Trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap?

So, while I’m really enjoying my time here in this city working at this school, when my contract ends in March I’m moving to Tokyo (well, Tokyo area–I’ll live in a dorm or guesthouse, probably in my old hood of Chiba) to try and get a different kind of job. Really any kind that will have me, that can pay a rent and sponsor a visa, and that ideally isn’t English teaching–not because I don’t like it but because anyone can do it and I’d like to try for something not anyone can do. Starting April 2013 I’ll have 90 days to find a new job before my visa expires, and even then if I can prove I’ve been actively seeking work it could get extended.

Starting in about spring 2010 my utmost goal was to attend the IUC 10-month Japanese program in Yokohama. I began planning my life and making decisions around making that dream a reality. I knew I needed money, so I quit my low-paying job and took a higher-paying one, only to go back to the first job after a raise when it turns out I hated the new job. I moved in with my parents to eliminate rent and utilities expenses. I spent late 2010 and early 2011 on pins and needles waiting to find out if I’d get the funding to make it in time for the 2011-2012 school year. I didn’t. I was heartbroken. I attended a Japanese summer program anyway and followed Plan B, move to Japan to teach.

Since I gave up on 2011-2012, the question has been: should I try to make it for 2012-2013? I’ve been agonizing over this decision since September.

I’m pretty sure I’ve ultimately decided no.

The rejection experience has left me pretty bitter. I’m mad at academia, and mad at the people who award the kind of money I need, who don’t want to award to me because I’m not following the laziest and most useless life path of academia. Seriously–in 95% of cases, the people getting advanced degrees in pointless academic fields are not going to become professors. They went straight on to grad school after college BECAUSE THEY WERE SCARED OF THE REAL WORLD. Oh, but let’s reward them! They are too scared to get a real job, so they need money! Let’s give it to them! Let’s validate their cowardly life choices.

It just makes me sick. The thought of applying to people and organizations like that all over again, when they shit on me so spectacularly the first time around, is extremely off-putting to say the least.

Ironically, I’m the kind of person who you’d think would be a perfect candidate for an advanced degree or two. I’ve always been a good student, the kind teachers love. I write a great essay. I love learning and I don’t ever want to stop. I’m a voracious reader with a very large vocabulary. I know three foreign languages. I have a lot of things I’m still interested in studying that I didn’t get to in college (in fact, I know I squandered my college time by studying many things I was less than 100%–or even 70%–interested in, and should have made a ton of wiser college-related choices starting with my alma mater, but it’s too late for that now). I did IB in high school, and the highest academic level classes in middle and elementary school. Logically, I should have joined my classmates from those advanced education programs and gone straight on to grad school after college. But I didn’t, and I don’t know, but it’s looking like I never will. Because I’m too practical to appeal to the awarding committees, who apparently want someone who flouts all logic and would rather make an incredibly stupid decision (take on more debt in a recession) than face fears and truly test yourself.

So yeah. No fancy 10-month program with 98% of my peers grad students working on theses about the most useless subjects imaginable, when many will not become professors because there are not enough spots in the academic world, and it’s looking kind of like no fancy translation grad school like I’ve dreamed of since 2007. I still want to go, very badly–after all this is not an academic grad school, it is more like real-life translator job training complete with mad employer connections hence the appeal–but it’s just… so… expensive. And see what I said before about my utter lack of confidence that award committees will give me the money I need. Originally I wanted to try to enroll by fall 2014. Now, I don’t know if that can happen, or if I even want it to. Do I want to uproot myself again, so soon?

I’ve just been burned. Bad. And I thought I’d feel better after some time to lick my wounds, but I don’t. I simply don’t feel like staggering to my feet and submitting myself to more pain. And I’m not even sure the program would be the best use of my time and money (so much money) anyway, assuming I could somehow afford it. It’s made for grad students, not future translators. I’d have to do a lot of things I’d never need to do as a translator. I really feel like self-study can cover a lot of what I need–which is something often said and rarely followed through on, but I’m pretty disciplined, and that’s something I’ve proved to myself so I know–and there are private Japanese language schools I can attend for 3-6 months to fill in any gaps.

Mostly, I just want to test myself. See if I can close my eyes and leap, and land on my feet. If I can’t, I go home to the US. I go home to my boyfriend and my family and my cat, and try to cobble together my new career from there. Either way doesn’t sound so bad.


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