to be living in the tropics, so far away from Honshu and so unlike anywhere I have visited in Japan before! But after much research and endless googling, I can honestly say I feel incredibly blessed to have received such a beautiful placement. Afterall, I didn’t want a huge city like Tokyo, nor a deeply rural placement, and I didn’t want to be knee-deep in snow either, so really I’ve hit the jackpot with Miyazaki-shi!

This will be a huge change of pace from Melbourne, but I am really looking forward to venturing into the unknown and learning more about a place that I essentially know very little about. Oh, and the local cuisine, we can’t forget about that!

Miyazaki-shi Google Maps

Here are some little facts!

  • Miyazaki-shi 宮崎市 is the capital city of Miyazaki Prefecture in Kyushu
  • A popular resort tourist destination for Japanese locals
  • Is very tropical, hot and humid.
  • Has an estimated population of 365,311 and a population density of 612 persons per km²
  • Known for it’s excellent all-year round surfing
  • Looks like a Japan’s Hawaii!

Local Food Specialties

  • Ripe Mangoes (my favouriteeeee)
  • Charcoal Chicken
  • Chicken Nanban (battered fried chicken with a special sweet and sour nanban sauce)
  • Miyazaki Beef
  • Cheese Maju Dumpling
  • Hiyajiru (fish and miso soup poured over rice)

Miyazaki Mango AnimePalmTree

Beach life, here I come! (Just stay away from me mukade ok? Thanks)

 

Birthday Eve

Birthday Eve

Tonight, on my last eve of being 26, I’m going to bed feeling pretty optimistic about life right now. Although it’s not perfect (but really, who’s is?) I have my hot water bottle at my feet, my Himalayan salt lamp filling my room with warm and cozy tones, and I have a hell of a new adventure ahead of me. It’s already been a roller-coaster of events so far, but I’m really excited for what’s to come.

Except the fine lines sneaking their way onto my face- those can hold off for a long time yet. THANKS!

Hello 27.

AHHH am I now in my late twenties?!?!?!

Pinch Me

Pinch Me

I DID IT!

After all the hard work, anticipation, waiting…waiting… and more waiting, I am super excited to announce that I have been shortlisted to go to Japan as part of the JET Program!

I haven’t received my exact placement yet, so all I know so far is that I will be in Japan for at least a year as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher), helping teach English to Japanese students and being a cultural ambassador for Australia.

I’ve been sitting on this news for about 5 days now and honestly it still hasn’t sunk in that in a few months time, I’m moving to Japan.

I’M MOVING TO JAPAN.

I’ve never even lived out of home.

This is insane. This is so insane!

How do you use a washing machine again?

Waiting and Baking

Waiting and Baking

I now truly understand the countless posts I’ve read about that ‘waiting game’ when it comes to the JET program. More specifically, the application process. April early departure results came and went with not a flutter of word sent my way- or it appears- any of my city’s applicants’ way, so I’ve come to the conclusion that we didn’t get offered any early placements this year. But still, there’s hope! Patience is key!

So I continue waiting.

We’re in the final countdown now with main results due out in a couple of weeks time, so to suppress my anxiety about results (and this tedious 7 month process finally coming to an end.. or beginning?) I’ve started baking! Guilt-free baking actually. Mainly to take my mind off JET but also because I’m trying to be healthy, flatten that ramen belly of mine, and satisfy my sweet tooth cravings because my gluten and dairy issues have been the bane of my life and existence and probably deserve another post altogether.

So today I made a coconut banana bread with coconut flour and LSA and I’m ecstatic to say that it turned out awesomely delicious and moist (what an awful yet relevant word HA) and tastes naughty but it really isn’t, which is exactly what makes me so super excited about healthy eating.

Guilt-free coconut banana bread

Oishi!

Interview Jitters

So I had my JET interview this week!

I felt pretty neutral coming out of it, I think it went pretty well overall but the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I’ve started doubting, and now I’m not so sure if I’ve done enough to impress the judges.

