The 27th marked my 6th month of being an expat. Holy guacamole times infinite and beyond. 6 months already?! Can this year take a chill pill? For those of you who may not know, I moved to Japan at the end of July to teach English. I wrote a reflection after one month of living here, but after that, it was just a whirlwind of work and travel. Since 6 months is usually some kind of special time marker, I had to take the time to reflect on these past six months as life as an expat.
These past six months have been a roller coaster of emotions from experiencing frustration, culture shock, and loneliness to happiness and excitement. Even though I had some lows, the highs outweigh those lows by 5000%. This was my dream, once I graduated from college: to live abroad, teach English, and travel. I wanted to travel up and down Japan, around Asia, grow as a person, and become a better teacher. I’m doing it and I couldn’t be happier. There were times from when I accepted this position to after I moved here, when I had second doubts. Maybe I made the wrong decision? Maybe I should be going to grad school or getting a “real” job. Those thoughts didn’t last very long, because amazing opportunity after amazing opportunity came. Within the first two months, I got to wear my first yukata and carrying a shrine up a mountain. I had the opportunity to travel to Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara. I was and am living my dream and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nowadays, I appreciate every minute I’m here and dismiss those thoughts, because not many people have an opportunity like this. I can go to grad school or get one of those “real” jobs eventually. Right now, I just want to travel, eat ramen, and sing the ABC’s with my students.
I’ve wrote about it many times, so I won’t dwell on it for long, but my long distance relationship with Mark was a hurdle we had to overcome. Two weeks ago, he returned home after spending the new year with me. We had such a great time together and now we’re waiting to be re-reunited in March. Mark is going to be starting his job as an English teacher then! I’m so excited for him. However, his move here will bring a few more hurdles along the way that we will have to overcome.
I’ve also learned how to be an adult, well kind of. Sometimes I look at myself (not literally, okay maybe sometimes literally), and I still see a college student. One who has barely any responsibilities, who is enjoying life being involved with programs here and there. Then I realize, hey, I’m an adult now, making real money. This is my first time living alone and though it is… lonely, I’ve learned how to cope with that. I’ve also learned how to budget my own money, which has been my focus as of lately. I haven’t saved nearly as much money as I hoped to, but I found out that yes, it’s hard to save up with everything else you and to do and need to pay off. I’m proud of how far I’ve come in six months, but I know I have so much more learning and growing to do (like, how in the world do you buy a car?).
So what does the rest of the year have in store for me? Technically, my contract ends at the end of July, but the JET Program allows its teachers to stay up to five years. I’ve decided that I’m going to do another year and will be turning in my reappointment contract soon! I’m so excited to be staying here for another year. One year definitely was too short. I feel like I’ve barely done a quarter of the things I want to do while I’m here. Plus I love my coworkers and my schools and my students and teaching, in general. I’m looking forward to all my new adventures here in Japan and here’s to another year and six months!