My graduation trip in Japan ended yesterday, as I took a 7-hour flight overnight to touch down home at approximately 7AM. I have many feelings about the trip, but they’re not particularly relevant to this post.
I was checking my phone on the train to Roppongi from Shimokitazawa in the afternoon when I received news of my placement come August 4th.
Congratulations. I am writing to confirm that you have been selected as an ALT participant for this year’s JET Programme. You are assigned to Kobe-shi. Please be informed that the assigned placement cannot be changed.
Mixed feelings of relief and trepidation followed those few words – relief that I will be placed in a city, in one of the best placement positions possibly available, actually, but also trepidation because while my impression of Kobe included things like the ever-famous Kobe beef, castles, and it being Ueno Juri’s hometown (shoot me, I’m a fan), what loomed even bigger was the fact that it was where the main devastation occurred in the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. Such feelings of uncertainty rumbled in my mind and collided with those about other matters closer to the heart, and it was with great relief that I collapsed asleep on a garden in Roppongi.
I have since made contact and done more research about Kobe, and it is now clear to me how incredibly lucky I am to have been placed there, with a huge network of fellow JETs to fall back on for support even as I leave the friends I’ve known for a decade, and family members I’ve had all my life. The excitement hasn’t really hit – I’m not the kind to be excited easily, I think. More of a worrywart and wet blanket as I mull over the difficulties I’ll face there and the challenges I may encounter, but this is tempered with a confidence I have in myself of being adaptable to new surroundings, and of being capable of taking care of myself. Taking care of myself well is a different matter altogether. Someone reminded me today that just because you’re in a new place with new friends doesn’t mean that you’ll become, or be able to become, a completely different person, and that it is important to understand the effects of what you do on the people around you.
This trial by fire into adulthood (dramatic, I know) is a good chance for me to change and grow up, to understand and push my limits, and perhaps to usher new people into my life who can show me things both wonderful and different to what I’ve known up to now.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Watch over me, support me, and see how I’m going to change.