Exhausting is putting it lightly. Where do I even start?
I get paid for a 40-hour week. In reality, I am at work for an average of about 50 hours per week. There’s an unspoken rule that employees in Japan arrive to work at least 15 minutes early, but my coworkers and I usually arrive 20-25 minutes before our shifts start (to clock in, print daily schedules, set up classrooms, clean, discuss things that need to be done for the day, etc).
I teach about 8 classes a day, sometimes less, rarely more. I get an “hour” for lunch, which means whatever time I can scrape together between classes, meeting with parents, seeing off students. So my lunch usually ends up being about 45 minutes on a good day. There are no breaks.
After a good 9-10 hours of running around, switching classrooms, talking to parents, lesson planning, teaching model lessons, and appeasing my manager by performing other various tasks, the day is finally over. But wait—there’s more!
After my shift is over, I still have several duties to perform. I talk to my manager about any problematic classes or students, prepare for the next day’s lessons, record attendance, put away tables and chairs in classrooms, and clean the school (either vacuuming all of the classrooms or wiping down all surfaces, depending on the day).
Of course, I can only speak for my own job. I’m sure some have it harder, and some have it easier, as in any economy. But I’ve just kind of become accustomed to being tired all the time. I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life, and I have NO idea how Japanese people do. Sure, part of it is a cultural difference, but Americans are known to be some of the craziest workaholics on the planet, and American work ethic pales in comparison to Japan’s. But Japanese people are humans too. Most everyone is in a perpetual state of exhaustion, they’re just very good at hiding it.