I’ve been putting off writing this in the hopes that somehow time would slow and I’d be able to enjoy these moments more. But alas, the time has come- and it’s with a kind of bittersweet excitement that I prepare to embark on my newest adventure.
Let’s Start At The Beginning
Some of you may know that I love school and learning. A British friend of mine once said I’m a “prefect” (any Harry Potter fans out there?). Anyway, I had toyed with the idea of pursuing graduate studies in my last year of university, but opted instead to move to Japan. That was in 2016, and by the end of the year I had become an English teacher for a small English tutoring school, or “eikaiwa,” in Osaka.
I absolutely loved teaching, and I like to think I made an impact on some of the kids and adults I had the privilege to teach. But while I enjoyed the job itself, the “eikaiwa” lifestyle just was not for me. I’m thankful for the experience, however, because it affirmed my love for teaching, and I was able to prove to myself that I was actually decent at it!
Next Stop on the Meagan Express…
So what’s next? My mom encouraged me to seriously look into grad school, and after talking to some friends and doing some research I found a few programs that looked interesting and right up my alley- and most importantly: in Japan. In case anyone has any similar ideas, the G30 (Global 30) program allows you to study at Japanese universities at the undergrad and graduate level in English. A lot of the programs don’t require the GRE (which I haven’t taken and hope to never take- down with standardized tests!) and you finish with an English-language degree, which seemed useful in case I want to work in the US in the future. So naturally, that is what I chose to pursue. I also applied to some schools in England, since they didn’t require the GRE either.
In the end, I was accepted to two schools: Nagoya University in Japan and Oxford University in England. Yes, it’s THE Oxford University that you’re thinking of.
Where am I going? What will I be studying?
Well, you might’ve assumed that I’d chosen Oxford because, you know, it’s Oxford. But you would’ve assumed wrong because I actually chose Nagoya University! If you’re thinking, “Why the f**k would you turn down Oxford?” you’re not the only one. Put simply: it all came down to program fit and listening to my heart. If I was honest with myself, I wasn’t quite ready to leave Japan just yet.
Now as to my research, I’ll be focusing on gender and sexuality within the world of kabuki. I hope to shed light on how women are portrayed and whether it had an affect on actual living Japanese women- whether they changed their clothing or hairstyles to mimic what was being shown onstage, for example.
Needless to say, I’m ecstatic to be pursuing my master’s in a field I’m passionate about and in a country I love!
An End to a Cherished Chapter
This is the bittersweet part: I will be moving away from my second home, Nishinomiya, in a week. I don’t even know where to begin- how can I describe the heartbreak at having to leave a place that’s not even my “real” home, whatever that means? I lived here during my university study abroad for one year, loving every second, and knew that I wanted to come back. I’m sure many people say that and don’t actually follow through because life intervenes, but I did; I came back for another 2 years (and 3 months, to be exact). And while I can’t claim Nishinomiya as my hometown, it’s my “Japanese hometown” and it will always have a special place in my heart.
The phrase that’s been on loop in my head recently has been, “I don’t wanna go~” (yes, with the little squiggly at the end and everything). I’ve walked down the street to my apartment thinking, “This is my street.” I’ve looked around at my small, semi-cramped apartment thinking, “I’m actually gonna miss this place.” I’ve looked out my balcony, listening to the Hankyu train pass by and think, “I love that train.” And it all comes from a place of truth- I will miss everything about Nishinomiya acutely.
A lot of people who know I’m leaving say, “Oh, but you can always come back!” That’s true, but just like these 2 years have differed from my yearlong experience studying abroad, the next time I come back- if there’s a next time- will surely be different too, and I can’t help but feel sad that this experience is ending. Once I leave, I’ll never again live in this apartment; never again see the mountains out my balcony window; never again live this close- literally across the street- to the host family that has become as near and dear to my heart as my actual family. That is the source of the overwhelming urge to dig my heels into the ground to make the world stop turning, so that I can delay my departure even if it’s just for a second.
But, despite that urge, I know my time is up; it’s time to move on. I know that if I stayed, I’d be staying in limbo- neither moving forward in life nor backward.
Everything has a beginning and an end: my “Nishinomiya Chapter” began during my study abroad and is ending for now, but it’ll definitely make some cameo appearances in future chapters. I like to think that there’s this invisible string that will always tug me back when I stay away for too long. While I don’t foresee Nishinomiya as a permanent stop in my future again any time soon, I know my host family will always welcome a visit from me with open arms and karaoke sessions.
So bye for now, Nishinomiya! Nagoya, I’ll see you soon!