Monday, February 27, 2012


It is now roughly one month until I depart Japan for America. I am in the midst of numerous preparations, all of which could be considered time-consuming and difficult. I thought I would attempt to illustrate some of the problems one encounters when leaving Japan.

1. Utilities
I have been, like most adults, paying for all of my utilities. Gas, electricity, internet, etc. In any situation, you receive a bill for the previous month's usage, meaning you are charged in May for what you used in April. However, I will not be here in May to pay for my usage in April. Unlike moving between states, there will be no way for me to pay this money. In order to settle my accounts, I must contact my utility providers and have them calculate a rounded end-of-service price.

2. Transportation
I cannot speak for all companies like mine, but I imagine my predicament is not unfamiliar to the majority of teachers. When our contracts are up, the company's obligation to us ends. We are required to provide our own transportation back home. That means shelling out cash for plane tickets, train tickets, and bus tickets. Although my company paid to send me out here to the middle of nowhere, they won't pay to get me back to the airport. As a result, I am forced to search for cheap but reliable methods of reaching Tokyo.

3. Bank Fees
Some companies will give you your final paycheck before you leave. Mine does not. Unless I want to stay over my visa until my final paycheck clears, I will request my company to transfer the money to my bank account in America. That means paying the heavy handling fees associated with overseas bank transfers. In my case, that fee is a minimum of $50.

4. Moving Out
My contract expires on the 26th. My last working day is on the 23rd. I have to vacate my apartment before the 29th. When you add Japan's trash-sorting laws into the equation, the end result is a short amount of time to clean out my home and make my way to Tokyo. I've already begun the process, but it is difficult while working at the same time.

I've never been the best forward thinker. When it comes to planning for the future, I draw a vague outline in my mind and leave it at that. However, when making a monumentous decision like switching countries, I encourage people to think long and hard not only about getting there, but also getting back. I did not take any of that into consideration because it was so far off, and now I am regretting my lack of research.

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