2015 in review. A brief list of my “firsts,” most of which are related to Japan :
- My first apartment, and my first time living alone
- My first time paying rent (I procrastinated it till the last day, fell asleep after work, woke up and literally ran to the convenience store only to find that the ATM rejected my cards, finally scrounged up the cash and ran to my landlady, who just chuckled at me)
- My first experience with raw fish (and raw shrimp, and raw squid, and raw chicken, and raw everything, to be honest)
- My first earthquake — which went unnoticed by my colleagues because it was so tiny
- My first September out of formal education
- My first time hosting Thanksgiving
- My first Christmas away from home, away from family, spent at work
So, 2016. It’s here. What lies ahead?
First off, re-contracting is the hot topic among all the JETs right now, so I’ll start with that little announcement: I’m staying. It’s signed, sealed, delivered. I’ll be here through August 2017!
Ever since I first arrived here back in August, I’ve been unwavering in my decision to stay in Yuki for another year. (This was truly a blessing, because I’ll be honest with you — I’m a living embodiment of an indecisive Libra. Have you ever seen me stress over ordering an ice cream cone? There are too many choices, so much pressure…)
Anyways, one year is just not enough time for everything I want to do here — and yes, while further travel is among the reasons for staying, it’s not my top motivation. (I’m not traveling and sightseeing all the time here, I promise). I still have a lot of things that I’m eager to learn; about teaching, about my coworkers, about being an adult, about Japan, about the rest of the world, and about myself.
Next up, New Year’s Resolutions. This seems to be a trend on blogs and YouTube channels. I figured, why not add a few of my own? Please excuse the lack of originality.
- Read 20 books over the next 12 months. Challenge accepted. Although a lot of the books that await me on my kindle are 600+ pages long, so I’m aware that I might not accomplish this goal.
- Run three 5k or 10k races here in Japan. I’m already signed up for my first 5k in February! Basically, I just want to start running again.
- Be the first person to smile. I was a painfully shy kid growing up — I’m still pretty shy — and on self-conscious days, it would really brighten my day if an acquaintance, passing me in the hallway, smiled at me or spoke to me. I don’t know exactly what is going on in a lot of my students’ lives, but I know that many struggle behind the scenes. So as stupid as it sounds, I’m going to try to be that smiling acquaintance in the hallways.
- Here’s a rather vague one: become a better teacher.
- Learn more Japanese history. I’ve come to realize that Japanese history was only briefly touched upon during 10th grade “World History,” leading to a real lack of knowledge on my part. It’s time to fix that.
- Learn enough Japanese to take (and pass) the JLPT N5. It’s the easiest level of the official Japanese proficiency test, but hey, it’d be a big deal for this beginner.
- Lastly, keep up with my French. Which is terribly difficult because, unsurprisingly, there are very few French-speakers around for me to practice with…
2016 holds a lot of promise, as many new years do. I have a lot of ideas and a lot of plans under construction, so I’ll keep you updated! You’ll hear from me again soon.