Winter Update

A bit has happened since I last posted. Life happens.

Almost immediately after I hit publish, I traveled in Thailand for 10 days. This was my second Asian country that I’ve visited after Japan- and I couldn’t imagine a starker contrast. Although closer geographically to Japan, the feeling I had in Thailand was much closer to how I felt while living in Turkey. That trip left quite the impression on me for many reasons, and I still can’t believe I haven’t found the time/energy/drive to write about it, but expect much on that to come!

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The Imperial Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

While I was preparing for my trip to Thailand, I was also busy sprucing up my resume and applying to a ton of jobs in Tokyo. My current contract in Kanazawa will be up next month, and I felt that after a year in a small, slow, quaint place there would be no better contrast than to spend my second year in the biggest, fastest, most exciting city in the country. I had forgotten, though, just how much time and effort goes into applying for jobs, and by the time I boarded the plane for Bangkok I needed a vacation from my job-hunt.

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After Jobapplicationpalooza, I really needed this tropical beverage in paradise!

After weeks of effort, I ended up interviewing with only one school, a small, international kindergarten that seemed like a great fit. Less than a week after returning from Thailand, I took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo for the weekend to do a demo lesson and observe classes at the school. It was a great weekend. I was reunited with my friends at Hostel Bedgasm, and had a grand city day, where I went shopping along Kappabashi “Kitchen Street”, drank coffee and read my book in an old-fashioned cafe filled with old men smoking and reading the paper, and took in an art exhibit at the Museum of Western Art in Ueno Park. Many times that day it occurred to me that this would be my life. That image was so glamourous, so enticing.

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Plastic fruit on Kappabashi Kitchen Street.
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Old man cafe in Tokyo.
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Interior at the Western Art Museum.

The interview went well. I liked the atmosphere and location of the school, and the students and other teachers were all nice. My demo lesson wasn’t the best, but I felt it had some strong points, and the principal and I had a great rapport and shared a lot of similar views on teaching, so I figured I was a strong contender. He told me they were still assessing their needs and had other candidates they were considering, and I would receive an answer in a few weeks.

Those weeks were agony. I wandered around in an agitated, distracted haze. I felt like my life was on hold. I couldn’t focus enough to write; I merely killed time. For three weeks! Then finally, I received an answer: my application had been rejected. Apparently they wanted someone with “more teaching ability”, whatever the fuck that means. Unfortunately for me, this was the only job I’d made it to interviews with, although I’d applied for 8. I’d thought that with my two years experience and valid work visa, I’d be a great candidate, but in Tokyo, the competition really is fierce!

Luckily, remaining longer at my job in Kanazawa is still an option, and a good one. I may still move to Tokyo, but with competition like that I’m not sure how hard I really want to try. As glamourous as living in Tokyo would have been, it would have been damn expensive and I would have had to start over. I really do like my life in Kanazawa, with my job and my apartment and my circle of friends and my schedule that gives me plenty of time for writing and drawing and walks along the river. If I stay I can actually save money, enough to do a bigger trip in Southeast Asia next year.

I don’t know about you, but for me changing plans and owning up to it, without feeling the need to justify my decision, has always been difficult, so this latest change of deciding to stay in Kanazawa when I’d had my heart set on Tokyo has been a good lesson for me. In fact, I hated changing my mind so much, that I even avoided committing to things, or telling people my future plans, or even making plans to begin with, which has a lot to do with my current lack of future life goals. I can talk about this subject a lot, and maybe I’ll save it for another post. I felt as though changing plans was a sign of failure, but hey, it’s my life. I can change my mind if I want to. And I still might do it again, who knows.

As good as I feel about deciding to stay, I still don’t like to be rejected, and I was definitely bummed when I got the news. Lucky for me, I had a big distraction: the Kanazawa Snowpocalypse. Now, Kanazawa is a city that is known for having snowy winters, but because of global warming, there has gradually been less over the years, and recently the snow that does fall has been more wet and slushy and melted away fairly quickly. Except for last week, when we experienced the biggest snowfall in 50 years. Overnight, my entire world changed, and was blanketed in white. My regular walk to work became a trudge on uneven, slippery ground, surrounded by strange, hilly lunar landscapes and rotund Dr. Seuss trees. My colleagues and I are pretty close to begin with, but nothing bonds a group of employees quite like days of shoveling the school parking lot together! At home, I was so tired and lazy from shoveling that I cooked easy meals like pasta and soup and watched a lot of Netflix (if you need recommendations, I can probably help you with that!)

There are still piles of snow by the side of the road, and some sidewalks are a bit treacherous, but the streets are clear and the temperatures are above freezing. Yesterday, while driving home in the late afternoon, it occurred to me that it was still daylight. It’s still winter, but somewhere ahead lies a glimmer of spring.

Kanazawa sure is lovely in the spring.

Happy Travels,

Mo

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4 thoughts on “Winter Update

  1. Finally getting around to commenting! I’m going to be in Kanazawa in May! I arrive about 11.30 on the Shinkansen from Tokyo on May 6, and later that day get a bus to Shirakawa-Go. Returning to Kanazawa on May 9 and will get a train to Kyoto that day. I’d love to meet you if you have time on either of those days, especially on the 9th when I expect to have a little more time, though I should have a couple of hours to kill also on the 6th. I am a bit freaked about arrival at Kanazawa Station and having to find the right bus stop as I don’t expect any of the signage to be in English 😦 Help!
    I think it’s perfectly acceptable you change your mind as often as you want! It sounds like you have a good life in Kanazawa, and I must admit I’ve never thought of living in Tokyo as glamorous. I feel totally intimidated by Tokyo, but then unlike you I’ve never even been to Japan.
    Alison

    1. Wow Alison!!! Of course I’m happy to meet you. I will actually be in Tokyo on the 6th, but will be returning to Kanazawa the next day and will surely be around the 9th!!! Feel free to ask me any questions you have about Japan. It can seem intimidating at first but people here are very friendly and helpful so that helps.

      1. Thanks so much Mo. I’ll have more details soon re what time I’ll arrive in Kanazawa from ShirakawaGo, and also train times to Kyoto. Looking forward to meeting you!

  2. Diana Yanez

    Job applications are the worst! Almost as bad as going on a bunch of bad dates

    I completely understand the whole not wanting to change your mind thing. Anything that smells of failure is really hard to bear. But like you said, is it even failure when the alternative is awesome? My opinion is who cares, lol. Do the best with what you have is logical advice, even though sometimes it can be hard to apply it.

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