First, a little context. Just before Christmas, my husband Dillon and I were required to leave the UK because we did not earn enough money to qualify for a spousal visa. (This was despite me being British, Dillon living in the UK for five years, and both of us working full-time. Thank you, The Government!)
So, with two suitcases each (technically one suitcase and one rucksack each, but I think we can all agree that’s not quite as catchy), we packed up 60kgs of our most essential belongings, and flew to Ireland, where a British and a South African person can still travel together with relative ease.
It’s odd how I miss the smaller, day-to-day objects of our lives: the coasters we inherited from my parents’ first holiday in Greece, the first bedsheet sets we bought together, the Moomin notebook that Dillon bought me because he knew I loved us reading Who Will Comfort Toffle? in bed together.
Dillon and I have always said we would see this as an adventure, albeit one we were forced into – an opportunity to live and work abroad and to explore the world, which, if our situation had been easier, we may not otherwise have taken. But I can’t deny that the first Christmas without my family was miserable, largely due to the fact that I wouldn’t have chosen to spend it without them if I had had that choice. Being away from your family at Christmas makes you realise that presents are unnecessary; it’s spending time with the people in your life who mean something to you that is so special.
So it was the necessity of finding something to alleviate my low-level depression and terrible loneliness (or at least drown it out for a while) that led to me spending Christmas Day trawling through job sites and filling out job application forms, desperately hoping that someone, somewhere out there, might see something appealing about me and my prospects, and give me the chance that I so badly needed.
The next day there was an email in my inbox. I had an offer of an interview with an international school in Japan!
One Skype interview, more (and more enthusiastic) research than I have done since before attending university, and a steady stream of back-and-forth, time-difference-limited emailing later, and I have sent off my signed contract, and all the documentation needed for a work visa for myself and dependent visa for Dillon.
My parents are coming to flying over to visit us when we move closer to Dublin later in the month, then we plan to travel to Japan in early March, just in time to see the cherry blossoms blooming, and in April I will be working as a primary school teacher in Osaka.
Today, I’m writing from a traditional farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in the Irish countryside, mired in a thick fog drifting in from the Irish Sea, silence engulfing me other than birdsong and the occasional barking of dogs. The host family we are staying with have a wonderfully friendly collie dog, I have time to plan all the things I want to see and do once we arrive in Japan, and since the walk to the nearest food shop is a 13km round-trip, I’ve been getting into pretty good shape too!
At night my doubts start to creep in, and I regularly wake up in the early morning with panicked thoughts racing through my head, but one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to keep a sense of perspective, and using the affirmation “I am not controlled by fear or anxiety, nothing worth doing is going to be easy, and I am moving forward each day” is definitely helping.
Are you planning to work abroad this year, or to travel to Japan? Do you have experience teaching at an international school and feel you could give me any advice? Share your thoughts by commenting, and I will reply to you.
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