I haven’t been able to post this because I’ve been too busy crying myself to sleep every night for the past month. Kidding (partly). Yes, as most know my time in Japan has come to an end and it appears so has the posts on this blog. However, I still have a backlog of unfinished half-posts on ideas that never were quite fully formed. I think as a withdrawal coping mechanism, I may finish some of those and post them here for those who might be interested in a bit more Japan in their lives. Various topics may include the aging population of Japan, cycling in Japan, and the incredible Japanese attention to detail.
I think people in my daily life have probably reached their threshold of me starting every sentence with “Well in Japan….” so I’ll write here for those who don’t see me all the time so they can get sick of it too!
On a balmy late afternoon on August 2nd, I boarded the ferry and sailed away from my island paradise home of the last two years. There was much ugly crying as I waved goodbye to students, coworkers, and friends. If you haven’t read my post about the infamous Goto ferry goodbye please do so here so you can understand how truly devastating it is. Being on the receiving side of it was even worse than I imagined. Luckily, I had my two good friends Michelle and Jess leaving on the same boat and we consoled each other once the ferry had rounded the corner and Goto was out of sight (oh jeez, I thought I was emotionally prepared to write this post but apparently six weeks is not enough time.) Michelle and I said goodbye to Jess as she made her way to Fukuoka for her flight home, and we went out for our last meal in Japan. After much deliberation we settled on an izakaya in town and ate our feelings in fried foods. It was a bit of a surreal feeling walking around Nagasaki city that last morning. I went and sat by the water at the port and thought about how far away Goto seemed already.
Four flights, a cancellation and some misplaced luggage later I was back in Ottawa where I had left from two years before. And just like that— my time in Japan seemed like some distant dream. I mean who would actually believe that I was paid to live on a tropical island with white sandy beaches, incredible food, to teach hilarious students with kind and generous coworkers. I think now is a good time to mention that the JET Programme application period is open for 2019 here. Just saying. Magical. Island. This could be you.
It’s difficult (nay, impossible) to sum up two years of experience on the JET Programme in a blog post. Professionally, it’s amazing to reflect on the personal growth I’ve made in the last two years. The JET Programme is often looked at as a “gap year” (or 2 or 3 or 5…) between school and getting a “real job”. Something that is a time filler but not necessarily related to your career or future plans. Even though I discovered that teaching ESL is not my life passion project, I still learned so much and gained so many skills from the job. In graduate school I am a Teaching Assistant (TA) which I’ve discovered is basically the JET Programme but the people you are teaching speak the same language as you! I can already put the skills I’ve developed over the last two years to work.
Personally, it would be a futile experience to try and sum up all I gained over the last few years. When I first moved to Japan, one of my first blog posts was about the phrase “Yoroshiku Onegaishimasu” which has many meanings, but in a self-introduction roughly translates to “please be kind to me and I will be kind to you". It was one of the phrases I heard and said a lot in the first week after arrival. During my final few weeks in Japan, the phrase repeated was “Osewa ni narimashita” which approximately means “Thank you for your support, kindness, work, and cooperation". For me, it was normally said through smiling and tears. All I will say to friends, coworkers, students, and the people of Goto and Japan— Ni nen kan osewa ni narimashita. Thank you for two years of kindness, support, and cooperation. This phrase will never encompass all I want to say but it’s a start to expressing how grateful I am for the wonderful experience I had. Mata ne! See you again!
PS JET application portal. Here. Do it.