Japan has been a part of my life since Grade 8. When YTV started airing the English dub of Inuyasha in 2003, I was fascinated by the opening theme song, V6’s “Change the World,” which was sung in Japanese. I learned the lyrics to it (and many other J-pop songs!) phonetically and would always sing along, clueless of meaning. I started to teach myself hiragana and katakana. I began to research Japanese culture. By Christmas 2003, I had decided: at some point in my life, I was going to teach English in Japan.
Despite the passage of nine years, that dream has not faded. My interest in Japan has not diminished. My passion for teaching has not gone away. Now, as I prepare to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree with no concrete plans for the future, the timing is perfect.
I was lucky enough to take an Introduction to Japanese course at my university from September 2011 to April 2012. O-sensei was the first person to introduce me to the JET Programme. Although I did like the sounds of it at the time, life happened to get in the way of my applying and the JET Programme went on the backburner.
Fast-forward to July 2012. Life had settled down. I had a “grown-up,” well-paying, full-time job for the summer. I was making real money for the first time in my life. One night I was hanging out with one of my best friends, B, and we were discussing travelling. Knowing how much I wanted to go to Japan, she suggested I put aside some of my income this summer so I could go on an extended vacation in June-July 2013. Genius!
A few days later, I was chatting with M when the subject of travel came up once more. I was telling her about my prospective trip to Japan when she suggested that I live and teach English there. I admitted that was the eventual plan, but that I thought it would be nice to go for an extended vacation first, to get a feel for the place. She didn’t waste any time in telling me to “just GO. What is the harm in picking up and moving there?”
Her words stuck with me. Three days later, after much research into the JET Programme and the perusal of online forums and blogs, I messaged her back:
I just wanted to say that our last conversation inspired me and I am now seriously contemplating applying for the JET Program in Japan, leaving in July 2013 for one full year. Eeeeee~
For one whole month, M was the only person who knew that I was even thinking of uprooting my entire life and moving it to the other side of the world (literally – Japan is 185° of longitude away). Finally, worries about homesickness made me confide in D, my friend who had worked in a different province for the past several summers and was preparing to make an international move herself. Over the last month, the circle of knowledge spread only to J and to B – until tonight. Tonight, I told my parents. They were so supportive and agreed that the experience would be well worth it. Suddenly, a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
Now that my parents know my intentions, I feel like this whole process has become so much more real. I really am going to apply. I really am attempting to fulfill my dream. It’s incredibly exciting, yet a part of me can’t help but feel a little terrified at the prospect. However, I am lucky to have a wonderful support network of the most amazing friends and family to help guide me through this process, and I do believe that things will work out the way that they are meant to, whatever that may be.
This blog will be a chronicle of my journey through the JET Programme application. From transcripts to references to the Statement of Purpose, I will use this blog as an outlet for my progress and thoughts. If, one day, I do make it to Japan, I intend to continue this blog as a journal of my life abroad – but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
M continues to be a huge inspiration to me, so I (finally) end this first blog post with her words that I am choosing to live by for the next several months:
Just follow your heart. So many people say, “I wish I could be like that person and do…” but the truth is that person who did it was just a normal person like everyone else.