“Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.”-Harvey MacKay
Life has been a whirlwind since I last wrote. It is difficult to find the time to sit down and write, or even to find time to sit at all, for that matter. I have been on my feet a lot lately.
I am about to open a new English school in Idogaya, Yokohama. I live a short distance from my school. Starting tomorrow, I will be giving demonstration lessons to students. The school officially opens on the 28th of June. I will be working weekends for the next two weeks to do promotional work, such as handing out flyers to people on the streets and possibly putting flyers in people’s mailboxes.
So, Sarah, you haven’t even gone to your new school yet. What have you been doing for the past month? Great question. I had a week of training in Aobadai back in mid May. After that, I spent two weeks training at Motosumiyoshi. The following week, I had more classroom training in Hoshikawa. Finally, I spent a week and two days at Musashi-kosugi.
Aside from training, I have been able to find some time to get out and see Tokyo and Yokohama. It’s been quite the adventure. Training has been stressful and I have been awfully homesick lately, but my adventures make everything worth it. Allow me to touch on some of the highlights since I last wrote.
- I embraced my inner nerd at the Ikebukuro Pokemon Center (May 21st).
- I found a small slice of peace within Tokyo at Meiji Jingu Shrine (May 23rd).
- I sang karaoke and ate home cooked Japanese food (May 29th).
- I reunited with two of my best friends, who I hadn’t seen in 4 years (June 6th). We took purikura photos, had lunch, and sang karaoke!
- I moved into my apartment where I will be living for the next 11 months (June 6th).
- I met my best friend Mari’s family (on two occasions now). Photo is from June 19th. Mari’s mom cooked us an awesome dinner with lots of cheesy pizza, which is one of my favorite foods!
I went to Kamakura to see the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine and to see the Daibutsu (giant Buddha) Buddha at Kōtaku-in. My friends and I even witnessed a Japanese wedding ceremony at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu!My experience has been very incredible so far. I’ve had the time of my life, have been stressed out, cried a lot, made new friends, and generally experienced a wide range of emotions that comes from starting life in a new country. I’ve been so busy that over a month has passed seemingly in the blink of an eye. Already, this is the longest I have gone without seeing my family and some of my friends back home.
I am still getting settled into my apartment in Idogaya. Today was the first day I had the chance to explore the place I live. I found a few Lawson stores near my house, and went to a park on the top of the city. It’s only about a 10 minute walk, but the view from the top of my city is beautiful. I want to hang out pictures in my apartment and decorate the place for it to be my home away from home.
I arrived Thursday night (JST – Japanese time) and met my supervisor at the Narita Airport. He has been incredibly helpful throughout this entire process. I flew from Minneapolis to Toronto and finally Toronto to Tokyo. The 13 hour flight from Toronto to Tokyo was boring, but boring is okay! I typically experience motion sickness on many forms of transportation, particularly on boats and planes, so I’m glad I didn’t get sick and didn’t feel too nauseous during my flight. I’ve come to swear by wrist bands with pressure point bulbs (not sure the name of them). I watched a few films, but due to the plane being uncomfortable and my nerves being awake, I couldn’t sleep much on the flight. Luckily however, I seem to not be experiencing jet lag. I think this is due in part to sitting in the middle of the plane so I couldn’t see how light/dark it was outside the plane windows, and the flight attendants adjusted the lighting of the interior cabin (plane) to match the day in Japan. I’m also convinced that my optimism and enthusiasm has kept jet lag away as well.
I met a coworker Alex who is staying in the apartment below me when I got to my apartment, he’s a great cook and speaks Japanese very well. By the time I arrived and settled in, I was so tired I didn’t even want to take a shower. I threw my bags down, glanced over my company notes, and passed out around 9 or 10 pm JST. I got much needed sleep I had been missing out on over the past two days and managed to sleep about 10 or 11 hours total.
On Friday I met my roommate Natalie who is staying in the same apartment as me during our training period in Tokyo. She arrived just in time so we could meet; I almost missed seeing her as I was scheduled to go out with my best friend Mari. I invited Natalie and Alex to tag along. Together, the four of us quickly bonded and had a lot of fun. We took photos, and went exploring around the area in Minato-ku, stopping for dinner at a noodle shop and at a purikura machine to take photos. On Saturday, the four of us went to Senso-ji for Sanja Matsuri, a traditional festival that attracts thousands of people to this Shinto temple. There were many people wearing traditional clothes, such as happi and kimono.
