Some people just WANT to travel.

People travel the world for a multitude of reasons. When I finished College in the UK (well, technically it was a “Sixth Form College”) the buzz was about “finding yourself”. I kept hearing about people who wanted to understand who they were on a deeper level. Some people just don’t know what they want from life or what kind of person they really are. Somehow jetting off to a foreign land was supposed to sort all of that junk out for you. Make it all crystal clear. Then the plan was that you come back from your journey of “spiritual awakening” and you’re all set to get that job down at B&Q, grab an adequate mate and settle in for the long haul.

So naturally this appealed to me, being someone who has always been quite frivolous with his interests. Perhaps this kind of experience would go some way towards galvanising my spirit into action. One foundation diploma, one bachelors degree and a baker’s dozen of countries later and I still had no idea what to do with myself.

The question then was …

“Now what?”

I realised that all I really wanted to do was to continue travelling. To what end I had no idea, but at least I would be doing something I was interested in. From this came the problem of how to afford such an endeavour. I know some people work for an extended period to gather resources before setting off on their well planned adventure (just like two of my good friends did). But this requires a half-way decent job with which to build such a financial backbone. After University I spent two years living with my family, working part-time a local department store (which, incidentally, closed up shop pretty much the moment I left) so saving was not a great option.

Ideally, what I needed was a way to travel while earning money. This is how I came to google the term “TEFL” or “Teaching English as a Foreign Language” (try it!). I found that many countries are desperate for people whose native language is English to come out and help train up their school kids. Some countries are so up on the idea that they will pay for your flight and even your accommodation. Also, many places will hire you even with no previous experience. All you need is a degree and a TEFL certificate.

This was like sweet honey dripping into my eyes. Not only would I be able to do what I wanted (travel) but I’d get a respectable job title out of it too.

And so, here I am.

Four years down the line I haven’t really moved far from my initial arrival point. When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck the Tohoku area of Northern Japan in 2011 many foreign teachers left the area and returned to their home countries for safety’s sake and to appease fearful relatives. This created a great demand for teachers as well as aid work volunteers. I was one of those who came in to meet that demand. I’ve done some volunteer work over the years (but nowhere near as much as I perhaps should have) and I’ve spent my time working at different schools and visiting various parts of the country.

These little wind-chime bells were all over the place.
These little wind-chime bells were all over the place.

But, after all this time, and after all these experiences, I’m no closer to “finding myself”. I still have no goal or dream for the future. I’m stuck with the same question. Now what?

Perhaps it’s worth another look.

Well, maybe I missed something right? Hence, the blog that you, dear reader, are currently ingesting. Here I will be laying out for you various fables from my exploratory past as well as new insights into the curious world of rural Japan. And as a third string to this three-stringed bow I will also be presenting teaching advice, so if you’re an ESL teacher now or are thinking about becoming one in the near future hopefully my thoughts may be of use to you.

There’s a lot to do, a lot to see and a lot to say. I would be honoured if you would join me.

Welcome to …

Where? There! Teach.


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