Teaching English in Utsunomiya, Japan: Alumni Q&A with Kristi Violette

Teaching English in Utsunomiya, Japan: Alumni Q&A with Kristi Violette

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What is your citizenship?

United States

What city and state are you from?


How old are you?


What is your education level and background?

Bachelor's degree

Have you traveled abroad in the past?

Studied abroad

If you have traveled abroad in the past, where have you been?

Finland, Poland, Italy, England, Wales, Ireland, the Caribbean, The Bahamas, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico

If you have studied abroad in the past, where did you study?

Italy, and spring break week in Poland

What sparked your interest in going to teach English abroad?

I love to travel ! I wanted to do something that would allow me to travel and spread my passion to travel to others. This job allows me to do just that but also to share my culture with my students.

What were some of your concerns before teaching abroad?

Making friends, being so far from home, just living life in a different culture and how'd I'd adjust, and even the language barrier were big concerns.

What did your friends and family think about you moving and teaching abroad?
My parents were very apprehensive, but once I say I'm going to do something, they know I won't change my mind. To be honest, I went and signed up and then told them after so they wouldn't try to change my mind. My friends were supportive and shocked but they are happy about my decision and have stuck by me.

How to have fun in Tokyo, Japan


Why did you decide to get TEFL certified and choose International TEFL Academy?

I wanted to get TEFL certified because it would open many doors for me in regards to living abroad which is something I had always wanted to do. I choose ITA because of the many resources they provided before you even signed up like testimonies, a country map and a lot of information. It seemed like a good school to go with and allowed me to do my course all online which was great.

Which TEFL certification course did you take?

Online TEFL Course

How did you like the course?

I liked it a lot. I was able to work both jobs I had at the time and still do my tasks. My instructor was great; she was always available to talk by email and gave me some great advice. She helped my anxiety about moving abroad and into the unknown, but she always reassured me.

How has your TEFL training helped you in your current teaching position?

I was able to get teaching job right away which was great ! I learned a lot and applied some of the strategies I have learned and have met some people through the Japan alumni Facebook group as well.
Which city and country did you decide to teach English in and why?

I decided to teach English in Japan in the city of Utsunomiya. I didn't pick the location; it was just where the company I work for placed me. Although I love it here and I did ask for a city type atmosphere and not a small town. So I think it was a good fit for me.

How long have you been in this country and how long do you plan to stay?

I have been here 8 months now. I have to return to the US after my contract ends, but it's possible I may return or go to another country entirely. The possibilities are endless when your certification doesn't expire. So I will have resided here in Japan for at least one year. 

During which months does your school typically hire?

All year round

Did you secure this position in advance of arriving?


How did you interview for this position?


What kind of Visa did you enter on?

Work visa

Please explain the visa process that you went through.

My recruiter helped me with it all and was very helpful. I didn't have to navigate alone and was able to have someone tell me what I needed and helped me fill out the paper work properly.

What are the qualifications that your school requires for teachers? Please check all that apply

- TEFL Certification
- Native English speaker

What is the best way to apply?

Apply online

Tell us about your English teaching job!

HOURS: I have four regular schools I travel to each week so the hours vary. But I typically work no more than five hours a day. Since I get paid for number of days per month, it doesn't matter the amount of hours per day.

SALARY: Pay is about ¥240,000 ($2,145 USD).

SAVINGS: I can send money home regularly with this pay making it easy to continue to pay loans back in the US.

STUDENTS: I work with children and my youngest right now is a year and 6 months! And my oldest is 16. I work for an eikaiwa (private language school), so I have a very large range of ages. This keeps the job fresh and interesting. I get some vacation time and since the job is in the evenings after school for the children, I have a lot of free time during the day.

TRAVEL: This job gives a lot of opportunity to travel and I love it. I've been able to travel a lot of Japan and even went to Thailand on one of the holiday weeks.

How did you find somewhere to live and what is it like? Do you have roommates?

The company was able to secure me a place to live prior before I moved to my location. It allowed me to move with less stress and not have to worry about finding a place to stay in a foreign country. I have my own apartment, and I love it!


Please explain the cultural aspects, public transportation, nightlife, social activities, food, expat community, dating scene, travel opportunities, etc...    

CULTURE: I love living in Japan. The culture is so respectful and interesting. Japanese people are so kind and are always willing to try to help you if you ask them.

TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation is pretty advanced here, especially the trains. It's relatively easy to get around. On long weekends I've been able to go to different places in Japan like Kyoto or Osaka. I will go to Hiroshima on my next long weekend when I get the chance.

EXPAT COMMUNITY: I have made so many friends here ! I know people all over Japan. It was so very easy to make friends, that when I think about how worried I was about making them, I laugh at how silly it was.

OTHER: Since I am close to Tokyo I go there quite often and there is always something going on. Never a dull moment here in Japan. Oh, and the food is amazing too.

Tips for Teaching English in Japan


What are your monthly expenses?

My rent is deducted out of my check which is convenient. Utilities depends on the season, if you have the heat on, expect a higher bill then say the spring. Its about ¥5000 ($45) right now for my utilities. Social activities and food is on preference. I spend a bit on social activities because I like going out to see people and on food. My phone I'd say maybe ¥20,000 ($175 USD) is spent on monthly expenses like food, utilities and phone. All the rest of money is for fun ! :)

How would you describe your standard of living?

I love my little apartment ! Some may complain about the size being too small compared to Western apartments, but honestly I'm fine with it. Less maintenance and the point is to be out enjoying the world, not staying inside !

In your opinion, how much does someone need to earn in order to live comfortably?

I would say about ¥240,000 ($2,145 USD) to live comfortably.


What advice would you give someone planning or considering teaching abroad? Would you recommend teaching in your country?

Absolutely without a doubt go for it! You may have doubts now, but they will seem like a distant memory once you just let go and go ! You won't regret it I promise. Moving abroad was the best thing I did for myself. I was tired of working two jobs and living a mundane lifestyle. Now, I'm always excited for a festival or seeing my friends at the base of Mt. Fuji. I was able to achieve my dream of living abroad for long period of time and traveling within Japan and other parts of Asia. Its the most rewarding experience you'll ever have. Don't be afraid to get out there and do it. You'll never regret this experience and certainly never forget it.

You can follow Kristi on instagram:  @_kristiviii

Posted In: Teach English in Asia, Teach English in Japan, Utsunomiya

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