Finding a good job after JET can be quite difficult but I feel like I got very lucky. I wound up getting a job as a "direct hire" ALT. The vast majority of ALTs in Japan are contracted by a third party that takes a portion of their check every month. Luckly for me there is nothing like that when you are a direct hire. However this does mean there is a larger degree of responsibility. I am treated very much the same as any of the other Japanese staff that I work with.
One of the biggest differences between being a direct hire ALT and someone that works for Interac, Altia or any the other companies like that is that a their is not that much vacation time. That may sound like a bad thing but when you are on vacation with Interac for example you lose almost 50% of your pay. Making it extremely difficult to make good money durring winter and summer. With my current job I get all national holidays off and 10 paid vacation days a year. Even if you get sick those are considered vacation days so I have to use them carefuly.
There are a few other things that are different from JET also. There are many events throughout the year that the ALT are 100% in charge of organizing and it requires the ALTs to sometimes stay very late into the night. While this may sound hard you do receive overtime pay whenever this happens. In JET you are also required to live in the same town that you teach in and I chose not to do that this time. I am living about 25 minutes away by car. Right now the weather is fine but winters are pretty cold here in Iwate so we'll see what it will be like once winter comes again. I can't believe I am already talking about winter when the snow has just melted around here.
Aside from my job I am really happy to be back in a more populated area. Yesterday I went to a movie and got a cheeseburger all in close distance to my apartment rather than driving over an hour to get to Hakodate from Fukushimacho, my old residence. I also went to Tsutaya and rented some music and DVDs. These may seem like little things but when you think about the convenience factor it means a lot to me.
My new apartment is also great compared to living in teacher housing in Hokkaido. It may be quite small but I would much rather live in a small apartment that is quite new than a free apartment that is old and hard to live in. My new apartment building is only 6 years old and I am pretty sure that the teacher housing in Fukushimacho was at least 30 years old. The shower and toilet were terrible. Also I was on a septic system so I had to pay people to come and clean out my septic tank.
I could go on and on but I think you get the point. I am glad to be back in Iwate and I hope that my blogs will take a more positive tone in the next few months.