They were humble beginnings at my first English school, money was tight and location was important. Near to the station was priority for me. Eventually a place became available a stone’s throw away from the station. The building itself wasn’t new. It looked liked it was built in the late 70’s early 80’s and maintenance to it was kept at a bear minimum, but it was perfect for what I was looking for. The first 3 floors are offices for businesses and the remainder 3 floors are for lodgers. My new school was situated on the fifth floor. It was a modest 1K room with a small unit bath and a tiny kitchen. I spruced it up and made it as cozy as I could. We managed to squeeze two classrooms in there believe it or not. All in all that first school did me well and I’m pretty proud that I grew my fledging business out of such a small room.
From the money I made from the first located school it was time to upgrade and present myself at a more professional level. So, I came to the conclusion to move to a bigger better room and this time not as a lodger but as a business tenant and move into an office space this time. In the past even though I did the best I could on what I had, I feel that some potential students that came for a trial lesson may have been put off on how small the school was with a giant foreigner sitting in it, it could at times be a little intimidating especially if it was their first time to have contact with a westerner. Fortunately for me office space became available in the same building on the fourth floor. Seeing that I had always paid the land lady on time and never gave her any trouble she gave me a pretty good deal. The new office itself was newly painted and much larger. The floor it was situated on had communal toilets and a kitchen. With the extra space available to me I could easily put in a lobby area and I set up a TV/DVD player which students could relax and watch while waiting for their class. I also at times arranged movie nights. All in all the school was bigger and looked more professional. I believe this helped in increasing my student body as it looked much more appealing to potential new students. I had to pay around another 20,000 yen a month but it was well worth it.
To tell you the truth I was pretty happy at the office I was in but the building owner was a family business and they did things the conservative way, so this kind of hindered my abilities and Smith’s future in making a smooth transfer to another foreign owner possible. With this in mind I went ahead and looked for my 3rd premises. I found an office on the other side of Otsu station even more convenient and located just across from the main supermarket. The office itself is located on the 8th floor; it is modern with a very clean kitchen and restroom and is cleaned and maintained on a regular basis as it is owned under a corporate business, thus making teacher owner transfer very easy. The room itself is clean, new and pretty much the same as the last school but with a few extras. It is on the 8th floor and has spectacular views of Lake Biwa and surrounding mountains. It also has a balcony that I regularly sit on after class just to chill out after a very eventful day. Also there is only one other office that I share with so making it very quiet. The students love it I love and I think without a doubt whoever the next teacher owner takes over will love it too.
If you happen to be in the area, pop in and let’s sit on the balcony and take in the breath taking views over a cup of tea.
Smith’s School of English (Otsu)
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