Thursday, 8 July 2010


This week has been a stressful week for me - I've been teaching each of my classes for the final time, had a bit of scare, followed by the biggest wave of relief I have ever felt, and had to deal with the usual occurences of life in the countryside - cockroach intruders and being bitten alive by mosquitoes whilst out walking.

It only really hit me today, when I was asked to clean out my desk at school, that in three weeks time, I won't be in Marugame anymore.
I spent this afternoon working on a little guide book to Marugame that I plan on leaving behind for my successor...

As gushy as it sounds, I had to take a break from writing it, it was too difficult for me to write about all of my favourite things and places in this town, food I like to eat and people I care about here, knowing that in a few weeks time, I won't have them anymore.

It has been a challenging year for me. Both the highs and lows have been equally plentiful, and of an intense kind. Recently though, I've been feeling a strange sense of contentment. Perhaps this is the feeling that surfaces when things that have been emotionally testing come to an end. Perhaps I'm feeling such a feeling because things at school have been more relaxed now that the summer holidays are on their way; I have very few classes left to teach, I have been socialising with my colleagues more at farewell parties and the like, I've been taking long and leisurely lunches with friends,and my workplace has generally been less isolating as lots of colleagues and students are wanting to spend more time with me now that my departure is imminent.

I haven't forgotten the reasons why I want to return home; I desperately want to see my family and friends, my big fluffy cat and to reaquaint myself with all of the things I love about my life back home. I want to be able to enjoy the very simple, but satisfying things that I've missed a lot this year; I want to bake a cake, I want to get lost in a book whilst on the Tube, I want to go on long walks with my Mum and my dog, I want to go treasure hunting at my favourite London markets, I want to curl up on the sofa with my cat, I want to eat the foods that I have missed. I feel exhausted at having been away from Western culture for a comparatively long time, and I do want to be back in my home country (for how long, I don't know, but I do feel a great need to go back).Some of my friends are leaving Marugame, and by December, Vivian, Andrew and Christa will be gone too. Marugame will be a very different place to the one I know now. If I were to renew my contract further, I would be faced with the prospect of spending four very lonely months alone from December-April. So part of me feels happy that I will be leaving on a high; I have some final trips planned, a teaparty at Taupe, I have gained enough confidence in my teaching ability, so much so that I want to try it again elsewhere, I will be returning to what I hear is a very hot summer in England (and my Dad loves to barbeque!) and in spite of my 'what shall I do with my future' panics a few months back, I do in fact feel good about my future. I have no employment, financial or romantic (unfortunately not by choice! Where are you handsome stranger!) ties, and if I like, I can take off and go somewhere else whenever the mood takes me.

That said, the list of things I will miss and long for so much when I return to England is growing by the day. I made one of the deepest friendships I have ever made here. It was fate that we met again. My experience in Japan would not have been the same without you Vivian and I don't want to say goodbye.

Even though it has sometimes been frustrating living in a place where everyone knows eachothers business, nor do I really want to say goodbye to the odd little mix of foreigners that have been such a big part of my life here this year.

I have always hated saying goodbye - this goodbye seems like it will be one of the hardest kinds. My time in Japan is something that has become a part of me and my character forever. It's also been the first time that I've documented an experience so thoroughly; in true hoarding fashion, I have kept every single city map, bundles of old train and bus tickets and letters and assignments from my students. Looking at my photos,reading back through this blog, my personal diary and all of the notebooks, packed full of little observations and funny little comments from my students and co-workers will make not only vivid, but tangible memories. I'm glad I did this.

My relationship with Marugame has been an odd one; I hated it so much at first. I still have my frustrations with it, but it has become such an endearing place to me, and I really think I will remember it with nothing but fondness once I am gone. I will, without a doubt return to Japan in the future and the world is a small place now; I can see the friends I have made here, as long as I have the money, the time and am in good health. What makes me feel strange is that my goodbye to Marugame will probably be a final one. Once my friends have gone, and the students that I taught have moved away from this town in search of life in the big cities, I will have very little, if any reason to return.

I received my first leaving present from a student today. My favourite student, Shingo (more on him in a later blog post I think) bought me something I have wanted for so long. This is a cute little hiragana stamp set, which comes in this cute little wooden box. I spent the rest of the class, very red eyed and blubbery...

Living abroad has often been hard, but goodbyes are even harder. :-(


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