Insta(gram)nt Reminder

Yesterday morning I deleted my Instagram account.

BOOM!

Gone.

Three, nearly 4 years worth of memories from Japan. With nearly 2500 photos, that’s a lot of time spent photographing and ultimately, preserving what I considered to be important aspects of my life and happenings in the world around me.

So, why then, did I decide to delete it?

For a number of reasons.

Firstly, I’m of the mind that 2016 deserves to be forgotten. Too much shit went down that was fucked up and I have no desire to remember the majority of it was snapshots. I’m not avoiding it; believe me, I have gone over every minute detail in my head many, many times and now it’s time to leave it where it deserves to be: in the past.

The second reason is probably the most important: I don’t want anything to do with anyone from last year either. For most people unfortunately they’re guilty only by association, but that’s enough for me. I had already unfollowed everyone in Hiroshima as the first step, but I realised that I didn’t want them seeing my life anymore either. A friend suggested I block them, which I also did, before saying I should just make my profile private.

My response: if you don’t want anyone but friends to see your photos, why have an Instagram account? You can just email or message the photos directly to your friends.

Thirdly, I’m starting a new book, that is, a new chapter in my life and there’s no need to keep reminding myself of Hiroshima. Why waste time on a place where I will no longer live? To me, that’s not being fully present in the time and place where I currently am? I know in my heart that I’ve already left; it’s simply my body that is still here. My mind moved sometime ago.

Hence, BOOM!

I don’t need an Insta(gram)nt Reminder of the past. There’s too much happening in the present.

Advertisements

A letter to my friends

Dear friends,

I know you have only the nicest sentiments for me but please forgive me when I say this:

I do not have time to go out with each and every one of you. In fact that’s why I’ve decided not to. I don’t want to give special preference to anyone.

It might also be the reason why previously I’ve just left countries and not said goodbye.

It’s easier.

Sure I don’t like saying goodbye but the real reason is because you asking to see me when you know how busy I am is stressing me out. So much so that my period is 6 days late and this morning I’ve woken up with a sinus infection yet again.

I would much prefer your help to clean and pack up then drinking with you and losing a day because I’m hungover.

I don’t have time. Do not ask me again.

Love Jade

P.S. And no, I won’t be changing my mind. Do not ask me again.

Post Panic Attack

I rang my mum yesterday after I had my panic attack and she said she can totally understand why that happened.

She said she never thought I’d come back to Australia and that I’d live in Japan forever. I told her that yesterday someone asked me if my rapist ex wasn’t here, would I reconsider my decision. I said probably. She said, “He spoiled everything for you, didn’t he?” I said yep, he had, but that it wasn’t my main reason to leave. I don’t want him taking all the credit for the best decision I’ve ever made in my life!

The best part of the conversation though, was when she said, “I always hated Felix.” Mums know when someone is a crazy arsehole. We need to listen to them more.

🙂

English teaching in Japan: no sugarcoating

I know I’m going to get shit for posting this from someone who doesn’t agree with me, but since when has that ever stopped me? 😉

Everything I say, of course there are exceptions, but they are not the norm. What I’m going to say is the norm and so I’m going to just come straight out and say it:

English teaching in Japan (and many other foreign countries) is not a proper job.

There are a number of reasons people (including me) chose or have chosen at some point, to do it. These are in no particular order.

  1. They want a gap year (either before or after high school or university).
  2. They have no idea what they want to do with their lives (and that’s PERFECTLY okay!)
  3. They’re running away from something or someone in their home country (and yes, I once met and made friends with a guy I later discovered was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, so I’m not making this shit up!)
  4. They love the foreign country they’re in so much and hate or don’t want to return to their home country, so they’ll do anything to stay.
  5. They’re scared of getting a proper job back home.
  6. They did an Arts Degree at university in something useless and couldn’t get a real job (I speak from personal experience!)
  7. They want a boyfriend or girlfriend in that country.

There are a rare few of us who are actually qualified teachers, but even then we are seriously over-qualified, under-utilised and majorly under-paid.

This pisses me off because we’re lumped in with the young, male, white dickheads who come here to get shit-faced at the foreigner bars and fuck pussy. I’m not sugarcoating this; I’m being real and using language I’ve heard more than once from men here. And yes, this is a male problem; women here don’t act like that.

Apart from the seven reasons I mentioned above, there are also the men (and the very, very occasional woman) who end up getting married to a local and who simply settle for teaching English despite their amazing qualifications in other fields. They give up their dreams and settle for far less than they’re worth.

Japan is notorious for assuming that just because you speak English that must mean you can also teach. Even if you can do other things and often times speak fluent Japanese, you will rarely be permitted to infiltrate Japanese society. You are only good enough to teach English because you’re a foreigner and you will never understand or be a part of the culture and society no matter how long you live here or how hard you try to fit in. Honestly, don’t bother. You need to know your place and not disturb the harmony and peace. This is what I’ve not only been told, but read and experienced.

I don’t want to be a 40-year-old single female teaching English in Japan. That is not, has not and will not ever be my destiny. The 40-year-old women I do know here are still teaching English despite being highly qualified and speaking fluent Japanese. And yes, all but one are single. And she is dating a foreign man, not a Japanese one.

