Farewell JET!

Five years on the JET programme has now officially passed with my final JET contract coming to an end at the end of July this year. Whenever you come to the end of five years in any sort of job it is a big adjustment to move on to the next thing in your life.

That’s part of the reason why I’ve been so scarce with spots over the last several months. I’ve had to go through for interviews and check into studying for a postgrad degree all while still trying to juggle my day to day classes and lesson planning. Not the easiest of schedules as you might well imagine!

The good news is that I have managed to get a job as a direct hire ALT with the Nagano Board of Education and have even been fortunate enough to be posted at my two JET schools which means I don’t have to worry about moving to a new city and becoming used to new teachers, students, and schools.

Seeing as I had about a month between the end of my JET contract and the start of my direct hire contract, I decided to make the best of my time off and head back home to South Africa for nearly three weeks, the longest holiday I’ve had back home since I first left for Japan in 2011!

Going back home for such a long time was so wonderfully refreshing and energising for me. I managed to see almost all my friends and reconnect with some friends I haven’t had the chance to see in absolutely ages! Better yet, I managed to spend a lot of quality time with my parents and that was probably the most wonderful part of my holiday. I spoke more Afrikaans in those few weeks than I had spoken in the last 2 or 3 years!

I was also lucky enough that my trip home also meant that I could take part in this year’s local elections which saw the ANC’s hold on power slip slightly with the DA now managing to gain control of a few more important cities. Hopefully in the next few years the political landscape in South Africa will become less based on race and more on being able to provide a basic standard of living to everyone.

I went through to 3 movies in South Africa and I’m still gobsmacked that Japan can charge ¥1,800 for a film whereas South Africa charges as little as ¥113 if you’re lucky enough to have certain discounts. The three films I managed to see were:
Independence Day: Resurgence
Ghostbusters
Suicide Squad

Independence Day was the only one of the three that was unsatisfying to watch. Action movies don’t usually have the most amazing stories or acting, this film just felt uninspired and doesn’t deserve your money if you can avoid it.

Ghostbusters was really fun despite a lot of the vitriolic backlash it’s received from the Internet. It’s also really refreshing to see a big budget movie that features a female lead cast. I can really get behind more Hollywood movies like this! I hope that they’ll make a sequel that’ll broaden the franchise and open it to girls and women who also deserve to be represented on equal terms in popular media.

Finally, Suicide Squad was a great action romp that was far better than Zack Snyder’s grim and dark Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Marvel probably still has the upper hand when it comes to these sort of films, but DC is certainly making it a closer fought contest than in previous years.

The last highlight of my trip back home was getting to go hiking not once, but twice! I’ve missed the mountains near Cape Town and I was overjoyed to be able to hit some trials with my friends and get some beautiful views of the Cape peninsula while I was at it. Tygerberg Hill and Silvermine were both fantastic hikes that give wonderful views of the ocean and surrounding cities and I can’t wait to head back there in the upcoming future. I hope that I can find some hikes here in Nagano as well so that I can put my new pair of Merrell Ridgeway boots to the test!

So now that JET is over, I want to take the remainder of the year to sit back and decide what I want to do once my ALT career finishes in the next few years. More than likely I’ll still be in Japan but I want to think about what I’d like to do, whether that is in teaching in some form or another, or whether I should head back into the business world.

Thanks for reading and here’s to the next few years of crazy adventures in Japan!