Tony & Moly Sharehouse – My experience

*Update. I originally wrote this a few months ago. I am happy to say I don’t live in a sharehouse anymore.


I hate sharehouses. It’s 4:30 and I can’t sleep. Starting around sometime around maybe 2am until after 3am I hear the manager banging shit around and making noise.

First I’ll tell you the good.

It’s in a good location – Otemon. It’s near Ohori park and in between that subway station and Akasaka.

Compared to another sharehouse I stayed in it’s in better condition. This is not a Japanese house it’s in a small cement apartment building, but the interior walls aren’t cement.

Everyone staying in this sharehouse at this time is either Taiwanese or Chinese. Most everyone I met staying here was o.k except for one annoying guy who always cooked onions and slammed his door.

Although I wonder why everyone here is Taiwanese or Chinese.

Oh yeah, there are 2 apartments in this building for the sharehouses. I live in one, with another Taiwanese girl and Taiwanese guy and then another person came later.

Now I am going to give this place some criticism.

Why?

I probably wouldn’t have had the “manager” – hehe (I hate managers by their very nature), not complained about water on the floor and later leaving the trash can lid open.

Criticism:

  1. Cigarette smoke
  2. Noise (floor noise)
  3. A NO SEX rule
  4. You have to pay for parties
  5. A little pricey considering
  6. There’s a business in it
  7. The manager

Now I am only staying here because I didn’t really have another option without a permanent visa.

I don’t really like to complain and this is, but I think they should change some things.

1st smoking

They do go out and smoke on the porch so they say, but sometimes I think they smoke in their room – the manager and the owner, but they leave the doors open and the smoke comes in the apartment.

And I hate cigarette smoke. It’s not all the time, but still cigarette smoke is annoying.

Noise

It’s not noisy all the time, but the floor makes noise and the walls are cheap thin wooden walls and the sound travels through them. The room I stayed in 2F room 103 which was the smallest is right next to the entrance and kitchen and the room where the landlord operates their business.

103 sucks because of the noise, no air con, no screens, and it’s not worth 50,000.

A “no sex” rule

This is the stupidest rule yet. And I knew it ahead of time. Like WTF?! Why do you have this rule in place? The manager said to “go to a hotel.”

Dude, I am paying you money to stay here and this is my home now and my room and it’s not your business what I do in my room.

Maybe if I was being noisy having sex in the room it would matter and I could understand if someone didn’t like it.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing like he said, but I lived in China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan and this is the first time I heard about a “no sex” rule in any hostel, hotel or anything like that.

You have to pay to party

They have parties sometimes on the 5F sharehouse apartment for new guests and whatever. But he told me I didn’t have to pay since I was a new guest but next time I would.

That was weird and I said that.

I kind of see it like a “managerial” tactic to manipulate and that is why I hate managers. Like other people will pay to attend your party but if you don’t pay to attend someone else’s party then you feel kind of quilty or the other people might think you are not cool or something.

Like I understand if you have a party to bring something maybe like I brought a little wine and sake when I had my party.

But just seems like the dude is trying to make money off of you too.

The manager

First off I don’t like managers or being managed.

I am an independent person and if you meddle with my affairs try to tell me what to do or control me then chances are that I won’t like you.

He seemed kind of alright and positive at first. But I was just waiting for some shit to come up. Like I said the money for the party thing, the no sex rule (is that his rule or the landlord’s).

He speaks Japanese, Chinese and English so that’s cool.

Come towards the end of my month here he was like do you want to stay and like someone else wants the room too – which I doubt since there is another free room.

He told me when I moved in that he would make the price for the room cheaper then when I brought that up he had nothing to say about it except that the price of the room was going to go up when they get an air conditioner.

So I guess that was a little lie.

The dudes young like 28 so yeah.

He’s a little hyper about stuff too like l forget my clothes in the shower room sometimes cause there is no door to the shower room really and just a high shelf to put your stuff on.

And then I got some water on the floor (not that much) and he came and asked me to clean it up. That is what actually annoyed me and prompted me to write this.

There is a rule that everyone takes turns cleaning the common areas too which is understandable. And when it was my turn I know I did a way more thorough job than those before me because I cleaned a lot of mold of the walls in the bathroom, cleaned the toilet, vacuumed, and basically did a lot more cleaning than others did.

It also seems slightly weird to me that everyone else that lives here including the manager is Taiwanese or Chinese. That seems slightly selective.