We also went to harajuku and Shibuya. From the time I was 14 years old, visiting harajuku has been one of the biggest dreams of mine. I’ve been very interested in fashion subcultures that stem from harajuku. In my free time as a teenager, I collected books and magazines such as Gothic & Lolita and Fruits, while reading avidly about decora, sweet lolita, gothic lolita, gyaru, and other unique fashion from harajuku. While I’m a working adult and wear business attire, I still appreciate the cool and trendy fashion from Japan. I think on my off days while I won’t be able to dress as say, a lolita, but I can still photograph people who allow me to take their photos. I don’t feel the need to wear decora or lolita fashion in the same way that I used to (In 9th grade I wore many different colorful clothes and accessories similar to decora). However, given the chance and if I had enough money, I would wear cute/trendy clothes out and about harajuku on a Sunday if I could. 🙂
Today Alex, Natalie and I began training at our new job. We have a week or unpaid training followed by a week of paid on the job training. I can’t wait to figure out my school placement and to get settled in my company apartment, which will be set up with LeoPalace. Life is busy but it’s good. I’m finally living out my dream of being in Japan.
I’m signing off for now as I’m quite tired after my first day of work and I’m sure I’ve made a few grammatical errors writing this. I will write more soon.
As I near departure, I’m enjoying the little things around me.
I spent the last five days with my boyfriend. It was so lovely to see him, but it was sad to say goodbye. We spent time shopping, (I’m all stocked up on work clothing now) playing D&D with friends, (twice) and finishing the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
My Japanese visa arrived in the mail today. I have my passport and Certificate of Eligibility back and I am set to fly out in about less than two weeks. I’m counting down the days.
I’m excited to go, but it’ll be bittersweet. There are many beautiful people and places I will miss from home in Wisconsin & Minnesota.
These photos are from a walk around our property today with dad and our dog, Cosmo.
I made the decision the other day to purchase a Nikon d3300. I’ve never owned a nice camera in my life, so this is exciting for me. The digital camera I own I received at Christmas 8 or 9 years ago, and I stopped using it around 2012 because the quality is too grainy. Since then, I have relied on my iPod touch 4th generation to take photos, which has actually worked out pretty well all things considered. However, my iPod is nearly out of storage space, even after deleting hundreds of photos. I also wanted to be able to take high quality photos, particularly while I am in Japan. I would like to have lasting memories of my experience living abroad that I can look back on. Hence, I purchased my first DSLR.
I have to read through the user manual more closely, though I’m glad to say I learned a thing or two just my testing out my camera today on a “fun run.” I’m a quick learner if I set my mind to learning something. 🙂
I hope to purchase my plane ticket to Japan tomorrow. I nearly bought one today, but I wasn’t quite ready. I expect to leave right around one month from today, or in about 28-29 days. If you have any tips on buying plane tickets, I’m all ears.
Here are some snapshots I took at my house today. Enjoy!
Last week, I had a Skype interview with WinBe English School in Japan. This is a fairly small company, with about 100 foreign employees and 400 Japanese employees, if I’m not mistaken. A few days ago, I had a dream that the company send me a congratulations email/acceptance email, followed by an email with the contract. Well, yesterday at 3:30 am, I woke up (I was too warm mostly) and had the distinct feeling that WinBe had emailed me. Sure enough, as I sat up in bed to check my phone, my inbox showed one new message from WinBe, offering me a teaching position in the Yokohama/Tokyo area. I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited! I emailed back quickly to accept the offer and asked about the next step. WinBe proceeded to tell me about a form I needed to fill out and files I would need to send to get the visa process going. I’ve already sent in most of the files I need to apply for my work visa. WinBe has been very helpful with the paperwork process this far.
Nine years after developing an interest in Japan, and four years after developing an interest in teaching, my dream of living in Japan is finally coming true!
My most recent travels brought my boyfriend (Brandon) and I to the East Coast. We spent two weeks visiting friends and sightseeing, returning two days ago after an exhaustive 20+ hours driving.
