Monday, April 21, 2008

Halfway Through

Today is the exact halfway point through my seven month gap year trip to Japan.

During the last three months and two weeks I have had so many new experiences and felt so many different emotions.

I have had made more progress with my Japanese in this time than I have in the last five years.

I have developed more confidence than I've ever had before, in speaking with new people, sometimes in a foreign language, and just within myself.

I've met some amazing people, and made friends that I intend to keep for life.

I've had a birthday! Turning 19 in Tokyo, seeing my family and friends, was something I could never have imagined, and yet it happened!

Time has twisted itself into the strangest of forms. It's sped up to a sprint and slowed down to a crawl at different points. One thing I guess is that, when I come to look back at my trip to Japan, it will have gone by in a flash. I'll wonder where all that time went, and how I managed to fit so many things into a couple of seconds.

But the biggest thing about the last few months has been the changes I've noticed in myself. For one thing, the sudden switch from introvert to extrovert was startling, and the boost in confidence, seemingly from nowhere, was a shock! I've started learning about myself, what my goals in life are, and how my mind seems to work.

I don't feel I can do the trip so far justice with words only so I won't try.

But if there's one thing that you take away from reading this blog, then let it be this:

"If you ever have an opportunity to explore a new world, a new experience, or a new emotion; take it. And don't regret it. A colourful life is only worth living if you include your favourite colour. Find it!"


beenalee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beena said...

I've heard you on Hyunwoo's podcast and I must say I envy you so much. ^^ I've been a fan of British, Japanese and Korean things and hearing about your story in Hyunwoo's podcast is absolutely amazing.

I'd also like to work in either Korea or Japan one day. I'd have to study very hard in college to realise that dream.

By the way, you've got a great English accent! I love the British accents ^^

Silmaril said...

Hi! I've just read through a fair chunk of your blog as I'm coming to Japan July 8th for a working holiday. I've just applied to GABA, despite the many criticisms I've heard, as I really want the flexibility, so it's nice to hear someone with a reasonably positive experience of them. Your blog is great - soooo informative! I'm going to add it to favourites and use it for making to-do lists and stuff :-) I didn't know an inkan was called a hakone - thanks!
Couple of questions if you don't mind:
1) GABA: the dress code. How insistant are they that you wear their suit? I'd prefer to bring my own. How much does it cost? And is it really dry clean only?
2) GABA again: bonuses and incentives - are they get-able?
3) You mentioned you couldn't find a decent gaijin house in Kyoto. I've provisionally reserved a room at is this one of the places you didn't like? If so why? I don't want to end up in a dump! Though depending on GABA I may not end up in Kyoto anyway . . .
4) I'm going to ask about GABA again - how many lessons per day could a person teach without going insane? And how many could they hope to get?

Thank you for any info you can give me!

Miles said...

Thank you both for your comments. I'm glad you liked my British accent Beena!

In answer to your questions, Silmaril, Gaba didn't insist that I wore their suit, just a black one. I wear my own. I'm sorry, I'm not sure how much a Gaba suit costs, or if it's dry-clean only, but bringing your own plain black suit sounds best to me.

You can get bonuses from Gaba if you teach more than 100, 150 and 200 lessons per month. Personally, I haven't gotten any bonuses because I don't work there enough, but I know lots of people who aim for, and get, the extra money.

I see people with mad schedules of 7 lessons in a row before lunch, then 7 in a row afterwards. They say it's hard work but do-able. The most I've done in a day is 9. I would guess that, depending on the day, at least 70% of scheduled lessons get booked. I usually get fully booked, or have a lesson or two spare. Sometimes that's very welcome if I want a lie-in or an early finish! Gaba's flexibility allows for that.

In regard to Ebisu's in Kyoto, I really liked the look of it. I think you made a good choice, the best choice I could find in Kyoto actually. The only thing that put me off was the lack of beds! But if you don't mind that, then go for it!

I hope this has helped. Just one thing I noticed, the other name for an 'inkan' is 'hanko', not 'hakone'. I hope I didn't write that by accident in a previous post!

Thank you very much for reading, I hope my experiences are useful for you!!

Take care and good luck,


Silmaril said...

I should have replied before, and thanked you for your response to my questions! But, better late than never, so . . . thank you!!! :-)