12 July 2013 § Leave a comment
Someone I was chatting with last month was talking about her friend who had also decided to work and live abroad, describing her as having chosen to do “the selfish thing”. She didn’t say this with too much of a negative tone, but continued to explain how much this friend meant to other people, etc.
Sometimes, it feels like the selfish thing to stay home. To stay comfortable. To stay with the people I love and obviously want to be close to. To stay in the place that I know best, where I’m not confronted with the stress of language barriers, cultural barriers, and lack of understanding a different system.
Sometimes, I wonder if it’s other people that are being selfish who are saying, “Stay!”
I loved living in Japan. I loved moving there. I loved getting to know Osaka and the amazing people who lived there too. I can’t wait to go to England and actually teach in a high school there. But it’s not easy. Sometimes, it’s terrifying. It hurts. Leaving home without knowing exactly when you’ll be back can be heart-wrenching. After being gone for awhile, that pain goes on a back burner or gradually decreases, as you put down roots wherever you are, meet people, get to know new streets and new neighborhoods and new rhythms. And then when you leave that place, it happens all over again. And again.
I get it though. I can see why it would seem selfish. Traveling to exciting new places, going off on my own (though I won’t be alone in England!), pursuing adventure! Gathering no moss!
But, perhaps whether I stay or go, it would be selfish. And either way, there would be something to lament. Leaving people behind. Staying in one place. Being an outsider (good or bad, though, depending on the day). Not following my heart (cheesy, but true).
I wish I had a dokodemo door.
22 June 2013 § 2 Comments
There are a few questions that are difficult to answer upon return:
- How was Japan?/What was Japan like?
- Did you get to see much of Japan?
- It must be nice to be home, ‘eh?
- Are you glad to be back?
- What’s the plan now?
Difficult, because there’s too much to say, and there are too many emotions that go along with all of it to really properly express what I mean. The fourth question, in particular, is a challenging one. Like Alan Parrish and Sarah Whittle in Jumanji, the Pevensie siblings in Narnia, Samwise and Frodo, Harry, Hermione, and Ron – once you’ve been through an adventure, once you’ve left the comforts of home and found other worlds, it’s difficult to return and be content, knowing what you’ve left behind, knowing what you’ve been through, and knowing what might be ahead. That being said, of course, I am happy to be home. But it’s not simple.
Yes, there’s culture shock. For example:
- I assume everyone wants to steal my things. My purse, my (parents’) car, my sweater, my lip balm. Trying to get over this feeling.
- Becoming aware that Canadians really do say “Sorry!” a lot.
- A dislike of the word “deserve” that I didn’t have before going to Japan.
- Awareness of the way in which people don’t try to perform at their jobs to the best of their ability – a certain attitude or laziness, perhaps..
- The state of public bathrooms.
- More than a few times have I gone to put my grocery basket on the conveyor belt at the store, and then realized that that’s not what we do here.
- Frustration at how slowly lines at stores move due to people using credit/debit.
- The vast size of grocery stores.
- There are lots of big parking lots. Not pedestrian friendly.
I could go on.
I’ve been keeping busy. I had a week of interviews and things in London (England) in May. I found full time work as a high school teacher there starting in September and subsequently bought a one way flight for August. I’m working a couple of part time jobs, while also continuing my work for Waylines Magazine on the side. I’m trying to deal with and sort through the mess of storage bins I left behind in early 2011 before leaving the country again. I’ve been going to lots of poetry things (I meant to be at one tonight, but have found myself completely disinterested in making verbal communication with anyone this evening). I’ve been spending time with my dear family and friends.
And, as anticipated, it feels like it was all a beautiful dream.
12 May 2011 § Leave a comment
I am beginning to develop a sense of ownership for my classes.
When I was student teaching (over a year ago now? Wow…), I never really felt like any of the classes were mine. By my last practicum, I had a full teaching schedule for my four weeks, teaching two grade 9 English classes and one grade 9 math class. But the students knew, I knew, and my associate teacher knew that I was only there for four weeks. They were never my classes. I got to know the students and as far as I’m concerned, we got along well enough and we had some fun, but I was “only” a student teacher.
I only see the students I have now once a week, and so some of them I’ve only seen four times, others maybe six times. Already, though, they feel like my students. It’s a good feeling. I anticipate seeing them. They anticipate seeing me. I know that I will be seeing them (nearly) every week until next March.
(Interesting the way in which the length of time I anticipate seeing or being in communication with someone affects how I feel about my relationship to them).
I was thinking about this on the train ride home tonight. The last class I teach on Thursdays is a junior high class. They have a longer lesson with a Japanese teacher first, and then I go over some things with them for 25 minutes. It’s a short time, but sometimes it drags because well, they’re junior high students and they have that junior high attitude (that attitude that I didn’t think existed when I was a junior high student myself). I’m having some difficulty with a few boys who keep speaking Japanese in class, which is frustrating because – obviously – I don’t understand. I’m trying to not let on that I don’t understand, though. I talked with their Japanese teacher after class and they think that maybe I understand Japanese. The fact that they were trying to whisper to each other when I wasn’t looking suggests that they think I understand. Anyway, I was reflecting on how that last class went while I was on the train, and I realized that they are my class, and it was a nice thought.
I’d like to feel like this about any student I have, even if it is only ever for one lesson. Retain this feeling for students that I won’t necessarily have for the next year. Because really, regardless of how often I will teach someone, so long as I teach them even once, they are my student.