Goodbye Japan

My year in Japan is over. March 29th, 2010 I arrived in Japan to teach English in Fuji City with little to no expectations or even any real plans other than doing something interesting and different with my life. Exactly one year later, March 29th, 2011, I returned to the US.

My birthday is March 30th, so I spent the entirety of the age 23 living in Japan. 23 was an age for a lot of firsts. It was the first time that I lived by myself, in a foreign country and where I didn't know anyone. My first time with a fulltime job and the longest time I've continuously held a job. I went surfing. I went to underground nightclubs. There was a newspaper article written about me. I experienced the largest earthquake in Japan's recorded history, whose effects are still being felt almost a month later.

I didn't love Fuji City, but I loved my job. Taking the job as an English teacher was always just a way for me to travel and work abroad, there was never a specific reason for coming to Japan, and when people asked me why I was going I'd say "Why not?" But within a few months of starting work I was honestly surprised at  how much I enjoyed teaching. What's most surprising about this is that I always used to say that I'd never become a teacher, the phrase "over my dead body" came up a lot in regards to the matter, due to all the second-hand experience I received from my mother, an elementary school teacher for the past 30 years.

My taking to the job has everything to do with Japanese culture and the school I taught at. My students were amazing, as were the teachers that I worked with. Japanese students are easier to handle in virtually every way and the relationships that teachers have with students is much closer to that of parents and children, or even friends. Students are left on their own in the classroom multiple times a day, they take initiative to do their work, they rarely ever fight (Through the entire year, I only witnessed a single fight, in middle school. Fights were a weekly, or even daily, occurrence at my own middle school in Miami.) and students would always help out if a peer didn't quite grasp a concept in class.

Looking back, I'm amazed at how much I've done in Japan over the course of the one year. I've seen more of Japan than most Japanese get to in their entire lives. I made more new friends in my single year in Japan than my four years at university, and people from all of the world, not just Japan. I've learned so much of the Japanese language simply from speaking to friends and students (my Japanese is by no means good, I'd say my speaking level is equivalent to that of a 2 year old, at best).

There's no doubt that I'll return to Japan one day, hopefully getting a chance to see all of my friends again and maybe even some students. I'm going to miss a lot of things about Japan: my schools, my friends, Japanese food, the ease of train travel and so much more. But I look forward to what's to come in the US: driving, affordable fruits, my family and my friends.

My first full day back in the United States was my 24th birthday. What I'll be doing from 24 on I'm not really sure. But I'll be sure to keep you updated along the way.

Sorry for the delay in posting a bit of a wrap of, as you can imagine things have been a bit crazy since the earthquake, then I went to China, then I moved back to US. My return had nothing to do with the recent Tohoku earthquake, or the current nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the plan was always to just do one year and I've bought my ticket back to the U.S. in December.

This isn't the end of, I'll be sure to keep posting any traveling I do or any interesting going ons in my life. Until then...