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state of affairs, staying in Japan, thoughts...
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:18 am    Post subject: Re: state of affairs, staying in Japan, thoughts... Reply with quote

stumptowny wrote:

I stay up with the state of affairs back home with hopes that I can return some day if I decide.. or that I can at least have that option..


Well, if you want an ESL position when you return, depending on where you want to live and who/where you want to teach (K-12 public school, community college or university, private schools), don't expect an easy job search, or good pay. After teaching in Japan and other parts of Asia for 7 years, we moved to Portland, OR----and took a few years off from teaching. Once I wanted to get back into it, found it near impossible to find anything without an M.A. or M.Ed. (even when it wasn't required), and no luck at all after finishing an M.Ed. TESOL. Public school funding is constantly cut, despite the demand for ESL professionals, and there's an incredible glut of teachers of all kinds here. For adult education, the only well paid full-time jobs at the community colleges and PSU are scant and locked up in perpetuity, and the other jobs that exist take advantage of that, and the wages are dismal. As mentioned though, YMMV depending on where you want to base yourself, but while researching and applying for jobs around the country, I was shocked at how low salaries generally are. If you have a good set-up in Japan, and happy, I'd stay, unless you have the qualifications and connections to land something similar here.

stumptowny wrote:
I am at the point where I am fine staying or returning. I am guessing many of you have families and are here for good. amused by the process back home.. disgusted.. or indifferent.


Politically, no matter who's in office, and I'd be shocked if Obama doesn't win a second term, I'd bet that things are only going to get worse. In some ways, the US seems to be descending more and more into resembling a 3rd world country in terms of the divide between rich and poor. I live in one of the "nicest" and most "livable" cities in the country, and the desperation seems almost palpable at times----lots of unemployment, and there's been a big spike in crime the last year or so---my car and house were broken into in the last 2 months alone, and many of my neighbors have had similar experiences.

My wife, 2 young daughters and I are moving back to Tokyo in December. Fortunately, we have a good set up there with the in-laws so I'll have time to suss out the job search. Don't know if you have a family, but I'd imagine that it'd be a tough go to set yourselves up if you do come back. Certainly not impossible---don't mean to convey that impression or discourage you (I have a friend who teaches in Tokyo and has 3 kids, and if he wanted to return there's little chance he'd be able to swing it and have the same quality of life), but unless you have things worked out, and money in the bank, it may not be easy.

Good luck, and hope this was helpful...
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stumptowny



Joined: 29 May 2011
Posts: 237

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:35 am    Post subject: Re: state of affairs, staying in Japan, thoughts... Reply with quote

jmatt wrote:
stumptowny wrote:

I stay up with the state of affairs back home with hopes that I can return some day if I decide.. or that I can at least have that option..


Well, if you want an ESL position when you return, depending on where you want to live and who/where you want to teach (K-12 public school, community college or university, private schools), don't expect an easy job search, or good pay. After teaching in Japan and other parts of Asia for 7 years, we moved to Portland, OR----and took a few years off from teaching. Once I wanted to get back into it, found it near impossible to find anything without an M.A. or M.Ed. (even when it wasn't required), and no luck at all after finishing an M.Ed. TESOL. Public school funding is constantly cut, despite the demand for ESL professionals, and there's an incredible glut of teachers of all kinds here. For adult education, the only well paid full-time jobs at the community colleges and PSU are scant and locked up in perpetuity, and the other jobs that exist take advantage of that, and the wages are dismal. As mentioned though, YMMV depending on where you want to base yourself, but while researching and applying for jobs around the country, I was shocked at how low salaries generally are. If you have a good set-up in Japan, and happy, I'd stay, unless you have the qualifications and connections to land something similar here.

stumptowny wrote:
I am at the point where I am fine staying or returning. I am guessing many of you have families and are here for good. amused by the process back home.. disgusted.. or indifferent.


Politically, no matter who's in office, and I'd be shocked if Obama doesn't win a second term, I'd bet that things are only going to get worse. In some ways, the US seems to be descending more and more into resembling a 3rd world country in terms of the divide between rich and poor. I live in one of the "nicest" and most "livable" cities in the country, and the desperation seems almost palpable at times----lots of unemployment, and there's been a big spike in crime the last year or so---my car and house were broken into in the last 2 months alone, and many of my neighbors have had similar experiences.

My wife, 2 young daughters and I are moving back to Tokyo in December. Fortunately, we have a good set up there with the in-laws so I'll have time to suss out the job search. Don't know if you have a family, but I'd imagine that it'd be a tough go to set yourselves up if you do come back. Certainly not impossible---don't mean to convey that impression or discourage you (I have a friend who teaches in Tokyo and has 3 kids, and if he wanted to return there's little chance he'd be able to swing it and have the same quality of life), but unless you have things worked out, and money in the bank, it may not be easy.

Good luck, and hope this was helpful...


