Moving to Japan: 1 Month into the Job

Hi, this is D! I’m back again! This time, I will share with you how life has been for me the past 1 month as a working individual in Japan.

As you would have already known by now, I work at Gaba. If you don’t know yet, you can read more about it here because I will not go into detail about the job nature and working hours etc in this post. As mentioned before, the work is flexible and I basically get paid for whatever amount of hours I work. Also, whatever ideas I have of Gaba before I joined were not too wrong as well, which is really awesome.

Now, let me share with you the main struggle I face so far. I submitted my schedule before I even started working (in mid-end July) and right now, I am actually suffering from it because I think I forgot to consider my other needs in life apart from work and sleep. I thought going to work at around 12pm seems very okay because I get to sleep in but what I didn’t realise is that I basically get nothing done in the day time except work. My schedule is pretty standard; I set myself to be available for lessons from 145pm to 10pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Yes, 6 days a week, around 8 hours a day. Seems okay, right? Hell no. Because I basically live like a robot everyday, waking up around 9+am, have breakfast, watch at most half an episode of drama or play at most 30min of game, and it’s time to get changed to go to work. When I end work, it is 10pm. When I get home, it’s 11pm. When I shower and sleep, it’s usually around 1230am. Can you imagine that? Usually, most office workers are forced to wake up early. The upside is that they have 7pm to 11pm to spend time with family or do whatever they want, though they’ll be tired. But because I have the option to sleep in, I sleep those hours away! It’s as good as telling you, an office worker, to go to bed at 8 or 9pm. Do you get anything done? Probably not. So now, I have to suffer the schedule I have put in before I actually found out how my working life in Gaba will be like. And from this, I also realised the beauty of waking up early to get things done.

Now, let me tell you more about Gaba. If you read my entry on Gaba before, you will know that Gaba is really good for flexibility but in return, you risk not earning enough money if you do not get enough bookings (you only get paid for lessons you do teach). These are both true. There have been mornings that I just call in to close my unbooked lessons so that I don’t have to go into the studio so early and they do not ask questions. Likewise, I can go to the studio manager and request to close my availability anytime. This is really good for those impromptu I-am-coming-to-visit-you friend outings! So I really love that. There are instructors who just go on one week break to go hiking at Nagano as well, which is really cool. So, yay to flexibility.

Now, about income. One of the reasons why I spend so long in the studio though I only have to teach 8x40min lesson a day (the lessons are in 40min slots, with a 5min break in between, so technically 8x40min slot is just around 6hrs) is because I take breaks in between every 2 – 3 lessons. At the beginning, I am not so familiar with the textbook and the clients, so I need the breaks to prepare for the lessons. By now, I know some of the clients and I know the textbooks pretty well, so I am starting to not require breaks anymore. This is why I can slowly start to teach 4-5 lessons at one go instead of just 2-3, which means that I only need to work 4 days of 2 to 10pm a week in future to earn the same amount. Best of all, if I continue to do well and get ‘belted’ (something like a promotion), I can work even lesser to earn the same amount, or earn more doing the same thing.

So as for income, I would say that Gaba is really doable for a living in Japan. At this rate that I’m going, plus incentives, I’m going to be able to earn >S$4,000 for my first full month of work. This is a pretty decent amount to live by for me though I’m not sure if it works for you.

Having said so, I just wish to add that  I was lucky to be placed in a learning studio (LS) that is pretty big and busy. I have really awesome co-workers i.e. other gaijin instructors who are friendly and nice, including 2 other Singaporean instructors there! Most importantly, I have pretty decent booking rate for my first month. Some of my other batch mates are suffering from having too little booking, so I think it also partially depends on which LS you are being sent to that determines if your experience with Gaba will be good or poor.

Now for the one thing I hate the most — evaluations. I read on glassdoor that those evaluations really kill. They are not lying. Although clients get to rate your lesson from 1 to 5, the average evaluation an instructor get is 4.8+! That’s almost a perfect 5. This means that 5 is actually normal while 4 is considered not too great and 3 is borderline fail. Let’s just say that in my first two weeks, the evaluations really stressed the shit out of me and I lost appetite and sleep over it. I literally feel a stab at my ego everytime I get a 3 or 4 because it feels like I gave a shitty lesson when I tried my best in every single bloody lesson. It also means the client didn’t really like me and that again, hurts. At the end of the day, attitude really trumps everything else. I can only train myself to take it positively — listen to the feedback, try to be better, and understand that I can’t please everyone so I shouldn’t let it affect me too much. I mean, after all, I don’t think I’m being paid enough to be stressed after work, lol. =x

This week, GJH is not around and I’m being abandoned in Japan to fend for myself, hahaa. Just in case you have no idea how expensive transport in Japan is, it actually costs me around S$10 PER DAY just to get to and fro work. Usually, GJH sends me to and fro the station on his JIFFY II, cutting the cost by half. But for this week, not only am I spend more money, I’m also spending a lot more TIME because the bus ride from his bird-no-lay-egg (secluded) home is pretty long. So if you are planning to work with Gaba, know that you should pay more to stay near your LS. It’s worth it.

Now, let me go hibernate and brace myself for the hectic week ahead! I’ll write again next time. Perhaps a series on weird clients? Yes? =P

Till then,



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