The State of Things

Posting two days in a row? What is this madness? But, yeah, here I am, making up for months of radio silence by spamming you in January.

Anyway, yesterday I talked about my latest 日本語 acquisition, and today I’m going to talk about what’s up with me and where I’m headed at this point in my life. Because things have changed since I arrived in Japan in July and I’m finally settled enough to talk about it somewhat coherently.

Basically, I said before I started JET that I would do the ALT thing for two or three years. I had no idea what I wanted to do afterward, I have a lot of [largely inexplicable] love for Japan, and it’s a great job for what it is. Which is not to say that it’s necessarily a legitimately great job, but within the boundaries of what the JET Program can give you, it’s a pretty sweet deal. I have since realized a few things about what I want and what matters to me and, as it turns out, that doesn’t include spending another year on Shikoku being an ALT. So I’ve chosen not to renew my contract and will instead be returning the the States in early August, after the contract ends and I, ideally, do maybe a week of travel (by which I mean I’ll go to Tokyo and Kawagoe) before ending Japan Adventure Version 2.0.

I’ve said this before to a couple of different people, but there’s a certain rhetoric employed by the JET Program that can be difficult to shake: that this is your special, once in a lifetime opportunity to experience Japan, and once it’s over that’s it. You’ll be a JET alumnus and affiliated with the program, but you’ll be back in your home country doing other things. It helps build the program up for new participants, to make you feel really connected and loyal to it. But it’s also bullshit. I mean, a lot of people do use this as a one time thing, but they didn’t come here because they had a long-term interest in Japan, anyway. Those of us who want to come back have a hundred different ways to do it that have nothing to do with JET. Jumping ship after a year just means that I’ll be doing something different next time I come. And that sounds grand to me. I just had to get over the fear that not recontracting would be making a huge mistake that I’d regret. Maybe this isn’t the best decision ever, maybe the wiser thing would be to stick it out for another 18 months, it’s not like I couldn’t, but I don’t want to. And, you know, maybe choosing to leave will actually turn out to be a turning point in my life that will lead me to something more permanent. Whether that be job-related, or people-related, or something else entirely.

So I’m out. Well, I will be in about six months. And I’ve been wavering back and forth on what exactly I want to do when I get home, but I’ve actually made a decision and am taking the stance that, if it doesn’t happen, I’ll do something different. But this is where I’m starting:

Apply to Portland State University as a post-baccalaureate student to get a second bachelor’s degree. This time, as stated in the previous post, it’ll be in Japanese language. So I’ll ideally be finding a job and moving to Portland in the latter half of this year. A big thing will be finding a place to live because no rent will ever be as cheap as what I’ve got here in Ehime, but I shall persevere. And find house or apartment mates.

If I fail to be accepted to PSU? Well, I’ll work it out if it happens. I’m letting myself be optimistic because I have a degree from a pretty damn good university to apply with, but they could still reject me. In which case it clearly wasn’t where I was meant to go and I’ll find something else. It won’t be the end of the world.

And neither will ending my time as a JET after one year rather than two or three.


2 thoughts on “The State of Things

  1. I’m in a similar place in life — I’m moving on to the next great adventure, but have no concrete plans for what I’m going to do besides freelance and teach piano. I didn’t apply for the permanent position at my job — and I had to get over the worry that I was giving up a “good job” (with benefits and healthcare and bylines and opportunities galore) to go off and do….who knows what. (still planning to run away to sea at some point.) So save as much of your paycheck as you can and worry about the rest when it happens! You’ll be a bad-ass in linguistics. And Portland’s awesome.

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