Well, I guess I should report some news, even though it just makes me nervous. I did get accepted to the program that had the Japanese screening test I was studying so feverishly for during January and February (only to discover that the exam was quite a bit easier than I’d feared). And if that meant I was going, I’d be thrilled. Unfortunately, it’s very expensive, and I’m not in school–I can’t take out student loans. And I didn’t get the one scholarship I was eligible to apply for as a non-student (even though of course they awarded almost exclusively to people who are grad students anyway–great!). The program does, apparently, apply on your behalf to a host of other scholarships, so fingers crossed that something results from that, even though I won’t know until May/June. I moved home a year ago and managed to get a series of raises so I could save money over the past year for just this purpose, but it won’t be enough to cover everything unfortunately. I am currently nervewracked over funding results, and feeling annoyed that everything seems to favor grad students while leaving me totally out in the cold, even though they can take out loans and I can’t! And isn’t wanting to be a translator and not a professor a good career path, too? Doesn’t that deserve rewarding too? I know, I’m whiny. My apologies if you are an academic grad student reading this; I am just jealous.
Part of my Japanese-study plan from the start was to do a summer program prior to the program in Japan. Of course I wanted to find out if I could do the program in Japan before committing to the summer program, but they were going to take away financial aid awards if we didn’t give an answer by March 30. I was forced to decide and I decided yes. I paid a deposit and I bought plane tickets. But it is nervewracking. I was awarded half of the cost of the program (which includes room and board) in financial aid, and I was waitlisted for the full-ride scholarship, but if I do have to pay the other half it is going to take money away from the program in Japan. So while part of me is excited that I am going to attend this great program and increase my Japanese skills, the other part of me is terrified that I have made a decision that involves quitting my job without solid plans for what will happen after the summer. This is so not how I operate!
The program is also in a very nice location which will be a great place to spend the summer, and it’s close to a city where one of my friends from studying abroad in Japan lives, so I get to spend the week before the program starts visiting her (and exploring two new cities I’ve wanted to visit for a long time–one in Canada, where I haven’t been yet, so I get to check a new country off my list!). I also get to spend the week after it ends visiting some of my favorite relatives in a city I love. Those things are very exciting and I’m looking forward to them, even though the idea of spending money I saved so carefully, after quitting my job, is frankly terrifying.
Not terrifying enough to put the brakes on everything, though. I gotta get out of here. I have a good life and job here, and my boyfriend and I finally live in the same city so our relationship is amazing right now and we’re loving it, but I’ve been saying I’d return to Japan since I graduated college and that was almost four years ago. If I stay too much longer, I’ll never do this. I need to go have adventures and build myself a new career before I’m ready to settle down.
So, accepted to the program, but might not be able to afford to do it. In that case, there’s plan B: I don’t get to do the program in Japan this year, and instead I depart for Japan in the early fall to be an English teacher. I work for a year, saving money, and re-apply for the program and the scholarship the next year and hope it all works out then. Not exactly something I’m dying to do–I have rejected all thought of a teaching career for a long time now, and I turned down JET in 2010 partially because I just didn’t want to teach. Also, this would be an extra year away from my boyfriend (but the idea of staying here and working and saving instead, after I’ve already done that for so long, seems just as soul-sucking–at least there I could be immersed in Japanese too). However, it is the best way to get a job in Japan from the US. At a level where I feel fairly confident I could pass N2, it also feels like my Japanese is good enough to get a legit non-English-teaching job there, but most likely not from outside the country. Anyway, so I don’t want to do it, but it’s the best plan B I have, and who knows, I may end up not hating it. Anyway, I actually already have a job offer on ice from one of the lower-paying schools, and I have an interview with a much better one this weekend. That interview will involve videotaping me giving a demo lesson. Ummmm, yikes. Frightening. I keep hoping I will be awarded a staggering sum of money this week so I can cancel, but… I don’t think that’s likely, so I am going to suck it up and do it. I am naturally on the shy/introverted side, but I call people on the phone and interview them for my job and have for years, so I have gotten better about talking to people. I can probably do this. I just don’t want to!
As for studying Japanese, it’s mostly done through translating these days, though I try to get through a chapter in each grammar book on the weekends and drill at least some vocab daily. Also writing long emails to my Japanese friend Yuuho, although those are intermittent now that she’s getting ready to move to Australia for a year. And get this–she has no job or place to live lined up!! This is just soooo not something most Japanese people do, ha ha. She’s been out of college a couple years, was working in a Chinese restaurant, has a long-distance boyfriend, pretty good English, and I guess just wants a change? And she said Australia is one of the only countries where you can do a “working holiday” visa as a Japanese person (and probably one of the only English-speaking ones too). I am puzzled why she didn’t pursue a legit office job after graduating college, but who knows. Maybe because, as she told me, she loves Chiba more than Tokyo, and maybe she wanted a chance to work abroad like this. Anyway, I’m following my heart in the same way, so I can’t fault her too much. I am really enjoying emailing back and forth with her though, and I just wish she was going to still be in Japan when I got there. I need to try and reconnect with some of my other Japanese friends before I arrive, but how…? (it’s still weird to think of “going to Japan this fall” as a real thing, since I am not yet able to visualize exactly where in it I’ll be headed or under what circumstances, but it is something that needs to happen otherwise quitting my job will have been pointless, so I should start thinking of it as real)