Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Diary of an ESL Teacher: Sergio in Japan

I know it's getting close to the end of November and you're probably wondering where your monthly English teacher interview is, right? Right.  
Well, no need to fear, I've got it right here!

Okay but seriously, the latest interview is with a friend of my husband who recently picked up and moved to Japan for the foreseeable future.  It looks like he's having an awesome time and definitely makes me want to head over there to see what all the fuss is about.  It was fun interviewing him and getting a male perspective, since so far I've only interviewed women.

So, without further ado, meet Sergio!

1. Where did you choose to teach English and why?

I was an elementary school teacher in Las Vegas for two years before deciding to pack up my life and work abroad. I decided to teach in Japan on a whim actually, and never saw myself living abroad before then. My roommate at the time, who was also an elementary teacher, walked into the living room one evening and told me about this program that sends college graduates to Japan for a couple of years to teach English. Right then and there, I decided to go for it. My career plans never focused on education, but after my two years as a Teach For America corps member I can safely say I plan on being involved in education for a long time. 

2. How did you prepare for your trip? 

I did not have time to prepare for my trip mentally because I had a very busy end of the year and summer transition. In two months, I packed up my entire life in Las Vegas, backpacked Europe with my father, and hopped on a plane to Tokyo. My lack of preparation did not allow me to have expectations so I showed up with nothing but excitement and curiosity! I am really glad I brought toothpaste and deodorant. The Japanese do not believe in fluoride and antiperspirant. I applied for the JET program through the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles.   

3. What was the cost of your trip? 

The cost of my trip was 0 dollars or 0 yen at the current exchange rate. JET paid for my flight to Tokyo, my flight to Tokushima, and my hotel expenses.  

4. What was the first impression of the new country?

Japan is so clean and there are no trashcans anywhere! Mind blowing. 

5. What was the most challenging obstacle for you to overcome? Did you ever have a "why am I here?" moment?

I have not had an outright why I am here moment, but do feel helpless when bad news comes from home. I recently lost my grandfather, and the father of a close friend in the same week. It is very trying to not be able to support the people you care about with more than emails. 

6. What is the most valuable thing you've learned so far?

Keeping a positive outlook and realistic expectations can make a tough situation much easier to deal with. 

7. How has this experience changed your outlook on life or personal philosophy?

I have only been here a few months and still feel like a tourist so this answer is still in the works. 

8. Tell me about a favourite moment or story. 

During one of my first weeks here, I was running through the countryside when a little girl spotted me. She was so startled that she yelled, “gaijin!” (wide eyed foreigner) and started running away from me as fast as she could with total fear in her eyes. I still cannot tell the boy names apart from the girl names, and when the name is meant for both a boy and a girl, it really messes with me. 

9. Favourite food?  Least favourite?

I can’t choose a favorite. There are too many delectable dishes to choose from. My least favorite, however, are these little whole fishes that come in the school lunch sometimes. The fish tend to stare, which makes it very difficult to eat them (usually I just cover their faces). 

10. Favourite thing to do in your new country?

I have done so many awesome things in Japan including hiking through mountains, whitewater rafting, feeding monkeys, visiting temples, and walking through castles. I feel like I am doing something new every weekend. 

11. Any advice you would give to someone considering moving abroad to teach.

Why not just go for it? In twenty years, I want to look back and remember the great memories I had while living abroad. 

*Please make sure, however, that you choose a reputable company or organization

Wow!  Japan sounds fabulous.  Good luck with the rest of your time there, Sergio!  I'm sure you'll never forget it, even in twenty years.

Stay tuned for our December interview from a new blog friend of mine, Chelsea from  You can bet it's going to be just as cool as she is.

To make sure you don't miss out on any updates, make sure you follow.  You can do this quickly by clicking the blue "follow this site" button on the top right :)

Check out some of the previous interviews here:


  1. Hi Lauren! I'm a new follower from Let Birds Fly blog. I love what you're doing with these interviews. Very clever idea. I actually have a lot of friends teaching English in South Korea. Oh the stories I hear :)
    Nice to meet you!

    Sarah @

    1. Lauren Roerick MillerDecember 1, 2012 at 2:27 AM

      Thanks!! Im glad you like them. It's fun to learn everyone's perspective of their experience abroad. All kinds of crazy stories haha.



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