I'm getting excited for my trip!!!!!
The other day I was watching Elf followed by Home Alone, and I thought, "Oh my God: I'm gonna get to listen to the radio, in English, in the car!" Those two things aren't connected, but somehow they were. And I thought about how when I go shopping I can ask for exactly what I want!!!!!! And how when I go to the grocery store I'm going to read the entirety of every label on every food and personal care product. I don't know what is going to happen yet, but I can totally see myself sitting in the isle of some store crying either out of relief that I can read or out of pure resistance to the idea of returning to Japan, even though I love Japan. Because my hobbies will always include "not being Japanese."
Anyway, as I was saying, I'm getting excited. I know that my immense joy for things like carpet and unlimited free BBQ sauce at Chik-fil-A will not be proportionate, but just let me bask in my culture in my own way. Be a buffer between my giggles of over-jubilant glee and uninformed bystanders. THEY don't know that where I've been, THERE ARE NO TURKEY SANDWICHES.
You would think that this would be a good opportunity to bring some things home with me, but, I will be carrying Knox's luggage and mine on a train, on a walk to my friend's house to spend the night in Fukuoka, then on another train to the airport. From there I will check stuff and have help, but on the way back it will be the same. So... there is really no good time to do that. Plus, I have a lot of fragile items that I'm scared to check. We shall see.
As I've said in a previous Christmas blog, my mom goes CRAZY on Christmas. She has 2 young grandsons now, so this year she will focus all her powers of Christmas joy-spreading on Knox (my 3 year old son) and Aiden (my 1 year old nephew).
...skip two days...
I had a school party for English teachers the other night that ended up taking over 7 hours from leaving the house to getting home. It's two days later and I still haven't caught up on sleep. Somehow I got really busy and people needed me for all sorts of things. I've been grading papers, calculating scores, gathering participants and planning for an English seminar in January, planning classes, gathering crafty things for Christmas card making, and the big one, deciding if I will stay in Japan any longer.
I thought I would be deciding about Japan in late January/early February. Because the Oita Prefecture Board of Education sets up a few more hoops to jump through for JETs wanting to enter into a 4th year, I would have to write a statement of purpose, provide proof of passing an official Japanese test, and have a letter of recommendation written on my behalf. I knew about the extra business, but i didn't know the deadline for submission of those things was early next week. I thought I would visit home in December/January and then have time to make a good, firm decision when I got back, but all of a sudden on Tuesday, I was asked what I'm going to do.
I've been leaning toward repatriating, but I didn't have to settle on returning to the USA yet, so I hadn't. But yesterday I wrote a short explanation and official statement that I will not pursue another year in Japan. All of a sudden it really hit me that I'm leaving Japan. All of this is going to be replaced by... a cloudy void of Ehhhhh, It'll work out. It's not only that I don't know what's in store for me, it's also that I really enjoy my life here, I will be sad to say goodbye and I will miss it here.
I am not getting much support for my decision yet... I am leaving a good salary, excellent health benefits, great hours, vacation time, sick time, a decent conversion rate, a spacious apartment, and some good friends for America. America means family, a rest from the constant challenge of this language and culture, a rest from the walls with no insulation, and a return to my home. I've had my adventure and I've had ample opportunity to save money, and I still have 8ish months to do so. I've made good use of the health benefits by checking some things out and getting my wisdom teeth extracted for pennies on the dollar that I would've spent in America. I can't put a monetary value on Knox knowing his family and growing up in his own culture. He has benefited tremendously from this experience, in ways obvious and not at all obvious. I could make a life here. I really could stay here my whole life if I wanted to, and I think it would be a really wonderful life. But I just don't belong here. I feel certain that I will come back some day, maybe just to visit, or maybe to work, but right now I know in my heart that it's time to go.
As for the future and all those things people are yappin' at me about... I believe... my intuition tells me, that my path is laid out for me. I have faith that things will work out. Worrying and struggling won't earn me a future. I plan to save money and study while I'm still in Japan. I plan to take the LSAT shortly after I return to the US, and by December, to get my applications in to Stetson Law in St. Petersburg, the University of Florida in Gainesville, and possibly 2 or 3 other law schools in Florida. Maybe FSU, Miami, and Nova. Between September and the following August (when I will presumably enter law school), I will teach dance and probably work another job as well. You may scoff, but I really like working at Starbucks, and I might do that for the year. Doesn't sound too bad to me.
Well, I have more tests to score, and that's that for now anyway. Congratulations to my new slew of pregnant friends. I'm so happy and excited for you... actually, one more story... I was interviewing students the other day and a student told me that after school right now she goes home every day and helps her sister with her newborn baby girl. I dissolved into squeals. Done. A+. Lol!
Have a good day!