*** Please note this is from back in 2003-2004. If you are looking for current Nova information you’re in the wrong place ***
I came to Japan with about $1000 US. I found for me that this was ample to get me by on my first month until I got my paycheck. I also took the advance that Nova gave me but did not spend it. Now I say $1000 was ample to get me by but for the first month I lived pretty lean. I cooked most of my meals at home. With the exception of buying a few items like a cell phone and gym membership I didn’t splurge much that first month. Although I was able to save the Nova advance I know many teachers that weren’t. If you like to go clubbing and drinking a lot then Japan will break your wallet quick. Going out to bars and clubs cost some serious coin, there are many Nova teachers who have been here for well over a year and are still living check to check because every month they party their check away.
The job at Nova for me was pretty boring. You go through eight lessons a day five days a week. While there is a certain degree of flexibility in your lessons, it was hard for me to keep “The smiley face” on for 40 lessons a week. If you have enjoyed working in a restaurant or a factory then you might have a higher tolerance for the work then I did. The best part of Nova for me are the people: The students and your co-workers. Some of the students you meet are great and very interesting. I have gone on surf trips, hiking and to the movies with a few of my students.
I also enjoyed most the people I work with. My AT (Head Teacher) was a good guy and I really enjoyed hanging out with some of the other teachers after work. While I lucked out and most of the teachers I worked with were cool I still did have a good handful of Novite drones. The drones were there to snitch on you and generally make your day unenjoyable if you tried to do anything that was slightly out of line with Nova policy. For example a drone might snitch on you if you were trying to actually enjoy a lesson and use creativity instead of using the structured Nova lesson plan. Another thing you could get in trouble for is spending time with students. I always was very discreet when I would spend time with students outside of class. Although the “no socialization” policy is selectively followed I always figured better safe than sorry. The drones were also notorious for a lot of back stabbing against other teachers to benefit themselves (This showed corporate loyalty). However, there is nothing special about the drones you can find them in every corporation across the world. They are easily spotted, I just avoided them and did fine. Overall I didn’t spend too much time with the people I worked with, I just tried to put my head down and work, be cordial with everyone (even the Novite drones) and go home and enjoy a social life I had built outside of Nova. Japan is a great country it’s full of fun stuff to do in your spare time. In my opinion your co-workers can play a big role in your whole Nova experience. While I was pretty lucky with my AT and co-workers, I have heard some nightmare stories from other teachers who got into a nightmare school where they will ride you for not having a perfect crease in your pants or some other trivial bullshit.