Leaving home was a pretty daunting idea for me. My family, boyfriend, and friends are all very important to me, and the idea of leaving them for at least a year was a very sad one. At the same time, I was filled with a lot of excitement about my new life in Japan. I quit my old job two weeks before I was due to depart, and needless to say, they were a very confusing and busy two weeks. There was a lot to do – it seemed that every time I went to tick something off my to do list, I thought of three more things I had forgotten to add to the list!
There are still loads of things I forgot, or didn’t get around to doing, but in the end I guess they weren’t really necessary, or I would have made sure they were done. I think I managed to do the most important thing – to spend a lot of time with the people I will miss the most.
Packing was a bit of a nightmare, and I repacked about a dozen times. I had no idea what to take! As in most countries aside from America, you are only allowed to take one large suitcase on international flights departing from New Zealand. Some airlines now offer the option to prepay for an extra bag. This is often about half the price of paying what it would cost if you tried to take a second bag on the day of your flight, without letting them know ahead of time. However, because the New Zealand JETs were part of a group booking, this option was unavailable to us. I opted to pay on the day for an extra bag, and I’m so glad I did! I have no idea how people pack everything into one suitcase, although I know it’s just personal preference – some people had no idea why I even needed two suitcases. And maybe they were right, now that I think about how long it will take me to unpack them, haha! I definitely still wish I could have brought more with me, though.
It’s a scary thing to leave your home of 22 years, your family, and even your language behind. But the fact that I knew so many people had done this before, and so many keep doing it, made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Reading other new JET’s blogs, and joining JET facebook groups also helped me feel less nervous. I know that I’ll feel a lot of different things in Japan, but I hope I will keep these things in mind!