Job Hunting Post-Japan

Earlier this year, I read an article about long term unemployment and self-confidence which hit a little too close to home. After reading the article, I wrote down how I was feeling, but didn’t share it at the time. For better or for worse, I am not someone who likes to admit when I don’t have it all together. I tend to share my experiences later, when I have all the answers. I don’t know if I have all the answers yet, but I do feel like I have made a little progress this year, despite everything that is going on in the world. So, here it is, my job search journey post Japan. When I returned from Japan at the end of 2018, I began searching for part time work, albeit sometimes not wholeheartedly, to keep myself afloat financially while I pursue a Master’s degree at University. I had some success with informal jobs, tutoring English to international students and more recently teaching yoga, but it has been a constant struggle to earn enough to cover my basic living expenses. When COVID

Japanese humanity and Australian heartlessness in the COVID19 crisis

As the world falls into economic depression, strangled by the terrifying grip of the coronavirus, I am reminded once again of a huge cultural difference between Australia and Japan. It is predicted that almost 2 million Australians will lose their job in the coming weeks, bringing the unemployment rate to an unprecedented 15%. As I drive past the long lines outside of Centrelink, the social welfare office, and read post after post on social media about friends and acquaintances losing their jobs, I just can’t help but wonder if the scale of this issue can be attributed to culture. How quick bosses are to fire employees who have worked for them for years and years when the going gets tough. Do we really value profit so much that we don’t consider the profound effect that firing an employee will have on their livelihood? Is there really no other way? When I was living and working in Japan, there were numerous aspects of Japanese work culture that annoyed me. One of these was the va

Brisbane - What's changed?

It has been almost a year since I quit my job in Tokyo and moved back to Brisbane. For the most part, I did not experience culture shock as much as I thought I would. I think this is a case of good timing, being ready to leave Japan and keeping myself busy since returning. That being said, I was away from Australia for a long time, and although many things are still the same, there are also some differences. It has been interesting and challenging discovering these differences and carving out a new life for myself here. Here are some of the biggest changes that I have noticed since returning. 1.      Bye bye plastic bags In my absence many stores have done away with plastic bags, forcing people to either bring their own or play the ‘how many food items can I carry before I drop them’ game which is one of my favourite games. I managed to completely miss the transitional phase of this and arrived home well and truly after people had gotten used to it, so it felt almost like magic

A Story From Japan That I Never Told My Parents

Living abroad places a huge stress on your loved ones afar. Even though my parents were always 100% supportive of me wanting to live in Japan, I know that they often worried about me living far from home all alone. It helps a lot that Japan is a relatively safe country. The crime rate is much lower than Australia, and the people are generally kind and helpful. But of course, I faced hardships there, just as I would have if I were living in Australia. There were a few times that I chose not to tell my parents the whole story. At the time, I didn’t want to burden them with more worry than was necessary. Now that I am home, I suddenly find myself wanting to share some of these stories. This first story is one that I have only told one person. No one else knows. There’s no leaving the best for last around these partsーstraight into the deep end. That time I ended up at a hospital after calling an ambulance for myself. I have a mental list of the times that I felt most scared while I was liv

How to Move Overseas Like a Champion

For many people making any kind of change is hard. Even implementing some small change, like going for a short walk every morning, seems daunting and impossible, let alone something as life-impacting as moving abroad. People often ask me, how? How do you move halfway across the world? I would love to say that it is because I am super brave or know the secret to life, or something impressive like that. Unfortunately, I am not a particularly brave person. In fact, I spend most of my time second guessing my decisions and worrying about what to do. Even now as I sit on the back porch of my mother’s house writing this, I wonder if it was a good idea to quit my job, move back home, and commit to spending the next two years of my life and a substantial amount of money trying to get a masters degree in something that I have trouble explaining. But as I mentioned in a previous blog, at some point I came to the conclusion that doing something is better than doing nothing, and forced myself to m

The Greatest Lesson That I Have Learned From Living in Japan.

Living abroad has taught me a lot of valuable life lessons. Living in a completely different environment, you discover new perspectives. You learn to communicate via gestures and like foods that you never dreamed you would; such as tomatoes. You realise that people are inherently the same yet fascinatingly different, and what’s seen as “normal” is relative to the time, the place, and the company. These are all important lessons. While learning to enjoy eating tomatoes was a tough hurdle to overcome, by far the hardest truth to swallow was that sometimes we have to say goodbye. This is not necessarily a life lesson that can only be learned through living abroad, however, in my experience the number of goodbyes that you have to say is exponentially higher when living abroad. The expat community tends to be nomadic, coming and going quickly. Just when you feel like you are getting close to someone, they announce that they are moving on to the next exciting destination. Or, like this

The Heart of Japan

Fukushima became a household name after the nuclear reactor meltdown caused by the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011. Of all the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami, from an economic standpoint, Fukushima was perhaps the most devastated, having to contend with being branded as ‘contaminated’. Even as some of the affected areas begin to reopen, many of the displaced residents are choosing not to return to their homes, and tourism is at an all time low. This month I had the opportunity to visit Kawamata Town which is a small town in Fukushima that was partially evacuated for almost 7 years after the disaster. The evacuation order was finally lifted last year, with the local school reopening this April. However, only 15 students have returned to the school so far. Yamakiya Unified School is a joint elementary and junior high school. The school building is almost brand new, featuring some of the best building design I have ever seen in a public school in Japan. What’s mo