Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy 2009!

New Year's Day at IT - 7.jpg

I spent New Year's Eve and New Year's Day at my local shrine, IzumoTaisha.

It was nice to go again, since I didn't go last year due to bad weather and two years ago I was in America for the holidays.

It was crowded, as you can see in the picture above, but not too bad.

I walked around and took a bunch of footage which I'll edit together for my YouTube channel soon.

To be honest, I'm not really looking forward to 2009. Unless something unusual comes along, I'll most likely be going home in late July. After 5 years here in Taisha, I've come to think of it as "home." It's gonna be really hard to leave.

I won't be so sad to leave the job - 5 years of being an assistant makes one long for their own classroom where they can have more influence over the course of study. But I will be sad to leave my kids - the students that I've come to know over the past four and a half years. And I've gotten very used to my solitary life - a lifestyle I now am very comfortable with. Going back to a big American city, living with other people, having to go back to school to get my teaching credential even after 5 years of in-class experience - these are all things I'm not looking forward to.

But I knew this time was coming - in fact, I thought I was going home in 2007, after the end of my third year. But in late 2006, JET changed the rule about allowing ALTs to stay on a 4th and/or 5th year, and I decided to stay. It's an easy decision (at least for me) to stay - it's much tougher to leave.

Some might say it'll be good for me to have a change. Certainly I've been in a rut lately. I don't really talk about it much on this blog or in my YT videos. I've mastered the bi-polar front: well-adjusted, cheerful and engaged on the outside - the side I show to others, while inside I'm really quite depressed and very lonely.
I'm just not the kind of person who wants to talk about it. I know the reasons for it - some of the reasons are in my sphere of control, others are not, but my laziness and social misanthropy certainly don't help the situation.
I will say that it sucks to be poor in Japan - most JETs will never have this problem, but for me, staying a 5th year has turned out to be a mistake in financial terms. I just had 11 days in a row of vacation and I rarely left my apartment. I have no money to travel or do anything beyond rent DVDs and sing karaoke and go out to each occasionally. To have a little bit of money to take advantage of my upcoming business trip to Tokyo will require some tricky financial wrangling, but I'll manage somehow.

I'll be going home in July with almost no money saved, and a monthly debt in America that won't care that I'll be unemployed. I'll be 40 years old, single, and living with my parents. Not exactly the optimum situation. I might be able to come back to Japan in 2010, but by then I might have re-adjusted to life in America and the urge to move again might be gone.

I would love to get a job here teaching in a high school, to continue my adventure and have some experience at the only level of Japanese education I don't know much about. I've got a few leads, so who knows, but I doubt I'll find something that doesn't mind me starting in mid summer (The Japanese school year starts in April - at odds with the arrival/departure of JETs) and pays as well or better than the JET programme.

I don't usually mention this type of stuff. While I want this blog to be informative for potential ALTs, it would be disingenuous of me not to mention some of the rough spots involved with living in a foreign country and out-staying all the other ALTs you arrived with. I'm the only 5th year ALT in Shimane, so everyone that I knew and befriended when we all arrived as newbies back in 2004, has since left Japan, or gone on to other work.

Which I guess is a big reason I've embraced YouTube so much in the past year. It's given me an outlet and "someone" to talk to when I often go a whole day without having a conversation in English or about something other than teaching.
I'm very happy that many people have found the vlogs helpful and informative and I hope to continue making entertaining and insightful vlogs in 2009.

I do get to watch my hometeam - the San Diego Chargers, play in their first playoff game tomorrow night. NHK is showing the Saturday game against the Colts during prime time tomorrow at 6pm. And I'm gonna cook tacos - so a little taste of home and what I hope will be a good game on TV - a nice way to end my holiday. Tuesday I'm back at work, altho I'll spend most of the day cheering on my school's volleyball team in their New Year tournament, so I hardly call that work.

Wednesday I'll spend the day decorating my Language Lab and designing a new English board at Taisha JH, and then the 3rd term officially starts on Thursday, and I'll be at Hamayama JH to start the New Year.

Even tho I'm pessimistic about 2009, I am looking forward to various aspects of the coming year. Of course, many of the upcoming events, like graduation will be tinged with sadness for me, as I know it will most likely be my last of each event in Japan. But I hope to make the best of it.

I hope you have a wonderful 2009, and if you're in America, perhaps I'll be seeing you later in the year.



Anonymous said...

I wish you good luck with all those events the coming year. And I hope that something good comes on your path that allows you to stay in Japan for as long as you wish.

Om said...

Happy belated New Year to you also Jason :)

No matter what you say about it being a lonely lifestyle, good and bad points e.t.c. I and many others have found your videos and blog very helpful/entertaining, and I'm also quite sad that this will be your final year (unless you DO come back in 2010.....would you do that as part of another program? I know JET is weird about not doing it again for ten years or something :S).

Can't wait for the new year youtube vid. Keep up the great work ^_^

Anonymous said...

I totally understand how you feel since I've been thru the same experience while I was going to school in the States. I lived there for 7 years and developed many friendships with people. It was tough leaving but life goes on.

Good luck with everything and I hope things go the way you want them. Keep up the excellent work in both your blog and YT.


Anonymous said...

hey bro,

I know everyone really appreciates your honesty. Don't be afraid to post a vid about the loneliness subject, it is a real thing that foreigners feel even in the big cities with lots of friends!

thanks for your honesty, and for showing a part of yourself for the world to see.


JJ said...

You can take the boy out of Japan, but you can't take Japan out of the boy!! It's funny, I went home after my first time here, missed it a lot, and now i think I am back for good - and I don't even have a Japanese wife!! It's funny how often this place draws people back. I hope it works out for you to stay as long as you wish...