Making the Decision to Go Home 帰国するという決定

So it is that time of year again, when the re-contracting papers show up on my desk and everyone around me slowly sinks into confusion. Should I stay? Should I go? It is funny looking back on the last three times I have had to make this decision, and the various emotions I have been through. You would think that it would get easier as time progresses, but each year has presented me with different reasons and different feelings towards the topic.
来年の契約が私の机に現れ、周りのみんながだんだんと慌ただしくなる時期がやっ日本にとどまろうか。帰国しようか。過去3回、同じ決定をしなければいけなかった事や、その時々に感じた色々な感情を思い起こすと、不思議な気持ちにな年が経つほどに楽になるように思うだろう、毎年違う気持ちと理由が出てきて、いつも難しい。

Should I stay a second year?
This was by far the easiest decision. My new best friends that I had made were all staying, my Japanese was improving, and I liked Japan. I always said I would stay two to three years, so I signed almost the minute the paper was on my desk. My family was not surprised.
滞在期間を延長して、2年目になるか。
これはもっとも容易な決断だった新しい出来た友達みんなもう一年間日本にとどまることを決めていた。それから、自分の日本語が少しずつ上達してきているのを実感していたし、日本での生活も気に入っていた。 加えて、最初から2、3年間は日本に住むと公言していたから、契約書が机に来た瞬間、サインした家族はあまり驚てなかった。

Should I stay a third year?
This was a hard decision. I lost hours of sleep and months of my life spent worrying about this. My closest friends were all leaving. I would have to start from scratch, including changing schools again! Teaching at junior high school was becoming repetitive, and I was starting to go insane with too much free time on my hands at work and outside of work. Also my grandfather was unwell, and I was worried that I would not be able to spend any time with him. However, I still liked Japan and I wasn’t happy with my level of Japanese yet. This in the end was the driving factor behind me deciding to stay. I remember a conversation with my father about goals and why I came to Japan in the first place. I still had things I wanted to achieve here, I was not finished yet.
3年目になるか。
難しい決定だった。数ヶ月間、このことが心配であまり寝られなかった。親友のみんなが帰る予定だった。また学校が変わって一からスタートしないといけなかった。中学校で教えることは毎日同じことの繰り返しでつまらなくなってきて、仕事やそれ以外のときも暇が多すぎて頭がおかしくなりそうになってしまった。さらに、オーストラリアにいるおじいちゃんの体調がだんだん良くなくなってきて、おじいちゃんと過ごす時間が取れなくなるのが心配だった。でも、まだ日本が好きで日本語のレベルはまだまだだと思った。結局、これが決定的だった。何の目標で日本に来たのかと父と話した思い出がある。まだやりたいことがあって日本にとどまろう決断した。

Should I stay a fourth year?
A month after making the decision to stay a third year, I was offered a new job, a promotion of sorts, so from the beginning of year three I started working at the prefectural office and at three new schools. This job is much more challenging and demanding of my time than my previous job, however, I am so glad I have had the opportunity to experience teaching at high schools, special needs schools, and working in administration. I get to work with a lot of people and have a lot of responsibilities. Job satisfaction made my decision to stay a fourth year easy. I can’t say it was the easiest decision of the three, as I still had to break the news to my family that I would not be returning home after 2-3 years as I had initially prepped them for. My grandmother was especially disappointed, and would not be comforted by promising a trip home at Christmas. My employer’s reaction to me staying another year was ordinary. I don’t think the thought had even crossed their mind that I might not stay.
4年目になるか。
3年目の更新を決めて1ヶ月後、昇進みたいな新しい仕事をオファーされて、3年目からは県庁の学校政策課と3校の学校で働き始めまし。前の仕事より忙しくて難しいことも多いけど、高校と支援学校と県庁で働く経験を得られてよかった。色んな人と関わりを持ち、責任を伴う仕事だ。こういう満足感のおかげで、4年目をも日本で過ごそうという決定は楽だった。2,3年間日本に住むと思っていた家族にはこの意外な決定をまだ伝えていなかったから、3つの決定の中で一番簡単と言えない。必ずクリスマスに帰ると約束してもおばあさんは特に寂しそうだった。雇用者のリアクションは微妙だった。帰国する可能性がないと思っているのだろうか。

