Pre-Departure Activities (or How to Pretend That You’re Busy When, Really, You’re Not)

Anyone who knows me in person knows that I like to be constantly busy. For example, my normal school year involves taking a full course load at university and then dancing and teaching “on the side” (which usually means 35 hours a week). I usually spend my summer “break” working full-time at an office during the day and dancing/helping with dance registration/volunteering at my local horse stable in the evening.

When I said I like to be busy, I wasn’t kidding.

This summer is extra weird; not only am I preparing to move to Japan, but I am also not. Doing. ANYTHING. Because of my early-August departure date, I decided not to work this summer; so, once I finished the dance year in May, I started a real summer vacation. I’ve never had this much free time on my hands, ever. And I am boooored.

I’ve been trying to keep myself busy as best as I can:

  • I take a private Japanese class once a week with O-sensei. This, hands down, was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made when it comes to JET. O-sensei is absolutely wonderful and I have so much fun in my lessons! I feel like I’m making good progress in my Japanese ability, especially when it comes to speaking.
  • Of course, once a week is not enough to really make any progress in any language, let alone Japanese. So, I’ve been supplementing my lessons with lots of studying. I practice the grammar points we covered in our class, I have a diary that I write in (almost) every day in Japanese, I have a kanji book to track the new kanji I learn, and I watch as much Japanese TV online as I can (preferably without subtitles, when I can find it when I’m feeling brave).
  • I’ve been on a cleaning spree. From my closet, to my dresser, to my room, to my bookcases, I’ve gone through most of my material possessions and have started thinning them out in preparation for the big move.
  • Just in general, I’ve been keeping myself busy around the house. I’m learning how to sew; I’m currently in the middle of making my first pair of pajama pants! I also bought a ton of books to read. Keeping up with this blog is another great distraction.
  • I try to keep busy outside of the house, too. Very few days have gone by where I haven’t had plans with a friend/a family member, whether it’s coffee at a local cafe, a shopping trip to the mall, or a show. This also fulfills the “seeing as much of these people as I can before I move” part of my pre-departure mental checklist!
  • Of course, there’s always JET planning and research. The paperwork never stops! I figured out how to apply for my International Driving Permit and I’ve half-completed my Yakkan Shoumei forms. Although I don’t know which schools I’ll be placed at, I’m still browsing the internet for class ideas (and I’ve found some good ones!). I’m always trying to learn more about Yurihonjo, Akita, and Japan in general, too!

If I wasn’t trying to keep myself “busy” like this, I think I would be going a little stir-crazy by now!

How are other Incoming JETs keeping busy in these last two months before departure?

P.S. 53 days ’til Japan!

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