AN adventurous teenager is set to swap Bury’s black pudding for sushi and cherry blossom by moving to Japan for a year next week.

Alex Watson, of Lindale Avenue, Unsworth, beat off fierce competition from nearly 100 applicants to become one of six teaching assistants at a Kyoto school.

Her 12-month placement – which will see her teach English to children from nursery age to 18 – is organised through charity Project Trust and will begin on September 13.

The 18-year-old said: “I took up this fantastic opportunity because I will learn some life-enhancing skills which will improve me as an individual. I will have to become very adaptable.

“I also hope to grow as a person. Ittoen School’s spiritual community puts a strong emphasis on being the best version of yourself you can be and working together as a whole instead of simply for oneself.

“Part of the way of life is taking the lower position, known as ‘geza’, which means doing in order to feel humility.”

Alex, who studied A Levels in psychology, art and theatre studies at Holy Cross College, has a place at Manchester School of Art to return home to next year.

At the Japanese school she will work six days a week, will live alone for the first time and will attend group meals and meditation twice a day.

Currently she does not know any Japanese but hopes to come home able to converse easily and will also work as a language assistant and will help in the kitchen.

She added: “I have only just left the classroom environment as a student so entering one as a teacher is a daunting prospect.”

“I am looking forward to living a 10-minute train journey from such an amazing city and am most nervous about having to function as an adult.

“The Japanese language is highly sought after in the UK and demand will only increase over the next few decades.”

To gain her place, Alex went through a rigorous five-day selection process on the Isle of Coll off the west coast of Scotland, single-handedly finding her way to and from the remote island. She has already raised £3,800 of her £5,400 total through grants from trusts, donations, quiz nights and by selling her possessions on eBay.

Alex said: “To show everyone who has donated just how much I appreciated it I am going to send them postcards once I am in Japan saying thank you both in English and Japanese Kanji.

“I will miss my family, friends and dog. I sometimes think I am crazy leaving my home and a place at university but I know it will probably be one of the most exciting years of my life.”

To sponsor Alex, go to, email alexinjapan or call Project Trust direct on 01879 230 444 and pledge in her name.