Back in the fall/early winter, I was approached by my supervisor about whether or not I wanted to renew my contract for another year. If I said yes, I would have been the first ALT to stay for longer than three years in this town. I was very happy to hear this offer, as that meant that they wanted me to stay and because I had been enjoying life here so much that I wouldn't mind extending my stay even longer.
So I had to weigh my options.
The plan was (and currently still is) to apply to medical schools this summer, with matriculation into medical school a year later, in the Fall of 2014. If I stayed on the JET Program for a fourth year, timing would be perfect: completion of the fourth year would coincide with the start/orientation for medical school. I would also be making the most out of my new iPhone 5 contract (which I started in October) and my syaken car inspection, which lasts for two years (and is currently being done).
My life in Japan is super fun; everyday is like an adventure. My Japanese language skills have increased dramatically since I first arrived, and even back then, they weren't too bad. Can I read a Japanese newspaper? No. Can I read Japanese manga (comics)? Yes. Well, for the most part. If I come across a word/kanji I don't know (which is often), I have my trusty "Imiwa?" app to help me. Can I watch a Japanese movie or anime? Yes, unless it's filled with jargon I don't know; but I understand at least the basic gist. What I can't do quite yet, though, is enjoy a Japanese video game that has lots of important or detailed story elements like Metal Gear Rising. I had been waiting for that game for months, and finally when it was released, I went and bought it. And most PS3 games have multiple language data on the disk, so as long as my PS3 is set to "English," the game will be, too. But noooooooooooooo, Konami decided to separate the language data between versions of the game. My theory is that because the game was released on PS3 and XBox360, Microsoft demanded that the content on the disks be exactly the same; and with a smaller capacity disk that XBox360 uses, it's likely that there are no options for multiple languages on them. Anyway, point is, I was super disappointed, and my language and kanji skills don't suffice to enjoy the conversation-heavy game to the extent that I'd like. I digress...
If I stayed in Japan longer, perhaps I could get to that point. I would need to buckle down and start learning and memorizing new vocabulary, new kanji, perhaps new grammar points. Well, at some point, I'd like to get to it. Staying in Japan would also allow me to have more opportunities to do things I haven't done yet, such as: racing up and down the mountain roads Initial D-style in Gunma Prefecture, feeding the deer in Nara, checking out Himeji Castle, exploring the beautiful shrines and temples in Nikko, climbing Mt. Fuji, or practicing some karate in Okinawa. But staying in Japan on JET for a fourth year creates a glaring problem when it comes to...
...Medical school interviews. The plan is to apply during this application cycle. That means taking the MCAT soon (April!), submitting the application materials in June, and doing interviews in the fall/winter. The problem is that I don't know when the schools would want to interview. And if I were in Japan, I would have to purchase an international round trip plane ticket to go and interview. And I would have to purchase another ticket for another interview at a different school. And again for another. That would get quite expensive. Plus, I wouldn't have the vacation days to be able to call off work so many times, and it would be a huge inconvenience to both my coworkers and my students. In theory, I could try to schedule all of my interviews at the same time/week/month, or better yet, during the holidays when I could be home. But that would force the application committee (and me) to wait. That would be no different from prolonging the application itself, and if I learned anything from past applications, it's that timing is everything. The earlier, the better.
So, I must come home! That means a lot of things. It sucks because now I know that the limits are set. I've always known that my time in Japan with the JET Program would be limited, but somehow it's sobering to know exactly when I have to go. Kinda sucks. But hey, at least I know exactly how much time I have left, and I could plan it to use the time wisely, right?
Lately, I've been doing a lot of MCAT review. So a lot of my time is spent with my head in the books. Well, book. Speaking of which, I still gotta finish today's review!
Word of the Day: 選択 「せんたく」 "sentaku," which means "selection," "choice," or "option."