I feel this odd compulsion to introduce myself to new blogs, journals, apartments, or really any new space I plan on occupying for a time. It just seems like the polite thing to do. I want this space to have some time to adjust to me before I take it over. I anticipate that this blog will mainly be for people who have known me in person to keep in touch, but I also don’t want to alienate anyone new who wants to share in my adventure.
My name is Annamarie Carlson. I am 22 years old, and I am about to leave to spend a year teaching English in Japan through the JET Program.
The first thing you should know about me is that I’m probably incapable of actually writing a brief introduction. I could talk about myself all day.
Let’s start with some facts.
- My birthday is August 20th
- I currently live in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona
- I like to take naps in public places
- I think birds are inherently creepy
- I hate the feeling of brown paper bags and cardboard boxes
- As a child I told my mom I was a mermaid in a past life and part of me still believes this to be true
- My first word was “kitty” and my priorities haven’t changed
- I literally hug trees
- I just graduated from Northern Arizona University with a BA in Theatre, a BA in English, Literature and Creative Writing certificates, and a Japanese minor
- I like to list that all out because it makes me feel better about taking 5 years to finish undergrad
This blog is going to be a record of my time in Japan, or at least that’s my intention. This is the second “Annamarie Abroad” I’ve run, and if you’d like to read about my time in England and Ireland in 2012, or just to laugh at my 19 year old face, you can find the original blog here.
Since I have found out that I was accepted as a short-list candidate for the JET Program, I have had many conversations with the people around me about what I am doing. I think the easiest way to introduce it to my blog, then, is to mirror the important parts of the conversations I’ve had in question and answer format.
Q. You’re going to Japan?
Q. Are you going with a program or by yourself?
A. I am going with the JET Program as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher).
Q. How does that work?
A. The JET Program is a long running and respected program in Japan that places instructors in schools to promote international exchange. (Here is their website) As an ALT, I will work with Japanese Teachers of English in their classrooms to help with lessons and the teaching of English.
Q. Do you get paid?
Q. Where do you live?
A. I don’t know yet. I’m not picky as long as I don’t get rained on inside.
Q. When do you leave?
A. I leave Flagstaff probably on July 23rd, Phoenix on the 24th, there is a one day get-together in LA, and then the JETs from Arizona and LA leave for Tokyo on the 25th. We spend a few days training in Tokyo together before we all leave for our individual placements.
Q. Where is your placement?
A. I will be heading to the city of Shimada (島田市）in Shizuoka （静岡県） prefecture.
Q. Do you speak Japanese?
A. I speak just enough Japanese that I wont instantly die if left on my own, and if I were dying I could ask someone to call for an ambulance with varying degrees of urgency.
Q. Say something in Japanese!
Q. Are you excited?
A. I’m thrilled.
Q. Aren’t you terrified?
A. I’m a healthy amount of terrified. Of course leaving the country for at least a year is a big undertaking. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a few years, and I think I’m handling it well. (Of course as I’m writing this my face is covered in acne, I have the beginnings of a wicked sore throat, and this morning I found my wallet in my bike helmet.)
Q. How does your family feel?
A. My family will miss me, but has always encouraged me to follow my own path in life, and knows this is something I need to do.
Q. How did you get into JET?
A. I applied in November, interviewed with a panel of 3 people in Phoenix at the end of January, and found out I was a short-list candidate in late March. Yes I cried in front of my students when I got the email.
Q. Are you going to eat sushi every day?
Q. Are you just doing this to marry a rich Japanese man?
A. That’s not my only motivator, but I wouldn’t say no.
Q. Are you always this sarcastic?
And there you have it. With a few variations, this is a conversation I have had many times over the last few months, so I just wanted to get it out of the way.
I’m sure I will think of much more to say in the future, but for now I think I’ve exhausted my ego for one post.
One last bit of shameless self-promotion. Moving is expensive, and I’m unfortunately fairly poor. I have a GoFundMe campaign going currently, and if you can spare even $5 it would be a huge help. The saga of my financial woe is one I wont regale you with right now, but if you’d like to check out my GoFundMe page, here is the link.
I am excited for this adventure. I’ve been working towards this goal for a few years now, and I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity. As I used to say with my Japanese 101 students, 行きましょう！