Thoughts on Being Jobless in Japan

Today I got laid off from my fabulous new job…a fact that I’m sure I’ll one day find funny, once I’ve stopped eating butter cookies and staring at my ceiling in stunned shock of it all.

I know that I’m probably being horrible over dramatic right now. Just as I was earlier when I wandered umbrella-less through the freezing rain to an Indian restaurant and cried into my curry. People stared as per usual but it didn’t bother me for once, because at least I’d given them a good reason to. I looked dejected and heartbroken and a lot like someone who’d just been dumped.

And that’s sort of how I feel. I’d fallen in love with my job and it dumped me. Which, if you think about it (which I have been obsessively for the last four hours) is really quite ironic.

Here I came back to Japan in hopes to escape the economic crisis, the bleak job market and the mass lay-offs happening in the States right now, only to get laid off four weeks after starting my new job.

I mean, seriously. Like, what are the odds?

In case you’re wondering, the reason’s behind the split involved the lack of student enrollment. There just weren’t enough students to justify keeping me on staff. Four months at a private school in Tokyo costs as much as a semester at my University in New York and parents (or the parent’s companies who foot the bill) just can’t afford it anymore. No country seems to be safe from the sinking US economy; it’ll find you wherever you’re hiding and drag you down with it. Schools are closing all over the place here.

So I don’t blame the school for the breakup. Really, I don’t. They were really nice about it, gave me the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” speech and then offered me a tissue and a pitying look. They were even caring enough to give me a whole month’s notice, so that I can use the next four weeks to find a new job.

I guess the question is, do I want to find a new job? I’m so sick of gaijinpot.com job searches, and forced smiles at job interviews and lying about how “I love teaching ESL”. Maybe this is a sign that I should finally just throw in the towel on my abusive relationship with Japan and call it quits, once and for all. Maybe give another country a try.

I’ve always wanted to live in Thailand.

You know what I’m going to miss most though? More than the 9 week paid vacation time and fun and friendly co-workers? More than the school-sponsored staff parties, potlucks and pilates classes? More than the staff room with the endless free coffee, tea and popcorn?

I’m going to miss the kids. I know it’s only been a month, but I really love every one of my students. They are so adorable and incredibly well-behaved and just so smart. I’m going to have a hard time leaving them.

I just really wish it didn’t have to end this way.

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Comments ( 14 )

  1. tokyo cowgirl

    Good god, I'm sorry. I know it doesn't help, I really had been excited for you and happy that you had found such a great job. At least you learned that not all ESL jobs are shitty, right? I hope you find something that you enjoy just as much, and if it involves somewhere totally amazing like Bangkok then all the better!

  2. Vin D. Alsace

    I'm sorry to hear that.

    If you end up going to Thailand, let me know. I have 3 good friends (locals) in Chiang Mai, the northern city. Two of them are teachers. I'd avoid Bangkok if I were you.

    Just throwing that out there. Good luck.

  3. Single

    I'm sorry about your job! I hope you find one you love even more.

  4. aimlessambition

    I'm really sorry to hear that, since you loved this job so much.

    You could definitely look at it as a sign, or at least as a reason to make a clean break.

    Do you have a degree in education? If not, and you like teaching *some* kids, that might be something to do. You'd definitely have access to higher paying jobs as opposed to being teaching-m.a.-less.

    Whatever you end up doing, I really hope it works out for you.

  5. PushupYogi

    wow, I've been following your blog for a bit now; this was unexpected, to put it mildly. Wow... Yep, it *does* suck, but hey, I guess Thailand it is, eh? You're going to find it a little more, um, worn out than Japan...

    ps: Prime opportunity to pimp my blog, so here goes: go read it. People tell me its reasonably entertaining; maybe it'll perk you up a bit.

    pps: As always, keep writing. You have the gift, so why not?

  6. Reannon

    Thanks everybody...I hope I find a new job, too. I don't think I'm ready to leave Japan just yet. I only just got back! But I'm sure I'll find something...

  7. Anonymous

    Hey Reannon,

    I was telling my husband about how you're one of the most smart, enthusiastic and resilient people that I know.

    So I am sure it will all work out and you'll get what you deserve.

    Oh as for an oven .. have you tried using a toaster oven? I have one and I can use it to bake pasta bake, baklava, cookies, muffin (6 at a time), cakes (20cm) ... you can get a decent one for about 100,00yen from Bic Camera.

    Shan

  8. Beth

    Aw, I'm really sorry to hear that. If I were in Tokyo already I'd buy you a beer.

  9. Jade

    That's too bad about your job. Please stay in Tokyo longer. I also live in Tokyo and find myself often relating to your posts. I really enjoy your blog.

  10. koala

    You seemed impressed with Korea. My friends who taught there said they pay pretty sweet.

  11. Sarah

    Oh no!! That sucks about your job :( Hopefully you can find something that you'll like just as much as your old job if not more!!

  12. Reannon

    Beth,

    If you were in Tokyo, I'd let you buy a beer...or 10. : )

    Jade and Koala,

    I'm researching all of my options...I'm going to apply to as many jobs as possible...but I'm tired of working crap dead-end ESL jobs so unless I find something awesome here in Tokyo, then I guess it'll be time to move on to somewhere else...

    But I'd really like to stay...I've invested so much time and money trying to learn this language that it doesn't make sense to leave.

  13. Reannon

    Where were all of you oven-experts last Thanksgiving when I wanted to bake a turkey?

    Shan, thanks so much for saying that I'm smart and resilient! What a nice thing to say. I wasn't feeling very resilient yesterday and did nothing but laze around and watch Sex and the City reruns but your comment has motivated start the job search again. Thanks. : )

  14. Jess

    Alas, something bigger and better will come along. As they say, the grass is always greener :) Good luck!