General and Travels and work (kinda)29 May 2010 06:35 pm

I have mentioned this before, but it took me a long time to get my Science degree. Over a decade, in fact. Throughout the genetics labs, English classes, late nights of studying and hours of time in the stacks at Cameron Library, I had one end result in mind: moving overseas.

I blame my parents for the influence. From a young age my family always took risks and challenges in stride, moving to places were things were fascinating – but not easy.

We lived in several different countries, each with their own culture and nuances. We moved home from overseas assignments in 1996, and I’ve been steadily accumulating friends, a mate, pets and belongings for the last 14 years. Now I’m about to give it all up again and go on the road.

In November, I submitted an application for a job overseas with the JET programme in Japan. I jumped through hoop after hoop, submitting a long personal essay, going through health and background checks, accumulating references and surviving through an interview in Calgary in February. And also waiting. Waiting a lot. At least I had the wedding to take my mind off of things.

Finally I was offered a job in April and I’ve accepted it. JET is a Japanese government run program that places teachers from around the world in Japanese classrooms as a sort of cultural exchange. The teachers learn Japanese and experience Japan, and the students learn English and learn about our home country. We get paid well and are offered extraordinary support from the Japanese government, board of education members and other JET participants. I’ve heard things ranging from great to mediocre about the program. Nothing really terrible, though. And a lot of people write and blog about their experiences. There’s only one way to find out what it’s really like, I guess.

It will be incredibly hard to leave what I consider my dream job at the Edmonton Journal as a photo editing assistant and web producer. Working at a newspaper has been a fascinating experience and one I never expected myself to have. I can say nearly every job I’ve had has been a dream on in one way or another, and I hope that Japan offers the same. If I could do my current job from Japan, I would. It’s not the job or the people – it’s the city. It’s time to go.

Just another day at the office, scowling at stealthy photographers snapping photos. Credit: Ryan Jackson

Standing with Journal staff photographers and other photo deskers, 2008. Credit: Walter Tychnowicz

So, finally, my dream comes true. I’m not sure what changes this blog will undergo yet, but I expect them to be somewhat major. Obviously I’m excited about the Japanese cuisine, but I’m a bit nervous over the changes cooking at home will undergo. All my cooking appliances and cookware will be given away here. Our spice collection will be pared down to the absolute must brings.

Everything I hope to use in the next year will come in two suitcases with me or shipped via boat. Mike will join me a few weeks after I get settled. The initial contract is for a year, but could be extended for as many as five.

My new home: Okinawa. It offers tropical beaches, treehouse restaurants and exquisite uniquely Japanese experiences like sakura/cherry blossom viewing parties

We’ll be living on Okinawa which is kind of like the Hawai’i of Japan. It has a culture unique unto itself even compared to the already unusual Japan, and for this reason is a tourist attraction to “mainland” Japanese. There is a heavy American influence with the US military presence on the island. The climate is tropical and the days are hot and humid, and there are many island diversions we hope to avail ourselves of such as diving, fishing and rock climbing. We’re actually closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, and so I hope to finally begin forays into China.

I’m a naturally nervous person at heart, but I can honestly say that although moving nerves do keep me up from time to time at night, I’m ready to spring into action and start down a new path. I will be leaving Canada July 30…so not long to go!

6 Responses to “Japan-bound”

  1. on 30 May 2010 at 6:48 am GF PATISSERIE

    Phenomenal. It’s travelling that makes us. Who we are in the end.

    Japan, from my experience, is a more complex country than most others.
    This will make for an exciting Blog. But now I am being selfish.

    Congratulations the second time in as many posts, you will enjoy it over there.

  2. on 30 May 2010 at 11:19 am Chris

    Congrats. Your future there sounds exciting and wonderful. All the best in the coming weeks!

  3. on 03 Jun 2010 at 3:09 pm bruleeblog

    Congratulations on both your wedding and your new adventures! I think you definitely lucked out with your placement as I’ve heard of a lot of JET people getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. I can’t wait to read about all the new things you will discover.

  4. on 04 Jun 2010 at 6:08 am A Canadian Foodie

    You are the consummate adventurer! From your palate to your life. This is incredible. Wonderful, exciting and I wish I had done the same thing with my life so many years ago. I am from a different generation and a different time. 20 years have made such a difference in the framework of possibilities for women. I am so courageous and adventurous now… but, when I was younger, I definitely lacked courage. I am so excited for you. I look forward to reading your take on your new world and your adventures. You will always make sure you are facing one. That has become clear, and why I love following your blog.
    (ps- hope you got the invite to the Taste Tripping….)

  5. on 04 Jun 2010 at 9:25 pm Linds

    Exciting – I hope you continue to blog when you are there! I had a friend do two years in the JET program in Sapporo & he had a fantastic time and became fluent in Japanese. (Lots of study tho)

  6. on 12 Jul 2010 at 8:20 am Ron Simms Jr.

    I’m really really interested in what you will think of the food over here and what creations you’ll come up with given the kitchen limitations.