I interviewed in Melbourne, Australia for the ALT position. I didn’t have to sign any disclaimer forms and nothing was mentioned about not being able to share my experience. So with that said, here’s how it went!

waiting-room-1024x778

 

THE WAITING ROOM

Walking into the consulate there was no such ‘waiting room’ to be found. I arrived about 30 minutes before my interview and walked literally 2 steps into the entrance, signed off with the security guard and sat on a tiny bench in front of his desk. At the time there was another applicant already sitting there who was super early (an hour early by the time I arrived!) and had her interview after mine. We chatted for most of my wait time and as more applicants arrived for the interview, the security guard had to keep fetching more chairs, so we were all just awkwardly sitting there in the walkway. There were no former JETs and no ‘undercover spies’- unless they had cast the security guard as one of their secret agents!

It definitely helped chatting to the other applicants and I felt relaxed going into my interview, however there were a couple of people who said they applied only because they didn’t know what else to do after graduating.  I’ll admit I sighed a little on the inside when I heard this- I just feel so passionate and invested in having this experience, and I have genuine reasons for applying!

interview-panel

THE PANEL

On my panel was a former CIR, a representative from the Japanese board of education and a Japanese lecturer from one of the local universities. The CIR was really lovely and was the one who ushered me in and asked a majority of the questions. None of the panel offered to shake my hand, nor did they stand up on my entrance, so I just walked in, handed over my phone and interview voucher and proceeded to sit down. While the CIR and the lecturer were really welcoming and smiled at my answers, the Japanese representative came off as very serious and nonchalant, so I felt as though maybe I wasn’t interesting enough or not saying the right things!

THE QUESTIONS

My interview felt extremely quick (20 minutes tops) and was pretty rushed. I wasn’t asked many questions at all. Even more surprising was that I wasn’t asked a single thing about my SOP, or anything related to my application apart from my past trips to Japan. I also didn’t have to give any sort of teaching demonstration, although I was pretty stoaked about that (phew!).

  1. Why the JET programme?
  2. You said you’ve been to Japan, where did you go?
  3. What things did you find about the rural areas?
  4. You may be placed somewhere rural, how would you deal with that?
  5. What places did you choose for your preferences and why?
  6. What would you bring to the programme to connect with your students?
  7. What grades would you like to teach?

I was then asked in Japanese if I knew Japanese, to which I answered ちょっと ですand one other question which I didn’t understand at the time. Of course it wasn’t until after I left that I realised exactly what they were asking me, so I’ve been kicking myself ever since!

After these questions the CIR asked if I had any queries for the panel so I took the opportunity to find out about her experience as a CIR and we had a good chat about what she found were the most effective teaching methods (she taught a few classes on the side) and what food-related activities or clubs there may be that I could be involved in.

I then thanked them for their time but it was a little bit awkward leaving because I was kind of just dismissed and no one apart from the CIR proceeded to stand up or walk me out so I pretty much just got up, thanked them again and left. And in my last attempt to be 元気, I gave them a big exaggerated wave.

94152-saki-phew

OVERALL

I prepared for over a month, brainstorming answers for any possible questions and scenarios, not to mention countless hours talking aloud to myself in the car to and from work. I didn’t expect my interview to be so generic though, so looking back I felt I probably over-prepared and was disappointed that I didn’t get to say a lot of what I had planned to. I’ve spoken with other applicants who interviewed at the same location and they had completely different experiences to mine, so it only shows that every situation really is different and you can only prepare so much. I didn’t make them laugh, I don’t think I was as genki as I would have liked to have been, and I probably rambled on and used my hands wayyy more than I should have. So I really have no clue as to what they thought about me. They definitely didn’t give anything away!

Ahhh I hope they liked me! Please like me!

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Fingers Crossed.

Winter Wonderland, oh Japan

Winter Wonderland, oh Japan

It’s been just over a week since I returned from my Winter holiday in Japan and as usual, my post-holiday blues are in full swing and showing no signs of stopping!

From the moment we touched down I’ll admit a little (OK, huge) part of me was desperately searching for a Lawson’s Conbini. Well, you never know, one may have magically made its way to Melbourne in my absence, ready for me to raid the Musubi shelf of it’s super oishi Tuna and Mayo Onigiri. But unfortunately, I blinked and was not-so-kindly reminded that I was back in Aussie town, when I received awful customer service at Duty Free-before I had even left the airport.

Ohh how I appreciate Japanese hospitality so much!

I’ll let my pictures do the talking but I will say this- for someone who is not so fond of winter, I’m officially converted. Japan, and especially Hokkaido, were absolutely mesmerizing in this season! And just as picturesque at this time of year as in Spring. If you ever get the chance, please visit Japan in Winter, you won’t regret it.