The first we we spent with Brandon’s friends in upstate New York. We spent the majority of our time playing board games, namely The Red Dragon Inn and Settlers of Catan.
During the second week, we visited more of Brandon’s friends, who live in Maryland. Together, the four of us spent a day in D.C., where we walked approx. 10 miles to see several famous monuments in the National Mall area.
It’s official: I’ve graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Wisconsin-Superior! At the ceremony, I wore a Mexico sash, (from studying abroad) a Sigma Tau Delta sash and cords, (black and red) and Magna Cum Laude honors cords (the yellow ones). I can now call myself a UWS alumni. Has reality kicked in yet that I’m no longer a student? Yes, I suppose so. I’ve begun to job hunt and think about student loans and other responsibilities that are coming my way.
I wish I could say that I’m optimistic about what the future holds. I was very excited the night before the ceremony, and a bit excited the day of. However, I’ve also experienced a mix of emotions lately. I’ve moved back in with my parents and brother, who are in the process of renovation and moving into a new home a few miles away from the house we currently live in. Soon I’ll be helping them out with projects at the new house as well.
My mood has been all over the board for a few reasons. I love my family to death, but I’ve become so used to living on my own, I need to readjust to family dynamics, sharing space and resources, etc. My main issue though: I’ve called Superior, WI my home for the past four and a half years. I’m leaving behind friends, I won’t see my boyfriend as often, (he lives in Duluth) and job hunting in a small community during the off-season is no easy task. A part of me wants to return to the Superior/Duluth area already since job prospects are higher there than in my hometown. Another part of me feels as though I should drop everything and travel abroad now. Wisconsin doesn’t always cut it, and as I age, I wonder why I put up with winter (hello, seasonal affective disorder). I envy people who aren’t afraid to drop their 9-5 job and travel the world, making money doing odd jobs and meeting interesting people from across the globe.
On a side note, my blog is one year old today. A year ago, I was preparing to study abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico. That was a journey that only sparked my wanderlust further. I am here today, just as eager to travel, and to learn about the world.
Well, it’s been far too long since I’ve posted. If there’s anyone out there still following me, I salute you, dear friend. I simply don’t have the time to update regularly, and while I’m in school, my life doesn’t seem interesting enough to post about.
What have I been up to for the past two months? I’ll make this as brief as I can.
I’ve fallen out of love. And into love again. I’m in a new relationship, and I’m happier than I could have imagined. My boyfriend’s name is Brandon, and we are very compatible together in terms of interests, personality, humor, etc. We were coworkers this past spring/summer, which is how we met.
I am halfway through my last semester of college. My grades have been excellent thus far, so I am rather pleased. Classes consume much of my time, but they’re fairly enjoyable overall. Shakespeare online is my least favorite class, simply because I find old English to be a bit dull and difficult to understand. I’m also Vice-President of the World Student Association, and we’re in the process of planning Cultural Night, the largest event on campus, which is coming up in two weeks time.
I am having some car troubles. I have to replace my front brake pads very soon. The oxygen sensor is also not working, but I will wait on repairing that for a while yet (it’s not a dire fix, while brakes on the other hand are very important).
I am beginning to think about life after graduation now. To be quite honest, I’m a bit afraid for life after graduation. Student loans will be looming over my head in the near future; I have mountains of debt to pay. I will likely be living with my parents as free room and board can’t be beat. However, job prospects in my hometown are slim as I am from a town of 2000 people. I will likely move back to the Twin Ports area after a few months, or perhaps head somewhere like Minneapolis for a job, next summer or fall at the soonest I’d imagine.
I want to teach abroad next fall, but the deadlines for applications are coming up too quickly, and focusing on school now takes up too much of my time. I wanted to apply for the JET program for 2016, but the deadline is so soon, and I didn’t have the time to collect all the needed forms and to complete the paperwork. Perhaps next time. I’m still thinking South Korea could be a viable option for next fall.
To be continued, friends.
Let’s try and finish out the semester strong.
Greetings! I have published my last article to Pink Pangea. As a way to close out my writing, I bring things back home… literally. I touch on food/places to stay/places to see/etc. in my hometown of Washburn, WI, and things to do in Bayfield, WI.