Thursday, March 3, 2016

Nihon Kara - Sayonara

Hello to all of you lovely folk! I figured it was about time I sit down and write this out to you.

As you'll have noticed there has been an absence of posts for some time. While I thank each and every one of you who have followed my journey and I'm glad to have met one of my best friends thanks to this blog, the time has come to say sayonara.

Unfortunately I don't have the time or ideas to write for you anymore. The longer I'm here, the less it seems I find to write about. I might periodically pop back if I get any questions or if I have any requests, but for the time being I regret to say that this blog will not be updated.

However, in lieu of writing I am now running a photography blog as I have found my passion for it again. If you still want (short) updates from me and want to see more of Japan and the things I do here, please check it out at the link below.

My new photo blog:
On Being An Extra

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Plan

              I don’t think it will come a shock to any of you when I say I recently graduated college. After all. I’m pretty sure I announced it. Didn’t I? Well. If not. Here is the official announcement.

Oh yeah. This is my AWESOME graduation photo. Robert, you know, the Dear World photographer, was a speaker at my graduation and also did a photo session there. I was soooooooo lucky to be able to meet him and have my photo taken by him.
Go find the place that's good for you.
              Okay. Now you can’t say I didn’t tell you.
              Coming back to Japan I had a couple of goals and this year I plan to knock quite a few of them out. Or, to try anyways. Listed in no particular order…

Goal number one:
Attain a driver’s license. While I miss my baby and being able to drive in general, I don’t particularly want to buy a car. I’m told there are quite a few costs associated with that. Rather, I want to have the OPTION of driving. If I need to go somewhere, or travel to somewhere, I’d like to be able to easily rent a car. Yes, I have an international driver’s permit, however, it expires in August. The number one reason I want one though? The street cred. When people ask for my identification I want to hand them a shiny driver’s license instead of my foreigner card. 

Goal number two:
              JLPT N2. It’s now been one year since I passed the N3 examination. It has also been approximately 6 months since graduation. I took time off from studying because, let’s face it, I’ve never had a REAL break from it. (Summer vacation doesn’t count). Not to mention, I had no summer vacation this past two years thanks to study abroad. Not that I regret it, but I missed out man! All that free time… just gone. *sigh*

             Back to the point. I have finally picked up my books so I can start studying. I’m most worried about two areas. Number one is kanji. Okay. So not EXTREMELY concerned about this one, but I have noticed that I’ve forgotten quiiiite a bit of kanji I should know. So I need to start hitting the books on those again. While I only basically need to know them when I see them for the test, I simply CANNOT remember kanji unless I’ve written it ten thousand times. Yep. I’m one of those. Flash cards and writing them out over and over and over and over and over until I’m dreaming about them again. I’m going to get carpal tunnel thanks to kanji someday.
              Number two is the most concerning. Reading comprehension. Listening I have very few problems with. Vocabulary and grammar come with practice and time. But reading comprehension leaves me totally lost and confused. In fact, I think I only passed this section by the skin of my teeth on the N3. So I need to start ramping it up. I’m not sure how to go about this yet. I am thinking about trying to pick up a middle school level book from my school library or public one (is there even one in my town???) and see how I fare. Fingers crossed.

Goal number three:
              TESOL. Ah TESOL. Just the thought of you makes me wish I’d majored in education or at least taken a few more classes in it. As I want to be a long term English teacher in Japan, the TESOL is the first step along my path. I’ve been told over and over again that no amount of accreditation is going to make people see me as a “real” teacher over here. And while TESOL isn’t exactly a teaching degree, it’s a start. It can help get my foot in the door at other jobs once my time on JET is over.

              Once I’ve attained this I’d eventually like to take education courses to become a full-fledged licensed teacher, but for the time being it’s looking a little difficult. For one, I would need to live close enough to a university to take the courses as no reputable program I know of will allow me to earn my certification online. I also am unsure as to whether I want to try and attain a Japanese license or an American license. If I ever plan on returning to the states, the American license is clearly going to be the better investment in the long run. On the other hand, if I do stay in Japan long term, the Japanese one would be better to go for, if not exceedingly difficult due to my level of Japanese ability.

