Summer is just around the corner; it has finally started to warm up. I have tried to fight the urge to turn by AC on in my apartment as I know come proper summer I will need it more than ever! And as summer looms (and seeing as I arrived in Japan last summer), it gets me thinking that I have been in Japan for ten…..months!!! It is almost unfathomable to me; in some aspects it seems like it has passed in a blink of an eye, but in others it seems as though it has been ages since I left home.
I think part of what has brought about this post is the fact that I will not have any visitors in the near future, or possibly at all for the rest of my time here. I always had someone to look forward to; first Anna and Tony, then El, then my parents, then Niki and Hamed and finally my sister and her family. However, now there will be no one. I do not want this to become a ‘Oh woe is me. I’m so alone. Boo hoo.’ This is far from the truth as I have made solid connections here and many friendships that I hope I will keep for life. Rather, the end of my string of visitors has evoked a sense of reflection on my time here. What have I achieved in these past 10 months and what am I looking forward to in the future?
In the last 10 months I have:
- settled into teaching teenagers which seemed like such a foreign concept for such a long time
- gotten used to my role as an ALT rather than a teacher
- created an English board which seems to excite the teachers more than the students!
- tutored kids going to study abroad and seeing them come back with a new love for learning English
- made friends with my co-workers and delighted in the fact of being invited to their dinner and drinking parties
- participated in the 3rd year graduation ceremony by wearing a traditional Hakama for the first time
- created a very unique friendship with the foreign exchange students and gone on many a excursion with them
- been invited to attend many events with the first grade students such as going to watch the Lion King and the Sumo!
In the future it would be nice to engage more students in learning English. Most see it as the bane of their existence and the look of terror in their eyes as I walk past and say hello is real! (and often amusing!)
Here are some highlights of my travels within the Tokyo area:
From the top left across:
Todoroki Valley/ Yokohama/ Mt Takao with Justine during 紅葉 season
Mount Nokogiri/ Kiyose Sunflower Festival with Saskia, Hweeling, Hana and Justine
Disneyland with Tida, Heather and Hana/ DMM.Planets Art installation in Odaiba/
Mount Mitake during 紅葉 season
And outside of Tokyo:
Beppu/ Osaka with Justine and Hana
Aoshima (a small island off the coast of Miyazaki)
Taiwan/ Hiroshima and Nara with my parents
Mount Koya/ Sakurajima (off the coast of Kagoshima)/ Kyoto (4 times this year!)/ Yakushima
Looking back, I really have been so many places in such a short time. Though, the hunger for more travel is still well and truly alive! China is next on my list as well as more domestic travel, hopefully further up north of Tokyo.
I’ve managed to keep myself alive in a foreign country for the last ten months and I think that in itself is a major feat! While it has been a steep learning curve acclimatising to Japanese society, I think I have done okay so far. There have been many a frustrating moment where I could not understand what someone was saying, or a letter in the mail or something happening around me. I have also had an instance where I was talked into purchasing something that I did not want or need but could not really understand what I was getting into. Luckily it’s through the kindness of the people around me that I get by, whether it be my colleagues at school, friends or strangers.
I have made a home out of my little apartment, gotten all the necessary utilities set up, purchased all major appliances and somehow negotiated both international and domestic travel.
I have met some of the most wonderful people here and made a group of friends that I can’t imagine life here without (you know who you are H and J! 🙂 Settling and living life in a new country is certainly tricky but having such supportive friends around makes it all the easier.
In the future it would be nice to meet more Japanese people and friends and I know the only way to do this is to be more proactive and attend language exchange events and Meetups which I have been a little lazy (or busy!) about doing in the recent past.
Looking back at these ten months I get the feeling of both ‘Oh wow! I have done and been and seen so many things!’ but also ‘There so much I want to do that I haven’t yet!’. So I guess it’s a good thing that I will be staying on in Japan for another year until mid way through 2018!