Last week, I sent off my application for Visa pre-approval. As long as everything goes smoothly, I will move to Tokyo in August.
I have known this was the plan for a while, having received a job offer to teach English in January. However, I have been insanely busy with my dissertation, working and performing and so I haven’t had the time to either proactively chase the paperwork or think about what ‘moving to Japan’ really meant.
I’ve always been interested in Japan. As you could tell from my performance at London Anime Gaming Con, I’ve always been a bit of an anime fan. Sorry. I was lucky enough to go to one of the only comprehensives in the country which offers Japanese at GCSE so I got to study the language at school and go on a homestay with Keio Chutobu, a middle school in Tokyo. I loved learning the language and picked it up again whilst at University.
And now I arrive at the end of a four year degree and I’m not quite ready to enter the ‘real world’ just yet. For my year in industry (I did a four year sandwich course) I worked in classical music PR and I work part time in Marketing now so it’s not that I have no office experience, or that (if I’m honest) I doubt my ability to get some kind of graduate job. It’s just that, before I get serious about the rest of my career, I want to take some time to travel. I don’t want to ‘see the world’ if that means spending a year lying on beaches and getting trashed at ‘Moon Parties’ gap yah style. I couldn’t afford to do that regardless, and it seems a bit meaningless really; I went interrailing for a month almost two years ago and although I enjoyed it very much, by the end I was yearning to be productive, as lame as it sounds. To be sure, there are far worse ways to blow your money and I don’t hold those people who want to travel around forever in contempt, I just wouldn’t want to feel like ‘just’ a consumer, producing nothing. In this way, teaching English for a year is perfect. I can work in a job that is neither extremely boring nor as stressful and time consuming as the kind of graduate job I aspire to. I can stay long enough to make Japanese friends and learn something meaningful about the biggest city in the world. And while I’m there, I can see more of Japan and South East Asia. Hopefully, when I get back in I won’t be in a worse position to get a graduate job, maybe even better.
I’ll admit, there is another push factor. My boyfriend of 3 years studied BA Japanese and wants to be a translator. To do this, he needs to spend some time living and working in Japan after he finishes his degree, to get his Japanese up to scratch and also get the cultural knowledge he needs to translate effectively. We did long distance when he was in Japan for his year abroad and though we survived it and I genuinely do think it made us stronger, it wasn’t easy. Fitting my own career plans around my boyfriend’s does offend my feminist sensibilities and is a significant blight on my record of being ambitious and self-interested. I am aware that moving across the world to be with your boyfriend is not ‘what sensible girls do’ and I probably wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t also have the aforementioned interest in Japan and desire to travel. From a practical point of view, it will be great to be able to rely on my boyfriend’s excellent Japanese and experience living in the country (though of course I tend to work hard on my Japanese so as not to be dependent on him). From an emotional point of view, I don’t want to be without him. N’aaawww.
The more I’m thinking about it, the more I think this is the right decision for me but I am unashamed to admit that I am scared. It might not be a big deal for some people to live abroad for a year, but it is for me. I am happy to say that I have gotten closer to my family over the last couple of years and it will be difficult to be so far away from them. I hugely value my friendships and it was hard enough to be without a close knit circle to begin with when I moved to London for a year; there are individuals who I will miss tremendously when I am in Japan. However, it is undeniable that my feet are itching. I have enjoyed my three years in Leeds and my year in London but it’s time to experience something different. Hopefully, this blog can be a way for me to share my Japan adventures.