Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Circle Closes

I saw a tourism advert for Okinawa on the tube yesterday and it got me thinking: I’ve been back from Japan for over two months now, it’s probably time I wrote a final blog post and closed the circle on my JET experience. The famed “reverse culture shock” hasn’t really been much of a problem these past eight weeks – it’s definitely been something of a process to readjust to life at home, but I don’t think the difficulties have been “cultural”. It’s more been re-adapting to living at home with my parents, re-integrating with friends I haven’t seen in so long, trying to get my first step onto the career ladder… if anything, re-embracing English culture has been one of the easiest and most refreshing things about coming home. Maybe it’s because I’d just gotten sick of How Things Are Done in Japan, but I’m so happy to be back amongst the Perpetually Underwhelmed, the Honest and the Painfully Dry.

When I think about Japan, then, it’s not really the place I miss, but the friends I made there, the community experience of ‘all being in this together’. Coming home it’s apparent how much that doesn’t really exist in the Real World outside of JET: admittedly, where I lived in Japan was so rural that that “community” didn’t really exist on any physical plane, but there was still the feeling that you were part of something bigger. Sure, most of the time, what brought me and my closest friends together was a shared belief that the community itself was stupid, but we were all part of it nonetheless. JET’s something of a plush setup in that sense: you automatically belong. Coming home, that’s not the case, especially because you’ve been away for so long. That means it’s up to you to create that community for yourself, and I guess it’s that – not reverse culture shock – which has been the real difficulty.

Hopefully, though, I’m some way towards doing just that! I’ve managed to bag myself a job (after something of a misfire last month) with a business consultancy firm in Soho, which I start on Monday! The long-term plan is that, if that goes well, it won’t be too long before I get a place of my own somewhere central. Then it’ll really feel like the Next Phase has begun.

So that’s what’s been going on since I’ve got back! But what about Japan? I think my last post would be incomplete if I weren’t to somehow reflect on the experience as a whole. It’d be nice if I were able to reach a neat little conclusion and say all the ways that Japan has changed me but, to be honest, I still don’t know how it has (though it certainly has). I had to pack an extra bag just to bring home all the leaving presents that my Japanese friends and co-workers showered me with in my final days. Looking back through them all (and the photographs), it’s easy to forget just what an experience it was. Two years. And within those two years it feels like there were so many different chapters. So, in lieu of some profound Life Lesson Learnt, I guess I'll just leave you with one of my favourite memories from the two years. It's a photo from Jesse's Christmas Party, and whilst I'm not really even visible in it, I really love it.

All that’s left to say is thank you for reading my blog these past two years! Maybe I’ll start another someday about a new chapter in my life, but for now さよなら and  気をつけてね!!

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