I’m hoping that as I type this out, somehow my sass will make an appearance, considering how much of a bummer this topic is.
Coming over to Japan without knowing anyone is an incredibly isolating experience, especially when it’s for the better part of a year (or longer). I came here knowing absolutely no one. I had an acquaintance, but not really a friend. Ignoring the language barrier, I think being completely and utterly friendless was my biggest fear in coming to Japan. I have to give props to anyone who does that; so for the fact alone that you chose to completely uproot your life, good job! As my uncle told me before my initial departure, “You got the biggest balls of anyone in this family.”
Training with my company was my first opportunity to make friends, as might be the case with you, if you’re coming over as an ALT. The people you meet will come from all walks of life. Some will be in it for the long run, and some are only going to be here for a short period of time. Such is life. My main friend group came from my training. I learned all sorts of things from my company, mainly how to function like a normal human (the part about teaching is shaky at best), but they really didn’t prepare me for the utter inevitability that is living here.
Most of your friends are going to leave by the end of the year.
Everyone has their reasons for going back, and this isn’t me complaining that my friends left me (because how dare them). It just never hit me throughout the year how much their inevitable absence would effect me. Your training, regardless of company, won’t go into that. They’ll teach how to not to fuck up completely here in the country, how to possibly plan lessons, but they won’t teach you the pains that will come at the end of the contract.
Jeez Gigi, get to the point already!
Take selfies with your friends. Go out and eat with them as many times as you can. Go on trips. Explore whatever part of Japan your heart desires. Get attacked by deer together in Nara, go see what’s at the end of the train line together because you happen to get seats next to each other. And for crying out loud, take all the purikura you can. Do it all, because when they all leave you, you’re going to be regretting you didn’t do more.