Tuesday 27 August 2013

To stay or to go

I'm not done with Japan, as much as I bitch about life here, I'm not done, otherwise I'd already be gone.

That said, there are more and more reasons to make a new life in Australia. The only thing that keeps us here, really, is money. Plain and simple, because it makes the world go round and shit. Basically, we may be able to make it big in Australia, but it's a big 'may', and it's a big risk to take when we have it so good here.

So the reasons to leave Japan are:

*Ryota's family will not be missed by me, and not that much by him.
*Ash will be able to start primary school in Australia next January.
*I will have my family and friends who I miss so much.
*We will live near the beach and not have to be worried about a monster tsunami swallowing us up for dinner.
*If I want to have another baby, I will have maternity leave/ government support to do so.
*It will be a new adventure.

And the reasons to stay are:

*Not only financial security, but wealth. We are making money to save now, if we move, it will be money to survive/get on our feet for the near future.
*Life is comfortable here, we know exactly how things are going to go.
*Ryota's Grandma is 85, I think he wants to stay until she kicks the bucket. (Sorry Grandma...)
*Big change makes me poo my pants it's so scary.
*It will be tough for Ash to adjust to a new (all English) environment.
*Ryota will never get a good enough job in Australia.

So there is the breakdown, I'm seriously thinking on it. The recent dog fucker happenings make me want to leave in some ways, just because living here is not fun when I'm trying to avoid my in-laws, but on the other hand I don't want to 'run-away' from her either, she's not that fucking scary!


  1. ahhh..it's a hard one..
    One thing that comes to mind is that you could start looking at property here, maybe buy something and pay your loan off from Japan. Making loads of cash and having a goal could help.
    Means that you have a place whenever you decide you want to come back.
    Always good to have your fingers in a few pies :D

  2. I don't know you, but for God's sake, don't put your kid through the Japanese education system. It will seal its fate forever.

  3. Change is always difficult isn`t it! I do agree with Jen though, that your children would be better off going through the Australian education system than the one here. My children have been to schools in Japan and Australia and without doubt, they were better off in Australia. And so, I have made the decision to return to Australia as I dont want the kids to continue their schooling here.

  4. You have so ably pinpointed the pros and cons and that's half the battle won I reckon Corinne. My input for what it is worth are(1)every country has a system & its idiosyncrasies and if you could identify and work with and around it, if necessary,you will be able to maximise whatever you desire & hopefully be contented.(2)We are just so human & think the other side of the fence is greener.(3)When you have finally made the decision to either move to Australia or stay in Japan do not ever regret or blame yourself if it does not appear to turn out right; you can always fall back to point 1 mentioned.

  5. I think that on one hand, it's important to think carefully about big decisions like there, but on the other hand, it's key not to over think them.
    I'm half Japanese, half British. I was born in the UK, moved ot Italy when I was 3, went back to the UK when Iw as 6. Then moved to Japan when I was ten and stayed until I went to Uni in the UK. Now I have lived in Switzerland for four years. As a result, I speak 4 languages (ok, so German is still not perfect) and I feel very flexible as a result. My parents still live in Japan, but I would call Japan and UK "home" in almost equal measure.

    Basically, I think the kids will adjust so long as you don't shift them around during their teenage years (also do-able, but I think you face the potential for a rebellion if you do). Kids are great at fitting in and are usually oblivious to what's going on anyway. They'll cry for five minutes because they miss their friends, then they will have made new ones again in the next five minutes.

    Another thing is, a move is always reversible. Life is not as set is stone as we try to make it out to be :)

    Good luck!

  6. I am back in the U.S. right now, but my T is still in Japan. I have a bunch of stuff I have to take care of here (blah blah) so we're apart for now. I really don't want to live in Japan year-round because of my career, but I don't know what T will do in the U.S.! (I am open to Europe and Australia too- just not a lot of jobs for me in Japanland)... Unlike your husband, T doesn't speak English and I don't know how fast he'd learn. I mean, he's not exactly taking English lessons over there in Japan right now. (I suppose I should cut him some slack since he works 6 days a week, 12 hours a day).

    T is also the oldest son and he'd be pissed to lose the house his parents have waiting form him in Kumamoto... I told him it can be our summer house, and he gave me the stink-eye.

    Am at a loss as to where to live, so yeah, this post hit home.

  7. I went back to my country and have never been happier.
    I had my share fill.

  8. I have friends who bought a place back in the States while they were still working in Japan. I'm not sure of the specific logistics, but they made it happen and I think it definitely provided them with a measure of "anshin." Now they're back in America.

    I came back to the States after two years teaching in Japan. No kids or wife to worry about. I do miss Japan. I'm not completely happy back in my home country. I guess I'm just trying to point out (oh-so-helpfully, I'm sure) that there's going to be some amount of vexing things wherever you go.

  9. Ah, the 'ageing grandma' consideration. I think many of us are familiar with that one. Would it be tasteless of me to point out that Japanese women are the demographic with the longest life-expectancy in the world? Probably, but that doesn't make it any less true.

