Hello again. It’s me, Joey.
Angelina, my younger sister, is currently spending a semester abroad in Italy. She’s blogging about it, as well. You can read it HERE.
I am so unbelievably jealous of her. It gets worse; Mom and Grandma are going to Italy to visit her in April. That’s not fair, yeah? Well, maybe it is fair. I’m just salty that I didn’t get to study abroad.
I did my first 2 years of college at a community college in Charlotte. Got all my general education classes out of the way there, saving something close to $25,000 dollars. For a bunch of different reasons, it was the right decision for me. Then, for the remaining 2 years, I transferred to N.C. State.
By the nature of my self-implicated educational path, there was no logistical way that I would be able to spend a semester abroad, let alone the financial cost. So be it. There’s not a lot that I could have done to change that, and there definitely isn’t anything I can do about it now.
Still, though, it has always been a deep-seeded desire in my heart to live international. As far back as my freshmen year in college, I had started the master plan for my life plan immanently following graduation. I learned that one of the easiest ways to live internationally was to teach English. After some research, I found the Japan has the best reputation for accommodating American teachers. Their pay was higher, your employers stayed in contact during your tenure, and it was run by the government rather than privately. Most of the horror stories of international English teachers come from private companies hiring students. The more I studied into the program and living in Japan, the more I fell in love with the idea of being there.
With my ideal plan set, I did what anyone who knows what they want would do: I began preparing. I knew that it would be a few years before I would be able to go, so I started tailoring my extracurricular activities to make me an ideal candidate. I started volunteering with Amanda at a local English as a Second Language classroom, I began studying Japanese on my own (with very little success), I took Japanese classes at the N.C. State as soon as I transferred (to much more success), and I got involved in every club that would give me an edge. The majority of my free reading was done in State’s library, tucked away on the 4th floor with books about Kanji to English and informal conjugation of conversational verbs. I really threw myself into this. I even went as far as taking a Japanese Government issued test to measure my grasp of the Japanese language. I have the certificate and everything in my room.
I should also say that Meredith was on board for this. She took the classes, spend the same time holed away in the library with musty Japanese book from the 70’s, and joined the clubs with me. We were still dating at this point, but we both knew that we’d get married after college, and I don’t think living 7,000 miles way is a good way to start a marriage. She planned on taking the same job.
We applied to the program and waited a few months to hear back. I’m sure the end of the story is already spoiled. I’m writing this from Philadelphia, not Nagano. Getting through the process with one person is hard enough. Add another person and make the stipulation that they would have to place us in the same location, and suddenly our odds got slim. Statistics can be a real pain in the butt.
I’m glad that Angelina has the chance to be living in Italy, I truly am. It also reminds me of something I really wanted for my life, something I really felt called to. For whatever reason, that door seems to closed, as least for now. But life has a way of surprising us. I’ve only been around for 24 years, and I know at least that much. Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t. Still, I have all the things I need in life. I have Meredith, I have my family, I have friends. Life is good, even when it’s not what you wanted.
Angelina, if you’re reading this, 2 things: First, enjoy yourself! You’ve earned this amazing time in your life, so have a blast! Second, stop reading your older brother’s musings! Go get a gelato and ride a moped. I love you and miss you, sister. We’ll catch up when you’re stateside; I want to hear about all the stuff you won’t tell Mom and Dad!
Ok, that’s all I have for now. Thanks for reading; I really can’t express how much it means to me that anyone would read something I write. I added a new tab to the site this past week, the contact tab. If you need to get a hold of me for something blog-related, hit me up there. Otherwise, you know how to find me =).