Posts Tagged NOVA apartment

May 2006 – Door to door sales

This story happened sometime in 2006, but I can’t remember the exact date, so I’m putting it in May.

Being an English speaking gaijin has its advantages when it comes to salespeople. I always answer the phone in English, so telemarketers quickly hang up. Door to door sales people usually take one look at me, apologize, and then proceed to the next apartment. However, one day I got a very persistent guy who was up for a challenge.

I was getting ready for work when I got a knock on the door. I greeted the well dressed young man who started asking about our stove. I had no idea that he was a salesman, instead thinking he was someone from our apartment building. I brought him in and took him to the kitchen, apologizing for our usual mess in broken Japanese.

He started telling me something about the range hood over the stove, pulling out the filter and showing me how dirty it was. I still believed that he was someone from our apartment building who heard about how poorly Azeroth and I took care of house cleaning. I understood about 50% of what he was saying, so I agreed that the filter was in fact dirty.

At this point he pulled out a catalog of fancy looking filters and filter systems. I suddenly realized two things:

  1. This was a salesman
  2. There is a surprising amount of variety in the world of air filters

Before he could start getting fully into his sales pitch, I tried my best to communicate that I was a NOVA teacher, this was a company apartment, NOVA could spend money on the apartment but I couldn’t. What I lacked in vocabulary I made up for in hand gestures. Eventually he understood and apologized as he started to leave. I also apologized for the confusion, and he apologized for not being able to speak English. I then apologized for not being able to speak Japanese better. It was a ridiculous situation.

I told Azeroth about this later over beer. He stated that answering the door in English and “forgetting” Japanese was one of the best ways to get rid of salespeople quickly. He also said that he rarely answers the door when he’s not expecting someone, which completely solves the problem as well. I made a mental note to never leave home without keys or my cell phone.

What I really want to know is: does anyone in any country actually buy things from door to door salespeople?

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March 24, 2006 – Clean enough

After several days of intense apartment cleaning (and occasional beer drinking), Azeroth and I believe the apartment is ready for a NOVA inspection before our new roommate moves in. Windows and surfaces are clean, clutter was removed, the kitchen looked inviting, the horrible forest of mold was gone from the bathroom, and Azeroth had finished moving from his room across the hall to the large tatami mat room off the living room.

Was our cleaning job perfect? Not at all. But it was good enough and we had no desire to spend any more time on it.

I briefly considered moving from my oddly shaped bedroom into Azeroth’s old room, which was larger and not oddly shaped. There were a few reasons why I ended up staying where I was. The first reason was lack of time; with my parents coming tomorrow for two weeks, I didn’t have the necessary time to move all of my stuff into Azeroth’s old room and then clean up my empty room before the new roommate arrived.

The second reason was the previous state of Azeroth’s room. Don’t get me wrong, Azeroth is a good friend and a fun roommate, but his room was filthy. I actually found what appeared to be black mold on the wall when I was helping him move. To be fair, it could have also been food sauce of some kind.¬†Knowing what the room looked (and smelled) like when we started cleaning was not a great incentive for moving.

Finally, even though my current room is oddly and inconveniently shaped, I’ve spent over a year getting it the way I like it. It’s comfortable and familiar, and I don’t feel like I am missing out too badly by staying put.

Bring on the apartment inspector!

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NOVA Apartments

My second home in Japan was an apartment building called “Ooka City Plaza” in Numazu. Coming from the dormitory style gaijin house known as Hello House East, it was a big change. I will write more about the details of Ooka City Plaza in a future post.

Getting an apartment in Japan can be difficult if you are not Japanese. There are lots of up front fees, language barriers with contracts, and many reports of real estate agents not wanting to rent to foreigners. In order to keep the flow of conversational English teachers coming to the country, NOVA rented apartments all over the country for the use of their employees. NOVA would then place employees in their apartments, and deduct rent from the monthly salary payment. The rental charge was higher than what you would pay for your own apartment, but still reasonable considering the apartment was ready to live in.

Living in a NOVA apartment was a convenient option for new teachers. The apartments were fully furnished and stocked with kitchen supplies. All new residents got their own futon and pad, and a very useful guide for living in a Japanese apartment. The guide was written in English with illustrations, and covered everything from regular maintenance to garbage disposal rules to getting along with your neighbours.

Most of the apartments had 3 bedrooms and and one bathroom. NOVA made money if the apartment was filled to capacity, so they always tried their best to keep all of the rooms full. The apartments themselves were small by most foreign standards, but decent enough for Japan.

Other than finances and convenience, the other main advantage of NOVA apartments was that you would be living with other English teachers. This provided a built in support network of people who knew the area, and also understood the challenges of living far away from home. NOVA would often rent several apartments in the same building, creating small communities of teachers in an area. As long as everyone was getting along it was a good way to counter the effects of homesickness.

I have a lot of good memories from my time in my NOVA apartment. Other than some disagreements with roommates (which could happen anywhere), it was a good place to live while I was teaching in Japan.

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