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This Is Not Over Yet May 16, 2008

Posted by Mitch in General.
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I started writing a post yesterday, but it just became a big rant like my previous entry, so I decided to delete it. I don’t want people thinking that I’m miserable and so I’m going to be upbeat and focus on the positive. As it is, I am having a good time, it’s just frustrating when I’m mentally ready to go home but I’ve just got to hang around. Feels a little like Purgatory.

The week is drawing to a close and on the whole it’s been a good one. My kids have learnt how to find Japan on a map and the reception to this month’s lesson has been good. As far as I know, this is my penultimate visit to this school and, even though it is the ESIDL, it will still be sad to bid it farewell. I could, on the other hand, be wrong and still have two more visits, but either way, things are starting to wind down.

I should be finding out the details of my successor relatively soon. It was around this time last year that I found out where I would be in Japan. It feels so long ago, doesn’t it. I’ve found the Facebook group for 2008 applicants and they all seem full of the joys of Spring, discussing police check forms, how their interviews went and where they’ve requested to stay. It’s made me positively nostalgic. I remember when it was the be-all and end-all if I heard a snippet of news or a glimpse of a rumour. Someone’s found out where they’re going. Someone has been in contact with their predecessor and the like. I feel quite patronising, gazing back at that time, wishing I’d known then what I know now. But, do you know what? I would gladly live through the stress of applying for the JET Programme, the interview (that went awfully), London Orientation and everything else that happened. My year hasn’t been one long, easy ride where I’ve done nothing but soak up another culture. My plans to get a grip on the language have languished and my eyes have been opened that, even though you know it’ll eb different, nothing can prepare you for just how different. And nothing can prepare you for just how similar it will be as well. I think that was the most off-putting. Despite the heat and humidity and giant bugs, Japan is just like everywhere else. I don’t think a Japanese person would be too happy to hear that as they seem to be clinging to what they class as their cultural identity by their fingernails (cf the rebuilding of dismantled castles in the 1960s). But it’s true. There’s crime. There are deaths. There are births. People get up and go to work. Just like most other places.

If I could go back and change anything, I don’t even think I would. Yes, I’ve been placed in the rural arse-end of Japan, but I’ve met some great people who have made this year abroad what is has been. I feel I’ve experienced the “true Japan”. As I said when I first got here – I can travel away from the countryside and go and see the big cities, but those in the big cities must find it hard to consciously drop themselves in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have that problem – we were already there.

So, as I count down the weeks until school finishes, I’m actually in a much calmer place. The sun is shining, the kids are laughing downstairs and I’m content that I’ve had the best year abroad that I ever could have had.

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