To honour one of my many goals of 2019, I wanted to keep up my blogging momentum and look back on December while it’s still fresh. My last month of 2018 was one of the more… emotional months that I’ve had this year, considering all of the homesick-fodder events that took place this month, I can’t say I’m surprised.
December began in Kumamoto City. All of the JETs in the prefecture arrived for our annual Skills Development Conference, which I found really useful. It was good to catch up with people that I hadn’t seen in ages and the workshops were awesome!
The most useful one for me was the ‘Stress Less’ workshop. The JET who was speaking could have been a motivational speaker, the way she explained things and how down-to-earth she was really helped me relate. I left the workshop fully ready to get my life together!
I stayed in Kumamoto for the weekend after the conference and spent some time with the North Kumamoto JETs, a rare opportunity with me living so far south.
We met up over some drinks and it was just what I needed. Being an inaka mountain dweller, I have to say I do miss how much you can do in the city. I’m not just talking nights out (though a nightclub in my town would be amazing) but food choices, arcades, cinemas- some of the JETs even went rock-climbing!
The rest of the trip involved wandering around, visiting the museum, enjoying veggie food and sitting by Kumamoto Castle for a while soaking up the sun! I even happened to stumble into an anime convention while waiting for my bus home, after meeting some more JETs for pancakes!
The next event in store was the English Day Camp, where the town’s JETs got together to teach English outside of the classroom. Most of the kids that came were from my school, so seeing them out of class (and not when I’m at the shop stocking up on Grape Fanta) was really fun.
I taught them the banana song, don’t ask, and generally got to know them a lot better. I even baked shortbread which went down preeetty well if I do say so myself.
December’s chaos continued with Christmas parties, end of year parties (where I was crowned cup-stacking champion jus’ sayin) and nursery festivals.
I also had the thrill of becoming Hamlet, facing my decision of whether or not to re-contract.
I finished work for the holidays on Friday 21st and came back to a package from home. I opened it and immediately started sobbing.
There were Christmas cards and presents from my mum, sister and grams.
My mum sent me my traditional Christmas PJs and socks, Cadbury’s, a MASSIVE hardback copy of Les Mis which is one of the most beautiful things I now own, bookmarks that made me cry, photos that made me cry and baked beans… that made me cry.
After wailing, no exaggeration, on the floor for 20 minutes and then wailing down the phone to my mum, I pulled myself together and finished packing for a trip to Kansai that I really wasn’t in the mindset for.
Nonetheless, I eventually finished packing. I said goodbye to Kira before heading off to Kagoshima where I flew from the next day.
I’ll write more about my Kansai trip in another post to properly cover my visits to Kyoto, Nara and Osaka.
When I got home on 27th I visited my friend in Hitoyoshi the next day, absolutely BLITZED my house and then spent a heart-warming New Years with my host family.
Reflecting back on December it’s been a weird month. The rose-tinted glasses have definitely come off and I’ve been missing every aspect of home.
Yet, pushing myself to keep doing whatever random opportunities fly my way, despite not always feeling up for it, is doing me the world of good. I’ve learned more about myself this month and I’m coming to terms with what I can and can’t deal with, as well as what I shouldn’t have to.
I spent my first Christmas away from home over 5000 miles across the world and I’ve managed pretty well. Instead of resisting that insanely strong pull home, back to the familiar, I’m trying to just accept it knowing that it means there’s a lot of good to return to.
Even though I’m TERRIFIED that it won’t be the same when I get back, that people or relationships won’t be there anymore, I know I’ll be happy to return to whatever is waiting for me, when I’m ready.