Ouch! Really?! ESL work in pdx.. I nearly fell off my chair when I read this. did no one tell you about portland before you decided to move there? diversity in portland is based on scars, fixies, and how your foam hearts in lattes are formed. it is totally white dood! I am from portland. Lincon HS! born and raised in the flats of felony (aka deep SE). if you want esl work in public schools, the bay area is a better place to be. it is the most diverse area in the US for non-native speakers. even the 'yeah area' is terrible right now. the jobs in the cities are way competitive and you really have to consider moving to the burbs for work (northern CA, the valley, sac, inland empire...). back to ptown, the little esl work PPS had was taken long ago by seniority and the pay is torrid for ALL work in the NW compared to many other cities. public ed in portland is lower paid than ALT work in Japan if you are a new teacher starting on the PPS salary schedule! it's weak. PCC, PSU, UP, L&C... Reed! (lol) they are all the same. populated by native english speakers.

I definitely appreciate your story. it is the most relevant anecdotal information I could get for this thread (regarding portland anyway).. but it probably extends to most american cities at this point. I would never return to portland for any kind of job hunting with any level/type of degree. pay is just too low. returning to the bay area would take significant bank. and a job lined up. or someone to stay with so you don't burn money looking and struggling... I am a school counselor back home and it is one of the first cuts made by districts along with sports and the arts.. in california it means taking jobs in the boonies under the present conditions. or fighting the 150-200 other applicants in the urban areas..

but welcome back to japan.. plenty of work here! and you have support so even better...
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:06 am    Post subject: Re: state of affairs, staying in Japan, thoughts... Reply with quote

stumptowny wrote:
Ouch! Really?! ESL work in pdx.. I nearly fell off my chair when I read this. did no one tell you about portland before you decided to move there? diversity in portland is based on scars, fixies, and how your foam hearts in lattes are formed. it is totally white dood! I am from portland. Lincon HS! born and raised in the flats of felony (aka deep SE). if you want esl work in public schools, the bay area is a better place to be. it is the most diverse area in the US for non-native speakers. even the 'yeah area' is terrible right now. the jobs in the cities are way competitive and you really have to consider moving to the burbs for work (northern CA, the valley, sac, inland empire...). back to ptown, the little esl work PPS had was taken long ago by seniority and the pay is torrid for ALL work in the NW compared to many other cities. public ed in portland is lower paid than ALT work in Japan if you are a new teacher starting on the PPS salary schedule! it's weak. PCC, PSU, UP, L&C... Reed! (lol) they are all the same. populated by native english speakers.

I definitely appreciate your story. it is the most relevant anecdotal information I could get for this thread (regarding portland anyway).. but it probably extends to most american cities at this point. I would never return to portland for any kind of job hunting with any level/type of degree. pay is just too low. returning to the bay area would take significant bank. and a job lined up. or someone to stay with so you don't burn money looking and struggling... I am a school counselor back home and it is one of the first cuts made by districts along with sports and the arts.. in california it means taking jobs in the boonies under the present conditions. or fighting the 150-200 other applicants in the urban areas..

but welcome back to japan.. plenty of work here! and you have support so even better...


Actually, we moved here to take a break from teaching as Portland is definitely the cheapest city on the West Coast, though that's changing. It wasn't until I started to try to get teaching work did I realize the situation.

Don't know how long you've been away, but, especially in East Portland, there's a pretty big demand for ESL teachers in the public schools, especially in the David Douglas and Parkrose school districts. There's just no money to hire anyone. And, there's a large refugee/immigrant community, but again, PCC is the biggest provider of services and the full-time jobs there are impossible to get.

And, of course, as you mentioned, in inner areas of the city it is extremely homogenous and whiter than white.

Anyway, looking forward to returning to Japan.
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ghostrider



Joined: 30 May 2006
Posts: 147

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice discussion.

The US is depressing right now and there is little hope in anyone's eyes that things will be getting better anytime soon. Where I work, everyone has a degree and isn't making shit, half aren't doing anything related to what they studied. This includes coworkers with master's degrees earning hourly wages or the bottom in a salary position unrelated to what they studied.

That said, if your goal is to return to the US at some point in your life, you really must be doing something on the side besides teaching English. It will mean jack shit when you return to the US, no matter where you teach, how high ranking you are, unless perhaps you're a professor. If you don't have any skills that are in demand, you'll be starting from the bottom, where as the college graduate who started at the bottom 5-10+ years before you returned may now be in a management position, earning more.

As for Japan, they are in a similar situation and have been for longer. The reason it seems better there is because despite their economic problems, the government and companies have kept the unemployment rate low and wage gap low. On the other hand, like the baby boomers in the US, the dominate older Japanese don't seem to care about Japan's economic future. They've already lived during the most prosperous times. Corruption/nepotism/cronyism runs rampant. Their companies are getting hammered by Korean and western companies. They've only been acquiring foreign companies because the Yen is much stronger (bad for exports from Japan), but acquiring companies does not translate into success. This, the high cost of living, and the government's criminal handling of the Fukushima disaster, is what has deterred me from returning and still does.

