What’s Normal?

I’ve been playing around with new layouts for this blog, so I’ve been seeing some of my old entries and I noticed that a lot of my posts have been about my travels. I think it’s because, when I travel, things are new and exciting – I go on adventures, do things I wouldn’t usually do, and take lots of pictures that I then want to share. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten so used to my life here in Yurihonjo that everything just seems normal to me!

I mean, it’s normal now for me to sort my garbage so carefully. (I haven’t had a single bag or box returned to me since my first blog post about it!) And five, sometimes six, garbage days in a single week? No big deal!

It’s normal for me to wear layers of HeatTech under my work clothes every day (but not too many layers because my schools have generously started using the radiators again now that the students are back in class!).

… But it’s also normal for me to keep a package of kairo in my desk, just in case!

It’s normal for me to carry around a hand towel in my purse. I actually maybe have a little obsession with buying them… oops! They’re just too cute!

This one is so cute, it even has a tail!

This one is so cute, it even has a tail!

It’s normal for me to use Japanese – speaking, listening, reading, sometimes writing – on a daily basis.

It’s normal for me to hear the same songs played over the loudspeakers during every single lunch time (and Morning Study time, and cleaning time, and return-to-your-classroom time, and teeth-brushing time… I wish I were joking).

(“Hamigaki Jouzu Ka Na” [“Did you brush your teeth well, I wonder?”] will haunt my dreams forever.)

It’s normal for me to go to class and have all 30+ students bow in unison as we start and finish our lessons.

It’s normal for me to hang up the phone without saying goodbye, instead repeating fading “excuse me”s and “yes”s in Japanese as I slowly pull the phone away from my ear. (And yes, it’s even normal for me to bow on the phone now. I’ve crossed that line and there’s no going back!)

It’s normal for me to go to the bathroom, sit down on a warm toilet seat, and press the “flushing sound” button as I go about my business.

It’s normal for me to go out for cheap and delicious sushi (or ramen, or tonkatsu, or gyudon, or gyoza, or…) whenever I feel like it.

Kappa Sushi will never get old.

108yen-per-plate sushi at Kappa Sushi will never get old!

It’s normal for me to go to karaoke, pay for a non-alcoholic all-you-can-drink “drink bar,” and sing for three hours (or more!) with my friends.

Oh, and did I mention that our favourite karaoke place's drink bar also includes unlimited ice cream?!

Oh, and did I mention that our favourite karaoke place’s drink bar also includes unlimited ice cream?!

It’s normal for me to go to my favourite Japanese sweets shop and be greeted as “Sensei!” (“Teacher!”) by the same kind man behind the counter as I buy my favourite winter sweet, ichigo daifuku.

It’s normal for me to stop by the gas station and get treated to full service, not only to fill up my car, but also to fill up my kerosene container for my apartment’s heater.

That kerosene heater is a godsend when your apartment is only 2 degrees C.

My kerosene heater is a godsend, especially when my apartment is only 2 degrees C inside!

It’s normal for me to have only one pay day a month, to carry up to 40,000yen (~$400 CDN) in cash in my wallet at any given time, to pay my utility bills in cash at the convenience store, to have the “Gas Man” drop by my house to collect my gas bill payment, and to furikomi any leftover money back to Canada at the end of the month.

It’s normal for me to turn on my electric blanket 30 minutes before I go to bed and still sleep with four more blankets on top of me to stay warm overnight.

Okay, so maybe I go a bit overboard, but it works!!!

Okay, so maybe I go a bit overboard… but it works!!! I’m never cold at night anymore!

And all of this being normal is not necessarily a bad thing – I finally feel like I’m settled in to my life here. I have my routines, I have my favourite places, and I know what I like to do (and what I don’t like to do!).

But getting so used to everything means that I haven’t been taking many pictures lately. I don’t feel like things are “picture-worthy” anymore, even though they would have been in my first year here. That’s a shame, because even though I am used to life here now, it’s still so different than my “regular” life back in Canada!

Which is why, from today, I pledge to appreciate my day-to-day life experiences more. I want to take more pictures and tell you guys about it. After all, I have less than seven months left in Japan – that’s right, I said “no” to re-contracting! – and I want to enjoy my life here in Yurihonjo as much as I can before I return home to Canada in August.

“If you’re so settled into your life there, why aren’t you re-contracting?” Well, I have a few reasons:

First, I really do miss everyone back home – my family, my friends, my dance family…

Second, I came on JET with the expectation that I would stay for two years, and I still feel like that is the right decision for me. Two years allowed me to settle into a life here and really experience Japan. Plus, the second time around is a lot easier! I feel like my relationships with my teachers and schools improved a lot in my second year (but partially because I have already experienced everything once, so I have a better [although not perfect!] idea of what to expect). And, to be honest, a second year also made up for my uber expensive getting-into-JET and moving-to-Japan start-up costs.

But, third, I’ve realized that, while I love Japan – LOVE it, love it – I don’t see myself living here forever. I will definitely come back to visit (I already have the 2020 Tokyo Olympics penciled in my calendar!), but I don’t want to be an ALT for the rest of my life. I’m going to turn 25 this year and I still have to go back to school for more qualification in my chosen career field…

…which also happens to be completely unrelated to teaching – a fourth reason why I’m leaving. I feel like JET has served its purpose, career-wise, and that staying for a third year would not look any better on my resume than having stayed for two.

So, while a more nomadic, temporary lifestyle works for some people, it’s time for me to go home and start building a career and a life that isn’t as temporary!

That being said, I still have seven more months here in Japan! I’m going to enjoy them to the fullest and I can’t wait to share them with you~ :D

I spy a snow-covered Mt. Chokai!

I spy a snow-covered Mt. Chokai!

P.S. To all of the Aspiring JETs going for their interviews in the next few weeks, GOOD LUCK!! Who knows, maybe one of you will be replacing me… :)


2 thoughts on “What’s Normal?

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