The Decision to Recontract

For those who have not heard yet, I have decided to recontract for a third and final year.  Going into my second year I was convinced that it would be my last.  Much to my own surprise (and the surprise of basically everyone else) I realized I was not ready to leave quite yet.

While looking for jobs, (when I thought I was leaving for sure) I found the perfect job as a Study Abroad Advisor at a university in Chicago.  Chicago is high on my list of places I could see myself living.  It has a large Japanese population (so I could still use some of the skills I have acquired here), it’s close enough to St. Louis that my parents could visit (not to mention the fact that they love the city and would probably use whatever excuse they could to come visit), and it is a bigger city without making me feel claustrophobic like Tokyo and New York do.  I was definitely qualified for the job and it was at a university which meant I could probably take classes for free or a reduced price.  It would have been the perfect place to launch my phase in life.

But every time I sat down to write my cover letter, I could not do it.  I stared at that intimidating blank Word document, willing the words, but nothing happened.  Something felt off.  My friend Ellen suggested that I “try on” the idea of staying another year.  I had been “trying on” the idea of leaving for the past few months, so I pretended to make the decision to stay to see how that felt.

It felt good.  It felt right.  As good as the decision to leave felt, the decision to stay felt better.  There is still a lot I want to do and most of my support network is staying in Japan too.  One of the main people in my support network is leaving Japan, but staying in Korea.  It seemed like a sign that I could get through one more year in Japan.

When I told my supervisor at work that I had changed my mind and was staying for another year, she teared up.  She got really happy and her voice went really squeaky, it made me really happy.  I know she likes me, but I was kind of surprised that my staying made her that happy.  I later realized that it’s likely that the other two English teachers will be transferred at the end of the school year.  My supervisor thought she was going to have to go through next school year with two new English teachers, a new ALT (for all but three months of the school year), and a brand new third year English class (new curriculum and everything.  I even chose the textbook myself).

I think that next year will be the right time for me to leave.  I will be able to help establish the curriculum for the new English class and see my current second years graduate (they were first years when I started).  It’s a difficult choice, but for where I am in life, I think I made the right decision.


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