My blog has gotten a fair bit of “press” recently (thanks to the Consulate General of Japan in Montreal’s Facebook post and the Yurihonjo City newsletter), so I thought it was a good time for a post-JET life update!
Remember in my last post, I mentioned I was already daydreaming about my next trip to Japan? That’s because I had just booked it! Fate (and Aeroplan miles!) were kind enough to allow me a week-long trip back to Japan in March. It was super short, but it was amazing – not only did I get to spend two days exploring Sendai and Matsushima (another Bucket List item!), but I got to spend a wonderful weekend in Akita with my favourite people, and even see my Grade 9 students graduate!
Continuing with the theme from my last post, moving home has definitely not been the easiest transition – in fact, I’d say moving home has been harder than moving to Japan in the first place. After all, moving to Japan was fulfilling a 10-year dream and was full of excitement and much-anticipated adventure; moving back home was a regression to my life of two years’ prior, except this time without a dream to look forward to. Even now, nine months to the day since leaving Akita, I often wish I were back there instead. Plus, it’s really hard to go from having a full-time job with a well-paying salary back to being a student!
That being said, lots of good, positive things have happened to me since moving home. I can spend time with my family in person again. I feel like I’ve become closer than ever with some of my friends. I met my boyfriend, who has been my rock and a bright spot in the dark. I’m almost finished my GIS diploma. I made excellent connections with professors at my university, which has led to me becoming a co-author on a (currently being written!) scientific paper. I’ve stayed in contact with my JET Programme Coordinator, with whom I worked at the JET Programme booth at my university’s Career Fair last September, and who has invited me to be involved in this year’s pre-departure orientation activities. Most importantly, I’m dancing again.
It’s those things that I try to think about when the post-Japan blues hit me. :)
If you are getting ready to leave the JET Programme, I do have some advice for you, especially if you’re moving back home:
- You will have changed, but it’s very likely that your hometown, your friends, and your family have not. Be prepared. Try to find a new light in which to see your hometown/country. Accept that it’s okay to grow apart from old friends. Understand your family’s position – that they’ve missed you, but also that you haven’t played a role in the family dynamics for however long you’ve been away, and it’ll take time for everyone to adjust again.
- Make an effort to keep your interests and the parts of your personality that developed and thrived in Japan alive. My biggest failure upon moving home was stepping back into literally the exact same life I had lived pre-Japan. There are no words for how unhappy that made me, especially after two years of growth and self-discovery.
- Set goals and have dreams that are going to make you happy. I had goals, but they were goals of what I thought should happen next, not what I wanted to happen next. As for a dream… I’m still looking!
- Talk about it. It’s difficult, but you’re not alone. Your fellow alumni can guide you into adjusting to your post-JET life. Or, if you’re not comfortable talking about it, then journal it! Blog it! Tweet it! Vlog it! Just get it out in the open – that always makes me feel better. :)
With only three months left before a new JET year starts, best of luck to everyone getting ready to leave the Programme. There’s a lot to do, but I hope you enjoy the heck out of your remaining time in Japan!!
Oh, and stay tuned to find out my experience with getting that lovely pension refund! ;)