    In general, I've got a pretty good opinion of Japanese elementary schools. A bit heavy on the social indoctrination, but nowhere's perfect. There is no way on earth that I'd put my kids through a state Junior High School in Japan though. The good Senior Highs aren't so bad, but that all hinges on passing a one-time exam, and a Japanese High School diploma is only good for getting into a Japanese university, and a Japanese undergraduate education is worth shit. So some expensive choices coming up, one way or another.

    All of which is by way of saying I sympathise.

  10. Ditto to Jen and Kamo!

    Jappy, born and bred in Japanistan

  11. Sorry for a long comment, I had a lot to say after reading your post and all the comments.

    After simultaneously working for 4 years in inaka-ish ESs and JHSs, I would party agree with kamo: ES is not that bad in Japan. I am happily back in Canada and our future kids are not going back to Japan except for a year-long exchange in HS, possibly, and then after they graduate uni if they want to go, BUT if I had to put them through school in Japan, I wouldn't mind it until grade 3 of ES. Maybe grade 4, but by then the classes are a hit-and-miss, depending on the school and the homeroom teacher. Anything past grade 4 is BAD (and I taught across multiple schools) - I'd say out of the pool of teachers in a ES, you get 5 good teachers out of 30, 10 more ok teachers, and the rest... well... could be better.

    What I do like about the first three grades of ES and about kindy is that the kids are always occupied, they do relatively interesting stuff, get plenty of exercise, and generally seem happy. Also, think about your kids' kanji. Will you teach them yourself if you move back? Take them to J-school on weekends? Will Ryota teach them? If not, then maybe giving them a few years of ES experience while saving money for the move might be useful. It's pretty tough learning kanji as an adult, and no fun having a small kanji vocabulary, since it prevents one from reading (and increasing the vocabulary).

    Also, about English, I grew up in Ukraine (speaking Russian + learning English at home), and went through an intense English program at school (from 5 h a week in grade 1-3, and all the way up to 13 h a week in HS). Moved to Canada with family at 17, went to half a year of HS there, then university, and I consider myself bilingual and comfortable teaching English to both EFL students and native speakers. Sure, university was tough, especially the first few years, and I took longer than my peers, but it was a good experience and doable. I think, since Australia is just as multicultural as Canada, your kids will be able to fit in well, even in HS/uni. Not so with Japan, they'll always be outsiders no matter what (if you move), but less so if they spend their early ears there.

    If you end up staying, not all is lost in terms of English. You and Ryota just have a big job to do. What my father did to keep us on top of things is read with us for a hour a day each. We started when I was 3 and my brother - just 1 and a half. He'd read to us and translate first (bedtime stories and then short stories and children's literature like the Wizard of OZ), then he'd read and we'd translate, and then we would read and translate. By high school we were translating microwave manuals (I kid you not - my dad is an engineer and worked as a technical translator at the time, heh). Some days I'd refuse to do it and get my bum smacked, but mostly it was fun. So you guys can do it too. Just you alone can do it (my mom didn't speak much English until we immigrated, so dad was the only one who taught us). I've never heard of anyone else use this method, and when I tell people, they dismiss me, but I am a living and breathing example that it works - you just have to be consistent.

    If you do end up staying, then surviving JHS for your kids would probably be more about emotional/social stuff (e.g. bullying in the classroom, conformity, many teachers not giving a shit about cultivating thinkers as opposed to memorizers and rule-followers) - but maybe you guys can save enough money by then and afford an international school ;).

    (continued in the next comment)

  12. (continued from previous comment):

    Also, if you live in an area with a lot of foreigners (Brazilians, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Phillipino, etc.), you may be lucky to have translators on staff, whose job is often way beyond translating, because they help the kids remembering their "home" culture while learning the "Japanese way". Plus, the kids can make friends from other cultures. If you do end up staying in Japan, you might look into it.

    Haha, sounds like I am preaching for staying :P. I am not. I can't be happier to be out of that place, and never going back for longer than 3 months, and I am still undergoing culture shock, even though it's more than half a year since I left. But we didn't have a house or a business, plus my hubby, even though a chonan, was lucky to have the I-am-gonna-do-what-I-want-with-my-life attitude + two sisters living near his parents' house. Plus, I could not have a career and a lifestyle that I want if I stayed. You seem to be more attached, so I thought I'd share my thoughts in case the "reasons to stay" list ends up outweighing the other one.

    Whatever you decide - good luck!

  13. Why not give living in Australia a try and see how it goes? If you don't like it, you can always come back, but at least then you'll be more certain on where you'd prefer to be living with your family. Could be a good time to go, whilst your kids are still young.

  14. Ah... the dilemma. I hear you, going through a similar thing here. We're getting a lot of pressure to get out this past week, for the first time since the EQ, but my list not to leave is very similar to yours. For the moment, being comfortable financially is kind of outweighing everything else

  15. Once your kids start school, I think you'll find living in Japan much more difficult than now. I would move to Australia before they started school. If you and your family are not happy there you can always come back to Japan.