Every January on the JET programme you have to decide whether you want to re-contract for or not. If you prove you’re a great ALT, you can stay for up to five years. Most people stay for two or three.
I had initially planned only to stay two years, but I have been enjoying my life here so much that I nearly signed on to stay a third year. The JET community, my friends and a stable pay, as well as another year to explore Japan and other Asian countries were all reasons to stay. However, on the other side were the frustrations of the job, the declining rate of the yen against the pound and my desire to spend more time with my family. It was a really tough decision that kept me awake many nights. But one snowy January night, my friend and I were talking about all the other places in the world we could go, all the other places we could work if we wanted to, and we both decided that we’d sign the Going Home form.
Every day I question my decision, but I know that the next adventure is just around the corner. And I still have six months to enjoy Japan and all the friends I’ve made here.
What I do when I return from Japan is another question. The thought of having no responsibilities is exciting and daunting at the same time. I could do a Masters, I could teach English in another country, or I could go travelling until my money runs out! Like they say, ‘the world is your oyster’, but when you don’t have any direction as to what to do, this can be a curse as well as a blessing. It all depends on your perspective.
Being surrounded my JETs who typically have a happy-go-lucky attitude to life, my career-driven self that was fuelled at university has taken a back-seat, and now all I want to do is enjoy my twenties and experience as much as the world as I can before I am succumbed to the usual desires to settle down.
I have no idea where I’ll be in a year’s time, although there are plenty of places I’d like to be. The travelling-bug is stirring inside of me, although it’s never really left me.