              So there you have it. The plan. At least as far as certifications go. I’m currently debating taking the N2 in the summer and, if I get the grant, I will be completing my TEFL around next December or January. As for the license, I’d love to get it before August, but it’s the least pressing of my concerns.

              As always, if you have any pressing questions or topics you’d like to hear about, please let me know. I’d love for my blog to be more interactive and would love to talk about the things all of YOU want to hear about!

Until next time!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Home is where the heart is

Home is where the heart is.

It's a phrase we've all probably heard hundreds of times and shrugged off with a "yeah, yeah, I get it already." I think for those of us who have never really moved away from home, it is a phrase that still has the same answer as it did growing up.

Home is where the heart is? Oh, that's my house or the town where I grew up. At least, that's what I always thought. I always thought home was the place where I grew up. The place where I still got angry about that spot where I had a bicycle accident, about the place where I ate one a few too many birthday cakes. It was the place where I went to school, had my first car, but most importantly, it was the place where my family lived. Home was where mom and dad were and I didn't have to worry because I had my family there.

Moving away last year really started to kick into gear a shift. Where was home? I still longed for what I thought was home. I still longed for my bed in my parent's house (despite having been more or less out of their house during college), I wanted mom's food and to hear the noisiness of 5 other people as I tried to cuddle into a quiet corner and read a book.

When I moved back to the states last January and once more took up residence in my parent's house, I found myself ecstatic to be surrounded by all those things I had been longing for. Mom's food (which will never get old), my family, the noise, the energy, the place that was home. Or, was it?

You see, I had moved back home once before after a brief stint up at an art university in Portland that was way out of my price range. I had, to an extent, felt then that something just wasn't quite the same, but I didn't really understand it. Last January though, it didn't take long to come to terms with what was wrong. I didn't fit anymore. There wasn't really a place there for me. Not because they said so, but because I felt out of place.

I had grown, as a person. I had changed and the life that came with living there wasn't suited to me anymore. Being home just wasn't the same. I didn't know where the mixer was. Someone always had their music up too loud. Chores? Don't even get me started on that. More than that though, how I saw home wasn't the same. Let's just say in all my reminiscing I had used a pretty thick set of rose colored glasses. What I thought of as home wasn't the same. I didn't KNOW what home was anymore. It wasn't what I thought, what I remembered.

This wasn't home. I was lost. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't home.

In coming abroad and living in Japan, I had experienced so much. I had laughed, I had cried (like, a lot), I had pushed my limits and I had changed as a person. But, when I packed up to go home, I had forgotten something very important. My heart.

The reason home didn't feel like home anymore is because my heart wasn't there. Being there, in Oregon, in my hometown was boring, uninteresting. I was unhappy. Everything was both exactly the same and yet different in just such a way that I was out of place. It was like I was just a fraction of a second out of time with everyone and everything. It wasn't the place I longed for. It wasn't home.

As much as I want to explain this concept, home is where the heart is, it is difficult. As I see it now, home is not the place where you grew up (okay, maybe for some people it is), but it is the place that makes you happy. It is where, even on the worst days imaginable you can come home at the end of the day and know tomorrow will be okay. It is where you are happy, where you feel like you belong.

For some people that might be where you grew up, and that's fine, for other people it is being with a certain person or group of people, but for me, it is a place. Not so specific as to a single town (though I have my preference), but a whole country. I feel like as long as I am in Japan, that I will be okay. That I can succeed and that in the end, this is the best place for me because I am content every day of my life here.

Yes, there are homesick days, and sick days and days you just want to cry for no reason (or because they don't sell Butterfingers at the supermarket), but the good days and the good things outweigh the bad immensely. I have found, the longer I'm here, the less I miss back home. When I do miss something, it's usually being able to spend time with a person (or pizza, or Butterfingers, but we'll get to that later).

It's not that I dislike Oregon, I LOVE Oregon, but my heart has found a new home wedged here between the gazillion hidden shrines, the culture, the food and the people. I simply can't imagine moving back to Oregon or the U.S. That would mean giving up who I am and becoming only half of a person again. I love my family. I miss them a lot. But, they support me because this is where I am whole. Where I am one hundred percent my best and they want me to succeed.

So I'm going to go ahead and wrap up this whole long ramble by telling you that home is so much more than just a place or being with the right person. It is what makes you whole, no matter what life throws your way. Go out and find it.