Apple Country

Stories of rural life as an ALT in a northern Japanese fishing town.

Reflections and resolutions


As far as milestones go, 2014 has been an eventful year for me:

I turned 21, graduated university, moved to another country, started my first full-time job, and rather less fortunately broke my arm.  This year has been full of changes, and I feel like I have also changed quite a bit as a result.  Even though I’m permanently 16 in my head and I still think the 90s were ten years ago, the responsibilities that come with being a fully-fledged adult (technically) have made me realise that I’m actually in control of my life now.  Sadly I’ve also realised that independence comes with all the boring bits like sorting out bills and insurance (doesn’t help when it’s in another language) and I no longer have loving parents to whom I can thrust such baffling articles, with the assurance that they’ll be taken care of.

Over the past year, in particular the months I’ve spent in Japan, I’ve noticed slight changes in my behaviour and personality, which is a good thing I think!  I like looking back on my life in phases: I remember the music I was into, the kind of clothes I wore, the people I hung out with, the way I did my hair… but I can never pinpoint when one phase became another.  It reminds me of one of my favourite seminars I had at university about the watershed between musical periods.  Even though they all have specific dates for when they occurred, it wasn’t as if 1821 rolled around and everyone was like “Okay guys, Classical is out and Romantic is IN!”  There has to be an overlap, where the features that stand out start paving the way for whatever new ideas are being formed over time.  I feel like I’m also leaving behind the old parts of me that aren’t really relevant anymore, and creating new parts which I can develop and benefit from.

I can look back at my phases and see which features carried over to the next, and I enjoy reflecting on the good choices I made, like leaving bad friendship groups and getting rid of my block fringe.  Naturally my more regretful incidents make frequent appearances in my mind, and I automatically shake my head when I think about them as if that will somehow release the unwelcome memory into the air. Some features have never changed even though I want them to, and this is something I’ve gradually noticed and am trying to improve.  One of the biggest changes started at the end of last year when I suddenly realised I was in my final year of university and hadn’t been as socially active as I would’ve liked.  So I joined a load of societies, said “yes” more and spent time with people as often as I could instead of hiding away in the comfort of my bedroom watching Netflix.  My final semester was by far the best, as I’d made an effort to meet new people and try things I normally wouldn’t have.  I took this little lesson with me to Japan and have already made some close friends that I know I won’t let go of, something I found way easier to do here than when I was at university for some reason.

There is one thing about me which I really want to change, and although I’m trying, I still find it hard to open up to people easily and it’s like I always have my guard up.  I don’t know why I do it but it really annoys me!!  So I suppose the first step is realising my problem…  I feel like a recovering alcoholic or something.

Anyway, here are my 2015 resolutions:

  • Be at JLPT N2 level of Japanese by the end of the year
  • Cook actual recipes rather than throw anything I have into a pan and hope it works
  • Make more of an effort at my schools outside class, like set up a pen-pal club and put an English board up
  • Do my washing up straight away (this is my least favourite resolution)
  • Go somewhere new at least once a month

Yesterday I signed the contract to stay on for another year in Japan, seeing as I made up my mind a month ago and hadn’t had any second thoughts.  While two years does seem like a long time to be away from home, there is still so much I want to do while I’m here and I don’t think another 6 or 7 months will give me enough time.  One of the biggest factors was the thought of having to leave as soon as I’ve settled down, and then having to start again with another job.  After a year I’ll know what I’m doing and I’ll know my students and colleagues better, so I’ll be able to get more out of my job and not just feel like I’m constantly on this learning curve.  It’s not like I have any commitments to go back to and I won’t get this opportunity again, so England will just have to wait for me for a bit longer.  I hope I don’t regret my decision after I’ve experienced my first winter here!!  My apartment is so cold in the morning I can see my breath, then I get to work and it’s like being in the depths of hell they have the heaters turned up so high.  Only another 4 months to go until Spring…

2 thoughts on “Reflections and resolutions

  1. Beautifully written Ellen

  2. Very enjoyable! Can we Skype-inspect your drying rack on Jan 31st??

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