Island Life, JET Life

Learning to Appreciate the Here and Now

I’ve always been a restless person. I can never stay in one place for too long. When I was still living at home, I was gone almost every weekend visiting friends in other parts of New England or New York. I think one of the best parts about growing up in the northeast was how easy it was to travel across state lines.

And even when I moved out of my parents’ and up to Mass, I chose to work a job in CT and a job in Mass because A) I was nuts  and B) I think I just liked always getting up and going somewhere new every week…even if I complained about my long commutes.

When I found out I was moving to a far away island a year ago, I worried I was going to miss out on experiencing “the real Japan.” But I ended up doing a lot of traveling this year so I think I’ve proven to myself that I can still enjoy Japan while simultaneously getting to understand unique Japanese island culture.

I was always happy to return to Amami after every trip, but I would already be thinking about where I could travel to next. My bucket list for Japan (and for life) has no ending. I was even making big plans to travel for a month after my contract ends in August.

I’ve put a stop to all of my future travel planning this month though. I have less than two months left on Amami and I’m really savoring every moment I can while I am still living here. I’ve been going to enkai with my teachers, spending every day free of rain and/or work at the beach, trying out restaurants in town I have never been to before, and dancing hula once a week…a pastime I used to drag myself to for the sake of being “involved,” but now I’ve grown to love. (Probably because I practice on my own now too.)  I’m saying yes to everything I’ve been invited to lately, (like my school’s upcoming volleyball tournament)  simply because I CAN.

It hit me recently how little I’ve actually been around to just enjoy and appreciate life on Amami…because I was always flying or ferrying off to somewhere else.

I used to have a little bit of mainland envy for the people who had the chance to see more of Japan than me because of their convenient JET placement …but now I realize how silly that is, and I am just grateful to be where I am. Because I am learning to appreciate what’s right in front of me, and not just what lies ahead.

I think I’m supposed to go meditate now or something.

Snoopy gets it



8 thoughts on “Learning to Appreciate the Here and Now”

  1. Hello from Ibaraki, Japan:)
    I’m 26 year-old Japanese girl who happens to find your blog today. Amami is very far from where I live now (Honestly I haven’t been to Kyushu area including Amami yet.), but I can tell you work very hard with much love and respect for Japan. Arigatou! I can remember teachers like you came to our school (We called them as ALT),sang songs, and played around altogether. I believe such experiences have huge positive impact on lots of Japanese students who live in geographically insular island.
    Please take care and enjoy summer!
    PS; I’m going to read your other posts afterwards;) Good reading practice for me.

    1. Hello! Wow. I appreciate you saying this more than you know. I am called ALT on my island too. :) I am so happy you happened to find my blog today. Thank you for reading my posts. Your English writing is very good too. Best wishes in Ibaraki! It looks beautiful there and full of nature!

  2. I didn’t know you were doing hula! That’s so fun!

    I love this post. Although it’s awesome to travel everywhere, I think making a home for yourself in your community–and being present, saying “yes” to seemingly little events–are what we will remember most about our time here.

    Enjoy your last month!! Soak up all that sunshine! :)

    1. Yeah! I started going to hula in February or March. I was off and on for a while, but now I am totally invested! Thanks, Karen! I`m definitely appreciating every day I have left…thankfully the sun has been out a lot this summer so far :)

  3. Hi Becca, love from Australia here!

    I just wanted to say how thankful I am to have come across your blog. So much so that I nearly read all your posts in one sitting! I’m hoping to apply for JET this year as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Your experiences make me want to even more! Only I keep letting fear get in the way and chickening out, purely because while I’m adventurous at heart, I’ve never been a risk taker, so potentially leaving home to live on my own with no family, friends, boyfriend or teaching experience scares the crap out of me. Yet I feel like if I don’t at least give it a go, I will come to regret it.
    I wanted to ask you how it’s been being away from your boyfriend for a year? I’ve been with mine for over 9 years now but the thought of potentially being away for a year seems pretty scary! A lot or a little can change in a year- it’s long time, yet not a long time if you know what I mean haha


    1. Hi Chrissy! Thanks for the love from Australia and for reading my writing. :) I almost chickened out applying for JET because I`ve never done anything like this before, but I am really glad that I didn`t because it`s been a life changing experience for me in every sense of the term. I say go for it! At the very least, send in your application, and then you still have time to think about your decision for about half a year before you have to sign any papers.

      As for being in a LDR, I think if you have a strong foundation (which it sounds like you do if you`ve been together 9 years!) before you come to Japan and are both on the same page with each other, you can make it work! As for me and my relationship, before I left for Japan, I committed to only doing a year here. Because my being so far away had an end date, it made things easier. And I went home for Christmas so I could see him and he came out to visit me in the spring, and we took a trip abroad together for a week. So seeing each other definitely helped because we could check in and see how we both felt emotionally. I won`t lie though, it`s been difficult. Even now with less than a month left to go in Japan, we have struggles. But it`s important that you stay on the same page and recognize that it`s not easy, but you stay committed to working at it. Looking at the bigger picture helps too. When I get tired and emotional over the day to day of being in a LDR, I just remember that we`ve made it this far when a lot of people just give up and end their relationship before they move abroad. You can do it too! You can always talk to me if you have any more questions. :)

      1. Thank you so much Becca, your support means a lot! As you say it’s important to be on the same page and have a strong foundation, we definitely have that. I feel more confident in applying :)

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