The present day
So here we are again, but now the question is should I stay a fifth year? Five years is the maximum allowance for my contract. At least that means I will never have to deal with this particular decision again. A lot of the same factors that plagued my decision to stay a third year have arisen again. A lot of my close friends will be leaving again. In fact, I have not spoken to anyone who is staying yet. However, I have established myself more in the Japanese community now, and have a few really good friends and my Rotaract club to keep me from feeling too lonely. The job is starting to become a little repetitive again, although I still get a lot of job satisfaction from teaching at the special needs school, and from the relationships that I have been able to form at my schools now that I am not transferring every year. There will always be more Japanese to learn, but I am finally happy with the level I have attained, just as long as I don’t start forgetting what I have learned, and can continue with my studies I think I can be happy. 
現在
この季節がまたきた。でも、今の悩みは5年目になるかどうか。最大限の契約期間は5年少なくとも、こういう特別な決断をするのこれ最後になるだろ年目も残留するのが決定した時と同じことまた悩まされ。また新しくできた親友がみんな帰るようだ。実は日本にとどまる人まだ見つけられてい。しかし、今は日本のコミュニティの一員になっていい友達ができた。ローターアクトの仲間たちもいてあまり寂しいと感じない。仕事はちょっとワンパターンになってきたけど、支援学校で教える仕事に満足しているし、毎年新しい学校に異動しなくてもいいので、今の学校でいい関係ができてよかっ。日本語がもうちょっと上達したいなぁといつも思うけど、今のレベルでいいとやっと思えるようになった。今まで学んだ日本語を忘れないうちに勉強が続けられれば幸せだと思います。

There are a few different factors to be taken into consideration this time around as well. Firstly, and I know that this is not too big of a deal yet, but I am not getting any younger. I will be 26 at the end of this contract year. I still have a lot of travelling I want to do (I at least want to backpack around Europe before I am 30!), and this, in the end, is a dead-end job. Also, I am not passionate about English teaching. I enjoy teaching, but English is such an absurd language. If I am going to teach anything in my life it will be Japanese, or another less frustrating language. I would really love to learn a third language! Recently I think I am burning out on Japan a little. I don’t particularly feel like traveling around Japan and seeing new things. It has become too comfortable, too every day. It might just be a rut. If I started a new hobby, or planned a trip I could probably pull out of it easily. I still really like Japan and Japanese culture. I think that will never change.
今年も考えないといけないことが色々ある。まず、これはあまり大切じゃないと分かっているけど、自分はもうそんなに若くない。今の契約が終わる頃、私は26歳になる。まだ旅行したい国が多い(せめて30歳までヨーロッパでバックパックしたい!)。そして、今の仕事には先がない。または、英語を教えることには情熱がない。楽しいけど、英語は不合理な言語だと思う。教えるなら、日本語かもっと無理がない言語を教えたい。もう一つの言語を勉強したい!最近ちょっと日本のことに燃え尽きてしまっと感じる。国内旅行にも興味がなくなった。日常的で普通になってしまった。マンネリになっただけかもしれない。新しい趣味を始めたら、または、旅行したら、元通りに戻ると思う。日本と日本の文化がそれでも大好きだ。それはきっと変わらない。

On the other hand, a new and powerful emotion that I am faced with this time around is a fear of returning home. I am told on a regular basis by Japanese and foreign people alike how Japanese I am, and it is true. I have very much assimilated into Japanese life. This will become painfully obvious when I return home. I wonder if I still have a place in my old life anymore. I have barely any connections, dwindling friends’ lists, and no job prosperities. It almost feels like taking the first step to Japan all over again, off into the new world. I might get home and after six months find myself escaping on a plane to Japan. I might find myself jetting off to another entirely new country, longing for the new and exciting. Or I might just be overthinking all of this.
一方で、帰るのは怖いのと今回の新しい気持ちもある。ジャッキーが日本人みたいだと日本人にも外国人にもしょっちゅう言われている。私もそう思う。日本の生活に慣れてきた。帰ったら、この変化がもっと明らかになると思う。以前の人生には私の居場所があるのかな。オーストラリアにはコネがないし、仕事もない。友達もだんだん少なくなってきた。まるで日本に来たときとまったく同じような気持ち、知らない世界に行くみたい。帰ってから、半年過ぎたら、日本に戻るかもしれない。または、もっとどきどきする人生を探すため、まだ行ったことがない新しい国に行くかもしれない。考えすぎかもしれない。

I think a part of me has made the decision already, but the other side is having a hard time agreeing. It feels like letting go of a dream, letting go of everything I have worked so hard to achieve these last few years, stepping off into the unknown, trying to find my place in the world, saying goodbye. Not knowing if this is the right decision, not even knowing if there is a right decision. My other side has come up with some pretty convincing arguments on why I should stay so far. Who knows what she will come up with over the next few months. Let the countdown begin.

私の心半分はもう決まっていると思うけど、もう半分は納得できてい夢を離す、今まで達成するためすごく努力したの全部をなくし、知らない世界に一歩踏み、私の場所を見つけてみる、さよならと言う、これが本当に正解かどうか分からないままに、正解があるかどうか分からないままに、と感じてい。もう一つの心は日本にとどまる理由を少し思い付いた。1月までにどんな理由を考えるのか誰も知らない。カウントダウンが始まるよ。

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