Sunday, August 30, 2015

Yaya's Goodbye Rap

Iacinta (a.k.a. Yaya), an OkiJET from New Zealand, wrote the awesomest rap EVER! She's a downright sweetheart and the most coolest girl I know! Thanks Yaya! This made me ugly cry at the airport. I plan to visit you in New Zealand soon! Hobbit holes!

Yo! Yo!
Let me tell you 'bout Gabie
Pretty girl from Miami
Likes having fun in the sun
Making Nuns Buns not puns

Nights out on the town
She'll be tryna "get down"
Causing good kinds of trouble
Sippin' drinks without bubbles

Ain't got no time for shy guys
So she gives them the side-eye
Such a powerful stare
That makes the typhoons disappear

But don't mistake her kindness for fierceness
For she is actually just fearless
We will miss dear Gabie sorely
But we'll catch up one day, won't we?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Saying Goodbye

“Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.” - Charles M. Schulz

I was uncomfortable informing the Kinderbabies at my Monday school that I would not return after summer vacation. They were confused because they cannot yet comprehend time or space. They believed I returned home to the U.S. every night and then flew back to Japan every morning. It took them a few minutes, but they eventually understood - Gabi-sensei would not return to play with them anymore. Some cried while others hugged me and said,「また遊びに来て下さい」or "Please come back to play [with us] again [sometime]."

My three schools and board of education put in the effort to say a proper goodbye with assemblies for the students and farewell parties for the staff. I was presented with cards and expensive gifts but more importantly, I listened to touching speeches from those who thanked me for my two years of service in Ginoza. I was moved and ultimately heartbroken to say goodbye to my students and the people who were my second family. 

Speaking of second family, I didn't realize how difficult it would be saying goodbye to the OkiJETs until I was ugly crying in the club with my besties. Okinawa hosted a diverse group of JETs who came together during my final year to form a great community and support system. Luckily, I now have new places to visit on my travel bucket list!

I will return to Okinawa someday as a tourist but for now, I bid my OkiJET experience adieu. I'll miss the mad dash out of my apartment to make it to work on time; the rolling hills with the most beautiful sunsets; my kei car and its missing door handle; Hey boy heeeyyyyy; gossiping with my coworkers; all of my past and present kinderbabies; the incredible view from Matsuda Elementary; traveling to nearby countries; "Chill" nights; Thursdays a.k.a. beach days; Joshikai in the bathroom; pushing my students to do their best; Shommi, "I see you;" Spa nights with Yaya (surely); giving everyone the side-eye; Kanna Beach, my thinking spot; the talkative principal who held the longest staff meetings; Snapchatting during those meetings; walking down the hall and hearing "Gabi-sensei;" delicious onigiri, the love of my life; my sweetheart student neighbor; weird Japanese holidays; school lunches; arguing with Ian; scaring students by yelling "No Japanese!" during an interview exercise; eating three bowls of tofu cereal and immediately regretting it; doing eyebrows; obsessing over Nutella; 何人, 美人; having Genki Time with Hayley; my students singing the alphabet backwards; secret changing; Indian food; serious discussion with Nic and Matt; Aly's Line messages of truth; that student who told me my makeup was too dark; Tka's Line calls, discussing fecal matter with everyone; telling Mark he can't get to second base; my sassy dance teacher and the dancing grandmas; the way my students would say "What" or "oh my God;" kissing that cute Hawaiian JET (figure it out haha); popcorn; Bad Bitch nights; talking to my Japanese-American students; the call to assemble the ladies; Tka's dancing during a dancehall song; Japanese chocolate; Ashley's dancing and insight; the male teacher who told me to focus on myself; the teachers who cried with me when it all went down; my frenemy who was actually a friend; the person I thought was a friend, but turned out to be a frenemy; Eisa; not functioning the next morning; and salsa dancing with my instructor.

I'll miss it all! 

As for this blog, I'll add my experience with reverse culture shock and include a few retroactive posts.  But to my readers: whether you stubbled upon my blog, kept up with me for years, or creeped, thank you.  Seriously, thank you and good luck with your adventures.

P.S. can I now say the word "bully?" ;)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Finding a Job After JET

I've got to keep it real! I've heard horror stories about JETs failing to find good jobs after returning from Japan. 

The JET Program (and teaching in Japan) is an amazing experience for personal and professional growth. However, this experience may be disconnected to your home country and/or your career path. Therefore, if you've signed the papers stating that you will not continue on the JET Program, immediately restructure your resume and begin your job search. 

In February (yes, February), I began restructuring, well, my life. I took down old photos from Facebook, updated my Linkedin, put my Instagram on private, and worked on the content and overall look of my resume.  I researched typography and learned about contrasting fonts and styles in order to make my resume pop. I also asked a friend, who studies design, to suggest any changes. You'd be surprised at the difference!

Speaking of friends, my two best friends handled my resume and cover letter. It was important to have another person proofread the content, correct mistakes, and suggest changes. To this day, I can't thank them enough! Love you both!

In late April, I began to actively search and apply for jobs. I signed up for alerts on and notified my references that they may receive calls in the near future. During my free time I would apply for jobs. This was the most difficult part of the processes but I knew that if I wanted to be anything other than an executive/administrative assistant, I needed to work and find a career or a career-building job. 

I received an email for an interview in late July. It was my first time participating in a Skype interview and, due to the time difference, I would interview at 10pm. On the day of the interview, a typhoon directly hit Okinawa and caused my internet to disconnect. I panicked but since I still had electricity, I used iPhone as a hotspot and Skyped from my laptop. The interview went well and I was asked to interview again the following week. Long story extremely short, I was offered the position and I had a good job secured before returning home.

Finding a job prior to returning home is a possibility if you put in the work. But more importantly, do not give up! The more jobs you apply to, the better your chances are at finding a job!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Heading Home

Moving out of Japan was a process

I felt like a hoarder as sifted through two years of acquired, yet pointless possessions. 
Why do I have a hot sandwich maker? Have I ever used it? No? I'll just leave it behind. Geez, when was the last time I wore these pants? Whoa! They are way too big now! Bye Felicia (#IceCube)! 
I filled up three suitcases, shipped two boxes, and threw away countless bags of trash. It was a process, but I was prepared because the JET Program offers an After JET Program Guide that outlines and discusses the procedure of your return home.

Read it!

The most stressful aspect of this was contacting my successor and discussing items I had for sell. In comparison to other JETs, I didn't have much to sell but despite offering my things at a more-than-reasonable price, my successor only bought the bare minimum: curtains, a low table, fridge, microwave, washer, wifi router and iron (with board). I could understand passing up my Nitori furniture, but my two-year old gas stove? Luckily, other OkiJETs bought the rest of my things and my successor finally agreed to purchase the most expensive item on the list, my car. 

Why u no buy my stove?

My contracting organization, my town's Board of Education, made sure I disconnected all of my utilities. However, they were confused about the pension refund, something not usually done in Japan unless retired. I couldn't be more grateful for the General Information Handbook and Justin, the middle school ALT, who explained some of the more confusing parts of the pension refund to my tax representative. 

Here is some advice:
In regards to moving back home, be organized, plan, and think "Snoop Dogg" - keep your mind on your money and your money on your mind. Packages sent home were inexpensive (via boat), but canceling my cellphone plan and paying for overweight and extra luggage fees was pricey ($200+). Moreover, depending on your apartment contract, you may be required to pay an exorbitant cleaning fee; double if you have tatami.