Part 1: "Start packing your bags and brush up on your Japanese. I am 99% sure you will be perfect for our company."
The interviewer had shaken my hand promisingly with a wide grin as he said that to me.
I had politely smiled and returned the handshake with a firm grip like all the how-to guides on job applications had told me to, making sure my other hand was positioned over my pant’s broken zipper (the tape had burst apart that morning while I had hurriedly been getting ready for the interview). After muttering a few extra thank-yous and gently refusing to wait for the bus in his living-room, I was wandering the streets back towards the bus stop, silently congratulating myself on achieving the greatest goal of my twenty-one year old life.
Teaching in Japan.
It had been a dream of mine since studying Japanese in high school. It was a dream which my parents’ accepted and one which I had to jump many hurdles and smash head-first into countless obstacles to achieve.
I’d like to say everything was smooth-sailing from there and that Japan was as amazing as everything I hoped it would be . However, the truth is that within the first year of being in Japan I had stepped into a teacher’s worst nightmare, constantly came close to losing what minimal amount of mental stability I had, and made one of the hardest decisions of my life - getting married to someone I had known for less than a year. On the other hand, I've immersed myself in a culture famous for being different, had opportunities far greater than anything else I have ever experienced, and confronted my darkest fears.
Honestly, I do not regret any decisions I have made thus far. I am still madly in love with my husband almost three years after a frantic escape from the company I had been beaten down by, I have been welcomed into a family which fully embraces my quirks and awkwardness, and I have experienced the joys of natto cookies.
This is where I will write the truth about my experience being the elephant in the room.
Hiding from Japanese Ghosts
Ghost stories are the least frightening thing about Japan when facing culture clashes, mystery food, language barriers, and - scariest of all - marriage.