Okay so it hasn’t quite been an entire year but close enough. August 1, 2017 is my one year Japanniversary! Happy Jappaniversary to me! A whole year in Japan has gone by and I am definitely glad I will have one more. Because holy shit this year flew by at Michael Phelps vs CGI shark speed. This time last year I was packing, preparing, and saying goodbye to everyone at home for what I thought would be the next year. Now I am fully(ish) settled and anticipating the arrival of the new JETs to Goto. It's strange to be on the other side of the equation now, welcoming newcomers who have no idea what's in store for them. As the seasoned Japan expert I now am (ha ha) I will impart upon them all the wisdom it has taken me a year to absorb…. so mostly where to buy the good ice cream and how to take out the trash. Important things.
So in honour of my first year here I wanted to put together some of the highlights for me that maybe I haven’t mentioned before on the blog.
August also marks one year since I joined a dojo here and began studying karate. This is by far one of the best decisions I made when arriving as it is an excellent form or exercise, it provides a great structure to my week, and it has been challenging both physically and mentally. Also the entire class is in Japanese so it has been great for my language skills. Throughout the year I have ne three belt tests and I am now, as of last week, a green belt! However, the BEST part of karate and 75% of why I go is because of the Sensei. He is a karate master, ex-stuntman, movie aficionado, and all around hilarious and kind man. Plus the man is 60+ years old and carved from STONE. Without such a good instructor I don't think I would be half as motivated to go.
2) My school (nerd)
I feel like I hit the JET jackpot with my school placement. For the simple fact I only teach at one school and as such can develop a strong rapport with teachers and students alike. It's not uncommon for ALTs to teach at 5-10 different schools and only see students once a week or less! However, I feel like Kaiyo High is extra special on its own and the students are (for the most part) hilarious and eager to talk to me and the teachers have been nothing but helpful and kind all year. From help with things outside of school to letting me develop my own ideas in the classroom, I feel very lucky to work where I do. Hold on folks the sap is just getting started!
Sap train coming in to the station -- choo choo! I'll keep it brief. But from what I've heard the community and friendship among the ALTs on Goto is rare. With weekly "family dinners" and being just a short walk away from everyone, it's been easy to develop strong connections with some awesome people. I'm sad to say goodbye over the next few weeks to those going home but excited to meet the new ALTs coming!
4) Scuba Diving
Who knew Goto had amazing reefs and world class diving? Not me, and apparently not the rest of the world either. This seems like a bit of a 'hidden gem' of Goto but I have now been diving three times here with my friend/super-qualified scuba instructor and seen truly discovery-channel-David-Attenborough level marine life. I secretly think I was meant to live underwater in a reverse-little mermaid situation because diving is such an incredible feeling. Last year I went diving on a particularly beautiful day in December! DECEMBER!! I'm looking forward to lots more this year with my newly minted scuba certification!
Yearly travel round up:
I decided this year to stick within Japan as there is so much to see just in this country. I feel like I visited so many places and yet, every week it seems I'm learning of some cool new temple or park or mountain that I 'must visit'. So here is my round up of this year (links to related posts):
Goals for next year:
1) Travel outside of Japan
I would like to travel outside of Japan this year and explore the rest of Asia. Specifically, I want to go to S. Korea and Taiwan. Perhaps a diving trip in S.E Asia? There are still places in Japan I would like to see (Hokkaido, specifically) and I would like to explore more of Kyushu (the southern island I live on) by car.
2) Learn more Japanese
I feel like a constant goal as long as I'm living in Japan will be to improve my Japanese. Being illiterate for a whole year is hard. I know I have learned so much since coming here with next to no ability but there is still so far to go. While my first foray with the JLPT didn't exactly go according to plan, I'm hoping to get back on that language test horse and take the next level this December.
3) More blogging
I think this year was a pretty good start to blogging-- something I have tried and failed at several times. A few times fell off the wagon (the last couple months) but I hope to only grow this more next year. In writing this round-up post I looked back through my year in blogs and it was a nice reminder of what I did along the way. I'd like to have that for the next year as well to commemorate my time... plus my mom told me to write more.
On to the next year!