My years as a student have officially ended. Nights of papers and chai tea lattes in the library are things of the past. Saturdays of proudly representing my school on the rugby field are gone forever. And the discounts that I received from flashing my student I.D. all over France last year… well, I’m going to keep my I.D. safe and see if I can still cash in on those. Anyway, as of a few days ago, I am a proud alum of the College of the Holy Cross, a small gem of a liberal arts school in Massachusetts.
It’s quite a strange feeling, no longer being a student. It’s become such a major slice of my identity these last 16 years. My occupation as a student has been the topic of conversation that fills any awkward silence; it’s been the tried and true subject for any adult family member or neighbor at a gathering. At the dentist’s office, with my mouth full of fluoride, I’ve always been able to field any question about what school I’m studying at, what year I’m in, or how school is going (although, admittedly, my responses were always of questionable clarity with all the poking and prodding that my teeth were receiving).
“Does this have anything to do with Japan?” you may ask. Why yes, it does! Because before I was offered a position with the JET Program, I was dreading every adult who had the “What are your plans after graduating?” bomb on their lips. Last semester, I would smile my most winning smile and politely reply “I’ve applied to a few positions, and I’m waiting to see.” Inwardly, I would fume at the muggle who dared to ask me that question.
That is, until I opened that magical email from JET, telling me that I was shortlisted.
From that moment onward, graduation wasn’t such a dreaded event. Losing my identity as a student wasn’t really a loss as much as it was a transition into gaining an identity as a teacher. And any adult who has filled the awkward silence with a query into my post-graduation plans has been bombed in return with an earful about teaching in Japan through the JET Program.
They always seem a little stunned to hear about my future job. I love surprising people.