Friday, November 23, 2007

Working at last!

Las Vegas Skyline

I haven't written about it yet, but six weeks ago I started working for a worldwide language school that just opened at one of the local colleges here in Las Vegas. We've been very busy getting the new school running smoothly and getting familiar with procedures, courses, and materials. I was so surprised to find out that this new company is affiliated with the one I worked for in Japan, as I had never heard of them before. So far, I'm the only full-time instructor but there are several part-timers. The director was, in his words, "extremely impressed" by my teaching credentials from Japan, so I'm happy that my adventure in Tokyo paid off.

It feels great to be back to teaching and earning an income again. I had been unemployed for several months and it was really starting to worry me that I wouldn't be able to find work here in the U.S. After all the resumes I sent out, including individualized cover letters, I hadn't gotten so much as a "thank you for your application."

Rant Alert: It's one of my pet peeves that businesses don't have enough consideration for the hard work people do to apply for a job to at least send an automated email reply:
Thank you for your application. If we feel your qualifications match our requirements, we will contact you for an interview. Please do not reply to this email.
It takes so little effort for a company to reply to applicants. They should be ashamed of themselves for such callous disregard. On the other hand, I suppose it's a good indication of how well those companies treat their own employees, so maybe I wouldn't want to work there anyway.

Since the school is so new, we only had a handful of students for the first 4-week session. We still have all of those same students plus a few more for our second session which just started this week. Most of the students are from Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam and as of right now I have only had Korean students. Since Las Vegas is known for its hospitality industry, many of these students come here hoping to enter UNLV and study hotel management. Before they can enroll in an American university, however, they must become more proficient in English. Our students range from the lowest levels of English to quite high, and currently I'm teaching the highest level—which requires a lot of extra preparation.

The commute is the worst part about being employed, but it's not as bad as when I lived in the Seattle area. I had just gotten so used to the convenience of Tokyo trains that I forgot about the reality for most Americans—having to commute to work by car in rush-hour traffic.

I seem to have adjusted well enough, and now my life is starting to feel more familiar. While it can be wonderful to have an extended "vacation," the reality is that it's not too enjoyable when you're wondering when your next paycheck will arrive.

Glad to be back to work!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

I know a lot of you who read this blog live in other countries, but here in the U.S. today is Thanksgiving. Mostly, it seems like this day of "remembering to be thankful for what we have" turns into the starting gate for shopping madness. Starting at 4a.m. Friday, dozens of stores start opening for their annual Black Friday sales, including Target, Circuit City, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, etc. This year the sales are also online, starting today (maybe they were last year, too, but this is my first Thanksgiving back in the states).

For many of the hottest sale items, people will camp out overnight to be first in line when the doors open in the morning.

Giving all of this serious thought—say 3 seconds or less—there's nothing I can think of buying that I'd be willing to camp out overnight to get. And there's definitely nothing I want to buy so much that I'd be willing to shove my way through huge crowds of bargain hunters. After living in Tokyo and trying to make it through the Shibuya Crossing at least once a month, I never want to be out in big crowds again.

While I'm not saying I don't like a good sale now and then, I'd much rather order something online. Here's just one of many websites that are tracking the sales.

But today, I'm just going to relax and enjoy a simple life. T&J got a nice little Butterball turkey to roast and we'll begin our Thanksgiving when J gets home from work (in Las Vegas, where so many people work in the hospitality industry, there are no holidays). After dinner, we'll probably just kick back and watch a movie. Boring? Maybe, but it sounds good to me.

Hope you're having (or had) a great Thanksgiving!