It’s not that cheap

I pay 50,000 for that little room 103. Like I said the location is good, but the room is small and it’s a little noisy.

I know that I can get a room – a studio in the same area for like 35,000 no problem ( I pay 30,000 now for my own studio) but I need a visa.

There’s another business in it

On the 2nd floor there is a uber eats business that landlord is starting in one of the empty rooms right next to mine.

It’s not too big of a deal, but between like 10am and 2-3pm some days of the week this guy is like making and selling food in the kitchen. And he walks really hard too. You can really hear him trudge along the floor.

That’s my review.

I am still here at the moment, but I just don’t like this whole sharehouse thing. This is the second one I stayed in. It’s not for me. So if you have a visa I would just go and look for a place on your own. I can’t see what the advantage is of staying in a sharehouse.

It’s random and you don’t chose your roommates.

Yesterday I took a bike ride to Imazu beach in Western Fukuoka

On Saturday I went to Itoshima to train Kosen judo at Kyushu university. Along the way I got to see some beaches. So I went back yesterday.

I found a spot on the map that didn’t look too far and headed out. It was pretty nice. There were few people there and the water was pretty clear.

It took maybe an hour and 20 minutes or so to get there.

I just checked on the map and it said it was 12km from Fujisaki station. Roundtrip was 24km so about 14 miles. Sounds like a lot but most of it was a nice ride.

“Have you ever spent time in Santa Fe?”

“There’s a subculture of healing there.

The idea is that there is something therapeutic in the atmosphere and it’s a safe place to go and get yourself together. There are other places like Santa Barbara and Ohai, California come to mind, usually populated by upper middle class people with more time and money than they know what to do with in which a culture of healing also retains…

The concept in all of these environments seems to be that one needs to complete his healing before one is ready to do his work. This form of thinking… is a form of resistance.

What are we trying to heal anyway?

The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain free. He has to play hurt. Remember the part of us we think needs healing is not the part we create from. That part is far deeper and stronger…

The part where we create from can’t be touched by anything our parents did or society did.”

Taken from THE WAR OF ART – Steven Pressfield

I heard about this book many, many years ago first from Seth Godin in the book Linchpin and just finally got the audiobook. It’s good.

What do you do?

Thinking out loud here.

I am seeking an answer that I like.

  1. I teach people how to teach English especially to kids in Asia.
  2. I teach and inspire people.
  3. I make stuff that is sometimes creative and wacky.
  4. I work online.
  5. I take people who are having a bad time teaching abroad and transform them.
  6. I revolutionize people’s experience teaching abroad.
  7. I tell people the truth.
  8. I humor, inspire and teach people how to teach English in Asia.
  9. I create stuff.
  10. I am an artist.
  11. I make something that is drab and boring into something fun, creative and life changing. Teaching English sound like a drag? Here’s how to make it fun…
  12. I try to bring color, truth and courage.
  13. I scratch records, beatbox and make art outside.
  14. I paint.
  15. I practice judo and jiu-jitsu because it’s fun, challenging and courageous.

What does my website to? What do I want it to do?

  1. I want it to transform teaching English abroad from something ordinary and routine to something extraordinary.
  2. I don’t want to BS people. I want to tell them the truth and help them.
  3. I want to help them to avoid the BS. If I can inspire them.

Selling to teachers who are already abroad

Thinking out loud again.

This time I am thinking about selling to a different person. In a previous post the one that had that Seth Godin quote as the title I talked about selling to a person mostly who hasn’t taught abroad yet.

I think this person has a different set of problems. This person is mostly focused on transitioning or moving abroad. Maybe that’s why so many TEFL course providers show all these places of exotic beaches and temples, etc.

Maybe this person is in a bit of an escape or vacation mindset. They know nothing about teaching – usually. They are also scared and anxious and maybe why that’s why they fall for the course that says it’s accredited, internationally recognized, reputable, has a guaranteed job, etc.

Maybe all of those things give them a peace of mind.

You don’t say those things or offer them. And despite the fact that they don’t matter and most experienced teachers know that those things don’t matter the new teacher is scared and ignorant.

I was reading on Seth’s blog about babysitters. And he was saying that what babysitters sell is a peace of mind. The parents don’t really care about her skills, really it’s about a POM.

So maybe it’s the same with new teachers who haven’t made it.

