Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Waiting for the Epiphany

These last two weeks have seen my second Thanksgiving in Japan, my second school teachers naked onsen party, my second round of Mid-year seminars, and my second attempt to buy everyone Christmas presents I can afford to send home.

So that's the repetitious life of the second year ALT in Japan. This weekend will be my Second JET Christmas party, then my second Christmas away from home, then my second snowboarding season will begin. Are things getting boring?

Not at all. Maybe I'm taking less photographs this year, but that's because it's all starting to seem normal. But normal in a good way, and in a better way than the first year. After 16 months in Japan, you start to get your bearings, adjusting and not only becoming accustomed to things, but actually starting to prefer them.

Am I three quarters or one half way through this experience? I mean I really hope that wasn't my last naked onsen party, but if I sign out this year, no more hot springs. It's certainly an interesting experience having your principle squat next to you in a lather of suds brazenly scrubbing his testicles over a small bucket.

Does another year mean only the same experiences again? Maybe not. This weekend I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test for the first time. I have to wait until February to find out if I passed the basic level of this internationally recognised qualification, I'm fairly confident. Unfortunately, as the JET careers website says,
"There are far too many people now that have been to Japan and can speak basic Japanese. You have to look at your other skills and experiences and find things that will set you apart and ahead of all of those others that you are competing with."
I'm damn well still going to put it on my CV though. So what else is new in the second year that will set me 'apart and ahead'? Well, I get to visit a new country this Christmas. I'll be on a beach in SE Australia in less than 3 weeks. That sets me ahead of people who haven't been to the beach in Australia.

In conclusion, the second year is so far a consolidation of the best experiences from the first, but without the fascination or inconvenience. What would a third year be like? All I know is that I like it here, and according to the Independent Online, that puts me way ahead of most people in the UK:
"What's your career resolution for 2007? If you're like the majority of UK employees then it's probably to find a new job. 70 per cent of workers have an overriding ambition to be somewhere else this time next year, according to a poll from the online recruitment firm Monster."
You could say I shouldn't listen to results about job hunting from a recruitment company, but it's food for thought. I guess what I'm saying is don't get that welcome party ready just yet..


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