One Year in Tokyo Town

1st August 2019 marks one year of living in Tokyo and three years of living in Japan. It is hard to believe how quickly and slowly the time has passed! Life in Tokyo has been full of energy, new experiences, bureaucratic challenges, and most significantly, change. The past year has marked some incredible and life altering changes.

On the 1st August 2018 Dan and I took a flight from Fukuoka to Tokyo, landing in the late afternoon and getting the key to our first small apartment in Numabukuro. At that time, I had a job lined up from September, for only three months. Dan was still working part-time and from home for a UK  company. We had many questions and lots of uncertainty about where we would be living and what we would be doing in 6 months time.

As the few months of my contract rolled by, we had to make some decisions about whether we were going to stay in Tokyo a little longer. Indecision caused us to decide to re-sign my contract for a further three months, from March 2019-July 2019. So by October 2018, we had committed to living in Tokyo until at least the following summer. This was a big commitment, but it felt like the right one, as we just weren’t ready to say goodbye to Tokyo and Japan.

In November 2018, the changes started in earnest. We had already moved into a new apartment, and I got a notification from Rotary International that I was being offered an ‘alternate’ status on my application to ICU in Tokyo as a Rotary Peace Fellow. This meant that should another one of the ten fellows offered a position be unable to accept their offer, I would be one of four people considered for the position. This news took Dan and I on an emotional roller coaster, as I had come so close, and yet at this point, the Rotary Peace Fellowship was just out of reach. However, as part of this alternate status, I was asked to submit a thesis proposal to the university, so that should I be upgraded to a fellow, I was in the right position to be considered by the university admissions process (which was a separate application to the fellowship application). This presented a significant challenge for me: I had never applied for Master’s study before; I had never written anything like a thesis proposal; I was working full-time and very long hours; I had a  heavy heart as I understood that in creating this proposal it would fuel the fire within me for the Rotary Peace Fellowship, but I may not be upgraded to fellow, so theoretically, my proposal could have remained forever unread by anyone but me. By December 2018, I had developed something I was very proud of, and forever hopeful, I had submitted it to the university.

The new year rolled by as we celebrated still living in Tokyo . Then the changes started for Dan…after some casual job hunting, he was contacted by a job agency, who felt like they had a great position for him. Several weeks of conversations later, Dan was having his first interview at Vega company, an audio-visual company, in Tokyo. Six interviews later and several nervous months, Dan was offered a position he was delighted with. Suddenly, our temporary Tokyo plan had upped its game! Dan now had a full-time and permanent position, and I was about to enter my second very casual and non-permanent contract term. We needed to work out what I was going to do in Tokyo, beyond being a kept woman!

Several long months as a Rotary Peace Fellow alternate had passed, and I had to start thinking about what to do next, now that Dan had secured his perfect Tokyo job. So I decided to put a still hopeful pin in the fellowship, and I applied to complete a MA in Education with the University of Essex online. This meant I could study in Tokyo, and work part-time to help fund my studies. It was a great backup plan and one I was very happy with. Then, in mid-March 2019, came the life changing news that I had been up-graded to fellow, and from August 2019 I was going to be an official Rotary Peace Fellow at ICU in Tokyo. There was something very karmic in the whole process; just as I had started to ‘move-on’ (for now) from my very fixed fellowship focus, the dream news pinged into my inbox.

What a whirlwind the six months from August 2018 to March 2019 were! We also struggled with some difficult family news from afar, as Dan’s beloved Nana passed away. There were some days when it felt all a little too much to deal with, but together, with our chins up, we kept going. By the end of March 2019 I was a commencing Rotary Peace Fellow and Dan was a full-time employee working in central Tokyo. There were many challenges over these six months, but I am so proud of the way we handled them together.

To now, Dan is enjoying his new job and next week I start the Rotary language programme at ICU. At the end of August we will be moving again onto the beautiful ICU campus, which puts me in the perfect place to study for the next two years, although it increases Dan’s commute. Still, we agreed it was the best place for me, and fortunately we support each other to the end of the earth and back! Since March there have been some more challenges, not least my visa application (that is going to be a blog on its own), and more changes. Still, it doesn’t look like our life of change is going to end anytime soon!

Bring it on!!!! Happy one year in Tokyo my love.

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