For those teachers it’s about transitioning. They are scared and they want security and promises.

Now let’s talk about the teacher who is already there.

They are not all the same.

A fewer percent of them are looking for certification. Fewer of them are considering taking a course, but I know some of them have problems.

What problems?

I can only talk about the problems I had:

  • Students that ignore you
  • Students that don’t pay attention
  • Bored students
  • Difficult students
  • Students that speak when you speak
  • Students that speak Chinese, Korea, etc. in class
  • Chaos in the classroom
  • Students who won’t talk
  • Large classes
  • Students who don’t want to be there
  • Stress

Are you happy with teaching? Do you like teaching? Do you think you can improve?

I know you can improve.

Because I did.

Before I started teaching I said I am not a teacher. And then I tried to ease into it. But even though I was only teaching 15 hours or so in my first year it was difficult.

Then came year two and then year 3 and then things gradually improved. Teaching was always challenging, well not all of my classes, just some of them and then there were the problems outside the classroom like:

Culture.

Living in a foreign country.

Language.

And.

Trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life or where I was going to go.

Those were problems too.

I didn’t know what was next. I didn’t know what I should do. I didn’t know how to make the most of my time.

Then there was the job. There were always people that I had conflicts with. Always? Not always, but there were co-teachers that I didn’t like and there was a manager I didn’t like and then I had this bad experience with a recruiter and even one boss who tried pocketing my tax money.

All of those people added to my stress.

So can I be a role model for them? Not really, since my experience was so not perfect. Knowing what I know now though would help a lot inside the classroom and outside the classroom.

How?

Teaching. I got better with time and effort. You definitely have to make an effort if you want to change. I can’t change it for them. It’s not a silver bullet, but I can offer them a lot of guidance and I can relate.

I can offer them the best materials too.

I can help them save time.

I wasn’t a natural teacher. But teaching is a skill. It’s like anything that is a skill. Some people are going to have more talent or be more natural at it, but you can improve. But again you have to put in the effort.

Honestly, I was a bit lazy and reluctant to put the effort in. But if I was to do it again I would have put the effort in early on so that the teaching would have been better.

Back when I started teaching in 2004 there weren’t any good websites for learning and I would spend a lot of time searching, reading and looking for something that would make my classes better.

But what I learned is that it wasn’t one thing.

I needed to learn many things. Honestly I started to learn a lot more about teaching when I started working on this website. The process of making videos to demonstrate teaching techniques helped me.

Reading instructional stuff on the web was REALLY BORING and the quality was really poor too. So that’s why I started to make videos of activities and techniques that I had learned.

It was because that I learned that watching other teachers (usually the experienced ones) was the easiest way to learn how to teach.

I know how to improve your situation.

I can relate.

I can help you inside the classroom and outside because they are related. This course starts with the first and focuses more on that. If you improve your teaching you will improve you overall state of mind abroad.

You will have a better experience.

I can’t promise that you will love it, but I know you can improve your situation. I know you can change. You just have to want to change.

Are you committed to making a change?

 

“You sell the story the person tells themselves”

Thinking out loud here.

That is a quote by Seth Godin. I am not sure what he means exactly. And in this post I am going to try to think about what that means to me as I have a marketing problem because I feel like people are just not getting my message on ESLinsider.

You’re probably anxious about going abroad. You don’t know who to trust and you are probably not sure what you need. You want to make a change and you want a job, but it’s a whole new beginning and I have to say the challenges that you are having right now aren’t going to go away when you get a job.

In fact if your experience is anything like mine then your challenges are going to increase when you get abroad and start teaching. Sorry to say that. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s part of the truth. Teaching is hard and it’s especially hard when you have no experience.

Yes, there’s excitement that comes with something new, but it wears off and if you are not enjoying your day to day life then you won’t be very happy.

That’s why I made this course. It’s because I want you to have a better experience teaching than I had.

Look if you just want to get a job then you don’t always need a certificate to do so, but if you just want a certificate to check the box then go to Groupon.

The reality is that on paper TEFL certificates are viewed mostly the same by most employers. The brand doesn’t really matter. Sure some schools may be familiar with some brand names, but they are in a different country and they don’t really care about certificates.

What do they care about?

Many schools just want a good teacher and 99% of schools value experience more than any certificate. A certificate is just a piece of paper that shows that you supposedly learned something. “Supposedly” is the key word because if it’s a low quality course without any teaching observation, feedback and it’s just not targeted towards who you will be teaching then you probably won’t remember much of it.

