It's recontracting season here in Sapporo, which means all JET Program ALT's must choose if they'll leave in July, or stay another year.
Nathan and I have decided that we want to stay one more year in Japan. There's a few reasons for this: Ethan's doing so well in school, we want a little more time to pay off some of our credit card debt so we can tackle student loans, Nathan would like to run some more races here in Japan.
But perhaps the most important factor for us is that we are just so fulfilled in our jobs right now. For one of the first times in my life, I feel like my personality is perfectly suited for my job. So many years I was told that I was too nice, or "smiled too much." As an ALT, these things are assets in helping students learn and become interested in English. Nathan has also found his niche as an elementary school English teacher. The students LOVE him, and he receives glowing compliments from every school he goes to.
Our 5 years in New Jersey while Nathan was in graduate school was a difficult time for all of us. It stretched us to the limit both financially and emotionally. I think Nathan and I both left there feeling a bit defeated. But living and teaching in Japan has given us our confidence back, as well as that "spark" that had kind of gone out for both of us.
We feel like we need one more year to get our ducks in a row, pay off some more bills, and figure out what we really want to do when we return to the States.
A year is so fast, and 2014 will be here before we know it. But for now, we'll savor the year and a half we still have.