There aren't really many good TESL options in the world right now. I think Korea remains the last of the good ones in terms of the quality of living and the amount you can save, so I'm considering that as an option now along with developing some skill on the side that will increase my chance of finding work when I decide to return to the US/Canada. I've noticed that when I first started considering teaching Japan many years ago, the Japan section of boards like this were booming. Now it's the S. Korea section and boards. If the 2 were in an equal position in terms of where they were heading economically, environmentally, and in cost of living:avg amount earned, I'd go for Japan in a heartbeat.

Two good things about the US however are being closer to family and much easier to make friends. Though since I've been back, I've been able to save far less and barely get any holidays even on salary, so I actually see family just a bit more than I did before. Also, friendships are more situation/moment based as you get older no matter where you live, the only real friend you'll have is your significant other.
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ghostrider wrote:

Though since I've been back, I've been able to save far less and barely get any holidays even on salary, so I actually see family just a bit more than I did before. Also, friendships are more situation/moment based as you get older no matter where you live, the only real friend you'll have is your significant other.


Everything you've said very true. All of my family is on the opposite coast, so we almost never see them, though we have made some good friends. We just get by here, however, having two young, pre-school children a big part of that---we have to juggle our schedules to make it work. If we paid for full-time day care, we'd just be working to afford that---salaries here are low, which is why I stayed in the bar business so long. The best ESL job I could find paid $15/hr with 30 contact hours required----and only paid for contact hours---with the 10-15 hours a week of unpaid admin work expected, it was far better to work a job making $20/hr min. and up to $40 if busy, much of it untaxed. If we have any hopes of putting money in the bank, it makes much more sense to return to Japan, which we're doing, and luckily, have a rent-free, car and bill free life with lots of family around to help with the kids. And, all of my friends still live in the area we'll be in, so that's a big plus. You're so right about making friends as you get older.
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Abdullah the Enforcer



Joined: 26 Aug 2012
Posts: 42
Location: In a hole

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abdullah wonder: How much poster here in J have relevent degree to tech efl? Many are not tink Abdullah...

prefessnial!
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abdullah the Enforcer wrote:
Abdullah wonder: How much poster here in J have relevent degree to tech efl? Many are not tink Abdullah...

prefessnial!


Jmatt wonder: Does Abdullah have anything useful to add to the discussion? I think not.
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Abdullah the Enforcer



Joined: 26 Aug 2012
Posts: 42
Location: In a hole

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

huf!
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rxk22



Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 1032

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ghostrider wrote:
Nice discussion.

The US is depressing right now and there is little hope in anyone's eyes that things will be getting better anytime soon. Where I work, everyone has a degree and isn't making shit, half aren't doing anything related to what they studied. This includes coworkers with master's degrees earning hourly wages or the bottom in a salary position unrelated to what they studied.

That said, if your goal is to return to the US at some point in your life, you really must be doing something on the side besides teaching English. It will mean jack shit when you return to the US, no matter where you teach, how high ranking you are, unless perhaps you're a professor. If you don't have any skills that are in demand, you'll be starting from the bottom, where as the college graduate who started at the bottom 5-10+ years before you returned may now be in a management position, earning more.

As for Japan, they are in a similar situation and have been for longer. The reason it seems better there is because despite their economic problems, the government and companies have kept the unemployment rate low and wage gap low. On the other hand, like the baby boomers in the US, the dominate older Japanese don't seem to care about Japan's economic future. They've already lived during the most prosperous times. Corruption/nepotism/cronyism runs rampant. Their companies are getting hammered by Korean and western companies. They've only been acquiring foreign companies because the Yen is much stronger (bad for exports from Japan), but acquiring companies does not translate into success. This, the high cost of living, and the government's criminal handling of the Fukushima disaster, is what has deterred me from returning and still does.

There aren't really many good TESL options in the world right now. I think Korea remains the last of the good ones in terms of the quality of living and the amount you can save, so I'm considering that as an option now along with developing some skill on the side that will increase my chance of finding work when I decide to return to the US/Canada. I've noticed that when I first started considering teaching Japan many years ago, the Japan section of boards like this were booming. Now it's the S. Korea section and boards. If the 2 were in an equal position in terms of where they were heading economically, environmentally, and in cost of living:avg amount earned, I'd go for Japan in a heartbeat.

Two good things about the US however are being closer to family and much easier to make friends. Though since I've been back, I've been able to save far less and barely get any holidays even on salary, so I actually see family just a bit more than I did before. Also, friendships are more situation/moment based as you get older no matter where you live, the only real friend you'll have is your significant other.


I hear ya man. I am back in the USa now. Things are not all that goo at all. But it seems like Japan is worse overall. At least the US is having growth, while the slide in Japan will continue until the govt can7t artificially keep unemployment so low.

Agreed on S Korea and US companies edging out Japanese ones overall. Seems like Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic and the like are dying on the veins. Only i would add in Taiwanese companies too, Acer is up and coming.

I don't like the outlook short term(10 years for the US), and it may be ok for now in Japan, but I see things becoming more and more unstable in the near future(2-3 years). Kinda sucks, but I guess there is Malaysia!
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stumptowny



Joined: 29 May 2011
Posts: 237

PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OBAMA!!

ok, back to work..
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