And it’s the same if you chase the carrot – the certificate.

It’s like that saying that life is a journey and not a destination. It’s the same with a course.

And it’s not all your fault.

It’s the education system. It’s focused on ends too like grades and useless archaic info to memorize that just goes in one ear and out the other. With TEFL courses that useless info is called studying English grammar and teaching theory.

The 2 other courses I have taken were boring and impractical. I learned a lot of… well I shouldn’t say learn because most of it went in one ear and out the other.

I took a TESOL course before I went to Taiwan (my first country) in 2004 and if I remembered right it was “accredited”, claimed to be “internationally recognized”, said it was a 120 “hour” TESOL course and offered a “guaranteed job”…

I later realized that none of those things mattered and the whole “hour” thing was a bit of BS and I could find more jobs on my own if I just looked.

So what mattered?

The teaching is what matters. What you learn in the course is what matters. The process matters.


“Don’t do it for proof, do it because the learning itself is worth it.” – Seth Godin

How to sell a TEFL course without a certificate?

I am thinking out loud here. I recently made a change to my site and am in the process of updating and upgrading my course to improve it. And I removed the certificate.

Why?

Because everyone is just after the certificate. They are in it for the wrong reasons.

They are chasing the carrot.

Sure some of them may need it for a job, but the certificate doesn’t mean much. And that is why more and more people are saying just get the cheapest one.

They are in it for the wrong reasons.

They don’t realize what they are getting into.

But why should they take my course that doesn’t have a certificate when they can take another course that gives them a certificate?

Why?

They have to have a really good reason to do that.

Here are my reasons:

  1. Short practical instructional videos – watching other teachers is the easiest way to learn how to teach period. Although it does of course matter who the teacher is.
  2. Feedback. It’s a live course with feedback on assignments from me – someone with years of experience teaching in China, Korea and Taiwan. Oh, and I live in Japan now.
  3. It’s targeted towards teaching children (especially in Asia). Why does that matter? Because most courses out there actually focus more on teaching adults. I took one of those courses – actually 2 of those courses and I can say that they weren’t very helpful for that.
  4. Personality development. Many of the improvements that I am working on now are in this department. Teaching abroad is an experience and it’s not only a job. So how can people take that experience and make it a life transforming one?

Another reason is I give them long term access. Apparently scarcity sells and giving people short term access sells, but what happens when you take a course when you haven’t even started teaching yet, complete it, go abroad, jump in the classroom and start teaching and then realize oh man this is difficult what did that course saying about teaching vocab?

Or maybe how was I supposed to deal with these kids speaking in another language? Did it say anything about that? I don’t think it did.

So what I am supposed to do with that.

The experience with the courses I took had a very weak classroom management section. Teaching kids is not simple. You are going to need some skills and classroom management is one and “positive reinforcement” only goes so far.

Now how am I going to make money from this course without a certificate?

I removed the bait.

I guess it’s not for everyone and there are fewer people now that will be interested just based on that. So that’s partly why I raised the price and am adding value to it.

How am I going to make money from this course without a certificate?

Maybe if I targeted licensed teachers as they already have a qualification that’s considered higher than TEFL certification. AND they are more of the higher performance types compared to many of the low performers who are just looking for a job.

How would I reach them?

Who else?

Experienced teachers? Some experienced teachers have taken my courses, but were they taking the course to learn or get a qualification? IDK.

But some experienced teachers think that they don’t need it.

What about new teachers?

Maybe new teachers would be less likely to take a course without a certificate. They’re looking for a job and very unfamiliar with the territory.

Why would they pay more for a course that gives them less? No, it’s not less it’s more but there’s no certificate.

Do people assume that all TEFL or TESOL courses are the same? I think some of them do as you have seen on Reddit. That’s why they say get the cheapest or a CELTA.

There is CELTA and there are all the others. So they think.

Some people think courses are the same. I think many are actually too. How can they know the difference? You have to show and tell a different story.

What’s the value of this?

Why have you removed the certificate?

The value is the learning. The value is in the process. If you are seeking a fix to your solutions then a certificate is probably not the answer.

Wait. Maybe I am wrong.

Because if they want a job that requires certification then a certificate is a solution.

But what kind of solution is it?

It’s a short term solution.

Why?