I’m not being a pessimist; I’m painting a picture of reality. Google it and see how many other foreign females have a story identical to what I’ve just said.

All I can say is thank fuck I’m not a white man here. They fall into two main categories: drunk/alcoholic singles or unhappily married to someone who refuses to have sex with them after marriage and/or children or are divorced and bitter. And, trapped in the country because they have kids.

I realise this post has morphed into being about multiple issues, not just English teaching, but that’s because it’s all connected.

Anyway, that’s just my opinion and experience of it here. Some people aren’t going to like what I’ve written simply because I shattered their illusion. I’m not apologising for that. Japan (and every other country in the world!) is not perfect and the longer you live here, the more you see. Some people see it though, but refuse to believe the facts. I will never sugarcoat something in order to make someone more comfortable with the lies they are being fed to believe. If you don’t like what I’ve written, that’s fine, but if you choose to come to Japan or to work in another country as an English teacher, do not cry if you discover that what I said was actually true.

English teaching is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Don’t sell your soul (or your identity) for Japan

Ah, Japan.

Love it and hate it at times. Not the country, of course, but the society.

Now when I say/write all this, I will be crucified for some points. Not by Japanese people, they couldn’t care less, but by fellow foreigners. They’re the type who sell their soul and often give up their own identity for the culture in which they’re living.

It’s common.

Many foreigners arrive here and decide to forget who they are and where they’ve come from in order to fully embrace the Japanese experience. I get that, I really do. I understand that they want to live the way Japanese people do because they’re here now, not their native country, but let me just point out one BIG FUCKING DIFFERENCE.

THEY ARE NOT JAPANESE.

And they never will be, no matter how much time, effort and lifeblood they put in here.

Japanese culture and society will never accept you for being Japanese. This is reality and something that some naive people need to hear early on and time and time again for it to sink in. Some people realise this weeks after they arrive. Some people never realise it despite living here for 20 or more years. Japanese society and it’s people will want you to be foreign sometimes and to use it for all it’s worth and at other times, they want you to be Japanese and fit in because that’s what makes them feel comfortable.

Question is: does it make YOU comfortable? Are you comfortable switching between two identities (one real and one fake/adopted) in order to fit in?

Me? Nope, not anymore.

I’m a foreigner here, obviously, but I refuse to be like so many other foreigners who sugarcoat stuff. I’m Australian, we don’t do that.

But at one point, I did.

I didn’t want to change my identity; I’m always going to be an Aussie and fucking proud of it, but I did want to try and make my life a little more comfortable by being adaptable. There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes you find you lose vital parts of who you are because it’s easier than rocking the boat.

One thing I picked up very early on was to avoid conflict. The thing is though, sometimes you need conflict in order to change a situation for the better. Japanese society is very rigid and conservative and the society is very much based on hierarchy. Us Aussies, we don’t believe in that. Sure, we’ll give someone respect if they deserve it, but not just because they’re older or more experienced. If you fuck up, we’ll call you out on it no matter who you are.

I’ve done a lot of things here that I would never have done in Australia. By this, I don’t mean eating horse meat or drinking sake in a local festival. I mean stuff that compromised who I am essentially as a person and an Aussie, simply because I thought I should try to blend in.

Sure, sometimes you should. But you know what I’ve learned? I’ve come to see that you can’t blend in and why should you? You’re not Japanese, you’re you. And that uniqueness is special and no one can ever take it away from you.

Foreigners, don’t ever let a country change you so much that you forget who you are and where you’ve come from. In the end you need to be true to yourself and not suppress who you are to stay somewhere. If you do, it will just make you sick and miserable. If a place and it’s people are no longer making you happy, change your situation. Leave before you become a bitter shell of your former self.

Be who you, not who you’re being told to be.

 

I just had a thought…

While I was doing some research for an article, hence this question:

If you move back to your country of birth after living abroad for years, what is the term used to describe you?

When I ask this, I’m doing so seriously. It’s very important especially as many people find it so hard to, ‘re-assimilate,’ into the society they left. That’s why, I discovered recently that they have repatriation coaches. Yes, that’s an actual job.

So, you’re a returned citizen, but you’re not an expat because you’re back living in your native country. Though, for a time you may feel very much like one, with lots of things suddenly feeling very uncomfortable after you haven’t seen them for so long.

Reverse culture shock.

That’s the technical name for what can happen to you. It can be really bad for some people or not happen at all for others. Nobody can predict it, but you can certainly plan for it and put in place some methods and techniques for how to deal with it if it does come up.

Either way, living abroad does change you and it does change the way you feel about your native land.

For some of us, it makes us more patriotic and for some of us it’s something that is always in the back of our mind, even when we don’t realise it. On the other hand, some people wish to shun everything and everyone they’ve ever known and try to erase every memory they’ve ever had there. Sometimes they know why, sometimes they may not.

I have to wonder, knowing where I’ve lived and what I know as a result of my experiences, whether those who choose to leave the Mother Land forever, are running away or are truly happy and believe with every fibre of their being that their new setting really IS home.

I’m not convinced.