Japan: Emotional Rollercoaster

WARNING: this is a bit of a rant! Lots of emotional exaggeration and stuff. So if you’d like to read about something more useful, check out my other posts about Japan here. So please, don’t be hating! We’re all friends here!

So, after writing about how applying for a job in Japan was like, I’d like to write about all that I went through personally. The prospect of moving to a completely different country was, as the title of this post states, an emotional rollercoaster, and I think it’ll help other people who want to go to Japan to feel like they’re not the only ones going through this.

So, let’s do this in parts.

1.Prospect of moving to Japan

Making the decision to move to Japan was not an easy thing to do. It’s very easy to decide to do one sunny afternoon and you get all excited and can’t wait to tell everybody that you’re finally going to do it, you’re moving to Japan!

And then you remember that you’ll be incredibly far away from all your friends and family. If you have a partner, you start wondering what will happen if you spend a year apart. Will your relationship end? Is that what you really want? Is it worth it risking what you have for a year in Japan?

At the start of our relationship I decided to move back to Portugal and my boyfriend and I spent the first two years of our relationship apart. We’d visit each other around every four months and we spoke on Skype almost every day. However, this didn’t make this choice any easier for me. If anything, it made it worse, as we have been living together for the last two years and facing the prospect of going back to how we were was gut-wrenching.

Japan is a lot further and we probably wouldn’t be able to see each other that often. Plane tickets can be quite expensive and the trip is way too long. The time difference would get in the way of talking on Skype and I would be completely alone in a new country.

I gotta tell you, this terrified me. Almost to the point of giving up on the idea completely. But then I got some wonderful advice from a friend.

2.Making the decision

During the summer I usually work for an English summer school in Oxford. I always meet a ton of amazing people and last year I made a great friend who asked me an amazing question when I told him about how I wanted to go to Japan but was scared of leaving my boyfriend behind:

Do you think you’ll resent your boyfriend if you don’t go?

This really opened my eyes. Going to Japan was something I had wanted to do even before I had met my boyfriend and I think that I would regret never going. In my head I got a picture of us, married and with kids, and me regretting that I hadn’t done what I wanted just because I was scared of being without him. And that’s what really made me decide.

Believe me, telling my boyfriend that wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but he did support my decision. And eventually he decided to move with me, so in the end everything worked out much better than I had hoped!

3.Applying for jobs

Applying for jobs is always a very stressful and soul-crushing experience for me. Maybe that’s because I decided to teach English in the UK even though I’m Portuguese, but hey, I like a good challenge. Applying for Japan was not that much different for me because of that.

Nevertheless, since I was applying at the same time as my friend Fred, who’s a native speaker, it was extra stressful for me when he got a ton of answers while my email inbox remained empty. However, now Fred is still waiting for a job while I’m all set, so I guess the tables have turned (hi Fred, you’re awesome, I’m sure you got it!).

Nothing against Fred, he’s a great teacher and a great friend. But it did make me feel extremely depressed and irritated with the whole situation, and almost lost hope.

Something else wich was humiliating was getting the two phone calls so that the company could check if I had an accent. I know, I know, it’s completely reasonable for them to do that since I’m not a native speaker, but hey, that didn’t make me feel that much better at the time.

4. The interview

Job interviews are always nerve-racking, but a big stress factor for me in any teaching interview is the pressure of not making any grammar or pronunciation mistakes. Which, obviously just makes me even more nervous and prone to mistakes. However, you have to remember that native speakers make mistakes too! So breathe, power through it and move on! At least that’s what I told myself before going in.

5.Getting the job

It’s not an easy thing applying for an English teaching job in Japan when you’re not a native speaker. So that made it even more exciting when I got offered the position. It felt like a big triumph for all non-native teachers everywhere! Of course I’m exaggerating, but I did feel very powerful and full of myself.


To be completely honest, this is always how it feels to me when I apply for jobs. Like people are out to get me just because I’m Portuguese, but hey, of course they’re going to worry about teachers who have foreign accents because that’s what students don’t want. So, even if you don’t have an accent, have a teaching qualification and are a great teacher, all of this won’t matter if you’re a non-native speaker! What really helped my application was the fact that I had a university degree from a British university and had experience teaching in the UK.

So, for now, this is everything that I have to say about my application. I’ll be moving in September but I’ll only know more in June, so expect some updates around then. For now, I’ll go back to writing about London and any other places I might visit.

Until next time,




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