BECAUSE GETTING A JOB IS JUST THE BEGINNING.

I don’t think they get that.

Why not?

Because maybe they are not abroad and they are not teaching so they have zero context or knowledge of what they are getting theirselves into.

It’s abstract. Teaching is not yet a real thing.

So then maybe you should sell to people who are abroad and leave a note for those to remember you when they get abroad and start teaching.

Why take your course and not another?

I mentioned the video, the feedback which also enables them to use their materials.

They have there eyes set on their problem which is getting a job and getting abroad. Hence why they want an “accredited TEFL certificate”.

They want the security even if it’s all for show. They don’t know that. “Hours” like that famous, lol 120 hour TEFL course are fake but they don’t know. Accreditation is for show. A certificate is for show.

So you can’t compete with that.

So what do you do?

Maybe you should try to get people who have already started. Instead of trying to persuade people who haven’t go for people who have.

Figure out who you are talking to.

Getting a job is just THE BEGINNING. But that is all they are focused on. So IDK. Maybe focus on those that have started. But are those people looking for courses?

IF YOU NEED A CERTIFICATE AND A JOB THEN THIS COURSE IS PROBABLY NOT FOR YOU

At least not now…

Maybe this is a way to separate the people who are looking for a cert. and the people who are looking for a job.

Maybe they will remember you for later. Maybe. So who do I talk to? Maybe it’s better for people who have a job, don’t need a certificate and WANT TO LEARN.

Did I say want to learn?

But are those people out there? Or are all of most teachers abroad low performers who really don’t care about improving their teaching skills?

There are a lot of teachers out there. I think you are assuming they are all the same.

A kosen judo competition between universities in Fukuoka, Japan

This is a Kosen judo competition between the former “imperial” universities in Fukuoka, Japan.

Kosen judo has a different rule set from the standard kodokan judo rule book. Kosen judo allows for more newaza (ground fighting). Kosen judo is basically “old” judo.

The new rules to judo have become stricter and stricter. Unlike kodokan judo you can pull guard, and attack the legs for single leg takedowns, leg picks and more.

One of the guys from my new judo dojo here in Fukuoka told me about the competition and we went together. He trained kosen judo at Kobe university. Kosen judo is more like BJJ, but with the throws and is perhaps a little more simpler than modern day BJJ.

There are no leg locks in Kosen judo, but you can do ashi garame and I saw many players doing something like an ankle hold or my friend said heel hold.

The matches were 6 minutes long and the winner would stay. The coach would chose who would fight next. I think the team with the most points would be the one to win.

I didn’t learn all the rules, but there was a tie between Osaka university and Tohoku university.

 

 

I got a cultural visa to live in Japan and practice Judo

…for a year!

Cool eh?

I am excited.

So I came over here to Fukuoka, Japan about 5.5 months ago. I started off training a lot of jiu-jitsu and tried to get a visa through that school, but it didn’t work out.

Probably cause it was “Brazilian” jiu-jitsu. There’s not much of a difference between judo newaza and BJJ as BJJ was derived from judo.

And…

I tried to explain to the immigration officer how there were only like 5 teachers between me and Jigoro Kano – founder of judo. Yet, it didn’t work.

But that’s o.k. because I was planning on training judo too.

Ironically there are more places here to train BJJ than there are judo. Judo is popular in the school system, but after school it’s not that popular. I only found like 2 places in all of Fukuoka where adults could train compared to like 5 or more places for BJJ.

Anyways…

It cost me $40 to get my residence card after I received my COE (certificate of elgibility). I had to do a second application that looked almost identical to the COE, but was for a a change in residence status.

It took about a month to process after my application was submitted. I didn’t have to leave the country to get a new visa like I had to in China, Korea and Taiwan when I taught English there. I heard you could get these for karate or aikido too. And maybe for stuff like: archery, tea ceremony or other Japanese cultural things.

Anyways, it doesn’t permit you to work. You need your own money and you need to show them your accounts.

Then you need to find a school that wants to help.

How did I do it?

  1. Come over on a tourist visa
  2. Find a school and a Japanese cultural activity
  3. Fill out the application and have your school enter their info
  4. Create additional documents including your experience that is related like for me that was practicing judo and BJJ in the USA (photos of me in competitions and getting promoted in both BJJ and judo)
  5. Bank balances and or proof of income outside of Japan
  6. Submit and wait