Sixth Month Reflection

6 Month Reflection

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!

12 comments

  1. Erika

    Mallory, reading this made me so happy! And you’re right – those six months did go by so quickly!! If you are loving your life, keep doing it and going in that direction (sounds like you already are). Sometimes the expat life can feel less “adult” because it’s non traditional and just plain fun, but don’t buy into that! Just keep following your heart! I’m so excited to hear that you will be continuing for another year!

    • Mallory || Sweet Smores

      Thanks so much, Erika! I’m super excited for another year :) Like you said, I’m just going to keep going along this path because this is what I want to be doing. I’ll think about that next step when the time comes.

  2. Polly

    Congrats on the 6 months — and that you’ve found somewhere you’ve enjoyed so much you want to stay another year! I know first-hand that isn’t always the expat experience!

  3. Amy @ the tide that left

    I can’t believe it’s been 6 months already! This is lovely to read and basically captures everything that is great (even if it is challenging) about moving abroad and seeing the world. The challenges are all part of it and you’re doing an amazing job of overcoming them all. I’m also really pleased you’ve decided to stay another year; your stories of life in Japan are great to read!

    • Mallory || Sweet Smores

      Seriously! I don’t even know where the time has gone. It seems like every month goes by faster and faster. It’s definitely tough to overcome the challenges that come with being an expat, but I try to live each day with a positive attitude.

      Thank you so much much for you comment! It made me smile :)

  4. Anna

    I know how you feel. I have been in Japan for about 7 months and the time has gone by so quickly, I can`t believe that I only have 3 and half months left. There are still so many things I want to do and places I want to go. One year doesn’t seem long enough.

    • Mallory || Sweet Smores

      I hope your last months year are the best months ever! What are the places on the top of your visit list? It’s crazy how quickly the months are going by. Time needs to slow down! I feel like I barely have any time to do anything (well, work it partly to blame since I can’t really take off) and there’s soooo many things I want to do. I need to figure out a way to get everything in.

      • Anna

        Well I really want to visit Tokyo again! Also there are places in Kyoto that I have been to on previous trips to Japan but not on this trip, such as Fushimi Inari shrine which I love! I would love to go up north to see Japanese snow monkeys but am not sure if I will have the opportunity. And I still haven’t worn a kimono! Lots of other things as well, I need to write an actual list I think! I agree time needs to slow down!

      • Mallory || Sweet Smores

        I loved Fushimi Inari, but I wished that it wasn’t as crowded as it was when we went there. Maybe one day we’ll be more prepared and do the entire hike. I hope you get to do all the things you want to do! I haven’t been able to make it back to Tokyo since orientation. Sometimes when I look back at all the traveling I’ve done since I got here, I haven’t done many things… I’ve only stayed in the Kansai region. I need to start branching out soon!

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