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Arma in Japan: Week Zero: If I Take One More Step

by Mr.RMA

Mr.RMA I venture into that mythical realm of Non-Fiction to bring to you all a new work of mine. With my new job taking me to a country far from the one I've called home all my life, I've decided to put together a weekly recounting of this new adventure. I may occasionally skip a week here or there, or perhaps I'll have enough to write every seven days for the next year, but I do intend to always have something to write about the journey ahead, and I hope you all will be willing to come along for the ride.
Today's the day. Stressful packing has finally come to an end, and now there's just the equally stressful airline check-in left before I depart my New England home of five years, and my home country of all twenty-three, venturing into a land I've only fantasized about for quite a few of those past days of my life. As I type this out, it leaves me thinking back to just how all of this came about in the first place, how I managed to stumble upon a job opportunity that seemed too outlandish to be true, yet so many have done it before me as to dispel those thoughts rather shockingly quickly.

I'd say it really started about mid-way through college for me. I'd just gotten over a pretty harrowing bout of depression, one that nearly brought my academic endeavors to a premature end, and I was aiming for a fresh start as I moved from a Science major to an English one.
Now, the requirements for an English degree in my school include learning a foreign language, and so I decided to try Japanese. The culture was one that fascinated me quite a bit, despite the fact that I had a terribly limited, and rather inaccurate knowledge of it from my collection of anime and video games. I wanted to learn more about the real Japan, not the illusions from their popular forms of art that manage to make it overseas, and I got that in my two semesters of Japanese class... though the language part proved to be an even greater speed bump than I'd thought. I managed to scrape by with a passing grade, but I felt my decidedly below average performance, and lack of recollecting most of the new words and phrases I'd learned, was going to keep me away from the Land of the Rising Sun for a long time.

A couple years later I was graduating and receiving my degree, though I had no idea where to go from there. My sister seemed to catch on to this one day too, asking me if all the time and money making my way through college was really worth the degree at all. Of course, I was upset at the mere thought of it not amounting to anything, but despite my defensiveness from the question at the time, I didn't have a legitimate answer for her.
My initial thoughts were to find some way to get into a teaching career of some type, but I felt even with a bachelor's degree, I likely wasn't going to get much success in that regard. I needed to get some money one way or another, so I latched on to a job at the post office when I learned they were hiring new letter carriers. It wasn't a bad job, much as I said otherwise to my folks whenever I returned from a tough mail route, but I knew it wasn't a place I intended to make a part of my future. I needed to break out of the rut I'd placed myself in before I dug myself in too deep. Now, as anyone who knows me will almost certainly find obvious, I tend to spend a lot of time watching various YouTube videos in my spare time, and while I was trudging my way through my postal work, I was taking a particular interest in a channel called "Abroad in Japan," the video journals of a man who'd moved to Japan to teach English. I eventually found, in his vast list of content, a video where he mentioned teaching English was indeed the easiest means of living and working in Japan outside of a student internship. That ship had sailed, but the teaching career intrigued me, and I figured, hey, why not at least give it a shot and see what happens? Can't hurt to try.

Despite the fact that I'd considered this path plenty of times beforehand, it still felt rather spur-of-the-moment, but considering how many times I've usually cowered away into my comfort zone, it was about time I threw caution to the wind again. I sent my resume and other various forms to a company that was recruiting new Assistant Language Teacher prospects, and it could've ended right then and there without a response, but I did indeed get a phone call, the first interview to see if I was someone they were looking to hire. I was nervous as all get-out during that conversation, I was just waiting for an 'I'm sorry' or 'we'll let you know' or even a 'thank you for your time', something just to let me realize it wasn't gonna happen... but instead I was informed I'd passed the interview... and I was moving further down the line into getting hired, much to my pleasant surprise. I was scheduled for an in-person interview a few months later, and once that came to an end, all I could do was wait and hope for the best.
Some time passed again, Christmas was coming around and I hadn't received a word, but then an email popped up in my inbox. The company had made their decision on me, finally. All of sudden, that was it, I was hired for the Spring Semester! That following winter season proved to be both gloriously comforting, yet agonizingly slow to come to an end, but the day arrived soon enough as I amiably left my latter-carrier job with a lot more appreciation for those poor mailmen and women.

And that's where I come back to now, heading to the airport for a very long trip, and I constantly think back to a scene from the first Lord of the Rings movie, uttered by Samwise Gamgee as he and Frodo Baggins begin their journey. Having reached a certain point, Sam comes to a halt, staring off into the distance with uncertainty. "This is it," he states, and Frodo asks his loyal companion what he means by that. "If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been," Sam explains. Frodo encouragingly helps Sam take that step, reminding him of advice his uncle Bilbo gave him: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to." Not too surprisingly, that line came straight from the books J.R.R. Tolkien had written... and I can't deny, at some point I clearly didn't keep my feet, because I've been swept off on quite the adventure myself. I don't know where this will truly lead, I suppose I never do, but whatever does lie ahead, I know it's worth taking that step, to journey far, and see what'll greet me. The world is going to be a very different place soon, and I can't wait to see it.