Note of warning: This is going to be a long vent that’s more for myself than readers.
So today marks my hundredth day 百日 since arriving on the shores of the land of the rising sun. Needless to say its been quite the adventure thus far, that has taken me up and down on a roller-coaster of new experiences and emotions.
The Daniel I was back in Australia was dead and buried the second I stepped off the plane in Narita, as honestly I feel that have grown as a person and have felt more alive in the past 14 weeks than I have in the last few years!
That said it certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park, there are certainly a wide array of hurdles to be overcome once you arrive in a foreign country in which you have little more than a rudimentary grasp of the language, and have only yourself to rely upon for the first time in your life.
My situation in particular (as i was an early arrival) put me in a predicament where the only two options on the table were really sink or swim. Leaving an all but comfortable life in Australia, I suddenly found myself thrust into a situation where within a week of arrival, I was expected to teach my first classes in an alien work environment at new my schools.
I replaced a superstar ALT who spoke Japanese and prior to her departure had been teaching not as an ALT but as the main teacher. Despite having extensive experience working with children I had big shoes to fill, the pressure and expectations of me being high. Alongside this I was given an empty apartment to furnish, a foreign language and culture to learn and the entire Kobe JET community to become acquainted with!
I arrived in an awkward and hectic time where around a quarter of the current ALTs (30ish) were leaving, I found myself simply trying to find where exactly I fit in among the chaos.
In hindsight this was an area I tacked poorly, harboring a plethora of enthusiasm having finally accomplished my life’s goal of moving to Japan I wanted nothing more than to party every night and enjoy my new found life to the fullest. Unfortunately this did my reputation no favors, often being met with resentment, finding few people being at my level of genki.
Rather than joining the community with a couple dozen new JETs where I would have been able to fly under the radar to a degree. I had come on my lonesome at a time when many were finishing up their time in Japan and saying their farewells, alas most didn’t have time for ‘the over-enthusiastic (read: drunken) new guy’.
It took me a good 2 months to even realize I often rubbed people up the wrong way, with sensory overload all but obscuring my usual rational thought processes.
I discovered as similar as the culture of western nations may seem, these similarities can be somewhat superficial, alas I often felt harshly judged due to cultural ignorance at the hands of my non-Australian peers.
Anyhow the difficulties of the first few months past as I discovered who I wanted to be in my new home.
Prior to departure we have the issue of culture shock hammered into us, I ignorantly laughed it off thinking ‘I love Japan why would I ever be miserable’.
I soon discovered no one is immune to this, although I had been having the time of my life for weeks loving every moment, around my 7th week suddenly it all came crashing down around me. I became depressed and ever restless for no good reason, unable to eat, enjoy my job or the company of my friends.
It’s not as if I miss anything specific back home bar this guy……
Anyhow luckily when times got tough was when I discovered just how amazing the people around me really were, it wasn’t until I finally needed to call upon my friends and neighbors for their support that their kindness really shone. I found the JET community to be extremely supportive, with many reassuring me that the ‘honeymoon phase’ was simply over and I has hit ‘stage 2’ that everyone goes through. Unfortunately this came about when the new 2012 ALTs were arriving and so again much like the hecticness of my arrival few had time to help me with my problems.
Even now it’s not easy, however every day I feel as though I’m taking a step in the right direction to be the person I want to be.
Every now and then I have nostalgic flashbacks to years past urging for Japan and I suddenly come to the realization that I’m living my dream.
It’s at these quaint moments that I am most content with my current life and what I am doing with it.
Sumer holidays and the summer along with it has come and gone, and it’s beginning to be painfully obvious that yes indeed
WINTER IS COMING!!!
This is quite a scary concept for me as since I was fortunate enough to leave Australia on the last day of Autumn, I haven’t in fact experience Winter since last September so I’m sure it will be a rude shock as there are chilly times ahead.
Anyhow I have my parents coming to visit in a months time and I’m going home for a couple weeks over Christmas so my spirits are high regardless so 頑張るね！
In conclusion I will be the first to admit that despite it’s difficulties, life in Kobe as a JET so far has been amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It’s quite daunting when I consider that as I intend to stay on JET for quite a few years, I have already gained so much but realistically barely scratched the surface of my time in Japan or the experiences and adventures I am yet to have!
I know much of this post was a long rant but here are some photos of the more amazing experiences I have had since my arrival.