Oh and the ramen..OH MY GOODNESS..the ramen.

#amazing #oishioishioishi

  1. Sapporo, Otaru, Nisekosapporo-beer-museum-outside-2016

    sapporo-observatory-shoe-shot-cropped-2016

    sapporo-observatory-city-view-2016

sapporo-munich-christmas-market-bw-2016

sapporo-munich-christmas-market-stall-2016

ramen-alley-sapporo-2016

snow-train-2016

otaru-canal-2016-1otaru-canal-2016

chirashi-bowl-otaru-2016
niseko-balcony-view-chalet-ivy-2016

niseko-ramen-2016

2. Tokyo

img_7640

img_7638

tokyo-shibuya-crossing-2016

tokyo-senso-jii-temple-2016


tokyo-pablo-mini-cheese-tart-2016

tokyo-asakusa-street-2016

tokyo-michelin-star-soba-2016

tokyo-asakusa-pineapple-bread-2016

tokyo-park-hyatt-hotel-2016

tokyo-park-hyatt-skybar-cigar-2016

tokyo-tetsu-ramen-2016

tokyo-harajuku-takeshita-street-bw-2016

3. Yamanouchi 

yamanouchi-snow-monkeys-baby-monkey-2016

yamanouchi-snow-monkeys-in-onsen-2016
yamanouchi-miso-ramen-2016

yamanouchi-onsen-origami-2016

yamanouchi-chirashi-bowl-2016

yamanouchi-stream-2016

4. Kyoto, Osaka

kyoto-gold-temple-kinkakuji-2016

kyoto-fushimi-inari-shrine-1-2016

kyoto-fushimi-inari-shrine-6-2016

osaka-dotonbori-canal-2016

kyoto-sanjo-starbucks-kids-running-2016

I’m Ready for 2017, How About You?

I’m Ready for 2017, How About You?

Wow! Another year, another festive season over. Wishing you all a positive and inspired 2017. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great one!

In my reflection on 2016 I can only look back and be extremely thankful. Despite having it’s ups and downs, for me it was simply a few memorable experiences that transformed my year into one that really made me smile, laugh and feel so grateful.

And here they are:

  1. I went on a life-changing trip to Davao, Philippines where I met my extended family for the first time (my mother’s side). Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to form such incredible, unforgettable connections and feel so a part of something special. I learned so much, all of which inspired my post on Davao-if you’re interested.12998493_1734730563436630_858088942372028856_n
  2. I spent some quality time with my friends. I know that may sound odd- don’t we all do that anyway? But when you hit your mid 20s and “life” gets in the way, it’s amazing how quickly you can drift away from people. This year, I felt like I was able to rekindle a lot of meaningful friendships, and I look back on those moments and think boy, did we have some laughs!panton-hill-winery-2016
  3. I got to visit Japan for the second timeAfter already spending 3 weeks in Davao, I didn’t expect to have the opportunity to travel again this year. So when I was able to take more time off work, there was no doubt in my mind as to where I’d be heading! And it was incredible.otaru-canal-2016
  4. I applied for the JET programme. This is something I had been contemplating for a couple of years now, and 2016 was the year where I put my fears aside and just went for it. The application process was tedious, stressful and time-consuming, but I really felt like I applied myself in a way that really gave me a sense of focus and direction- something which I have been lacking for some time now. And so far it has paid off as I received a letter to interview at the embassy! Even if I don’t end up getting into JET, I can accept it knowing I did my absolute best. And I’ll be okay with that.
  5. The Western Bulldogs finally won another AFL premiership. For any other doggies supporters out there, you know as well as I do just how significant this win was. FINALLY! We’ve only been waiting since 1954! And wow, didn’t the celebration go off? It was incredibly humbling how even non-bulldogs supporters were rooting for us. I couldn’t believe how much it brought communities together, and I’ll never forget driving through Footscray on premiership day and seeing shopfronts and houses painted and completely decked out in red, white and blue. It was amazing!
  6. I became a more positive and optimistic person. For someone who used to let a lot of things bring them down, this was a huge step for me. I tried to see the positive in every situation and it really transformed me as a person. I am so much happier and healthier than I was before.yamanouchi-onsen-2016

Happy New Year Everyone!